15 December 2013

15th December Reading - Christmas/Holiday-themed poems - THE PEEKSKILL ARTS ALLIANCE ART SHOW & SALE @ the HAT FACTORY

Poems read at the Hat Factory on 15th December in conjunction with The Peekskill Arts Alliance Art Show & Sale, Suite 10, 1000 North Division Street, Peekskill, New York 

(Art Show and Sale: 30th November -22nd December, Saturday and Sunday 11-5 p.m.)

15th December 2013

Natal Star

His natal star rises still,
Eastwards, beacon-bright, burning
through the fog like a hot
knife through butter cut into
the pudding, fruit-thick, we stirred
and wished upon

and herself only half-done
with the Christmas shopping,
moving, so, from dark into
light, she loops great
strands, twinkling round
her wrists, her reflection tinsel-ribboned

for the Christmas:
baking great cakes of currants
and ginger, fragrant as
the first gifts to
an infant child
smiling upon us after
Adam stumbling and
spilling all those apples
upon the earth

and bang—go the
and bang—go our
when we realize
His saving grace

moving from the basement
crawlspace with the boxes,
back into the light,
bearing gifts from their hiding place—
and out of wrapping paper again,
and down to the shops,
and the post office,
and the grocery,
to pile up gifts of grace,
perhaps, for Him


we come, bearing gifts, across
deserts, green-brown patchworks of fields, guided
by those stars we seek out, blazing
away like the fire stoked in the
furnace, warming hearth and home and

and we wait, too, for the
cards carrying the annual weather report, proud
robin preening in his gilt border, puffed
out breast a drop of blood against the
snow (when seen at a distance), scent
of balsam and pine surrounding one,

the ranks of gingerbread soldiers
amassing in airtight tins, raisin-studded,
crisply brown and fragrant, promising
that Christmas will, indeed, return, as

surely as the clock tolls twelve and the
candles are extinguished only to be
lit again, light piercing through darkness,
needle through the dark cloth in which
we were shrouded


Seasonal Photograph
the image of you, a year
older, taken in a State park in
the blazing sun is most un-Christmas-like,
though bordered by bells, tinsel, and holly

the green of cactus behind you, the
red of your pocket handkerchief will
have to do, the marking of another
year of lines, told in your visage, of
the ordinary passage of time

balanced by the words of some ancient hymn
of celestial words and promises as
familiar as your intake of breath, the
tapping, impatient, of your fingers, as the
days tick down towards puddings and
roasts, the blank boxes, bereft again of
their silken ribbons, their work done

Angel Voices
these celestial hordes, their angel
voices disturb the air pearl-thick with fog
obscuring distant lights, the glowing orbs
strung, necklace-like, along the dip
and rise of the metal spines of a
distant bridge

while we wrestle with rolls of paper,
order hampers of food and the
first snow, potently mixed with rain,
lashes against the pane, window into
the world beyond

corners squared off by telephone lines,
the demarcation of bordering hedges
overhung with lights boldly emblazoning the
way of that jolly old housebreaker,
stolid redsuited fellow, spreading good
cheer and leaving a trail of crumbs
in his wake, the glasses of milk only half-drunk
in his haste, best of all
houseguests with his wink and his
waddle, father of Christmas forgiving even
the naughtiest of children (so
that no one, ever, receives coal
anymore) given the new benchmarks,
progress reports, and
projections for the next quarter,
everyone given the benefit of all our
ripe for self-improvement in six easy steps

so the silks and lace rustle,
perfume rising, warm on this
vigil night, the
long lists gone over twice and
twice again, the unlovely long
weeks of January pushed further
from the mind in favor of

this candlelight and the petals of red flowers
in flaming circles bordered by green,
suffused in pinescent, thickribboned,
again, in red and the
organ resounds with familiar
strains and dark is made light again,
night made day and
the gifts are opened with a
snip of the ribbon the
next morning, the carpet littered
with a thickness of paper waded
through like fall leaves, the
scent of breakfast still hanging heavy in
the kitchen, the
pot scalded, again, for tea


New Year
another blank copybook opens, waiting
to be filled with copperplate
resolutions (before we’ve lost
everything but a stub of a pencil and
the back of an old envelope, only
slightly torn) and the rosy glow of
New Year’s dinner not yet worn off and
perhaps a freshclean blanket of snow
mirroring your newmade soul and
for at least one moment
all seems possible, and, maybe,
even likely

Angel Wings
out of the Christmas box she
comes, again wingless, her
angel wings must be glued on,
glued on, glued on, every year for as long
as he can remember, her winsome
red-painted mouth puckered into a
bow, about to bestow a kiss eternally

wings drying, in a safe spot, she
waits for Christmas roses to
bring the bloom to her cheeks again, the
hothouse flowers crowded thick
amongst the lilies and the hyacinth,
not for them the four smooth walls of
a cardboard box—no they are
born to glory only to die and rejoin the
earth, while she stares on, blue-eyed,
golden haired, forever in an attitude
of arrested flight

