A Selection of Mario's Poetry

 

 Poems on this page

BOOKSHOP

 

 Mario Abbatiello
Moving Through
 

Dawn slashed with vertical rain

Under a tarnished-silver sky.

Inside I am dry

Warm

Sheltered

Waking to another day of moving through

Just moving through.

Nothing I'm doing is where I am going:

The present is a lever

To pry open the future.

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Moment

Time is a liquid.

All our lives

we try to freeze it solid,

to keep things the same.

The allure of still life or

photography is it

crystallizes a moment.

But life is more like dance:

time moves, flows, pours out our life—

in torrents or dribbles—

unstoppable fluid quanta of experience,

the etheric flux of existence.

Time is wild and cannot be captured.

Only fear—of loss or uncertainty—

wants it otherwise.

The soul knows this and seeks out

the anxious mileposts that map

the terrifying journey of intimacy,

moving between creative events,

the inns and lay-bys

on the luminous path.

Endless, fluid—

no one ever finishes with time.

no one ever holds it still.

There are no still lives

nor photographic moments:

those are only memories.

Life is other than that.

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Marlfield Drive 

I wake in Marlfield Drive

the flat is toast-warm

cozy

a hazy Belfast morning

promising clear afternoon sunshine.

Draperies thrown open,

soft Irish light pours through lace:

light made for writing

though I haven’t thought so far yet;

just enjoying the wood pigeons cooing

in the beech-bordered park,

pigeons big as hens with voices

soft as Long Island mourning doves,

reminding me of boyhood summer mornings,

up at dawn before anyone wakes

just for the peace

this dove-soft peace

and quiet

and out of the house first thing

for my long hike along the high-tension road

unfenced in those days

for miles along the electrical spine of the Island

over sandy hills of scrub oak and pine

past back yards, a tethered goat,

bisecting a monastery herb garden with

a peppery metallic fragrance I still remember.

 

This kind of

up-early-quiet-sweet-bird-filled day of promise

with all life still ahead of me sparkling

and it is still ahead of me

this promise

of every kind of sweet almost-old-age life,

creative, loving, and well-loved life,

Ruth waking silly and glowing with the

pleasure of home-coming, it thrills me

to see her this deeply happy and becoming

again a Belfast girl,

infuses my day with love, the

burden of her sleepless nights lifted,

years of promise in her smile, and

I want to fill them with passion, to

joke with angels and

snatch down songs from the heavens –

that kind of happy and alive,

waking in Marlfield drive.

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In a Lifetime

In the course of a lifetime

Rain and tears

Joy and sunshine

Birdsong

Dark nights of the soul

Sparkling brook

Shade of cedar

Magic harp music and women’s charms

Firm handshakes, a man’s friendship

Good work

Rest

The pleasure of writing

The good of reading a great book

A song beautiful enough to make you weep

Childbirth

The miracle state afterward

Pleasure and agony of fatherhood

Marriage and divorce and marriage

Some good art

Some good poetry

Youth and exhilaration

Slowing into mellow age

Older

A little wisdom

A little foolishness

Agitation, infatuation, rage

Love and peace

Finally peace

In the course of a lifetime

Life is discovered.

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Here Is Where I Live

Here is where I live, this

twilight between worlds,

a palpable tide flowing

with the phases of the moon

from the dream world into

my mind, coming into

physical being, taking

substance on pages

in ink, cut paper, glue,

pencil, paint.

 

This crystallizing of etheric light

into thought, into matter;

the twisted flow of gravity

which captures the voices of stars;

this cosmic journey among

the galaxies,

back and forth through the gates of time—

 

It feeds me, gives life a sense of meaning,

proposes significance not obvious

looking around me at the folly of human life.

 

I crave the journey,

the passage and return

laden with stardust, dazed

with revelation—

it’s a matter of breath, a settling,

a going-in, dropping everything subject

to gravity, letting it fall,

falling,

feeling the wind

catch under the sails of my emptiness;

deeper, deeper; grasping that wind,

billowing, making space for it—more space…

 

Silence proclaims my homecoming after

long absence, celebrates return,

return to the dark,

alone with my soul in the dark:

sounds of water, birds, the music of

snow settling on blades of grass;

energy spinning in the dark

rising, turning, falling,

invisible,

sparkling,

fluid;

waking from hibernation

hungry,

surprised,

flowing straight and strong;

 

The orange glow of campfires

in ancient caves,

naked and sweating,

primordial litanies chanted

recalling passages through ice

and earthquake,

ochred bodies swaying the rhythmic history;

