poem index

There are Days

John Montague

for Lawrence Sullivan

There are days when 
one should be able 
to pluck off one's head 
like a dented or worn 
helmet, straight from 
the nape and collarbone 
(those crackling branches!)

and place it firmly down 
in the bed of a flowing stream. 
Clear, clean, chill currents 
coursing and spuming through 
the sour and stale compartments 
of the brain, dimmed eardrums, 
bleared eyesockets, filmed tongue.

And then set it back again 
on the base of the shoulders:
well tamped down, of course, 
the laved skin and mouth, 
the marble of the eyes 
rinsed and ready
for love; for prophecy?

From There are Days by John Montague. Copyright © 2001 by John Montague. Reprinted with the permission of Wake Forest University Press. All rights reserved.

John Montague

by this poet


for Elizabeth

Poetry is a weapon, and should be used,
though not in the crudity of violence.
It is a prayer before an unknown altar,
a spell to bless the silence.

There is a music beyond all this,
beyond all forms of grievance,
where anger lays its muzzle down
into the lap of silence.

for Line McKie

The light, tarred skin
of the currach rides
and receives the current, 
rolls and responds to
the harsh sea swell. 

Inside the wooden ribs
a slithering frenzy; a sheen
of black-barred silver-
green and flailing mackerel:
the iridescent hoop
of a gasping sea trout. 

As a fish gleams most