6 poem sampler from the forthcoming collection Medium, available soon in audio/e-book/print formats
firstname.lastname@example.org to interview me or book a reading
Praise for previous books:
‘Compelling & overwhelmingly brilliant – A masterpiece’
Thomas McCarthy, Aosdana
‘There are some of his poems I love to sing’
The most original, incendiary and impassioned voice writing in Ireland today”
Sinead Kennedy, Maynooth University
“Lordan’s A Resurrection in Charlesland claims its place beside the poems of Kavanagh’s satiric period and Kinsella’s Nightwalker”
The Irish Times
My name is Dave Lordan.
I am 45 years old
and I am a poet.
I am against prisons.
I am against history.
I come from a long line of poets
though I am the first out of all of them
to have anything to do with poetry.
My father, for example, is a poet,
a poet of howling survival,
of the triumph of mirth over doom.
All the bone cold dead of his ancestry
in their coffins and pits
warm by the dream of
seeing him soon. They know he’ll be gifting
great bounty of laughing
that he stole from the miser called time.
Both of my Nanas,
though they are many years dead
and have never had anything
to do with poetry, are poets.
My Nana on my mother’s side
is a poet of sorrows and secrets
and bearing. She bore seven children
and thousands of sorrowful secrets.
By the stove, on her one-piece suite,
she weeps all her sorrows and secrets
into bottles and glasses and embers and smoke
full of glimmering ghosts
of lost sweethearts and infants
she won’t have abandoned
and she grants me to store in my eyelids for poems.
My Nana on my father’s side
is a poet of revelation
and of hallucination.
She introduced me
to prophets and angels
when I was a boy
and, due to her commendation,
I have been on good terms with them since.
She lives in my ear and my tongue and my vision
and she minds me from harm.
beautiful magician of my being,
is not a poet.
Instead, she is a musician.
Each one of us is imprisoned in time
Each suffers alone in their own separation.
Our music’s how we contradict.
We sing and strum, we bang and drum and chant,
calling out through each other’s bars
of the freedom
the human is promised
though we know not the hour
nor the land.
My mother is a musician
although she has never had
anything to do with musicianship,
except this one thing:
In mid-December of 1963,
when my mother was eleven
and in the second last year of her schooling
the teaching Nuns of Moyderwell in Tralee
took her 5th class primary
on their annual outing
to the Killarney red-brick,
which some then called and less still call the mad-house,
to play a nativity concert for inmates.
Due to a seasonal illness
the class’s one flautist was absent
and my little mother
who I imagine near speechless
with shyness at that age
and usually called on
for nothing, usually treated as irritant extra,
was conscripted to fill
in the gap in the show.
The nun in charge of
the concert put a stop made of tissue
in the foot of the flute
to keep it from sounding in error,
then handed it over to my quivering mother
ordering her take position in the row
of musicians at the back of the choir
and pretend to be playing along.
So my mom played miraculous flute.
She played the flute for an hour without playing it.
The Christmas concert
for Killarney’s mental prisoners of 1964
by a terrified girl playing along
by not playing a flute.
How I pity those nuns and their orders, their cruelty.
They were love’s aliens, foreign to divinity,
and converts to a void.
And how I worship my eleven year old mother
for she comes with her flute to me daily
as I write in my suburban attic room
and in her airs I can hear beyond hearing
in the music of the silenced,
the magnificent choirs of their victory.
My name is Dave Lordan.
I am a poet. Against prisons. Against history.
I am seven million years old.
I come from a long line of howlers
a long line of sorrowful secrets
a long line of shivering mutes
fiddling joy out of doom
stealing laughter from time
charming tunes out of prisons of quiet.
Yes, my name is Dave Lordan, and
I am a poet
with no obligations
but to strike for the truth
for the quivering phrases of promise
for the stop to be blown from the flute.
Suburban, anonymous, pebble-dashed,
Pre-packaged-dream-house Neighbour of mine
I have not got a clue about you
What your name is
Where you hail from
To whom you belong
Whatever it is that you do
Though I am more than familiar
With the cursed electrical dirge of your shower
That moans through brick and cement in between us
Every workaday morning of winter
In the draught-ridden dark before dawn
And I have come to forgive you your musical taste
In the best left unsung
For mine is as poor
While Sepultura rock out of your Pod
Tiffany herself goes on soiling my Zen
And Neighbour, I must confess
That when I’m out in the yard for a smoke
I sometimes peer over your fence
And spy through your blinds
How the grey outlines glide from table to couch!
Such mystery! Such grace!
Like a swan in the mists of a moor!
Like a deer in a twilit oak wood!
So, Neighbour of mine
Fellow drudge, fellow drone
Fellow white-collar bee in a dormitory town
You who snore and make love,
Gobble and belch, stain and wash up, as I do,
In the same white-washed,
Ten by eight rooms,
Moving through time to destination unknown
Do you ever wonder
When your back’s against the wall
That mine might be too?
