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POETRY IRELAND

by Blake Steele

March through June, 2003

 

 

 

INDEX

 

A…

A CRY, HALF DRUNK, ON THE SEA ROAD

UNDER A FULL MOON

G…

GATHERING MEMORIES

 

S…

ST. PADDY’S POETRY NIGHT IN INNISMORE

STONES

 

T…

TUATHA DE DANAN

 

W…

WALKING ON…

 

LAST POEM: STONES

 

 

 

 

ST. PADDY’S POETRY NIGHT IN INNISMORE

 

It was St. Paddy’s day and all the tourist left the island

to celebrate in Galway.

I stayed on the island of Innismoore and wandered down

to a local pub by the quay.

It was packed with families and thick with smoke.

A lady said, the fishermen are in from the sea

to celebrate. You'll never see it more authentic than this.

One huge man leaned his back against the wall.

I wore my headdress and feathers.

He eyed me and said, ÒYou look like you have something to share.Ó

I said, “I can share a poem,” and he nodded

for me to take the floor.

I stood up, but the place was buzzing with noise,

so the fisherman shouted, “The man has a poem to share,”

and the place went stone silent.

I shared one, and the people listened with their hearts,

you could tell, their eyes closed,

a hand hovering over the heart.

Not a noise, nothing to disturb

the flow of words, the sharing of soul.

I thought, only in Ireland could this happen

where any boy you meet might have

a poem in his pocket, one he was learning by heart.

 

 

 

TUATHA DE DANAN

 

1. The First Mythic Meeting of the Day:

I walk towards the seal colony and they lazily slip off

the rocks into the sea. Then, they all arise to gaze at me,

in a semi-circle of curios eyes.

Suddenly, in the exact center a white seal arises

high up, staring straight at me.

An innocent, mysterious queen

surrounded by her counselors.

White like snow with huge doleful eyes,

she looks like she knows me,

and is longing for me

to take off my man clothes,

or for her to drop her seal-skin

and for our spirits to meet

in some other world.

2. The Second Mythic Meeting

Late, the crowds gone,

I walk the bare stone path

to Dun Angus, that holy

Celtic shrine that stands

between two worlds.

I think I have just come around a corner,

but there is no corner,

my eyes are blinded until I am almost

at the stone bridge

on which a long-haired sheep stands

with the low sun splashing golden light

over it. Next to it sits a huge, black crow.

They stare at me, and then the black crow caws,

lifts its huge wings

and flies off to the right.

The sheep continues to watch me

boldly, unwavering.

We gaze at each other:

like we are each a manifestation

of the other’s dream of mystery.

3. The Third Meeting

As I approach the main entrance of the sacred fort

the setting sun streams through the door.

It is just the perfect time of year for it.

I don’t know if it is a trick of my eyes

or the carefully crafted work of ancient architects,

but the light shines through in such a way

that it creates a brilliant, soft radiance of white light

that shifts and opens in its center

to a hazy door of infinite blue.

I feel like I am gazing through a door

opened for a moment into paradise.

I lean against the stone portal and cry for the love for God.

4. The Holy of Holies

The holy of holies of Dun Angus is open and spacious,

surrounded by three stone walls

with the fourth side, to the south,

an open space of sky,

and its floor a sheer 300 foot drop to the sea.

A raised stone area stands in the center

My guess is that they built the fort around it

so it could be used as a natural altar.

On its face is a finger of stone jutting out from the cliff,

pointing towards the mist of the sea

and the mythical Island of the Ever Young

they say appears when the light is right.

I carefully sit out on the finger of stone,

my feet dangling in the sky, and pray,

drinking in the freshness, the naked exhilaration

as the sea thunders rhythmically in caves far below.

I call on Eshoo, (perhaps I am the first person here

in over 3,000 years to use his Aramaic name),

and watch the sun sink to a cool,

a red mass settling over the distant bank of fog. 

