We’re standing in the tropics
in Grafton St. We’re waiting
for the ibises. We’re the only ones
not running. Here they come,
rising up behind the Palace Theatre
which is now a backpackers,
over the palm trees, the mango trees,
breakfast at Mango Jam and mango
smoothies. They look like Apache
helicopters or a martian squadron.
More and more fly in, hundreds,
a thousand maybe, the excess
of a big country. We love it
and we love the ibises,
the way their black beaks flick
open, the way their long legs click
down and drag, the genius
of their automatic braking system
as they land in the tops of the cycads.
Their dingy wings look like fringed
Victorian lampshades, they make
a roof over the roof of the leaves.
The locals curse and pop up
their umbrellas. Ibis shit hardens
on the footpath and on the parked cars.
coca cola and Bundaberg rum
the spaceship beeper at Rattle’n’Hum
hiya, Kiwi, your pizza is ready
First Remove the Foreign Object from Your Eye
It’s a thin slab of meat
bright pink and shining clean.
The white marks look like lace,
where the ribs have been.
Or like writing.
The Dividing Spoon
Tip the big spoon
from the north to the south
to remove the gristle.
Tip the big spoon
from the south to the north
to remove the fat.
The broth of the fatted calf
tastes so much better after that.
The Sugar Helmet
Athena herself could not have had a better.
Wear it with pride, honey. Keep up that smile.
Tote that load. Walk that mile.
The Language Nest
Ten crows on the road
at the back of your throat.
Another way to make it work.
A Pair of Sifters, 17th century
you and me,
Rathcoola, Co. Cork
the angsarang tree:
in a drought
it’s covered with yellow flowers
the cannonball tree:
I kick one of the balls
and hundreds of army ants swarm out
‘you must never kick things in Singapore
you don’t know who lives there’
the language sings:
the vibrato on the ultimate syllable
like the wobble
of a drop of water
on the white tiling in the bathroom
the metallic ting of it
as we head off to the birdpark:
the scarlet ibis
the mad woman bird that screams
the barn owl, its face like a stopped clock
the hornbill wearing
its yellow plastic casque with scarlet streaks
it looks like a frilled tulip
with its striped zebra cheeks
the huge span of its blue and scarlet cape
the sulphur-crested cockatoo
the disappointed crows that have to learn
a new language