The Ofi Press Magazine

International Poetry and Fiction from Mexico City

4 Poems Published
 

By Colin Carberry, Canada/Ireland/Mexico

 Accompanying Artwork by Verónica Gerber Bicecci, Mexico

(Published in Issue 7)

THE TROUBLES

 

I missed them once, those tense demotic days

when we re-fought the old wars in the snug

of every rundown pub; those magic days

when we wuz roight gud mates; when every wrong

 

could be righted with a timely terrace rant

and a Bushmills neat. It hardly ever came

to blows, and even then it never went

past yellow card/‘parity of esteem’

 

of our sitzkrieg: two pints each as goal posts;

the barman, referee. I loved the sideways

stealth, the vicious give and take of those

creeping come-on attacks (for Saxon read

 

‘Limey prick’; for Celt, ‘Bog-Irish bastard’)

with anything that rhymed and gave offence.

And the lies, they were brilliant! You once told

four spectators that your dad played defense

 

for Leeds in ’66, but still managed

to score – from forty years out, I believe?

When they heard my uncle was Georgie Best,

the Belfast Boy, they wouldn’t let us leave.

 

Then take it home, the wee hours argument,

our chants echoing deep into overtime …

Till harsh words in Ireland sparked the blow-out,

and our habitual exhibition game

 

escalated into a full-blown black

propaganda and dirty tricks campaign:

poison-tipped barb borrowed barb, as the mask

slipped amidst the gregarious smoke-screen,

 

and we were mired fast in the implausibly un-

deniable zone of injury time –

beyond us the barman’s half-heard, Come on

now, lads. Have yiz no homes at all. It’s time …

 

Whoever’s to blame for the stress and strife

we caused one another, when the whistle

blew on our endless friendly we were offside,

the tally for all our troubles: Nil-Nil.

--

 Colin Carberry was born in Toronto and raised in Ireland. He is the author of the poetry collections The Crossing (Bearing Press, 1998), The Green Table (Exile, 2003) and Ceasefire in Purgatory (Luna, 2007), and is the translator of Love Poems (Biblioasis, 2011), as well as an earlier volume of Jaime Sabines’s verse.  His own poetry has been translated into many languages.  Colin has read from his work on radio and television, and at book fairs, literary festivals and universities in Bosnia-Herzegovina, Canada, Ireland, Mexico, the United States, and Serbia.  He founded and organizes the Linares International Literary Festival.

 

THE WAR

for Goran Simic

 

I linger outside your old apartment

long past midnight, listening to the rain shed

tears for those shell and sniper tore apart 

looking for water or loaves of stale bread.

How in that dark time you managed to sing,

craft beauty from carnage by candlelight,

when the wind’s whistle was an incoming

mortar round roaming unseen in the night,

and stay sane is beyond me. I’m alive,

you shrug, but the black flicker of sorrow

and loss in your eyes even when you laugh 

hardest will burn undimmed, for well you know,

Yugoslav poet, that for those who bore

witness the war would never be over.

 

 

     WHENEVER YOU FEEL LIKE DYING

(after Jaime Sabines)

 

Whenever you feel like dying

hide your head under the pillow

and count four thousand sheep.

Go two days without eating

and you’ll see how beautiful life is:

meat, beans, bread.

Go without woman: you’ll see.

                                        

Whenever you feel like dying

don’t go kicking up a big stink: just die

and leave it at that.

 

 

ACTIVITIES OF THE DEAD

    from a Cambridge Preparation for the TOEFL Test book

 

Problem No 7. Point of View

Activities of the Dead

(The instructions read):

 

In all patterns, avoid

using present verbs to refer to

activities of the dead.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The illustrations for these poems are by Verónica Gerber Bicecci (Mexico) and come from her project of Diagrams of Silence. Your can find out more about her work here: http://www.veronicagerberbicecci.net/