This is a book of poetry about Migrants,
and in particular (for aren’t we all migrants
here in one way or another) about the author
and a character called “Mad Sweeney
from seventh century Irish history-cum-myth:
a wanderer,
a bird-man,
loose in Canada at the end
of the twentieth century.

Betwixt and Between

Sweeney went mad and took to the air, like a bird, in fulfillment of Ronan’s curse.

To-day I am Sweeney’s hag:
I bear him the itch of questions
about the eerie mist, the incessant waves,
the land he flounders over,
and whether the shape of a stone
in the fingers matters.

Cursed, proud Sweeney turned
into a winged itinerant
driven with the clouds.
Now, like a stunt-man, bird-man,
he clings outside my window,
presses his face to the glass of my speeding train.

Where will you wander to-day, I ask.
What child will you talk to
or what wild spirit will you woo?
Will you find me again this evening
when out of the brooding dark
a slant moon peers?

Sweeney, you trail centuries,
while I move through minutes.
Can you tell me what death is,
that comes in a second?
I ride him with questions.
Surely we live on the riddle’s rim?