William Leo Coakley
A Bostonian and an Irishman, I’ve enjoyed reading in public, ever since winning the Discovery series at the New York Poetry Center. As an editor I prepared the first publication of Sean O’Casey’s earliest workman play The Harvest Festival, and I also am a publisher at the small Helikon Press for poetry. My own poems have appeared in magazines like The Nation, the Paris Review, and most recently Hanging Loose.
The call to action
Brought us together at last
In the main square, the seat of power.
As we knew, the guns were ready.
If we die defiantly, foolishly,
If guts run in the gutters again
(When will bloody man ever learn?),
Let the new world remember us
By not repeating the old sins.
“Last Words” was first published in The Recusant.
Death waits outside on the porch
like a dog put out for the night,
softly whining; but he taps his tail happily,
feeling your approach at the door.
On his last day
when we come to visit him,
the dead man is not himself,
except for his large hands
useless at his side
waiting to hold us in our dreams.
I saw you in Mexico last night
(in my dreams)
walking into the sun—
you had lost yourself.
When the police found you,
you wept for hours,
refusing to give your name:
Basta! Basta! I am not who I am.
Now you have left me to this silence
I listen everywhere for your laughter’s echo.
When I open the door,
I expect your shoulders’ strength to greet me,
your turning round, to reassure me.
In the living room, the rug worn by your passage,
I begin to understand the emptiness
death is preparing for me.
At first light, your bed beside me,
I reach out to touch your hair
like a gnat to awaken you—
you are not here.
©2016 William Leo Coakley