Two Poems by Patrick Deeley

My Father’s Salsa

He would jiggle the riddle’s circular frame
between his hands, sand dancing
within, fine grains streaming through
the wire grid until only shingle
and jags of stone remained. Then stop

those salsa rhythms I found
myself dancing to; chuck loose pebbles aside,
gouge from the quarry a refill,
shake and shuffle as before,
sifting so the damp, silken sand overspilled

the sides of its conical hill.
Walls were called for where clay ditches
had always done, the quickening
to modernity begun, cement mixer and silo
soon shunted into position.

We saw it as improvement, tunnels drilled
through hills, tar lorries,
steamrollers smarming a nexus
of routes. Decades later, in this underpass,
a muffled whoosh, plastic

scrunched underfoot, long mittens of ivy
darned on rock. I scamper up
and around, stand above everything.
Smell fuel-burn, feel the rush of the wind
no matter which way I turn.

Traffic bugles, trombones, an out-of-tune
brass band, the world of strangers
here and gone, all my townlands swept past
in less time than it takes
to mime my father’s salsa, dream the man.


To Judy in Her Studio

You forget to eat the orange I brought,
but as it shrinks, crinkles,
turns lop-sided, lustreless, you paint it,
and so your forgetfulness

bears other fruit. It’s done, I think,
at each visit, but neither you
nor the mould in its cold, clammy hold
will stop, with always more

to do or undo, get through to,
the effect of nothing ever staying just so.
Acceptance or abandonment?
Today, a last touch, a lingering look;

our eyes won’t outwear
the greeny white death by which the fruit
has lifted – through daub
and dust of your brushes – onto canvas.




Patrick Deeley has published seven collections of poems with Dedalus Press, the latest being The End of the World.  In 2019 he received the Lawrence O’Shaughnessy Award for Groundswell: New and Selected.  He has also published a memoir, The Hurley Maker’s Son, with Transworld, and a number of books for children.  He was born in County Galway and currently lives in Dublin.

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