Stephen Denehan's DAYS OF RISING FLESH AND FALLING MOONS will be out soon

Our Irish poet, Steve Denehan, whose mix of wit and worry is classic, has changed the title of his forthcoming book from Palms Against an Oily Wall to Days of Falling Flesh and Rising Moons.  He's added ten poems about Covid-19 to the mix.  Here are a couple of samples: 

 

Free Coffee

 

There are too many hand-wrung poems

too many grief pornographers

too many poems about loneliness

written by the lonely

hunched over pained pages

by lamplight

in search of the cure

 

there are too many poems crafted

to within half a half-inch

of a merciful death

or a merciless life

poems revised again and again

until whatever meat

has been stripped

and the bones

pared down to pupil-sized points

 

there are too many poems about nature

the glory of it

the harshness of it

too many poems with words like cicada

and cerulean

putrescible

and primordial

 

there are too many poems and poets

full stop

too many preeners and posers

too many poems written

just to be written

 

far, far too many poems read aloud

theatrically laden

with bizARRE inflecTIONS and unnatural                                                 pauses

to near empty rooms of dutiful neighbours

enablers and loose-enders

glad of the free coffee

and sense of belonging

 

there are especially

too many poems about love

breathless, stomach leaping, heart fluttering

moon dancing, sun shimmering, aching, soul shaking, heart breaking

love

regardless

this poem

is for you

 

Into the Third Week

 

The only thing outside now

is the virus

dying slowly

the attempt of one virus

to kill another

futile, this time

 

the antidote was simple in the end

inactivity and isolation

which led to my daughter cutting my hair

into a mohawk

followed by nail polish

I chose purple

lipstick

I chose black

 

my face was painted

a spider on one cheek

a flower on the other

a red lightning bolt on one temple

blue star on the other

a purple spiral on my forehead

 

I wear a hoodie emblazoned

with a taco and nacho arguing

"Wanna taco 'bout it?"

"It's nacho business!!"

shorts

and Aquaman boot-slippers

from morning ‘til night

these are bad days

these are good days

 

Black and White

 

 

I wonder if some babies are easier to give away

my mother let me go, her only son

to be replaced, one year later

with a daughter, the first of three

 

my father built a wall of distance between us

escaping, finally, to Canada

I remained his only child

 

cities flowered and wilted

men laughed in smoky evenings and talked of politics

women pressed melons with their thumbs to test for ripeness

and suddenly

I was 42 years-old and sometimes, feeling it

 

I learned of his death, my father

found, eventually, alone

his days of playing tennis, heady sing-song nights

giving away sons, over

 

life leaned toward me then

his brother, he who held me in his hand once

when I was new, came to see me

bringing my father with him in monochrome

in two dimensions

a life in faded photographs

 

my father, a baby too once, before he was a boy

standing, in strange formality, at the beach

water behind him that had seen it all before

 

I watched him stretch to a height I never reached

tall and lean, eager to test himself against it all

I saw age find and change him and wondered if he railed against it

I saw him grow older than myself and saw serious, stoic eyes look at me

look right at me and though I tried to reach inside those photographs

there was nothing of him left

 

then, a small box was placed in my hand and I was told

that I should have it

as it was all that he had left of me, an engagement ring

meant for my mother

it occurred to me that I was touching something that once, his hands had touched

across oceans and time and life and death, this was the closest we could ever be

I opened the small box and was shocked by the vibrant yellow gold and thrumming diamond

I was sure that it would have been black and white