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Anthony Weir
Blackstaff Press, 1981

This slim volume included the first frankly manloving
poems to be published in Ireland, in English, by an Irishman.
For the earliest-known queer poem in Irish, written
many centuries earlier, click

Selfportrait-metamorphoto by Anthony Weir


Club and cleft stick
Are man and woman
Seasoned by the sourness of centuries
Thickening to peat
Above them and below
Spring after ritual spring.

Bridget and the Barons stalk the land;
Private exhibitionists stand
In front of unappeasing mirrors;
Public exhibitionists squat
On church and castle walls
Emaciated, hideously lined,
Long since ignored
And no longer keeping sin at bay.

The Barons' offerings are made each day.
Marble monuments to heroes,
Jesus and mortality
Survey a land of cattle,
Men and women
Clubbed and cloven into sickly
Icons of fertility.

Rhadamanthys rules
With Minos and the bishops.
Meat is the eternal master
Where stones were once
(or are still Aligned):
bulls in bottles, bleeding
Hearts in plaster:
No new stone circles
ward off old Disaster.



Above the Abyss

in which the Thorn
my father died,
the wrinkled, sweating Rose
takes me as his Bride.



We operate

Hopelessly, and hopelessly expect
Our separate amputations to connect.



Belfast, early1950s

Three knocks on the door.
It's the Pig Man!
Up I jump - out to the scullery -
pick up the Pig Bucket
nearly full of potato-peelings,
cabbage-stalks, burnt toast,
sour milk, eggshells, and
the cooked tripe I refused to eat.
I hand it to the Pig Man
who goes to his cart
and empties it into an old milk-churn.

There were many things I wouldn't eat,
most of them parts of animals -
but also beetroot, tomatoes...
I loved porridge, baked rice pudding,
semolina, toast -
but it was eggs I liked the most.

On Tuesdays it was the
Buttermilk Man who filled
the chipped-enamelled quart-jug
from the back of his little trap.
He sold the butter also.
With luck, their ponies
with their noses
sometimes in nose-bags
dangling from their halters,
would leave delicious-smelling
turds for our scabby roses.

Every fortnight "The Old Woman"
nameless in her interestingly sordid
black shawl would call, and be rewarded
with sixpence. Once or twice - a shilling.
Her old-dog smell appealed to me.
Once I gave her half a crown,
and was myself rewarded
with a 'dressing-down'.
I'm older now than she was then...

Twice a year
the Scissors Man
and knife-grinder would turn up,
the dribbles from his nose
deftly moistening his
I loved to watch the trickle
as he honed our worn, stained steel...




"I am a voluntary patient.
"I am a voluntary patient.
"I am a voluntary patient.
"I am a voluntary patient.
"I am a voluntary patient...
"I am a voluntary patient
in this perfect ward."

This is true.
This is true.
This is true.
This is true.
This is true...
is true.




Urinals are strange places
where men stand
like itinerant sweet-peas
against temporary trellises
and fumble.

Men are lucky.
They can stand while they piss
and play cards or violas
or kiss.

Young boys compete to piss
over walls green with years
of competitions like this.

Men are lucky.
They can stand while they piss
and angle for strange fish
like Saint Peter.

click for illustrated version




In Aquitaine of ruined towers,
flat hedgeless fields of vines and wheat,
of wars and princes past and yet to come,
the public images of lust and luxury
wealth and drunkenness
lurk now inscrutably
on honey-coloured limestone churches.

Among the strange complexities of beasts
and monsters, harpists, lobsters, hogsheads,
skulk the shameless damned.
Less than a hammer-blow away from
Christ in his mandorla-glory, mouths and vulvas
are pulled agape, toads and serpents
suck rich women's breasts, bite
barons' balls; double-bodied
lion-headed birds peck at and bite
the groins of upturned mistresses and victims.
Men pull each other's beards. Snakes issue
from their mouths and ears.
In the shadow of the stone strange figures flit:
carnivals of carnal daydreams.

