This Farewell, Another Footnote

blue heron soaring
Here in the din
with the click clack of cutlery
within a cacophony of voices.
The barmen pulling pints
in their starched whites,
guides to the oak portals,
the long line of whiskey bottles
standing like sentinels in that place without time.
There’s a portrait of Yeats on the wall,
calling to mind many in the long line of authors
backs bent to the point of inspiration,
wading in this eternal position.
In these watering holes in Ireland
I can begin to frame my goodbye.
For the time finished wandering
the crooked streets of late afternoon
full cup of tea content
writing until fingers tire,
talking to other travelers till all hours
or until they are no longer strangers,
walking that fine wire,
feeling your soles wearing thin,
travel integral, your soul chiming in
with another proposition.
I recall every decision
punctuated by a heron,
coming at such a moment
you no longer question which direction.
There was the one in the stream side tea garden in Doolin,
awash with meaning,
the water gleaming
beneath the gracefully bent pencil legs
balanced over all that was witnessed alone;
the sea beneath the cliff walk to Liscannor,
Foley’s Glen and the position of stones
marking Scotia’s fall,
the hole of sorrow seen through Poulnabrone portal,
laying another echoing farewell on the long way home
but not before a moment’s recognition at Carraroe,
where a bus to the end of the line
puts me in just the position
to catch it out of the corner of my eye,
the ascending blue wings
gathering in the horizon,
flying over low hills and stone-walled fields.
The bogs of last goodbye well up suddenly
to cry uncontrollably
in the profound recognition of its significance,
the seeming interconnectedness of life
and what resides within and all around us.

Birds once again bearing this message.
In Hawaii, it is from the beaks of the Shama Thrush
on the lush mountain trails of the old Pali.
In Italy, you decipher the sweep of the swallows
from the bell towers and hidden hollows
of some medieval square.
You hear the sudden call of the white breasted hawk
on a winter’s highway to Becky’s,
perched in a dying tree
or on a driftwood log
you see the ravens of Sombrio and Ocean Beach
and follow them to breach that other world.
Here in Ireland it is through the blue herons.
in the spring bogs of Doolin, Kinsale and the Connemara Coast
relating to the unseen
perhaps the most meaningful thing to develop
as it nourishes beyond what we think or comprehend,
put down in ink or apprehend in words,
bound to fall short in forming this farewell,
it becomes just another footnote,
one more point of departure.

Clear Isle

capeaerial300-CMYK
For those who the beacon was a beginning,
coffin ship sailors,
for many it was simultaneously an end.
You’ll have to decide
letting the unseen guide
and manage the rest.
Even amidst the trials of travel
one is blessed.
With wind in the hood
and rain dripping from a pack,
pause in your tracks
above coves and inlets
and behold this wayward stroke,
the road making its way
through a grove of spring gold,
this draft of the unknown
is told to the sea
rippling below Baltimore
where thoughts foam
where momentum of will
can roam all the way to Clear Isle,
where not much is said
between the whisper of wind in the grass
and the hush of the calm sea
beneath the tranquility of its landscape.
Distraction seems shaved from shear cliffs.
The spirit remains to walk bends in the high pastureland,
known to the sheep and their wizened expressions
of pastoral eloquence,
the quiet, immediate to access,
to ask “Have we changed or receded backwards?”
Towards this backwoods in time.
Time, that stood still as a Yew tree
the steady boughs
through which the wind at night manifests itself in howls,
where nothing determines or obstructs
the land from the sea,
where the Fastnet Beacon decrees its light
to flash across the sky in illuminated intervals
like lightning enlightening utter darkness with caresses,
furtive expressions of something haunted and otherworldly.

Clear is an island of amorphous green,
seeming to punctuate the extremes,
thatched stone and endless sky,
scenes to include the migratory
who thrive along edges,
beyond walls and expectations
we anticipate crossroads and come and go.
The essence of our nature is continuous, eternal,
but parallel paths seem choked with doubt,
muddled by pursuit
of power and influence,
it is a river running red until drought,
it is the ego’s omnipresence fed the marrow of dreams,
its shadow is larger than it seems,
constructing its fascade,
wall by wall,
we’ll rebuild it,
brick by brick
after every fall,
nothing remains permanently
whether completed
all will dissolve,
all is cleared here,
in the wake of impermanence and dissolution,
I cast a clear eye on Clear Isle.

