Daniel Wade is a 25-year-old poet and author from Dublin, in the Republic of Ireland. His poetry has been published in The Sea (charity anthology in aid of the RNLI), Sixteen Magazine (e-publication), The Bogman’s Cannon, Iodine Poetry Journal, Zymbol, The Runt, The Lonely Crowd and the Hennessey New Irish Writers’ page of the Irish Times. In October 2016, he released ‘Embers and Earth’, a spoken word album available for download on iTunes and Spotify. He is the author of the the poetry e-chapbook ‘Iceberg Relief’, published by Underground Voices and available for download on Amazon. In January 2017, ‘The Collector’, his first stage play, was staged at the New Theatre in Dublin.
Your hands were soiled from a lifetime of paint
And, as the bronze-splashed palette dried to morsels
Of chroma, aficionados took up the cum-slick hunt
For a neatly-engraved icon, malefactors in their cells.
What you truly loved was the bone-white canvas
And your father’s Hellenic instruction to execute
Each finer detail in deep red charm, the smudgy kiss
Of brushwork moistening trauma to a girdle of light.
Colour schemes throb in the still of your studio,
Hover solid as the shade that tongues the landscape.
By your unflagging craft, precise and poised to
Sweep away the embers of gutted apprenticeship
To a clichéd school and its dusty style, your pilgrimage:
Allegories of art, of life, rendered in your own image.
Beltane Fire Festival in Edinburgh
Midnight, the cusp of spring, swirls coolly in
from nowhere; heralded by the timed shriek
of banshees, cold shower-spray, gyration
of flame, bonfires and tapers are lit like
a single decoy, scalding stars of April.
Dancers and drummers foment the fever,
their bare nipples hardened by the chill,
their limbs splashed in spurts of colour.
We melt each winter dreg on Carlton Hill
to the torchbearers’ slow march, gulp our
cans of Stella; cinders of the goddess
crackle and perish amidst the columns
like bibelots, and the king’s horned carcass
is an autopsy reborn, girlish and solemn.
Spellbound by paraffin, ablaze as the city,
we have hours yet before we’ll see dawn.
But when the smoke clears, the columns are sooty
with fused, tar-like blots, waxed in the early sun.
A Miner’s Hand
The lead mines of Co. Wicklow
(Of whom the world was not worthy) they wandered the deserts,
and in mountains, and in dens and caves of the earth. And these
all, having obtained a good report through faith, received not the
– Heb. 11:38-9
Nobody ever drove up to the Wicklow
mountains with pure intent – a road sign
huddles at a tilt amid the ghost-reek
of slag and crushed ore. I know where to look
for the lode of expired centuries, but I am
afraid to walk any further, like a man
in forbidden territory. My brochure
mentions glints of red and avid yellow
in the schist, engines fearfully cutting edge
for the time, dull, steel arms of lit by cabin
lamps to smelt from the adits between Avoca
and Cronebane. A hard northerly sizzles
through the vale, lush chain of mountain
and flinty field, panting like a bloodhound
with red-slurred fangs along a wagon-
wheel’s deep groove in the mud.
Here’s the trommel, the gospel of lead:
stony humps, crude legacies,
articles of mucky faith
in a miner’s hand.
The glen is quiet where once machinery raged,
treeless hillocks coarsened by wind
and now overrun with thistles,
the lake still clear as a mogul’s
craving for profit
and the sulphur’s olive particle
brings the conclusion of an aged slogan –
Industry has its sure reward.
In writing of history, I have let the present die,
in how I scrutinise
a devilish detail, in how I mine for clarity
in the charnel drift, separated
by a pathless century
from the pale knowledge of how black-
blushing gold pumps from the valve,
earth’s elemental riches to dredge.
I flinch from the gangway, having heard
the crusher’s metrical bang
at its seam. Helmeted men trudge past me
on flint-scuffed heels to work, drillers
and mechanics, armed with jackhammers
and shovels to bleed the black mineral
from gaping crevice and spark-lit gradient,
to be gulped by the chute
and the wear and tear of scree,
decades before the forge at Luganure was built.
Built like brick shithouses, each man lumbers
to his station, evil eye clusters lazily
watch their passing from the cromlech.
They are drawn back home only
by the touch and thought of their wives
calling their names as the ash-pit’s
alluvial patch is scraped. Their homes
and church built in the valley,
pagans in all but name, work-songs rang heavy
with the sovereign staccato of worship.
Nothing could soften their hands, the dust-
coated hauliers whose names
are swallowed in a chimney craw –
faces soiled with raven-black anthracite,
their industry’s dreg, born for the grit
under fingernails, still hidden in plain sight
of the open air throughout the county:
sandy base of a dressing floor,
shell of the rusted air compressor,
keystones lathered in moss, obsidian stone
left to rot in a puddle, sheen of bleak oasis,
bedrock to indicate how the slowly
the mountain’s heavy vein was sucked dry.
Once, a cataract of granite tumbled
into Glendasan shaft; there was a deep growl,
as when thunder heralds itself ahead of rain,
rushing with noise and heat, and the shift
for the Mining Company of Ireland
not even halfway over when the two trapped
workmen lost their grip of the cabal.
An oily halo shimmered from the tallow-rod,
the sole light they had against the flexed,
weighty darkness of the cave.
Neither were killed, but both had injuries
by the time the rescue teams had them out.
A travelling priest sermonised against
the evils of drink and pay-day brawls.
Work carried on, until the mines closed.
The vale grew quiet, indifferent to the flare
of daybreak and the wintry shade,
and to intruders like myself, who occasionally
pass through to look at the rubble-coated
flue winding into the hill, knowing
where to look but afraid to walk any further,
prying and retrograde,
believing the strength of a miner’s hand
is enough to set the world to rights.