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Best of Irish Poetry 2010
Editor: Matthew Sweeney
Songs of Earth and Light
Barbara Korun poems translated by Theo Dorgan
Done Dating DJs
by Jennifer Minniti-Shippey
Winner, 2008 Fool for Poetry Competition
Richesses: Francophone Songwriter Poets
Edited and translated by Aidan Hayes
Munster Literature Centre
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James O’Sullivan has been published in numerous literary journals and anthologies, including The SHOp, Cyphers, Southword, and Revival. He has previously received commendations in both the Munster Literature Centre’s Fool for Poetry International Chapbook Competition and the Charles Macklin Poetry Prize. James has also been shortlisted for the Fish Short Story Prize. His third collection of poetry, Courting Katie, is forthcoming from Salmon Poetry in 2017. James, who holds a Ph.D. from University College Cork, is the Founding Editor of New Binary Press.
Different Kinds of Life
They’re like your mother calling, the overzealous street traders,
sat on corners, under murals, flogging exalted local rags.
Crumbs from spiced beef sandwiches—laced with relish—
perch atop ragged heirlooms wrapped about bulbous frames.
It’s all there, the different kinds of life scattered along the narrow,
twisting alleys, where four-faced liars hide from the technicoloured
rows; the future idols beating out their undiscovered anthems.
Shorthaired sirens ring bicycle bells as they float by, causing bearded
hipsters in factory-aged boots to collide with Victorian sandstone,
interrupting strangers as they argue the suitability of meals—
I’d ate stew any time of the day, mornin’, noon, or night.
Old friends, bound on account of their schooldays, trade the sca—
I’m sorta in-between things at the moment, I was down in Pfizer’s.
Restlessness pours from these streets, where lovers scream obscenities
more frequently than they walk hand-in-hand, and teenagers rebel
by sitting on skateboards while drinking coffee, the grown-up drink.
It’s fierce crack, leaping against the pulled shutters, listening
to their bellow as your numb carcass drives against the steel—
it’s a story that should be fondly regaled on the Courthouse steps;
some will listen, others will squat around the musician, adoring
their new idol, begging for jukebox mode, clutching their coins
as tightly as their cans of Dutch Gold and Tuborg, wishing
they’d poured it all into bottles adorned with hand-sketched labels.
The shoes are off now, it’s barefoot on the smooth cobbles
put down to match sleek blue Christmas lights, imported no doubt,
more suited to European guests than the gaudy tinsel predecessors.
C’mon we’ll go to Hillbilly’s, I’d fuckin’ murder a breast-in-a-bun.
It’ll be easily swallowed once those two fingers reach deep enough
to account for the night’s work—this place has not burned in decades.
A dozen gathered upon the bench overlooking the Lough,
quietly hassling the young lads walking past, disgusted they hadn’t hurls
tucked under each arm—in their day, you were never seen without ash.
They spoke of the better days gone by, as well as more exotic things—
Man United, grandchildren in London and other faraway lands.
They strained to listen over the groaning artics, dissected
by the white line running down a road wide enough for one.
D’ya remember when that was all green?
He was excited to go home for his dinner, to see what she had made,
but was weary of the journey, teeming with steel and marauders.
©2016 James O'Sullivan
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