|Aidan Fadden is an assistant professor of writing at John Cabot University, Rome, and a freelance translator and editor. His poems have appeared in the U.K. in Stand, The North, Magma, Lunar Poetry, Cordite (Australia) and in translation in Italian publications including Pagineand Sagarana. He has also reviewed for PN Review, Fortnight and The Contemporary Poetry Review.|
“I speak as someone who’s been shoulder-charged by Seamus Heaney. He bounced me off like snow off a plough. Benignly, though.” – Paul Muldoon
In this nick of the woods, snow’s so rare
That when it was forecast one year
I held a sort of vigil, rooting for a cold front
To make a bride of warmer, moister, air.
Hard to believe and impossible to forget then
Being Adam in a live, bright, open mausoleum
Of bikes, cars and mopeds heaped and softened
Into a comic, comforting, padded-cell relief.
As hard to credit as the first flakes of a tweet
And I couldn’t hold back the tears.
Harder to fathom, through the dog-day heat,
The prospect of drifting, and no snowplough near.
The Coral Beach, Connemara
“If crosses and tombs could be erected on water, the whole route
of the emigrant vessels from Europe to America would long since have assumed the appearance of a crowded cemetery.”
from The Great Hunger
A warm wedge of the Caribbean, I’d like to think it’s here as if on some long, extended loan. As storm clouds gather, you linger and I urge us to press on while preaching about the damage that could be done if everyone were to bring home ‘just a handful’ of its salmon and primrose shoals, its pastel slush, the countless crumbs of bone washed up here from the Valhallas of the west, the broken alphabets of all the nameless lost from the coffin ships, venerated, laid to rest, transformed, on this our heartbreak coast.
The Year of the Pulse, 2016
After the cherries, the Goji berries, the avocados
and the rest of the superfood crew,
to improve the uptake of Fe,
that is the iron dormant, that is sleeping,
in vegetables and pulses, it seems now it must
be activated first, with lemon juice.
Feels like I’ve been backing the wrong horse,
as if I’ve been living another nutritional lie.
So, is it that by souring things we acquire new strength?
You’d never see Popeye doing that to his spinach.
But these shoals of cleansing, purifying lentils
might just benefit from the trick. So many, you say,
running them between your fingers. It’s like eternity.
The hairs on your head, they have all been counted.
Your thoughts, like the grains of sand on the beach.
The little ones didn’t get it during the service, did they?
Why all the long faces, mummy?
Why so many tears?
And I remembered how not so very long ago
you would suck away on lemons quite contentedly,
as if then they and everything in life was sweet.
In the absence of anaesthetic,
in most cases, alcohol can substitute,
or, for the pulling of teeth, oil of cloves.
In the absence of antiseptic, boil
everything, or use carbolic soap.
In the event of needing adequate
supplies of the right blood group,
you are reminded to stockpile quantities
of your own. In the absence of children,
parents will be encouraged to maintain
the appropriate level of decorum. In the absence
of parents, children will be encouraged
to enlist, avenge their killers, contribute
to the ongoing production of orphans,
or go it alone. In the absence of any such
absences, watching our weight, the weather,
and screening ourselves for tumours
should keep us on our toes.