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Filíocht Nua: New Poetry

From: New Hibernia Review
Volume 17, Number 2, Samhreadh/Summer 2013
pp. 62-69 | 10.1353/nhr.2013.0022

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Two Poems

From The Roundstone Pony Show

I. Dam

To the Tune Of "Saddle the Pony"

for old Irish flute

The way he taps her white bottom with the whip—
Softly, slowly—you just know he loves her.

"That's the girl," he mutters, "that's the girl.
Easy, easy and slow now. Easy and slow."

His words falling over and into
Her white ears like ghost whispers.

II. Sire

The Colt and the Poet

His body is a temple
Where all is worked on,
Worked over, supple and oiled.

My body is a shed
Where everything is damp,
Stiff, cobwebbed and rusting.

Old Books and Riverbanks

I asked Dan Magee
What he thought
Ponies smelt of.
"Piss and grass," he said,

"Though if my mother asked me,
I'd say a small bird's nest
After the eggs have hatched
And the birds have flown."

I asked his wife the same question.
She said, "Dan's breath after
A plate of grilled kidneys—
A slight urine tinge on the tongue."

"Although," she added, "in summer
A pony can smell of hay,
Wild strawberries,
Honey and hedgerows,

Or a crumpled featherbed
Abandoned by lovers,
Or the feather pillows
Where their heads lay."

I asked an old woman
Who keeps Connemara ponies
Out there somewhere
Along the Errislanan Road.

What they smell like?
She worded
And wondered.
"Old churches," she said,

"Like the creaky 'Star of the Sea'
That faces into the wind at Omey.
Go inside," she said,
"Sure, it's always open,

Close your eyes,
Breathe in,
And it is like you're
Standing beside a pony.

Blessed creatures. Faithful.
Sure, didn't Jesus himself
Ride one all over the Holy Land.
Do you know your Bible at all?"

When her granddaughter,
Amelia, joined us, I asked
Her what ponies smelt of.
"Dust," she said, "fairy dust."

Then I asked a small boy.
He said, "The men's toilet
After the big match:
Guinness, farts and wet grass."

And me? I think ponies
Smell of old books, riverbanks,
Bogs, and wool just washed
And hung out in the wind to dry.

The Artist on the Bog

for Donald Teskey

For nearly five weeks
The artist has been drawing wild
Grasses, turf ridges, walls and ruins—
All kinds of abandoned things.

Lark has begun to wonder
If he is ever going home.
She has asked the badger
And the grey pony about him,

But they just tell her
Not to worry. They say,
"Think of him as a scarecrow,
But without the straw.

He is engrossed in drawing
And painting the distance.
He is not interested in shooting
Or capturing a small bird.

He may draw you,
But he won't hurt you.
Think of him as a fence post.
In fact, sit on him."

Naming the Ponies

Shirt, trousers, braces, boots,
And old Ned is dressed.

Then he crosses the room
And stands by the window

Where, as always, the seven ponies
Are already up and dressed.

He has never
Seen them sleeping.

They are early risers
Like larks and hares.

He knows they miss Ruth:
Her hands, her voice.

She was an early riser too,
Always up before him, with her ponies,

The kettle on the stove,
The tea brewing when he came down.

He doesn't dream much
Since Ruth died.

She had a way with ponies.
They like him because they loved her.

The last things she gave him
Were her names for each of them.

Now, every morning
In mist, rain or sun,

He calls their names
Over the gorse like a prayer.

Song of the Pony

Pony would love to have sung of the mountain rivers tumbling,
And of the old wooden fence-posts that now hold nothing in.
I am sure you have come upon them high up in the mountains,
Their rusted wire gone but still standing there, a sort of never-the-lessness
That appeals to a pony almost as much as wild grasses and seaweed.
And yes, Pony would love to have sung a hymn to the lake and the bog,
But Pony has the voice of a horse. So Pony leaves the singing to the wind.
He likes to...

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