Ciaran O'Driscoll was born in Callan, Co. Kilkenny in 1943, and presently lives in Limerick, where he lectures in the School of Art and Design at the Limerick Institute of Technology. He has written five collections of poetry. The most recent, Moving On, Still There: New and Selected Poems was published by the Dedalus Press in 2001. In the same year, Liverpool University Press published his childhood memoir, A Runner Among Falling Leaves.
He has won a number of awards for his work, including the Patrick and Katherine Kavanagh Fellowship in Poetry.
It's out of the question that we don't
pull ourselves together now chaps
for various Muslim and Hindu reasons
also reasons of State, various
longterm goals but above all
because of the task in hand, namely
fixing this blownup length of track.
To which purpose, it almost seems, rebels
have been deployed in the country round -
those flashes of light up on the hills
are not chance reflections, it's called
heliography. I thought that would
be able to concentrate your minds.
Well it's all together then chaps
for the Empire and the young prince
in the carriage happily absorbed
collapsing houses of cards.
No images emerge from the country
beyond the roadblocks.
Under the stars, the cosmic wheels,
no images emerge.
I watch you toss your body backwards, forwards,
and work your jaws as if trying
to gnash your teeth at the air
silently, and finally
like a small coarse fish splashing the surface
you say, ‘They’ve finished the post-mortem.’
Your tone of voice is defiance
with sadness in its tail
like a prisoner’s who forebodes
a harsh sentence, a peerless jury.
You speak replacing your head
in the nosebag of oblivion.
Everything is normal on all roads
leading to the interior
under the conniving stars.
Everything is normal.