Poetry: Peter O’Neill | Cassandra Voices

Poetry: Peter O’Neill


Lois P. Jones  


The gentle discord of rainfall,
its alternating static dance are
Reeds of air in suspension
before the corona of sensation.
A droplet splashes and trickles
along your neck,
its joyous grief
is welcomed by you with a shudder.
The courage of the leaf
passes beneath the banks of cloud,
the burnishing lustre blossoming
upon your limbs,
the flowering sounds
of the sun’s brassy trumpets
illuminate the oracle of the hills.


The space between the words
Is akin to the space between the rain;
This is syntax –
The syntax of the rain.
Each word, each drop,
With its cohesion of letters
Is an alphabet written in water
Pooling in language.
The liquidity of words.
 Your waters fall like rain,
Their quiet sudden declensions thunder
With an astonishment of showers
Light and gentle as thought’s forgotten tributaries
Brining relief from the tropics,
The tropics of the spring.


The distillation of the night
ferments the dawn,
minute revolutions of uninterrupted
sleep; night being a dark day
for things that silently creep.
Out of such stuff things bloom!
The leaf of thought could fill a room
With the bestiaries of the night.`


Upon the crest you cycle
With the Black Hills as register.
Sheepless and quiet.
The dissemination of clouds
Pass, yet you are the only witness
To such wonder.
Accompanying all with aural springs
Cadence and rhythm pick up
With the invigoration of muscle.
Thought’s labour on the passing of the evening
Still clinging to the web of sleep
Like the silken trail of a woman’s stocking,
While banking on your side
Sheer locomotion shunts
Fabulously across the morning.
A thousand hermaphrodites
Lie slain and severed upon the heath,
Yet not a sole is being recorded.
While placed religiously upon the library shelves,
A hundred almanacs of the tides!


Along the footpaths, trees stand erect
As arrows, Virgilian sentinels
To patrol the fingerless dawn.
Wisps of Rose.
Cotton fields upended.
The fields are aliens reflected
In the lagoons filled with
The mythology of both Roman and Norsemen.
Out by Lambay their ghost’s hover.
Fingal’s cave but a haven for 19th century
There is ruin and mail under the watery skin
Of every wave. Gut its belly,
Debone and scale the morning.
The electric prophets prophecy nothing.
Mendacity is cultural.
Aural pollution is on the wing.
Emissaries of the void would but spill.
Frustrate them.
Offer other flavours of the evening.
The evenings where shapes still bring
Mythologies as finely wrought
As summer dresses
Garlanding the superb limbs
Of the approaching Amazons.
See there!
Now, they come…


The elemental walk of the Vitruvians,
Divinely proportioned,
Aqueous folds cocooned in the lithe
Expansive limbs of the morning.
Flesh burnished by a billion suns,
Atomised to the core; Bataille’s erotic
Solar economics beats all Keynesian excess.
Even pedestrian they Kill, for She is slow.
Her cadence and rhythm shift in shapes
Of undulating, mesmerising patterns.
You follow her like a servant, reciting some lost phrase,
Bringing to her the garlands of the morning.


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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