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  • Filíocht Nua:New Poetry
  • Siobhán Campbell


Horses of the others,the thinkers, the travellers,tethered on the edge of new dual carriageways,tied in the blank side of advance factories.They verge on the flanks of dealers and shakerswhere plans end in a thicket of rubble and stumps.What are they for?

A yelled canter down the scruff-sides of dusty villages,barebacked warmth sidlingand a hearts-beating thud between your knees—where mis-remembrance is a dream to nourish,where promise can out-run irony.Not the hero horses, beauties black and brave,who took the warrior to battle and will not return,these are compromised, misled and confused,heads too big for their ribcage, scrawny as thescreed of grass they pull.

Yet they must have been there from the start—round the back of wired-off ruminations.We pretended not to notice the occasionswhen they recalled a field,the hock-stripping speed of a gallop down a long hedgewhere a quiver of legends misted into songbut when they started to gatherin places built to house a desperation,they seemed to trick our vision of a freedom. [End Page 36]

That was a world we lost before it named us—none of the promise, the clangof potential,instead the fetters that hold us to self-interestthe binds that make taxes out of failure.That was a world lost before we named it,part of a larger undertakingto help us understand captivity.Go back, go back they seem to saybut we have no direction,rounding again the ring road to the cityas if we know the story behind the story.


If the eye of Ireland is really Lough Neagh,is it all-seeing or blinkered down one side?Does it know the difference between reed bedsand seedy edges, bulrush and sedgeway?Can it feel the scoring of oars on nightswith a black finish or tell when smallgravel stones are pulled by more than a boat?Looking up, possibly through us, the lakefeels huge in its land bed as if we could neverknow it as scooped from the hand of Fionnor as pissed from the horse of Aengus.And if it looks down, is there a swirl fromthe eddies, a sucking out of capillariesas every last drop down to the centre of thatinexplicable body of water slips throughthe upholdings of the expert water leveller? [End Page 37]


Characters choose to resemble the noble peasant.They look as if they know the value of elbow grease.Even though their backs are bent with longing,they may appear taller than they are.

One might willingly tell of the devil, sitting there on her left,making her write with the wrong, giving Teacher such a frighthe brought the strap down Whack. Tied the offending handbehind her back. Now she’s ambidextrous.

Some may say they lived through the Famine,or at least were sent packing west of the riverwhere they told stories set by fires in one roomed schoolsand caressed the oppressor’s tongue.

In this genre, beware of a creeping nostalgia.Nothing grows resentment better than an acre of stones.An island passport might land you a tax haven.Then again it could cost you an arm and a leg. [End Page 38]


They shit a lot and at first it is a warm patridged with raised circles as it dries.Water stopped in its tracks or a viscous jellyhardening from the outside in.I think of dying in a pool of shite,the one my mother meant—Go take a running leap in the slurry pit for all I care.We had lost three cats that summer.Seeing them stiffed, legs rigid and shiningmade an art of death.But this was to be about cows,their lumbering walk to the gap to be milkedas if they know more together than apart.They can smell a stream of fresh water from a mile.They can hear grass...


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pp. 36-43
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