Pete Mullineaux has published three collections: Zen Traffic Lights (Lapwing 2005) A Father’s Day (Salmon 2008) and Session (Salmon 2011.) He has been anthologised widely in Ireland, UK, USA & France including Poetry Ireland Review 100 (Ed. Paul Muldoon) the websites poetrydaily.com, about.com/poetry & Van Gogh’s Ear in Paris. He has also had a number of plays produced for the stage and RTE radio.
Five poems by Pete Mullineaux
The cows have gathered in an adjacent field,
I can see their shapes in the moonlight –
a meeting of the tribes, they are here in their multiplicity;
black, brown, black and white – some all white,
like ghosts, or recent converts.
Just now I heard a moan from one of them
that had me awake as if I had been shot.
It’s the night before their calves are taken,
they know from the look in the farmer’s eyes.
They call him by name
although it sounds like ‘moo’ to us.
I listen at the window to their keening –
we make recordings of whales and dolphins,
say they are a higher species
as close to us as nature gets –
but the cows are singing in their camp,
refusing to be cattle
marking their loss
celebrating the grass
thanking the rain.
The females, even the males most of the time
are gentle, considerate, abiding.
But tonight the cows have run out of patience,
can ruminate no longer; they sing
their mass; make ready for battle,
tomorrow they will paint themselves red –
Salthill Air Show
Looking out across the Bay,
something brushes my cheek – such cheek!
swallows and martins, bank, manoeuvre – switch
flight paths to avoid near fatal collisions;
displaying pale under-bellies, gun-metal backs
they follow the ragged contour of rocks
linked and guided by some other sense
beyond our limited radar –
the only air show in town.
Approaching Inishbofin harbour,
steering a fine line between
Bishop and Gun rocks,
eyes monitor your progress –
vacant stone windows
of Cromwell’s Barracks,
lifeless, yet still threatening.
Behind this tuneless fortress, tucked
into the curved clef of the cove
the tiny Glasoilean na bPiopi*
moored to the shore
by an umbilical spit of land –
visible and whole
only at high tide.
* (Green) Isle of the Pipes
Raftery, blind poet and fiddler
negotiating the rough back roads
of Galway-Mayo, stumbling
over fallen trees, circumnavigating
lethal drains and ruts, raging
against rivals, the status quo
and all who had crossed him –
according to legend
by mapping out tunes
on his waistcoat buttons;
sharpened his wits
flattened the humps and dips,
bum-notes of hidden pot-holes,
the curse of a thousand
cuts and sprains
with a steadying rhythm;
staved off the elements,
re-jigging old scores
into sweet strains
and settled airs.
Sheltering from the rain
in this iconic arch, especially
now that Mulligans is gone
the best shop in Galway
to catch some trad –
a CD inside is playing:
Cathal Hayden’s fiddle
soft as water.
Then into Lord Franklin,
tragedy at sea, the search
for a north-east passage –
past Norway, over the top of Russia
Here, anchored in my safe harbour
I offer thanks to nature
that the mighty waves
flowing down Shop Street
as yet are only lashing at my soles;
though later I’ll be saying
‘I was drowned.’