Poems

Derramore

There the thatch is all fire and aglow
on the walls of midsummer kilned stone,
in the village that shelters the bare and the poor.
The mill stream cascading
where the children are playing,
by the oak trees that sleep in the dear Derramore.

The lavender walls are alive
with the fruit of the flower and beehive,
and peace is at home behind every front door.
There weavers are talking
and fair Rose is a walking,
by the oak trees that sleep in the dear Derramore.

No fighting or feuding can bring
discord within Gullion’s Ring;
the district of songs stills the clamour of war.
Poets dream in the glen
beneath gloaming Creggan,
of the oak trees that sleep in the dear Derramore.

While the Camlough flows calmly nearby
with its lilting and low lullaby,
and not here do wild revellers roar.
Take your ease by the river,
there is rest here forever,
by the oak trees that sleep, down the long ages deep,
in the keeping of dear Derramore

 

The Unending Spire
Just next to a swathe of open land; a place that most Londoners do not know the true significance of; opposite the Embankment; a semi- circle of plague pits called “The Phoenix Crescent” or something like that- perhaps in the hope that the hundreds of nameless ones piled therein will have a better resurrection- which, as I said, very few know- or care to remember; there I stood, looking up, unable to comprehend the size of the spire that stands there. I am not sure of its name, but, for the sake of those who have not seen it, think of any of Van Gogh’s swirling masterpieces. Looking upwards brings a true feeling of vertigo; the tower so tall it seems impossible, as though it were about to fall on you as you tilt and tilt your head back and totter on your heels. It dwarfs Big Ben and Canary Wharf, the towers of New York, and even that one in Montreal. Up it disappears into wisps of cloud; heights where no man could breathe. A few pale lights chime with the stars. The rest you just have to imagine. Honestly, it is an incredible sight.

Secret Names

Dossy September Friday. The phones are bored.
The talk turns to names- those we’re born with
and the more intimate, the sobriquets we gain.

Don Juan sat down and counted up to sixty.
Everyone confesses they have at least one, but
all lips are sealed. It appears that chocolate bars

will not prise out some secrets. I note that even
Fatty doesn’t crack. Why am I surprised?
I keep mum too. C’mon, let’s get back to work.

And so they remain where we remember them;
on a pillow, waiting tenderly at the station,
tippexed from various books I was given.

Valentines in The Times: line upon line of lovers’
unbreakable binary code. Whispered in throes
of pleasure, yelped in play. Sweet nothings we treasure.

They echo emotion, as a shell is haunted by the ocean.
And only she knows why, remembering seashells, I’d flee
work to shelter under the weeping, wind-wounded trees.

The overlooked

And if you look over here,
this is one of the most famous
of scenes, lovingly presented in all its detail
by the artist. If you consider it more closely you will be
shocked by its graphic reality. Not difficult to imagine
that you are there as well. The blood is black
and thickens. The sun on that spear, reflecting in the glaze
of the eye. The sweat track in the dust. That fly.
Yes, well spotted.; that clot of hair on the round stone.
Fascinating. These days, however, critics often overlook
the significant figures in the scene.
No, not the mother. Well, to be honest, that particular soldier
is often remarked upon- you see that he is transfixed
upon the dice and the coins; absolute concentration-
utterly removed from his situation!
No. Open your eyes. You see the figure of the stooped old man?
Look harder. Bend lower. There. Interesting, isn’t it?
His face like leather, creased in tears of anguish. Yes,
but for whom? No, what he is holding to his chest are not
children’s shoes, although they bear some similarity.
Why is he alone not looking at the cross?
Ask yourself this question: what is he giving?
What has he lost?

National Anthem

Mobile phone from Finland,
watch: product of Japan.
Shades made in Estonia,
designed by an Italian.

Ma coupine est Algerienne,
come to learn my lingua.
Balti
out of restaurant,
on futon (from IKEA).

Cup of tea, (from India)
or Coffee (grown in Ecuador)?
Pants by Prima Chichi’s
of Milano and

New York.

CD from Los Angeles,
sweet sherry: ex- Madrid.
Nothing from Great Britain
but true grit, grit, grit.

Nativity

That Saturday, I left early in order to see
the new bookshop opened recently in town.
The day after Boxing Day, the sale on and panic
of pigeon scuttle and rain flecked , concentrated frowns.
I nearly passed, unnoticed, the nativity scene,

first seeing what I took to be a head case
fiddling with his coat zip, in front of a shop door.
Staring through the plate glass, while his oddly manic
fingers twitched at his throat. Eyes to the floor,
a smile that spoke of tranquillizers on his face.

