Martin Burke – Gyre

Digital StillCameraMartin 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.



A response to Jan DeWilde’s poem AND OF THIS, published in The Galway Review


Now by the high wall (there are dark stones among the red) a bird has built a nest to outlast the season it is built in that her young be safe
Where clouds are hexagrams for interpretation(s) (lives have been measured and scripted accordingly)
(by high wall and hexagram many have sat down and wept)
But I do not know which language a bird might weep in (for lost kingdoms) or why by this wall it comes to nest
Strange necessities…
As if by the dark stones among the red (you can trace in them a line’s, a map’s intention)…
Yet unto us such things are given in summer’s plenty – and autumn also will deliver its yield of apples, crops, and meanings of clouds into which smoke will drift when, at the season’s ending, we light the first of evening fires.

Flowers gather the summer bees to themselves
I also gather their beauty to my eye and give them meanings I can live by, as if a sword, rusting under a stone, was none the less vital and life giving (it has been forged for just such an intention)
As might be sung of
In certain gatherings (it is the living who form a link with the dead)
Not for any betterment but for the simple need of song to be sung
Also a necessity the smoke might translate into a script of hexagrams and clouds.

Warmth of such evenings, those evenings and these
Ripeness of earth and the gratitude of a people
As if by a summer’s largess…


The air was humming with a steady cadence as if electric volts were running through it
The sun, giving its light, also gave its darkness to the world
Shadows filled the valley’s emptiness

Yet the movement was that of expansion not contraction
And water thrilled at the falling of a stone.

“So make of that the making ground you nestle in where ferns overlap in the dead heat of an afternoon that hold’s time at arm’s length and offers an alternative in the perpetual moment all motion aims for.”

Shadows filled the valley’s emptiness
Water thrilled at the falling of a stone

“See the blue sky waver into endless white, see the absence of birds, yet the air is humming with a steady cadence as if volts were running through it to stir a music to a life we could give credence to and draw a sustenance from.”

Shadows filled the valley’s emptiness
The sun gave its darkness with its light

“And remember, a simplistic lyricism will never be enough. The sky is more complex than single verbs are capable of holding so construct a more inclusive syntax. Show the shadow but show the light which casts it. Bed down in the air electric. Compose as if a dryad held your hand.”


By evening’s stellar radiance,
By an expanse of shadows (see them, they are plentiful),
By the gyre of time a mind must work within which scripts us as we measure it,
By the high wall that holds in as much as it holds out,
By the eye’s retention of a singular movement on the grass,
By the hand that holds a hand,
By that which is known and by that which is not,
By the mind’s custody of that which is the eye’s delight,

By byways and central avenues,
By the tree beyond which there is no passing,
By the going on when all is forbidden and movement seems a denial of tradition,
By that which is seen and by that which is heard,
By every un-filtered speculation rampant in the mind,
By that which is noted for future reference,
By music heard or imagined,
By the word which is the key and lock of memory,

I gather seeds from flickers of light
To plant them in desire’s greening ground
That by them a tree might grow in which a bird…

Stellar light and expanding shadows
In a gyre of time I work the winnowed air and ground
As might a bird his song.

© Martin Burke 2014

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