Peter O’Neill – Touching on Derrida

Peter O'Neill LE P&W Dec V One 2018

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Touching on Derrida, 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.


Can there be touch without mobility?
Outside of memory?
Touching memories rewound, and around.
A place in the suspension of the super-sensory.

The origin, or state of play.
Apple, snake and a kick in the nuts.
And suddenly you are both consumed
By a forest of wounds.

Leaves are peeling laughter from the trees,
And the wood of eyes assail you

The Value of Things

When the time spent on things needs to be done,
And because there is more than just money
To be made in the investment,
Respect then can bring great dividends.

Investiture itself seen as an ennobling
Gesture; the resources spent, both
Temporal and spatial, on the acts
Themselves, and regardless of renumeration.

Plurality of thought being reflexive
To all formal structure, imbuing
To each act, howsoever apparently

Slight, a somewhat heroic stature.
The silent heroism of luminance
Underscoring the gravity of all cloud.

Bréviaire des échecs

Inhabit thought’s recesses, all the
Circum-revolutions of mind;
The infinite space inhabiting every
Single domain, all that will remain

Like the sovereignty of Queens –
The chessmen gliding dexterously
About Her on the board, inside
The hollowed space of the cranium

Whose resonance there echoes about
The diamond patterns, with
Such power plays and counter-manoeuvres

In a veritable plenitude of variations
Some being historic, like the Sicilian!
Awaiting then your apparent resistance.


I is born of strenuous pain recorded
Over tensioned millennium. Planted
Like a lance into the earth, the I
Rigidly staked alongside its

Standard bearer – the will. The will
And I then both collectively alone
Upon the surrounding terrain. There
They stand virtually and resolutely

Together. Feet planted firmly in the earth,
The world being that bedevilled creature
Oscillating somewhere between force and action.

The appalling letter head of sensible hand
Then gravitating with historic monuments,
Exercising both wash and utter redemption.

Demonic Substance

Over 50% of the world’s wealth
Is made by criminal means.
It takes a moment to digest this fact,
Which is as visible as the moon’s surface.

Such obscurity involves complexity
To such a degree which simply beggars belief,
Though helping to clarify Caravaggio’s
Celebrated chiaroscuro effect.

All this conspiring simultaneously
With the knowledge that we are
Put upon a globe spinning in the totality

Of space, mere microcosms
Involved in some obscure plan,
Involving a being that compels us to further kneel.   

Nietzschean Muse

Monumental transfiguration
Of statuesque proportion,
Instructed in the arts of the mannequin;
The way movement can transform vision.

The slow taking on board of the full
Weight inherent of physical beauty,
This allied with a clear mind and a
Determination of the will for the idea.

Beauty then and intelligence,
Thus aligned with a singularity
Of purpose; these are the 3 requisite Factors.

Primed then for the annihilation of the Other.
You can see it manifesting in the eye,
And tongue, all coming together sublimely in the stride.

In the Formal Gardens of the Royal Hospital Kilmainham

Sitting on the wooden bench mid-September,
The newly globalised sun heating you,
Due to global warming, and a French newspaper
Open upon your lap reporting the rise of

The extreme right in both Sweden and Germany;
un homme de 22 ans est mort lors d’une
altercation entre deux groupes de personnes.
The labyrinthian structure of the 17th century

Gardens, complete with statues of assorted
Muses indicative of enlightenment virtues
Such as reason and symmetrical harmony,

All to be eclipsed three hundred years later
By romanticism, decadence and nihilism.
Only to be further replaced now by the organism.

© Peter  O’Neill