dauðalogn (deadly calm)
“our rituals and our cassocks are pompous”, Mancini
Yup, Gregory, he did not go milk the cirrus heavens, sky mares or his god
for the chant, Gregory merely stepped it out onto the cobbled streets of Rome
when that bustling city was still in its sexy heyday, good or bad,
depends how you embrace it, and escaping out round the Forum –
he’d fucked off his vestments like old ship canvas. Kicked them in a heap on the floor of his room.
The full Prince Harry, Gregory just shook himself then into the white toga of a commoner –
sought the songs of the heart where these were sung by boys, old veterans,
slips at corners for their supper, – his curls in a cow’s lick, – or all round the Pantheon,
bloody boneshops, taverns, Capitol. Gregory heard what Gregory wanted to
hear, songs of the gut for that male, female, kid adored
the cries of poor lovers mirroring their mad Creator’s.
Old Gregory of the gouty foot playing him up goodo limped back up to his upper room –
rude wind from the Tiber lifting his toga in a Marilyn gesture, guffaws in the lanes
the streets wine-sodden today, blood-sodden tomorrow, the pope’s window open, –
wrote the songs quick with a bold hand, aortic cascade, now and again only his lips needing a hum
for fresh dove-shit down his shoulder, or, splitting his good ear from the stadium,
martyrs and the twelve tribes and then some raising the cup of their love in the Colosseum.
John Ennis is the author of thirteen books of poetry. His last long poem was Oisín’s Journey Home (2006), a work in praise of the people who built and served Newfoundland’s now defunct railway. He was editor for Poetry Ireland Review and served on the Executive of Poetry Ireland for eleven years. Awards include The Patrick Kavanagh Award in 1975, the Listowel Open and The Irish American Cultural Institute Award. He has co-edited three anthologies of Canadian – Irish Poetry: The Backyards of Heaven (2003), However Blow the Winds (2004) & The Echoing Years (2007); he edited a further All-Canadian Anthology How the Light Gets in …(2009). In 2008, Memorial University of Newfoundland at Sir Wilfred Grenfell College awarded him an Honorary Doctorate in Laws and in 2011, he was commissioned to write the words for the finale – anthem of Come the Sails, a choral work to honour The Tall Ships in Waterford. This poem is from a new collection Postponing Ásbyrgi due out March 2013.