Saturday 1 October 2022

Seven Poems by John Doyle



Coaling Tower, Marion, Ohio: Photograph by John Sanderson

 

America -

horse-hoof symphonies,

yellow school-buses,

stern and dignified tribal elders 

 

called to arms in sepia

before English, French, and German rifles

flash their lens first - a lens without an eye, 

shutting America's narratives forever.

 

I guess John Sanderson is our eyes, 

our hopes, 

our tribal chief.

Pale as sorrow sinks itself into sunset

 

people make the sign of the cross -

double-barrel knife-slash through the letter S.

From the monolith bleeds the narrative,

America -

 

black gold, ill-fitting suits,

picket-fence fuelled by lemonade,

God Almighty giving back our prayers

to slackly burn




The Rapture


Carousel void of

aunts' 

ex-boyfriends, 

 

stray cat thunder and lightning 

chit-chat rattling bins at 3-28am 

 

as whippet boys 

with grease monkey faces 

 

close the lid 

on time and history. 

 

Boyfriends and stray cats 

become that white tipped grass of eternity

 

in the mountains

where Morris Minors

 

show gravel roads little mercy

after an Anglican ceremony

 

 

Just

 

Just Fontaine scored 13 goals for France

in the 1958 World Cup. 

That was just phenomenal,

a right and just result for years of blood, 

sweat, and tears.

It was just the way the shit hit the fan, 

I said, feeling blue for myself 

after another 

D - grade,

just another paper running rings around me

like that Frenchman in Sweden in 1958.

Just get out of my face, 

I've nothing more to say,

I just ran out of milk,

shops are all closed



Fugazi

 

I'll build a new world order

from the cloudy rubble of tower-blocks

 

and the souls of blues singers

who died from cirrhosis of the liver,

 

or country singers

with their throats slit 

 

two-hundred and twenty-two miles wide open

by hitmen 

 

hired by Satan.

Norm Jenkins

 

phones me twice a day.

For fuck sake, Norm

 

I stopped playing golf

that time I popped four discs in my back

 

that night we ended up 

in a lap-dancing bar

 

a few blocks from the United Nations.

Norm's a real sweet guy, 

 

looks after his mom.

It came as no real shock though

 

when they found all those heads 

frozen solid in his fridge,

 

the postman, the superintendent,

that lady from Mexico

 

who left the banisters on the staircase so shiny, so bright.

Some still had their glasses on, the detective

 

with the pencil perched on his ear, told me.

Norm wears glasses.

 

That's still no reason though, is it? 

I used to be able to cry so easily,

 

now it just hurts my ribs 

'til it cuts right to my knees.

 

Social security checks and golf-clubs 

are an uneasy match anyway,

 

like Newman on one side 

of that Towering Inferno promo-shot,

 

McQueen on the other, 

one pretending the other one isn't even there.

 

When I picked up the bible

I felt the electricity shoot right through me,

 

like ice-cream through a hole in my teeth,

I spent all morning with punk-rock bands

 

who released one album in 1978

then ended-up working in door-to-door sales.

 

Those blues-singers come looking for me

crawling up the slippery sides of skyscrapers,

 

it was sweet the way Adam West and Burt Ward 

would do the same thing, and maybe Sammy Davis Jnr

 

would open a window

and commend their efforts

 

at keeping the city safe.

Anyone who cheats Satan

 

isn't as heroic

as one might think, given a moment to pause

 

and reflect

as I should have done,

 

when I turned to that page in the holy book

and a boy from a town 

 

where everyone kills everyone these days

stopped, and offered to build a new world order

 

with something better than

jagged stones from tower-blocks 

 

flat on their backs

like Kafka's only known victim.

 

Too late,

as I tune my guitar 

 

and fill its chambers

with silver bullets



Psychological Warfare

 

Your superego drips of ambience -

a little higher on the richter scale

than a drunks’ pissing contest,

a little lower than someone collecting trash;

 

a splattered evening’s rain

is syllables 

your page and ink

is losing by the dollar

 

in a stock-market crash

no-one saw coming, except a janitor

smoking cigarettes 

on the pinnacles of the 58th floor

 

overlooking the city while it lay calm, 

vulnerable,

the easiest of meat

he smiled,

 

turned on his heels

listening to 

Marquee Moon

for his 9pm break. At 10pm

 

capitalism with all its trappings

lay dead,

the president called you

on his hotline, your lips trembling like a fawn


 


Song For Elmore James 

 

Some days Lord, I'm a believer,

some days Lord I fear I'll end up ass-deep in Hell,

today Oh Lord I plan to stay a believer -

I noticed the delta's starting to swell...


 

 

Saturdays

and Sundays

 

Saturdays and Sundays

stamped like tax-returns

on grinning drain-pipes,

 

rural cowards drowned in hedges

on roads of fat and mud-splashed drunks. 

We stoop to pick our alms, 

 

draw guns 

and wait for rain to spit its encore,

horns beeping, whoosh past -

 

a salt-nose teenage convoy

worth parking tickets, assault charges,

gobbled up in tabloid newspapers by grinning drainpipes.

 

What remains - unburdened, and dry -

is an effigy, 

an axis of daring sparks.

 

The cafe manager

asked the boys to leave,

one slit his throat from ear to ear,

 

gold coins -

(a treasure trove’s worth)

came squirting from his guts






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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