Poems by John F. Deane
I heard the barking of a fox,
urgent in the bitter-amber glow of the urban night; predator
through the small, untidy gardens,
she has perfected a steady loping, an easy watchfulness;
the glad and sorry facts of human living
are discarded packaging the fox-tongue probes, fox-eye
watches for. At the street’s end
the traffic lights move on from red to green to amber,
nobody at this hour to heed them, these silent calls
to caution, to take care, survive.
In the sudden light the window throws, vixen looks up
from her hungers and is not stirred, she knows
the sound a back-door-click makes, knows too, perhaps,
that womanman, in its warm den, has its own hungers to satisfy.
Young man of the Cretan uplands, downlands,
of the labyrinthine rutways of mountain villages,
olive-groves, goats, of the gaunt, bell-ringing sheep –
he would fly, as I would, in the relish of bounteous grace.
Whipped by the wind at first, as fear will fling you,
then mastering it, the shoulder-muscles jousting;
then it was the light, blinding him as he topped
Mount Ida and the White Mountains, the island below
like rags and patches clawed and torn, strewn about.
When the blindness eased he saw Daedalus, maker-Father,
cautious on the up-draughts beneath, but by now the son
was master, beyond fear, beyond vision, climbing
on the upbeam of the sky, feathered arms spread
cruciform and soaring; so high he saw the earth revolving
and time itself like a vineyard fruiting and dying back.
So high, at last, so cold, pain suffusing, he was suffering,
punished for robbing the world of gravity, till what was glory
froze in him, bones, sinews, becoming iron, and he plummeted,
bloodless, over the utmost horizons of our history.
Born in Achill Island 1943, John F. Deane founded Poetry Ireland and The Poetry Ireland Review, 1979; Published several collections of poetry and some fiction; Won the O’Shaughnessy Award for Irish Poetry, the Marten Toonder Award for Literature, Golden Key Award from Serbia, Laudomia Bonanni Prize from L’Aquila, Italy. Shortlisted for both the T.S.Eliot prize and The Irish Times Poetry Now Award, won residencies in Bavaria, Monaco and Paris. He is a member of Aosdána . His recent poetry collections: Snow falling on Chestnut Hill: New & Selected Poems was published by Carcanet in October 2012. His latest fiction is a novel, Where No Storms Come, published by Blackstaff in 2010. A new collection of poems, Semibreve, has just been published by Carcanet in 2015 and a ‘faith and poetry memoir’, Give Dust a Tongue, has also been published by Columba in 2015. John F. Deane was Mayo County Council’s Writer in Residence for 2015. Deane was Visiting Scholar in Boston College in Spring 2008. Deane has been appointed Teilhard de Chardin Fellow in Christian Studies in the Loyola University Chicago, for the Fall semester of 2016.