Monday, January 31, 2005


Note: Dedicated to the disaster victims of this great catastrophe. The 2004 Indian Ocean earthquake was a magnitude 9.0 undersea earthquake on December 26, 2004 which generated tsunamis that caused one of the deadliest natural disasters in modern history. This rare type of earthquake known as a megathrust earthquake struck at 00:58:53 UTC (07:58:53 local time) in the Indian Ocean off the western coast of northern Sumatra, Indonesia. It was the largest earthquake on Earth since the 9.2-magnitude Good Friday Earthquake off Alaska in 1964, and tied for fourth largest since the establishment of accurate global seismographic record keeping by 1900

December 26, 2004

The ocean rolls civilization into layers of peat
and the air, full of great waves, dry desert
nothing to breathe but the songs of the curls
of tsunami so large a universe is lost in seconds.

There is no musical phrase but echoes as oceans
war with the trees throwing human tantrums

At the edge of the water there’s a dirge
simple beat, like musical dirty coins,
an accordion playing porno loops for puppets.
Nothing heard but the mime of the clarinet
and the churn of the bass and an off pitch guitar;
we assume as the skies are clouds and burnt
sienna rushed from wings and all sex stands
still in the tips of waves that crack spines
and killer whales cannot escape rip-line.

On the last day healing began.
We will make water clean again
The buildings empty; dunes rebuild --

The underside of the river blends
zing and zarrow as sand melds fingertips
in the usual ways of sediment, which
sometimes brushed my cheek as sensory
idols turned the leer and make the hot face
that instant calm after love a complete
lake, where water is more than fire
quenched lakes at fundus or sentiment.

Sex began the wave and recovery too.
Pieces of skin were the seeds of the faces
that will haunt the waters of 100,000 dead
and the human rage off the terror we know
visits on the underside of hysteria and loneliness.

Nature has its obituary and we mark down
numbers in red and black, minus light
again, always the loss of light on the edge of leaf
where the stars such small items actually
are the compendium of miracles for tongues
she broke open with a brief morning swim --
for chance has no alphabet and no lies.

After, when time was water and walls
I no longer count the graves of ancestors
but mark their acts with fervor
and when I step to the altar
I count my life as evidence
for mystery plays and docudrama;
I climb down cliff without any guide;
my mask is lost, no longer protects
from ocean or waves without mercy.

Here in the courtyard, the water from the fountain
runs over the statue dedicated to the nightmare.

Even in tide pools, terror pastes after shock
vibrates when wave commits when the beach
has lost all dimensions. There’s nothing
to do but run. Every step buries mollusk,
brachiopods and Silver Star;
faithful ashes blown out again
where nothing remains but return.

Poem: Irish Love Letter

In the mirror
I see our breath
skin to skin.
We melt on the gravel
on the sea cliff--
Beyond Rosses Point
we follow sailing ships
Within this rubble,
fallen masts, falcon,
and shattered glass--
the rain blessed
Lean grass stalks lead
water to our flesh;
the glass leaf reflects
her shawl--her hand bent,
dress over knees
crimson skin on rocks covers
our bodies with human beaks;
blood wets this bed,
mixed to the sea's rain
As I drink her thighs
with blood's cream,
talons as a talisman
moor us to the dock, --
the tarred timbers squawk,
and I see us in the sheets
in that grand hotel
on College Green
I see us in the morning
with tea, cake and a tray.
I see our wet, our breasts, our hands.

We follow children home,
first milk,
we drag our fingers to our spines
(sea salt and sea bird feathers)
As we dance off the sea
and the sun wakes the pier,
wild tulips on the table.
Our back churn,
our eyes blind--
my spit swears oaths
to a winding stair.
I wait with her,
her hair on my arms,
sleep marks on our cheeks
Scum on our breasts
At twilight we walk down Grafton Street,
Dublin ablaze;
next morning we worship at sailing ships
vending fish before dawn,
for her I am air, first light, fire
seed and good knife
I see galleons scull our sea
I see our mirror, our flesh breathes.

Poetry: Grandfather Tom

For Tom Farragher

I stumble through the twigs
to reach your grave
I need some talk,
some bits of string,
some knots untied

I remember our home—
the dog I rode when three,
the daffodils, crocus,
forsythia, mock-orange—

blue bachelor's-buttons
strung through your lapel

Each June I see again
the red porch
with the paint and oil smell
I think of lemons

I loved your green swinging couch

As I sit among the graves
the rains begin
then I was eight
standing by the Chesterfields
near your favorite chair

Often I would watch you
walk down our hill
newspaper under arm,
and then,
the snow began
and we sled and sled
until wet to our drawers

we fell home
and you made some tea
smoked a cigarette,
and then
we wrestled

and you read to me of Mars
or Saturn's men
until I yawned asleep—
your white hair
blurred by the motions
of your fingers tucking
me under Grandma's quilt

As I leave your grave
the rain stops,
and we walk up that hill
on your last day.
Then the bus came,
took you away,
and you waved smiles through the glass,
and the roar of the bus stopped,
and we could not touch

I am never able to walk down that hill
and not see you with your newspaper
under your arm—
and the silence each Christmas
is sad even when the family gathers
with new children

no one is there to play card for pennies,
and no one has your vision; and for a time
even I didn't want to remember that there
were no strong hands to help steer my wagon

through the distance
and its chill.

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