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Liberty Walks Naked
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C. L. DALLAT

 

 

 

C.L. Dallat, poet, musician, critic, (b. Ballycastle, Co. Antrim, lives in London), reviews for TLS, Guardian and BBC Radio4’s Saturday Review, won the Keats-Shelley International Poetry Prize 2017 and the Strokestown International Poetry Competition 2006, among others, and is currently The Causley Trust’s centenary-year musician/poet-in-residence at Cornish poet Charles Causley’s Cyprus Well house: latest collection, The Year of Not Dancing (Blackstaff). www.cahaldallat.com

 

 

 

 

Miss Fogarty

 

 

Absurd to make a Joycean thing of it
in terms of bildungsroman or
home-town political shenanigans
but our one-room Public Library
shared its space with the Court
of Petty Sessions, placing the literary act 
in a judicial context, subtly raising
bibliographic misdemeanours—damage, fines,
inappropriate selections—to the level
of the poachers and minor rebels
who—we could read in the Northern
Constitution—had been processed through
that shared municipal experience.

I’d read all of Portrait at twelve and knew
I’d verged on material that, had Miss
Fogarty (first name Jean, I once heard,
her father the bowler-hatted clerk
to the Urban District Council, a brother
brewing mate and salvation in dark Peru)
been on duty when I’d had it stamped out,
her unofficial censorship would have
avoided this impasse, her role being
the stamping out of precisely that sort of thing.

 

With those oak doors you couldn’t peek
to see if it was her or the less-clued-up
deputy: and they’d have heard you clump
up the bare stairs with a pile of hardbacks
anyway. Even if you’d a Davin or Cranly
to engage her in erudite misdirection
it wouldn’t do to slip it back on the shelves
as without due process, missives about fines
would assuredly find their way from the County
to the borrower’s home address, words
with the paterfamilias ensuing. The very essence
of a moral scruple that Joyce fellow would
have tied his inwit in knots with for sure.

 

 

©2017 C. L. Dallat

 

 

Author Links

 

'The Year of Not Dancing' in The Guardian

Poetry at C. L. Dallat's website

 

 

 

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