The lowest of the low

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ON THE METRO

In Paris
a man follows his whiskers onto a train.
He holds out a cardboard cup and declares:
I have no money.
I have no job.
No one will hire me.
I am too old.
I have no family.
I have not eaten today.
I sleep in the gutter.
I have no other clothes than these.
I have done despicable things.
I stand here before you without shame
the lowest of the low.
Some of his audience turn the pages of their newspapers.
He moves through the carriage behind his empty cup
and when the train stops at the next platform
he steps out.

 

THE GRAVES AT SAINT-ROMAN

Thanks to it make known Saint-Roman to your relations and to your friends, thank you. - Visitors brochure

Atop the ancient Saint-Roman monolith
the Troglodyte monks have carved
their lives into stone.
The soaring altar and pulpit, the Bishop’s seat,
the wine press, even their windowless cells
ground patiently from the heart of the mountain.
But especially on top of the cliff
with its strategic view of the river
and the factories of Beaucaire
the tombs chiseled from rock.
The Troglodyte monks must have been small men
for there are scores of them
gouged shoulder to shoulder
graves no bigger than a child’s bath,
some filled with rain,
some with loose bones,
some empty but for the reminder
they offer the open sky.



HERONS AND THE ANGLE-GRINDER

Rowing on that peaceful lake
blue dragonflies investigate
pearls of light dripping from my oars.

Across the water workmen crank
up the angle-grinder, concocting doors
for the boat shed. The metallic shriek

tears the peace apart and three
grey herons launch into the air
arguing about which route to take.

They circle the lough forward, backward
orbiting in opposite directions
silhouetted against the sky like the cardboard

cut-outs of herons. All too aware
of my presence on the still water, the mice
of the rowlocks squeaking and knocking

with an ancient sound.
The grinder falls quiet. That shocking
incongruity dissipates and calm surrounds

the boat in the middle of the lake.
The herons find the reeds and enter
dusk on the far shore. I am wide awake

as rain begins to hiss in the trees.
In that softly rocking stillness ripples
circle outward from this sudden centre.


Mark O'FlynnMark O'Flynn has had three collections of poetry published, as well as a novel by Harper Collins in 2006.

 

 

 

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Existing comments

I always read every poem I see, never pass them by - a wonderful talent to express really vital issues in a way that takes us completely out of our world for the time and also to allow us to experience and value our world so much more. Thank you.
margaret o'reilly | 11 March 2008


thank you for the poems, especially the first one... so immediate.
barbara overbury | 14 March 2008


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