Matthew Brennan has published five books of poems and in 2020 will bring out his sixth: Snow in New York: New and Selected Poems (Lamar U. Literary Press). Besides The Galway Review, his poems have appeared in Poetry Ireland Review, Sewanee Review, Commonweal, and Poetry Salzburg Review.

He is also the author of The Colosseum Critical Introduction to Dana Gioia (2019). He lives in Columbus, Ohio.

After the First Snow

Last week the seasons turned and fall departed
overnight so when we woke the room
was chilled, our bodies cars that last night started
but in the morning cold would not resume.
A glimpse through frost-etched glass would soon make clear
that winter had arrived: snow inches deep
buried yards and gardens everywhere.
The sheet-white drifts resembled us asleep.

But nothing stays the same: though autumn’s gone,
the weather warmed a little bit and so
the lawn now holds a single heap of snow,
its shape a grave, its color like a stone.
Or maybe it’s a bed, where all alone
someone struggles never to let go.

Epiphany in England

Twenty-one and fresh from Iowa,
I made a pilgrimage to London,
Which I’d idealized from books and art
And shaped into a city of dreams.

Once there, through morning fog a friend and I
Rambled park to park, past Speakers’ Corner,
Along the Serpentine, and down Pall Mall
Until we burst upon the famous wonders:

Trafalgar Square, the Grecian columns of
St. Martin-in-the-Field, its portico,
Big Ben, and bridges arching over boats
Thrusting upstream on the great River Thames.

Then, in a narrow alley, as I squeezed
My way and rode the hurried crowd that surged
Onward to Charing Cross, abruptly crawling
Toward me, nearly prostrate on the bricks,

A young Black man I thought bent low to scoop
Loose silver someone dropped. But side by side,
I realized he had no legs: Stumping along
On gloves, he cut me down to size.