Poetry: Selections from S.C. Flynn


While the rain turns the ground to spotted mud,
I spy a flat stone and jump, balancing,
a sodden flamingo in dark plumage,
teetering in the middle of the mess
when I see a face next to my foot;
not etched or carved, but grown into it:
a man with lines of pain filled with water.
I leap to the next stone and find a girl
of ten or so caught forever mid-scream
and a woman whose thin, compressed agony
sends me rushing faster from stone to stone,
each thrusting its sadness at the sky.
Finally I reach a ruined house and gasp
against the wall as the rain keeps pounding.
At my touch the stones erupt with figures:
the people whose faces I saw below
now writhe and scream as one and then vanish,
leaving me alone, yes really alone
under rain that cleans but doesn’t forget.

Termite Mounds. Northern Australia

As the sun went down and the moon came out
I sat, thirsty and hot, among the mounds;
they turned my heat into freshness
and the dry baked air into moisture.
These are blocks of pure life, not gravestones,
some older than love, some newer than peace;
magnetic cathedrals of spark and dust
that hoard no creeping death in their crypts.
They grow again from the bones of spirits,
phallic towers of the earthly mother
eroded by wind but never shrunk,
battering rams that break down eras.
There's a pattern in their order;
they launch the code to our satellites
and to stars that are gone or yet to be.

Pythagorean community, southern Italy, 500 BC

The gods have placed the answer in the sky,
low beneath the Centaur's hooves
where the five stars urge a mosaic
of triangles on the eye. He forbade us
to think of those lengths that don't exist
but which I see just above the horizon,
stretching like sacrificial knife blades
from one bright point to another;
others have paid for their seeing with life.
I could strain instead to listen
for the blameless music of the spheres,
but the irrational triangle sides
call me much louder. He told us
that this life is only one of many,
so the price is small as these things go.
I will drink the poison
if you prepare it, but only you.


Misled by unseasonal warmth,
a migrating bird returned too soon
shivers in the inexorable cold.
Each another world to conquer,
new islands in the Arctic
revealed by the melting ice.
Flowers alone in warm, bright fields,
waiting for bees that will never arrive.

Australian Antarctic Territory, midsummer

And can you tell me what it's all about,
this endless jumping on and off the world?
The skuas, whales and seals have all turned back
and the penguins found refuge on an ice floe.
This is how a species dies out,
when all the rest abandon ship
while the slow or stubborn stay on board,
fading away in slow fatigue.
A while ago I felt the cold
but now I don't feel much of anything.

S.C. Flynn was born in Australia of Irish origin and now lives in Dublin. His poetry has been published in many magazines, including The Honest Ulsterman, Cyphers, Abridged and Orbis.


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