Patrick Ramsey: Two Poems

from Reflections on The Great Defeat, no 17

Tired of trudging on a road of ancestral bones from one worthless place to another, I fell down on the snow-covered verge secretly waiting for my mother to pick me up. Or at least exhort me to make one last effort to get up. ‘Stopping is not for us. Do you not see? Howl like a banshee all you want – they don’t care. No one is taking notes. Do you hear me? Our portion is but to forebear.’

Minutes passed. And then hours. This time she didn’t drag me up, though I just lay there helpless beneath a bowl of snowy grey sky, watching from the other corner of my eye others much like me slouching into their own swirly dusks.

And I thought: maybe this time she had had enough of my tomfoolery? Maybe she had died? I mean really died. Discovered yet another thing for us both to forebear?


in memory of Brian Rothwell

Though dead thirty-odd years, I think of you in your top room in University Square, sipping your seasonal glass of Akevitt (lets overlook the irony), watching the darkening autumns of the streets below, students ignoring the red lights and falling in love with someone, or something, or, for the lucky few, all things, the lights of the passing cars, commuters scurrying for their trains and the familiarities of home, the burning lights of reading rooms and lecture halls and – cliché enough I’m sure – the leaves swirling to their own death so prettily.

And thinking of you, I think of how we cannot live without the poor old scorned pathetic fallacy. How can we explain ourselves except through the world using our words more carefully, more dexterously, more beautifully than we ever could?

Now – shockingly older than you ever were – I wish you were up there observing this world still … the red lights, the students, the commuters, the burning lights, the trees. Believe me, they are all sadder somehow for the loss of you.

— by Patrick Ramsey

Copyright © 2024, by Patrick Ramsey. All Rights Reserved.

Patrick Ramsey was born in 1962 in New Jersey but was raised in Belfast, Northern Ireland. Educated at Queen’s University, Belfast, he worked mainly in publishing and bookselling. He co-founded and ran a small literary publishing house, Lagan Press, for over twenty years and is now retired. As a younger poet, his work featured in important anthologies such as Trio Poetry Introductions 6, The New Younger Irish Poets and The Map Maker’s Colours: New Poetry from Northern Ireland. He is returning to writing after a thirty-year silence.

Patrick Ramsey: Two Poems
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