Four poems by John W. Sexton

John W. Sexton is the author of four poetry collections, the two most recent of which are Vortex (Doghouse, 2005) and Petit Mal (Revival Press, 2009). He also created and wrote The Ivory Tower for RTÉ radio, which ran to over one hundred half-hour episodes from 1999 to 2002. He is a past nominee for The Hennessy Literary Award and his poem The Green Owl won the Listowel Poetry Prize 2007. In 2007 he was awarded a Patrick and Katherine Kavanagh Fellowship in Poetry. His fifth collection, The Offspring of the Moon, is due from Salmon Poetry in spring 2013.

Four poems by John W. Sexton


Dr Eel’s Thinking Machine

disembodied shadow

of a horse … rode upon it standing

till dusk



flutter into the nearly here …

our minds bleed grey


Dr Eel’s thinking machine

a ball of twine …

its core the universe


crease-proof, flawless

not a single seam

in his suit of mercury


truths formed on its

edges … a lie so big

so profound


the cheesecloth spaceship

filters Jupiter … no one thought

it would work


picking apricoals

from the fire … we began

to suspect a change


the living memory …

he wore an elegant

elephant-hide suit


raging mind …

Sodor’s sentient train has ideas

above its station


In No Time at All

idling in the engine

of the saint-train …

a smouldering death camp


a foul-up

at the misery works …

the anthrax dolls get well


the rose from

Venus Harlem … her thorns

go heart deep


the teleporting house …

anything to shake those

parasites within


the icy brine stiffens …


haul the islands south



ice cream … all the rage

since the fruit plague


harnessing the fractions

of starlight … to the stars

in no time at all


mastering the tightrope

between clouds …

we enter Impossitown



Say Again

anchor-stones tied

to his ankles … the suicide

broaches depth


inside the nail …

with a single scouring-pad

she scores a way ahead


previously lived aeons

as grass … knotted the world

in its place


pauper princess

in her newsprint dress … his hands

stained black at her breast


what big feet, granddad!

his crocodile slippers

chew the fat


beige desert melts itself

a bottle-house of glass …

a steam djinn makes home


in his own words …

the ventriloquist’s dummy

talks for the hand


with a pointed key

she unlocks the sky –

deluge of grailstones


Hiroshima –

tall fence edges their godpath

Shūson’s cats stepped ever


say again …

songs by songbirds made of rain

dash upon my windowpane



Deep in the Rain

lightning bug lantern

Issa latches a gate

in the cloud


deep in the rain falling into rain yellow irises


pinhole tunnel of light

into the moon …

Heaven downloads an angel


click the heels

of your concrete shoes

down riverbed to Oz


to Banbury Deeps

by conga eel steed …

merrows dressed in seaweed


mollusc spawn

so fathom deep

barnacle stars on her skin


Stubbs astride

the skinned mare … wrote it all down

in a book of muscle


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