Four Poems

Tom Paulin

To a Political Poet

after Heine

Your baggy lyrics,
they’re like a cushion
stuffed with smooth grudges
and hairy heroes.

‘Me Mam’s Cremation’,
‘Me Rotten Grammar School’,
‘Ode to the Toffee-Nosed Gits
Who Mocked My Accent’.

Now your whinges
get taught in class
and the kids feel righteous –
righteous but cosy.

A Walk to Pubble Shrub Gardens

for John and Tina McClelland

This fawn plastic box
contains my archive,
a ghat of paper
I set single words on
like a loyal wife
who must turn to ash and bone
out of love.
It’s the grist, I lie to them,
for a curt essay
on the Girondins
whom of course I condemn –
a scammed, powerless,
toady wee man
who remembers Year One
as a yellow ladder
peeled in the sun
or the minister’s hydrofoil
bopping the length of both loughs.
I used go to school
with Van Morrison,
even founded a band
called The Cruthin
in that wader’s dreamtime
before the place changed colour.
Then one wairsh spring
I melted like Kamenev
from a shot of the platform.
They kept me alive –
a piece of brown barm,
a liquid curse –
before flicking me west
to stack books in a library
and do no one any harm.
So I write verse,
listen, and take walks
to the water-gardens
an improving landlord
floated outside Tempo.
I’m like a nurse
who combs out the nits
from the hairy talk
in these parts –
I put them all on paper
and change nothing.

The Maiden that is Makeless

I was sitting on a wall
in Co. Clare:
dew brish on the grass
and the light knocking
each drop of it
into the coldest of lead colours –
magenta and chill purple,
quicked blues that broke
on queasy greens –
all beautiful and base
like the rings of Saturn
or the style a platinum blonde
who’d skimmed in a jet
from connecticut
flipped aluminum to me
through a hi! smile
one hour before
she took me apart
in a creashy lane.

This wet, fresh place
was all amethyst and jism,
and as I had in her hand
it melted in me
the second I slung myself
into the priest’s black Morris –
what a grand day it was, sure,
and didn’t that mountain
of pure, bare stone,
though it struck me then
like a pap next a missal
beyond the dark jacket,
have a special position
to his way of thinking?

Were the Rosenbergs framed with a pack of Jell-O?

I was feeling kind of feisty
that snowcold day in Taos Pueblo
when I happened on a smashed chapel
above the Indian cemetery.
Like Mr President, they sure kicked ass,
those braves, in ’48,
till the US Army
started chucking shells
at the priests’ stained house –
I’d say they were well rid of it.