Extra Terrestrial

Ciaran Berry
The flowers die, the flowers come back to life.
Through the rainbow blinds, I point towards my lost star.
It’s like I’m that sad usher waving her torch
along the rows of the Astor Cinema to make sure
the courting couples haven’t gone too far.
Crushed Coca-Cola cans, Monster Munch,
Sam Spudz Thicker Crinkled Cheese ’n’ Onion. The smell
of popcorn and of piss from the men’s room.
I throw a ball into the dark, the ball comes back.
I step once more into the backyard of it, light washing
through the slats of the unkempt garden shed.
Its rakes and hoes. Its charcoal and lawn seed.
I sit out in a deck-chair, wait for whatever it is
to take a form. I leave a trail of Skittles or M&Ms
on the off chance it might follow me home –
this creature who is me and not me I’ll conceal
behind the bedroom closet’s louvered doors,
his head nothing anyone would ever look for
amidst the one-eyed teddy bears and GI Joes.
The way his skin is stretched across his bones
puts me in mind of some ageing relative
whose veins begin to show through the translucence
like the curves and discursions of a back road.
Whin bushes and fuchsia, oak and ash, potholes.
A strip of grass running down the middle
like a Mo-Hick haircut as my aunt was wont to say
of what must be Dolan’s Lane or Dolan’s Brae.
I take the long way round again so as not to be seen
in my Lord Anthony coat and my bell bottom jeans.
His sacred heart, his telescopic limbs
remind me I’m space cadet, I’m alien,
a blow-in on my way home with messages.
Soup meat wrapped in brown paper. In waxed paper,
a sliced pan. A plastic bag of bones the dog
will bury in the ground where later we’ll bury him.
I carry it all in the basket of my mother’s Raleigh Shopper
that I wish were a BMX, or a Chopper,
a flame motif across the double crossbar
on which my cousin, acting the goat, will split
his scrotum right between the stones. To think
of it is to cross your legs like that girl in the back row
who fears things are about to go too far,
her souped-up lover staring at the screen,
where those two brothers sniff the warp and weft
of their absent father’s shirt for the scent
of Sea Breeze or is it Old Spice, as his hand
climbs the incline of her thigh. I lie down
beside it again, go eye to eye with it. The spilled milk
on the kitchen floor. The cold sweat on a can
of Coors. I finger the dial of that transmitter and receiver
conjured from a circular saw blade, a record player,
the keyboard from a Speak ’n’ Spell. I hold
my ear up to the unlabelled baked bean tin of it
and hope you’ll pick up at the other end
and talk to me along this piece of string. It’s been too long,
and what I want now more than anything
is that moment when the bikes shift skywards
in a sudden swell of strings above the hillside
of the half-built suburban dream. Redwoods and cornfields.
The tinkle of a nearby stream. Everything
balanced on the handlebars and freewheeling,
like a boy kicking his Nikes or Adidas through midair.
The steady skitter of the reel. The tractor beam
of the projector. Before all of this puncture and repair.
Page 9, Poetry Ireland Review Issue 120
Issue 120

Poetry Ireland Review Issue 120:

Edited by Vona Groarke

Vona Groarke's final issue as editor is packed with new poems from leading contemporary poets, including Simon Armitage, Sinéad Morrissey, Colette Bryce, Paul Muldoon, Sean O'Brien and Caitríona O'Reilly. Books reviewed include new work from Derek Mahon, Bernard O'Donoghue, Rita Ann Higgins, Martina Evans, Denise Riley and the 2016 Forward Prize winner Vahni Capildeo. The centrepiece of the issue is an interview with Paul Muldoon in which the Armagh maestro shares his thoughts on subjects as diverse as public surveillance, the economic down-turn, and the exclamation mark. The cover image is by photographer Justyna Kielbowicz, and the issue also contains award-winning artwork from Sven Sandberg, Aoife Dunne, Jane Rainey, and Michelle Hall. Instead of an editorial, Vona herself answers the questionnaire she put to the contributors of Poetry Ireland Review Issue 118: The Rising Generation.