Thursday Nov 23

CoadyMichael Michael Coady lives in the town of his birth, Carrick-on-Suir, County Tipperary and in 1998 was elected to Aosdána, the affiliation of Irish artists governed by The Arts Council. His book Going By Water is recently published by the Gallery Press. It joins All Souls and One Another to form a trilogy employing an original genre in which he integrates and orchestrates poetry, prose and his own photography. “A lapsed trombone player,” he has also been involved in music of various kinds and published a personal memoir of the Clare traditional musicians Pakie and Micho Russell, and an illustrated miscellany of short prose work, Full Tide (Relay Books, 1999).  Coady’s published and broadcast work includes critically-admired poetry and memoir of family migration and displacement in America. He has been awarded the Patrick Kavanagh and the O’Shaughnessy prizes for poetry in addition to short story awards. In Spring 2005 he held the Heimbold Chair in Irish Studies at Villanova University, Pennsylvania, and in 2008 a writing residency at the Centre Culturel Irlandais in Paris.
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The Given Light

 
The moon hangs there as though that setting
and that space between the trees
had always been intended to receive it —
those two trees I planted years ago
on a day that I remember for the urgent
press of spring informing earth and air,
my daughter playing beside me on the grass,
the ache of limbs after digging and planting —
 
such a day of shaping and beginning,
never imagining that on this particular
night in my own future I’ll step out
from my house into the dark and there
be suddenly surprised by the moon, full
between the silhouetted birch and ash, each
just as I positioned them that day,
but both now many times my stature.
 
Trees and moon enlighten me to see
all things as one but individual: roots
embracing and embraced by turning earth,
conspiring leaf and branch and dreaming bird,
the moon in its cold orbit here on hold,
framed for a moment in the lucent space
presented there between live plantings.
How perfectly the parts seem to fit
 
as though designed for this, along with
all else implicit and complicit in the frame,
such as this older self rooted in surprise
here now on moonlit earth, breathing my share
of its slim envelope of air while heart
beats out its little time under this light
where others I have known are gone ahead
into a radiance or dark that’s absolute.
 
 
 
 
Time and the Dead
 

They have all the time
in the world.
You’d wonder
what they do with it—
 
that is, if there is any
such thing as time
other than as an invented
notion of the living.
 
Maybe the dead realise
that you don’t do anything
with time – it does with you.
Or perhaps they are become
 
the uncountable who’ve reached
the rapture of knowing
it stops counting
once you go in deep enough.
 
 
 
The Corpus Christi Card

 
Most times I forget about
the King of Hearts half-hidden on my desk
that I found on the road outside my door
one Corpus Christi evening of brass band
 
and incense through the streets
with canopy and monstrance,
flowers and chant. Was that
ten or twelve or twenty years ago?
 
Time past becomes a vanishing procession
wreathed in a fog of maybe and perhaps,
a two-way glass through which what’s gone
grows almost as opaque as what’s to come.
 
Were other lost or scattered members
of that pack of cards picked up
by passers-by like me?
How did they fare?
 
Meanwhile that stray King of Hearts
has gathered dust; a history added on
to whatever it brought with it. Usually
I scarcely notice how it’s still around
 
and singing dumb through days
and nights of staking out
its squatter’s rights
upon my desk,
 
but I’ve learned that whenever
I do notice it again
I never can quite bring myself
to bin it and be done.
 
 
 
Setting Out Again

 
The new book scarcely born
and already they want to know
what’s next on the cards, as if
I had some lamp to light the way.
‘Whatever comes’ I say,
recalling a musician in Clare
 
walking one morning down the road
from the cliffs, with shopping bag,
tin whistle and faith in the world unfazed.
‘Are you going to the village Micho?’
‘I’m not ‘faith—I’m heading for a festival
somewhere beyond in Sweden or Norway.’
 
Or remembering my mother
on a morning of my childhood
opening the door to let in light and air
and saying ‘I don’t know
where the next meal
is coming from today.’
 
A man comforts a woman
Words set under
a post-tsunami photo
in a newspaper
 
the statement arresting
as a found
poem of the ages
 
somewhere
sometime
anywhere
 
updated now
as living
mantra
 
A man comforts a woman
 
this assurance
that somehow,
just like suffering,
 
human comforting
persists despite
or perhaps because of
 
all that is forever
lost
or broken
 
all that’s marred
past measure
and past mending
 
A man comforts a woman