Paul Casey 6 Poems

Paul Casey Biographical Details    Contemporary Irish Poetry Index


Stone Circle Circle
Dia an Cheoil (God of Music)
Indoor Forest
Inside the Bonsai
what’s clogging the mindpipes?
on second thoughts


Stone Circle Circle

‘Stone Circle Circle’ first appeared in Colony

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Dia an Cheoil / God of Music

Dia an Cheoil

Trí fheadóg bhí ag m’athair
A mbéalóg glas, gorm is dearg
Gaotha binne a séideadh
Maidin, iarnóin is oíche

Gach feadóg díobh ar nós a gcuid
Slat flaidireachta, ag lascadh an aeir,
Is chuir a gcuid duán faoi bhriocht mé,
Agus ghéill me láithreach gan teip

Sracadh den uisce mé le draíocht
Is mé nach mór ag eitilt
Mar is é an ceol, an Dia is láidre,
Bhuel sea, í ndiaidh an ghrá

Ach go cinnte an Dia is iontaofa.
Slogadh anois me, a Dhia an Cheoil
Le do chuid slata daite draíochta
Múnlaigh mé led fhuaim

A Mhúinteoir uamhnaigh
go dtí go mbeidh na píosaí beaga den eagla
Imithe, is go dtagann ar ais an solas

In ainm na feadóige moire glaise
Is na feadóige moire goirme
Is na feadóige moire deirge


God of Music

My father played three tin whistles
through lips of green, blue and red
sweet winds blew
morning, night and noon

each a flyfishing line
split the air
hooked each pitch deep
into the underbelly of surrender

to be whisked from water
into perfect flight.
So, music is the mightiest god
after love and surely

the most eternal
Swallow me whole god of music
spin-flick those fly-rods, the colours of magic
mould me in tones of unheard notes

again, dear and dreadful teacher
‘till these tiny scales of fear fall
away with the first rays of light

In the name of the green flute
and of the blue
yes, and of the red flute too

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Indoor Forest

If your urban life is leaf-free
one might say
you could bring the forest to you

to a wide south-facing sill
solar steeped and deepened
with a small table, enough

for sixty pint-sized pots
ten say, by six
with seed varieties endless

cheap as compost on e-bay
green up those phalanges
rein in the continents

with maple jacaranda coral
spruce acacia wattle and
after two careful winters

a forest
spread open, bough
to open bough

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Inside the Bonsai
………………………….after Yehuda Amichai

You visit me inside the bonsai
together we can hear the secateurs
clipping around and around us precisely
You whisper to me

I trust your words
because they carry grains of salt
the way real seaweed
carries salt from the sea

I press your fingers to my lips
this too will shape the future
and your fingers are cool
the way a hot day is blue

these things are all true
You visit me inside the bonsai
and you’ll wait with me here
until the secateurs complete their work

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what’s clogging the mindpipes?

A clamper spends all day seeking the key to his question
An artist removes an opinion from her mind’s eye with thinned
ideas made from crayons. An architect’s mind is written out
and emptied and filled with fresh addictive frustrations.

Today is a coffee overflowing with answers to yesterday’s dilemnas
as sugar-free yesterdays are auctioned off in the yellow pages.
These have in recent years faded to white. The blank screen is a pause
button, a quiet picture of night framed dead center in the room.

A grandchild discovers how to clean a marble headstone. The shaker
of good memories will dance around an old thorn to tease it out.
A friend can pluck one’s courage up enough to oust a second thought.
People are pricking themselves on digital cactii, recording their lives

in virtual quipu. A government official spends all day whitewashing
a newspaper headline from the minds of peers. In the city of river-
bellied streets, council workers spend all day unblocking the drains,
dislodging the giant splinters that accumulate in the anonymous night.

A generation of digital miners chip away at their questions all decade.
Do they know (do they dare wonder) just how things might change?
Haven’t they heard? There’s nothing like a long cold draught
of negative equity to regulate the middle classes, oh yeah. That.

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on second thoughts

It’s time for that coffee and packing up of principles
and off to the imagined life, the lock of that stolen key
Could it be this torrent of barbarity we hear and see
keeps us in constant mistrust of our own humanity?
Being spoilt isn’t just an expression, is it now?
We can only do a lot with a little for so long
and traffic is all about flow and avoiding pretzels
Nasturtiums in our mouths are worth gardens
for deserted nets won’t capture lines, lives, nor
will reciting pi to a thousand places while high
as fifth century stylites, our monkey brothers
close at hand, Soon Mo Kong and Hanuman
finding Jupiter in the frosted pavements of the cities
There’s so much more to what we’ve done than luck

Life won’t run away at twenty-four frames per second
in its timeline of deadlines laid pipe-like in the depths
of an age when late winters meant hot summers, kudzu
colonising at a foot per day. So let’s lay a full keel, flee
livid with illusions of progress, the sky split by each in turn
for once shy and forever bitten, we wear all of our layers
we seek the unfound bodies that lie beneath the rain
shallow as a field of g.m. spuds in county Wicklow
and teach our phones to speak Irish so as to consider
the price of being 100% Irish-legal, the full cost analysis.
With the sacred now virtual, we’re walking the world home
as we protest through spending saved and unsaved time
Why count the days in pairs of socks or human chains
and keys of corporate law and vagabondary?

A thousand years ago they’d all be dead men. What fools
take on the traits of film characters, splice fantasy to their
instinct? You, see beauty as a jungle of endless species
a menu unmeant to be written or told. Loss as an artist’s
heart, a black goat, the angel’s share calling the shots
and that’s the kettle calling the hob more efficient for you
Though it may well be a case of mistaken identity crisis
we’ve nothing left to give but the desire to give
Let’s take our souls down to the drycleaners for a spin
we’ve been stuffing the French press with ground-down
words, doomsday scenarios, temporary considerations
If you discriminate among colours you’re a colourist
And those sixty-four twits who make the world go round
indulging in the odd few delusions of grandeur, singing

war as the appropriate response – and then of its nature
while others find teaspoons more lethal than knives
the lives of rolling stones won’t end in their settling
What we imagine in dread can be actualised by all
the wrong people for we’ve imagined it, unrealised
Dark cumulous speeds along the edge of your iris
and in each, a flash – yes you too harbour lightning
We talk of the dreaded ends of those we love, wish
upon them more music, more life while we share
this one, dreaming in one tense, living the other
hoping beyond hope the inevitable turns evitable
Too much too soon too little too late too clichéd,
too unique, there’s no true synonym for synonym
Now we’re specialising in generalising in a time loop

of jumping through hoops, can’t change how we feel
till we feel what we feel and the thing about avocados is
that downloading is our new favourite form of exercise
And how long is a moment? Excuse me a moment. I know
it’s not time yet. Has your imagination too been faithful?
A too cool fool, you say? Perhaps a too cool fool
but a happily too cool fool, in search of that silent L
in words where, the phone won’t play dead for long
where the dead have been calling all day long
where summer thermals make earth-clouds of the trees
or, white-winged raindrops rise in pairs to the sky, only
to fall as caustic grains of sapphire sand, forget the house
in the hills, we should stay right here, clarity being such
a hard-won magnificence, and we so quick to cloud it

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