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."

October Morning

This pond becomes a skating rink in winter.
Today the sun shines down on tepid water.
A flock of Canada geese sits on the pond,
unmirrored in the blaze of morning light.

Suddenly a motion halves the air.
Wings flutter, flap. Birds vault
into the sky, attain their
cruising height and form a V.

One lone bird honks, remains
upon the water, calls his flock
to find him, to discover what they've
lost. They arc wide, circle back

to pass above the water where he honks.
He sights them like a target, scales the air,
his shadow widening, paling on the pond,
honks and honks and spends his every stroke

to catch them, match their speed, but
they are gone. He circles now, alone
above the pond, then skids into the water.
Whether he mourns for his lost mate,

or for the sight of all with whom he's flown,
or not at all, but honks like any ship's horn
in a fog, one cannot know. Only that when
he flaps his wings to scatter water,

tilts his head back, sounds his piercing cry,
he gazes at a clear, bright, vacant sky.

from All the Money in the World, Salmon Poetry, 1999

 

Angel

Every blade of grass
has its angel
bending over it,
whispering: grow, grow.*

And you, planted
on this planet,
trying to thrive,
what do you know, know?

Only a whisper of wings
spinning wind
through your ears
as you go, go.

*The Talmud

 

Girl Talk
for Lucy na gruaige fada

In summer she wandered barefoot to the town's
soft edge and climbed a fence into pasture land
where off in the distance cows nuzzled grass.
If she sat very still and waited, they
would come, a leisurely, lumbering, loose
circle of flesh drawing nearer, tighter
like a slow-closing net as they advanced.
With blinking eyes large as her tiny fists
they regarded her, half disbelieving
what they saw. Closer and closer they came,
tighter and tighter the net, till she felt
afraid a little, but only a little.
When one of the ladies at last let a
tongue drop sloppily from its greedy mouth
and started to lick the soles of her feet,
she discovered, each time anew as if
it were the first, how rough were those wet pink
tongues, yet how infinitely gentle were
these simple creatures the big world called beasts.

from She Alone, Salmon Poetry, 2006

 

John Menaghan Moonday poetry reading

2007 John Menaghan


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