Martin Burke – Vortex(t)

Digital StillCamera

Martin Burke was born in Limerick. Burke is a long term resident of Flanders where he is active as poet and playwright (and sometimes actor) and from where he has published sixteen books of his work in the USA, UK, Ireland, and Belgium -the latest work being BLAKE/LONDON/BLAKE published by the Feral Press, New York.




Because Blake pounded the table and said Cast off the filthy rags! this is the day we must be equal to

In honor of which we place an oar upright in the sand as if it were a tree beyond which there is no passing
For we have returned, are here on ground which says make, remake, remake
And it is neither night nor morning but the dark rich life of life before the stars disappear

And the light on my hand is the shadow on the page and the silence a perfection

But what does it announce and why is a contradiction accurate to the world’s complexity?


It’s as if the bones of Oedipus are troubling the world yet these birds possess the sky and not appendixed to it

So let your agony be your grace –

You as Hector, you as Achilles, you before the city you fight to defend while fighting to

That we like Blake might cross from kingdom to kingdom

Not as ghost-figures on the bridge of crossing but here with love between us in the shadow-casting sun

Yet only if a human voice answers a human voice is a question worth asking

And no word is only what it is without being something else –shell about a yoke,
tone and sub-tone

And water for a hydro-dam can be sacramental for the new-born child

Even while cadets’ march to military time but not enduring time though time frequently
measured by that

Until a voice breaks through and rightly says In the spring and autumn there are no


Thus I grow young as I grow old but do not grow old where mind and water are
and epiphany without which no redeeming thought can reach a landsman
But tides are changing and unchanging and only such a paradox sustains us beyond
(Oh sustain me now or I am merely driftwood cornered at a lock-gate with the ice of
winter upon me)
Thus do we conspire to wake a human fire and anything less would be a betrayal
Landsman with words and only with words yet each with an accurate beat
Drinking the iron water-words downriver where these words go
As if they were a length of wood on which a fist pounded to demand that we Cast off the
filthy rags.

Aside | This entry was posted in News, Poetry. Bookmark the permalink.