I give an impromptu reading, on request, outside Bushe's Bar, Baltimore, West Cork at around one in the morning, 26 June 2010. The poem I am reading is 'Turnip' from my latest collection Life Monitor (2009).
The boy with the acne at the cash register
didn’t know what the code for turnip was
and had to shout across to the girl
at the cash register on the other side
who shouted back ‘It’s T-U-R’.
The button for TUR on the cash register
was caked with deposits of the ages
and coated with cobwebs, apparently
no one had bought a turnip for centuries.
(The button beside it was for TUT:
the boy king sent to early mummy cloths?)
The lad with the acne looked at me,
pity in his eyes, and asked ‘Is that all?’
I wanted to tell him that turnips
were the salvation of my father
in the hungry thirties, he stole them
from the fields and ate them raw,
only for turnips I might not be here today,
but all I said was ‘Yes, that’s all,’
and the lad pressed the button and I paid
and left with my solid Swede,
which is another name for a turnip
especially in the UK, where the latter
is something different, smaller and white.
A turnip keeps me cheerful in November:
strong-tasting, redolent of contentment
when diced and boiled, buttered and peppered,
it brings a golden comfort in cold weather,
and conjures up in its own selfless way
a feeling of protection and good order,
of sleeping safe and sound in your bed.
I think the world should be run by a turnip.
As a result of the huge royalties I earned from this collection, below you can see me enjoying a holiday in Portugal.
NOT!!! (Well, yes, it is Portugal....)