Issue 12: Karl O'Hanlon
On the Eve of the Feast of the Immaculate Conception (2012)
Fête des Lumières, Lyon
Rhône-red, the city fits in strobe
Light, shaking sky’s pressured snow globe.
Snite-stung night fell,
Trains slattering Mary’s mordell:
Vézelay, Beaune. Shunned farmhouses
Flicker, each a votive cierge
Whose smoke rouses
Our summed Vierge.
The mufti-seminarist prays
(Office opened, unread): ‘Dark, blaze
Silent score. Night-glare – oppressive
Cocoon of light – smother our wants.’
Irenic town Waldo’s pauper
Maquis fled flaunts
Gobsmacker splurge, spree of treacled
Bulbs. Feting your never equalled
Less than they owed you, ocelot
-Eyed Lady without spots. And still
The city burghers milk your feast,
The gobs of waste.
Oy, vey! Ray, Gina, Che: low rum!
Big Sligo lad slaps every bum
Note, Herod’s out
Music’s sleek innocence; devout
Brothers in Belfast say compline
As Harry Clarke’s eldritch stained glass
Gods, bulls of brass.
Was he a wonder, holy show
-Man? Summoned to a French pow-wow
‘They’ll mitre you,’ (his bros). He them:
‘Rusticissimus sum,’ demurred.
Stilted mantids flash through the foule.
Froths on his soul:
Resigned ambition, hamstrung lust.
A crowd face – a girl, her high-trussed
Crown of sorrel
Hair parting light. There’s no quarrel
Here moved against themes the dogma
Molly-coddles, nonsenses sin.
Look, my old Ma!
Your fry spews in
-candescent: ‘Is that it? Quel blague!’
‘I’ve not seen as bad since the plague.’
‘Sac’bleu, don’t throw
Up that andouille!’ The great rondeau
Of Alps, extra-terrene, dorsal,
School to where he won’t follow: Rome,
God’s own borstal,
For Daniel and Clara
It seemed as though Murugan’s peacock screamed,
a comet trailing its tail somewhere
unseen leaving a few broken quills
in the grass, mad-eyed, fern-fronded.
Bats parabolised in the cypresses;
your Gold Flake smoke curled
into the tensile brawn of the silent many-armed night.
Sunflash momentarily stunning
on the kepi of the Pondi bobby,
sixty strokes of midnight passed
and not just strokes: innumerable
moves pulled, palms oiled, Reds
tape-strangled, businesses mined
by the Goonda Raj. Also marks
great Mary, how she bangled up
to Heaven accompanied by filmi
softly redubbing Apirāmi Antāti,
backdropped by the Jesuit baroque.
The Haussmannite boulevards empty
but for wild dogs, loping afraid of sun,
shoulders like tentpoles; a bigwig convoy
closing the road either late or an airy fiction
of the moustachios waxed to horsefly green,
his lathi-lollipop escort through the accelerant
dust to the other side only when he glimpsed
I was of that victim race, that verdant blood
that ran in Dane, MacDonnell and O’Dwyer.
Chisels denting Time, the long game,
the undeterred march of the elephants
to that royal appointment gyres keep.
Apprentices hawk their stone trinkets,
descendents of brown-eyed Chalukyas
Mahendravarman, the art-maven king,
lured across the parallel. Each Ganesh,
each bald egg of stone eye finished near
-perfect, but by beauty’s love or fear?
Keep en pointe,
Blessed Arjun, your
mind on wars as your
pink granite skin
The starveling heaven
rumbles at such displays, though gossip
rags tut-tut-yum-yum at your anorexic
legs. At your feet
a tabby brindled
pose, pas de
of holy saddos.
I hate and am like
this cat, his charivari
into your grammar.
Karl O'Hanlon was born in Belfast and educated at Queen's University. He completed his MA as a Fulbright scholar at Georgetown University, Washington DC, before starting a PhD at York. He is co-editor of Eborakon, a poetry magazine based at the University of York.