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zJohn W. Sexton was born in 1958 and is the author of five poetry collections: The Prince’s Brief Career, (Cairn Mountain Press, 1995), Shadows Bloom / Scáthanna Faoi Bhláth, a book of haiku with translations into Irish by Gabriel Rosenstock (Doghouse, 2004), Vortex (Doghouse, 2005), Petit Mal (Revival Press, 2009) and The Offspring of the Moon (Salmon Poetry, 2013). He also created and wrote The Ivory Tower for RTÉ Radio, which ran to over one hundred half-hour episodes from 1999 to 2002. Two novels based on the characters from this series have been published by the O’Brien Press: The Johnny Coffin Diaries and Johnny Coffin School-Dazed, which have been translated into both Italian and Serbian. Under the ironic pseudonym of Sex W. Johnston he has recorded an album with legendary Stranglers frontman, Hugh Cornwell, entitled Sons of Shiva, which has been released on Track Records. He is also the blog poet Jack Brae Curtingstall. He is a past nominee for The Hennessy Literary Award and his poem The Green Owl won the Listowel Poetry Prize 2007. Also in 2007 he was awarded a Patrick and Katherine Kavanagh Fellowship in Poetry. His sixth poetry collection, Futures Pass, is forthcoming from Salmon Poetry in May 2018.
Photo of John W. Sexton courtesy of Niall Hartnett.




The Earth Dreaming at Bealtaine


A quarter coin, the moon nearly spent through April:

weakened moonlight hits the ditch-water where hedgehog

sips. The moon heats a corm in his head; roots

swell into his brain and he falls asleep

between earthen walls. Hedgehog’s brown thoughts throb

through the hill, set off the other hedgepigs a-dreaming,

until every ditch, every mattress of packed leaf

has a germinating mind of moonlight.

In the brightening sky the moon grows spines,

dreams its way to the earth, nuzzles the round mountains.

Crows wake suddenly in their beds of shadow,

shake their wings white and take to the air. April

eases past midnight and the goddess of the earth

stirs in her stiff shawl. Kraaa sing the crows,

a backwards clock as night winds tight and the people

in their houses mumble at pillows that mumble back.


In a farmer’s dreaming head his fields fill

with great stones, stones snoring like bleating sheep.

White boulders unearth themselves through grassy scraw,

graze the meadows raw. He commands his dog

to bring them home but the boulders grind their way

to the Cullavaw stream, block its waters as they drink.

The farmer tears his throat sore from screeching

at the dog, for his sheep are missing and the fields are full

of strange things. Kraaa sing the crows,

a backwards clock as night winds tight and the people

in their houses mumble at pillows that mumble back.


In the night sky over Sliabh Luachra there is no moon,

only hedgehog’s dream of the moon, his lice leaking

out as the constellations. Sleeping in the warm earth

hedgehog becomes the still heavens, the fixed stars,

the ink called sky. Hedgehog dreaming himself immense

begins to snort in his sleep, his snot snuffling the grainy

soil damp. The rivers answer his dream in the cold fields

of sedge. Everything becomes hedgehog in his simple head.

Lice agitate suddenly in the dark ink of crows, which shake themselves

free of stars. April bleeds into May and the grainy earth

snorts in its slumber. Kraaa sing the crows,

a backwards clock as night winds tight and the people

in their houses mumble at pillows that mumble back.



©2018 John W. Sexton



Author Links


Review of Petit Mal in Contrary Magazine

The Offspring of the Moon published by Salmon Press

Featured poet in The Weary Blues

More John W. Sexton poems published in Southword







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