Crossing himself- at a manger, painted star and statues.
Shepherds and wise men, marooned in a sea of straw,
all in the shop front, fixed in antic
postures where clothes or toys were ranged before;
next to the bakery’s snuffling, steaming queue.

No doubt a third rate retail spot,
formerly novelty gift-ware or the Salvation Army.
Not an ideal location or specially hand picked;
rather, loaned by the landlord in a type of charity.
A place that Christmas commerce almost forgot;

it seems to lack relevance. Very few slow
their bargain hunting to ponder what it means.
Impenetrable to some, and to the pedantic
quite clearly wrong: the figures white and clean.
A waste of space, then, this static dumb show?

No. There yet remains something approaching good
about this absence of anything to buy or sell-
and each distracted shopper, however frantic,
notes the difference, though they hide so well
their knowledge of the unseen, yet somehow understood.

(c) Laurence Cooper 2004

A wreck at Bunbeg, Donegal

When I was Young

When I was young
I thought to change the world
The big idea, the noble cause, heroic exploits
all with instant fame of course
Now my little life goes by
a whisper in all history
one leaf falling from the canopy
And I could pass my futile time
with pleasures, or maybe just survive
and browse through snaps of memories now gone
But, I have found a people
inconspicuous and few
and God is here unnoticed by camera crews
The kingdom infiltrates our lives
and drives out dark from hearts like mine
We lock ourselves to God, his church
at least to burn a little in our time.

A Severe Beauty

Why is it all like this?
Such a mixture, such a mess?
One man only answers and makes sense
Beauty is for the looking
truth for the hearing
if you will
Love will lance your poison
drain the darkness
declare heaven
like a dandelion clock still telling
in the teeth of a gale
This severe love is no sweet tale
Life and death don’t play games
but love embraces all
with a driven heart like driven nails
Draw near, stretch out to hear
for only one thing matters
and all will be made clear

Clouds near Daventry

How does love sit there
as children cry in pain and fear?
How does love stand by
as people hurt and cruelly die?
How or why?

So love showed me his hands and side
and showed me how alone he died.

But how does love do nothing
when evil rules the day?
And why does love not intervene
when justice looks away?
How or why? I pray

So love became all sin to me
and justice executed him for all to see.
Love cut at the root of sin
to heal our hearts and make a way
for love to enter in.

Is that hard enough?

Let’s show what is the best
and celebrate
So said love
Invitations to a feast

But first
make a world with beauty
and let it be infected
with evil to the core
And those who struggle
every rebel
shall be subject to that fall
to sickness, fear and death
with toil to stay alive
Is that hard enough for love?
It must be
that only love survives.

But love died
It was not hard enough
to be a snowflake on a fire
or grace in a far gulag
for only love could die
forsaken
and still rise

On the bridge

Wisdom

The whales do not need us
or the frozen mountains
The swifts’ careering games
the beetle’s heedless eating
Regardless of the city
or our sorrows
Out of reach
is understanding
to man who walks in space
The why, the key to suffering
a love that does not fade
The patient poor
the working mule
a child with a cat
a rolling storm, the rolling dice
the mask of death or angry eyes
So close at hand
the work of God
a curtain drawn
a word
a turning round

Ordinary shapeless people
Forgettable faces
Making ends meet
Carrying their thoughts
Down a dull street
Lord lighten our darkness
Lift us into life, a walk on a higher way with a hope of glory
Only Jesus came this low to rise

Piers

Responses

  1. Hallelujah Almighty God Jehovah in the name of Jesus Christ my Messiah
    My Redeemer for the Culture The Alpha and Omega
    I am a believer in my Saviour Jesus Christ
    He is bona fide and qualified
    To receive you and relieve you from pain in Jesus name
    I am a Son Gentle as a dove and as wise as a serpent
    Soon come the hardcore Rapture
    If I fall I don’t worry Jesus Christ will catch me
    In a hurry
    Christ is ever before me and His Glory is my rear guard
    I don’t need to place my bet’s nor jest at the fact that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh
    Christ whether loved or hated has got enough respect
    In the Heavens above and the Earth below
    Yo my God slings Hope and passes on the dope
    I put down the gun and pick up the Son
    Jesus Christ is His name and He has already won
    The battle of ages this ain’t no lie
    If anyone is walking in deception they better take off their disguise
    Believers we rise and look to the skies
    and stop disrespecting the One who came and died
    For you and me so we can be free
    He even rose again so we can see
    Death’s got no power over the Majesty
    Safety in numbers the number is 3
    Father Word and Spirit
    The Holy Trinity


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