The Tuesday Poem: At Newcastle Central

At Newcastle Central

Thomas McCarthy

This train glides in through a cross-hatch of stars,

A brief respite down England’s throbbing spine

This early summer’s night, a casting-off

Of Mayflies, taken away now by the Trans-Pennine

To feed to praying mothers along the banks of the Wear.

We halt where Basil Bunting was much made of,

But not before looking back, in the vain hope,

That a librarian from Hull might have disembarked

With a Charlie Parker LP. You want to get ahead

To our berth under Early Grey, but I hesitate, still,

For I am sure I saw the ghost of Osbert Sitwell

Escaped from Scarborough, now bowing his head

At my copy of Before the Bombardment that I

Bought for a song at a station book-stall in Tynemouth —

But it is a portly gentleman, not unlike the Dalai

Lama, and a host of other Incarnate Lamas, who breathe

Their Durham songs over our unhappy Irish baggage,

Like Lamas blessing babies in the reeds of Dharamsala.

* Thomas McCarthy is one of Ireland’s most respected poets. He was born in Waterford but lives in Cork.


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