Ciarán O’Rourke – a chasm

Ciarán O’Rourke lives in Galway.

His first collection, The Buried Breath, was highly commended by the Forward Foundation in 2019.

His second collection, Phantom Gang, is due for publication from The Irish Pages Press. American Epic: On Paterson is available as a pamphlet from Beir Bua Press.

a chasm

in the gut
of the bird
on the wind,
soaring back
in time (good
time goes only
bye) to ground:
a patter & slap
of crap
on the gravel
or better
yet the grass /
the poem, it-
self a simile,
is like that,
I suggest /
my every
is thicketed
with it: the un-
relenting weather
where I was, trailing
through my
body, through
my mind / when
romping round
the woodland diaries
of long-dead Gilbert
White, all will-
fully bewitched
by swifts – while tousled
monarchs, elsewhere,
quivered in the docks –
& by (my point
precisely) worms / if
lost, he said, from
the economy of
nature, our mute,
tenacious cousins
underfoot would leave
a chasm most
lamentable, for they
(he saw) are the
untiring promoters
of vegetation, per-
forating mud-
wards, loosen-
ing the soil (the
very earth) for
rain / my god
the man could
write (as
well as look) / I
swam, the day
I jotted that,
in rain: a gentle
sheet of sleet,
billowing the flat
of the sea / then pedalled
home, restored,
for chopped
potato soup
& steaming leeks,
a curl of fresh-
picked coriander
in the whorl /
a wild, I wrote,
& wind-blown light
the clouds an
intermittent (sharp-
ly) blue / what
of it? / the inci-
dentals matter / past
the railway line
a stand of trees
a grey wind shushing
then (&
then) the metal
sheen of waves: when
I wake at dawn
the pane is flecked
with salt / invent
the future (spool
it out) / the great, for-
gotten ghost, Sankara,
wanted that (I do,
or try to do, believe
the dead), his
rebel cap aslant,
trading in
the presidential merc
for scrap:
a symbol
of the age /
his nineteen
eighty seven
hitman, suavely
(in the photograph)
attired, was
yesterday con-
demned in sad-
to-say absentia /
we must (young
Thomas, smiling
still) dare to
make the future:
from the rust-
heap (left) of
what we have /
just thirty seven,
drowned in
blood, the hungry
bullets shoaling
in between his ribs /
we share, you
see, the world
& now the poem /
so wobble out &
wade the cold, the
water this time
drifted through
by light, a soak
of sun, your silhouette
awash below you:
in the geometries
of depth / this
tidal town I
hibernate beside
is great / (I hope
it lingers longer
than the seis-
predict) / include
the miscellaneous /
buy stamps (for
N.C., Durham) / the
disunited kingdom
looking grim, ad-
mittedly: white jolly
Boris guzzling
the trough / I’m
glad (a gloat) to
be not English
here, hunkered
in my seasoned
nook, burrowing
for words – though
most of every-
thing looks
(better) clad
in hush: a twilit
ness, say, neither
glib nor
meretricious / ha! /
the lingo
I desire,
the jingle
I require
(shhh…) /
at seventeen
I patterned
poems with out-
sized robin-
prints: a glut
of turned earth
brought you in / a
“glut” of sens-
ness, perhaps, though
I like the flitting
robins when
they shine / at
twenty nine
I grew (stony-
eyed &) dumb
sighting finches
in the glass, fur-
iously dancing
by the window
where she lay (my
gentle gran) / a
body hollowed
out & pale, flounder-
ing for breath, her
kindness (even)
taken when
she died / per-
manently gone / an
early summer
blossom shook
(with light) when
the quiet
box we put
her in
went down
(the mud, the
rock, the
buried never-
deep) to
sleep / the
matters / like
a wren’s heart-
beat, or
breathing seed,
a whisper tak-
ing flower
there’s a need,
& the spring-
returning showers
as I stooped
to kiss her cheek /
a little lyric
grief: a life
in smither-
eens / time
to (always)


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