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Michael Farry: two poems


Look, it's hardly worth their while

to appear in the dim background

for this single day, but, being male,

they make the most of it. By now

everyone's fed up with something,

the lights on the mantel sting their eyes,

the tree litters the new wooden floor,

the cards remind them of the absent

or the tinsel annoys the dogs and cats.

I would have them arrive earlier, stay longer,

but their wisdom is unfashionable

so we keep them cosy in a cardboard box

for all days of the year except this one.

But, before you move on, search carefully;

this day, last but by no means least

of the festival, is a not-too-late reminder

of the abundance available in Midian,

Ephah, Sheba, unexpected, like the youth

who once improvised on his wretched

harmonica and now glorifies the house.

The alternative is bleak, false promise

of the new season's glossy brochures,

stone and glass, incense of sawn wood,

counter-tops, islands of porcelain

and granite, contemporary, classic.

Go back home. Choose another route.


Nursing Home Christmas Blues

I know. I saw the film too.

When she told me I laughed out loud

for a while. Later, in the crowd,

I met a man, alone and sick, who

thought he knew me. The park

is neat but I recall the mill

in ruins, the orchids and cranesbill

among the chaos, lovely, dark

domain of fancy. I swore I'd stay

forever. Tomorrow is Black

Friday but I don't bivouac

for bargains now. The Motorway

is flooded, lanes closed and snow

is forecast, all over, chill air

from the Arctic. This year glassware,

boots and some complicated gizmo

are all the rage. I lie and wait.

Things happen. My latest book sits

unfinished. I plan my favourite

dinner. The mutton is first rate

but expensive. Always blackface.

Sherry later. They'll never know.

Then he went away to Glasgow

Brighton or New Zealand, some place

foreign. If it snows I'll stay home.

Do you make fun of everything?

Happy the man who can sing

in the street, in the bar, alone.

When war arrives alone is best.

We knew everything. We were wrong.

We believed some stupid folksong,

optimistic fools. I've confessed.

It's almost Christmas, crib and star.

I remember tinplate train sets,

china dolls. Now it's silhouettes.

Happy? We are. We are. We are.

Michael Farry’s latest poetry collection, Troubles (2020), is published by Revival Press, Limerick. Previous collections were Asking for Directions (Doghouse Books, 2012) and The Age of Glass (Revival, 2017). He has just published, with Canadian poet Carolyne Van Der Meer, a chapbook, Broken Pieces, on their respective hospital experience.


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