Ciarán O’Rourke lives in Galway. He has won the Lena Maguire/Cúirt New Irish Writing Award, the Westport Poetry Prize, and the Fish Poetry Prize. His first collection, The Buried Breath, was published by Irish Pages Press in 2018. His second collection is due for publication in 2021. More information about his work can be found at


The Leitrim hills are hard as stars, stony
grey and blue. I woke today
and wanted you.

Alone, a windy, withered beast, in-penned,
I close my mind and resurrect the view
of furling waters

shining in the sun, a bright, expanding vista
I would breathe again
and savour, urgently amphibian, thirsting

with the tide. Open-eyed and fervid, rising
with the dawn, I pace
the frosted pavements, studying the skies:

their oceanic river
deepening each night, to carry-lift and cargo
the winter’s hoard of light.

Terrestrially stultic, my chrysalis
grows warm, with a spring of inner music
to catalyse the harm

of global immolation, intimate despair, into
poetic intuition of seasonal repair.
I’m seasoning each letter

with a weather-beaten air, the breathable,
retrievable antiquity of here –
sent into the future

from nobody, nowhere.


A rising scent: a lush and nettled green.
A sheen of swallows soaring into view.

I give my time (my ticking life)
to watching weather beat and blow

along the river-banks, or simmer
like a mist of heat in every passing

rushy patch, long, drifting links
of meadowsweet a-whisper at the verge.

The light is lilting now, laconically slow:
the sun beds down, a copper god,

in meadow-marigold at dusk, the sky
a burning blue. I breathe the ancient summer in

before it dims. I died, you know, a beat or two,
when I rowed my stony days and nights

away from broken me-and-you, a burial at sea:
my sunken self-mythology, a memory

that flows. The flailing creature I’ve become
will curl into the sun-restoring dark,

a nervy coil, and twitch in pummelled pulses
to repeat, in dream, the falling-mountain-water blue

I slipped into – to look you in the eyes. I’m everything
I was when I reneged: weeping poetry, a brutal,

brimming boy; an egomanic in love. I barely
recognise you, you replied. And finally: goodbye.