I was born in Cork, Ireland. Since graduating from University College Cork, I have lived in London, working as a teacher and educational manager. I have published articles and poetry, and a play, Closing Time, which I co-authored, was staged at the Battersea Arts Centre, London. I published a novel Nidiya and The Children of The Revolution in 2010, and a book of humorous short stories, Zeno & Lu, came out in 2014 and is now available at Amazon http://www.amazon.co.uk/Zeno-Lu-Harvey-OLeary/dp/1785104101/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1421615393&sr=8-1&keywords=zeno+and+lu
A Table on the Beach
Covered entirely in white cloth
With neither top nor legs showing
The table looks curiously dressed.
At the four corners stand four chairs,
Evenly spaced, backs ramrod straight:
Four soldiers awaiting inspection.
Medusa, sea anemone,
Fixed to a rock or floating free,
Dances alone for everything
Is subject to its savage sting.
Still and transparent as water
The shrimp doesn’t move a whisker,
But waits, a patient water cat
Set to pounce on a water rat.
The crab never one to settle,
Readies for defence or battle;
In movement seems to dodge and flee
An invisible enemy.
Can a starfish really be
A living breathing entity?
It looks more like a water toy,
The play thing of a girl or boy.
Sea horse merely drifts with the tide.
Climb on its back and take a ride.
You will go nowhere for the fish
Moves with the purpose of a wish.
Goldfish looking out of their bowl
Believe that they would have the whole
World to swim in could they but pass
Through the harder water of glass.
The grilled fish is recommended
But the waiter suggests the guests
Might first like to have an hors d’oeuvre.
In the centre of the table
A candle’s black flame flickers
On silverware and bone china.
‘For my next trick, all I need is a table and a chair,’
The conjuror announced.
‘The stable table which has remained
Since the dawn of time unchanged.’
The audience were unimpressed.
The conjuror smiled, nodded to the Gods, and behind him
The lights slowly came up
On two things covered with white sheets,
One looked like a chair and the other, a table.
‘It’s only a chair – nothing but a chair!’ someone shouted.
‘Yes, it is a chair,’ replied the conjuror,
‘But a unique chair, a remarkable chair, a chair
The like of which has never been seen.’
And, before the audience could dismiss his claim,
He pulled the cover away
To reveal a perfectly ordinary wooden chair
Its front legs crossed,
Which made it look almost human.
The conjuror snapped his fingers
And the chair uncrossed its legs.
He wriggled his fingers, sprinkling invisible magic dust,
And it went up on one hind leg
Like a ballerina,
Revolved, hopped a little about the stage,
Tapping a secret code of its own;
Then, deciding its turn was about done
And not one to outstay its welcome,
Exited, still hoping on one leg,
To the audience’s astonishment and dismay.
Now it was the turn of the table.
The lights dimmed, an unseen drum rolled,
The conjuror crossed to the table, took the edges
Of the large white drape in both hands
And, teasing the audience, slowly, ever so slowly, pulled away
To reveal nothing but a perfectly ordinary kitchen table.
The magician raised his hand,
Reminded the audience of the chair.
They settled, and, despite the odd rumble of discontent, waited…
And waited…and then
As their patience was about to give way
Something begin to stir
Inside the table.
Commanded by the conjuror,
The table began to climb off the ground,
Up it rose
To cheering and thunderous applause,
In mid air
Directly above the conjuror.
He acknowledged the audience’s response
With both arms outstretched.
And that would have been it.
The performance would have been over
But for the table
Which suddenly buckled,
From its perch and came
On the head of the man
On the stage.
The laughter, the cheering, the applause
The table, having landed on its legs, rocked from side to side
Above the outstretched body of the conjuror,
Then, as if furious by the response,
It suddenly split asunder,
Shooting into the air
Shards of crockery, splinters of glass, a flash of silver,
Which, like a shower of arrows, flew
Over the heads of the baffled orchestra
Into the panic-stricken auditorium.
©2015 Harvey O'Leary