5. The Road Home.

As I come around a bend of the sea road,

a huge, shimmering, blood-red moon

has just risen above the eastern sea

and hangs low over a dark labyrinth of stone walls

like a shining broach upon the gray cloak

of some distant god.

 

 

 

A CRY, HALF DRUNK, ON THE SEA ROAD

UNDER A FULL MOON

 

I want to be one voice,

amongst millions of voices,

singing, shouting, crying,

Freedom!

I just got these lines

under a full-moon-lit sky

as two wild swans flew by.

To dance the wild dance,

to complete the holy circle naked,

to open every door without fear,

and find the primal beauty unmasked

in the wild freedom of Love.

Love, Love, Love

is the one law of Life,

Love the path

of the soul’s liberation.

I want to be one voice,

amongst millions of voices,

singing, shouting, crying,

Freedom!

 

 

April 1, 2003

 

WALKING ON…

 

I walked on a strand

beaten by the blue waves and bright foam,

and swept by a wind that howled its lonely howl

in the rattling stones.

On my right hand seals watched me

from the cold, blue-gray sea,

and on my left sailed swans in sweet water.

And before me the gulls and terns road the sea swells

and arose with quick flaps of their wings

over the fast moving foam.

While behind me stretched my whole life:

a mysterious weaving of the soul

like a jumble of seaweed

thick and slick and shining on cold stones.

 

 

 

 

 

GATHERING MEMORIES ON INNIS MOR

 

Here, in this shed on grey sheets of stone

overlooking the seal-filled  sea,

amidst fat geese waddling on stones,

chickens scratching in briars,

ducks casually raping each other’s docile mates,

I write to gather a handful of impressions

from the vast river of images

that have flooded through my nights and days.

Below me, the sea roars and moves in the motions

of slow, monstrous tides.

The little hut creeks like a ship riding

oceans of wind.

From high, sheer cliffs I have watched

sea-birds soar far below me,

riding the rising currents of air,

seemingly, silently ecstatic,

shooting up over the lips of stones

with wild, triumphant cries.

There I opened my heart, teetering

on the edge between two worlds:

one of grass and stones

and one of sheets of sky.

And I longed to leap into the air

and fall and fall into the dark sea

to meet old pirates in their lairs,

and Viking raiders, and hardy women

who watched their fires and warmed cold children

while their husbands fought the tides

and prayed they would return from the oceanÕs

dangerous bosom with a basket of fish

and more than stories to tell.

And I walked stone paths between stonewalls,

skirting primordial forts of stacked stone

and tiptoeing on the top of razor rocks

worn into weapons by centuries of relentless winds.

And I knelt in the grass to read the epitaphs of children cursed

out of heaven by the beliefs of Love-starved souls,

all the while their little spirits rocked in the arms

of limitless Love.

And I’ve huddled behind walls of ancient ruins

to feel the sun on my skin while the cold wind

howled overhead.

And I’ve touched mysteries beyond telling:

secrets muttered by seals and animals and birds

and glimpsed through doors as old as mountains.

And here I'll pause, for the story is too long,

the impressions too rich, the moment too telling.

 

 

 

 

 

 

STONES

 

Everywhere stretch stonewalls,

like a vast spider’s web spun by the weathered hands

of island people.

The beaches are a mass of round sea-stones.

Stones…

Rough stones, old stones,

worn and weathered stones,

standing stones, olgam stones,

sleeping stones dreaming a long history,

leaning stones sheltering prehistoric bones.

Stone Celtic crosses broken by Cromwell’s violent men

jut up in carpets of thick grass.

A mound hides a Viking king.

Horses clop down the lower, sea road between

walls of ivy-covered stones.

Near the ruined church of the Four Beautiful Saints

I drop a yellow shell into an ancient

holy well. The stones here are polished black

from thousands of knees, bare feet and tears.

The sweet waters have not failed

for hundreds of generations.

On a hill old stones cover the graves

of many children and bear the inscriptions of tears:

"Little Tirza Lies Here."

                   *

This island is a monument to stones.

 

 

 

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