Weekend Poetry: Daffodils on the M1, and other poems

Daffodils on the M1
After Guy Goffette

Admit it Ulster, the one thing you taught me ––
horizons can flourish over the blackest

of ground. When trouble sinks into itself,
bells spring up from bulbs in unlikely places.

I left one-way: Belfast to Dublin to Frankfurt.
Twenty years abroad swamped any vote

or feeling I had. My blue eyes watched you sway
right, back to barren soil and it’s hard

to read headlines where you’ve stopped growing.
In ´98, you poked your head above loam. So,

mute, in Germany, bar facebook and poems,
I’d rather write about hope, like flowers

or ending patriarchy. You see, I believe
in women. But Ulster, you’re wilting

under two who may foster your drought ––
a limp languish of shrivelled intentions.  

I went via the yellow-lined road to Europe.
You gave me your open blessing –– a bouquet

of flirts, a future, to excuse your narcissist
roots, spread through decades of mud.

What happened to mutual agreements Ulster?
You wizened and drooped when we were moving on.

Goethe’s Puppet House Speaks

On a Victorian mahogany Podest, I breathe years
through walls, skin aged by centuries. A heart behind glass
membrane beats. I’m the treasure of a strange shy boy.

I fed from his pulse as finger puppets rippled,
concentric, shouting Latin and ancient Greek—
under Iliads in miniature and bone-white moons.

Gallant officers, embossed with epaulettes, pitched
Persia-bound on paper folded boats. Those marionettes
sailed odysseys as blood and time filled forward. 

Later he wrapped my citadels with his childish ways
in tissue paper. The clavichord summoned scores
to stucco parlours with chinoiserie silk walls.

Drapes dimmed my cloister lights, my painted candles —
seas of orange sails. Years passed those hundred, amber souls.
The boy, by now a man, in father’s study,

conjuring Mephisto among the bleumorant.
He professed; what you see shows what you are inside.
Through his arteries and veinsflowed my legacy.

His grown hands, once nurtured by my palimpsest,
grew to see the world as theatre, at its best,
as he strung my nerves into depths and darkness.

For M

Let me tell you of stretches of days
as you await each letter, so that you’re sure
if accepting your friend’s party invitation
makes sense. For all you know,
you could be on a plane, back there.
Let me write your mother’s mind flailing
as you translate her for teachers and doctors
with your hard-won sweat and toil, tongue.
I’ll turn the volume of bureaucracy creaks
up louder so you can already hear it
from the other side
of the ocean, how a land can be
an old crocodile,
letting you call it home, then spit you out,
given just hours to pack.
Aged 12, you’ve the weight of four lives
on your shoulders. So far, you’ve come
to uncertainty, which is, I suppose,
better than war. But
in slogans, like Wir schaffen das,
wish is buried in once upon.
See, I wish there’d been more honesty.
You should have known,
for example, that welcomes are lines
after lines, that bad news travels faster than good.
No ever-afters, you might not have
the peace that you came here looking for.


Imagineyou look backwards, over your shoulder;
acute angles and bones, you lead your last cub
through snow drifts, thawing in the sun, the mush
of your old stomping grounds, then swim south.

Imagine your baby doesn’t make it. Alone,
you adapt, acquire tastes for berries and rodents
as your white coat yellows under hardwoods and time.
The last polar girl of your kind, on your own.

Then one day you meet a brute of few words
but he knows his way by nose around these parts.
A Marlboro Man kind of creature, he yawns.
He’s the sort who’d call you ice queen.

Here’s the thing. Small guys weren’t your type before
the big melt. Dark hair, concave skull, small paws,
long claws, and well, the hump! None of that
was ever your fantasy Mr Right. But,

under grizzle, he’s kind. You’ve no choice, just facts
in front of you. He leads you to his bachelor cave.
Your motley of genes flood into the future––
a cream litter of Grolars under Ursa Major.

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