The minute the fiddler takes to the stage
betwixt the rapper and the organist
I dive out through a slit in the rear of
the reggae tent, meaning to take a slash and chill.
But there’s a rave throbbing in the woods beyond.
Bonfires radiating inside holly, spruce, and ash.
Canvas banners thrashing in the storm.
Chinese lanterns chase across the speckled dusk
like molten bloodhounds packed against the moon.
I’m twisted, I’m a little bit skagged. Can’t recall
who I tagged along to the festival with,
what o’clock or eve it is, precisely …
How the trout am I gonna get home? … Did I bring
a tent … Yo! What the sugar’s the hun with
the glow sticks, the yokes, the coloredy fleece
called again? … If you fly with the crows you’ll be shot with
the crows … my Dad said. Could be doing with a suck
on a spliff … a dab … so scanning fore, then midground
for someone to tap, I sketch three paralytics
at a tipped-over shitehouse, legless, clasping
wire fence to hold upright. Never piss on electric wire.
In Tipperary Gah shirts. Tall guys. Hurlers.
Sinewy bastards. Dude in the middle bending
double belching steam and spittle like a hot bog
in Iceland, chucking up loads. Distressed he is.
Heavyweight retching bout. Losing control.
Nearly throwing the towel in, collallapsing.
I see him stretched out to dissolve
in the land and its zillions of ants, trillions
of carcasses. What a banquet he’d make
for the jackdaws. If ya lie down with
the dogs ya’ll rise up with the fleas. Small urge
in me for calling an ambulance. Small
but rapidly growing. ’Til the others start
egging him on. G’wan Jamey! Fucking champion
craic man! Jamey swims with the general will —
hauls himself rigid and warrior-tall,
drawing gallon-swills of boosting oxygen,
then arches crablike at the waist to balance
backwards on his massive palms, stalling
as the constellations eddy, the cosmos rearranges
around him, ’til his whistling tongue-tip
comes aligned with the prong of The Plough
and he launches like Polaris through the murk,
propelling himself straight, hurling bilious floods
of intermingled crackers, croutons, crisps,
sausage rolls, Diarmuid’s Special Offer Salsa Dips,
Guinness, Smirnoff Ice, Devil’s Bit, roasted nuts
and Dubonnet and effervescent codeine foam and fizz
up over the fence
up over the flags
up over the maize
down into the pines
down into the flames
down into the rave.
Source: Poetry (September 2015).