Biographical Notes #Happymothersday


My name is Dave Lordan.
I am 46 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.

My mother,
beautiful muse,
beautiful nurse,
beautiful magician of my being,
is not a poet.
Instead, she is a musician.

Each one of us is imprisoned in time
and oppression.
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
was saved
by a terrified girl playing along
by not playing a flute.

How I pity those nuns and their orders, their cruelty.
They are 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
imaginary concerts
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.

(From the collection, Medium, Frontline Press, 2021)