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
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

    New Poem August 2015

John Clare’s Bedlam

What do they pack for you in that battered suitcase
as they leave you to the madhouse door? How do they say

“goodbye”? how turn away? And how do you
turn from them, from the finches, from the sloe-

blossoms and music of the rainclouds – how do you face
towards that scanting cell? How will the warm sun’s rays

discover where you are, all this not in the scheme
of God’s devising? Can you sing while you suffer the severe

processes they have planned for your purgation?
– bleedings, chemicals – to turn the runnels of your brain

to oozings? And all the while the unfazed robin
calls you to rake for her the good, black earth again,

the fox would lead you down his trodden path, through
fragrances of pine, the tough-branched undergrowth you know

out to the heather marches where you would hymn, apart,
God and made-things, Christ and abundance, because the heart

is a shire too great to be enclosed, and the sky above is chaste
and shiftful as divinity, life-giving as the dark blood of the Christ.

from "Semibreve"     © 2015