—for Gary Hogan (1964-1992)
A matter of genes this knack
of pulling oneself into a tiny corner
like a sick hound.
'He's no trouble to anyone, '
the finest compliment from an Irish nana.
Regression to famine days
as pale children faded in peat-smoked huts
amid stoic silences and rosaries.
I wanted you to escape the cold silences,
expect little from stiff affections
even as I taught you the 'The Soldier's Song'
and McGuillicuddy's words on the Easter Rising.
But even in small doses
the mad Irish hurt you out of poetry.
Now the waste of your leaving
chokes me like the glut of raw sewage
emptying off a Jalisco beach.
Yelapa Point fades in the mist as
Radio Vallarta plays Querida
and the children scream
at goliath waves which threaten
real danger in a dress rehearsal for life.
What would have happened had you come here?
Three days of sun, brown-skinned children
and light off pastel houses
gentle with promise.
I should have given you that.
Crossing horseback on the Cuale River
you might have found a green jungle god
to replace the one you lost
or at least enough magic to postpone the disbelief.
Setting, they say, comes before character;
is an organic part of theme.
In the cold Denver night with no sign
of spring, the jonquils a faded memory
and jacaranda something you never knew—
like Romeo, you chose to pilot your own bark
predictably upon the rocks.
QUE-RII-DAA! a plea, a groan, a prayer
a cry of the cormorant,
Juan Gabriel sings on the cheap plastic radio.
My dark one, who did you go so easily?
The pelicans here dive over and over
and come up more often with an empty beak
than a full one.
Still, they dive again.
Even the repugnant seagull
persistent in his white shrillness
screams out over the ocean
(listen, you can hear him)
MORE LIFE MORE LIFE MORE LIFE….
The waves pulse on, diastolic/systolic,
a susurrus unlikely to soften the cliffs
into any semblance of affection,
while the jungle waits poised above
impatient in its ancient stillness
for all of us to leave.
michael hogan's Other Poems
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