Monday 9 May 2022

Six Poems by John Doyle

Psychobabble Sass


Pouring tea, she stops - like a bullet

knows - when it stops, what else could it do?

it's coffee, damn coffee,

not one soul drinks tea from Monday's meeting;


honey, tell us how it feels? says a mobster's moll,

her tongue at war with token teeth, words wobbly, shoulder-shake

shuffles she keeps personal, philandering husbands are better targets

than feeble grocers sharing breakdowns;


11pm cigarettes, bonding's outside in a coin-clanging grey

a frugal city shares, to say it gets their shame, to colour illogical psychosis -

yet some - more so than most - get those tongues sharpened by wars,

the fall-outs, the P.T.S.D. that creeps up, crawling like a jungle snake


in mouths of outgrown babes, 

fighting wars behind their eyes,

not in jungles those snakes never actually lived in

(Casey saw National Geographic, August ‘96 she reckons, where those facts slithered free).


Honey, tell us how it feels, that new doctor says, 

shedding their own disguise,

becoming a colloquial reptile last night's group

skinned alive.


C’mon guys, I thought everyone said coffee? 

What’s goin’ on here?

No point. 

The listening just died.



Mornings, years equally, flake like dry-skinned paint

scorching drainpipes of dead-eyed pizza parlours,

roses drifting too soon from day's awakening; I’ve asked you -

dismounting your horse - what they've left behind in their rampage,

saddened bottles which sing a sadder song,

cars going anywhere but today, golf having been cancelled;

you've handled all this so well

I give you free-reign to sift through my dreams,

a cock heralding daybreak is another song you can silence,

making my life that bit easier

to let slip into a haze;

giving you

my dreams though, perhaps I should reconsider?

Dawn is dusk wearing cheaper perfume, you've told me -

sighing  - the rooks who shield the sun from my senses,

carry this stench all too briefly

Untitled # 18 and # 41

Cityscape/Counterpoint/Modern Art/Constellation/Detectives/Submarine Size Cars/Lunch with Suzie/City Dweller/Art Nouveau/Cellos/1987/Pristine Hollering Traffic Light/Sundown Suffice/Stop/Endeth a Forward Slash/Tell Me It's a Beautiful City That Has No Fear of Time


of God/of Satan


Its Two Makers

How They Wake Up In The Morning In England

St. Catherine’s Point’s 5 a.m. serenade

told me how people put one toe on a stone-cold floor,

how water massaged a cobalt rock George gave everything

to keep holy

leading eventually to cars flooding towns until William Blake

broke down weeping. While these latter reports are unfortunate, 

they don’t concern me, this is no longer 1958. 

The names are what I need -

Ronaldsway, Tiree Automatic, places sawn away from the motherload

in Northern Ireland, give all of them to me, 

one by bloody one, I am a detective, a hungry romantic detective,

I stood on stone-cold bedroom floors for hours on hours, just for this

Amour : Né de Nouveau


Serpents have no spines -

except on highways,


remember sunsets in Rouen 

where a thousand cars grew


a thousand times stiffer

hissing along to a song


the eerie moon

who forgot to smile,


forced it at knifepoint to sing?

Yes, you remember.


Simon's neither man nor beast, middle-management type

hissing in discount stores 


until that moon 

sweats itself to death.


After leaving Rouen, 

I fell in love


for the very first time,

I knew no languages, except 


French so broken

mustard jars smashed on supermarket aisles


made Simon swear in front of his superiors.

That evening, driving down the highway,


I saw the ambulance driver unwrap 

the serpents from his neck.


Jesus he was so blue

I swore I saw the seas rising to meet his soul,


somewhere more southerly

than Rouen,


then, you did always tell me

how they called him Slippery Simon


didn’t you?

How I told you too, never trust a man called Simon


who calls himself Si.

We nearly burned ourselves to death


making love

that night



Wreckage is the strongest foundation stone -

why do I believe this?

Simple - all that's real is made from wreckage -


the resurrection of Christ,

Hiroshima, 1946,

the man who sits on the wall smoking cigarettes, he's here -


pieces glued from life, death, chipped and buckled scrag,

real, inhabited by breath - we need this breath,

the fog is the strangling hood of Satan,

the breath, a signal of our being.

The wounds of the flesh are the painted in sequence - 

red represents war,

blue is oxygen, fanning flame both evil and good -

we have read of Yin and Yang,

things such as these give meaning to circumstance,

to experience, as now the orange sky,

kneading in shape the past's obituary;

green is the field - our kin stroked grass-blades

whistling through lightning-bolt fingers -

graced by speed in those early years, our land was young,

ready for felon's fires.

Wreckage built this farm, this homestead,

the hens and cocks clucking codes

to warn of enemy attack, our gathered shells cauterized - 


Why do I believe all this?

At every museum, there's an aisle of wreckage, a locket,

a singed photograph,

the rusted bicycle, the memorial of death -

and yet in the passing of age, there are farmyards hidden, just slightly -

in a corner of those photographs

hens lay eggs that colour seeps through, the mended cracks

in turn weld together, those ripped-up pages

ghosted from our psalms.

Watch Kuzma's fingertips - gently place egg-shells

on a re-stitched tapestry,

his teacher speaks of a splendid child,

a painter,

the sketch of Josaphat well received in class

this morning


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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