O tormented monks!
Couples enact their couplings sadly, ritually,
fearful, with stony
resignation and enormous apparatus.
Ithyphallic acrobats, the King of Fools,
Host-guzzlers with Pantagruel parts
enormous scrotum-pursers
celebrate apocalyptic January festivals of
innocent lost innocence
to usher in the New Age with the year -
Babilonia Magna Meretrix.

And from roof to door, on capitals and blind
arcades, devouring beasts slouch
and rampage through vine-scrolls
in the pure dark poetry of stained
honeycoloured stone: elegantly-twisted
soul-secrets of a world that's past,
the cries of saints and longing,
images of Hell and Paradise

in Aquitaine of ruined towers,
flat, hedgeless fields of vines and wheat,
of wars and worlds and princes past
and yet to come.



In Massachusetts there's a law
preventing goats from wearing trousers.


could bring you wealth
or allow you to be
less-starvingly, filthily, freezingly poor

if you made a contract with a man about to die
and dug up his body after burial
and flayed him from the waist down
in one single piece,

and smoked the skin to make
brown hairy tights with genitals attached.

A coin stolen from a rich widow
at Easter, Whitsuntide or Christmas,
and placed in the corpse's scrotum (= purse)
would be renewed like sperm
in testicles when spent.
And thus you would be liberated from the curse
of cold and poverty, even if you
were a woman, magically manned,
in a poor and treeless, icy land.




A rent of flesh -
Two tissues shot -
One moment's gather -
The ravelling rush -
The loosening of one knot
picks out the threads
to wind another.

Metamorphoto by Anthony Weir


Flowers are flowering
Larks are larking
Badgers badgering
Pines are pining
Rushes rushing
Fish are fishing
Plants are planting
Swallows swallowing
Stars are starring
The moon is mooning

And man is manning

(click for a poster version of the above poem)




the First of May
is launched the most exciting of charities:

The Society for the Masturbation
of Lonely Old Men in Public Lavatories.

 Please help those who cannot help themselves
and bring them just a little pleasure,
and remember that for each one who delves
for what might have been a treasure
at one time, a hundred more lie
alone in their beds, longing to die
for the want of a helping hand
- for the want of what they are told
would be a little better. 




Staring at a spot on the wall
or the ceiling
is not simply escapist
but is the least horrible
way to dissociate yourself
from the feeling
and from the act, whether
victim or rapist.

Sometimes the best things
that happen you are bad.
Which is why so few
old men go mad.




Are the Rights of Man:
To wear no clothes
To be illiterate
To have no name.



Because I sometimes talk to Death

and not to God
the latter says I am a Fraud.
The Former kisses me
on bended knee -
I hold my breath.




I cast
at the dorsal fin above the water
that seemed like a shark's to my pride.
I struck
and the searching virgin mouth like a vulva
took my practised, indifferent and embedding barb.
I played her as she strained my rod
and rose and dived and twisted.
But in the next the simile reversed
and I was the taker of the unwitting
symbol that he was.
Crack! on the side of the boat.
A second crack! with the back of his head
and the golden image was dead.
I cast again.



Eochu, Lord of the Underworld

Slung between powerful thighs
Fixing my humble and envious eyes
Slides out of its stock
Veins standing out, thick
As a man's arm:
Long and splendid and black
Extends towards the ground
Then with a masterful flick
Slaps a taut belly
Swings down again
And slowly slips back
Into thigh-portal
Leaving me trembling and awed
By unconscious display
Of superhumanity.




is love is
a hoarding
behind which hide
desperate competitions.




is rind around desire
ration of our fire
a hole of consciousness
a knife to carve the emptiness




In dark courts and entries
between cold urinals
long since demolished
where men looked over and down
at each other (hopeful, peninsular)
little girls loitered.
Always in pairs
(for they were not lonely)
they whispered to grim, sidelong men
How much will you give us to rub you off, Mister
Little girls with dirty
little-girl faces worked
stony-faced men with quick
and matter-of-fact
little-girl hands
to new-old
I-told-you-so of soft flesh

when some men don't pay

near old, lost urinals
where other men
sidelong and wistfully
fingered each other
(bleak seas round peninsulas)
shifting from toilet to toilet
or paired off in the night
past old little girls
for brief, hopeless pleasures.


