Francis O’Hare

Street Music  

O cold, wet streets of Newry,
on a rainy Friday night,
glistening with mystery,
under streetlamps, starlight,
your names compose a litany,
a prayer, a lonely flight

beyond the valley-vapour,
chip shop, taxi-rank,
night-club, pub, river,
canal, cathedral, bank,
town-hall, courthouse,
Ulster- bus station, dank

small-town air pervading
my soul like John Coltrane
on Spiritual, the tinkling
jazz-piano strain
gently harmonising
with horn, like wind and rain

that blows and falls through all
these streets, this town, this me –
alert, observant, neutral,
aware of history
and Wallace Stevens’ angel
of necessity; poetry

in tune with what is here;
lovers’ late night rows,
shouts for taxis, laughter
spilling out of shadows
like rain from a shop-front gutter
around midnight… now’s

the time for me to listen,
in this almost-silence,
to the sound of falling rain
on wet streets, its soft opulence
a rich drip-drop refrain
heard after the last note ends;

River, Quay, Canal,
Mary, Mill, O’ Hagan,
Dominic, Talbot, Castle,
Baggot, Barrack, Catherine,
Chapel, Church, John Mitchell,
Kiln, Kildare, Monaghan….
Astral Weeks  

A sweetheart from another life floats there –      
W B Yeats

As long as this music exists
I’ll be twenty-two and wandering through
a cherry-blossomed avenue
in leafy-with-love that loves to love Belfast,

an impromptu symphony
of starlings and skylarks constantly singing
soul-paeans to the sunshine, church bells ringing
out in epiphany

the sweet, sweet, summer-
time of the past,
until out of sea-myst-
ical evening, mysteriously, you shimmer,

vision-like, sauntering, your perfume drifting
through my mind like guitars,
the first silent stars
in sapphire skies glistening, heavenly, listening

to the wind and the rain in my soul, sense-transcendent
of, ballerina-like, pain,
to breathe in your hair, to be born again,
my arm round your waist in that pure instant

in the lilac and blue
wonder of being, in cool night air,
and we forget who we were
before we were here, wet with raindrops and dew,

in the eternal now,
cherry-blossoms falling weaving arabesques of feeling
as we stand at a railing,
a train blowing out its harmonica solo,

and then we’ll have kissed
as we watch the moon shine
over Shalimar, feeling almost divine
as long as this music exists.

Francis O’Hare, born in 1970 in Newry, Co. Down, was educated at Queen’s University Belfast, and University of Ulster, Coleraine; he now works as a teacher. He co-authored Outside the Walls (An Clochan Press) with Frank Sewell in 1997. A selection of poetry was included in Poetry Introductions 1 (Lagan Press, 2004). His poetry collections include: Outside the Walls (An Clochan Press 1997); Falling into an O (Lagan Press 2007) Alphaville (Lagan Press 2009): Somewhere Else (Lagan 2011) and Home and Other Elsewheres (Evening Street Press, US 2011). His forthcoming work, My Bohemian Fantasy, will shortly be published by Lagan. His work has been widely published in magazines in Britain and Ireland.