Four Poems by Eamon Grennan

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Cricket Trees Thunder 

What the cricket is saying with its high-pitched fire-alarm cheep
            its thin silk-line dividing night from morning is hard to place
till you look beyond the bedroom window and see the trees
            (locust oak dogwood maple ash—those patient beings
our dear upstanding companions in every weather) are wearing
            (this cloudy morning with thunder thumping at intervals among
gun-metal cloud-masses) an air of resignation as if on the way
            to mourning the matter of that moment when (the cricket knows)
they’ll strip stand stark and shake their skeletal fists at heaven.



Winter Geese Landing

Under cloudy dusklight the grey air’s packed with a flapping
            congregation of geese yapping yodelling and drifting down
in a feathering vortex while higher up a winter-skyed tribe
            aim south away from us and our congealing snow and cold
and make with sounds of trumpet and trombone and tenor sax
            a brassy break-up belling clouded air while these sad ones
left behind can only drift about disconsolate and at odds
            with each other—peering into the stilled mirror of the small
half-frozen pond (their night lodging) and floating like lost souls
            out of some forgotten mythology on its pitiless pale skin of chill.




Let’s say it’s storm’s travail and hard labour shaking trees and
            rousing the roof-timbers of this small house till stillness
descends again and the garden’s a glistering array of yellowy
            greens or let’s say it’s the way those great unmitigated
weights the clouds bombard-laden with greyness of un-
            spent rain and around them eager and inconsolable
the usual fretted hems of noonlight gathered to disturb
            the undecreed blue sky-dome and let’s say such far from
mute phenomena declare that all air’s turbulence and all
            this upheaval in the atmosphere has something in its nature
resembling how a psyche might be—its disposition clouded
            by the slightest unexpected remembering of night-cries
and eyes opening into eyes that focus through something like
            stormlight on your own suddenly dream-startled open eyes.



Return to Renvyle in November

Gleam of gorse-yellows blazing away from Oughterard
            to his own back door then all the browns of November
from black of cut turf to fox-rust dead bracken then
            tweedy swathes of colour the hills wear like shawls and
nothing is not a welcome welcoming the eye back to the feel
            of a place a space held in common with people who stop
to greet or gossip or go on and how the houses seem one
            with the sloping flank of Letter Hill that’s a dark shape
looming into the bright acres of the lake with clouds etching
            their clean image into lakewater and the salt water
of the bay at ease with islands and it’s November yet only
            yesterday one big-winged monarch was still hovering
above the nasturtiums and today though rain’s a gauze net
            in which lake and mountain have the shakes yet
bees are at work ascending out of and descending into a hive
            colonised over the summer and still taking pollen
from clover and whins and the last flowers of fuchsia while
            small birds bustle between what’s left of the leaves
of ash and mountain ash and keep the place a space
            of song so he looks and listens to the busy world while
winter’s a word only in local talk just a rumour in the daily
            coming and going gossip though all agree it’s coming.




The author of more than ten collections of poetry, Eamon Grennan has also written a book of essays, Facing the Music: Irish Poetry in the 20th Century (1999). He won the PEN Award for poetry in translation for Selected Poems of Giacomo Leopardi (1997), and the Lenore Marshall Poetry Prize from the Academy of American Poets for Still Life with Waterfall (2002). His most recent volume in the U.S. is Out of Sight: New and Selected Poems (Graywolf). He publishes his work both in Ireland and the U.S. His latest volume of poetry (just out in Ireland, and forthcoming in the U.S.) is There Now. Grennan has also won several Pushcart Prizes. He has been awarded fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts, the National Endowment for the Humanities, and the Guggenheim Foundation. He has also published for Oxford a translation (with Rachel Kitzinger) of Oedipus at Colonus. For the past few years he has been writing and directing “plays for voices” for a small theater company he co-founded in the West of Ireland: Curlew Theatre Company. He divides his time between Poughkeepsie and Connemara.

Photo of gate and gorse in the western Ireland countryside by Gerardo Borbolla, courtesy Shutterstock.

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