John F. Deane Poems


The first dense fog this morning, everything
indistinct. Small birds

flitting among stones at the waves' edge; last night
along laneways and in the meadows,

heavy tractors laboured on, their headlights flaring;
among the sand dunes rabbits

played with cloudshadows from the moon; now a fox
in her potched, gold-chestnut fur

scents out her lost escape-ways through the lopped-down grass;
I have been picturing

a straight and solitary figure pacing the roads and shoreline
as if washed up onto the world

like jetsam flung by the breaking reach of the waves,
who has words to offer, words

in an antique language beautiful as moonlight and sharp
as the teeth of the mowers,

while the world feels for him, offering
unwanted coin.... more »


I am in California. The moon -
colour of grandmother's Irish butter - is lifting
over the Mount Diablo hills and the sky
is tinged a ripening strawberry. You sleep
thousands of miles from me and I pray your dreams
are a tranquil sea. Eight hours back
you watched this moon, our love-, our marriage-moon,
rise silently over our Dublin suburb, and you
phoned to tell me of it. I sit in stillness
though I am called where death is by; I am eating
night and grief in the sweet-bitter flesh
of blueberries, coating tongue and lips with juice
that this my kiss across unconscionable distances
touch to your lips with the fullness of our loving.... more »


A sparrow flew, as if a hawk were in pursuit,
into the sanctuary of our seminary chapel;
I was quenching candles, relishing the afterscent;

it perched a while on a small brass crucifix
over the tabernacle, and I remembered: better are you
than many sparrows, and laughed, not being sure . . . I stood,

hesitant companion, the congregation with its shuffle-noise
had gone out into the good air; for a while -
acolyte and bird - we watched each other, intrigued

and waiting; the sparrow flew towards the rose window
where it thudded hard against deceptive blue; it fell,
slowly, to the marble floor and I gathered it up, scared,

knowing, for a moment, what it may be to be God,
a small heart hammering against my caring hands; outside
sweet scents from the heathers came and clouds drifted

across blue late-evening skies; when I opened my hands
the sparrow stayed still a little while, perhaps
mistrusting of the grace it had just received.... more »

John F. Deane Quotes

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