Lights in Winter
lighting lights we remind ourselves
that the winter is but a long
night and that the heat of
summer, spent basking, like a
lizard, in the sun, will come again
and the green proliferation obscuring the
blue of sky, that, too, will return

the miracle of light that
pierces darkness,
the flash of a jeweled brooch piercing a coat,
glinting beneath an electric light, small
suns to remind us of
that largest sun breaking through
the darkness to light our way

tinted granules of sugar melt
and harden into pools of
green and red, the colors of the Spring we
are promised throughout the
darklong weeks of winter, the
berries bloodred against the
white of snow, the shining snow
glared upon by the sun, the
sacrificial dinner of fat-
slaughtered goose upon the
table, while the sparrows peck
outside the door, hungry for a
few crumbs to drop down from
this heaven of munificence, the
rick-rack of apron twitches, striving always
for perfection, the candy stripes echoing
those embroidered upon
the napkins, quick hands arranging
landscapes of mirror and cottonwool flecked
with iridescent specks, catching the beams from
twinned candles, waxy tapers slim, red, burning bright


Virtual Holiday
Christmas is virtually here.
Santa has been emailed and his
website has left
cookies on my computer and
the drones have read the bar-
codes and are preparing, 10, 9, 8,
to drop the season’s bounty

instagramming Grandmas post
virtual cookies and Christmas
wishes are tweeted out 140
characters at a time, and
the YouTube Christmas card blares out, and
Santa sends an email back
with several links and a
“like” button for his Facebook page

Christmas is virtually here.


the exodus of the child into
a foreign land
is not so strange
it happens every day, though the
faces of the tax collectors and
the soldiers change

the journey, tiresome and
waiting to see which way
the wind blows, depending
upon dreams and visions,

creased heavily with cares,
last minute luggage packed hastily, but
the baby gifts placed carefully
at the bottom of the case,
redolent of riches, incongruous,
strange, yet predestined

So Much…..
so much to do that even
an army of elves wouldn’t be
a help, better, so, to do it
on her own—who cares if it
takes all night, or occasions
comment on her listless eyes,
raised—again, at the sight
of the deliverymen, heavy-laden,
striding towards her door and
the hundred undone things unspooling
as the spindle of ribbon loosened and
tumbling down the stairs
tangling, finally, in the cat’s paws,
praying, sometimes, for the
peace of January

A Chara, Mo Chroi
and you said you would be
sorry were the time to come
when letters would no longer
reach your mailbox

and the annual letter arrives,
white as snow, ivory oblong, heavily stamped,
addressed in chickenscratch,
informing me that the trees,
fallen to some tree-disease, have
been uprooted and, in their place,
new ones, a fast-growing variety, planted
down, black earth tamped thickly around
their roots, a promise of years to come

and now your voice is carried to
me through the howl of wind seeking to
breach the storm door as I wait, endlessly,
and would I could open the door to
receive you in, to jaw over old
landscapes, new painted, the honeycomb of paths, squared,
we once walked, and this is
my Christmas letter to you, a chara, mo chroi

Grey Pearl
grey pearl of sky draws
down around earth so
quiet-blanketed in white
footsteps are muffled and
all quiet save for the
occasional scrape of
metal against pavement
shuddering up

shrubbery bearded
in a temporary disguise
of white, icicles hanging from
the eaves a toothy grin
of cold

imperfect fields of green and brown now
perfected white, shine
back, glittering now, under the
sun, eye-blinding bright


New Year
the song resounds: another year
done, another yet to begin

the muddied pages of the
desk diaries changed for new

the scrawls of March and
April as indecipherable as

Sanskrit to your tired eyes, the
days slipped by too fast, tied

up now with ribbons and good
intentions, the slipknots wound

round the needles, fashioning a
new garment for a new year

when all
shall be
in abundance


Bird of Dawning
the bird of dawning singeth all
night long and so
rends her rest to pieces
shattered as the curved
metallic sherds on the carpet
fallen from her hands

reflecting on the
bells tolling twelve
singing, ringing, then
peace in the absence
of sound

needles fall silently, thick
with pinescent, unlovely side
pushed to the wall, garlanded
gold, crowned with a
single star

Beneath the Constellations
beneath the constellations
bells are ringing, bells are ringing

beneath the starry skies
we are singing, we are singing

of that night so long ago,
of those words threading through

this tapestry of night, blue-
dark, lit by that singular star of

fire, heralded by
an angel choir

this tangle-thick of corded
lights confound one, yet we
persist, determined to
light the way of others
with garlands of red and
green and white-hot
illumination, pale cousins
of those new suns perpetually
being born

while deliverymen come, bearing
gifts, to the door

and the sphinx still stares,
impassive, across Egyptian sands
under the thronging stars

