Pony by Tony Curtis & David Lilburn

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Pony by Tony Curtis & David Lilburn

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Pony by poet Tony Curtis and printmaker David Lilburn is published by Occasional Press in collaboration with Ballynahinch Castle, Co. Galway, August 2013. 80 pages. Full colour, 45 poems and 29 images.

There is a standard paperback edition (without print) and a limited hardback edition of 130 copies, carrying an original print numbered and signed by David Lilburn and Tony Curtis. 

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Two Poems

After my first visit to a pony show
in Clifden

 
On Getting Advice from Sean Halpenny
I asked the man holding the reins
How much he wanted for his horse,
But he just looked out across the hills
As if considering the sweetness of grass.
Under his cap he had the face of a bird
Sheltering out of the rain.
When I asked Sean
Why the man ignored me,
He said, “You called his pony
A horse. That is like calling
A bodhrán
A drum,
A currach
A boat.
It’s a wonder he didn’t smack you;
I would have.”

 In Foyle’s Hotel, Clifden

“And do you like ponies, Martin?”
“Ay! I do, but not enough to ride one.
They are not like cows or sheep.
A pony is for life, and you have
To feed them when they are old,
And they are old a long time –
Unless you butcher them. And it’s hard
To butcher something with a name like Molly.”

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On Weather
 
The grass froze to white last night.
This morning there’s a skinning wind
Blowing down off the bare back of the hills.
I mentioned the icy frost to Dan’s pony,
Molly, but she just looked at me
As if she was thinking to herself:
You’d want to be here in the deep of winter:
You can’t open your mouth<
                    For the wind;
You can’t button your coat
                    For the rain;
You can’t see the hills
                    For the mist.
And the worst of it is,
I have to stand here
                    On this bleak bog
Like a miserable sentry
                    Guarding a wall,
When only a crazed fool
                    Would steal a stone.
If I had been thinking,
I wouldn’t have brought up
The white frost and skinning wind;
I would have avoided the weather altogether.
And then? What else would I have spoken of
To a Connemara pony on a chilly April morning?

Old Books and Riverbanks
 
I asked Dan Magee
What he thought
Ponies smelt of.
“Piss and grass,” he said,
“Though if my mother asked me,
I’d say a small bird’s nest
After the eggs have hatched
And the birds have flown.”
I asked his wife the same question.
She said, “Dan’s breath after
A plate of grilled kidneys –
A slight urine tinge on the tongue.”
“Although,” she added, “in summer
A pony can smell of hay,
Wild strawberries,
Honey and hedgerows,
Or a crumpled featherbed
Abandoned by lovers,
Or the feather pillows
Where their heads lay.”
I asked an old woman
Who keeps Connemara ponies
Out there somewhere
Along the Errislannan Road
What they smell like?
She worded
And wondered.
“Old churches,” she said,
“Like the creaky ‘Star of the Sea’
That faces into the wind at Omey.
Go inside,” she said,
“Sure, it’s always open,
Close your eyes,
Breathe in,
And it is like you’re
Standing beside a pony.
Blessed creatures. Faithful.
Sure, didn’t Jesus himself
Ride one all over the Holy Land.
Do you know your Bible at all?”
When her granddaughter,
Amelia, joined us, I asked
Her what ponies smelt of.
“Dust,” she said, “fairy dust.”
Then I asked a small boy.
He said, “The men’s toilet
After the big match:
Guinness, farts and wet grass.”
And me? I think ponies
Smell of old books, riverbanks,
Bogs, and wool just washed
And hung out in the wind to dry.