Thursday 4 March 2021

Two Prose Poems by Gregory Brendan Patrick


Ulysses and Ithaka.

The Islands Before

By Greg Patrick


An illuminated lyre formed the centrepiece of a dark room in solitary splendour awaiting the bard’s words and touch. Though blind he had vision. Even in perpetual dark he knew light once and it would not be unsung…centuries before a man who cured the blind was hung…Nailed to a tree he sang songs of a fair face over the vast sea. The smile that was like a song one could not get out of one’s head as fine a poetry as ever read like a poetry from lips read by the deaf. A smile that was silence set to music so that of an eve without her the night itself sang. Like waves of night to a distant shore. How many nights more between waves are we kept apart…?


Ulysses paces the shore with a lion’s heart. So many wakes behind and dividing seas between. Too many battles fought to lose a queen. Two unfulfilled chairs by a silver screen. Like two empty thrones before the sea waiting for the quiet bard to sing after a phone that will never ring. Raise the shell to hear the sea. Look to the muse-blinded eyes to behold the sea’s voluminous depth in the imagery of song, even if my star-crossed way was wrong. The artist walks away for another inspiration to find…but it was always a dream and image sought by the blind. Muse smouldering red into dreams searingly like that of a warrior’s nightmares. Like the pollen of a tropical flower  that haunts with beautific dreams the warrior and explorer’s bower, vexes the composer in his tower.  Makes an astrologer out of an astronomer. Believer of the faithless. Infected by its dulcet fever and for nights after its thrall and dreamer.  Away from tired desks lined in a row as the desire for quest grow and Arthur calls for his sword and Ulysses at last returns to his bow.


The suitors see the storm of sea in his eye and against dream-deferred nightmares die, gods hear at last an exiled voyager’s cry and recited words not my own and to speak my words is to know no home. Gladiator at heart before there was a Rome. I don’t leave you on voyages of a restless heart and defiant soul must make but it’s their spell and wonder that I take as far as the horizon goes, the sigh is a wordless expression of one name, on horizon’s verge where the seas break over the heart of the castaway, gone overboard, swept away once and never reclaimed. I remember that name to the stars let the sea wash away with purging salt so many scars, of tropic nights when sigh is all that is left of battle cry, the waves it’s distant echo of so many nights and aimless fights. The  moonlight’s flame has dwindled, the tide has gone yet I linger like Yeats thinking of Maud Gonne.


The tides rise and fall.


There the ghost of a never child holding a doll as we are playthings to as many shores and closed doors. Her hand extends like past to present…So many presents.

“Daddy will you walk the night shore with me..was it really Santa or you who left the doll by the tree ? Do reindeer fly daddy? Tell me honestly…?”

He smiles in that dreamy way he so often looked to the a rebel would through the bars. In answer he lifts her up suddenly high…”I’ll make you fly…” The way she made me feel walking in air…You have her hair… Making her entrance like the dawn. I know it’s not polite to stare…but the moment was ours and even if the gods warned I hadn’t cared…Now the horizon awaits to be dared. Why do you go, it is asked. Dangers await in the depths and in the sky. A sigh to the east doesn’t lie. There’s no reason to stay and cry. The traveller will stand the stones and hearts of stone only when he dies. The horizon beckons me and so too the skies.



Tinsel Town...Ghost Town

Rose for a Warrior’s Grave

By Greg Patrick

“Not all that glitters is gold. Not all who wander are lost”-JRR Tolkien


The dream like a night-blooming rose nourished by blood and tears opened like moth wings embracing fatal radiance. Dreams -deferred like a chrysalis that will not open, seeping the blood of broken wings crushed in its confines like eyes stifling tears. The conciliatory parting embrace like a highwayman gibbet swaying as an unheeded warning to reckless hearts. The night calls then, beckons like an echolocative cry finding and feeding on substance and form.


