Friday 5 February 2021

Four Poems by Michael Durack




Moscow 1953, the fifth of March,

the Angel of Death paid two house calls,

the names of Stalin and Prokofiev in his book.


In the House of Unions the Agent of the Great Terror reposed.

The mourning begot such mass, such urgency

the Angel swooped and reaped a hundred more.


Amid the chaos, the Maker of Music was man-hauled

through backstreets against the human tide.

At his funeral there were thirty souls,

one for each piano, violin and cello concerto,

his every ballet, opera, symphony.


(after Botticelli)


A comely sand-haired Irish girl

sprung from a cross-roads in Connemara,

she has ditched her jeans and jumper

and her Dunne’s Stores lingerie

to surf naked but demure on a scallop shell.

And while modesty compels the bathers

on Salthill Strand to perform contortions

under wet towels, the gods have sent

a Zephyr and an Aura to blow-dry her ‘til she glows

and Hora, like some flower child of the ’sixties,

shakes out a cloak to welcome her ashore.


Home and dry

and tastefully accoutred for a photo shoot,

flanked by a coterie of wary boys,

she will offer to the little barrel of a cameraman

a stunning, impassive face,

while supporting with equal inattention

the ripe pomegranate and the plump naíonán

who waves at the call of Cheese!




So quiet I could hear the tick-tock

of the Grandfather on the kitchen wall

and the click of her key in the lock.


Seems like a scene from a Hitchcock

thriller, all hushed as a feather’s fall,

so quiet I could hear the tick-tock.


No crack in the silence, no knock

or patter of soles down the hall,

just the click of her key in the lock.


This is not some kind of baroque

horror tale to make one’s skin crawl,

so quiet I could hear the tick-tock.


So expect no denouement, no shock,

no plot twist, nothing like that at all,

just the click of her key in the lock.


Just a moment plucked from a stock

of memories scarcely worthy of recall,

so quiet I could hear the tick-tock

and the click of her key in the lock.





At the end of my 5 km tether,

a lockdown hostage, a Covid detainee,


I take refuge in the Forest of Language,

its foliage English, its roots universal.


Like Autumn sheddings the words cascade;

by their accents you can tell them apart.


Ballets and chauffeurs, cliches and menus,

honour and chivalry begotten in France.


Spanish fiestas, flotillas and patios.

Telepathy and policy nurtured in Greece.


Arabian alchemy, syrup and saffron,

tariffs and traffic, magazines, gauze.


Assembled in Holland, wagons and yachts,

landscapes and decoys,  knapsacks and reefs.


Iranian caravans, Malaysian bamboos,

karma from India, kiosks from Turkey.


Piazzas and cupolas, rockets, volcanoes,

concertos and cameos Italian designed.


Parasols, hurricanes, cannibals, grog,

potatoes and maize from West Indian isles.


Brazilian cashews, toucans, piranhas.

Mexican chocolate, tomatoes, coyotes.


Dingos and wombats from distant Australia,

jumbucks and billabongs, koalas and swags.


Old Yiddish glitches, chutzpah and bagels.

Japanese haiku, emojis, karate.


Scandinavian windows ransacked and husbanded.

German hamburgers, seminars, wanderlust.


American skyscrapers, floozies and gangsters,

junkies and gimmicks, slapstick, gung-ho.


Colleens and shebeens homegrown in Ireland,

hooligans, whiskey, banshees, smithereens.


Blitzing my skyline, they are singing like birds,

so I tilt up my face to this deluge of words.



Michael Durack lives in Co. Tipperary, Ireland. His poems have appeared in publications such as The Blue Nib, Skylight 47, The Cafe Review, Live Encounters, The Honest Ulsterman and Poetry Ireland Review as well as being broadcast on Irish local and national radio. With his brother Austin he has recorded  two albums of poetry and guitar music, The Secret Chord (2013) and Going Gone (2015.)  He is the author of a memoir in prose and poems, Saved to Memory: Lost to View (Limerick Writers Centre 2016) and two poetry collections, Where It Began (2017) and Flip Sides (2020), both published by Revival Press.





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