Patrick Devaney’s poems have appeared in Revival, The Galway Review, Boyne Berries, The Stony Thursday Book, Crannóg, and other magazines.
He has published eight novels, including Through the Gate of Ivory, Romancing Charlotte, written under the pen name Colin Scott, and The Grey Knight: A story of Love in Troubled Times.
He is a member of Phi Beta Kappa.
Beyond the car-park wall,
an ornate, half-intact lavabo
and vestiges of sacred buildings
transform the level field below us,
basking in the warm September sun
like fragments of a skeleton.
Listen while Cistercians chant in Latin
to Christendom’s all-powerful God
before a Tudor king usurps His role.
And look! The Anglo-Irish Moores
taking up residence after that king
Has dissolved monasteries for their wealth.
Now there’s the courteous Garret Moore
leading his Ulster friend, Hugh O’Neill,
into the presence of seated Mountjoy.
Head bowed, the rebel chief falls on his knees
and makes submission to a Tudor queen,
not knowing she is dead.
But what’s this? The Great O’Neill back here –
a last, sad visit to a gracious friend
before he and O’Donnell take to sea ?
Later, trailing my bright-faced daughter,
I notice a Speckled Wood stir on a briar –
do they, like Hugh, intend to flee?
‘Hand’ by Louis le Broquy
What to make of this uplifted hand
displaying its disturbing coloration,
finger-tops and palm crimsoned:
a prankster halting rush-hour traffic?
the hand of Cain or an urban terrorist?
But what if it’s the subject’s own blood
or just some bright-red paint
accidentally acquired while decorating
garden fence or indoor furniture?
Could it be the blood-red hand of Ulster,
cut off so that a chieftain
by flinging it ashore could claim that region?
But that would surely be his left hand
and this is definitely the other one –
the hand most used to exploit planet earth –
or it might be God’s right hand,
not the one depicted by Michelangelo
where Yahweh kindles life in Adam
but that of the angry ruler of the skies
drowning birds, beasts, reptiles, humans in the Flood,
raining fire and brimstone on Sodom and Gomorrah,
outdoing our most blood-soaked tyrants?
Whatever the intent, this painting of a body part –
evolved not just for showing fellowship
but for more complex tasks, writing, manipulating,
and all too often stained with blood of fellow humans –
was surely created to disturb?
Since most of us now disregard ‘In God We Trust’,
I think this lurid artwork may be proclaiming:
‘Halt, fellow naked apes,
before we nuke ourselves to dust.’
This was the summer when at last
My novel that seemed destined
To moulder in unpublished shame
Was launched with promising acclaim,
The summer when our pink hydrangeas
Came into most prolific bloom
And sun-blessed days found us venturing
As of old into the healing sea
Then eating sandwiches by rock-pools
While you exclaimed at crabs and shells
Or asked the names of shoreline birds.
This was the summer when our son
Sat his Leaving Cert then dipped his toe
Into the wave of self reliance,
His sisters, discontented swallows,
Set their eyes on exotic, far-off shores:
India, New Zealand, while in Japan
Another rested, and the fourth at home
Eased the drudgery of work with dreams
Of married love and continental dawns.
This was the summer when fear whispered,
‘Life will never be so good again,’
The Times tossed that novel ‘Beyond the Pale’,
House martins, skylarks, butterflies were few,
My back disk slipped, your tear duct clogged,
Mites bit, feet ached, sleep came slow at night,
And yet the sun beguiled our waking,
Trees, lawns and hedges gleamed, corn ripened,
Gnats danced near ‘drowning lily’ blooms,
While swallows on electric wires
Gave twittering end-of-summer proms.
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