He wavers at the threshold like pivotal words hesitating at the lips before turning as if in an age- old dance with fire. Eyes splashing walls of alleyways with red rebel murals of a stranger in a strange land’s apartheid of dream from the mainstream. And did a warrior staggering back from the aftermath of battle linger so long beneath skies, till stars shone in candular vigil and peopled the maleficence of night with constellations to replace those he lost…aligning stars, nomad beacons of desert night, into huntsmen and beast, each with their own story to tell in a blueprint of Eden restored.


Like one confined to an oubliette, cutting light-seeping holes into a court of darkness and light to attend to a sad prince enthroned in shadow. Making maps of stars just so he would not forget her and find his way back if not truly home. Treading then on dreams like castles reduced to sandcastles under the step of a blundering Atlas straying from his post as skies fell. Dreams brought back down to earth like a rebel angel falling. Leaving one in the Valhallan light of dusk on sunset boulevard, eyes looking upon it the way the pilgrim defies the faithless by stepping into immolation.


Dreams-deferred like a corsair vessel anchored like a lost soul in limbo…devil or angel? He knew not…Between horizon and wake, rising and falling in turns of the tide. The bedside radio was turned on, the quiet whirr of the cd and the head sinks slowly onto the pillow. No sirens in the background…no flare of rockets gleaming in the eye looking sideways at the rattling windowpane…a silence...a restless used to being hunted now unwanted.

Silence…The cs begins to play…amateur…awkward, but believing in its beauty...the cd bought from the Saxophone soloist on quests to a Magic Castle. Bypassed him so many times…one among many in costume and masks, hurrying across stars till one realised that it felt like walking on air only because the moth knew the same aerial sensation around the flame.


Beautiful…sirenic...destructive. Then he heard the music he played, like reopening a book when he experienced enough to understand the insight offered the words. He could hear it because his own song that he bore grew as silent as when a truth comes out in anger between two arguing. So silent in its search for some philosophical reconciliation with the fresh wounds that it seemed that he could hear whispers like and soft endearments around like jarring shouts. Everything seemed starkly illuminated then, as if there was so haven of darkness in which the rebel can hide or a warrior cry.


The night seemed to be as bright as if a midnight sun lit the country sides he remembered. The way a nocturnal hunter sees the streets and the sudden changes of being dehumanised rose to his lips.. and where he sought words an animal cry was heard by the moon and the softness and tenderness of the music like distant voices calling one awake from nightmare. It seemed like those around him blindingly lit but coming into focus slowly. He pressed money into the soloist’s hand. He took the cd not as consolation but in some way to reconcile echo from the urban apartheid of a country boy and his dreams with a national dream monumented around me.


In the moment when faith becomes myth was when he knew it could not be won...Never his but the heart always hers, like a Valkyrie’s arms prying something broken from its chrysalis and there was fulfilment even in brokenness. Face as set in lone defiance like the sculpted countenance of a Grecian Apollo remaining of a vandalised statue facing those looking. He knew the moment when Adam saw the trees of Eden as bars not sylvan pillars of paradise and he, like a grief-maddened monk wandering godless columns, cried out for Eve. When art was seen by a bereaved physics student looking at the stars and that living beneath as art sculpted by hunger not mere chance.


And he shared the night walk home only with the nocturnal creatures, the scavengers on hungry craving streets, seeking the night train and plane homeward with a steaming cry and a final look back. Like moments in Belfast when soundwaves become shock waves and, in an interval, between explosion and shattering aftermath his gaze expressive of sorrow and longing…music reaches out to her like a song dedication, an endearment bespoke by eyes alone heard across a crowded room. One last look…one of Orphean valediction. The mirage and vision to a nomad of a castle and princess on a hill faded. The cd plays…the gladiator falls to the game..He closes his eyes. Another day. The roar of the crowd awaits like waves on yet another shore…But first...sleep…


A dual citizen of Ireland and the states, Greg Patrick is an Irish/Armenian traveller poet and the son of a Navy enlisted man.  He is also a former Humanitarian aid worker who worked 

with great horses for years and loves the wilds of Connemara and Galway in the rain where he's written many stories. Greg spent his youth in the South Pacific and 


Europe and currently resides in Galway, Ireland and sometimes the states.



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