Six Poems by Patrick O’Reilly

Fire Down on the Labrador

The sealers lose all sense of motion.
Unscathed below their puny disaster,
a dozen fathomless dimensions
_______— a bulk of ice, a gliding whale,
pressed rib to rib, too snug for light.

One man                             heaves
himself off
like a jilted lover, leaves his coat
of flame on the oceantop, falls until
he is nothing

but another mystery
wedged into negative space.



Cnoc Ailse

He’d let that fire breed all summer.
The furnace, too, til she burnt bone
dry. You’d be boilt. He’d be
in three sweaters, shivering. Grinning.

The kitchen became
A cavern of smoke, baccy yellow
phlegm that dripped from low arches,
bloomed in the walls
___________________til they wheezed
to life, puffed and swelled,
tipped and sighed,
when the neighbours plucked his body
out like a brown tooth. The crooked hobbler,
that whole time carrying
that hoof-sized secret in his lung.




His hands             like fixed animals
_________ _____the soil inextricable
_________ _____from his fingernails

Himself                 stretched horizontal
_________ _____the evergreen scarp of eyes
_________ _____a saline mist

The banks            engulfed in roses
________ ______himself inextricable
________ ______skull spine and cradle



Private Conversation

Months erode. My face
inherits your face.
Your eyes flob
beneath my new-furrowed
brow, newly steep.
My skin tans
over your jaws,
gaunted from singing your songs,
grinding the crop of your dust.
The grey, unshaved crookedness
is strange. It’s wonderful strange
to be your daughter’s son,
to watch her eyes knit
and purl away quick as if
she has opened a door which should have stayed closed.



The Witch i nGrief

All practiced Catholick Magick won’t bring back:
She scours for red, red roses in the gravel.
Ste. Anne waters vialed turn bubble-brackish,
not meant to travel,

___________________not meant to accomplish any more
than straightening crooked legs, evicting gout.
If one should find the rose of St. Therese
burning red on red upon his stone,
snuff it out.




Spending their days wrist-deep in death,
hating it, even in night-sized doses.
Even in sleep the Old Hands exaggerate,
two quick blessing slashes
wake long-suffering wives.

Dreamfish open easy as envelopes
before the offal seeps through their sheets
into morning. In daylight
the knife slips beyond hatred
to what might be waiting for them:

an exaltation of mer-maids,
a vengeance of cod-faced devils.



“Can anyone tell me who invented the lightbulb?” One boy raised his hand. “PATRICK O’REILLY,” he replied. As the class erupted with laughter, he could feel his face turn bright as one of O’Reilly’s Irradiant Lamps. “But he did,” he cried, “he did!” It was true on his home planet.


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