Burning Daylight
burning daylight with those
ordinary tasks after the season
has expired and all is quiet:

jewel-bright ornaments, small
mirrors, placed back in their
boxes, egg-fragile, shimmering

crimson, gold, eggplant-purple, back to
the attic they go, their
service done for another year,

each burnished with a thick
layer of memory, of that year or
another, touched with tender hands,
supremest care

Our Song, Now Done
and now that our song is
birds throng on the
angels stir the air
all will be merry
the chill winds
a fire leaps up
licking the coals
banishing sorrows

04 December 2013

01 December 2013

POETRY READING / McCarra-Fitzpatrick / Sunday 15th December / 3:00 p.m. at the Hat Factory in Peekskill, NY

15th December 2013
3:00 p.m.
in conjunction with 

Suite 10 at the Hat Factory
1000 North Division Street
Peekskill, NY


16 October 2013

What Moves You?


An Address to the Sun:

one of twin beacons,
brightest of all stars—
look kindly upon our
labors, our straining towards
the sky so that
our fingertips almost reach
the clouds, your heat
engendering our growth,
verdant-green, crisply
new beneath
blue skies and
bless us with those
golden rays that draw up
flowers from the tiniest seeds

Part I
The New Eden
a-tilt we go, into the
wild blue, speeding to that
new Eden promised us in
papery tracts, rocking on
the green salt ocean, the snap of
the sails a crack punctuating
thoughts of her future, the

her hands separating the seeds
to be planted for the first
harvest, the smooth-milled tears
a promise of their daily bread

and deep the furrows that
were dug in the black
earth, after disembarking
on the rocky coast, the
switches of trees talking
amongst themselves in the wind,
swaying, and the bird on the wing
sees all

the land parceled out, stone bound, towns
sprouting up to receive tall ships
carrying silks, tea, china for
our tables

further, then, into the woods
and the trees shuddering
with birds, the sleek cats
screeching in black night a foreign sound

and she set her hands to
carding wool and his to carving
stone, building up a new
world with the memory of the old still
within them, the cock’s crow stirring them, each day
to their daily labors, the oxen and horses graving
the fields into the lines from which sprout
a new language

embracing the strangeness of this
new, brave world, hemmed in by
green, the mysteries beyond still
unknown, banded by tributaries of rivers yet
to be crossed, mountains still to
surmount, and we, ever-
expanding, push to their
furthest limits our tools and
simple words, seeking succor in
this new Eden, winter-harsh,
the wind blowing off  the
water and still we
endure to make our mark in
lines of black and white,
ebony ink staining vellum, the
songs and stories breathed
into life around the fire,
enlivening the hours until the
dawn chorus and the
rosegold glow of sun in the
east rises

marking out more fields for
corn and wheat, those to
lie fallow, too

we learned the rhythm
of the land and
we were one with the land and
she one with us, our mouths
filled with her fruits, our
granaries bursting in autumn,
after the seven lean years came
the seven fat—and so, we gave
thanks in music and dance,
raising our voices ever and
again, shattering silence

Part 2

Ever-Moving Westwards

digging out deep veins of
black and silver
ore and the
siren-scream calls
men-women-children to
work, the insistent machine
driving, driving, driving,
humming a second heartbeat,
larger, louder, piston-shiny,
as grey smoke muddies
the skies and sleek
metallic rattling creates the
din we cannot talk
through and river-streams are
silently befouled

our timecards punched, the
teeth tearing through stiff paper
to mark our hours of industry,
the counting of the beads of
sweat on our brow, the
saltpearl crown, the
bottom line, the
treasure stored up,
thick reports of the exquisite time and motion
of expedient and efficient production

the electric light switches on,
crackling filament
brightening her way to an
early shift, her coarsened
hands enclosed in gloves,
hair netted, the machines
clack-clack-clack induces a
fever, at first, until the
girls are used to it, the
bobbins spin, multicolored, rainbow
producing miles of textiles, flower-
spriggged, for curtains, or
thick-tufted carpets, these
buildings casting long shadows,
narrow alleyways through which to
run, hoping
for a glimpse of sun before dusk

