Harvey O’Leary was born in Cork, Ireland. Since graduating from University College Cork, he has lived in London, working as a teacher and educational manager. He has published articles and poetry, and a play, Closing Time, which he co-authored, was staged at the Battersea Arts Centre, London. He published his first novel Nidiya and The Children of The Revolution in 2010.
are just created
penguin, dolphin, giraffe, bear (polar, panda),koala, hummingbird:
penguin (formally dressed for an awkward first date)
giraffe (design based on the plan for a cricket,
gone terribly wrong)
panda bear (lazy over eater, indulged for the sake
of the children)
polar bear (lumbering survivor, just discernible against all that whiteness)
gazelle (shy, watchful).
There are others –
elephant, sea lion perhaps, slow moving sloth, tortoise emerging from winter hibernation, some breeds of dog:
all seem delightful.
what it must be like to be lost among a million flamingos.
On the sandy shore in the cold light,
In the dreamtime,
Singing your world into existence,
And the sand twinkled with a million eyes.
You were then silenced
For the cacophony of the waves,
The drilling tide and the falling rain
Gave rise to sea music
No instrument could play, no voice sing,
To herald the arrival
Out of the sea
Of a vision so incredible
Your heart did battle
With your ribs.
Shrouded in sea mist, in the blues and whites of the air,
The figure hovered in the air
Above where you lay
And so to this audience
You sang the sea into existence.
A long time ago there was much
Less water than there is today;
Yet the water teemed with so much
Life that it would take forever
To count. Water was so happy;
It couldn’t keep still, but moved
About ceaselessly, flowed and ebbed,
Sprung and fell back upon itself
With the delight of a dolphin.
One day, however, a quarrel
Broke out among the animals
Which, hitherto, had lived in peace.
A fierce struggle ensued until
Finally the defeated
Were driven out onto the land.
The water was so upset that
It burst into floods of salty tears.
Centuries were to pass before
The water ceased to cry, and by
Then much of the Earth’s surface
Was covered with its weeping.
Sorrow gave way to anger as
The water felt bereft of its
Creatures. Its waves lashed at the land,
Great whirlwinds rose out of its depths
Scattering storm clouds that rained down
On the Earth; rivers and lakes
Swollen with rain flooded their banks;
Geysers sprung from under the ground.
And the vast bodies of water,
The seas and the oceans, rolled
And roll landward, to reclaim all
That has been lost. Water knows that
One day it will succeed and all
The creatures that were taken
Will once again live in its depths.
The riddle of the light and mist
Present a double, man or woman,
The whiskered chin, the wrinkled breast,
Ugly because once beautiful,
Who holds aloft a black umbrella.
Wings of a bat stitched together.
The pelt of a lamb about its throat,
The bloody carcass at its feet.
The tilted umbrella sends
Shadows back across its face,
Drawn like curtains to reveal
A weeping yellow jaundiced eye
And the yellows of bone and teeth
And a touch of red at the lips
For in the corner of the mouth
Wagging, as from a piece of fruit,
The wriggling blind worm of tongue.
The spotlight of a harvest moon
Shines on the stage of a lagoon
Where larvae rises to the surface,
To a floating piece of pumice
Which drifts away to colonise
Other wrecks from the wreck that lies
On the reef bed. Now, leave the sea
To crab and sea anemone,
To grey shark feeding near the shore,
Polyp and sponge stuck to the floor,
To seaweed drifting in the current,
To coral’s growing monument,
To its white skeleton of stone
For now the lunar cycle’s done.
Leave the coral to its colony;
Leave the shallow, moon-lit water;
Go and live far, far from the sea,
And at low tide even farther.
The leaf on the twig
Of the tree that is felled
Still stirs in the wind
The surface a ripple,
Rippling with falling water,
Strives to recover.
Limp, wet with streaming spray,
Leaves hang over the water
Like drops of water.
Falling, floating, flying, fashion
Speckled mobile space.
Gone, everything gone.
The trees’ sudden flurry of leaves,
Like rain, like bare-branched grief.
A branch, clustered with leaves,
Leaning out, straight as a rod,
Challenges the air.
These precious leaves…
How we cut our fingers
On their sharp edges.
But let the leaves settle
For they have been gathered
Into a loose pile.
The door is opening
And the pages of a book
Flutter a little.
©2014 Harvey O'Leary