james mcgonigal
Poet  •  Critic

Contact  James McGonigal

Click on the poem title to read the next excerpted poem from Driven Home.

              Urban Peasantry

Moss beds and grass make an altar of sorts to it—
we lay tired bodies down there in the end.
You’ll see it in the way we rework soil
and litanies: odd buds from broken ground.

Leaving no bottle half empty surely reveals it.
Just before falling asleep the one prayer
two bodies whisper is often remembered.
But we can fall awake as quick, into open air

before the sun has time to wipe mist off his face.
Educated, our heads hold thoughts promiscuously,
plants and coiling weeds entwined illuminate
the mind’s manuscript, often fantastically

beside the point. Horses and women we like. Birds
and their native languages (which holy mothers
taught their sons to speak) we’ve learned
to read at last, inscribed in air.

Those swallows, for example, being foreigners always
spell ‘flight’ with a circumflex, the sign
of rising-falling voicing on a vowel.
Midges learn to late what this can mean.

Each year we drive towards harvest, find our place
in the History of Remembrance and Forgetting.
Another summer’s growth burnt off by frost.
Ice polishes its teeth for bloodletting.