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sexily serious poems by

Eileen Sheehan

née Flynn, born Scartaglin, county Kerry, 1963.



poems of the month

orpheus in soho

a seriously sexy man


measuring my face

old clothes

modern iranian poems

my hero

face at the bottom of the world

perhaps (maybe)

the diogenes sequence

where to store furs

i am and am not:
      fragments of rumi

destiny and destination

the zen of no-enlightenment

the iraqi monologues

already backwards

a light in ruins

separate amputations

the sexy jihad

awaiting the barbarians

the smell of possibilities

ultimate leaves

rejoice in the dog

post-millennium maggot

the book of nothing

confession from belgrade

dispatches from the war against the world

albanian poems

french poems in honour of jean genet

the hells going on

the joy of suicide

book disease

foreground trouble

the transcendental hotel

cinema of the blind

lament of the earth mother

uranian poems

haikai by okami

haikai on the edge

black hole of your heart

jung's motel

the second coming (rebus)

gloss on rilke's ninth duino elegy

wine and roses

jewels and shit:
poems by rimbaud

villon's dialogue with his heart

vasko popa: a shepherd of wolves ?

the rubáiyát of
omar khayyám

genrikh sapgir:
an ironic mystic

the love of pierre de ronsard


the rich man and the leper


art, truth and bafflement





the maxims of michel de montaigne

revolutionary maxims

nice men and
suicide of an alien

anti-fairy tales

the most terrible event in history




the three bears

three albanian tales

a little creation story


lazarus the leper



one not one

an occitanian baby-hatch

ancient violence
in the amazon

home, sweet home no longer

the ivory palace

helen's tower

schopenhauer for muthafuckas


are doctors autistic ?

never a pygmy

against money

did franco die ?

'original sin' followed by
crippled consciousness

a gay man's guide to soft-willy sex

the holosensual alternative

tiger wine

the death of poetry

the absinthe drinker

with mrs dalloway in ukraine

love  and  hell

running on emptiness

a holocaust near you


londons of the mind &
dealing death to the caspian


a muezzin from the tower of darkness

kegan and kagan

a holy dog and a
dog-headed saint

an albanian ikon

being or television

satan in the groin

womb of half-fogged mirrors

tourism and terrorism

the dog from sinope


this sorry scheme of things

the bektashi dervishes

combatting normality

fools for nothingness:
atheists & saints

death of a bestseller

vacuum of desire: a homo-erotic correspondence

a note on beards

translation and the oulipo






Nuadú, God of War

field guide to megalithic ireland

houses for the dead

ireland and the phallic continuum

irish cross-pillars

irish sweathouses

the sheela-na-gig conundrum

french megaliths


'western values'














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Song Of The Midnight Fox

I will come to you
in a cloak of darkness
on a sultry night
too warm for sleep

watch for the cloud of my breath
on your window,
for the whimper of nails
on the glass.

I will lead you
past the boundary of the garden
on a zig zag path
through moonlit fields.

I will guide you
to a secret place I know of
where a warm stream feeds
a shaded pool

and as you shake the moisture
from your body
I will land you safely back
inside your head.

And when you wake without me,

don't dismiss me as some creature
the darkness made you dream:
I am real as anything
you care to touch.

Step outside my love
inhale the morning;
you will catch
my lingering scent on the air.




There was no sex in our village there was only
cabbage. Row upon row of it filling the haggards
on high, straight ridges. This is where babies came from
we were told, in all seriousness. My sister still remembers
being shown the exact head that she was discovered under.
We knew everything about growing the small, limp
plants that needed constant watering. Learned how to protect it
from root fly and caterpillar infestations. Recognized
the different varieties, from January King to Curly Kale, sewn
in sequence for year-round cropping. Instructed
that it was never harvested until the hearts were firm and babies
were something only grown-up women found. Of sex
we knew nothing. We all hated it; the dank smell of it cooking
that permeated through the whole house for hours
after it was eaten, the sloppy look of it on the plates,
the run-off staining the spuds and bacon. But it was
good for us so we were made to finish it. Remember
how mother would add a teaspoon of soda to the water
to soften the fibers? Years later, I learnt that this destroys
the flavour, disarms the vitamins. The myth was easy
to believe in a farming community until our hormones and
neighbours' sons, who were educated in animal husbandry,
illuminated the shortcomings in our education.
Oh my sisters,
we are the daughters of cabbages and should celebrate our
cruciferae lineage; tough and sinewy of a strong variety,
adaptable to any climate, winter hardy;
never ones to take
ourselves too seriously: when I think on it,
my sisters, all that green we swallowed.



My Father, Long Dead

My father, long dead,
has become air

Become scent
of pipe smoke, of turf smoke, of resin

Become light
and shade on the river

Become foxglove,
buttercup, tree bark

Become corncrake
lost from the meadow

Become silence,
places of calm

Become badger at dusk,
deer in the thicket

Become grass
on the road to the castle

Become mist
on the turret

Become dark-haired hero in a story
written by a dark-haired child




My father,
a most gentle man,

fed the leavings of the table
to nesting crows
that screamed and whirled
in a nearby stand of trees.

From a branch of sycamore
that overhung
his newly-planted drills,
he suspended
by its gnarled legs
one dead crow;

for weeks
the wind-jigged carcass
swung there
in a crazy parody of flight.