Silence Commands its Enigma

Drombeg black and white
Cloud shadow moves over Drombeg stone circle.
As it always has.
Satellite skin
unveiling the forgotten
which is hidden
within the cryptic code of dreams.
The past preludes where we are going,
this moment, in the circle,
timeless and frozen,
an exceptional contribution
to the mark of mankind.
Perfectly positioned for solstice,
its possible meaning, measureless
for each individual it is worthy of reverence,
for each, a silent presence that offers no answers.
To some it means everything,
to others, nothing at all.

From all corners, these feet pilgrim through.
To pay homage
To pose for the montage,
its image reproduced in photo files
that cannot capture its true worth,
for long after we depart this earth,
the circle that has endured
will watch over the sea
on its small ridge of stranded stone
marking the burials and the rituals of ancestors.
You can feel the ancient lines
with the comparative youth of fingers,
coloring and cradling time,
another attempt at illusion,
a modicum of control,
decisions shudder like buoys
bobbing on the water
growing darker below the last trees.
The deep lull laps tongues of seaweed,
wedded to its rocky promontory
as you were to the choice to return.

It is all one unfolding portal
for wind to pass
for sunlight to gift with shadow,
for travel to tap into the unseen,
following
piercing the sky,
at one moment pale, lean,
now tilting towards darkness,
late late darkness in Ireland
and Drombeg will resume its rapt, eternal stance.
The silence of its ridge commands its enigma,
satellite stones
thrown in the purposeful harboring of secrets,
inner passages for light to filter down
to an inner chamber
of infinite spirals,
the magnetic motioning
on faraway dials,
examine the trials men have endured
to haul these stones impossible distances
to these altars,
raised epicenters
unchanged for a millenia.
It has been arranged, this moment of interaction,
for one to contribute to its history,
for your shadow becomes a petroglyph
on the surface of its mystery.

Kinsale and the Residue of Mystery

celtic-mist-jpg
When the fog lifts off of Kinsale Harbor
and you see the sun reflected
like the pale eye of a dead fish
in the murky waters of tangleweed and shipwreck debris,
note that some places are left with an unmistakable residue of mystery.

When the blue heron lifts its distinctive wings
from the wellspring of Kinsale Harbor,
its languid sweep will remain etched
like a deep thread in the memory of ancestors.
Blue hewn and imbued with significance,
it carries unseen alms
for those who go down to sea
to gather pebbles
and piece by piece reconstruct their history.

When the legend of the white lady is lifted
from the lips of locals living by Kinsale Harbor,
you recognize the enduring motif
of tragedy and unrequited love
evident in all these stories
that haunt quiet lanes and Norman churches.

Shadows fleeting, we catch mystery in the details,
words sticking to you like an oppressive air,
when attached to a physical place,
we put them down in fog-obscured and isolated towns
where the imagination is bound to usher in the drowned dead
to wander through another headland in the sea.
If it is in your disposition to receive these visions,
they’ll be reaching through windows,
or if auditory, their subtle transmissions
get trapped like a piper’s notes
to float like the widow’s ghost
over the silence of old forts.
Amplified, the recording is replayed over and over
on the rampart’s leap, they remain spellbound,
this port town where this is recurring.
You see the tide going out,
the sails receding in the first light of morning,
you stayed long enough, it had touched you without warning,
Kinsale and its haunted aura
and in your wake you’ll leave the harbor
but know it remains with you, like a tragic lover,
linked arm in arm under the cover
of memory, of synchronicity,
destined for the recollection of travel
and the impression you left when passing through.

A Diversion in Dublin

HENRIETTA_STREET_-_DUBLIN_(402556531)
There’s a quiet vacancy to old Dublin on a Sunday morning,
a spry vagrancy to wandering astray
into the day barely breathing
and not fully awake.
Before clocks unlock doors
and industrious footsteps
fill the corridors
of this capital
where you’ll happily
disappear into crowds.
Silence sounds even more pronounced
when pressed upon brick
and blocks of amorphous rows.
In this current comes the solitary realization
that you are alone,
hemmed in by this thought,
is a city after all
and the emptiness of these quarters
leave you to decipher
whether it is danger you are feeling
or the furtive urge
to pass straight through to the city limits
where restlessness can be spread like shadow
over the countryside and disperse.
Idyllic is nature
when our own can be anchored
to the fortitude of mountains,
you catch glimpses of them
through cracks in the windows,
they are ever a refuge.

