July-August 2024 65
The Holly Tree Said
When I went to the bird feeder
The holly tree said send her my love. And
then the birds said send our love. Shell say
love’s just a word, I said.
Not to me said the tree. Nor to us said the
birds. And not to me, not to me...
I was a battered man
(first draft)
Everything I did was wrong. I spilled I broke I
I forgot and daily lost my glasses
Left marks on the toilet seat,
Clogged the sink and dropped the food
But I served her dinner in bed
On time each day at 6 o’clock.
When the reign of insults got too bad I
hid under the bathtub
When I should have called for help.
Each night I lay in bed afraid to snore or
And so disturb the one I loved more than
life itself.
And I served her dinner in bed
On time each day at 6 o’clock.
Leave me alone
They are like a swarm of angry bees all over
me. They are in my nose and ears.
They are in my underclothes and buzzing
in my brain. My body is covered in angry red
wheals and welts.
Her eyes were blazing and her arms like
Shivas Screeching in a gutter accent I had
never heard before.
And then I fell, tumbling down the steps,
The ground careening towards me.
Leave me alone.
I am afraid of what I saw.
Is there any sorrow like my
I thought the setting sun had set the gorse
afire last night Only to watch the moon move
slowly across the sky
A pendulum crossing my windows pane
by pane.
In my bed the emptiness beside me
sucked me down.
I retreat from the sea as I age.
From the endless sound of the surf on the
clis I fall back to the hills above a distant
shimmer. Here I can see the sea through
the trees.
Is there any sorrow like my sorrow?
The Black Swan
The white swan is a black swan at night.
Its neck has been wrung and the blood
reserved. We will feast and we will sing
Because the black swan is dead. Do not
each of us feed on another?
Did we go too far and devour each other,
Baked, an apple in our mouths?
To touch you once more, there, and there
- and there. The white swan is a black swan
at night.
The Lost Lovers’ Circus
The elephants are trumpeting
As the golden girls ride ponies bareback
round the ring. A devious devil is pulling
strings of jumping puppets
And the ghoulish clowns are spraying the
crowd with blood As the Ringmaster flashes
at the little children.
I saw her turn just past the Cotton Candy
Man but tripped and fell before I caught
The Fortune Teller pointed up:
She must have won a Golden Ring
because I saw her Riding up and down a
gaily painted Carousel.
Only then I saw her on the Ferris Wheel
Dangling from a cabin throwing flowers
to the night.
But when I reached the ticket stall all the
lights were dark And all the crowds had
gone - the monkeys and the puppets and
the ponies had vanished with my love.
My house is haunted
My house is haunted by the ghost of my lost
love. Every place I turn is haunted.
Coats hang like dead animals beside the
door. The kitchens cold and dirty, dishes
Our bedroom is the worst. An orphan
sock. The unmade bed. That which was
closest has now fled.
The strawberry tree poisons its own
ground. The fishpond has grown green with
The bird feeders swing empty in the wind
While the sally tree taps at my window pane
as Winter night hangs dark above.
Look see! I cut myself! I bleed to make it
By Tony Lowes
Tony Lowes came to Ireland from New York City on a literary pilgrimage in 1963. He lives on the
Beara peninsula in western Ireland where he writes and works for environmental protection.


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