Poems men should know – part 4 – Reasons to be cheerful by Joseph O’Connor

Reasons to be cheerful: Novelist Joseph O’Connor sees good in the Irish recession. This is from 2010 but still a great poem.


(After Ian Dury)
Lately we’re worried. We need advice.
We were Boomtown rats. Now we’re poor church mice.
Fretful, anxious, broke and fearful
But still –
there’s reasons to be cheerful:
Conor McPherson. Daniel Day Lewis.
Sebastian Barry readin’ to us.
Morrissey. Carolan. Marina Carr.
The Beach Boys. Mozart. Rory Gallagher on guitar.
Van Morrison’s Moondance. Séamus Heaney.
Brendan Kennelly. Paul Henry. Puccini.
Aul fellas in a pub drinking pints and blathering.
Flann O’Brien. Anne Enright’s ‘The Gathering’.
Brittas, the Burren, the Cliffs of Moher,
The Green Glens of Antrim; Cul Aodh; Gweedore,
The slow-rolling waves of Galway Bay.
U2 singing ‘It’s a Beautiful Day’.
The Gate, the Abbey, Miss Pauline McLynn.
The Project; Rough Magic; Cork Dry Gin.
Robbie Keane. Colm Tóibín.
Office romances in Stephen’s Green.
Elvis singin’ Blue Suede Shoes
When there ain’t no cure for the summertime blues.
McCabe, McGahern, bank holiday Monday.
Dublin and Wexford in Croker this Sunday.
Roddy Doyle and REM.
John Kelly’s programme on Lyric FM.
The dawn in Connemara, the cliffs of Dooneen,
And Sean Keane from Galway singing Revenge for
You may travel far, far from your own native home,
But where would you find a Patrick Kavanagh poem;
Sweet treasure for all, if only we want it.
A canal-bank walk we take for granted.
No need for frenzy. No need for fury.
Sweet Gene Vincent by Ian Dury.
Turn it up loud, play the air guitar.
Jimi Hendrix. Johnny Marr.
Hugo Hamilton’s book ‘Disguise’.
Deirdre Madden. Sunset skies.
Brahms. The Beat. Dún Laoghaire pier.
Nelson Mandela’s 91st year.
Muddy Waters singin’
‘Got My Mojo Workin’.
Read a page of James Joyce.
Read a poem of Paul Durcan.
Read Marian Keyes or Samuel Beckett
Or Edna O’Brien, or the prayer-book, shure FECK it,
We may as well do it since the books are cheap
And they can’t stop us reading. So read it and weep.
Binchy or Banville, whatever you feel.
Dermot Bolger. Brian Friel.
See it ain’t all bad, there’s still reason to chuckle:
Des Bishop speaking the cúpla focail.
Dara O’Briain. Jimmy Magee. ‘Aprés Match’ on RTÉ.
So Leinster House is out of touch
But whoever’s in office don’t matter that much.
Recession, depression, the figures, the facts,
But there’s stuff they can’t touch, there’s stuff they can’t tax.
Oh they would if they could, but they can’t, so they’re piqued.
They’re hurried, they’re worried, they’re fazed, they’re freaked,
Cos we laugh up our sleeve at their pride and ambition,
We do what we want and don’t ask their permission
Or be told how to vote by irrelevant fellas.
Listen to Martha Reeves and the Vandellas
Singin ‘Summer’s the time for dancing in the streets’
And we’ll all still be here when they lose their seats.
When your daddy was young there were hungry years.
There were slums in the cities, there were emigrant tears,
So the boom is a bust but we’re not going back
So don’t get depressed. It’s not that black.
Yeah, we live in a country where it rains and it pours
But we don’t have tsunamis, we don’t have wars.
We don’t have a famine, a huge national debt,
Fianna Fáil don’t water-board us – at least not yet.
We got Marian Finucane, the Phoenix Park.
The lions in the zoo and they roaring after dark.
We’re not living in England at the time of emergence
Of a deeply troubling Tory resurgence.
Not up there with your Swedens,
Your Denmarks, your Hollands,
But it’s a free country, kind of,
Thanks to Michael Collins,
And the provos are gone, it’s peace in our homes.
And Martin McGuinness is writin’ poems.
And the Reverend Ian, notwithstanding his pride,
Has discovered his softer, feminine side.
There’s a pain in the wallet, a strain on the purse
But all things considered – it could be worse.
We’re a shook-up, mixed-up, post-Tiger Nation
Somewhat in need of consolation.
But look around, you’ll see it’s here.
A kiss at midnight on Barna Pier.
Our loved ones. Families. Our kids. Our mates.
The National Library’s exhibition on Yeats.
The Electric Picnic. Don’t be downhearted,
George bloody Bush will soon be departed!
Glendalough in summer. The National Museum.
We got reasons to be cheerful –
You just have to see ’em.
– Joseph O’Connor. Check out his website: http://www.josephoconnorauthor.com/

Categories Ireland, PoetryTags , , , ,

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