My father,
a most gentle man,

appeasing the dark gods,
their appetite
for sustenance,
for blood.



an elegy of sorts

for want of an ash-tray
I rest my cigarette
on this grey plate,
a remnant
from some depleted set,
now serving as candle-holder

the cigarette tip sizzles
as it hits a pat of wax

I inhale and taste the tallow
as red seeps down the paper
stains the filter

a last molten drop
from a crimson candle, lit
as votive for an injured cat

the cat now buried
in a sunny spot
by the back wall

a favoured place of his
for grooming

there was a point to all of this
which now evades me

like that raw evening,
placing his still-warm body
in the grave, how everything
but the weeping
failed me



What She Sings Of

Once in a time he was the sky clothing me,
the warm earth supporting me,
the all-in-all of every night and day to me.

He was salt waves washing me,
he was wind caressing me, fire igniting me,
the first and last of every cause that moved me.

He was fish that jumped for me,
bird that sang for me, beast that nourished me,
the craving and cure of every need inside of me.

Now he is a bright ship pulling away from me,
white sail gone from me, his rough wake drowning me,
he is shimmer of scales growing out of me;

soon I will sing to him, comb out my hair for him,
draw him back to me, lure him down to me.



some contradictions that beset the ex-wife’s brain

When I got your news I sent a message
saying, I hope you all have a great day out.
This was no lie, but in fairness, it was only
part of the truth. I hope she drags you up and down
and up and down and up and down the beach
in the glaring sun, looking for the perfect spot
to lie in. I hope this pisses you off.
I hope she looks fat and pale in her swimsuit.
I hope there is cellulite. I hope that next door’s blanket
has three toddlers who kick sand all day and
squeal incessantly in high-pitched voices. I hope they drop
dollops of melting ice pops on your legs
and globs of egg sandwiches. I hope
there are wasps. I hope her sons are moody and
grunt all day in adolescent monosyllables
no matter what you ask. I hope a jellyfish
bites her on the arse. I hope you catch sight of a woman
way up on the beach and for a second
you think she’s me. I hope you spent at least
another hour and a half craning your neck
to find out. I take back the jellyfish,
it seems too cruel and besides her pain
might rouse your pity and move you
to minister to the wound. I hope
there is nothing like that. I hope that after
an hour and a half straining your bad eyesight
up along the beach you see that same woman who clearly
isn’t me: looks nothing like me. I hope
you are disappointed. I hope you arrive home
irritable and cranky from too much sun. I hope
you check your messages to see if I sent you one.
I did. I hope you get it. It says, not untruthfully,
I hope you all have a great day out. I hope you know
I was neither jealous nor missing you when I wrote it.
I hoped I could be good enough to send you
that one pure wish and nothing more. I hope you understand
I am too duplicitous to have managed that.
In retrospect, I hope you realised before today
what a black heart you left behind you
when you left me here. I hope you don’t think
I want you back. I hope
I’m not taking a step too far
writing you this. I hope you get the joke.



Sexing the Eggs

As she had no use for a glut of cocks
she filched the new-laid eggs from underneath
the squawking fuss of hen. Slipped from her pocket
a wooden peg, threaded through with string.

She held it still, above each egg in turn,
until it told, through movement, what she
was there to learn. Clockwise circles marked an egg
as female, a straight line back and forth condemned

an egg as male; if the peg held firm,
unmoving in the air, the egg was dead.
She tossed the cocks and gluggers to the brace
of hounds that waited eagerly outside:

their glossy coats and sparkling eyes
were admired the parish wide.



House of Recurring Dreams

Come and stay in my house of cats,
where the walls are whisper-thin.

The bed's unmade, the door's unhinged,
there's scribbles in the dust.

Spiders work the ceilings,
The floorboards tend to speak;

the eyes in all the photographs
will blink while you're asleep.

The stairs go up but also down,
the queen cat will lick your hand.

The TV wakes when no one's home,
the windows all look out.

The door is open, the door is closed,
the address is Here Nor There.

I'll serve you tea and pretend cake
in my garden of thin air.




The edge of a closed grave
is easier to stand by

the edge of a settled grave
is easier still

there are flowers,
a potted evergreen,
marble chippings that glint
charmingly in the sun

look Death, are you pleased
at how pretty we have made you?

do you like this calmness?

and I see down
past the marble chippings,
the layer of weed suppressant,
the sod, the clay, the sharp
flints of pencil, the wood,
the satin lining

to where she is,

becoming bone,

mother, do you like this calmness?

do you like these yellow petals I hold
up here in a world that never loved you enough,
the world you would never
allow to love you enough

I slip through the V in the wall

earth, be kind to my mother
earth, hold her gently



All we can talk of

the sucking ground under our feet
is fallen rain
the torpid clouds we look up at
are rain about to fall
that smear on your cheek
is rain in the act of falling
slugs proliferate, their tensile forms
the product of rain
say nothing else
but stand with me under the weeping skies
our bodies merging
clear and cold
rain our conduit
into this or any life



On the Morning of My Mother's Passing

On that morning
      grey crows gathered
      on the bushes
      surrounding her house

and my father not there
      to clap his hands loudly
      and scatter them

On that morning
      jackdaws encroached
      on my window sill
      jabbing for bread

      and I too busy with breakfast
      to whoosh themn away.

On that morning
      summoned too late
      to her bedside I saw

      a blue-black crow
      rise up from her shoulder

      three silver hairs from her head
      in its clenched beak.



He came to me

his voice in my head
like a white flame licking

his hands through my hair
like a sweet breeze blooming

my name on his tongue
like snowflake melting

his mouth on my mouth
like the warm earth yielding

Death is a seriously sexy man.


Eileen Sheehan has been published by Doghouse Books



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