Yes, that mine will be too…
Yes. I admit it.
I’m one of those thunderin snowflakes
You’re always gabbin on about.
Sure. I’m only half a man
Compared to you.
I’m lightweight &
I’m blown about
all over the gaff.
Fair enough. It’s as you say.
No kind of warrior am I atall.
I’’ll melt away in one degree of heat
Or be shattered by a drop of rain.
I am like the plankton
in the ocean.
I am the very smallest fraction
Of the storm.
So very nearly nothing is my all.
Yet I am mysterious
and you cannot grasp me.
A wonderful once-off
Who wont be repeated.
I have no fear of windy gods.
Nor do I mourn
the splitting oaks
As they go down.
I am a storm-shorn artwork.
I don’t mind this spinning fall.
It’s always been my element.
Soon, I’ll strike your earth
& brighten everything.
My kingdom come:
the woken ground.
TO LOVE AND BE LOVED
(after Raymond Carver)
For a whole year the master beat & taunted the
child with the lisp. He taunted & beat the child with
the lisp until the tears from the child’s eyes ran
together with the blood from the child’s nose,
dripping from his little chin, staining & crusting his
blazer & trousers so he carried the news of his
torture around for the the day like a cloak. The
Master beat the fatherless child until the child
pissed himself at the desk and had to sit snivelling
& humiliated in cold piss for yearhours til
hometime. He beat the weeping child until the
child developed a stutter to go with the lisp. Day
after day, week after week, month after month,
term after term, the master beat the child &
taunted him, taunted & beat the brotherless child
until 3rd class was up & the child limped out of that
abattoir of learnings, never to return, nor forget.
Yet, after many hard years & all but impossible
struggles this sisterless child grew up beloved to
love & be loved,
and the master didn’t.
THE MAN WITH NO MASK
When, following the big win- the real biggie-
uncountable zeros after his name-
he stands his friends an endless reservoir of stout
and decrees every church
a twenty-four-hour shebeen
abolishes retching and reflux and coughs
plugs the ancient flow of anal bleeding
decrees the removal of sleep from the brain
and promises the people that none
need ever stop drinking and smoking and snorting
and gambling and chomping ever again.
Ten-million-year weekend begins.
The paralytic age.
Then. Something mighty
cracks in the head of the Chieftain of Chiefs,
an unquenchable surging of rage through the blood
that cometary rage at being
not the only God
and off he goes to war against the world
grinding armies to dust
hurling mountains into the sun
New York falls to him
and then the whole of Scotland
then Bangkok, Bhutan, Yakutsk.
Finalé – his incredible one-man stampede,
two legs tied behind, routing
Skibbereen and Stalingrad, the Black and Tans, the Vietcong
Every last man jack of ‘em.
Bored and still mad up for it,
he announces a gang resurrection
bringing back to the mainland of clay and despair
Georgie Best and Michael Collins,
Christy Ring and Elvis.
One by one, in headlines everywhere,
he completely defeats them
at soccer and handball and hurling and dancing
at head-the-ball, bare knuckle fisting, cock-fights
and freaking out women.
Whereupon he finally declares himself
the Permanent Champion Of Everything.
Then, to end and begin, outstretched,
he assumpts himself live onstage in Moonshine Stadium
as he bends to show off
a shining New Ireland
emerging from his a-ho like an egg.
SOMEONE ELSE’S TURN
Three years after her classmate Johnny,
who also loved dancing,
dies in junior infants of cancer,
my daughter’s in the back of our car after school,
and we’re stalled at the lights,
& we’re all looking out
at the afternoon sky over the Wicklow Mountains.
Wow, says my wife, the driver,
see how those clouds
hang so low on The Sugarloaf, & the gold
of the sun right through them, like a crown
for the mountain? Isn’t it striking,
so rich & so colourful,
like you’d see in a gallery?
Every year, says my eight-year-old daughter,
when it’s Johnny’s Anniversary,
the clouds float down
From heaven with Johnny floating
down on them so he can see his friends
and family & say hi.
Really?, say I out of curiosity,
but also mild concern…
…What else happens on Johnny’s Anniversary?
Oh, says she, in the nighttime
Johnny jumps out of his grave
and dances in the moonlight
to his favourite music
like Michael Jackson
for a while
and when he finishes dancing the moon applauds
and so do the yews & so do the crows & the cows
and the toads & the ferns
and so do all the other dead people in the graveyard who’ve been
watching him dancing away….
And I say Really? Why’s that?
Cos it’s someone else’s turn the next night
and everyone has to get a clap & a hip-hip-hurrah
when it’s their turn
All rights reserved by Dave Lordan