Dublin is no Beautiful City & the Living Room is no Place for Sex

Lizzy Nichols

      When… it is said, “Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself,” it is not meant, thou shalt love                                                             him first and do good in consequence of that love, but, thou shalt do good to thy neighbor;                                                          and this thy beneficence will engender in thee that love to mankind which is the fulness                                                                and consummation of the inclination to do good.

                                                                                          --Immanuel Kant

                                                                                                     & Arthur Guinness

                                                                                            lived &


        a year apart

in both cases.


            So while Kant poured his nights

            away to the ink for maps

            guiding man to his


                                                                                                            Arthur snuck to the Liffey

                                                                                                by moonlight & made night’s

black a permanent stain

                                                                                                            on once clean water wasted

                                                                                                            in running to a sea sans

                                                                                                            purpose. He was thirsty for


in a city never afforded its beauty.


            Would Kant say a city

            finds its good in an art

            museum or a factory?

                                    Are these bones only good

                                    for furnishing the walls of

                                    a city’s catacombs?

                                                                        How did Arthur and Immanuel weasel

                                                                        into our collected dreams when night

                                                                        but disintegrates at tomorrow’s light?


                                                                                                            The building that after

                                                                                    noon knew no beauty.



                                    Sterile. Perfect

for a med student. We did

homework & he named all the bones

buried beneath the black

ink I’ve sewn across my skin.

Decorated a skeleton I trust to give

me structure with Latin ornaments

before asking to kiss

the lips on their skull.

I let him

                                    for a couple minutes

                                    before I left & went

                                    on the evening’s date,



                                                                        Contemporary is today’s date

                                                                        in the calendar.                        Contemporary

                                                                        is a white building pasted

                                                                        onto a city in red brick.                       

Contemporary              is two lives lain one atop

                        the other in time if not (necessarily)

                                                            space, &

                                                            like how

            there is no space

            for bones to transcend skeletal

            line drawings and dance

            together in Dublin’s

                                                            bricked-up housing crisis, where

empty living rooms blossom

& accommodate intimacy among

five sleeping roommates & a man

who channels

                                                                                                rivers from the sea

                                                                                                into the warmth of night’s blush                                                                                                                                                                               for dawn’s slow draw

at tomorrow



Where              gagging            in the shower,

I pull all of our black

hairs out from the drain,

to try & atone for

my small mountain of

transgressions & demonstrate

that I can do good too.

Page 118, Poetry Ireland Review Issue 124
Issue 124

Poetry Ireland Review Issue 124:

Edited by Eavan Boland

Poetry Ireland Review 124 contains new poems from Paula Meehan, Ciarán O'Rourke, Lizzy Nichols, Mark Ward, Gabriel Rosenstock, Özgecan Kesici, Doireann Ní Ghríofa, and many other compelling voices. Also included is Eilean Ni Chuilleanáin's remembrance of her Cork childhood, excerpted from The Vibrant House: Irish Writing and Domestic Space, a book of essays reviewed in issue 124 by Caitríona O'Reilly. Other books considered in this issue include collections from Annemarie Ní Churreáin, Mark Granier, Tara Bergin, The Cambridge Companion to Irish Poets, and the Collected Poems of the late Dennis O'Driscoll, and there's also a short interview with Thomas Kinsella along with an essay on Kinsella as poet and civil servant. Another Kinsella is this issue’s Featured Poet, Alice Kinsella, and all artwork for the issue is supplied by artists associated with the Olivier Cornet Gallery on Great Denmark Street, around the corner from Poetry Ireland.

Available now to purchase online or in all good bookstores.