A poem for the day – The Last Poem

Sooo… August is over, the season of mists and mellow fruitfulness (well, rain) is upon us, and it’s time for this guest blogger to bid you all a fond farewell. Thanks to all who read the poems and took the time to engage with them: it was good to be challenged, interrogated, confirmed, parodied; good to spark debate and set others off on their own trains of thought; and good to have the poems take a place alongside the more pressing issues of the Sluggerverse.

Some of you suggested that Slugger could handle a regular poetry thread. Well, that’s not for me to say. But I do think that poets and poetry have a contribution to make, and that restricting poems to the back corner of the review sections or the desert landscape of ‘the poetry scene’ is a mistake (for which poets are as guilty as anyone.)

And it’s worth remembering that Yeats’ great state of the nation poem, ‘September 1913’ first appeared, days after it was written, on the front page of the Irish Times, in the thick of heated commentary and reportage on the Dublin lock-out.

So I’ll sign off with this appropriately-titled piece.

The Last Poem

‘s strangled at birth
with a cable stripped
from the last ship named
at Harland & Wolff.

All that is left
of the dead Island language
is Garmoyle and Dargan.
(The spellcheck insists

on gargoyle and dragon.)
The incompetent shade
of Thomas carnduff
snarls burly doggerel

while posed in his sash
on the Linen Hall roof.
This printer’s devil
turned Rotten Prod

in an archipelago
of bankrupt shipyards
says: bite your tongue.
The Magheramorne

Manifesto‘s
as good as a nod
to the land’s minor poets
and major fools.

The choice, in Belfast
as elsewhere, ‘s between
being made redundant
and downing tools.

  • Mick Fealty

    Many thanks Martin for keeping her lit! Although I would quibble that August was anything other than the first month of autumn (as it is in the Irish calendar – September is ‘middle autumn’ for good reason)…

    Cheers! And I hope we can have you back for another stint soon?

  • Enjoyed almost all of them.

  • Damien Okado-Gough

    Martin, it was good seeing you post poems here. You’ll know yourself that I’d be one for believing that poetry deserves to be more mainstream.

    I’d be well happy if Slugger were to have a literary panel (wing sounds more fun) who would look for relevant work to post, like Howard Wright’s poem posted earlier, or even solicit it, that is, ask for submissions with a view to publishing them on the blog. Certainly, I reckon the blog would be enhanced no end with more literary work included in it.

  • Mick Fealty

    Was that a pitch for a ‘job’ Damien. Sounds like it might entail some hard work, but I would be in favour, certainly.

  • pippakin

    Thank you Martin and thank Slugger for the poetry thread. I think poetry is, if not dismissed, then too often assumed to belong to ‘pretty’ things. As though it belongs above the fray. Not so! It can be the trigger to real thought about a subject. It has been an interesting month.

  • JR

    Thanks for the poems Martin, I enjoyed them. No chance of a thread or two as Gaeilge Mick?

  • Damien Okado-Gough

    Mick, I wouldn’t be qualified beyond knowing what I like and don’t like. I’d pitch in though, to help get something off the ground. You’d need someone with a literary reputation to make it respectable though.

  • Thanks, Mick – it was worthwhile in many ways. But I think Pippakin (as so often) hits the nail on the head with ‘pretty’ things: I don’t think poetry is one of the ‘decorative’ arts (mine certainly isn’t) and it’s place is among all the other human conversations.

    JR, I’m well aware (and shamefacedly so) that poetry in Irish was missing in action over the last months. I’m just not qualified, I’m afraid. But a regular poetry strand, if such a thing was contemplated, should try to have room for poems as Gaeilge.

    O’Neill – ‘almost all of them’? Come on, don’t leave me in suspenders!

  • O’Neill – ‘almost all of them’? Come on, don’t leave me in suspenders

    The first one Martin with the Machiavelian rhyming scheme, I’m too much of a plodding literalist to be able to negotiate that kind of stuff.