JOHN MACKENNA / BY THE LIGHT OF FOUR MOONS
Poems replete with conviction and wit, laced with intimations of mortality.
— Anthony Glavin
Cover photo: Vitaly Krivosheev
JOHN MACKENNA is the author of seventeen books—novels, short-stories, memoir, biography and poetry. He has also written a number of stage and radio plays and is a frequentcontributor to RTE Radio 1. He is a winner of the Hennessy New WritingAward, the Irish Times Fiction Award and the Cecil Day Lewis Literary Award; his novel The Space Between Us was shortlisted for the Kerry Book of the Year Award. He was recently nominated for the position of Irish Fiction Laureate. He teaches creative writing at NUI Maynooth and lives in County Carlow.
The wake of crows is there above me day on day,
in the high branches of morning,
sycamore and chestnut while they stand —
the same sad keeners who have creaked and carped
without ever being tempted into song.
The weight of a world is on their wings,
their argument a great depression in the sky,
the irritable eyes, astute, stare down
across the river to the mountains.
But this is where they live,
their nests a thickening in the arteries of trees,
their bitter conversations most raucous at this hour,
the short, sharp flights begin and end in clamour.
When the lingering dance of night commences,
they will fall into a silence that is nothing more
than the hushed rehearsal of tomorrow’s sad complaint.
St Stephen’s Night
In fields, the moonlit pools were ghosts
reclining on the frozen grass.
Behind the darkened hedge,
a swollen stream
gurgled its late goodnight.
And all the way home,
on the shining, broken road,
our shadows went before us.
(i.m. Dennis O’Driscoll)