spreading, so, westwards we
went, erecting in stone, metal
concrete, these cathedrals
of industry, pouring molten metal
into forms, a righteous and
proper use of resources, the
metal spines holding up their
bodies of cement and brick,
shining rails along which
the trains sped, smoking black,
across fields of corn, cotton,
wheat, past heads of
complacent cattle led to the
killed with sleek efficiency, sinew
riven from bone, wrapped in paper
for the ever-hungry, ever-growing
mouth, never satiated,
always talking, talking, talking now
on the radio, the voices
borne as if by magic through
the air, the electric
thrum-hum of music, too, shimmering
through the long afternoons
the steno-typist, listening
to her dictaphone, tapping out
the latest orders,
the recent improvements of their
most durable and
popular models
guaranteed to
give satisfaction

while he toils on an
assembly line, one small part of
a process, working towards a
specific, streamlined end,
the final, shiny product is
(for your approval)
wrapped in tissue,
sent out to the four corners of this
earth, contracted now
by telephone and telegraph,
cables sending news of
birth, death, and safe
arrival on foreign shores,
of battles won and lost, of
joys and sorrows, the papery slips
saved at the bottom of a bureau drawer

these territories crackling with
electricity upon metal, the
ever-expanding grid of brightness encroaching
upon dark, making night day
again for all our
entertainments, celebrating a new
age of industry, self-improvement,
endless possibility

these birds stretching their wings
so that they fly faster, straighter,

smokestacks belching fire and
staining the sky, a curving script
disappearing as it appears, melting
into the blue, signaling
patterns of production and
mass consumption supporting
mass production

as liquid glass is molded into jars
for canning the last vegetables of
the season, the
viands that will see them through the
winter, set aside with careful hands, metal banded,

refrigerated boxcars of flowers,
replete with snowy petals
destined for the florist’s
deftly working fingers, speeds eastwards,
emerging from that land of
milk and honey we
so eagerly anticipated, the
fruit dropping from the sky into
our hands, the earth yielding
all to us

Part 3

Into Blue-skied Tomorrow

into blue-skied tomorrow
looking on with the eye
of God as
invisible streams of
silent electrons
converge in
fluorescent laboratories
and we note down
celestial measurements

the dust settled from
our crowning glories
searing deserts with
their photographic flash,
stirring up cataracts,
undulating in glowing
circles, distant cousin
to the neon piped
the length of the
brick ballroom
calling us to dance,
shaking out our
crinolines, straightening
thin-seamed nylons

magic minerals
shingle our homes, the
chemist has created
the home of the future,
complete with backyard
fallout shelter and
tinned water, as new
highways snake ever further, thick
cement veins displacing green, black-asphalt tarred

and sleek sedans barrel along:
to grandmother’s house we go,
decked out in man-made fibres, bearing
wax fruit on a melamine platter
while grey-coated cryptographers decipher
the words upon the wall,
tapping out messages from one
side to the other, the
all-seeing eyes of cameras
trained on each other,
the snatches of fabric caught
on the wires stand out,
white hot flames dispelling night

as curtain-fabrics, newly bright,
unmuddied, prism-fine,
slip through the hand of
the decorator—no more the
durable, somber greys and browns—
now are unleashed the butter yellow and
vivid cyclamen to astound the
eyes looking out upon
the world, billowing, mad with
polka-dots, a breath of air
shuddering their underpinnings

and children’s voices lisp, in
unison, the common carols of
youth, and voices listing, in double-
column type, names,
associations, tapped out, black/white,
as casefiles, papery-thick, are
written by landladies

and still the world
contracts, copper-wired, shining back
at the sun, tying us ever more
tightly together, the
reverberation throbbing into a
starry night as
music swells from a

forward, moving forward
always (look back and
you’re finished) to that
world always just
at your fingertips, as
he waxes out a scratch
on a tailfin
she smoothes the
wave of her hair,
the children veer and
sway, random isotopes
smashing the furniture,
rewriting their vision and
revisions, posting their inky-black
on every streetcorner

beneath the coursing
satellites skirting the sun,
sending images of
green, blue,
streaking greyveins of
smoke, billowing, the
hue and cry of all
humanity wirelessly joined
at the hip, trawling through
clouds of data, number-thick,
at our fingertips,
flying, ever closer to the
sun, envying still that
thickatom brightness
smashing, generating all, only
to have our wings of wax
melt at an inopportune moment

yet still we try, and try
again to fly our own
course, right, straight,
aiming for that finest moment of
movement, capture it, if you
can, in the reflection of a glass,
before it, too, is relegated to
memory, the notes for the
trajectory filed away,
diagrammed endlessly, the paper
figures cut to our own liking


An Address to the Moon:

so our song ends as the
pale companion of the sun
looks down, counting the
coursing of the tides, the
ever-shifting forms that illuminate
and grace the night, half in
shadow, glancing in and
out of the sight of electric
lights blinking, marking time,
the streetlights, too, of milky fluorescence, at pre-
determined intervals, set to
light our way as we move,
ceaselessly, towards our
own ends and the next dawn