Issue 6

Gerard Smyth
Two poems

Wings of Desire

In November when night appears
at four o’clock and a chilling mist caps the domes
of church and synagogue, they were selling as souvenirs
fragments from the wall of death – the wall that divided
west from east. Over the traces of Kristallnacht,
they have built the fashionable streets, laid down the tracks
that run each way. At the Brandenburg Gate,
in the Starbucks café, in a metropolis
where every photograph we took turned out grey,
we sat and watched the Monument to Victory,
her swarthy horses giddying. Then we went looking
for all the places the angel visited in Wings of Desire.

An Ill Wind

First signs of spring:
the buds on the branches appear without fuss,
the forest turns greener and offers us
the scent of pine to breathe in.

May, June, July then August catching fire
before the cold blast of September
and the change of tempo
when an ill-wind blows, thrashing
the rosebush out of shape.

We listen to the noise it makes
agitating the attic timbers:
it sounds like Tom Waits singing Martha,
slow at first then faster for the maudlin chorus.

We stay indoors, doing humdrum things:
flicking through the pages of Newsweek,
downloading information
or in the chat-room making promises to strangers.

Deep down in the pit of their stomachs,
old grandmothers feel a hint of what’s coming:
the killing frost, the January storms.
To old grandmothers
these are signs from Providence.