for Mairead Costigan
For the salt, beneath a Madagascan moon, a moth
Supping the tears of a sleeping bird, drawing
Nightmare into his thorax; imagining an egg
Of Newtonia ripping the walls of his own velvet body,
Dropping as wings fall away, like an experiment
Of Cayley’s gone awry. Does every flying thing
Have tears and dreams? In this first moment
That we meet, we cannot know. Your campus
Holiday-quiet, the Palo Alto bar is hushed. You speak
Of Nietzsche and the Kinks and your guitar.
With Beefheart at the mixing desk it would be
Quite the mad ensemble, wouldn’t it?
Nearly shot at Ames for taking photographs;
We later stand in wonder at The Gates of Hell.
You overhear a traveller on the train to San Francisco
Ask a beardy stranger if his axe can truly sing. Now
The millennium – the real one – has not broken yet.
Before it can, I’ll half-forget what tears are for
And you will have remembered many dreams.
Soon enough I must fly south to Christmas drinks and fish
And chips on Manly Beach. On a clifftop veranda
In Woolloomooloo, I’ll probe a vertical curtain of rain.
At the observatory, I’ll murmur to Venus, bright as a spirit
Lamp. Overlooking water with your sister and her friends
I’ll welcome Arthur Clarke’s transcendent year
As rockets fly – and from the harp of the bridge,
A thousand fireworks spit in heaven’s eye.
No matter that the Emperors are dust,
Rome will have its minnows. All the boy-
Fish nipping at the wretched flesh of dull
Tiberius, could not outshine the body
Of one virgin saint for innocence and purity.
Take this child-bride of the Nazarene. They say
Here is a girl who chose to die before defilement.
Martyred at eleven, she had not attained the age
Even of Lateran consent. Maria we may venerate;
From her beg intercession. Not Tiberius’s minnows.
Submerged among the eye-teeth of the boy-fish,
Displacing no more thought than you’d expect,
Tiberius lives on. No matter that the minnows
Come and go, Rome will have its Emperor
And after him, the mad one with the horse.
Patrick Chapman is an Irish poet, writer and screenwriter, born in 1968. His poetry collections include Jazztown, (Raven Arts Press, 1991), The New Pornography (Salmon Poetry, 1996), Breaking Hearts And Traffic Lights (Salmon Poetry, 2007), A Shopping Mall on Mars, (BlazeVOX, 2008) & The Darwin Vampires, (Salmon Poetry, 2010). His most recent work, A Promiscuity of Spines: New & Selected Poems (Salmon Poetry) was published in 2012. His story collection, The Wow Signal (Bluechrome) was published in 2007. You can find him at www.patrickchapman.net