That’s Poetry For You

There’s poetry in Moloney’s bar,
a meditation on much needed mutability
with the finding in the ruins of a tumbled school
of children’s flowers, surviving
well beyond the lives of tiny hands
that planted them. Such is the power
of Nature over Education, or Life
over Death, we’re all quite overcome.

A comic finale, and silence follows,
then warmed, polite applause. Voices
rise to match the tongues of music
that call across the road from Shortt’s.

Here, a dozen players gather to each
other’s strengths – notes are summoned
from the air. Fished out from bags
and cases, a match of fiddles, flutes,
banjos, concertinas, bodhrans,
control their owners hearts and fingers.

Tunes repeat themselves like water
tumbling, like  morning mountain winds,
like flowers found beneath a broken
wall. It all makes sense. Signalling
an end, the leader nods, the final
note is struck. Then glances, nods,
glasses raised to lips for speech.

Feakle, County Clare, Summer 2106
Joe Noonan and The Feakle Traditional Music Festival


Ludwig’s Last Note

Beethoven at a Broadwood. Deaf, held in the cruelty
of jaundice, his life, as they say, a guttering candle
flickering defiance at his unlidded piano. Broken
quills litter a table; ink is open,

Spilled; paper is everywhere; staved off,
a tiny scrawl of etched entreaties, intentions,
demands.   Last movement, then. He strikes
the keys with rage he cannot hear, a tumult

of silence hisses its answer. He is pursuing
a simple theme and time keeps its distance.
His fingers seek new scales, arpeggios,
as they hammer noiselessly in his head.

Then, without a protest or the usual flourish,
they simply stop, a slowing to an absence, an emptiness.
And that’s it for the piano. He summons up the last quartets,
the European Ninth, then slips away to death.

That last sonata breaks the ground beyond.
Behind the weight of style and sound that was
his own, the sentence of that stop asserts a life
that suddenly is far too good to lose and then is gone.