John Menaghan, born in New Jersey to Irish-American parents, has lived in Boston, Berkeley, Vancouver, Syracuse, London, Dublin, Belfast, Galway, Gortahork, and Dingle, & presently makes his home in Venice, CA. Winner of an Academy of American Poets Prize and other awards, he has published poems and articles in Irish, American, and Canadian journals and given readings in Ireland, Hungary, and the U.S. Menaghan teaches literature and creative writing at Loyola Marymount University in Los Angeles, where he also serves as Director of both the Irish Studies and Summer in Ireland programs and runs the annual LMU Irish Cultural Festival. Kirkus Reviews called his first book, All the Money in the World, "an auspicious beginning," adding: "Menaghan's work is humorous, ironic, erotic, neurotic, and tender both by turns and often simultaneously . . . quite wonderful." Of his second book, She Alone, Midwest Book Review observed: "Alternately passionate, tender, ironic, and erotic, She Alone is a unique experience in epic poetry and enthusiastically recommended."

Genesis

(from Diane Arbus)

In the beginning
of photographing
I used to make
very grainy things
I'd be fascinated
by what the grain
did because it would
make a kind of tapestry
of all these little dots
and everything would be
translated into this
medium of dots
skin would be
the same as
water would be
the same as
sky and you
were dealing
mostly in
dark and light
not so much in
flesh and blood.


 

In the Buda Hills

At the third floor window of my panziů
the bottom quarter of a tangerine
hangs over Pest, all the rest concealed
behind grey cloud, city lights shining,
shaping a new terrain as darkness falls.
But here below me, closer in, houses
hold their colors, shapes though edges yield
to a buttery blur as night comes on.
Up above, tangerine drifting higher
now till a cloudís grey band splits it in two,
orange glow pulsing above and below
a thin silk sash.  Then the hillside fading.
Porch bulbs one by one popping on as dusk
deepens to dark.  Tangerine rising against
a charcoal sky till it finally breaks free
and full over Pestís electric sea while
green hills go black at last, landscape aglow
like a milky way full of miniature moons.


 

Monk Alone
                        for Thelonius Monk

Monk alone at the piano
pushing pedals to the floor
kissing keys with a feather
touch skin barely feeling
the fleeting caress of cool
ivory rising up against
his fingertips as they flee
pursuing new chords as if
melody moved forever further
but never quite out of reach
making him stay on the bench
bent over the board never for
a moment bored never lost
because destinations donít
matter now nothing matters
but moving through the maze
no voices now demanding
directing intruding into his
sweet chaotic solitude no rude
producers saying how about
playing it this way or that
getting fat on his dreamy
acute demanding dexterity
nothing to seek or find
or welcome or mind or
ask for or give no whirring
blenders behind the dim lit
bar at the back of some club
or some fool drunk on the
sound of his own voice
talking over the notes no
struggle to rise above
the goddamn ambience
cover charge profit motive
waitress waiting for her
shift to end so she can
spend the night wrapped
in the arms of some man
who fails to appreciate
her finer qualities none
of that in Monkís head
now alone secluded in
sound until it all comes
down to one last flourish
so quiet his ghost fingers
scarcely move as smoky
notes drift along a spotted
ceiling and dissolve a
broken spell a hushing
deep inside his soul.


 

John Menaghan poet at Moonday Poetry

© 2010 John Menaghan


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