Two poems by David Cooke


We’re two hours’ flight from a northern spring;
the impassive sky we’ve left behind us
a canvas primed but still awaiting
some splash of inspiration;

the grey pavements underscoring
routines we cling to; but here
our touchdown lights a spark in a town
whose name suggests a beacon

and where all winter, unknown to us,
the orange trees on the Largo da Sé
ripened slowly, revealing now
a constellation of sweetness on a coast

whose warmth detains the storks
that headed once for Africa;
and as if plonked recklessly
on rooftops, ledges, hoardings,

their nests rise from platforms
of branches, twigs and rags,
growing bulkier year by year –
ancestral homes they sublet to sparrows.

But when we get too close, climbing
the bell tower, we find ourselves
in a perfect storm of beak
and wings like loose rigged sails.
(previously published in Cake, Issue 4)
To the Lighthouse

To make it out to the lighthouse
you’ll first unravel the headland road
as it winds round a boardwalk
pounded by the beautiful
– power walking or jogging beneath
peerless sky – and then past
the villas peeking coyly
through subtropical leaves.

And when you’ve arrived
as far east as roads can take you,
park up beneath the outcrop
of Wollumbin or Mount Warning,
sacred still to men who have won
the right, belatedly, to trundle
barrows of sand and stone
up and down its pathway.

You, too, will make the ascent,
skirting unnameable growth
and a wind-sculpted tree,
until, dazed by distances,
above your head you’ll see it,
bone-white, transcendent,
asserting benignly its own
claim to permanence.

With its eight tons of prism
afloat in a pool of mercury
it smashes sun to fragments
each afternoon when the angle
is right. At night it’s a cauldron
of light, an oracle, revealing little
beyond the certainties
of white fellas who built it.
(previously published in New Walk , Autumn 2011)
David Cooke won a Gregory Award in 1977 and published his first collection, Brueghel’s Dancers in 1984. His retrospective collection, In the Distance, was published in 2011 by Night Publishing and a collection of more recent pieces, Work Horses, has recently been published by Ward Wood Publishing. His poems, translations and reviews have appeared widely in journals including Agenda, Ambit, The Bow Wow Shop, The Critical Quarterly, The Irish Press, The London Magazine, Magma, The North, Orbis, Other Poetry, Poetry Ireland Review, Poetry London, Poetry Salzburg Review, The Reader, The SHOp and Stand.