John Saunders was born in Co. Wexford, Ireland in 1956 and now lives in Co. Offaly. His first collection ‘After the Accident’ was published in 2010 by Lapwing Press, Belfast. His poems have appeared in Abridged, Revival, The Moth Magazine, Crannog, Prairie Schooner Literary Journal, the Irish Times, Sharp Review, The Stony Thursday Book, Boyne Berries, The New Binary Press Anthology of Poetry, Poetry Bus and Riposte, and on line; The Smoking Poet, Minus Nine Squared, The First Cut, The Weary Blues, Burning Bush 2, Weekenders, Spinoza Blue, Poetic Diversity, The Linnet’s Wings, In Other Words; Merida, First Literary Review-East and poetry 24. John is one of three featured poets in Measuring, Dedalus New Writers published by Dedalus Press in May 2012. His second full collection Chance was published in April 2013 by New Binary Press. He is a founding member of the Hibernian Poetry Workshop and a graduate of the Faber Becoming a Poet 2010 course. He was shortlisted in the 2012 inaugural Desmond O’Grady Poetry Competition.
facing the specter of Golgotha.
I remember it as a nothing happening day
when we spoke in reverent whispers,
the church dark and cold as a grave.
The naked streets and closed shops bore witness
to the tragedy which we were told saved our souls.
The dairy fields or if raining, the railway station
were the only sanctuaries for our beating hearts,
where we handheld and entangled.
That he died for us was lost on my love crazed mind.
The only miracle was you. Purple covered crosses,
crown of thorns, agony in the garden,
his slow bloody death, of no importance
in the procession of my adolescence.
I can hardly see the value in the polished teak,
faux designer doors and windows,
glossy prisms of crystal chandeliers.
They ask more of what we don’t have,
suggest a different way of life.
We lie and wait for the hammer of decision,
hide our gaze from the storm of reality.
When we sleep they count columns of numbers,
check balances for extravagance.
Who said ownership is power?
Here the death grip gets tighter
until hope has expired.
Even then there will be no winners,
only debtors and creditors, write-offs and defaulters.
And the guards were outside the courthouse
huddled in twos and threes slapping folded
manila folders off the sides of their legs,
some of them smoking, all of them talking
as if plotting or, more likely rehearsing
their lines for the judge. I stood close
hopeful of some drop of information,
anything I could use in my defence.
It’s where he was born. His parents.
That neighbourhood was rough.
I heard nothing useful. What I did hear
cannot be repeated in a court of law.
Old lady at the Sunday Afternoon Matinee
The warmth of cinematic fantasy,
glow of the screen. It has come to this.
How many stories have you lived,
can you tell if anyone is interested?
You lie back in cushioned Pullman,
bone handled walking stick propped.
DreamWorks creates imagination,
animation technology is the real star
for the small heads, filled with awe.
They have yet to live their story.
The reel rolls – flesh’s a tale
of history, turns time back
as if we could be young again,
relive the pleasure, erase the pain.