poem index

White Water

John Montague
for Line McKie

The light, tarred skin
of the currach rides
and receives the current, 
rolls and responds to
the harsh sea swell. 

Inside the wooden ribs
a slithering frenzy; a sheen
of black-barred silver-
green and flailing mackerel:
the iridescent hoop
of a gasping sea trout. 

As a fish gleams most
fiercely before it dies,
so the scales of the sea-hag
shine with a hectic
putrescent glitter:

luminous, bleached—
white water—
that light in the narrows
before a storm breaks.

Copyright © 2005 by John Montague. From Drunken Sailor. Reprinted with permission of Wake Forest University Press.

John Montague

by this poet

poem

for Lawrence Sullivan

There are days when 
one should be able 
to pluck off one's head 
like a dented or worn 
helmet, straight from 
the nape and collarbone 
(those crackling branches!)

and place it firmly down 
in the bed of a flowing stream. 
Clear, clean, chill currents 
coursing and spuming
poem

for Elizabeth

1
Poetry is a weapon, and should be used,
though not in the crudity of violence.
It is a prayer before an unknown altar,
a spell to bless the silence.

2
There is a music beyond all this,
beyond all forms of grievance,
where anger lays its muzzle down
into the lap of silence.

3
Or