Poetry: Peter O’Neill | Cassandra Voices

Poetry: Peter O’Neill


Irish Rail

Dublin, that old whore, with her piss -stained pavements
Abruptly transforms into a woman of a certain station.
Such are the, at once, brutal and subtle shifts where
In an instant, Hell aligns in an altogether strict

Congruence… Like when you climb aboard
The final commuter train of the week on a Friday
Evening on Platform One at Pearse Station.
And, as the train finally pulls out, leaving

Behind her the contents of a working week,
Passing images are reflected back to you
Through the compartment windows, revealing

Dune and marram at Portmarnock, to a passing
Lagoon at Malahide, and then the panoply of imagery
Miraculously washes away all of the whoredom from your mind.


The Great Burnishment

Your Pirelli calendar moment must last, at least, twenty score years;
Nobody makes this very important point entirely clear.
So, try to remember, while cavorting in the Sun,
That the memories must endure, and for everyone!

Call it, if you will, the great Burnishment.
When like two figures from a fabled myth or play,
You roam the most remote shores and the very
Earth appears made for you both alone.

It is the cliché – you look on her then and on those mythic shores –
With the aroma of wild rosemary, myrtle and Goat;
Desire bears you both ever onward with its emblazoned sail.

Fast forward two decades now and she stands before you in your kitchen,
And the initial violence of the sun from that first day,
Tell me, do you still feel its impact burning your skin?


The Flies 

The two house- flies, Beckett and Joyce, buzz about you
And the TV screen. There they land, buzz again
Before flying off to Memphis copulating
And multiplying on the wing. As a sign of virility,

The Egyptians displayed them on their amulets.
That great race, unlike our own, had a great respect for insects!
Even the Greeks showed a similar respect,
When having a BBQ they offered a sacrifice to Shoo Fly Zeus.

The crabby meat men, in this way, could eat their own
Undisturbed by patrolling swarms and Oxen that had fallen
Were replaced by Lotus Eater, and burning eucalyptus in the Sun.

Now, you look at the books of both these modern sages
That you have been reading for an eternity,
And still you hear the flies buzzing across the pages!


The Vico Road

From the vantage point of Strawberry Hill,
A Victorian Villa recently selling for a cool 5 million,
A place more evocative of Raymond Chandler
Than anything remotely Irish. I am reminded,

Again, of the Neapolitan philosopher who
Peopled his New Science with giants. In fact,
While lunching there on one of the picnic tables,
I had a slightly hallucinatory vision of Gulliver

Striding in 18th century breeches, and croppy hair
Over the Sugar- Loaf Mountain, while
The Lilliputians below discussed the ongoing

Business in the property sector: vulture funds
And NAMA; hedge funds in Texas,
Where the multi-headed Cereberus roars.

Feature Image: Daniele Idini


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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