paul perry  
paul perry
paul perry sample writing


The Gate to Mulcahy's Farm

The gate to Mulcahy's farm is crooked,
sinking into infirm soil like a ship
from the Spanish Armada if you like,
forged and felled in some dark cave

to find itself jaded with flaking eroded gilt
leaving the striations, prison-like,
shaded a coppery green. A gate without
a handle and unlike all others in any

neighbouring field without the dull sanguine
frame that swing to and fro like a hinge,
or a door itself to some other world.
No, this is no ordinary gate and there is

something majestic in its stolid refusal
to swing, something absurd even.
Perhaps this is another version of heaven,
imagine the bedroom it might once have graced,

this brass headboard, this discarded,
transported remnant of love's playground,
and look, two golden and intact globes
rest on either end, both transcendental transmitters,

receivers maybe of rough magic,
piebald love, communicating not sleep,
sleep no more, but wake, wake here
to the earth and imagine if you want

the journey of such an armature
of fecund passion, what hands gripped
these bars, what prayers were murmured
through the grate of this ribald cagery?

Imagine too the man who must have
hurled and pitched and stabbed
this frame into the ground, in a dark rain of course
after his wife had died, her passing to us unknown

though you know this
that there must have been some act
of violence within this frame-work,
some awful, regrettable pattern caught

in the form of what, wind rushing through a brass
headboard, an exclamation point to the querulous
division of fields, could we be talking border-country,
and the broken, airy, moss-eaten stone walls.

Think about when the farmer died and the farm
was sold, think about what happened the field, empty
of its cows, still with its stones and grey soil,
maybe this is Monaghan,

maybe some day it, the brass headboard
you are looking at now, will be sold
to an antiquarian in a Dublin shop,
brought there on a traveler's horse and cart,

not smelted down or disassembled, but sold
to a shop where some lady with a wallet
will buy the thing, the elegant shabbery before you
that is the gate to Mulcahy's farm. As for the bed

itself, we can speculate, let it have sunken
into the earth, or better still let the earth be the bed,
the cot, mattress and berth to this sinking headboard,
this beautiful incongruous reliquary of misplaced passion.

Wintering by Paul Perry

That was my last year in Florida,
illegal and thinking of marriage
as one way to stay. Sleepless nights
of argument and indecision. And

to keep us going I worked a cash job
at an orchid farm. Long hours in
the sun, poor in paradise, the heat
on my back, drilling for a living.

I worked with a Mexican man.
My man Victor, the orchid keeper
called him. Friendly and amused
at the affluent couples who came

to purchase the rich, ornate dreams.
We buried a dead owl together.
I remember that. And my body aching
in the sun. Floating home to argue.

What we were doing I was told
was wintering. Getting ready for
the cold, its indiscretion, its disregard.
Nailing sheets of plastic onto a wooden

frame, hammering, drilling, and sweating
to protect the fragile flowers
and their steel interiors, their
engineered hearts and worth.

That is already a long time ago.
Its contradictions apparent.
Wintering in sunshine. The past
still growing towards the light.

I think of them now as some sort
of emblem of that past, ghostly
orchids shedding their gracious
petals, as we winter here ourselves,

batten down the hatches and wait
for whatever storm is coming, whatever
calamity the cold has to offer us
in the same way the orchids do,

I suppose, waiting through winter
to emerge with budding, fantastical
and colourful insistence to wake and
remind us to be nothing less than amazed.

paul perry
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