Alex Smith


From Slieve Donard

Out here,
in the highlands,
the poorest earth,
at the end of learning,
the earth eats itself, snug in its rot
and the ravens nest unruffled by the winds.
But you,
you yell at the hills,
scream your surrender,
knowing your knowing means nothing to them,
the mute Mourne gods,
salt-worn and waiting.
You know too late
of the
of yesterday.
This sea is parched
so empty your lungs,
pour your little years into its depths.
Too late.
Too late the call.
Leave yourself mute,
spent, because
the clanking granite arm of the untamed bay,
soporific in its beauty;
wilder than your worst,
knows the windsong of each tor and drumlin.
Out here
you can see your ancestors.
Their broad backs clung to the trees,
to the rock
the land
the sea
and the same sad ideals,
strong and fickle as the same wind,
comfortable in the same close circles;
as warm and small as nests.

With a foot firmly on each side of the Irish Sea, ALEX SMITH was raised in troubled Northern Ireland during the Eighties before moving to the slightly less troubled south coast and later the midlands of England for the Noughties. Educated in all things English and Spanish at the Queen’s University of Belfast, and in all things educational at the University of Chichester, Smith comes from that stable of pared-down, plain-speaking poets such as Muldoon and Armitage. His work has taken him to some of the most socially deprived schools in England. His poetry has been published in Constellations, online at Clear Water Poetry, ABCTales (where he also edits) and in The UK Poetry Library and has a collection entitled Home coming soon through Cerasus Poetry.