Poems of the week: Nocturama by Eva Bourke and Ómós by Tom French

Both poets will be launching their new collections at Cúirt in Galway next week


And when night comes I’ll go
to places fit for woe.

– William Blake

Unseeing I went underground,
followed the arrow into night-
desert, night-scree, night-burrow.
What was it that touched my cheek, a finger,
a snout, a wing, some softly breathing memory?
What was it that fluttered in my head,
what bird perched in my heart pressing it
against my ribs? And everywhere eyes
that saw where I saw nothing, irises
huge and polished as magnifying glasses,
the obsidian dots of pupils at the centre
pooling the night. Guarded by
the sleepy-eyed owl, my sisters civet
and lori, I grew incisors and talons,
my eyes were hooded, I was guided
by scent, my voice broke,
I lived in league with the aardvark.

for Tony MacMahon

They would be committed
to the deepest bog,
all of the accordions
in Ireland – bar one –

to remind people of
the pestilence that was,
and to dissuade, by
practical demonstration,

anyone tempted to commit
future musical sin.
Then, in a cold church –
the right place for him

to confront himself –
a candle would be lit,
someone would bring
the surviving instrument,

and the master would sit,
strap it on and play
until he had left his pain.
And we would listen.

Tom French

Today’s poems are from Eva Bourke’s new collection Seeing Yellow (Dedalus Press ) and from Tom French’s The Last Straw (Gallery ). Both poets will be taking part in the Cuirt Literary Festival in Galway next week.