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Colin Honnor, based in the English Cotswolds, is
a widely published poet with several published collections. A translator of European
poets such as Montale and a lecturer, critic, writer and publisher of European
independant press poetry and literature.
Above plaster falls into hearthstones,
portraiture asserts its craqueleure
time diminishing ascendency blazoned
in its gold blinded epistemologies
not to be found in any theologies
the grate is swept clean, the rose restored.
Abbey foundations flooded. With Synge, O'Neill
O'Casey, a silver tassie drops from their tongues
in bitter shadows of the gunman.
Lady Gregory assumes Noh masks
to quarrel with Tone, Parnell, mute in stone.
Moonlight etches Childer's blessed riddle
He will not forgive us our cloths, minstrels, dancers
Lovers cold in Dublin, Belfasts's cold
annunciations of draughty Lenten fasts, carnival
Pilgrimages, feasts of that dark matter, Eirean,
carved from the dark matter Eirean gnawed
keel plates laid on the Somme punctured, flawed.
Molten authorities hypostasised, sublime quicksilver,
strikes mirrors; the optic cups and bowls
this lambent sectary of servitude spooned.
Soft pulp outspills between drumlins
soft barrage between headlands accommodate
their tribes; ferryman points into the mist
with the widemouthed deads' starved memory
neither trope nor rhetoric preserves
where music and silence exist only in our words.
Doon flows bloody around chevaux de frise hedging's
forked splayed sculptings in snow and ice
crackles of peat-thatch reived off
dreaming back into their bloodied ancestry
Sinners divided by circumstance and faith's
Aquinan proofs dispute their equivocations
Drogheda's city walls, buttressed earth slides
into a glacis of rubble, earth, stone-crop, clinker
musket balls and cannon shot, disturb
this buried hoard, their secretive histories
as the fey winds gather on prickly crown
of hawthorn at its crest, beneath a wall, by a well
hawk suspends and drops on invisible rope
The Men of Blood refuse to place their arms
beyond all powers, commissioners of the unready.
To be evicted with their tenantry, he is merely
a tenant for life, with remainder in tail
judges judge the tongue's pure ascendency,
incorruptible, driven by venal transmissions
where the unshaven rabble plump wadded hands
votes for a mob orator's beguiling the washed corpse
fingers rigored in prayer or defence wounds,
an effigy of his Norman forefather's
for his is the last proof in a dialectical process,
materialists ad vincula, whose cry is "cui bono?"
That call for burnings; igniting the ashen paths
that demand fires; the cindery wastelands
where broken decorations glitter, a wall
whitewashed with King William prancing
ascendent; wars of their circumstance
bridges tumbled down into rivers
quarry-gelignite sends granite to deny
A medium made solely of the earth
the squab spade slices a tranche
through the churned mud; echoes
of ancestral voices in ancestral homes;
Major followed Cromwell, Uncle joined
in '16; became an Auxiliary, then a Tan
armigers of the democratic struggle
powdersmoke over the Monument,
and lists of the Fallen, proscribed.
And yet the air here is chilled, dried seawed
and kelp; powdery heroines flake and peel
from their trompe l'oeil, lead-oxide masks pale
lost smiles at Cork Station or a Mauser's cold
in the space between their scented breasts;
Maud Gone Mad and Come Gore My Blood
Heiresses of the Dean, folding a pamphlet
for Rights, Liberty, Enfranchisement.
Out at sea, a Foxbat vectors the ocean
its searchlight's protractors hunting
Excavate only these signs of habitation
famine-hovels chimney's j'accuse
some have heard the ghosts speak and some
have followed dully, the road's monotonous drama
and lay aside such stone as tumbled down
into the well mouth. In a wall gapped by frost
until stile and staddle stones are a field, a lane
and some miraculous power of speech is given
from storm and sea light, out of reach
of such questions that reason flinches from
assenting and denying, and sea's calm.
...With forked pole splits the white tuber
from black soil, broken its roots, roast
the Boyne waters churn to tracked APCs
people live in the same place interdict each
with their cruel poetry, of sunderings,
ferocious satires, melancholy ironies
arraigns this choppy water, treacly as blood.
Their sullen oils stare from Cromwell's walls;
bailiffs, soldiers, an actress or two
palimpsests of time-shaled scraffito
and the sudden sudsy blast of burnt malt air.
Rain spots the windscreen, a cloud's wing
shadows in emerald to heather
wind flattened rose bush flowering early
beneath a wall, by a well long dried up, the salts
Sun-kissed Apollo weathers to patina
no prize to burnish the egotists; only
the clash and roar exist of sea's thousand
Immortals. Peacelines infitrate dialect
slaughter and truce. Our annulled sentences
distil tricolor symbols seeping
the salted ploughed furrows
banshee's wail, black hair-cloud streams
cloud darkens the Lough
as an image imperfect within its commonplace
out of chaos.
Where each cell is examined, suppurates
the bark, plague ships morify the mortal
families kneel in lakewater, touch rinses palms,
dying, their ineradicable lifelines seamless, unfathomed.
To fly south at evening, descend on outspread wings
over stretched wastes of water between sea and the town
towards dawn's covenant, as a gnarled tree blesses
with its liturgies of thorns, spreadeagled over
the unenlightened dead, enough to ghost
their unprescriptive ontologies.
A bone grimaces outspread against backwash
cupping lit dawn's dish
to affirm this contrite darkness, as it lightens from the east
raise a wettened index finger into the wind.
2004-2006 the Dublin Quarterly--to see familiar things with unfamiliar eyes!