Poems of the week: by Frank Ormsby and Gerard Fanning

‘The Last Leaf in the Garden’ and ‘Though the House Is Dark’

Frank Ormsby


I wish I had been there ---
the garden stilled around the last
October leaf, nothing to hurry it,
nothing to slow it down
the whole season had come to this:
a holding-on so that the letting-go
might seem to us like chance.
I wish I had been there
to see the wind carry the leaf beyond
the wall, if that is what happened,
Winter, too, content to be late,
an elegant absence at the gate.

Frank Ormsby’s most recent collection is The Darkness of Snow (Bloodaxe Books). His next, The Rain Barrel, is due from Bloodaxe next autumn.


Gerard Fanning. Photograph: Moya Nolan


Let tides roam with promise or never come,
my east coast swimming days are nearly done.
I try to live a good life, stay away from kings,
heed the confetti of plastic scraps
or the continental shelf of things.
So what if I hear gryphons roaring
through the night, or see blooms of jelly fish
in a gossamer, gasoline twilight?
I can still count radio pips from forgotten
cosmonauts, hear half-lost subs
maintaining almost silence, or gaze
as zeppelins drag - however faint the score –
moonlit serenades from Glenn's big band,
tux and silhouette on a marine floor.


Gerard Fanning, who died last October, published several collections with Dedalus Press, including Working for the Government, Easter Snow, Hombre: New and Selected Poems. Today’s poem is from his final unpublished collection, Rookery