For You – N. E. Skull

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I don’t want to write about him.

He doesn’t inspire me like you used to.

There were sonnets in the arch of your back.

Your lips have been written about a thousand times before.

Damocles’ blade was in your shoulder,

And Samson in your hair.

If you are a painting,

He is negative space.

In him, I see only your absence.

In me, he sees it, too.

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The Artist – N. E. Skull

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Picture 52

I waded through heavy air on way to the post office that morning.

I took the scenic route, which was only worth taking on a day like that.

The heat was a welcome stranger for the time of year,

but even the most unusual weather feels primordial after a day or two,

and glistening brows had already started praying for restoration.

The sun saw me intermittently as the leaves overhead drew back with the soft breeze,

casting shadows which made the pathway below ripple like the surface of a lake.

The woodland was painted with flowers whose names I will probably never know,

and there was an unspoken amity between the wildlife and I.

For miles each way we were alone,

and I believed this wholeheartedly,

until, in the corner of my eye,

perched on a byway,

I saw an easel.

Meeting Place – N. E. Skull

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Picture 47

Let us get our stories straight,
I saw you there across the bar.
I dared to ask you on a date,
And six weeks later, here we are.

I met you at the driving range.
You marveled at my swing technique.
You said you found it rather strange
And now we play four times a week.

Or maybe on a busy train?
I stood so you could have my seat.
We both stepped out into the rain.
Such a romantic place to meet.

When people ask us how we met.
we won’t say “on the internet.”

Complicated Measures – Billy Ramsell

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Today is National Poetry Day, so I have decided to break from the norm of spouting my own creations and instead share with you some of my favourite poetry. Billy Ramsell, a fellow Irish poet, is truly a master of his craft and anyone with an interest in poetry would do well to read his work. If you would like to find out more about him, you can find his website here.

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We were in bed together listening to Lyric,
to a special about the Russians,
when the tanks rolled into Babylon.

For a second I could feel their engines,
and the desert floor vibrating,
in the radio’s bass rattling your bedroom
as the drums expanded at the centre of the Leningrad,
as those sinister cellos invaded the melody.

We’d been trying, for the hell of it,
to speak our own tongue
and I was banging on about Iberia when your eyelids closed:
Tá do lámh I mo lámh” I whispered “ar nós cathair bán
sna sléibhte lárnach, d’anáil ar nós suantraí na mara i mBarcelona.
Codhladh sámh
.”

But as I murmured “sleep, my darling, sleep” into your sleeping ear
I found myself thinking of magnets
of what I’d learned in school about the attraction of opposites,
that the two of us, so similar,
could only ever repel one another.

For the closer I clutched your compact body
the further apart we grew.

You have eleven laughs
and seven scents
and I know them like a language.
But what will it matter when the bombs start falling
that you could never love me?

Then you turned in my arms
and it was midnight again on the beach at Ardmore,
when the starlight collected in some rock pool or rain pool
among the ragged crags at the water’s edge
and the two of us sat there
and we didn’t even breathe
determined not to the disturb that puddle’s flux,
the tiny light-show in its rippling shallows,
the miniature star-charts that for a moment inhabited it.

And you whispered that the planets, like us, are slaves to magnetism,
gravity’s prisoners, as they dance the same circles again and again,
and that even the stars ramble mathematically,
their glitter preordained to the last flash.

You turned again as I looked at the night sky
through your attic window
and thought of the satellites
gliding and swivelling in their infinite silence,
as they gaze down on humanity’s fumbling,
on you and me, as you sniffled against my neck
and the drumming, drumming flooded your bedroom,
on powerful men in offices pressing buttons
that push buttons in powerful men,
on the tanks, like ants, advancing through the wilderness.

Those pitiless satellites, aware of every coming conflagration
and what would burn in it,
knowing for certain in their whispering circuits
that, like our island’s fragile language,
like Gaudi’s pinnacles and the Leningrad symphony,
– even worse – like your teeth and our four hands,
the very stars through which they wander would be gone,

those brittle constellations with the billion sinners that orbit them,
extinguished in a heartbeat, absolved instantly,
as if your hand had brushed the water slowly once.

Poetry 101 – N. E. Skull

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Picture 170

A lecture hall filled with eager ears,

And fingers rushing pens across pages

Like inkwell olympians.

The professor tells his students what the poem is about.

And what it is not about.

And what to think.

And what to feel.

And what the right answers are

For when those thoughts and feelings will be graded.

The ghosts of Keats and Shakespeare

Are in the front row,

Rolling their eyes.

First Draft – N. E. Skull

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Picture 168

 

Or is it draught?
No, it’s definitely draft.
There’s a draught in here,
Better close the window.
I should close the curtains, too,
So as not to get distracted by the waves outside.
Is that a boat?
It’s surrounded by seagulls –
Must be a fishing boat.
I wonder how far out the boat must go
In order to yield such an impressive catch?
I wonder what kind of fish they are.
I should know, I’ve lived here long enough.
First Draught, first draft, first raft…
I wonder if I could build a raft,
If circumstances needed me to.
I doubt it. For some reason this worries me.
I’ve never been much of a craftsman.
I search “How to build a raft”.
It feels important to me now.
More important than this first draft.