• Kevin Brophy




so blue in the night

listening to the steps we take

— they have no wisdom for us


no one puts an ear to them


shining after rain

they outstare every star

for they know stillness

is another way of moving

through the narrow throat of time


and yes, they call for cathedrals


to take them up

and bathe their faces


with all that falling light 






Bastille Market


Though the rough bunch of carrots

misshapen as boys in hoodies and trackies

with green blazes wild as African headdresses

are as expensive as tourist cheeses

or cinnamon pain aux figues et noix

still the man in a stained t shirt who sells them

and the woman beside him whose morning hair

is wrapped up in a worn veil

have come in from their farm

along a dark morning road

in a van jostling their potatoes and carrots

dragged sweet and full of what the soil

has given them all the way to my hand

held out as the man nods and wrings the neck

of the long green leafy show of his carrots.






The Red Truck


At low-enough-to-sit-on rubbled walls

of once-homes bombed seventy-five years ago

in a world war come to Palermo’s skies


as fighting planes — now gracing entrances

to shopping malls lodged into highway knots

out in cloud-soaked suburbs of traffic


(where three men sell fish from a cart in the rain by the road)


— we lie down beside Giovanni Falcone’s missing

childhood home to hold a book against the sun

or lean a shadow over phone screen.


Sunlight silent over us like some supreme teacher.


Palermo’s Mafia needed four hundred kilograms of dynamite

to speak for it — its local earthquake a side chapel to Etna –

a lava mouth opening to corridors of web-grey catacombs.


Beside us a red truck with one torn and flapping tyre

reverses over flower pots, its driver trembling, shrugging.


Across the way: a church without a roof, buildings given

over to those who can write and draw on their torn walls.






What You Want Me to Understand:


that you’d never known what it was

you were painting

that you love him still

that he’d died too soon

that there’s nothing to be done

but endure this love

that dogs are machines of devotion

that once he was gone you loved him again

that he was good — though maybe not

as good as a dog can be good

that the question now is what to do

(what am I to do with myself?)

that building a boat is something to do

that sailing at a moon rising from the sea

takes courage to keep to your course

that dogs understand you these days

that you imagine the faint near-sounds of him

at the silent tasks of the dead

keeping his voice alive inside your words


what you want me to understand is:


this teetering place we have above waves

at a long-handled tiller, above us those sails

nudging our blood-bucketing vessel towards shore


I left you at the end of your stony garden path

at your gate that falls open

to a road strung down a mountain

past goats, pine trees and clouds on its way to the bay