Gavin Selerie

poems from LE FANU'S GHOST


Heigho, who's above
full in the face, lean as grace
stiff in starch, all a quaver

Our bones are there in the frame
as midnight strikes
on the room farthest from the hall

old friends are best
and stories told again

between the boards
alibi, crackaby
a cup of sack and a race of ginger

now they step out
of watching, grim or pretty
hover feet across

first the refugees

Philippe in wig and cravat
verges on a smile
through that Protestant air

Marie in flowing cape or over-dress
hums a lullaby

William smirks with a banker's rigour
from powdered curls

Henriette, shipped in a cask or folds
of a sail, cuts the lady in long-waisted satin
hair enclosed in a little mob cap

then their Dublin fellows

Doctor Thomas, divinity dun
juggles the point of a painted ceiling

which the Rave-ear-end Day-ann
scrutinizes, blue eyes erect on a brown drape

Tom staged-up in his skull-cap
brings a Shakespeare folio

Frances tells the story in secret
an ermine trim beneath raven hair

what dust and smoke-stains release

Sherry clutches his wit
born in the flush of last night's nose

Joseph moonlights from the coast
black coat faced to jig

Lissy, fevered by the stroller's bug
asks how her sash will be read

Captain Henry, debonaire in velvet
doesn't mention money

Betsy rises from a box, ringlets
under Spanish hat with a plume of feathers

and from a year that cannot disappoint

George in buff waistcoat, top-boots
and chocolate coat, long hair brushed back—
the man of The Iron Chest no random relic

still nearer forms, from miniature to full-length

Dad the Dean with preaching bands
dances an idea before duty

Angel Emma, elbow on a ballad-book
looks away at a rebel dagger

compelled to heed, do they language
me, come to haunt or help
in necrologic script

who dares dredge up
and rehearse
this sketch

runaway lovers in a squeaking coach

rattle of dice, frisked at Pharaoh

consols converted to hold up a house

someone else's baby

bottles stuffed down a drain

sheet to end it all

I am where they have been
not blanched or cold
in quittance of a panel

knotted through slippery ground
the traces stay, puppet to flesh
one shape of many names

reddish hair, a piercing eye
the urge to scribble

prest in the glome some gives out
a huggin note to stay ire
as fare—well—come
to the blind-key side
stake smock alloy
so French falls a sheer leaf
on dub bin knolls on core
they start a version got by double-sib

anecdote spells unstuff
the ridotto, take your silver ticket
off site and de-fribilize
the first dumb soul
can breathe

great words not suffer to be dormant
cross like Hamlet
from Dorset house to the Green

Eccles street, Glasnevin
Cuffe, Molesworth, Leeson street
Lower Dominick, Nelson street
Warrington place
stretch their livers
to Merrion square

those won't settle
mounted to endear
in a quiet back chamber
must sigh or sing through wads
of cloud, must make a record
through cancelled bars

what's to see at a third remove
one side mischief, the other virtue
bluish lead under gold
begs in parade are you with
are you by

looking on the groove
of Joseph's dome I recoil
forty years and go as a boy
in a hackney coach
from the Park to the Custom House
for paper and sealing wax

the old man still angling
for a stunner at Drury Lane
the lad drawing pictures with a tag—
a balloonist tumbling to get to heaven

assume they return
still in your father's house
the book inscribed
is aware—Sue you should
have been with me
slipping into the room
like them to press and stare

if it's left me to write
the tale to its end
emulsion flaking from the negative
at verge of belief I'll tease
a figure out of the blank

something we'd rather not
sniffs at the roundy-ken
a guest you'd wanted rid
proves to be there
day and night