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Eamon Grennan

Art

The whole chorus saying only one thing: look
at what goes, where we stand in the midst of it:
Golden eyes of the beginning, deep patience
of the end. Stone-deaf, the rocks in silence
are writing our lives: mossed, or lichen- daubed
to brightness, their gravity is here to stay. . .
but so is the butterfly winged with light
and in a dozen minds at once, letting its life
be wamble and whim as air determines, though still
a fixed purpose sticks to it, it knows the score
the chorus follows as one voice, singing
Light whelms, whelms, and will end us, while
a painter, old, is leaning slightly to the right or left.

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Cat Scat

I am watching Cleo listening, our cat
listening to Mozart's Magic Flute. What
can she be hearing? What
can the air carry into her ears like that,
her ears swivelling like radio dishes that
are tuned to all the noise of the world, flat
and sharp, high and low, a scramble of this and that
she can decode like nobody's business, acrobat
of random airs as she is? Although of course a bat
is better at it, sifting out of its acoustic habitat
the sound of the very shape of things automat-
ically-- and on the wing, at that. The Magic Flute! What
a joy it is, I feel, and wonder (to the end this little scat)
doe , or can, the cat.

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Memento

Scattered through the ragtaggle underbrush starting to show green shoots
lie the dark remains of rail sleepers napping now beside the rusted-out wreck

of a Chevy that was once sky-blue and now is nothing but shattered panels and
anonymous bits of engine in the ditch by a path that was once a railway line

cut between small hills whose silence hasn't been broken by the rattle and
lonesome-blown whistle of a train for fifty years and whose air hasn't filled

for ages with my childhood's smell (set by Seapoint on the coastal line) of coal
smoke and hot steam puffed up in great cloud-breaths out of a black-sooted chimney.

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Song

At her Junior High School graduation,
she sings alone
in front of the lot of us--

her voice soprano, surprising,
almost a woman's. It is
the Our Father in French,

the new language
making her strange, out there,
fully fledged and

ready for anything. Sitting
together -- her separated
mother and father -- we can

hear the racket of traffic
shaking the main streets
of Jersey City as she sings

[...] Read more

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Cold Morning

Through an accidental crack in the curtain
I can see the eight o'clock light change from
charcoal to a faint gassy blue, inventing things

in the morning that has a thick skin of ice on it
as the water tank has, so nothing flows, all is bone,
telling its tale of how hard the night had to be

for any heart caught out in it, just flesh and blood
no match for the mindless chill that's settled in,
a great stone bird, its wings stretched stiff

from the tip of Letter Hill to the cobbled bay, its gaze
glacial, its hook-and-scrabble claws fast clamped
on every window, its petrifying breath a cage

in which all the warmth we were is shivering.

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On A Cape May Warbler Who Flew Against My Window

She's stopped in her southern tracks
Brought haply to this hard knock
When she shoots from the tall spruce
And snaps her neck on the glass.

From the fall grass I gather her
And give her to my silent children
Who give her a decent burial
Under the dogwood in the garden.

They lay their gifs in the grave:
Matches, a clothes-peg, a coin;
Fire paper for her, sprinkle her
With water, fold earth over her.

She is out of her element forever
Who was air's high-spirited daughter;
What guardian wings can I conjure
Over my own young, their migrations?

[...] Read more

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Untitled: Back they Sputter

Back they sputter like the fires of love, the bees to their broken home
Which they're putting together again for dear life, knowing nothing
Of the heart beating under their floorboards, besieged here, seeking
A life of its own. All day their brisk shadows zigzag and flicker

Along a whitewashed gable, trafficking in and out of a hair-crack
Under wooden eaves, where they make a life for themselves that knows
No let-up through hours of exploration and return, their thighs golden
With pollen, their multitudinous eyes stapled to a single purpose:

To make winter safe for their likes, stack-packing the queen's chambers
With sweetness. Later, listen: one warm humming note, their night music.

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Watch

1.
Watching it closely, respecting its mystery,
is the note you've pinned above this heavy Dutch table
that takes the light weight of what you work at,
coaxing the seen and any mystery it might secrete
into words that mightn't fall too far short, might let you
hear how the hum of bees in the pink fuchsia
and among the buttercups and fat blackberries
is echoed by that deep swissshhh sound that is
your own blood coursing its steady laps
and speaking in beats to the drum of your left ear.
2.
When you watch the way the sycamore leaf curls,
browns, dries, and drops from the branch it's lived on
since spring, to be blown by a soundless breeze
along the seed heads of the uncut grass, then
the mystery that is its movement—the movement,
that is, from seed to leaf-shard and so on
to fructive dust—holds still an instant, gives a glimpse
of something that quickens away from language

[...] Read more

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One Morning

Looking for distinctive stones, I found the dead otter
rotting by the tideline, and carried all day the scent of this savage
valediction. That headlong high sound the oystercatcher makes
came echoing through the rocky cove
where a cormorant was feeding and submarining in the bay
and a heron rose off a boulder where he'd been invisible,
drifted a little, stood again -- a hieroglyph
or just longevity reflecting on itself
between the sky clouding over and the lightly ruffled water.

This was the morning after your dream of dying, of being held
and told it didn't matter. A butterfly went jinking over
the wave-silky stones, and where I turned
to go up the road again, a couple in a blue camper sat
smoking their cigarettes over their breakfast coffee (blue
scent of smoke, the thick dark smell of fresh coffee)
and talking in quiet voices, first one then the other answering,
their radio telling the daily news behind them. It was warm.
All seemed at peace. I could feel the sun coming off the water.

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The Cave Painters

Holding only a handful of rushlight
they pressed deeper into the dark, at a crouch
until the great rock chamber
flowered around them and they stood
in an enormous womb of
flickering light and darklight, a place
to make a start. Raised hands cast flapping shadows
over the sleeker shapes of radiance.

They've left the world of weather and panic
behind them and gone on in, drawing the dark
in their wake, pushing as one pulse
to the core of stone. The pigments mixed in big shells
are crushed ore, petals and pollens, berries
and the binding juices oozed
out of chosen barks. The beasts

begin to take shape from hands and feather-tufts
(soaked in ochre, manganese, madder, mallow white)
stroking the live rock, letting slopes and contours

[...] Read more

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