Belfast

Maureen McLane

Your velvet hills came to me
last night in the pool
how they hugged the fraught city
the pubs filled and buzzing
the Europa unbombed now for years.
Your political murals are kitsch
and history’s a ditch
for lying if we let
the gravediggers
name us. Let’s bury
our pseudonyms
all undisclosed.
Was Scarlett O’Hara’s father
a blustering Ulsterman
or was he a peasant
like granddad from Wicklow
tender and fond amidst the riot
and kind to his slaves
but for the obvious?
White people are weird
with their vitamin D
and sunravaged skin.
So far from an equator
it’s hard to walk the line
in a cleaved world.
Orange, green, navy blue
the colors are weapons
as were most horses
in the 19th century.
Freed by machines
see how they race
on fragile ankles—
beauty a late flower
of disuse. Your storefronts
were boarded, your university
Victorian, the linen quarter
defunct. The solid brick
that shelters us unmortared
smashed a window.
Your sky hung low your beer
rode high your visiting Masons
sober and punctual.
A Days Inn here
is a Days Inn anywhere
but for the marchers gathering
their ribbons’ gaud at odds
with their drawn gaunt faces
shut like a purse
around an old watch
that still keeps time

Western

I can see the big sky
people have a point
the clouds mounting high
above the lake give

the lie to the fat claims
of mountains. The eye
requires a horizon
Thoreau somewhere sd.

Somewhere over yesterday’s
rainbow the clouds compact
of mysteries rise
and billow, ample sheets

in the blue. The line
is an orienting
thing. The horizon
the plumbline the halyard

we tightened for good
sailing. How we want
the world rigged tight
yet not rigged against

us. In Texas Montana
Dakota they know it
the cattle rounded
up for decades

into a genre near dead
as the passenger
pigeons that famously
darkened the sky

Back to top ↑

Sign up for Our Email Newsletter