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Paul Perry


The Gate to Mulcahy's Farm

The gate to Mulcahy's farm is crooked,
sinking into infirm soil like a ship
from the Spanish Armada if you like,
forged and felled in some dark cave

to find itself jaded with flaking eroded gilt
leaving the striations, prison-like,
shaded a coppery green. A gate without
a handle and unlike all others in any

neighbouring field without the dull sanguine
frame that swing to and fro like a hinge,
or a door itself to some other world.
No, this is no ordinary gate and there is

something majestic in its stolid refusal
to swing, something absurd even.
Perhaps this is another version of heaven,
imagine the bedroom it might once have graced,

this brass headboard, this discarded,
transported remnant of love's playground,
and look, two golden and intact globes
rest on either end, both transcendental transmitters,

receivers maybe of rough magic,
piebald love, communicating not sleep,
sleep no more, but wake, wake here
to the earth and imagine if you want

the journey of such an armature
of fecund passion, what hands gripped
these bars, what prayers were murmured
through the grate of this ribald cagery?

Imagine too the man who must have
hurled and pitched and stabbed
this frame into the ground, in a dark rain of course
after his wife had died, her passing to us unknown

though you know this
that there must have been some act
of violence within this frame-work,
some awful, regrettable pattern caught

in the form of what, wind rushing through a brass
headboard, an exclamation point to the querulous
division of fields, could we be talking border-country,
and the broken, airy, moss-eaten stone walls.

Think about when the farmer died and the farm
was sold, think about what happened the field, empty
of its cows, still with its stones and grey soil,
maybe this is Monaghan,

maybe some day it, the brass headboard
you are looking at now, will be sold
to an antiquarian in a Dublin shop,
brought there on a traveler's horse and cart,

not smelted down or disassembled, but sold
to a shop where some lady with a wallet
will buy the thing, the elegant shabbery before you
that is the gate to Mulcahy's farm. As for the bed

itself, we can speculate, let it have sunken
into the earth, or better still let the earth be the bed,
the cot, mattress and berth to this sinking headboard,
this beautiful incongruous reliquary of misplaced passion.



the improbable flowers of Vizcaya

" ...and on the left the silk wall paper
with the improbable flowers..."

Outside, the fountains swallow the sun. Again and again, I fall asleep on Peacock Bridge and dream of chasing kites in my Italian childhood. The living room replicates a typical Renaissance room; a high beamed ceiling, a sixteenth century fireplace. Plush coven. Lumber room. Loot. The trees talk in a pre-historic, gnarled and tangled language. A 2,000 year old Roman tripod, a fifteenth century Spanish heraldic carpet. Rococo ceilings and two sixteenth century tapestries depict the exploits of Hermes. I want to sneak into the butler's pantry. No echo in my mouth. Biscayne Bay, goodnight. Beautiful Iseult, be with me here, where the fishing boats dawdle on the water like small children who should long have been asleep. Here, we could walk by the silk palm trees with their gracious, but improbable flowers. You could say you love me, and I would be Tristan, or whatever it is you want me to be.


To Dexter Above

i.m. of Dexter Gordon

I picture you playing an old ballad
say I guess I'll hang my tears out to dry
in some god-awful after-life cellar
teaching the angels to swing, those patient
white winged students waiting for the shabby
saxophone to start its praying, chipped
and dented, bedraggled gold like the sun-
light hazy, weak and sweet on those early
mornings in Paris, restless, unsleeping,
lost wanderings with junk and alcohol
beating through your blood, your eyes dark marbles
of loving suspicion, a face of ash,
itinerant fingers of exile, wry
shadow, old one time actor you paced
your way on grooves and glissandos full of
sound and fury, full of love and loss and
made beautiful burnished labyrinths
of sound, your gray lips, which you once dreamt bled
like the reed and your mouth and your lips all
blood, viscous velvet pain, wordless phrases,
expelling all the wonderful regrets
of our lives and when you make the horn talk
up there in your new home, in our night sky
the stars appear like startled orphans still
celebrating the wedding of brass and
wood-wind, the luscious reed, how many thousands
did you lick and split in the blue frenzy
of hopeless dream-catching, in an sorry
attempt to conjure twilight, your inspired
improvisations opened like a long
letter to the night asking it to take
you and though our ideas of heaven may
be far too simplistic, because to bar
the blues from paradise would be nothing
less than blasphemy, the tenor of your
voice, gravel and dark, would not complain,
but blow the blue note and Go like an ever
enduring soul bark into the eternal night.