For You – N. E. Skull



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.

Meeting Place – N. E. Skull


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


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.

Picture 3
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.

The Church Of Saint Margaret Of Cortona – N. E. Skull


Picture 167

Our Father, who art in heaven,
The sacraments – why only seven?
I could think of three or four
To even out that sacred score.

Lipstick on his Roman collar,
Befitting of a holy scholar,
Three years since her last confession,
“Forgive me for my indiscretion.”

Bum implants beneath her habit,
Should Father Whitely think to grab it.
Thank you, Lord, for life’s sweet splendours,
Thigh high boots and lace suspenders.

Beautiful – N. E. Skull


Picture 109

I do not like the word ‘beautiful’.
It floats too easily from the mouths of lovers.
Rather, it should be heavy –
a weight you carry with you always
and protect at all times,
until you find someone
worthy of unburdening you.
It needs more consonants –
harsh ones that wait in the pit of
your stomach and then
shoot out of you like lava.
Harsh consonants that make
their mark upon 
the heart
they speak to –
one lousy t is not enough.



Morning – N. E. Skull


Picture 86

The sound of waves crashing against the pier is strong in my memory,

Although I am sure the tide was out.

Perhaps it was the alcohol reeling inside my head

Seeping into my memory and pandering to the

Sentimentalist in me.

We lay there until dawn, determined not to leave

Until the cold set in.

The cloudless sky was a perfect canvas for the airplanes

And we made plans to be in one of them together someday,

The kinds of plans that never make it past the haze of wine.

We allowed ourselves the novelty of honesty,

Unaware of the sobriety of daybreak,

Confessing things we wouldn’t dare say

Over the breakfast table, if we ever got the chance

To share one.