New Poems
Eye of the Hare

There! amongst lean-to grasses and trailing vetch
catch her? – vagrant, free-range and alert;

I saw the eager watch-tower of the ears, I knew
the power of legs that would fling her into flight;

concentrate, he said, and focus: you must love
the soft-flesh shoulder-muscles where the bullet bites,

caress – and do not jerk – the trigger: be all-embracing, be
delicate. I had no difficulty with the saucepan lid

down at the end of the meadow, lifted, for practice,
against the rhododendron hedge, I could sight

its smug self-satisfaction and shoot a hole
pea-perfect and clean through. Attention to the hare

left me perplexed for I, too, relish the vision
I imaged in its round dark eye, of a green world

easy under sunlight, of sweet sorrel and sacred herbs –
and I turned away, embarrassed, and absolved.

© John F. Deane      September 2010

(from a forthcoming collection,
Eye of the Hare, to be published by Carcanet
in June 2011)
The Colliers

They are born again out of the ribs of earth
to stand a while, stunned by light, have crawled
on bellies down constricted tunnels, along the guts

of the underearth, have struggled with the dark
implacable rock, dusts of a sojourn in the depths
tickling their throat. They are astounded once again

by gladioli, those upright, delicately blotched
ciboria of light, though what they are in need of now
is a draft of beer and a sluicing-down of flesh,

coal-dust gritting tide-lines along the bath.
Sunday they will kneel, awkwardly, at marble rails,
eyes shut, palms joined, black under the fingernails;

the immaculate hands of the priest will place
white bread on their tongues, and blood of the risen Christ
will wash through them, back into the veins of earth

from the forthcoming collection "Eye of the Hare" Carcanet May/June
Amongst Women

Perhaps he, too, called out from the womb
in protest – and was not heard; nor should the woman know

what shaped itself, or who. Perhaps she stood
to watch herself shadowed on the wall, to rub, wonderingly, the taut

elliptical globe of her belly, willing
the hovering of the graces, to offer their gifts of wisdom, prophecy

and of mortality. Until her knuckles gripped
white against the wooden rails, sweat assaulting her skin,

her shouts were of dismay and raking pain –
how long O Lord how long – and that wet eyes-shut too-vulnerable

was slapped and screaming his unwitting presence on the hard earth.
Chosen. This time, this space. Out of all other

possibilities. The why and wherefore unanswerable. A new life
swaddled in comfort. Beginning, at once, to age.

© John F. Deane 2012

I am in California. The moon –
colour of grandmother’s Irish butter – is lifting

over the Mount Diablo hills and the sky
is tinged a ripening strawberry. You sleep

thousands of miles from me and I pray your dreams
are a tranquil sea. Eight hours back

you watched this moon, our love-, our marriage-moon,
rise silently over our Dublin suburb, and you

phoned to tell me of it. I sit in stillness
though I am called where death is by; I am eating

night and grief in the sweet-bitter flesh
of blueberries, coating tongue and lips with juice

that this my kiss across unconscionable distances
touch to your lips with the fullness of our loving.

© John F. Deane 2012
The Lake

Lufthansa, to Frankfurt, to Tel Aviv. Night-flight,
the relief of a good book and a glass of garnet-red

wine that shades to black in the deep of the glass.
Introductions all round: the firm grip, at times

the already withdrawing grasp – Fellow Pilgrims!
Terminal, time for a coffee, a short perhaps, perhaps

a Danish. Grey evening, good for flying.
And what are you going out into the world to see?

exotica, date-palms, a hot-wind shore: where two
or fifty-three are gathered together in his name. . .

wonders of the flesh and spirit, a road-map for a shattered
faith. We, for a time, to be sojourners in a foreign land :

© John F. Deane 2012

This is the beginning of "Blessed and Broken", a sequence based on a
pilgrimage to the Holy Land in March of 2012; the booklet is privately
printed, not available in bookshops, available at readings or through
this website.

    (Next section) December 2012

Mornings, when I plead for care across the day,
the image of you, Yeshua Ha-Maschiach,
walking by the shores of the great lake

disturbs me; those were not sophisticated men
but something in their living – at the edge of waters,
dependent –
lay vulnerable to your summoning words. I see you

predator, hovering: beak and claws, wings and talons,
an exacting love. I am restless always
with distracting questions, disturbances persisting,

I labour to let you in. We are suffering the consequences
of greed, like an Irish winter, days opening to a long
barrage of rain,
unmanning desperation in the souls of many; and what

is left to us? Yeshua, you, while blackbird and long-tailed tit
still come scattering across the gardens with their songs
and tsirrupings, how they weave and float and flit,

giving momentary respite :
New Poem February 2014

    High Tide

Dust on the beads on the vanished woman’s dressing-table,
a few grey hairs in the bristles of her brush,

a Missal fat with cards in memory. . . I gazed
into her amber-surround small hand-mirror, as if one might expect

the long years watching would have left some trace, her eyes
looking back at me with some sign of love;

grief thickens with its selfishness, loss
to the ongrowing ego, though the vanished soul, we may believe,

is settling to the banquet of the blessed. From her front window
I see the waters of Blacksod Bay, down

over the famished fields, the fuchsia hedges, the bogland wastes;
somewhere a dog is barking, and an ass

brays loudly. Around the pier, I know, thick clumps of seaweed
sway and slap in ongoing process, tides

will leave them flopped and slithery for a few hours, then touch
their edges again to a salt wakefulness. She

processed her beads with a fulsome regularity, I could hear the sibilance
of her almost-silent prayers, that irritating

constancy. And what can we do with loss? Replace the mirror, draw
the curtains against the window, turn and go out.

    © 2014

from a forthcoming collection of poems, to be titled "Semibreve"
Bunnacurry Pier
i.m. Declan Deane 1942-2010

It was morning then in the world, and we –
acolytes together – sang to the God who gave joy
to our youth. It is morning yet, in the still
backward of the soul that is memory, holding firm

across rise and ebb of happiness and grief. We ran
down to the pier, with makeshift rods, makeshift
lines and hooks, the waters of Blacksod Bay
brimming; we would be fishermen, we would be

fabulous, for the juvenile pollack came, bullagógs,
plumped to a silvering dark-green shape, big
as our father’s thumb, flickering in the dark-green
tide; we caught them, baiting hooks with the drawn-out

flesh of periwinkles, hoisting the tiddlers proudly up
to the rough-stone pier. We were raucous together then,
content – for now – in the slow upwelling of our lives
and beyond us, out there, the continents, the tides,

the harbours. And now, after it all, the decades, the
does the heart still sing? Remember how the story-teller
asked: what are you afraid of? Don’t you know that
once upon a time, Christ himself, our Little Father, died?

    © 2013

from a forthcoming collection of poems, to be titled