Bagpipe Music


He came lilting down the brae with a blackthorn stick the thick of a shotgun
In his fist, going blah dithery dump a doodle scattery idle fortunoodle
When I saw his will-o'-the-wisp go dander through a field of blue flax randomly, abandonedly
Till all his dots and dashes zipped together, ripped right through their perforations
Like a Zephyr through the Zodiac: the way a quadrille, in its last configuration,
Takes on the branches of a swastika, all ribs and shanks and male and female chromosomes;
Till I heard his voice diminish like the corncrake's in the last abandoned acre –
Scrake tithery lass a laddle nation aries hiber Packie, he'd be

Oblivious to the black-and-tan, leaf-and-muck-bestrewn squatting figure
Whose only obvious features are the almost-blue whites of this two blue eyes, who crabs
From leaf to shadow, mesmerized by olive and burnt umber, the khaki, lion patches
Of his Cockney accent, going hang bang a bleeper doddle doodlebug an asterix.
The Pisces rod of his aerial twitched just now, as if he'd got the message,
That the earth itself was camouflaged. Bluebells carpeted the quivered glades, as,
Three fields away, the tick-tock of the grandmother reassures us with the long extended
Skillet of its pendulum. The wife in all of this is sidelong, poised Egyptian
In her fitted kitchen, though the pictograph is full of Ireland's Own-type details, Virgin
Marys, blue and white plates ranged like punctuation in the lull of memory.
The walls are sentences. We see the three walls and the fourth is glassy us.

Ocularity a moiety blah skiddery ah disparity: the shotgun made a kind of statement, two
Crows falling in a dead-black umlaut. The Lucky Shot, my man would say, and feed
Me yet another yarn: how you find a creeper in the undergrowth and yank,
And a rippled, ripped net shivers through its warp of black-damp earth aroma.
There's ink embedded in his two eyes blue, like children's dots. Listen close
Enough, you'll get the blooping of the retting dam, parturient, as bubbles
Pick and pock a morseway through the stench of rotting flax. For it seemed
The grandmother produced an alarm-clock from her psychobabble handbag.

That was at the check-point. Meanwhile, the trail was beginning to leak and waft
Away, but the sniffer dogs persevered in their rendition of The Fox Chase, lapping
And snuffling up the pepper-black stardust fibrillating on the paper, till
The interview was thwarted by Aquarius, a blue line on the map that was
Contemporaneous with its past. Skirl girn a snaffle birdle girdle on the griddle howlin

Here a squad of black-and-white minstrels wheel in from Stage Right, or rather, they
Are wearing balaklavas, and it only looks like that, their grinning
Toothpaste lips, their rolling whites of eyes, their Tipp-Exed teeth, their Daz forensic
Gloves. They twirl their walking-sticks as thick as guns to marching tunes
That blatter in that fourth green field across the border, upstairs ina tent,
With Capricorn-skin drums and fifes, while Blavatsky hollers through a bullhorn,
Give ye thirty shillins for yer wan poun ten, yer wan poun ten, yer
Fair exchange, they say, sure six of one and half-a-dozen of the brother –
I get the drift of the Bloo in the portable loo, John, like, it's one ping cancels out
The pong, going January, February, March!, April, May, June, July!,

He was blabbing with his Jew-or-jaw's harp finger on his lower lip, when the breech
Of the gun snapped out its breach of the peace. The linen handkerchief had got
A brack in it, somehow, the dots and dashes of some other's red. I tried to pin it down
Just then, or pen it down, but the Lambegs wouldn't let me, and anyway, my thumb
And finger's smeared up to the wrist with Lion ink. My hand is dis-
Located. The unmarked car came quietly, enquiringly, while in a no-go zone
Three streets away, I heard two taxis crabbing, like Gemini in Gethsemane, which
Of them was black: honk parp a bullet billet reverup and harp a ballad
Scrake nithery lou a mackie nice wee niece ah libralassie . . .
Just before I put the thing to bed, I closed a pair of scorpion's inverted commas round it.
Tomorrow I would glance at the decapitated headlines, then flick forward to the Stars.


Ciaran Carson, Selected Poems, Wake Forest University Press, 2001.