Poetry: Arthur Broomfield

Arthur Broomfield

The Bee Woman works at her hive

After ‘The Bee Woman’ a painting by Mansfield

During lulls in the natural order,
when the dead have been buried
and the laws of seed time and harvest
are reinstated, look on me as the
the landlady with the right tenants,
popular in business in quiet times.

In concord with the will of the world
I pose in white suit and visor
as I record the verve of the hive,
the stash of its riches:
propolis, pollen,
royal jelly, eternal honey,
nectar and beeswax,
as any concern would,

while   Queen Bee, entrusted
to her particular space and time,
desirous, mates and breeds,
builds, convicts the unwanted.

In normal time I emerge,
when the whiff of ordnance in the air
sets the lines buzzing with rumours of wars,
and the forest flora and ferocious winds
snarl in tremendous arguments,
scattering the indecisive rhododendron,
accommodating what the land will allow.


Now I am the ethereal one returned
from the debacle of maternal earth,
of it and on it, the calm in the storm.
I am here in the hum and whirr
of these zips and zooms, visible,
as a pallid robe and medieval yellow gloves,
the infinite spirit that assumes presence,
laying hands on the pollinating hive.

October evening Clonreher


The sky hung high above the silent moon
beyond Venus and Duffin’s Cross.
It was time, before The Archers
and ‘Radio Newsreel’,
to run across the yard
toward the horsefield gate,
past the sleeping hens, the hushed ducks,
the munching cowhouse and hay-filled haggard
teeming with countrified rats and mice,
themselves fulfilling the narrative that made them,
each believing in its particular
subterranean crevice,

to clutch the tingle from the expected,
the cameo appearance of the beet train,
performing its drive-on part
to the chug chug impromptu
of cymbal clashes regulating the belches of steam
and hissed acknowledgements of love
to an audience of one,
staged to a backdrop of glittered stars
in Mrs Delaney’s field.


We too have our Martyrs

      We have reduced the grand narratives -
      to our elder’s irritation–
      passed to us from Israel and Greece,
      to an a la carte way of doing 
      that frees us to delight in
      a meal with friends, a rock concert,
      or a football game.
       
      We elect our rulers.
      When they betray our expectations
      we exercise our right to censure them in a free press,
      If we feel the urge to torture 
      we express our feelings through satire.
       
      From time to time
      the tediously intense among us
      believe they can correct
      the defects in our system.
      We smile and shake our heads, knowingly.
      Our ways accommodate such vagaries.
      We call them Western Values.
       
      Our menus and match programmes are as sacred to us
      as your scriptures are to you.
      Though we do not feel the need to sing it
      from the rooftops we too, the people, are believers.
              
      You who grieve for your martyrs of long ago,
      you of a heightened sense of your persecution
      carried down the ages, best be aware
      of who you are taking on.
      We are not the pampered, guilt ridden liberals,
      you suppose us to be, soft targets on a night out
      in the decadent West.
      We too can match hurt for hurt.
      We too have our martyrs,
      those who died by your hand
      not in the heat of battle,
      but in the savagery of cold blooded slaughter.
       
      They inspire us.
       Our hearts bleed with their hearts.
      They died because of what we are,
      their beliefs live in us.

He ponders on his reality

So, after weeks of walking into Costa
wearing my jacket, chinos and shirt –
top two buttons open –
and experiencing the stares and the silences,
the smirks and embarrassed shuffles,
the discomfort of a clientele uneasy with a freak in their midst,
I made the grandiloquent choice to dress normally
to facilitate the coffee drinking public.

It wasn’t an easy decision,
to fit in with the crowd,
to revert to what I had been,
but sometimes the pressure to conform
can be as persuasive as an ant who succeeds
in navigating a block of margarine up the Rock of Dunamaice.

So, I descended to the reality
of my lived-out alt-verse, donned the tedious
garb of everyday, white gown trailing the ground,
burning cross painted on back, swastika on chest -
I think Hitler was a bad artist, but that’s what they expect,
I’m a liberal when it comes to taste –
and settled the seasoned jags of my crown of thorns
in the appropriate scars around my head.
I wondered should I lead my pet rat in
as I usually do at weddings and funerals,
but that would be banal, even the boring can be exiled,
consider the fate of Fintan.

I fell into my normal gait, the relaxed one I keep for Tesco
where the aisles are wide and long,
having checked that my jackboots were free of flesh and blood,
and joined the goose-stepping throng merrily marching for their morning coffee.

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