Cathal Ó hÚagáin is a London-based Irish writer. He previously had poetry and fiction published in Icarus at Trinity College, Dublin, and The South Circular. He was previously a journalist, most recently with the Irish Daily Star newspaper.
They bombed in Alzheimeric pools and diffused to solution,
to now ooze from a melty head in sadly wordless streams
like hot fat, sausage meat memories black on the grill.
I mourn the lost — twelve-line salutes to you, comrades —
but the losing most petrifies. I ask an old friend, seeping out,
how much longer the cracked vessel, the carriage, will run on,
if it will trundle past any purpose, and sway belly-up in a dark?
The serviceman, the engineer, the captain and the overseer,
I’d like to see your qualifications because this is out of hand;
we are beyond maintenance, gents. Take your lunch boxes
and don’t forget your flasks! Bathe in the wordlessness,
lights out, a candle in the scooped-out hollow at the end.
This abode of stones in the great deep, the great cold,
of his tree’s shadow cast, a tree you must fell.
Early the alarm sings, ting-a-ling-a-ling: rise,
raise your blade, sting-a-ling-a-ling until dust fell.
Light lives beyond the willow. Now heave hard the hilt.
Hack and immolate. Till the earth then; light just fell.
Carve your kill, press his leaves, admire his arteries
as you caress the wearing pages, your lust fell.
Look on your land alight – the wild flowers, bluebells
and bell heather scattered – cleaver retired, rust fell.
There are voices in the radio,
lecturing cigarette butts
in a cup on the sill about heart
disease and rotting lungs,
but the air infects the body;
it reaches from fault lines
and black holes in the plaster
towards a flotsam mattress.
Damp seeps in, insistent,
through the porous walls,
magnolia cracking and flaking
like lips licked and sun-dried.
Children giggle outside.
They hoist snails by their shells
and playfully cast them
over the lip of the rubbish skip.