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CHUCK KRUGER

 

Chuck Kruger

Chuck grew up in the Finger Lakes of upstate NY. In protest against the Vietnam War, he and his wife, Nell, moved from St. Louis to Switzerland in 1966, where he worked as a teacher of literature at an international school. They purchased a farm on Cape Clear Island, Co. Cork, in 1986, where they moved permanently in 1992. He’s won the Bryan MacMahon Short Story Competition ’03, The Dubliner Short Story Contest ’02; the “How do I love thee?” ’04 Poetry Competition (UK); the Shinrone Poetry Festival ’02; and the Cork Literary Review’s 2000 & 1998 Short Story Competitions. His poems have appeared in The Aisling (featured poet in ’02), Books Ireland, The Burning Bush, The Cork Literary Review, Matrix (NZ), Northeast (USA), Painted Bride Quarterly (USA), Poetry Ireland Review, Reality, The Recorder (USA), Revival, The SHOp, Southword, The Stinging Fly, west47, Wild Ireland. In 2005 a second collection of his short stories, Between a Rock, was published byBradshaw Books. In 2008 a collection of his poems, entitled Sourcing, was also published by Bradshaw. His book Cape Clear Island Magic, published by The Collins Press, was first issued in 1994 and reissued in ’95 and ’99; in 2008 the Cape Co-op published an up-dated version. He’s a regular on RTE’s Seascapes, Sunday Miscellany, and the Quiet Quarter (until it recently shut down).

 

 

 

Buzz and Squawk and So It Goes

 

From behind my back

    bursts a grouchy two-note squawk

that so swivels me

    I have to go east, old man, not west,

to rest my eyes on the chest

    and white-ring neck of the lord

    cock pheasant proclaiming himself to herself

                       from atop the royal dry-stone wall

                       between our neighbour’s farm and me.

Wherever whoever she is

    is clearly

                       loudly

                                 proudly

    somewhere in his domain.

 

Through scope I watch scarlet wattles jiggle,

    ear tufts twitch,

                       and hear the whirr of wing-

                                 flopping that follows

                                 hard upon the crowing display

                                 of what I too was once about

                                 in my own brazen way,

you know, back when

    those other swivelling days

                       began.

 

From my vantage point, once he disappears

    into his kingdom of come,

I peer north, and there, below the shingle

    before the priest’s eminently empty house,

                       stands a solitary grey heron.

I zero in on her, and she,

    if she she is,

                       simply stands there in the shallow calmness

                                 of a quiet April sea.

Occasionally she seems to swallow,

    as the top of her neck bulges out

                       halfway to her beak,

                       and then returns

                                 to supple subtle pipe-stem throat.

For a quarter of an hour not a peep,

    not an attack

                       upon a sprat

                                 or prawn,

    just this paragon

                       of patience,

                                 there,

                                          waiting.

Two steps slow-motion forward,

    and again

                       she’s there,

                                 waiting,

and I see how raw-rich Willy boy

    could have come upon the philosophy

                       he bequeathed his momentary man:

                                 “The readiness is all.”

 

And then the buzz,

    the buzz of busy bumblebee

                       about my ankles.

Up he angles, up, fast tight rambunctious circles

    before my now callused knees,

but when he starts to whiz around my face,

    wind from wings against my cheeks,

                       I shake my head,

                                 flap arms—

                                          and he’s gone

                                          into the garden,

                                                    a buzzed off buddy.

 

I’ve been frisked and set free

    by a guard of natural luxury.

And then I wonder, who’s catching up on me?

    Ah, that old grey crow perched in what we call

                       our apple tree?

What conclusions might he reach

    if he dares to eat that peach

    if he even needs to bother?

 

I hear another double squawk:

    His lordship sits atop

                       the same old wall.

For him too, I gather, “the readiness is all”.

 

Buzz and squawk and so it goes

    as I swivel my way around

    on this blessing called the ground.

 

 

©2010 Chuck Kruger

 

 

Author Links

 

Chuck Kruger home page

Kruger in the MLC Writers Index

Video of Kruger reading 'Sister Skellig'

Landing Places: Immigrant Poets in Ireland

 

 

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