Derek Mahon


Griffin Poetry Prize 2009
International Shortlist

Book: Life on Earth

Poet: Derek Mahon

Publisher: Gallery Press

Click here to read and listen to an excerpt.

Derek Mahon reads Dirigibles

Dirigibles, by Derek Mahon


We who used to drift
superbly in mid-air,
each a giant airship
before ‘the last war’,

shrink to a soft buzz
about financial centres
surprising visitors,
hackers and bean counters

in cloud-flown highrises.
Cloud-slow, we snoop for hours
on open-plan offices
and cloudy cocktail bars.

Amnesia and mystique
have cast into oblivion
fiery failures like
Italia, R101,

the whole brief catalogue
of mad catastrophes;
and showy Hindenburg
of course, the last of these.

A temporary setback.
Our time will come again
with helium in the sack
instead of hydrogen

while slow idealists
gaze at refrozen ice,
reflourishing rain forests,
the oceans back in place;

at sand and stars, blue skies,
clear water, scattered light
as in the early days
of nearly silent flight.

From Life on Earth, by Derek Mahon
© Derek Mahon 2008

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