A Serenade for Spring

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A Serenade for Spring

 

Were the colours ever so glorious as this Spring?

Bird song never seemed so loud, so fresh, so close.

The very heavens have cleared, the air is pure, again.

 

Again?  When were the skies ever so clear for so long?

Never in my memory.  Everywhere Nature explodes

in our very faces, assailing all our awakened senses.

 

By the roadsides the pale primrose proudly asserts

herself, free from all the fumes of passing traffic,

even the badger thrives, road kill abounds no more.

 

Down in the quiet harbour a cormorant fished

undisturbed, unseen but by ourselves and the gulls.

An old neighbour called out from her doorway,

“It’s like someone stole away all the people.”

Galloping Children

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Galloping children

The ageing grey tenement released

it’s children on a fine day; bright, clear skies

and gentle breezes, one of those perfect days

in childhood, often recalled in fond

memories.  A white van pulled up and

my father and uncle, finished their

workday early for once, simply scooped

up all who played on the street, bundled

them in the back where they bounced around

happy in the mystery of where they

might land.  When their drive was done, released

once more, they looked around, wide eyed.

A stream rushed and tumbled over great

granite rocks while Scots pines soared so tall

and proud.  Specks of white fluff moved slowly

across the green heights of the hills above.

“They’re sheep,” my father explained before

turning to his brother, adding, “children

need a gallop every now and then.”

 

The sound of one hand skipping

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The sound of one hand skipping

Out I went because I wanted to play

with a hop, skip, jump and a one, two, three,

they said half-an-hour is all I could stay

even when there’s no-one else, just me.

Johnny at his window looks sad today

he can’t come out because it’s my turn here.

Mary’s mother just shoo’ed me away,

think she was afraid I’d come too near.

Flapping his wings landed a big black crow

I asked out loud “would you like to play?”

He looked at me, and wouldn’t you know

he said nothing at all then flew away.

In the garden shed where they keep the tools

I found some old rope no-one else wanted,

They taught a rhyme before closing our schools

so, I skipped and out loud I chanted –

don’t forget coughs and sneezes spread diseases

always remember you cover your mouth,

don’t touch your face, sneeze into your elbow

all because coughs and sneezes spread diseases

and that’s how we’ll make this old virus go.

2020 vision, or they still lie to us

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2020 vision, or they still lie to us

They always lie to us.

When they proclaim they are

telling the truth

they act as if this were

virtue on their part,

rather than a sacred duty.

They always lie to us.

The wars never end

by Christmas,

there were no weapons of

mass destruction

and

the faltering fail-safes

often fail to hold,

situations being always

worse than they proclaim.

They always lie to us.

Drip feeding us morsels,

indecipherable

tit bits of truth,

is also a form of lying.

They always lie to us,

so much so

that it is no longer

a source of sadness,

instead,

the sadness lies

in how often we

forget,

how seldom we

remember,

in our ever and always

believing,

not admitting that

they always lie to us.

 

What about the working man?

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“What about the working man?”

 

His roaring filled the street.

We were children scurrying

past, herd safety in numbers,

safety in distance, across the street.

 

What about the working man?”

That was his challenge for every passerby,

arms flailing, old coat flapping, eyes blind

to everyone, to everything else but…

 

In the trenches, he was, never right since.

They say when drinking he sees

the faces of men he killed up close,

with a bayonet.

 

I heard that years later,

after he died, old age finally

granting him peace.  Back then,

he spread his fear and horror

while we were children scurrying

past, herd safety in numbers,

safety in distance, across the street,

not seeing in his eyes

the dead men he saw,

dying closer to him

than we could ever dare to be.

 

Note – this is about a real person who lived in the same Parish as myself in Kilkenny City.  It is also the last poem I shared with Denis Collins of Wexford before his untimely death in the last week.  He was preparing an exhibition on the theme of Work for  May Day.  Alas it was not be, this was to be one of my contributions.  On the Facebook page Kilkenny Down Memory Lane there were some posts recalling notable characters from days gone by, this poor soul was one of the people remembered. His battle cry remains as relevant as ever, “what about the working man?”

Evening stroll, Old Town, Chania, Crete

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Evening stroll, Old Town, Chania, Crete

 

He was a gentleman, holding us but

a moment, smiling in simple delight

at chatting again with some visitors

to the old quarters of the Cretan town,

his, obviously, wrapped around him like

the warm clothes he wore as a shield

against the mild Spring night.