 

Ghostly ancestors inhabit dancing shadows

at the edges of sight

like sublimated breath at my back:

expanding circles of stregas and healers

reaching back to Eve,

lines of sturdy men back to Adam—

my strength and support,

warriors and healers,

scribes and star-watchers

limning the paths of planets

in the silent firmament,

 

This circular presence in darkness, radiating,

pressing me toward its centre;

truth burning, seen

half-lidded;

mantric scriptures in-seen,

tangible totem presence of

dream bear, jaguar, mountain sheep, eagle

gifting my being

colouring my soul

expanding in the four directions of the sacred land:

 

Borderless land I travel

without documents or inspections,

travelogue of my journey

marked on my face,

voice of the lands at the edge

throbbing in my veins,

I walk this twilight path

between worlds.

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The Invisible Seam

1.

The rooms of my life are hung with rich tapestries,

beauty to keep out drafts and chills—

cold reminders of Death stalking,

seeking the chinks in my fortress to enter,

running bony fingers up my spine, his fatal music.

2.

Fall back—and this is the mornings being lighter:

pitch dark day greets me outside my window.

Waking in darkness; Soon enough returning home in darkness.

Already, the rooks have begun their wild aerial dance.

Soon enough the long night will enfold me,

the long sleeves of personality wrapped tight and tied behind the back,

unreachable yet comforting,

surrendered to my incapacity, my seasonal social ineptitude.

Accepting failure for another year—strange relief!

3.

The time of planting long over, the time of harvest now done.

What was planted will not grow further, neither crops nor weeds.

What is in the larder is the measure of my abundance: will it last through winter?

There is nothing for it but fasting and hope.

The seed corn waits for springtime.

4.

The invisible seam where reality is stitched together,

the intangible line where fibre by fibre

the material realm is sewn into real form and inhabits space:

my fingers run gently, lovingly over it with palpable knowledge of the unknowable.

Here is one of life’s secrets, this joining of the facets of being

here along this existential fissure, joined into a marriage of form to form,

giving birth to time, shaping time into history, space into geometry,

the architecture of nature, character, person, the urban design of social intercourse

held together with breath-fine stitches of etheric filament, breath by breath by breath.

5.

Here in my wee cell the sounds of heart resonate.

The body confined,

limited to this rectangle of carpet, this well-stuffed zafu,

the heart expands,

vibrates, sings into the vastness of the resplendent void.

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Chicken Soup

My darkness is nowhere to be found,

my ready source of words poetic.

I’m just not miserable enough today

to call myself a poet!

I’m too happy just cooking in my kitchen:

plastered and tiled and painted,

refitted with my own hands.

What good is that to literature?

 

Look at me! So pleased to

reach up and choose a pot

from the happy family hanging on

hooks from the ceiling

like I’ve always wanted;

turning so easily from cutting board

to hob and back; the easy

step-and-a-half to the fridge

step-and-a-half back; a simple

sidestep to the sink, a turn-and-slide

back to the cutting board.

 

What kind of poem is this?

the rhythms of cooking, chopping and slicing,

winter light angling through the windows,

colours of carrots and beets, crisp whites

of potatoes, whispered green of celery;

cutting up of a chicken, sacrificing

severed joints to the sizzling pot,

sautéing, boiling, stirring;

Mozart humming in the background,

a glass of wine – white for the pot

ruby red for me, deep-voiced with cherries and

plums, a hint of chocolate – my favourite merlot

(yes even with chicken!) while I work;

pale crescents of celery slid off the cutting board

into the roiling brew to join the aromatic, bubbling medley;

 

Step-and-turn returning the cutting board to the counter

step-and-turn stirring the pot, watching savoury

liquids mixing through my slotted spoon;

orange cylinders, off-white cubes, spheric sections and arcs,

the geometry of meat and veg, swirled and mixed,

juices and aromas combining in a magic potion of sustenance

the distillation of rolling green fields and

soft Irish rains and the work of

countless labourers: farmers, lorry drivers,

grocers, butchers and myself working

day by endless day to grow the crops,

feed the chickens, pack the lorries,

serve the customers, to pay each other

our day’s wage and feed ourselves

and our children the sacred

blood of our work; to continue

through the generations, decades and centuries.

 

All this stepping and turning from counter to hob,

this cutting and slicing and stirring

the pot of our living on this winter day

in this kitchen fitted by my own hands –

Is this some kind of poem?

well maybe so…

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