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LIAM RYAN

 

 

 

Liam RyanLiam Ryan was born in Donohill, Co. Tipperary in 1955 and lives in Laois where he owns an architectural business. He is married with two grown up daughters. His poems and reviews have been published widely, and his debut collection of poems Touching Stones was published by Doghouse Books in May 2009. Recent poems have appeared in The SHOp, Revival, The Moth, the Doghouse Anthology and are forthcoming in Southword and Cyphers. He won 3rd prize at Strokestown International Poetry Competition 2012 and is included in the Dublin Anthology If Ever You Go, Dedalus Press, 2014.  A second collection is being finalised.

 

 

 

 

______

 

 

Breakfast in London

The Preparation for Battle

 

______

 

 

Breakfast in London

for Orlaith

 

That’s it, that’s what caught my eye;

the way she let him think

that he was choosing the seat!

The cafe was not very busy;

there were plenty of empty seats

but there was something in her walk;

a confident pose, almost striding,

and then that little pause,

when she knew;

letting him choose what she already had chosen.

 

I was finishing a leisurely late breakfast,

just down from the Tate Modern.

It was a bright and sunny Sunday morning;

the light bouncing off the Millennium Bridge

was rough on the eyes

as I came across from St. Paul’s.

The Thames churning wide and wonderful,

its banks crowded with architecture;

the thermal mass of polished stone radiating;

the new Shard’s glass towering, overlooking,

guarding, reflecting, deflecting light.  

 

They sat across from me;

both in their early thirties,

he with his back to me, dark blue jumper,

unshaven, tussled hair,

both hands resting on the table.

She in a long black dress,

a light silky blue scarf draped for effect.

She sat with her legs splayed apart, black tights.

Then crossing her legs, her hands moving, talking;

both palms up on the table;

opening and closing her fingers, flicking,

releasing, letting butterflies fly, touching his hands;

sitting straight upright.

Did she work in the City;

in Law, wear a pinstripe by day?

Was he in Theatre, bringing her to see

the new Bacon exhibition?     

 

She would outgrow him.

You knew, somehow you knew. 

His thank you, his soft accent.

The notes and the coins offered.

Her hair tossing on her shoulders.

A shadow moved and the sun

lifting off a tabletop caught the cut of her chin;

her father’s face. 

And you knew.

Her shoulders back, her back straight;

her feet firmly on the floor.

He crouched over, elbows on the table;

she opening space, open to the space;

he holding down, restraining, retaining.

And you knew what they did not

nor could not know.     

 

In weeks, months.

People coming together,

a settling into a knowledge

of each other that’s blinded until

and if the in-love can settle down,

broaden out into love.

A vast complex filtering system,

getting shaken, tossed;

what grains of love would pass through

this milling, this churning, this chaffing.

And you knew he, someday,

in a café or sitting room,

or in some departure lounge,

would be crouching further forward;

his face, his face in his hands.

 

 

 

______ 

 

 

 

 

The Preparation for Battle

 

The Iliad, Book 3

 

First onto the tee box this morning

we welcome Paris, the champion from Troy,

winner not only of the last two majors

but also it appears the heart of Helen,

tall and blond the prettiest of the WAGs;

his brother Hector is carrying his bag

emblazoned as usual by the swoosh of Nike.

Look at Paris, the huge driver in his hand,

see the silver studs stiffening the shaft,

see the powerful head, close cropped,

the lean muscular body, torquing,

twisting as he loosens up on the tee box.

The driver twitching like a rod,

snatching, snapping, whipped by wrists

as strong and pliable as any ash sapling.

And here as he sets up, first to drive,

the grip, the stance, the left leg planted,

the fulcrum, the pivot, the slow take back,

the hips rotating; that all too familiar

minute pause at the top of the back swing,

now the drive down, the follow through,

shoulders, hips and legs all rotating

in one effortless motion of power and timing.

The ball climbing, describing the perfect

orbit, the perfect sine wave

carrying the bunkers by some distance

dancing along the plush fairway,

the honeymoon shot, opening up the green.

 

Also onto the tee box we welcome Menelaus,

the warrior fighter all the way from Achaean,

his red hair flaming in its pony tail,

eyes narrowed in their menacing style,

the tension mounting, a wild excitement

surging through the crowds lining the fairways.

The flamboyant Menelaus, the underdog, the challenger,

see the glaze in those eyes, the cut of his chin,

hoping the gods are on his side this time.

The glove on his right hand well worn,

the unfazed coldness of that steady gaze,

he’s here today to trump, to triumph,

settling the ball on its tee, standing

behind it, the club hovering, shivering.

A breeze tugging at the cutthroat pleat

straight down the back of his trousers,

glutes tight, bullsack hanging idle;

leaves jostling for a better view; a stillness

gathering in the shine on his shoes.

His feet shuffling, settling, crouching,

his teeshirt stretched tight across the barrel

of his back catching the sheen of the sun,

then the ball is gone away out to the left,

his familiar little draw, and slowly suredly

pulling back right, carrying the sandtraps,

shaped perfectly, coming back around

the pair of huge lime trees, using the dogleg,

stalking the centre of the fairway.  

 

The battle has indeed begun.

 

 

  

©2014 Liam Ryan

 

 

Author Links

 

Liam Ryan at Poetry Ireland

'The New Bar': third place poem in Stokestown Internatioal Poetry Award 2012

Liam Ryan reading at the White House in Limerick (YouTube video)

 

 

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