New Original Writing: Peter Adair & Patricia Devlin-Hill

Poems from our 12NOW writers Peter Adair and Patricia Devlin-Hill.

Peter Adair – The man who had no car

After the downturn
they seized his car,
they clamped his job,
house and wife,

his patch the pavement
beside the motorway
howling its chant
of oil-charged mayhem

as he turns away
from black gusts of stink,
the remains of a man
with time to think,

clambering through a gap
in the blighted bushes
and crawling to his lair
serenaded by blackbirds

he can scarcely hear
with cars screeching past
to office or house,
shop or doctor,

and so bunks down
this summer morning
caressing shrubs,
swaddled in fern –

gorse friend,
slug lover –
and dreams of cars
spinning in circles

through the final scene
of an exhausted future
when the oil dries up
and the wheels fly off

and jags and old bangers
pile high in the sky,
till the last engine sputtering out
an immense silence

astonishes the day
and a lone blackbird
celebrates nothing,
a billion fumeless years

as a plastic bag
sticks to a branch
and he listens to weeds
spouting through asphalt.


Peter Adair – The Unsinkable

As what goes down must come up and find its place
so the Unsinkable, as if just launched from Belfast,
rises majestically to the icy surface –
the floating palace they built and swore would last.

Reassembled on deck, first-class passengers and steerage
divide by instinct, each knowing their place,
peasant, bourgeois and peerage
twiddling their thumbs in chilly silence

as Lord Something smiles feebly, being nice
to inferiors when, with greedy grin, pushing forward,
a man from the land of the living breaks the ice,
photographer in tow, hotfoot from the tourist board,

greeting the risen to the century’s biggest party
which – he flushes, speaks fast – has all the makings
of packed hotels and spectaculars (not too arty)
and, for the dead, ten per cent of the takings.

Stiffly, lords and underlings shake each other’s hand,
loosening pre-Somme manners, blinking at the camera clicking
and trying, in these classless times, to understand
why wrecks and bones and letters are ripe for the picking.


Patricia Devlin-Hill – Beyond curtains

a fluted note
spurts up,
its seed pods
popping
as it rises;
the bird call that
wakens all
the other birds.

The first reply
comes;
warm honeyed
legato, pouring
undulating folds
on the first
awakened
risen shoot.

The first call
comes again;
honey thickens,
swelling
in its dolce
measured repour;
more flutes awaken.

From behind
the curtains,
under feathered quilts
between pillowed snoozes,
I see through
the chinks
the darkness still,
and having done
my work the
eve before,
I nestle on
in the sweet
rapport.


Patricia Devlin-Hill – The Bookcase

A glossa written in tribute to Seamus Heaney

+++ Ashwood or oakwood? Planed to silkiness,
+++ Mitred, much eyed-along, each vellum-pale
+++ Board in the bookcase held and never sagged.
+++ Virtue went forth from its very shipshapeness.

++++++‘The Bookcase’ – Seamus Heaney

Tall standing,
to the lofty ceiling
pitched on the bay
of the century old window,
its rib cage of shelves,
wrapped the curve of the wall
to the glass panes.
It held the prints of a life’s choices,
from simple upward,
ashwood or oakwood? Planed to silkiness,

in love with the poet’s ply of paper
ruminating words, hopeful themselves
for the stiff spines of
the standing books,
proud orators, standing stones
for the pushed in paperbacks
hiking on their heads, crowding
to the bottom of the shelves above;
these having been, for the sacred role,
mitred, much eyed-along. Each vellum-pale

rib was laden with the couched pressed sheets of
Yeats, Joyce, Heaney and Duffy,
Motion, Adcock, Plath and Peralta;
guarded by a rough, clay painted fist sized penguin,
reading, at flipper arm’s length, books from
le Petit Larousse illustré, to pregnancy, to managing money;
with a Galileo thermometer, a dish of jewellery bits,
small gifts from small children, unframed photos, cards,
a stand of pens and notebooks, all weighted on the
board in the bookcase held and never sagged.

Its standing stilt limbs harboured more,
all the way down to its feet, toe hidden in the
flotsam of small socks, pop-up books, wind-up cars,
nature scientific journal, a scattered choice of poetry,
fed from long work nights,
rows, love, 3 heads on 2 pillows,
with a board reached out
bearing tea, warm milk in a becker, radio alarm.
For from the many hearted perched upon ribs,
virtue went forth from its very shipshapeness.

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