Strozza Capponi At Seventy-Three

A new poem by Macdara Woods


(air: The Limerick Rake)

What was it John Jarvis
What was it you said
As I walked through the site
And you paid little heed
It was easy to see
That I hadn’t a screed
And you wouldn’t pay much
For my labour

You told me of rainstorms
That soaked to your arse
And you just sixteen
At the bricklayer’s trade
So it’s strange as your present
Is turning to past
You renegue on those young
Days of labour

The Hammersmith gaffer’s
A weaselish gent
As he stands with his watch
On the edge of the trench
Till one day he fell in there
Without his consent
For fiddling
The roster and wages

The men on the pre-cast
Eat thick bloody steaks
Which they fry up afresh
At the midmorning break
While others slope off
To self-medicate
And get rid of the shakes
In the morning

And that’s how it was
In my halcyon days
Weekends of cash
For ironic display
Of a Saturday lunchtime
Down Notting Hill way
At large with the rich
And the famous

Now see there Jack Doyle
With a flower in his coat
Making for Finch’s
To take up his post
All my childhood in Dublin
I’d heard of exploits
And disputes of himself
And Movita

And one day I bumped into
Young Charlie White
From Ballaghadereen
And late of Westport
Hand turned to podiatry
Writing the book
Of the genius that was
Little Richard

They come and they go
And they go and are gone
Pale rider among them
Is Jeremy Swan
Whom I first met in Achill
The campest young man
Who laughed like a lark
Out of mourning

The truth is I fear that
There is no escape
Like the man who got trapped
In the frame of the hoist
And hung on there screaming
Held up by a rope
While they worked to uncouple
The housing

Except maybe love
If such love could be found
As easy and free
As it once did abound
To grow and to greet
And to heal and astound
Our poor hearts and our lungs
In the morning

And what if it’s true
That such love is no more
That it’s time to give up
At ten and three score
That good-natured women
Should show you the door
But are so far too kind
For to do so

And as gilt on the lily
The dopamine patch
Sets you off as a lemming
For gambling and sex
If you were not before
You’re now down on the list -
Old men who may be

So I’ll wander the roads
For as long as I can
Remaining a hopeful
And upstanding man
To find out the ultimate
Terminal plan
Of the butterfly and the
Red rosebush

Macdara Woods’s Collected Poems was published by Dedalus Press in 2012