Metamorphoto by Anthony Weir


On a frosty afternoon in January 1977
a lion escaped from his rickety cage
in a travelling circus
in a Belfast suburb. He was followed
by police and circus people
with chairs and sticks. A middle
aged woman in a pink dress
collapsed with fright when she saw
a lion in her back garden. He was
cornered in a car-park and covered by

4 submachine guns
3 Enfield rifles
1 double-barrelled shotgun
1 single-barrelled shotgun
and several police revolvers.

After he was finally lured into a cage
by the lion-tamer (with whip)
a policeman said
he would rather go after gunmen than lions




If the meaning of life could be put into words
the Bible would not have been written
nor the Upanishads, nor the Holy Q'uran,
for the well-known Meaning of Life well-understood
would have precluded all those often-unhappy
displacement-activities that are called Culture
and Civilisation, and which only occur
because the meaning of life is unknown - or,
rather, known only to a silent, invisible few,
who, if asked to express it, would say:
Shit. The meaning of life is mystery and shit.
Or: Nothing. The meaning of life is no-meaning.

But nobody asks them because they are diffident
dissidents, and even if they were asked, no-one
would pay any heed to their answers
because the heedless questioners' whole lives,
their planet-shattering apparatus of culture
is based on the lie that life's meaning
is something other than nothing,
other than shit -
and they and their children are it.



near which I lived for a year

Near my house and up the river
in a field scattered with stones:
a line of trees that sway and shiver,
and Bone House - ruined room of bones.

Beside the trees that sway and shiver
ten thousand femurs made a single room
where fallow-deer cavort and quiver
and the brambles arch and bloom.

Where fallow deer cavort and quiver
a man stands staring at the view
among the bones that old men severed
from the oxen young men slew.

Among the bones that young men severed
prowls his cage of living bone:
a hermit in his skull forever
rarely sad to be alone.

A hermit in his skull forever
stares from windows brightly stained
by fancies flowing like the river
through a landscape it has drained.

Fancies flowing like the river
by this arcane, brittle place
conjure butchers and their lovers
jerking in their brief embrace,

conjure butchers and their lovers
briefly joined by flesh to flesh
among the mortared bones long severed.
Bloody fancies briefly threshed

among the mortared bones long severed
by the butcher's searching knife,
and, since then, I have endeavoured
to make nothing of my life.


(A piece of the Bone House sits in my bathroom.)




of the disjunctiveness of us all.
Love is honest and wholesome and simple
that sucks cocks through a hole in a wall.




Sirius shines
the dog star
low in the sky
the brightest star
revolving round
a small dark sun
which no man has ever seen
like a body
round a soul
or words
around a man
or a man
around his words
or a man
around a man
or words
around a soul
like a body
which no man has ever seen
a small dark sun
revolving round
the brightest star
low in the sky
the dog star
Sirius shines




Futility and fate are fused within that orifice
which turns men out unfinished
unmaking and unmade.
Then, from its origin
the ugly, silly frontispiece
slips out inert, expended from parade.


Selfportrait-metamorphoto by Anthony Weir



How wonderful
are spectacles -
so magical
they let us see
other obstacles
(which may not be).

like testicles
are usually a pair.
But spectacles
are appendicles
you can choose
not to wear.



A poet
is a compassless,
sometimes compassionate person
in a space strangely open
but private like a wound,

around which torture, intimidation,
corruption, exploitation, collaboration
and accommodation make poetry
utterly irrelevant, however splendid it may sound.




As a bubble in water by its own levitation
rises up to its own, in its own is destroyed,
death is an event continuous as creation
whose season ceases in consummate void.





Poems from this page are included
in the handsome
which you can download
here and now



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