Peter O’ Neill


Peter O’ Neill was born in Cork in 1967. He is the author of six collections of poetry, his most recent Sker (Lapwing, Belfast, 2016) and Divertimento The Muse is a Dominatrix (mgv2>publishing, France, 2016). He edited And Agamemnon Dead, an anthology of early twenty first century Irish poetry with Walter Ruhlmann, also for mgv2>publishing, in 2015. His seventh book More Micks than Dicks, a hybrid Beckettian novella in three genres is due out in April, (Famous Seamus, London, 2017).



For Alessia

The soft burning talisman of your hand,
Its silken promise an emissary of love,
Like Giotto’s or Piero Della Francesca’s angels,
Creatures inflamed by an ardent desire

Skyward into the cobalt blue. Below it,
The solitary tree fruit-bound and heavy,
Rooted in the earth to stone and blood.
You lie below it trusting in the veritable

Craft of sleep. Your daily construct a ruin.
Legs and arms akimbo, mind altered to
The savage moon. And come the morning

Your child to play, nestling beside you
In the bed, her thoughts full of scripture;
Voicing the morning’s momentous incision.



Elephantine crown of eyes, delicately shimmering
In the great serpentine folds of the dreadlocks.
Hair darkened as a crow’s wing, her eyes betraying
The full horror of the situation.

After the debauch with the plummy wine,
Its depths from the jug seeming to contain
All of the blood of the earth, the haemorrhaging
Of images spilling from the blood blade.

Eyes transfixed by the snoring throat, watching the apple
Rise and fall; then with finality grasping
The tuft of hair firmly with her free hand.

She a sign now to all foolish men who would
Mix alcohol when they are in the company of
A beautiful, and intelligent woman.

New Model Army

It is in the syntax of the singular which arrests,
Awakening the readers, swept away on a veritable
Sea of Lethe, bearing them along into the calm
Of oblivion. A tattered notebook

And a pen versus television.
Draft the rough subject to rewind, and play out continuously.
Aleppo’s forest of human limbs. ( Repeat till tired)
In the mind of the reader silence is king.

The great calm which precipitates a whole empire
Of wounds, and the further catastrophes
In its aftermath. A library of Lot’s

Wives sit momentarily transfixed caught up
In the eternal mesmerism of words,
And the petrified inscriptions of a city now in flames.


The ghost mechanism of your biological body,
Its dual nature mirrored in your psychological make- up,
Caught between the demi-monde of the two,
The trace of you historic your only reference point.

Supply reels and reels of celluloid behind the eyes,
All absence traumatic signalled in your every move,
While Thanatos luxuriant in his feathered bed,
Laments the drawbridge with its heavy chains.

Announcing all involuntary motions, their wooden echo
In the moat and about the castle walls,
Your life rebounding to you in their sound.

Hold flesh and bones aloft in your mind
Once again assailed by the talismanic figures
Coming to you from your past, to utterly devour you.


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