You only get as far as St. Steven’s Green
that radiates from the center
its own serenity
of birds in hidden sanctuary,
voices who bid adieu
to the weeping willow tree.
The sky in intervals has done the same
and when you resume your wandering
it is over wet streets,
the retreat of weary soles
bound to walking, inch by inch
this city emerging
from cinched black garter belts.
To pinch a glance in greasy alleys
upon cobbles slick
for you to slink
towards the Liffey’s drink
through Temple Bar,
divergent and far from your intentions,
the warm breath of the pub
swings open stale air
but is enticing just the same
to settle into dark wood
where a good draft is a blackened river
that parts the bracken like a witch’s brew
to loosen the leaden tongue
so rooms can erupt in spontaneous song,
a catalog of longing
for sanctuary, for freedom,
for a home no longer your own
but lying somewhere between
diversion and further immersion,
between the notion of comfort
and being expelled in some immeasurable current,
such is travel.

The Poisoned Glen

poison glen
Something in the atmosphere suggests
that the name is not merely a matter of mistaken linguistics.
Words, a pale skin,
a lifeless layering of dust
over everything that has happened here.
Victims to the passing of time,
they are barely a memory,
a backdrop to the savage beauty,
a ruined church at Dunlewey,
a windowless shell of what was,
a vessel to look through the form
and see those who wander forlorn
on the other side.
In skeletal hills
the land is scarred like a dead meadow.
With shadows black
as the underside of a burnt kettle.
The scent of smoke from a distant peat fire
permeates the air,
giving rise to a pall
that punctuates the despair.
It seems the specter of the famine is ever near.
Imprinted on the wind,
a passing whimper of history,
sinister harvester of the impoverished.
The graves of someone’s children
are tiny markings under tall grass,
swallowed in the magnitude of the glen.

You sense in the stillness,
souls are never at rest.
Beneath the oratory,
a towering dome
on which the transformation was known
as Errigal, the capturer of light,
of sorrow, of flight,
of the exile pursued by sea
to his death by crushing blow
that would empty poison into this hollow,
to forever spew forth
for all that follow their envy.
You see, beauty is innocent
and beyond control.
Beauty that flourishes when left alone,
becomes poison with the alchemy
of a possessed man’s soul.
The legend of Balor is written here,
as is the ghost of the green lady.
I’m told in passing of a greedy host,
a serial murderer,
who would lure in the weary
with the promise of shelter and tea
on their way home from overseas.
A bed for the night
would rob them of life,
bodies lightened of coins,
glittering in darkened wells,
weighted, waiting to be recognized,
the ivy and this opening disguised
as it drapes a tendriled arm
over stories that were worth listening,
disturbing what was resting,
your presence, a sudden wind
slipping in between
the collar and the nape of the neck,
raising the skin
over all you were considering
in relation to this beautiful
but poisoned glen.

I Saw You

poulnabrone

I saw you in the Burren,

forlorn footprints behind limestone boulders

flowering impossible purple borders

along the edge of the sea.

You led me through the mist with whispers.

I saw you at Bishop’s Quarter Ballyvaughan

covered in ivy,

you reminded me of a song that escaped memory,

of lyrics half-obscured but suggestive

of something that could not be ignored,

of knowledge that leads me through

the far side of the portal at Poulnabrone

where we momentarily aligned

like a passage of light

on the shortest day of winter.

On the Hill of Tara

I saw you dancing around the coronation stone.

You were temporal as cloud shadow,

translucent as a feather,

bounding over burial mounds,

your light shot like arrows

from this epicenter of interlocking barrows.

I saw you at death’s doorway,

bolted shut outside the walls of Galway

near the spot where Lynch executed his own son.

I felt your hands cold as stone,

your voice windblown the sound of crows

as they bellow through empty churchyards .

I saw you at Muckross,

placing Yew branches under Celtic crosses.

You were not lost in that mystical forest

but stoked to a subtle presence

cloistered in the surroundings,

framed by the mountains,

reflected in lake waters

where all our offerings were consecrated

before they fell in an ancient well.

I saw you 8km from Dungarvan

where the River Dalligan meets the sea

and every stone on the sloping land

seems to have been placed by your own hand

in another lifetime.

Further back at Ballinalacken

towers crumbled under the weight of outsiders,

like the light in mottled vistas,

where the countryside rose to meet you,

twisting all its roads and billowing smoke

from the chimneys of tiny villages

to welcome you in from an estrangement

you seemed to wear like a rain garment,

until familiars and fires removed you from these elements

and welcomed you in from the cold.