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  • By Martin McCarthy

Ebb Tide



Here,

is where I am,

and where I’ve come to see you,

while the light remains,

and there is time enough

to embrace it;

 

here,

where the ebb tide leaves

its mark on the breathless

face of passion,

and the day lays bare

the trembling world before us;

 

here,

where a blue wave burns

its fingers on the shingle of a shore

it can’t hold onto,

and where you walk alone

in December’s dark light;

 

here,

where you ponder

the graceful dexterity of limbs

no longer clinging to the rainy edges

of a mountain, and where the glow

of youth has faded from your hair;

 

here,

where you are mulling over

the marvel of your marvelous body

and its slow descent from heaven

to this gold labyrinth

that has stolen all your dreams;

 

here,

where you live a life

of rigid self-control, and are less

dismissive now

of those dizzying desires

driving fireflies to their doom;

 

here,

where you fear the spectre

of some dark unending nothing,

and where you strive sometimes

to unfreeze that flowing world

beneath your veil of ice;

 

here,

where you are sitting

among the rocks

in your blue robe, and only

two small buttons away

from baring all;

 

here,

where my heart is a wind

wrapping itself around the dead heat

from your marriage bed,

and where everything will happen

if you only give the word;

 

for here 

is where I am,

and where I've come to meet you,

while the light remains,

and our wise but reckless souls 

are ready to be enflamed.


Martin Mc Carthy is a contributing editor to the American poetry website, The HyperTexts. He lives in Cork City, Ireland, where he studied English at UCC and was awarded the H. Dip. in Education. His poems and essays have appeared in numerous print and online publications. He has published three poetry collections: Lockdown Diary (2020), Lockdown (2021), and The Perfect Voice (2023). A fourth collection,

The Book of Desire, is currently awaiting publication. He was shortlisted for the Red Line Poetry Prize, and is a nominee for the 2023 Pushcart Prize. The Perfect Voice, his epic fourteen-page YouTube tribute to Bob Dylan can be heard here. A limited signed and numbered print edition can be purchased in the store at mccarthypoet.com 

120 Comments


jemmcc83
Mar 01

Capturing the true heart of Valentine!

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martinmccarthy1956
martinmccarthy1956
Mar 01
Replying to

It certainly captured something many readers liked and reacted to - possibly the idea that 'What will survive us is love' - to quote Philip Larkin. Thanks for adding your comment.

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john.masella6695
Feb 26

A beautiful, moving, affective, and emotion-laden work with the precision, economy, and tact characteristic of Martin. This poem is wrought with both a pulling urgency and a soothing patience, and the interplay between personified nature and nature-cradled humanity demonstrates a keen sense of our interconnectedness both to each other, through love and passion, and to the world in its ubiquitous ebbs and flows. Terrific as always!

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martinmccarthy1956
martinmccarthy1956
Feb 26
Replying to

My dear friend, welcome back to the world of online poetry, and thank you so much for your kind and insightful comments. They are much appreciated.


Now let me say how wonderful it would be to see some of your unique and closely-observed studies of the hollowness of urban life and the elusive magic of human relationships in print again, sometime soon.

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stewart.burke
Feb 16

I adore how the poem relates how love's light dawns and dims, and fingers twitch and clutch however tenuously the sands of space and time and matter. The sheer tactility comes through in every stanza. Brilliant, Martin, brilliant!

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martinmccarthy1956
martinmccarthy1956
Feb 16
Replying to

You have written quite a few very striking poems yourself, Stewart, so I really appreciate the compliment coming from one who knows what it takes to craft good work and to balance that craft with human emotions and a timeless sense of the transcendent. Thank you so much.

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billyredster
Feb 14

This is stunning, and not only for the day that's in it. At this point, I am absolutely convinced that Martin McCarthy is a rare poet, inspired and driven, vivid in his certainty of the things that matter. There is so much feeling in this work, anticipation, anxiety, love, lust and wonder, the very purest and most precise feelings - usually nearly impossible to identify, much less analyse - of a moment that has somehow broached the numinous. This is beautifully crafted, a gift to readers from a high talent.

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martinmccarthy1956
martinmccarthy1956
Feb 14
Replying to

Hello, Billy. Thanks so much for your kind comments. They are much appreciated. For a prolific writer of novels and short stories, you really have a very eloquent and poetic turn of phrase! Perhaps some of the pupils you are now mentoring might consider sending their best short stories to David if you deem them to be good enough. They will find the submission guidelines if they click 'Short Story' in the menu above. Thanks again, Martin.

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winestone.poet
Feb 14

On a side note, I would like to thank David for agreeing to publish “Ebb Tide” on such an appropriate day. I can’t help but wonder why most editors today have an allergy to love poems and get so squeamish about publishing them? After all, poetry evolved from songwriting, and Heaven knows moving love songs are still hugely popular today. Why do so many people appreciate songs for their emotional power, yet turn up their snotty, indoctrinated noses at poetry possessing that same power?


I also think the enduring popularity of poets like Sappho point to the timelessness of love poetry. Innumerable things have changed throughout the course of history, but one thing that hasn’t changed (and never will) is…


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martinmccarthy1956
martinmccarthy1956
Feb 21
Replying to

I really have to second that comment. Bravo for the maestro of translations!

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