Patrick Deeley – Petrosmatoglyphs & Werewolf



This footprint marks the landing of an incredible hulk

of a saint who bounded, centuries ago, clear

across the bay.  Or there’s the devil’s hoof stamped

on granite, the sandal of a warrior king’s horse,

the hollow left by a hermit’s hand, the divot of kneecap

or elbow plunging him into the gear of his prayer.

Life, we agree, must have felt larger then, the wilderness

greening a path to every door, the cave or mountain

conceivable as the first child, the oldest mother.

But tonight, with hay and tar smells pricking the air,

and moon making for the only clock, we find ourselves

yielding to traceries – lip, ear, breast, buttock –

left by two long-lost, runaway lovers on a bed of rock.



This thin pale man, this poor gom who could pass

for one of us, sees through his window

the full moon sail in an optical illusion above clouds


and river and half-built hotel accommodating

only a stumped crane.  The moon’s eyeful

works on him, building and bundling his ailment


into a dream of a super animal.  He exits

to the street, craving delectation beyond the sensation

of the news ‘as it happens’ on-screen, the ravages


of flood, fireball, earthquake contending

in slow motion.  He inhales the dregs of living in all

its shallow burials.  The wind gusting seeds


and freshness tickles his face with a promise

to overcome everything – traffic smoke, oil-slick, even

the river’s chlorinated conscience.  His fingers


send up a manhole cover for the moon’s laugh.

He teeters on the edge of astonishment,

of scaring himself, whose pelt – if we could touch it –


seems flecks, seems shivers, seems gentleness.

A thunderstorm starts him zig-zagging.

His odoriferous delights scatter; his limbs slobber


and steam.  The moon abandons him.  Long-horned

lorry lights close.  Knocked clear, he stiffens,

curled naked in the ditch where he will be found


in time to make the early edition.  Snapped, captioned

‘The man who thought he was a werewolf’,

with just a few specks of blood freckling his nose.



Patrick Deeley is a poet and children’s writer born in Loughrea, County Galway.  Groundswell: New and Selected Poems, is the latest of his six collections with Dedalus Press.  His memoir, The Hurley Maker’s Son, is published by Transworld/Doubleday in April 2016.

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