Jack Grady is a founder member of the Ox Mountain Poets, based in Ballina, County Mayo, Ireland. His poetry has been published, online or in print, in Ireland, the UK, the USA, France, Canada, Portugal, and Indonesia, including such publications as Live Encounters; Crannóg; Poet Lore; The Worcester Review; North West Words; Mauvaise Graine; The Galway Review; Algebra of Owls; The Irish Literary Times; Skylight 47; The Ekphrastic Review; Dodging the Rain; And Agamemnon Dead: An Anthology of Early Twenty First Century Irish Poetry; Poesia a Sul 1; A New Ulster; and others. He read in Morocco in 2016 at the 3rd annual Festival International Poésie Marrakech, as the poet invited by its committee to represent Ireland, and he was invited to represent Ireland at the 2017 Poesia a Sul festival in Olhão, Portugal. His debut collection, Resurrection, was published in Belfast, Northern Ireland, by Lapwing Publications in October 2017.
by Jack Grady (Author)
Paperback: 68 pages
Publisher: Lapwing Publications (30 Oct. 2017)
Your skull, smooth as melted plastic,
frames the sockets that once held eyes,
vaporised in the same instant as your flesh
in a pyroclastic avalanche of gas and ash.
Now, you are sentinel and silent barker
at a gated sideshow of death.
The two shaded orbits of your cranium
beckon me to your barren
garden of the grotesque,
then ungratefully demand
the password for my presence
and arraign me for visual rape
of your resting place.
But I am not the only one, I tell you.
Each day, scores of us are lured
by your two dark hollows
more commanding than eyes,
perhaps legions of the living drawn to view
your seared, skeletal remains
and those of the hundreds lying strewn behind you.
When I can no longer bare your unflinching stare,
I move on with a shuddering wonder
at whom and what you were.
Serf, slave, working man?
Soldier, seamstress, whore?
Left behind, left as payment –
price for a boom town
that hugged a volcano’s hem
and whose bones and ruins
repose now unearthed
as freak show of the Big Top
as museum of the endless and grim
circus of death.
Previously published in: A New Ulster and Resurrection.
Finale on the Via Veneto
This is the way the world ends,
not with a bang but a whimper.
– T.S. Eliot, The Hollow Men
Before the curtain drops
on a buzzing hive
of swarming Lambrettas,
Time’s end glows
in the face of a Fellini clown
as his red bulbous nose
blows in on itself
with a clown’s
bicycle horn sound.
That nose is the heart
of the universe imploding.
It swallows all laughter in its cries
and all cries that linger
in the stardust trail of its laughter.
It swallows streaks
of black-painted tears
that drip from the clown’s
It swallows clown and all
as the curtain falls forever
on the Via Veneto.
Previously published in: Dodging the Rain and Resurrection.
All poems on this post: © Jack Grady
Published with the permission of Jack Grady