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Best of Irish Poetry 2009
Best of Irish Poetry 2010

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Songs of Earth and Light

Songs of Earth and Light
Barbara Korun poems translated by Theo Dorgan

 

 

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PATRICK DEELEY

 

 

 

Patrick Deeley

Patrick Deeley is a native of Loughrea, County Galway.  His poems have appeared in numerous literary outlets in Ireland and abroad since the late 1970s. Groundswell: New and Selected Poems, the latest of his six collections, was published by Dedalus Press last year.  He won the Eilis Dillon Book of the Year Award for children’s fiction in 2001 and his poetry awards include the Dermot Healy International Poetry Prize 2014.       

 

 

 

 

 

 

Houses

 

 

I doubted our flat-porched roof, where the cypress-tree shadows

goose-bumped me awake, could be half so marvellous

as the roofs of ancient Çatalhöyük, which served as streets, had

doors in them, and ladders that led down into the houses. 

 

Each house raised on the ruins of its predecessors

a maker’s space for larder and fire, basket-weave and bangle,

mirror and dagger. Each as well a burial chamber,

bone-store of the ancestors, repository of their preserved heads –

 

kept, much as we kept pisspots, under the beds. 

No, the roomy house below me, draughty and prone to creaks,

with its wild-dog-rose wallpaper begun to peel

from the door jambs that opened to the front and back yards,

 

with cloud-flicker across a ceiling or the sun’s pulsing aureole

on chimney breast or floor – couldn’t hold a candle

to Çatalhöyük’s plaster-crafted bulls’ noggins and painted leopards. 

But I valued height and flatness, the gift of a refuge

 

where nobody thought to look. Things that were unremarkable

then – a sewing machine jangled into life by pressing

on its treadle, goose eggs buried for coolness in a bucket of oats,

buttermilk left to clot in an enamel basin – become

 

strange enough, when I recount them, to puzzle the children

of today, just as the contents of Çatalhöyük,

in their prime nine thousand years ago, still puzzle me.  And the boy

on the roof, awaking to wonders of his own nature

 

and place, follows in my footsteps as though to catch me up

with the harvest of mother images he holds onto and the word

he must travel by even if destined to stay forever

gone – a father’s ‘never forget who you are, where you come from’.

 

 

 

©2015 Patrick Deeley

 

 

Author Links

 

Patrick Deeley homepage

Patrick Deeley at Dedalus Press

Groundswell reviewed by Fred Johnston in the Galway Review

Grace Wells's review of The Bones of Creation in Contrary

 

 

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