George Moore

Antarctic Explorer

At the heart of the ridiculous, the sublime.

—Derek Mahon, “Antarctic”


Never stare into the whiteness
they had said or your blood will slow


and your mind curl round some memory
of fire that cannot be fed and may become


the memory of a child’s future
but with gray features whiskers a nose thin hair


Inside our tent the heavy wet wool freezes
thaws and freezes to take on human form


a man’s sweat becomes his personal weather
time’s clock pack ice and century-old snow


What brings us here to this edgeless edge
furthermost wastes of a wrecked planet


one step beyond where another has been
serving ourselves up on this great white plate


This is not a land of flesh and blood
but a plain of ghosts and dull-noon shadows


a placeless place where the wind
lives in the bones and days stretch like taffy


Whatever mad closeness of society
drove us to extremes here you are simple


walk out into the void to be eaten
by the whiteness and never feel again


simply to be praised by men
mad with the loose ends of all their disasters


smiling for the camera
as if they’d won


The Others

Great grandfather fled the potato famine
eating its way through the cliffs of Binevenagh


Or was it love he fled or love he ran to
something eating away inside him at seventeen


when shipping out of the Glasgow link

I can see his hand on the rail but not his face or his eyes


raised as he bends his back at the foot of Slieve Gallion
a Protestant with a strong love of God no doubt


in the plowed fields that were his saints
his cross a mouldboard on backbone and the rich peat


cuttings off Ballynahoe Bog
And then all of us others he would lend to the world


without promises or guarantees
who carry those borders in our blood


and share them at arm’s length on a weary sea
where we gather ourselves to greet us coming


A Late Poem for James Liddy

This is where we lay out the flowers
on the page with dumb letters silent marks


measuring the length of your days
like a string from an old shoe or a pencil


you have chewed through to the bone
and is that enough is that kosher


for an old Irish hound down in the mouth
at a Portland bar in 1970


singing the slosh songs of being away
and loving the irreverent


for its untold blessings and
the freedom to love who you will


The flowers wilt in the beer jar
the boy’s sister throws up again


and everyone comes round to sing
as the nights grow weary with adventures


Vodka and gin and screwdrivers
you loved the sound of and all the college funds


running a queer poet’s parties
a block from the occultist college president


But you were not old and we were
so terribly young and Baudelaire


played his dangerous games on our chemistry
his irreverent tongue in our innocent ears


And so welcome back into the world James
the dangers are still the same


when I stumble on your grave
it seems the party has just begun

George Moore’s poetry appears in The Atlantic, Poetry (Chicago), Orion, North American Review, Colorado Review, Arc, Osiris, and the Dublin Review. His collections include Saint Agnes Outside the Walls (FutureCycle Press, 2016) and Children’s Drawings of the Universe (Salmon Poetry, 2015). Nominated for six Pushcart Prizes and a finalist for The National Poetry Series, he taught for thirty years at the University of Colorado, and presently lives on the south shore of Nova Scotia.

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