A poem for Christmas

The City Clocks, by Gerard Smyth

 Barber Arthur McGuinness, of McGuinness’s Barber Shop in Glasnevin (estd 1910) works on Frank Briscoe of Finglas as an impatient Santa Claus looks on. Photograph: Nick Bradshaw/The Irish Times

Barber Arthur McGuinness, of McGuinness’s Barber Shop in Glasnevin (estd 1910) works on Frank Briscoe of Finglas as an impatient Santa Claus looks on. Photograph: Nick Bradshaw/The Irish Times

 

The city clocks declare it’s time to close all shops,

swap the treadmill for The Wizard of Oz,

drop the heavy load

and follow the Wise Men

who’ve been a long time coming.

The talk on the street, chitchat and argument,

is the talk of multiple tongues:

Russian, Portuguese,

the patois of a Nigerian village.

It’s as if the street itself is hoarding new languages.

But look! We live in a time

when some among us must ask themselves

On which side of the river shall I sleep tonight?

In the well-lit district, the darker alleys –

in the centre or out on the margins.

Gerard Smyth’s recent collections are A Song of Elsewhere (Dedalus Press ) and The Yellow River (with artwork by Seán McSweeney, Solstice Arts Centre ). He is Poetry Editor of The Irish Times