Michael O’Leary recently contributed his poem and the below drawing (Blonde on Blonde) in honour of Bob Dylan, who was awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature, and an elegy for Leonard Cohen, to Poetry Notes, Spring 2016 (Newsletter of the Poetry Archive of New Zealand Aotearoa).

The Bob Dylan poem also appears in Phantom Billsticker’s Cafe Reader, Summer 2016, and the Cohen elegy in Tony Chad’s Valley Micropress, December 2016.

dylan-copy

Bob Dylan drawing by Michael O’Leary, 2008

 

Michael O’Leary

BOB DYLAN, A VISITATION

(10/9/1998, Wellington)

 

With my ear to the future

And my mind to the past

Sitting twenty rows back

and up high

I could feel the real visions of Johanna

 

From the ancient times

When the nuns had us sing

The answer is blowing in the wind

the Jews and the Catholics

Have fought pitched battles over my soul

 

And out on Highway Sixty One

Or along any lonesome railway track

The songs remain like freight cars

to be sung or shunted

Along the weary lines of a human face

 

Echoes of Mr. Yeats’ hymn

And a thousand singsong others

Expressing in thought, word, music

like your friend, Woody

The all too familiar taste of dust and death

 

Recalling the desolate row

Of houses in Margaret Street

Now either destroyed or gentrified

must we really move

Into the Ponsonby of the new, shallow mind

 

Later, you entered the ‘her’

Part of my life also

With a precious angel

now gone, but then

I was the man in the long black coat

 

From all you need is love minus zero

To being sick of love

Then, on one more night

you took us from Maggie’s farm

To forever young, as a simple reminder

 

Now there’s even talk of

Cranking up the Oldsmobile

For so long stuck inside, and

up the central plateaux

To Auckland, the Great Arsehole, sacred

 

Okay, Mister Room Man

Play a song for us

Say a prayer too, as you

wing your own way

Earthbound, heavenwards soaring beyond

 

For always talking the blues

To your Jews and Gypsies

All those masters of war

old Hitler, Stalin, and yes

The President of the U.S. does sometimes stand naked

 

Through all the years’ confusions

Of ideas and people and events

To this present listening

so many things have happened

While you just keep on singing to my sister’s alarm

 

I’m glad to come and see you

To tip my hat to the master’s hand

With my rainy day woman

asleep on my shoulder

Times have changed so much, they’ve remained the same

 

SO LONG LEONARD COHEN

 

Beginning life as a middle-class son

Comfortable in your Jewish Catholicism

Tailor-made for the family’s business

You chose the more difficult artist’s path

 

Through the Montreal poetry scene

You played youth’s favourite games

Slim volumes proffering Flowers for the Führer:

Eichmann’s normal human perversions

 

More polite than the gutter snipe

Rock and rollers, who said they joined

A band to get laid: young Cohen said

He played music to meet women

 

In the late 1960s when every belief

Came to an end: when The Beatles’ apple

Turned to pulp without the future fiction

You came along with a song from a room

 

A muse, in the real sense of ‘to amuse’

Someone who spoke openly about thought

And feeling, perhaps here was a poet

Who wasn’t alive a hundred years ago

 

Who wasn’t ‘beat’ or rock ‘n roll, exactly

But came so far, with a Spanish guitar,

With a seductive voice and lyric to match –

Existential, if you’ll pardon the expression

 

So all our Suzanne’s took us all down

To our own lands of rags and feathers;

Remembering well that Chelsea Hotel,

New York and the tragic taste of success

 

You went into God’s Hamburger Bar in

The city of Angels, wanting nothing but

‘One with Everything’ . . . becoming a Buddhist

Monk to escape the world of pain and love

 

Old songs and new could not be suppressed

So you returned to the world to bring them,

To sing them to audiences old and new

Hallelujah, Hallelujah: from below and above

 

Dancing to the end of love, you twirled

Full circle, singing so long Marianne, by e-mail

As she lay dying, remembering Greek Isles

Sunshine and smiles, farewell dreaming

 

It’s now as dark as you want it, Leonard

But remember, there’s always that crack

Perhaps you really have come to understand

Now, that’s where the light truly gets in . . .

