Poetry – The Tao of Grass

The Tao of Grass

Ponies pray to the earth.
Morning and evening
They bow their heads
To the grass.


Connemara pony by David Milburn

Like Cistercian monks,
Theirs is a silent order.
Occasionally, a prayer will
Whinny up like plain chant.

Of course
The small birds know
The ponies’ prayers

I have seen a wren
Standing on the back of a pony
Sing a song so sweet
I know it is beyond him.

It is a tune stolen
From the ponies’ prayers.
Just a fragment.
What this little bird remembers.

I can only imagine
The pool of song
From where
This melody comes.

From: Pony by Tony Curtis, illustrated by David Lilburn published by Occasional Press.

Still Life With Pony

You could paint it yourself:

A white cottage is sunk into the mountain.Cottage Mayo. Credit Siobhan Knox
A river is falling to the sea. There are two otters
At play and a grey heron watching,
Waiting for foolish salmon, lost in
River thoughts, to swim into its gaze.
Then there’s the bog: a splash of greens and browns.
The dome of the sky, a kettle grey. And under it,

A Connemara pony standing down on the shore
As if waiting for a spell to magic it back through
The rolling waves, back to the place its fathers came from.
I often wonder what calamity, what sudden happening
Made their Prince, their rider, put down his wand
And walk back into the mist without them.

From: Pony by Tony Curtis, illustrated by David Lilburn published by Occasional Press.

Tending the Dead

He had mended the tumbled wall in the graveyard
put stone back on stone, cut down the brambles,
replaced the wooden gate with bolted iron,
weeded and cut the grass right up close to the beds.
His sleeves had even cleaned the fallen headstones.
Seamus Molloy, closer to God than most, did all
this work. A tall, quiet man, he likes tending the dead.


Irish graveyard

Yesterday, he was working on the wall as I passed.
I nodded. He did something incompatible with Seamus:
he spoke. “Hear that?” But all I heard was
an emptiness in the trees. “I hear nothing, Seamus.”
“That’s right, and it is the first time in years
they have no bone to pick with me. Sweet isn’t it, how
quietly the dead sleep when they know they’re not forgotten?”

From: Folk by Tony Curtis published by Arc Publications (UK)
Tony Curtis was born in Dublin in 1955. He studied literature at the University of Essex and Trinity College, Dublin.  He is an experienced facilitator of poetry and creative writing workshops with both adults and children and is a regular contributor at the Clifden Arts Festival. In 1993, his poem The Dowser and the Child won the Poetry Ireland/Friends Provident National Poetry Competition, while These Hills won the Book Stop Poetry Prize. In 2003 he was awarded the Varuna House Exchange Fellowship to Australia. His new collection ‘Approximately in the Key of C’ (published by Arc Publications (UK) will be launched at the Clifden Festival in September. He hope to visit Australia in November.