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Three Poems


Nocturne Op. 2

A sad air's best for night as you mope about
the house, closing windows, checking doors.
Slow, cumulative strokes of the violin bow,
the most ruminative notes that can be coaxed
from the cello, nocturnes unlocked by black piano keys.

Strains that are trained directly on the heart
when its resistance sinks, like temperatures,
to a day's-end low: music that tells of how
things stand in the troubled world you now have
in your hands to potter about in on your own.

Christmas Idyll

There too, in the rarely-inhabited
sitting room, carols, crackers, balloons,
shimmering tinsel garlands, a card-
sprouting tree aglow with excitement,
sharing the delight of those whose
gifts it nurtures like laid eggs.
No tension in the air yet. No old
resentments flaring yet among
the children, each on best behaviour,
home with studded boyfriends, urbane,
designer-attired young wives.

How precious they must look from
the empty street, framed picture-perfect
between chintzy curtains, untouched
by suffering, immune from pain,
luxuriating in an otherworldly Thursday
that segues to a dreamy Sunday.

comfort and joy,
comfort and joy

Update

God, I still miss you some days,
fondly recall our happier times.
You used to take me into
your confidence, while I
fessed up to my transgressions,
owned up to grievous flaws.
And, granted absolution, I would
ascend to cloud nine,
mind on higher things,
ears only for your voice that conversed,
not in our inarticulate vernacular
but through lapidary Latin,
plainchant, exultant motet.
I recall the wet cathedral evenings
when your fair-weather friends
had absented themselves,
and we settled down by the fire
of the votive candle shrine
for a heart-to-heart confab,
our conversation never flagging.

What a good listener you always were
to me, God. I so wish we had not quarrelled,
gone our separate ways, making
too big an issue of the Jesuitical
distinctions that divided us, failing
to see eye-to-eye on articles of faith.

And you must feel a loneliness
close to empty nest syndrome
now that so many of your
erstwhile acolytes have flown the coop,
escaped your cage, questioned
your discretion, no longer prepared
to submit to your rough justice,
remain prisoners of your conscience.

The year, refurbished, kitted out afresh,
is soaking up warm pastel colours,
reaching perfect pitch, oozing
through rejuvenated fields
a slow sempiternal note.


Dennis O'Driscoll

Collected Poems
Carcanet


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