Lorcán Black is a poet from the Republic of Ireland, now living in London. He has previously had poetry published in Harbinger Review (forthcoming), The Chiron Review (forthcoming), The Great British Write-Off Anthology 2015, Eunoia Review, Octavious Magazine, Boyne Berries: Issue 17 & 14, Wordlegs and Eratio among various others. He is Editor in Chief of Anomaly Literary Journal.
Ships resembling coffins float ceremoniously
across the open bowl of the Atlantic-
ignorant of the cargo digesting itself
in the belly of its own vast hunger.
The sea accepts what it is given:
swallowing its gifts of shroud-less dead.
In the homeland,
fields like open wounds peel back
to reveal a nest of bones to the elements.
The bones are nameless.
They are a puzzle,
grotesque in their fragments.
The pieces are nothing unordinary-
merely remnants of various villages:
countless brothers or wives,
a hoard of infant ribcages,
fibulas, finger bones
or a fistful of various teeth
from some tenant farmer’s
four starved daughters.
Survivors laden with rickets
reach new land, wrap their tongues
around foreign sounds.
I imagine them
learning how not to consume
every morsel that passes into their hands,
or to picture the earth in which it grew,
even in the New World, i Meiriceá,
still grasping a hesitancy
deep as roots
as the unthinking eye
strays into the far corners of fields,
and comes the memory of wind
over a cradle of nettles-
the visions of unmarked pits,
the cold menagerie of bones.
At night I dream of a window
through which there stands a bald tree,
the many aching limbs scratch the sky.
The heavens hear no prayers.
And as I walk, I drag a blackness in my wake.
The night birds know no lullabies.
How the bald head of the moon laughs cruelly at this.
The roads know no secrets or lies.
They know nothing but truths
which unfurl out ahead, great cobbled
rolling off to a destination
uncertain and unknown,
From where I am laid down
I have two views:
One is the cold metallic eye of a square mirror,
busying itself with memorising the opposite wall;
and a window, swallowing and releasing a single moth.
The moth is trying to bring the light with it,
crossing and re-crossing
between a light bulb and the window
and soon gives up.
This is how they shall find me, finally:
The blood-jet flooding the hot waters,
having swallowed too many pills for my penances.
All this water cleanses like a mini-Jordan.
Soon I will be whitened and pure as Christ.
My ceiling now is white
with one grey smear surrounding
my naked light bulb.
I lie quite still, laid out as if for burial
as if I were King Tut.
Endless streams of gaggling heads
appear in my view with their doctoring squints.
This is a ritual.
Bind together the feathers, gather the blood in a bowl.
Smoke sage over a pyre
and burn the lanterns down low.
Watch how the silence,
like distance, enlarges itself up on me:
a shadow on a wall, relentless.
Outside the moon tears
open like a bright hole in black cloth.
Pale stars wink jealousies at my feet and I walk godly.
The doctors chatter and glitter me with smiles.
Now I lie quite still,
clear and sharp as a pane of glass
while from the window unobtainable
stars glimmer viciously.
The statues of saints
I have adorned have all turned black.
The papers are finalised,
by morning the doctors shall set me free.
Starlight runs down my walls with the hours;
the painstaking fall into dawn.