Poetry: Peter O’Neill | Cassandra Voices

Poetry: Peter O’Neill


Poems in the Manner of the Devil
After Alexandar Ristović

If you can’t chew on oxtail, eat knuckles instead.
The bounty of bedlam,
Let these crumbs be your Thanksgiving,
Or Last Suppers.
Imitation is always the greatest form of flattery.
See the world now through the light of wine.

Do you have confidence in the morning?
Do you have faith in toast?
Each morning, do you spread marmalade
Under the clouds in the sky?

Here, drink this little cup of coffee.
Taste the bitterness brewed in countless suns
And raise your little finger, subconsciously,
To honour the martyrdom of little buns.

These trees that surround you,
Why do there branches rise like accusatory fingers
Holding peaches up to the clouds?
Where have all the flamingos flown?
Into the jaws of baboons in hell.

Columns, arches… shit!
Commerce herself is dizzied by the sun.

But know also this,
That within all of this madness
There is one alone who sleeps quietly
Nestled in dreams like a bird
And she dreams of housing owls
While presiding over countless committees.


Break  Fast 

The table- cloth was a souvenir from Turkey.
It had a very simple olive pattern,
The kind you might find in a good café
Or restaurant where the meals were affordable.
The kind you might find your hands floating over
Stirring spoons of sugar or lifting glasses
And bottles of water and wine, picking up bread
And paper napkins or surely raising to take out
Bank cards, in order to settle the bill.
In order to settle the bill.

Hardly is this last phrase out and everything,
The whole panoply of artifacts,
Suddenly is in freefall before you,
Like that last joke you heard before leaving.


The Familiar  

Don’t talk to me about storms in teacups,
Speak rather about the dervish in your espresso.
For your idioms and metaphor are tired,
As tired as my crocs worn out from pacing
Over the same old living space. Here, then,
Is where I dwell in both the word and the poem.
And, in memory! The ontological shifts
Which we must surely feel as much as the pedal
Pressing down on the pianoforte, sustaining the SOUND
The words vibrating, each particular element,
Each particular word, key, shape or movement
Given the proper attention it deserves.
Such is modality. Yes, I would speak to you of modality,
And the ontological shifts in taking a coffee!


 I will Putinize you, you know what I mean!
As I think it say it my reptilian eyes roll over
Blocking out momentarily the carrion tinted sun.
For, each encounter is a potential existential threat.

So, I repeat it again as I move closer to you
Physically and you will have the opportunity
Of understanding what it is I am now telling you again.
If you do Not do as I ask, I will Putinize you!

Putinize – a verb designated to describe
The systematic annihilation of either a person,
A place, an animal or a thing so that the object

Is no longer physically recognisable anymore.
Just as the city will be left in rubble, the person
Will no longer be recognisable instead left lifeless; like himself.


After the heroic age there are only two options remaining,
for hatred can only burn for so long before eventually capitulating
to either madness or so- called reason.


About Author

Peter O’Neill is the author of five collections of poetry.  The Exquisite Cadaver is taken from The Enemy – Transversions from Charles Baudelaire ( Lapwing, 2015). His sixth collection of poetry, a bilingual collection translated into French by Yan Kouton, Henry Street Arcade, is to be published by Éditions du Pont de l’Europe and will be launched on the 8th April, 2021, as part of the 200th anniversary celebrations of the birth of Charles Baudelaire which will be hosted by the Alliance Francaise in Dublin.

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