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Peter O’Neill – Merrion Square

'Neill LE Poetry & Writing September 2018

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Merrion Square, poems by Peter O’Neill

Peter O’Neill is the author of several books, most recently More Micks Than Dicks, a hybrid Beckettian novella in 3 genres currently out of print, and The Dublin Trilogy: Poems & Transversions 1992-2017, a singular engagement with a 19th century French Master; launched in Paris in November last year to commemorate the 150th anniversary of Baudelaire’s death. He recently presented je la dis comme elle vient– The Appearance of the Homeric Muse in Beckett’s Comment c’est/How It Is at the How It Is Symposium organised by Gare Saint Lazare Players Ireland at the Centre Culturel Irlandais in Paris. He teaches EFL and resides in Dublin. His writing (be it poetry, translation, critical reviews or academic presentation) has been published widely, being translated into French, Italian and German. O’Neill has also edited two anthologies of poetry; And Agamemnon Dead ( mgv2>publishing, 2015) and The Gladstone Readings ( Famous Seamus, 2017). He set up Donkey Shots, an avant -garde literary festival, in his hometown of Skerries, North County Dublin, and currently hosts The Gladstone Readings.   www.irishtimes.com/culture   www.irishtimes.com/culture/books


Pearse Street Station

Your decadence is now reflexive,
When you pass Saint Andrew’s Church
On Westland Row, you think of
Baudelaire, such is your bad Catholicism.

A whole two decades spent unlearning,
Such is the significance of middle-age!
Which is why you take the trouble to
Walk down the encroaching alleyway

Only to confront the statue of the Madonna
At the back of the church, which is kept under
Key behind bars. This arresting image

Startling you, the feminine deity in a cage
Being reminiscent of Sado-Masochism;
Baudelaire… Your Bad Catholicism.

The Feast of the Assumption

After Courbet

Panties meaning freedom! That triangular
Tent covering the pubic mound.
Her subterranean trace the sign Ф
So, already a clue then to her mystery.

She then sphinx emboldened, the pungent
Aroma of musk, urine, even shit!
From out of the primordial caves
All fleshed out and primal, your slimy birth

Of origin unceremoniously unfurls.
The twin pillars of her thighs, smooth as
Any Portland Stone, their skyward

Movements supporting the colossus.
Under these skirts observe and learn;
From this orifice youse’ are ALL  coming from.


The Clearing

Early morning in Merrion Square,
Not far from Wilde and the Museum
Of Archaeology where Oldcroghan Man,
Arms flung abreast, his decapitation

And dismemberment a singular
Flourish in the grotesque, his bronZe
Torso leathery like some manbag
No worker of Hermes would design,

And which you will later bring your students
To admire, later in the day, after first
Getting them to read a poem by Heaney.

But first, you stroll under the young oaks
Whose skeletal leaves thrill to the
Gentle touch of dawn’s golden fingers.

Lines Written while Sheltering from the Rain

Important events often happen in
The vicinity of pillars or columns,
Such is the influence of the Greeks;
Dorikos, Korinthos and Ionia.

You could say we are all still sitting
Under their influence, as I am
Writing this here in Dublin just
Outside the Museum of Archaeology

On Kildare Street, where nothing
Now of any consequence is happening,
Except for the rain falling and the people

Are sheltering under the great pillars
Which evoke those distant places,
And all of those other distant times.


Snapshot of the 21st Century

We are on a Georgian Street in Dublin,
Mount Street Upper. Two women
Congregate outside the front door of an
Office to discuss, “What would be good

For the Business!” They are dressed
Very formally in business attire,
Somewhat masculine. Cut to the street,
And a young man passes in jogging tights

And vibrant red running shoes.
As he passes you are enveloped
In the aroma of his rather feminine

Perfume. The street is contemporaneous
With Jane Austen when women were seen
Rather than heard.  


© Peter O’Neill