Thursday 10 February 2022

Six Sublime Poems by John Doyle



Reaching out to call the colour of the sky…

Close to the Edge - Yes, 1972


Death's listless frenzy

outranks milk-men's light-blue aether - was this your downfall, a curtain-swoosh

Eureka moment Februus handed you?

Your morning tongues are chilled in ivory’s paralysis, dogma’s bark;


soon those Gods are nowhere to be seen,

drunk on their own abstracts, skies smaller than eternity.

Because you learned through bottles’ snowy howl

to communicate that listless air,


because the complications of simplicity stink in bin-trucks growling past

day after day, song after song,

because you dream of pearly-skeletons descending an algebraic stairs,

uselessly, how that body they sometimes witness, is useless in his presence, 


his voice a fist, his arms militias, his philosophy your own being -

you have been ordained that something - that something is fire :

so mugs of milk

are that snow-print oath you’ll leave us, is this true? -


Bread that crows savage across this needy city, a token of your love?

Did you learn that from him? That death is nothing?

superfluous to a dream,

therefore growth is insipid, milk white and feeble? 


Is it real this river that parachutes inside you,

aware of fresh new deaths in magazines and movies

the dreamers can rally round, the chatter through the icy windows

that soon will leer in gasses, in fog -


infant-sized and time-lapsed departure,

a surrender to existence. 

Other streets too know of milk, 

its gormless whittle to a life of nothing, therefore an eternal white.


In cities there used to 

exist nurses hopping cobblestoned streets on bikes, killers roamed freely,

jangling bells that fought with music;

now milk flows down the streets like waifish blood in early Spring, Eddie wriggles on to his next kill



The telephones are talking, not someone not somebody,  just a telephone

imitating human life - it goes something like this -


”hey you, got a proposition, only takes a minute, slip on into Sammy’s Diner, 

let’s talk through this, you’ve nothing to lose”. Grass grows longer this time of day,


I’m not looking, I listen out for people who died years ago, but their skin hangs like peaches,

the dawn is a beautiful time when you’re lonely, gives you hope,


leads bodies from a town they call despair, peaches ripe, cameras perched in grassy centimetres,

I noticed grass growing, I was at Yoga, a lady from Hamburg cycled somewhere, 


where she got to, I don’t know, it hangs from my nose, that failure of knowledge, like a spider,

broken in many more pieces than dawn.


A digital melancholy arrives -

ripe blue saxophone, calling out an eagle-hunted moon,



at the seafront sirens swipe their credit cards and sailors reason rhyme


from great books of their times


to a chorus the blues singer

washed from his crotch and foreskin,


merely seconds to spare.

Imagine if he’d failed?


imagine if his song was a railway track


behind our houses, at feline-mating hours.


The wheels groan like a school friend’s father who beat and beat him,

loved him and cried, that kid’s name was Pedro, but he wasn’t from Nicaragua,


and the wheel hits the long lipstick shine

of steel kissed by brazen moon, steel is a woman, its shapes vary around dusk, when you’re not so blind,


and she tells us all we need to know, how damned this city is,

how we need to talk.


“Pick up that phone, tell each brother they’re loved!”

she said at a convent, three years down from that road where the state-line changed its accent,


left us orphaned by sunrise.

The plastic is talking,


the tv stations won't shut up,

they are all at war with the moon, we creep fearfully, shoulders hunched.


I thought about my life,

where it's going to,

when horse #1 stopped beside me


drank from a puddle.

Horse #1 walked away

then dropped dead.


I drank from this puddle,

as horses #2 and #3 pissed in a puddle yards further up from me.

The grocer died alone at home. He did not dream of horses


or imagine his spirit outside a Judeo-Christian realm,

but he did feed my mule one long hot summer's night

as I rode off into a blackness, a blackness he does not have to fear.


Horses #2 and #3 remained there as I left his funeral.

Sometimes I think they’re following me,

looking around, every few miles or so.

Sneachta ag Titim : Dún Éideann


Tá an sneachta ag titim

in áit éigin i nDún Éideann, i lár mhí na Nollag,

ag breathnú amach as an bhfuinneog

an lá seo - bán mar bhás, neart mar ghrá,


ag cuardach rud éigin,

an traein chomh ciúin, aibítir ag sraothartach gan ticéid.

Rugadh gach rud arís

nuair a scríobhtar é i gcló dearg,


iníonacha miongháire sa carnabhail

agus an máthair, ag snámh ar an anam, 

ag fágáil an cathair : Dún Éideann, 

i lár mhí na Nollag. Tá gach rud eile... gan brí

Hot in the City Tonight


Hot on the tails of drag racers downtown,

hot on the high heel wires waiters 

riddle around their tongues in Spanish

thinking old ladies know nothing about El Salvador,


hot on the tails of falling hail

that children think stays forever

is a first time they get drugged in hope, a second time a jazzman sees his sisters crying,

so he writes a song in Spanish about drag racers in a small town not far from where I grew up.

T.J. Hooker


Repo man Wednesday 8am sharp, Yes? Yes.

Lawyers sniffing at his door - something’s came up concerning Jimmy H. - yeah, been a while.

Mobster's kid he ran over went and told his pop, twisted bicycle must be worth one punctured lung?

His goldfish died, Tuesday, 8:01 am, merda happens, they say in downtown Rio.


So I checked in on him, I was worried, no-one's seen him last three days -

there he is, dressing gown on, watching T.J. Hooker,

munching mulchy cornflakes directly from their box. Grab a seat, Romano took a bullet he says.

Vince is first in a long line this week.

John Doyle is from County Kildare in Ireland. He returned to writing poetry in February 2015 after a gap of nearly 7 years. Since then he's had 6 poetry collections published, with a 7th collection, "Isolated Incidents" due to be released by Pski's Porch in Summer 2021.

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