Tag Archives: Seamus Heaney

Tadpoles, Dead Cats and Seamus Heaney

 

pumper 2

Tadpoles, Dead Cats and Seamus Heaney

I wrote a nature poem once
it went like this:
You call yourself a tree?
My bank has more branches!
Not much of a poem really
I wrote it at a time when the Irish poetry scene
was dominated by rural poets
or to be more precise, by Seamus Heaney,
whose childhood memories
of peat bogs, tractors, ploughed fields, hard won harvests
of curlews and corncrakes of snipe and gannets
did not resonate with me
my childhood having been spent
in the newly spawned suburbs of south Dublin
where my friend Dermo and I roamed back lanes,
and vacant lots that promised prosecution to trespassers
a world of nettles, thistles, dock leaves for the stings
crows and magpies, a rumour of foxes
gardens of roses, dahlias, rhubarb, gooseberries
the ubiquitous potato
tadpoles in jam jars,
their embryonic frog legs kicking
and let’s not forget that dead cat we found
half consumed by maggots
in a cardboard box in the woods
behind the cavernous church
where Dermo liked to sit of a Sunday
close to the aisle, listening to the sound
of the women’s girdles as they strode up
for Holy Communion, according to Dermo
this is the sound that the girdles made:
whick whick
whick whick
but I digress…

I met Seamus Heaney once
north of the Liffey
a creative writing class,
this was before academia
and Nobel prizes
he was living in a cottage in Wicklow
he came, read some poems
and joined us in the pub afterwards
where I asked his opinion
of some of my heroes:
ee cummings, “a bit of a lightweight”;
Roger Mc Gough, the Liverpool Scene,
“a bunch of tricksters”;
James Simmons (a firebrand contemporary)
“does not understand the finality of print”.
These judgements were delivered
with a smile in a soft Derry accent,
a nicer man you could not meet
and one of two Nobel prize winners
that I have shared a drink with…
buy hey,
that’s more than enough name dropping for one poem.

 

Taking part in Sarah Connor’s challenge over at Earthweal.

Here’s Sarah’s prompt”

“So, for this prompt, I’d like you to think about how you first felt connected to nature – maybe as a child, or as an adult. Some of those lost words may inspire you, or you may have your own lost word (or world?) that gave you a sense of wonder at the natural world around you. Maybe you collected caterpillars, or watched birds on a bird-table, or squatted down to watch beetles, or looked up to see squirrels in the treetops.”

For John D. (a Poem and a Deconstruction) …Redux

 

For John D.

fecund, moribund, quincunx

fecund moribundity

moribund fecundity

rhizome, rissole, piss-hole in the snow

phenom, pheromone, genome

lissom, blossom, possum.

 

This poem is all about sound, association and perhaps, memory. The first three lines are an homage to the sound of ‘un’. The phrase -“fecund moribundity, moribund fecundity” –  was uttered by my friend, John Damery (John D.) during a discussion about the music of Neil Diamond – his oeuvre, his place in the pantheon. This was some time ago but it has always stuck in my head, it has a brevity and clarity  that could only have been brought on by the consumption of 5 or 6 pints and the ingestion of greasy chicken. After a long legal battle (not really) he has recently granted me permission to use  it in a poem.

The fourth line is the workhorse of the poem, the engine, the poem’s midfield general. It inverts the ‘mo’ from the first 3 lines to create the ‘om’ that dominates the last two lines. it also introduces ‘iss’ which makes an appearance in the last line. As for “piss-hole in the snow”, I defy anyone to find a finer example of bathos . The fifth line is all about ‘om” but note the clever inversion back to ‘mo’ in ‘pheromone’.

The sixth and last line has a slick softness to it like blancmange. As promised the ‘iss’ from ‘rissole’ and ‘piss-hole’ makes an appearance  before morphing into ‘oss’ and in a final stroke of nothing that remotely approaches genius, the transformation of ‘om’ into ‘um’.

Notes:

quincunx (a word that flirts with obscenity):

an arrangement of five objects with four at the corners of a square or rectangle and the fifth at its centre, used for the five on dice or playing cards, and in planting trees.

rhizome:

a continuously growing horizontal underground stem that puts out lateral shoots and adventitious roots at intervals.

Both words were used in an article in the Irish Times on the poetry of Seamus Heaney, sent to me by John D; ‘Cartesian dualism’ and ‘Binarism’ were also mentioned (and Jesus wept).

rissole:

a compressed mixture of meat and spices, coated in breadcrumbs and fried.

My mom used to make them, although I remember them as being more like a hamburger patty without the bun…thanks, mom!

Photo: English Bay, Vancouver, A-MAZE-ING LAUGHTER, by Yue Minjun.

 

 

For John D. (a Poem and a Deconstruction)

 

For John D.

fecund, moribund, quincunx

fecund moribundity

moribund fecundity

rhizome, rissole, piss-hole in the snow

phenom, pheromone, genome

lissom, blossom, possum.

 

This poem is all about sound, association and perhaps, memory. The first three lines are an homage to the sound of ‘un’. The phrase -“fecund moribundity, moribund fecundity” –  was uttered by my friend, John Damery (John D.) during a discussion about the music of Neil Diamond – his oeuvre, his place in the pantheon. This was some time ago but it has always stuck in my head, it has a brevity and clarity  that could only have been brought on by the consumption of 5 or 6 pints and the ingestion of greasy chicken. After a long legal battle (not really) he has recently granted me permission to use  it in a poem.

The fourth line is the workhorse of the poem, the engine, the poem’s midfield general. It inverts the ‘mo’ from the first 3 lines to create the ‘om’ that dominates the last two lines. it also introduces ‘iss’ which makes an appearance in the last line. As for “piss-hole in the snow”, I defy anyone to find a finer example of bathos . The fifth line is all about ‘om” but note the clever inversion back to ‘mo’ in ‘pheromone’.

The sixth and last line has a slick softness to it like blancmange. As promised the ‘iss’ from ‘rissole’ and ‘piss-hole’ makes an appearance  before morphing into ‘oss’ and in a final stroke of nothing that remotely approaches genius, the transformation of ‘om’ into ‘um’.

Notes:

quincunx (a word that flirts with obscenity):

an arrangement of five objects with four at the corners of a square or rectangle and the fifth at its centre, used for the five on dice or playing cards, and in planting trees.

rhizome:

a continuously growing horizontal underground stem that puts out lateral shoots and adventitious roots at intervals.

Both words were used in an article in the Irish Times on the poetry of Seamus Heaney, sent to me by John D; ‘Cartesian dualism’ and ‘Binarism’ were also mentioned (and Jesus wept).

rissole:

a compressed mixture of meat and spices, coated in breadcrumbs and fried.

My mom used to make them, although I remember them as being more like a hamburger patty without the bun…thanks, mom!

Photo: English Bay, Vancouver, A-MAZE-ING LAUGHTER, by Yue Minjun.