I wrote a poem. Well I think it’s a poem, I’m not sure. I don’t really knjow what a poem is. Anyway I wrote it on my way home from O’Bheal, the poetry night in The Long Valley. They were launching the book Looking at the Stars, edited by Kerrie O’ Brien for which the proceeds were going to helping the homeless.
In O’Bheal there is an exercise where you write a poem that contains some words that are provided.
The words provided were: red, river, homeless, horse and heart.
I got the idea for the poem when the words ‘red’ and ‘river’ were chosen because it’s one of my favourite westerns and Monty Clift is one of my favourite actors. And Sinatra did throw him out of a party for kissing a man.
Montgomery Clift is Homeless
Montgomery Clift is homeless.
It all happened so quickly.
One minute he’s celebrating the wrap-up
of the film Red River in his flat on Gerald Griffin Street.
The next, Frank Sinatra has punched him in the face
and thrown him out the door
because he was kissing a handsome extra.
So he finds himself riding his trusty horse Tonto
down Shandon Street in the middle of the night.
He gives pause at the river and turns on to Pope’s Quay,
where he passes the dark hours in an archway.
His only consolation, the palm of his hand on Tonto’s warm flank,
is the steady heartbeat
under the hair and the hide and the flesh and blood.
Dadum, dadum, dadum…
Montgomery Clift is hungry.
He spends his day walking up and down Cornmarket Street
and on to Daunt’s Square.
His feet are sore – they stole his boots and his saddle.
He begs for food or money for food but nobody sees him.
People think he’s a wet plastic bag, flapping on the footpath.
People think Tonto is a shadow on the wall.
He tries to sleep in the company of monolithic buildings
on John F. Kennedy Quay,
his only consolation, the steady thrum
of big ships’ engines at the quayside. He dreams of himself
being unborn – being sucked back up inside his mother
in a wash of blood and slime.
Placenta’d there in her womb again, listening to her heartbeat.
Dadum, dadum, dadum…
Montgomery Clift is dying.
He’s lying on some waste ground, under a tall railway bridge
on Lower Glanmire Road.
He is cold – they stole his coat and his hat.
He is alone – they stole Tonto too.
He is still, but if you look into his eyes,
right into the pale blue of his irises, can you see movement there?
Two red leaves have stuck on to his face, one here on his cheek,
one here on his temple.
His only consolation is the sound of trains passing over him, high above,
back and forth through the dark air.
He knows how many carriages there are in each train by the number of thuds
their wheels make, as they cross the bridge.
Dadum, dadum, dadum, dadum, dadum, dadum.