The Irish Basket-Maker

Rain all week, and we bent
to it, the storied views all blurred
green-blue, gray beyond the steady swipe
of windscreen wipers from Dublin
to Cork, Kerry to Clare, Galway to Spiddal
and from one more sweeping sea-drenched
cliff-drive we came to his shop–dry
earth-fragrant, stacks of tall willows
in surprising colors, nature-grown, stacks
of finished baskets, bowls. With sun-glint
smile he walked us through the shaping–
how these things are made deftly, steady
with patience.

PAD Chapbook Challenge, Day 2; the prompt is “surrender.”


To find the poet’s place, exit
concrete boulevard, travel mind-
star miles to a green hill overhanging
ocean (or a lake or merely more fields
of sheep and yesterday’s sum of time—
summer mist-cold and sheltered
by silence, silvered neighbors just there
if you need them, trees turned
by storm-wind, insect hum high
brook-chatter, the night-limned runner
far ahead, speeding path
to stone-walled moss-field
guarding or mourning
or both)
hide hollow below castle walls
note-soaring above modern city:
this mix of yes and no
push and pull and aching
the shadow of tomorrow
spilled in water
on upturned palms, pleading

Benbulben Farm

Four hundred years at the edge of greenwild
knocking at your door, and four hundred years
the sheep beneath the looming hill—

This tourist curls up with cloud-damped
view of fields, road, sheep, hill
reading histories under family photos
trying to picture your forebears (dark
like you, welcoming strangers like you?)

A new-world child, I wonder how
it would feel—root-deep, settled
in more than skin and longings, in sun-rhythm
and ever-rain, elemental salt of your blood

Time tames some things and unbends others
but how does it sit or stir in the blood? After
four hundred years do you take this beauty
for granted or does it stun you anew every day?

Still processing our recent visit to Ireland. Our last night, we stayed at a lovely B&B near Drumcliff, at Benbulben Farm. This was our view from the breakfast room (!)

2015-04-02 Benbulben Farmhouse, Drumcliff (3)

At Yeats’ Grave

From the fragrant
tea-shop warm
to funeral still-life—
dark coats, umbrella-
shrouded natives
grouped murmuring
around the deep
clean-cut hole,
polite enough
not to stare
at the spring-green
raincoated tourist
One must pass
the church door
find the simple
gray slab, wait
for the hearse-driver
to turn away
toss his cigarette
ignore quick photo-
snapping—the green-coat’s
rain-soaked companions
anxious for the end
of this awkward

2015-04-01 WB Yeats’ grave, St. Columba churchyard, Drumcliff (2)


Planning a Pilgrimage to Yeats’ Grave

More than nineteen autumns

have passed since I fell in love

with Ireland, with words—

brilliant creatures lyrical

mysterious, beautiful


I don’t know if I can claim

that I’d never before desired

a bee-loud glade; nor can I blame

you entirely for my choice

and my pride to stitch

and unstitch these lines

rather than scrub kitchens

break stones


(Soul, clap your hands and sing

to find again these phrases, to hear

with older ears the cadence

of the dim, green isle

Heart, skim back the years to see

a pulsing belief in faeryland, star-laden

seas and terrible beauty…)


I will go soon to Drumcliff churchyard

by the road, an ancient cross

there I will gaze and pray that I know

the song of linnet’s wings

peace dropping slow


I don’t know how better to pay my respects than to steal favorite lines from his works—“The Lake Isle of Innisfree,” “The Man Who Dreamed of Faeryland,” “Adam’s Curse,” “The Wild Swans at Coole,” “Easter 1916,” “Sailing to Byzantium,” ”Under Ben Bulben”