Sons Are Older At The Speed Of Light by Macdara Woods



My father did not finish things
Such things as rows
Or playing parts ..And breakdowns
Retiring early ..Died too soon
His final words to me — A
Half a question ..Half unasked
At no point answered ..Comes there
Any answer ever? ..Do you…
Do you remember…When…and there
It stops unfinished in my head
Do you remember when we… ..Lost
The points of contact maybe
Or lost the faith ..Or lost our nerve
Lost certainty along the way
As is the way of things ..And now
That I am gathering speed
The train tracks meeting in the distance
Far behind ..The fearsome nameless
City rearing up in front ..where I know
No one ..and none know me
But where we all get off
It is too late to even think of asking questions
And of whom? ..The young Eastern
European with the tea-urn
Has passed up and down the corridor
Three times ..has disappeared
And gone for good
As has the man who checks the tickets
And the district nurse ..who is
The only one that anyone could trust
Out of the whole shebang and calaboose
Or – to use my mother’s phrase –
The Slaughterhouse
This travelling slaughterhouse on wheels
We call a life
……………..But not an unconsidered one
Out of the four last things
This one remains ..Impervious to fashion
Time or doubt: ..the flame flickers
And goes out
The bird across the banquet hall
No more than that
………………………..And yet we
Mostly ..stand our ground ..because
It is expected
And what I am trying to understand
Even now at this late hour
Is your unhappiness and thus my own
Beyond the dopamine deficiency
And those endorphins
Creatures of ..the vasty deep
Who do not come when they are conjured



Yesterday I climbed ..lungs heaving
Up the earthquake damaged street
……………………….Nocera Umbra
Much ..chiuso per restauri
And simple minimal beautiful
So free of traffic of noise
Mid-Wednesday afternoon
One self-conscious policeman
Checking doors so tightly shut
Not even dust could penetrate
And near the top
Two men are laying cobble stones
In sand ..tapping them square
Into the roots of time
In shadow
In the lovely buttered ..honey light
Of mid-September
……………………..This constant need
For rehabilitation ..Spells in John Of God’s
Cataracts removed
Colonoscopies and cardiograms
Or how in 1991 in Moscow
So many Metro escalators stopped
Seized-up ..steep egress from the underworld
Sotto Restauro ..everywhere Ремонт
Remont ..we climbed up from
The marble bowels and chandeliers
Of Kruschev’s dream made real
But lacking maintenance
The way we do not finish things
Where entropy comes in Auden’s
Sinister cracked tea cup
And the Watcher in the shadows
Who coughs when you
……………………………would kiss
Or coughing ..labour upwards
On a stick and artificial hip
To the Civic Tower and campanile
La Campanaccia at the top
Built nine hundred years ago
And standing straight ..full weight
Erect proclaiming ..Eccomi
For I am here and have been here for all to see
And have been seen
………………………..As I too am here
And have been seen ..been part of this
Small space today between the Tower
And the Cathedral
All chiuso per restauri ..Have seen
The maintenance and putting things
In place ..Knowing that they must
And will go wrong again
And be put almost right again
Poor transients —
Until the Heracliten lease runs out



And one day indeed the words ran out
And we ..with nothing ..left to say
Consulted over menus
Read bits of news ..repeated saws
To get us through the silence — you
Didn’t know
……………………..And I had yet to learn
That few words ..A simple few
Could be enough ..could tell it all:
A tendency to stagger to the left
And sometimes teeter backwards
Which could explain
My dreadful fall in Fiumicino
Too much saliva
Varied tremors ..Hands and chin:
And sometimes fingers clawed
In sudden spasm
…………………….Do I go on
Into the realms of dysgraphia
Staccato speech ..Shoulders stooped
A slowing of the gait?
I prefer
To watch the dancers in the village square
The ballo in piazza
Sunburnt mirth ..Provencal song
That so caught Keats’ fancy
Out of reach
And I have had a longer run than that

And not yet reached Astopovo:
Still travelling
………………..To places all unseen
Invisible to those with open eyes
It needs a certain antic 20 20 vision
To housepaint in the dark
As we have done ..And plastered walls
Without a light in Fontainebleau
Not cowboys then or now
Just battling with addictions
………………………Drink and pills
And work ..At labouring ..And selling
Two hours of life to buy a third
The hell with that bum deal
I said ..And I have now grown old ..And someone
Cooked the booksbooks
……………………….Along the way
The way we knew they would – So
Who owes what to whom is moot
Irrelevant ..We last from day to day
No more than that ..That’s it .Enough
For now
The diagnosis works ..Of course it does:
Who ever died a winter yet?

September 19th 2014

—Macdara Woods

First published in Numéro Cinq

Two poems by the Argentinian poet, Jorge Fondebrider

Jorge Fondebrider

Jorge Fondebrider, well-known as one of Argentina’s foremost critics and cultural historians is also – or rather is first and foremost – an eminent poet and translator of poetry, both from French and English. He is the author of four collections – painstakingly spread out at the rate of around one per six years. Fondebrider’s poetry is meditative, wistful and ironic, although it can be savage in its indictments of hypocrisy and pretension.

There is no day of total happiness
– he says in exasperation –
there is always the shadow of the dead,
pigeons on the roof,
the dentist’s chair, an expiry date.
There’s always something
more powerful than the sun, your company.
Look – she says, more seriously –
neither you nor I are going to be here
so we’d better hug each other
while there is still something to embrace,
while we are here today. He manages to hear her
and suspects that they are strange bodies,
alien as everyone,
even in love,

Translation by Afric McGlinchey

No hay día enteramente feliz –le dice contrariado–.
Siempre está la sombra de los muertos,
palomas en el techo,
el turno del dentista, vencimiento .
Siempre hay algo
que puede más que el sol, tu compañía.
Mirá –le dice seria–
ni vos ni yo vamos a estar
así que mejor nos abrazamos
mientras hay algo que abrazar,
mientras estamos hoy. Alcanza a oírlo
y sospecha que son cuerpos extraños,
ajenos como todos
los cuerpos aun en el amor,

Jorge Fondebrider (Buenos Aires)

La noche tiene mil ojos

No possible denial between waves
that fold into their dark pages.
Behind the horizon follows the sea,
then constellations and corals,
submerged stars
like the cold foam,
and here the moon
shuffling among the ships without logic or order.
Mountains or palm trees. It does not matter.
It’s only a matter of creating a scenario
in which to plant a self lost in thought,
without logic or order.

Translation by Afric McGlinchey

The night has a thousand eyes

No hay negación posible entre las olas
que doblan sus páginas oscuras.
Detrás del horizonte sigue el mar,
después, constelaciones y corales,
estrellas sumergidas
como las espumas frías,
y más acá la luna
rielando entre los barcos sin lógica ni orden.
Montañas o palmeras. Da lo mismo.
Todo es cuestión de plantar un escenario en que transcurra
un yo cualquiera perdido en pensamientos
sin lógica ni orden.