Paul Muldoon
Bringing to mind the hemispheres of the brain in the brainpan,
these walnut halves are as ripe
for pickling now as in 860, the dye in a Viking girl’s under-dress 
then being derived from walnut husks. I hear you stifle
a yawn when I note that steamed
black walnut is generally held to be inferior to kiln-dried
while the term à la mode de Caen
refers specifically to the braising of tripe
in apple cider. I who have been at the mercy of the cider-press
have also been known to trifle
with the affections of a dryad in a sacred grove,
a judge’s daughter and a between-maid to Lord Mountbatten 
among others from beyond my clan.
It was only as recently as 1824 we first used the term ‘to snipe’.
Walnut was the go-to stock wood for both Brown Bess
and the Lee-Enfield bolt-action, magazine-fed, repeating rifle.
Each has seen service on the shores of Lough Erne
in the hands of both wood-kernes and followers of the First Earl.
Our own interpersonal relationships have tended to be so askew
it was only as recently as 1844 we first used the term ‘scarf’
of the neck-garter. Girding up the loins
for a family feud has often proved a more fecund
line of inquiry. Walnuts are now deemed
good against malignancies of breast and prostate – not only tried
but tried and true. From time to time you
and I have met on a windswept airfield or wharf
where we’ve seen fit to join
battle without ever having reckoned
on how the Irish law on treasure trove
would change in the light of the Derrynaflan paten
never mind King Sitric being the son-in-law of King Brian Boru
who prevailed over him at Clontarf 
or, at the Boyne,
William of Orange’s putting paid to his father-in-law, James II.
It was at the Boyne, you recall, that Ahern
gave Paisley the ‘peace bowl’ turned from a local walnut-burl. 
Page 107, 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.