World Poetry Portfolio, edited by Sudeep Sen in association with ATLAS Magazine
Dave Lordan is the first writer to win Ireland’s three national prizes for young poets. He is a former holder of the Ireland Chair of Poetry Bursary Award and previous winner of both the Patrick Kavanagh and Strong Awards for poetry. He has won wide acclaim for his writing and is a renowned performer of his own work, with the Irish Times calling him ‘as brilliant on the page as he is in performance’. He has read his work by invitation at festivals and venues across Europe and North America. His collections are the The Boy in The Ring (2007) and Invitation to a Sacrifice (2010), both published by Salmon Poetry. First Book of Frags, a collection of experimental prose fictions has just been published by wurmpress and a third collection of poems We are not falling, we are being thrown is forthcoming from Salmon. His poems are regularly broadcast on Irish national radio and he reviews for the flagship Arts show Arena. He is a contributing editor for The Stinging Fly, Ireland’s leading literary magazine. He teaches contemporary critical theory and poetic practice on the MA in poetry studies in Dublin City University and he teaches creative writing at primary, secondary, third, and adult education levels. He blogs on poetry and creativity at www.davelordanwriter.com.
Dominic Street, A Recipe.
To make a beach
where there is only worn out grass
you need a lot of cider going around.
You need a cast of galloping three to nine year olds.
You need the male chest and the Chinese alphabet.
You need the sun.
You need the drone of various miniature engines.
You need two lads leaning on the railings
who can no longer speak
and have lost the fear of drowning.
Passing by in the haze
You need yourself
Still wet with the belief
that beyond the light splintering on broken glass
and beneath the busted footpaths
there are seabirds,
A Prayer for the Monsignor
I remember you
The way you strode into our classroom
Your mouth full of tombstones,
Your thin lips full of the grave’s punishments,
Death strode in beside you with a cold wind
And our young limbs stiffened
As we felt the corpse’s grip within ourselves
One grey afternoon
You asked us all for news
And I stuck up my hand
And told in all sincerity
How in my room at night
I saw a statue of the Virgin
Filling up with light
And said what I had seen
Was nothing but a childish dream
I was nine years old and full of talk
And knowing that I had been awake
Knowing it was vision and not dream
Knowing it wasn’t lie or mistake
I told again what I had seen
The truth of light in a plastic queen
A liar I was
A blasted little liar’s what you said
And whacked a wooden ruler
Off the back of my head
And whacked again
A liar a liar you said
I’m still here to peddle dirt
You’re ten years rotting in the ground
Ten years crumbling into earth
I hope you found your mouldy god
But guess you’re mostly in the sod
Imagination knows no law
Vision’s way cannot be barred
The day after you struck me
I pissed in the churchyard
Fishing Trip in Gatsby’s
After a while leaning out over the balcony railing
and peering down
through strobes and dry ice
at the dance-floor
swarming with underage drunks
you swim back towards your seat
now that I have put my fist through the jukebox
and the sleeve of my finest white shirt
is a sponge of blood
what is the worst?
Are these people whirling beneath me
or are they only fish?
Are they only fish
gagging to be netted
And gutted by the bucketful?
And do fish have feelings?
You’ll answer these riddles in Gatsby’s tonight.
A fish or two will tell
how much or not it hurts
Though you’ll goof for a while
on the way
the rotating lights warp
like spooky luminous fish
in a bowl
on the fat jags of a smashed pint-bottle
before flipping it over your shoulder
into the shòal.
on the shelf above the fireplace
in front of a dead woman’s mirror
the ring is in the envelope
with the letter and the keys
the boy is studying the mirror
how everything passes it by
how it doesn’t get involved
how it forgets what it sees
what is wrong with me?
my country is not just a comic book lie
my country is a free country
in my country we
have established beyond challenge
the traditions and structures of democracy
no-one would dare put handcuffs on dogs
caught messing with fences
pigs attaching crazy signs to lampposts
are generally left to their own devices
not a word is ever said to foxes
doling out treacherous leaflets in batches
nor are ants denied the right
to carry ten times their body weight
pigeons too are lucky to live here
having plenty to eat and many addresses
train driving cats with tobacco stained whiskers
can do anything they like at the weekend
any bunch of confederate pests can host
an assembly of rats in a basement
crows amassed on overhead wires
may deem themselves a parliament
the mice in the hot press get friendly policemen
if hosting a rave or a champagne reception
best of all our friendly president, a seal,
talks to each without exception
and so I must practise being happy
as I circle the streets of our capital city
disguised as myself on a bike
for even our statues of virgins are allowed
to cry and bleed and move around
in any direction they like
Centuries ago in what we now know as Cuckoo To wn, during a very cold winter, the townspeople remembered that cuckoos arrived with the first sunny day of the spring. They deduced that if they could capture a cuckoo they would enjoy eternal summer. When the next spring came they discovered the first cuckoo of the sun in an oak tree on the outskirts of the town. That night they set about building a wall around the tree. All night they joked and complimented and slapped each other on the back and boasted about what geniuses and innovators they the people of Cuckoo Town were and how it would be summer all year round and how they would bask in the sushine when their neighbours in Crow Town and Pheasant Town and Pigeon Town and Chicken Town would be shivering and freezing to death. However, their premature celebrations ended abruptly when the cuckoo, who had no inkling of their plans, flew off in the direction of Robin Hill just as the sun rose on the second day of spring and just as the last stone of the Wall of Eternal Sun was about to be laid by an important personage of Cuckoo Town. Someone or maybe a few people smacked the wall in pure frustration then with a pick or a sledgehammer or merely a fist
the wa ll
that was m
koo an d the
syru p of
hout merc y or
s ign on top
all of the
Our father in Hybrassil- An Irish Proletarian Ballad
(Note: Hybrassil is an an Irish version of Atlantis, a mystical island appearing occasionally off the west coast)
When, following the big win- the real biggie,
uncountable zeros after his name-
he stands his friends an endless reservoir of stout
and decrees every church
a twenty four hour shebeen
abolishes retching and reflux and coughs
plugs the ancient flow of anal bleeding
decrees the removal of sleep from the brain
and promises the people that none
need ever stop drinking and smoking and snorting
and gambling and chomping ever again.
Ten-million-year weekend begins.
The paralytic age.
Then. Something mighty
cracks in the head of the Chieftain of Chiefs,
an unquenchable surging of rage through the blood
that cometary rage at being
not the only God
and off he goes to war against the world,
grinding armies to dust,
hurling mountains into the sun.
New York falls to him
and then the whole of Scotland
then Bangkok, Bhutan, Yakutsk.
Finale- his incredible one-man stampede,
two legs tied behind, routing
Skibbereen and Stalingrad, the Black and Tans, the Vietcong
Every last man jack of ‘em.
Bored and still mad up for it,
he announces a gang resurrection
bringing back to the mainland of clay and despair
Georgie Best and Michael Collins,
Christy Ring and Elvis.
One by one, in headlines everywhere,
he completely defeats them
at soccer and handball and hurling and dancing
at head-the-ball, bare knuckle fisting, cock-fights
and freaking out women.
Whereupon he finally declares himself
the Permanent Champion Of Everything.
Then, to end and begin, outstretched,
he assumpts himself live onstage in Moonshine Stadium,
as he bends to show off
a shining New Ireland
emerging from his asshole like an egg.