Hammersmith Canto V

Sean O’Brien
Beneath the East River, there lie in wait
Tunnels, ladders, hatches and the friend
Whose legs were amputated by a train.
You told me once you were deported, 
But never how these elements combine.
So long now among the anecdotes, like you
I find the facts are neither here nor there – 
The child in love with maps and lithographs
Finds everywhere a match for appetite:
But though it’s infinite beneath the lamp,
As memory the world sails out of sight –
And nor am I, if I can see the worklights,
Scaffolding knee-deep in water, the mise en abîme
Where girders sweat, and any second now
A disaster site or the scene of a crime you may
Only just have departed. Or dreamed, like me,
The second son you thought you’d never have,
To whom you lent the name you gave the first.
There is a darkness in your mind that means
You cannot read a novel for yourself
And dare not care for music. It’s as though
You came into the world with barely half a kit,
Or else are one who lost a life elsewhere
And cannot make it right again. I see you
Moving down the tunnel like a ghost
Who cannot find his level of damnation.
– Then nothing, and the friend is never named
Page 98, 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.