A fall of poems in early autumn



By the stream in the mountains

There we found words

To nullify the hurt we’d done with words,

Bridging the space they made between us

Inching our way back by slow steps of instinct and reason

There are words hewn out from the origins of stones

Broken on the valley floor,

Ages old the gods still listen for

Consolation, lamentation, lacrimae


Between an abyss and the blue sky

Fine as lightning, a crack opens up

Where the man of thoughts

Always hesitates, the dreamer always moves

We see only what we can admit

In the eternal discourse of Man and Myth

Here I scratch old words out of hard stone

With broken fingernails while another stands

Beside me and puts a feather in his hair

A simple act can bridge the worlds

Where eyes burning black

Distinguish darkness

From the deeper dark


Below us the stream is not dumb

Speaking only the language of eternity

It is we who do not understand unless

Deep in the memory, something stirs

A solitary harebell is wide eyed,

Breathing in the world on the flood tide

Words were forged here out of fire

Long after imagination found dark caves

To ship the dead across the sea

And back again, returning endlessly

Reincarnation is only what the world offers us

Year by year by way of explanation

Making love between snow and snow


Still the words with every utterance seem to

Separate us always by a hairsbreadth

From the ones we truly know

The things we really want to say like

Currents flow between us

As between coastlines where

Salt water floods the eyes

We pick out truth from lies

Words clothe the world

But always shroud the instinct

And still we work our passage home

The only way back, the only way in

As Adam named the beasts so they became,

It’s the naming makes things real-

A gift for angels

What the angels want?

A handful of hazel nuts

Or the feeling of wet berries after rain that stain

Inky fingers, a nettles sting

All more potent than a prayer, these being precious things

A messenger calls, a dream unfolds

And we return with all

We have contrived to be of worth

Simple gifts, clay, corn, earth and

A brief song forged in work

Between our deaths we come to make

Our own annunciation

Black Sun  For Paul Celan


 Black sun rise, black water,

Dawns cold light

I knew Celan had died

By his own hand

Before I’d read a word

Of Margarete or Sulamith


Oh Poor Celan,

Scrape music from your violin,

Play up!

Even as death walks in and all about you laugh

We are too late for the gods

And too soon for being



Such strangeness,

How the artist holds us

His face haunted

Hard against the fire

Of our small anxieties,

Traversing worlds, he dances

Sees all things mythically;


Outside Eden men will always fight

Out among the third day mountains

Tight between Picasso

And the Tomb of Holbein’s Christ-

Christ if he were right

And we are all forsaken?

To make us aware of our destitution

Is that what the artist does?



Fintan Mac Bochra,

Sits alone in his chair

Where the paint chipped door remains

Forever unlatched

To welcome those who find him there

A stranger in their dreams


A slow, low embered fire

Lives in ash in the hearth

Where a small flame tongues

Words in ancient Gaelic, borne

Out of the double mystery

That comes with the incantation

Of fire and burning roots

The mystery of root

The mystery of fire

Entwined forever

Travelling way down…..


Motionless in the smoky downdraught

He asks those that enter for a feather

They do not possess

But never the matter

The body is warmed,

The psyche hovers peregrine

The man was a salmon once

When his wife and children died

Became an eagle

And a white hawk too

Changing the way light will

In a blowy autumn wood


Beyond the stream on the lake that was a mist

A swan glides into the form of a girl

With auburn hair curling to her hips

She has eyes that will turn a man to stone

He cannot name her,

Banbha, Fodhla, Eire.

No incantation would save him from her kiss

You have made me cold with neglect She said

Leaving him stone dead, departing with a hiss

This entry was posted in Articles, Poems by Nick Ross. Bookmark the permalink.

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