 

Poems and drawing copyright Michael O’Leary

b13cover

Michael O’Leary recently contributed his drawing of Northern Irish footballer George Best (above) and a poem on the 1967 Manchester United visit to New Zealand to a special football issue of broadsheet: new new zealand poetry.
The issue edited by fellow poet/publisher Mark Pirie comprises a selection of football poetry from 1890-2014, focusing mainly on New Zealand football by New Zealand poets.

Others who’ve contributed include Gary Langford, Harry Ricketts, James Brown, John Gallas, John Dickson, Bill O’Reilly, Grant Sullivan, Harvey Molloy, Tim Jones, Dylan Groom and Pirie himself. Former New Zealand All White Michael Groom has written the foreword.
The Night Press, Wellington, has published the special issue to coincide with the 2014 World Cup in Brazil. It will be available from May online as a free download pdf as well as in a limited print edition. Website: http://broadsheetnz.wordpress.com

Here is Michael’s poem:

Michael O’Leary

MANCHESTER UNITED VS AUCKLAND 1967

In 1967 the football club Manchester United played a game
Against an Auckland Eleven they were expected to tame
And although they did in the end win eight goals to one
Seeing ‘The Beatles’ of the football world was great fun

For as a teenager I had always preferred the round ball code
Rather than the rugger that ‘everybody else’ in New Zealand chose
And watching the ‘Beautiful Game’ in that ‘Summer of Love’
Brought music and sport together as if to finally prove

That a show in front of more than 26,000 at Carlaw Park
Watching Soccer could be like a rock concert where the spark
Of enthusiasm is ignited by an ultimate, primal, human desire

To belong, as in olden days when people gathered around a fire
Thus, the world’s most famous and celebrated sport was seen
In Auckland at a time of love and music and the world of dream

Notes
DB NZ Soccer Annual 1975
: ‘Manchester United came to New Zealand, hammered both its opponents [Auckland 8-1 and NZ 11-0] and introduced soccer supremo George Best to the country. That United team had all the stars: Best, Charlton, Law, Stiles, Stepney, Aston, Foulkes, Crerand, Kidd … the list seemed endless.’ Charlie Dempsey was the director of tours for the NZFA and the AFA.

Michael recently drew an illustration (pen/pencil) for a new book cover. The book is a new publication from his publishing house Earl of Seacliff Art Workshop in conjunction with HeadworX Publishers, Wellington, New Zealand.

The drawing is of Māui controlling the sun (from the traditional Māori myth).

Maui

The book, edited by Wellington literary scholar/publisher Mark Pirie, is a sequence of Polynesian Legends c1924 previously uncollected and unpublished in book form by a forgotten Canterbury poet, Alfred Stanley Sherratt (1891-1977).

The book is expected to be launched later this year.

Poet/Māori literary scholar Vaughan Rapatahana wrote the following on Sherratt’s early treatment of Māori legends:

“Earl of Seacliff and Mark Pirie are to be commended for unearthing this valuable trove of Pākehā representations of Māori mythology and legend, not merely because they have never been committed to print in any sequential book format previously, but more especially because the representations contained within are manifestly without the devious elaborations and misguided romantic capital (Curnow, 1960) of many of Sherratt’s near contemporaries such as Domett. Indeed, Sherratt, for all his iambic pentameter and rhyming couplet, remains true to the Weltanschauung of the original and oral Indigenous élan of these mighty vignettes. Ka nui te pai te mahi kei konei!” Vaughan Rapatahana

A new drawing by Michael O’Leary appeared recently on the cover of Mark Pirie’s poetry book Old Hat.

The drawing was commissioned by HeadworX Publishers.

It is a drawing of a blues hat to fit the blues motif of Pirie’s book, and is also a nod to hat wearing Bob Dylan and poet-songwriter Leonard Cohen.

oldhatcover

Michael O’Leary’s latest artwork is a pen and pencil drawing of singer, songwriter and poet Mahinarangi Tocker (1955-2008).

O’Leary was asked to contribute the artwork for a special tribute issue to Tocker in broadsheet: new new zealand poetry no. 10 (November 2012), edited by Mark Pirie.

http://broadsheetnz.wordpress.com