Mike Absalom

3rd Vol, No2  (August  2016)

The poems are illustrated by the paintings that directly inspired by poet’s thoughts.

Chanting of the of Orchids,

chanting of orchard

Painting of Mike Absalom

Attracted by the Chanting of the of Orchids
Attracted by the chanting of the orchids Brighid comes, tiptoeing lightly, in little zigs and zags, emerging chastely from the Beyont.
She leaves no mark on either cotton grass or asphodel.
She is seeking a summer birthing.
“This is the wrong bog”, mutters Buachalán.
“Here you have less chance of giving birth than a spayed cat in a bog hole”. Buachalán carries poison in his pocket.
But then so do Foxglove and Buttercup,
and countless other sly yet-to-be-busted lilies of the field
who have been moonlighting for eons deep inside the longest of grasses, brewing their deadly delicious drams of moonshine
for our undiscovered delectation and delight! He might have been right, so. In spite of this I have brought a bottle for the Holy Water.
I watch from my hidden garden.
It is an artificial place, more like a hunter’s hide than a consecrated temple, and generally I keep it secret, corked up like a genie in my bottle.
But it pleases me to be naked here before the day.
I am unencumbered, a bare spider’s web in the morning dew.
Waiting among the orchids. Waiting for Brighid.
Nakedness makes my inward journey simple.
I move like an airline traveller sans baggage,
Easier to get there. Easier to come back.
With a ration of peace, I eavesdrop on passing bogeens and all the stray gods of the garden.
I am a hungry voyeur hidden among the flowers.

Attracted by the chanting of the of orchids, Brighid comes, tripping lightly, and with a sleight of hand too fast to follow conceals Herself inside a thistle pagoda
and is gone without giving any answer.
I remain naked in my hide.
Each day, here in this garden, I return and watch the thistle pagoda
like a cat watching a mouse hole. The cats watch with me,
purring unpleasantly between their teeth. Sitting with them
I learn the unclean secrets of tigers and the language of the Green Man.
Each day the thistle pagoda rises a little higher It is geodesic wonder. It is fractal fantabulous.
Brighid is in there somewhere. Each day too I rise a little higher. Or delve a little deeper.
It is hard to say which direction is which in this waving orchestra of grass. How many different kinds of grass are there in this Mayo field?
And how many languages do they speak? And how many flowers are there here?
And how many silent songs to make me weep? Attracted by the chanting of the of orchids,
I notice now Brighid is here.


“Crime Scene”

mike crime scene

Painting of Mike Absalom

When I walked past your window last night
a blizzard of starlight fell upon me.
Although I am no forensic scientist,
I knew something had touched me
and afterwards in the cold light of the moon
I examined myself and saw that there remained
icy fingerprints all along my body, whispering silently.
I am no expert, but they sounded quite like yours.
That is when I first came to realise, after the fact,
That I must be a crime scene.

Is there a statute of limitations on crimes of indifference?

Don’t you talk to me about loneliness!
You are a seeded sphere of life tumbling on the breath of the solar wind.
But don’t talk to me about loneliness.
I am only a single seed blowing in that unimaginable void.

A half memory wavers on the path I am walking
like the moonlit tracks of a snail
on a forgotten veranda.
I shall be careful in future where I put my feet.
But don’t talk to me about loneliness.

There is, by the way, no statute of limitations.
Not for these crimes.

“If you had been here tonight” 

mike if you had been here tonoght

Painting of Mike Absalom

 If you had been here tonight I would have said
-Sit by the fire with me!
Listen to the burning turf weaving poetry
out of the dry stalks of the long lost bog!
And we could take a swig or two of the water of life,
Jameson’s perhaps or Bushmill’s or Paddy’s,
and watch prehistory turning to ashes
right before our eyes.

But you are not here tonight
and it is unwise to step outside
on the sharp January night that’s in it.
There is no saying whom you might meet.
Here the souls of the dead are everywhere.
They had sooner leave their own shadows
than leave their own stories behind.
The gary-gowlan is out there in his jack-a-lantern boots,
standing guard with his pitchfork at their graves.

If you had been here tonight I would have said
-Sit by the fire with me!
Listen to the hissing turf coals keening those old lost stories.
We can watch prehistory turning to ash before our eyes.

But that night you were not here.

Up where the forestry has levelled walls
and jacked out the keystones of old cottages
and thrown them about as if at a stoning
there is a darkness that even the moon can’t reach.

The night you were not here I stepped outside
and looked up into my own darkness.
The unimaginable past fell around me as starlight.

“Wet the Tea!” 


Painting of Mike Absalom

How is my outside today?
In a pink dressing gown I step out.
The sun snaps shut like a Venetian blind!
The first drops of rain whistle past me like grape shot!
Who have I offended today?
I curse the garden nymphs.
Who are these activist women?
Wet the tea!!

The thunder claps twice, applauding ominously.
Rumbles of discontent run through the bean rows,
and a flicker of red gnome caps bolting.
Who have I offended today?
White light flickers behind the black forestry horizon.
Broom sticks rattle in the pottery.
Wet the tea!

I laugh out loud, feeling the wind in my face.
My dressing gown blows up with a cackle
and I flash forked lightning for the neighbours.
I’m bright as Bacchus today,
prancing down the slabs
breathing life from an oxygen bottle.

On the compost heap green umbrella leaves
creep like caterpillars over the steaming mound
and the nasturtium flowers they engender
grin at me with orange faces
like painted bridesmaids at a traveller wedding.
Wet the tea!
Who shall I offend today?
I’m ready!



“I Feel Sad of Turf”

mike ''i feel sad of turf

Painting of Mike Absalom

 There are watermen
rising, holding themselves together,
shimmering like water spouts of wet gauze
on the fringe of the forestry.
And water women in dripping cauls
flopping wetly through the sodden marls
next the dry the esker where the sand creeps through.
And water cattle,
snorting steamy steam as they avoid the suck of the bog-turbaries.
And waterweed and moss rolls like a tidal wave
across the whole wet world.

Rain! Banging on the roof!
Can ye stop yer mewling!
It’s like a handful of cats asking for yet another hand-out.
I can’t go out!
You told me to exercise.
I’ll stretch my accordion like a chest expander.
If I can’t stretch you anymore!
The rain falls.
And waterweed and moss rolls like a tidal wave
across the whole wet world.

I feel sad of turf!
The whole sun’s been trapped inside
for longer than I can count.
A million years!
A million billion years!
A million billion trillion years!
Ever since time began!
It’s still trying to get out!
Arrah! You should be an auld diamond by now.
A little heat and although I’d never warm like a sunny day,
at least under your hand I’d glow a little .

I’m an old squat,
empty and draughty and bent!
Anyone can sleep here!
But don’t set me on fire!
I’m made of wood and would be,
not of stone.

Mike Absalom, an Irish poet, painter and print- maker, was born in mkDevon in 1940. His mother was Irish. His father was Welsh. Educated in Quebec, Sweden, Iran and England, he majored in Oriental Studies (Arabic and Farsi) at Oxford and Gothenburg Universities before embarking on a career as a singer/songwriter during the 1960s and 70s. From 1980 to 2000 he lectured on satire, using his own verse as a template and worked as a harpist, fiddler, children’s entertainer and puppeteer across Canada and in the USA and South America. He returned to Ireland in 2002 to paint and write poetry. (www.mikeabsalom.com)