Michael Venditozzi has come a long way since his teens when his poetry could be viewed on the window of Mrs Palka's bag shop on Byres Road.
I am delighted that he has now returned to live in the West End and that he likes the idea of having his poems on the site. Michael performs regularly with Kelvin Young Team Arts Collective
Driven outdoors by a restlessness
I could not endure
yet would not be ignored,
I climbed a hill in Galway.
And Blake spoke to me there
from his experience of mercy,
so I asked, "What is Mercy?"
thinking, "Whatever its qualities
I am unadorned, waiting always
for something to end."
And I took to my heels on a road
that led to a bay made only for the eye;
descended from all heights to hear
the locusts in the grass and the crickets' wings
give the day, the sun and the air
a rattle like the coming of fear;
and then I found a badger.
Coat still wet from last night's rain:
fresh-hit and layed with some care
by the roadside, the solemn driver
carrying him like a drowned boy
in his bundle of soiled clothes;
a big animal, worked on now by flies
with emerald backs that disappeared into his ears
buzzing their root verses
while the crickets kept the wake
and the badger's eye met mine with a glistening look
for all salvations we think we can understand,
and a little blood around the nose,
and a small tear under his jaw.
And I walked to the Atlantic
with more necessary sorrow and exultation in my throat
than I had thought would be required of me today.
"This poem appears in the current edition of Chapman magazine - details at www.chapman-pub.co.uk
(After Kenneth MacLeod)
In the year of the dead birds
Saint Kenneth fed the sparrows
as a last rite under a tree.
And in the watching man's heart
something else crystallised
where previously waterfalls froze.
His eyes misted over -
and that was the true miracle:
now the mountains could melt
In time for something to grow.
Saint Bride's bird saved
the Christ from his enemies
(covered him in sea yarn)
so down they came from the mountain
but couldn't find anyone.
And the bird daubed white
by Michael for her sins,
went back to catching oysters
and saving children's souls,
bringing them in in a boat
From the brink of the other world.
The black fiddler demon dancer
the boat on fire and the music hurtling out of her
waves boiling under the flying form
the mad dance of the music in flame
and the grin and the gleam of the fiddler's eyes
fire flying out of him and the racing ship
hurtling through blackness at the speed of the heart
and the burning light of the eyes that saw from the cliffs
the gleaming pyre of everyone's madness caught
the music of the waves in the blood
and the cold shared heart of the fiddler
flames dancing round them all
and the wail of the soul
held in the hold of the groaning ship
bound for the black life forever
where no songs prevail.
In the old-stone byre by the new extension,
one small-bunched bag of peat croquettes,
tight as the shite from wintry arses,
sits by piles of fresh-faced wood, shorn
at angles for the brick hearth evenings
to burn between the kindling and coal.
Then - a shock: two found hides, preserved
intact on pine shelving ? deer and fox.
The first, without her trophied head, shapely
still as a queen come down from her hill-throne;
and the thin diamonds of the fox's eyes,
its soft-fold ears, its dried snout wanting a lick.
It is so cold in these rooms, these houses,
when the wind is all tumult down the stack.
All you can do is huddle and cowl
against it ? build your fiery defences,
and understand the terrible impulse
to steal the skin from another animal's back.