The figures are relentless –
accurate though not definitive
in that they might not indicate
the full extent of the disaster.
A lull might occur one day
when deaths in a nursing home
are not included,
a spike another day that comprises
that stretch back two months.
Each day I skip over
poems that celebrate life
when all it takes
is mention of an anecdote
to animate those lost:
the way he might doff his hat
the way she loved to go dancing –
dressed in a taffeta gown
and patent leather shoes.
Níl srian le líon na bhfigiúirí –
cruinn gan a bheith críochnúil
mar go bhféadfaí nach dtugann siad
léargas ar mhéid na tubaiste.
D’fhéadfaí go dtarlaíonn ísliú lá
nach gcuirtear básanna
i dteach altranais san áireamh,
ardú lá eile
a gcuimsítear figiúirí ospidéil
a shíneann siar dhá mhí.
Gach lá scinnim thar dhánta
a cheiliúrann an saol
nuair nach nglacann sé
ach tagairt do scéilín
anam a chur iontu siúd a cailleadh:
an chaoi a dtógadh seisean a hata
an chaoi ar bhreá léise dul ag damhsa –
gúna tafata is bróga snasleathair
á gcaitheamh aici.
-Celia de Fréine
Submitted March 21 2021
Youth in Age
"Grow old along with me/The best is yet to be", Robert Browning
Life’s third age is its best stage.
Your time’s now all yours to arrange.
Though the bed of pleasure
Can become a bed of pain,
There still is much to treasure,
Much to gain.
No more rushing here and there,
No more lectures to prepare,
No more meetings now to chair,
No more deadlines to be met,
Or assignments to be set..
When you’ve remade your contract with your face,
And with your body, in time and place,
When meals become ceremonial,
And rising‘s a kind of ritual,
And having your spouse all to yourself
At last becomes actual;
And climbing the stairs
May well be impractical,
And grandchildren’s names
Challenge easy recall,
And non-demand play
Sets you up for the day.;
When body speaks quiet to body,
And soul seeks the solace of soul,
And you now know that conscious joy
Is finally yours.
A quiet, calm, reflective age
Can be life’s most blessed stage.
But first you must accept the move,
And, if possible, be in love.
Submitted April 27, 2021
A poem of hope for February.
Spring on the way
We’ve left the cursed
With its Covid-19
For we’ve got a vaccine
Onwards we run
To the spring and the sun
The lockdown’s been tough
We stayed inside
Kept our distance
Washed our hands
Wished the winter away
And at the end of the day
To banish our fears
Snowdrops burst forth
And the crocus of course
Daffodils will bloom
We’ll be finished with Zoom
Let’s all have a laugh
For this too will pass
Saint Patrick’s Day nears
As the vermin he clears
Easter will come
And the world will go on
Submitted June 18, 2021
The old Cherry blossom sees the change.
She feels it in the wind.
Choking without a mouthful of life,
Her source severely dimmed.
She gathered it from children.
Clambering through her branches, thick
and fast, no fear of falling.
Brandishing muddy hands and stains of grass.
She took the breath away from lovers,
As they leaned against her trunk
The weight of them against her
the feeling of bodies falling in love.
She sheltered the pain of the grey man,
who sat under her leaves with his wife.
Each day he chatted softly before
blowing a kiss. He left her flowers pink and bright.
The branches are not hers but ours.
Weaving memories made long before.
But Spring will always come
and her twigs will grow once more.
- Hannah Byrne
Submitted March 3, 2021
Greta Thunberg is right
This is not a poem
that rhymes, nor should it because
it’s just plain speaking
Greta Thunberg says
vaccines are a moral test
about thinking of
others, not yourself
Once we were in the same boat
Now we’ve disembarked
and feel more secure
facing the future than the
past. Variants of
concern, not people
are our main concern. On my
phone a woman
in another world
struggles to breathe. I worry
that what she has could
kill me. I do not
worry about her. I can
flick her away with
my finger any
time I want. Did my vaccine
make me immune to
the wrong things? It’s time
to look around. Remember
how we felt when we
thought we might all die
Millions are in that boat still
Greta Thunberg is
right - it’s a test, and
we are failing it. It’s time
we looked at ourselves
in the mirror and
saw someone else, frightened like
we all once were too
We don’t need a poem
to tell us what to do. It’s
staring in our face.
Submitted July 26, 2021
Along came a virus
Ignored it could no longer be.
An alluring carefree independence,
Now filled my air with resplendence.
'Mind those ill winds, those pastures new,
That aren't quite so green in hue.'
It mattered nought, counsel I'd not sought.
'Twas all wrought
Before there came a virus.
Of my life, I'll take control.
No more the system's slave, on my terms I shall engage,
This is working for our age.
Suffering, it can't be defeated,
But best to toil alone than to be mistreated.
The time's right, no fool I'll delight.
I had the fight,
Till along came a virus.
Measures now must be obeyed.
Submit ourselves, it won't last long,
Yet as time goes on, hope seems all but gone.
'It's for the best, we'll come out stronger,
We just have to stay in it a bit longer.'
Empty words, follow the herd.
The future spurned
When along came that virus.
Submitted April 26, 2021
A week of storms, this dark year
continuing, rain, hail and ongoing confinement.
Today, caught in the Ides of another March,
we finally had sun.
With no parade I washed my windows,
the crunch of leaves under my feet,
a dunnock foraging the last winter berries.
A young hare who lives at the end of my garden
moved closer, nibbling daffodil leaves.
Snowdrops are fading and a bed of celandine
is taking hold.
A flock of geese soared above the cattle
in a neighbouring field, and all the while
a young wren warbling from a branch.
All this, all of this and still I am at war,
try to keep order, as weeds threaten
A starling flies from my roof, shits
on my head
“I am grateful,”
I sigh across my garden, in a call of defiance
for the chrysalis clinging to the edge of my window,
one bee buzzing around
an apricot flower which will never produce fruit.
There is sun, but not enough heat,
and all this scent
of hyacinth, pink camilla calling me to look
overhead, clouds bursting east.
I persevere, fearing I’ve wasted my life
and when I’m gone, all this will go on,
all of this life in my garden, and still
I battle to be in its caim.
*Caim is a gaelic word which means to be encircled in protection.
Submitted May 3, 2021
It rains. Words slip from my fingers
as the rain falls.
I see a bird seeking a rest
while I write.
My face scares him,
as it scares me.
In this room —everything I’ve known—
I see the seasons come and go
And a white flower getting dark
with no help.
Everything travels by my window,
People are released from their homes
but not me -
a bird stuck in its own wings.
The chair I sit in holds me
with no possibility of release.
Submitted October 5, 2021
- Last Updated: Nov 3, 2021 11:15 AM
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