Art Students in a City Park, by Patrick Deeley

Penniless, sodden, splattered
with mud and paint,
we cling to our brushes and easels,
catch tree-bark and bareness,
the on-off colours
of January light between showers.

What we offer the world
is what the world feels it can do
without. Futility,
say the cars tail-backed beyond
the railings, futility
the wind-wrecked umbrellas,

the errant golf shots
in far green spaces, the drug deals
done on side-streets,
futility the bank executives
in tinted restaurants
laughing off their latest messes.

Here, snowdrops cluster;
a scribble of moss
resembles yellow crayon-marks
where sunlight hits;
a sleeping moth, all
but etched into an old oak trunk,

gathers us together
to chaunt the idea of it as a tawny,
inverted love heart.
The park is about to be shut.
Suppose, one of us
suggests, suppose we mosey up

to the sour-puss
key-rattling park attendant posing
as Saint Peter
and smile our Mona Lisa smiles,
will he allow us
to stand just one more half-hour

in the wind and muck?
At which we all splutter into our
aqua marines, indigos,
burnt siennas, alizarin crimsons,
behind the tall,
rusty, suffering gates of Paradise.

Patrick Deeley’s awards include the 2001 Eilís Dillon Award, the 2014 Dermot Healy International Poetry Prize, and the 2019 Lawrence O’Shaughnessy Award.  Recently he has had poems published in The Rialto, The London Magazine and Staying Human, an anthology edited by Neil Astley.  His seventh collection with Dedalus Press, ‘The End of the World’, was shortlisted for the 2020 Farmgate National Poetry Award.


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