 

He said, “this was little Jerusalem

before the war.  Lovely people, kind

to the children, like me, playing

on these streets, often gave us sweets,”

pausing, “there’s not many left now.”

 

He asked us where we were from, was it cold

when we left, did we have much snow?  He heard

it was a land that was wonderfully green, except

when it snowed.  Was it true it often rained?

 

We parted then, went our separate ways.

Strolling those same lanes again, a bright,

gloriously sunny day, we could see signs

above a handful of doorways, realising

then it was Passover.

5th Avenue Haiku

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Haiku inspired by two old ladies strolling along Fifth Avenue ,New York City, incorporating a commentary on our times and a measured response to the politics of President Trump

 

“Wouldn’t you think they

would take his Twitter away?”

“I know!  It’s simple.”

 

 

For those who love books, part one

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At the Library, New Ross

From my window desk, perched

high above the grey slated gables

I pause for thought, seeing spires

rising above the town, my view

tumbles towards two great rivers,

joined now as one, gliding gently

through.

 

I came to write peacefully,

to avoid distractions,

the well-known, oft cursed,

enemy of poets and writers.

 

Yet how can I ignore young birches

as Autumn colours grace their leaves

while they cradle in their golden grove

an amphitheater crying out for a voice

to proclaim aloud sheer joy that I live

near such a scribbler’s sanctuary?

 

The trees tremble as a soft breeze

flutters leaves, then wafts me back to

work where the very blood of words,

fresh ink, flows.

 

 

 Ó   Kevin Connelly 2018

5 shorter poems

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At least one thing

At least one thing I’ll remember,

he smiled happily under the bedclothes.

Bare arms lay suggestive on her pillow,

brown eyes flashing in the dim light.

At least that I’ll think of,

when I remember how I left,

remember how I was told to leave.

Sonnet

Sleeping on a park bench promises things

Will change for the better at dawn

Because the sun clears dew and the lark sings

Above the town’s red chimney studded lawn

While the fawn brown worm and silent snail

Creeping slowly from grass, leave a sign

Where the spotted thrush, with beak like nail,

Pierced shell and turned worm to wine.

Perhaps all this shows that God still lives,

Still cares for all. Rising early I see

A flower reflecting with droplet sieves,

Changing into mosaic sun through a tree

And I am stunned by amazing art

In small things playing such a tiny part.

Ships in the night

All right, I was happy then,

just being with you.

Even if every time

I

opened my mouth

you

thought I was after

something

you weren’t prepared

to give,

whatever that was.

Notice that…

We’re inclined to wonder,

seeing others care lined faces,

just exactly what it is they’ve seen.

In a lecture theatre I met

one who had surely seen and conversed

with the ghost of Hamlet’s father,

long since deceased.

published by “Boyne Berries” Spring 2013

Thirst

quenched his

thirst for knowledge

drink

seeking it

drowned him

finally

when he died

alone

he smiled

and part of me

died with that

smile.

Dolphins Danced That Day

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This poem is in memory of Martin Colfer. Skipper of the Rebecca C, who often took me out to search for the whales off the Hook Head in County Wexford.  The video was shot at a reading of this in The Troubadour London, during an evening organised by Coffee House Poetry.

 


 

Dolphins danced in the harbour that day

 

in memoriam Martin Colfer, Skipper of the Rebecca C

 

They were good, those days together, easy

sailing, easy talking, easy in each

others company.  He taught me how to

watch at sea for birds circling, then diving.

He showed me the seals spying on us,

the dolphins playing games around the boat,

then, wonder of wonders, we would reach where

we had seen the great whales blow.  At times we

would come so close we could hear their very

breathing.  Together we saw mighty Fin

Whales, majestic Humpbacks, playful passing

Minke.  Once, sailing from our own harbour

at Duncannon we set a Northward course

to Ballyhack he gave me the tiller

to hold her steady while he cleared space

for photographers, waiting for their chance

to see the sights that we had often seen.

It happened then we went through pods of

Dolphins swimming in families of three.

At one hundred we stopped our counting.

Small wonder so that the day they buried

him in the graveyard overlooking the bay

the dolphins danced in the water, plain

enough then, that all who mourned could see.