ON WHELAN’S FLOOR
Turfed gently out of The Widow’s or HiB
(no homes to go to?) The night not done until
we’d filed into the book-lined sanctuary
of Donal’s cosy flat in Summerhill
to sit cross-legged about the walls like far-
flung San Franciscan hippies, no need for chairs.
Lights dimmed, the wine cups filled, a guitar
magicked from the music shop downstairs.
Oh, William Wordsworth knew that to be young
was very heaven, but to be young and in love,
beguiled by those Lightfoot and Tim Hardin songs,
The Leaves of Grass and Reason to Believe.
Work in the morning, no movement towards the door,
we sang another song on Whelan’s floor.
ROMEO AND JULIET AT THE ROYAL ALBERT HALL
Plucked from a National Guitar, the poignant opening strains
of Dire Straits’ Romeo and Juliet heard for the very first time
in a lime-green Datsun Cherry, traffic lights on red at the AIB,
late for work but determined to hear the song through.
Half a lifetime later, in the West Choir of The Royal Albert Hall,
keyboards laying down the sombre mood, the spotlights trained
on a saxophonist blowing grief notes towards the dome,
and hushed listeners in stall and circle, loggia, gallery,
waiting for Mark Knopfler’s plaintive arpeggio to summon
a lovestruck Romeo and his startled Juliet from Verona
via Manhattan’s Upper West Side to Kensington Gore.
No work anymore, all the time in the world to catch the story,
that begins with a saucy Romeo finding a convenient street light,
stepping out of the shade and saying something like:
You and me, babe, how about it?
Called upon to commemorate the poet Kavanagh,
by water (canal water preferably), we selected
our favourite poems of wonder and redemption
and roped in Brendan Grace to sing On Raglan Road
(with the backing of a fiddle or guitar perhaps?)
“Thanks but no thanks, I’ll do it acapulco.”
And so it transpired that on a summer evening
leafy autumnal Dublin 4 upped sticks to Killaloe,
and there by Shannon water and Canal water
(call it a capella or call it acapulco)
the funny man with the golden voice sang of grief
as a fallen leaf at the dawning of the day.