Jean O’Brien – Online, Offline

O Brien LE P&W 2 Nov-Dec 2023

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14th Anniversary Edition, Live Encounters Poetry & Writing Volume Two Nov-Dec 2023.

Online, Offline, poems by Jean O’Brien.

Online, Offline

First push the yellow button, then the green,
type in some text, wait for the results.
We are dumb struck, our tongues buckle,
welded, cut, sutured, stitched.

Even as we do daylight seeps into twilight,
the blood moon rises. Time seems fluid,
unstable, volitile, faltering.
The screen blinks with blue light.

The glare of brightly coloured pixels
fool our brains into thinking it is daylight,
we are splitting, ravelling, weaving.
We are disturbed by this;

just as we are disturbed by a field of sunflowers
rioting, the swell of green sea washing over us.
The sight of the marvellous Blue Footed Booby
fires synapsis, connects us.

We are all traced, tracked, moored
by machines, that help and hinder us.
The heart’s tenacity, sometimes fragmented and off beat
returns like the sanctuary of an incoming tide.

All Worlds Great and Small

I follow the yellowing laurel leaves
strewn breadcrumb along the path,
I keep the lake on my right side,
glimpsing grey water Kaleidoscoped
between the trunks of trees
and an eye on my left side for
a chance movement of shy deer,
their thin stick legs rising from
the forest floor, their velvet muzzles
quivering in early summer air.
Their every sense alert, trumpet ears
oscillating to catch a miniscule change
of vibrations in the atmosphere.

This is all mere imagination — nothing
is on the path that stretches in front of me.
But how can I say nothing when every step
on the silt and gravel and stones and tiny
brooks are semaphoring life from all angles?
Pause to really see the tight furled
green fronds of fern little landlocked
seahorses tethered to a miniature tree.
A large moss covered rock, when closely
looked at shows a bonsai world of seeds,
and sapling and beetles traversing its
mountainous terrain with the same survival
imperatives we all share in this tumult.
I need to look again at the bigger picture.

Mid Winter

We have no open fire anymore,
the builders boxed it in, sometimes I listen
to the wind soughing and think in spring I hear
baby birds sing before they fledge. We warm
oursleves in front of the television,
watching flickering images where once
we gazed mesmerised by the dance and flare
of orange flames, relaying some old plot.
Nowadays we rely on candles for
that ancient gleam and glimmer.

Hung on our cave wall is Art, behind glass
professionally framed, no more hand prints
in ocre smeared in dust or images
of animals marked out with charcoal sticks.
We turn the taps on without thought, no one
now in the West hauls water from the spring
or river. Outside in the sky, dimmed
somewhat by the glare of sodium ,
still sit the stars, the clouds, the moon
and no doubt will do, until one day they don’t.

© Jean O’Brien

Jean O’Brien is an award winning poet with six collections to her name, her latest being Stars Burn Regardless, published in 2022 by Salmon Publishing. She was poet in residence in the Centre Culturel Irelandais in Paris for October/November 2021. She has won, been places and highly commended in many competitions, coming first in the Arvon International UK and the Fish Internation and amongst others has been Highly commended in the Forward Single poem prize (UK) and was awarded a Catherine & Patrick Kavanagh fellowship and various Arts Council awards including a travel and training grant. Her work has been broadcast and has appeared in many anthologies and in Poems on the Dart (Ireland’s Rapid Rail System).

Earlier this year her celebrated poem Skinny Dippying was set to music and voice by composer Elaine Agnew and sung by New Dublin Voices at the inagural launch in Trinity College, Dublin. She has collaborated with the artists Dixie Friend Gay (USA) and With Ray Murphy (Irl). She holds an M. Phil in cw/poetry from Trinity College, Dublin and tutors in same in places as diverse as Prisons, Community Centre, Schools, Travellers Centres, the Irish Writers Centre and at post graduate level.

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