Peter O’ Neill







Joyous Nietzschean Affirmation of the Other,

As Opposed to Dour-Faced Didactic Horror


Mandarin flits in an out from the far corner of the carriage,

Mixing with the burnished luminance of the morning sun.

Snug in the quiet of a spring commute,

It is easy then to be transported to Shanghai or Harbin.


There is a young idiot sitting opposite you

Typing feverishly on his ‘Power’ Book;

You know the kind, the ones who think

That public places are their own private offices.


He keeps throwing contemptuous looks

At the three working girls to which they,

Hilariously, are completely oblivious to.


One is too busy applying eyeliner painstakingly,

While the other laughs incessantly at her own nasty jokes.

I am reminded of some scene in some opera, or old movie.

The idiot, all this time, simmers away on the boil.




Matajudos – Poem on Good Friday


The town of Matajudos in Spain, it has been announced,

Is to officially have its name changed;

Matajudos literally meaning kill the Jews.


Apparently the name dates from the late fifteenth century,

When Catholic Spain, having evicted the Muslims,

Was now declaring war on all religions.


But what, one might ask, is the point of this

Wholly useless exercise, except for

The purpose of seeking to be politically correct?


After all, haven’t we been hating one another splendidly now for millennia?




Tea at the Berghof


We used to spend the spring evenings drinking tea

By the great fireplace on the ground floor,

Häelssen & Lyon I seem to recall.


From the thirty metre window you could look out

At the vertiginous panorama of the Austrian Alps,

With Salzburg in the distance.


Titian’s Venus hung on a far wall,

While the finest Persian carpets lay beneath our feet.

We felt invulnerable up there,


The sales of Mein Kampf, which had been made

Compulsory reading, had seen to that.

It was all so far from the house of men,

It was all so far from the pits of Ypres.




The Oystercatchers


the clouds beak has sliced the worm  (Kadir Aydemir –NPD)

There they are again, heads down hard at it,

Trying to catch the slow worm.

Must be hundreds of them, think of all that death.

The severed tubes agonising recoil,

Writhing with the throes of earth retching death.

This breakfast which I wake up to every morning is a massacre.

The Genocide of Hermaphrodites – imagine the headlines!

Yet, the oystercatchers continue like automatons.

As signalled by their colours, they see things in black and white.

Heads up, necks restraining until seeing the target,

Then letting the full weight of their body propel them forward,

Beaks slicing through the soft dew covered earth.

The terrible impact skewers the naked flesh,

The mad god nature knows best.






Thus dry lipped we pray when the day begins

And flushed with wine when the sun sinks.

So, above the fireplace reads the quote from Horace,

Up in Ard Choill, or High Wood,

Between the Norse sounding Skerries and the English Balbriggan.


There the Reverend Robert Taylor,

A descendent of Cromwellian ‘Adventurers’,

Had built for himself and his family the sea commanding views

Of Prospect House, known today

As Ardgillan Castle.


A place to go on Sunday picnics and Sunday walks,

To the sound of Lithuanian laughter, and dog barks.

Where, in the Irish Garden the Fan Trained Fruit Trees grow,

A reminder of our multi-layered historicity.




CXIX. – Cain and Abel

After Baudelaire


Race of Abel, sleep, drink, and eat;

For God smiles down upon you benignly.


Race of Cain, always in the shit,

Scale new heights miserably.


Race of Abel, your only sacrifice

Is to flatter the noses of the seraphim.


Race of Cain, as for your penance

When is it ever to end?


Race of Abel, warm your belly

By your patriarch’s hearth.


Race of Cain, in your cave

Tremble with the cold you Jackal.


Race of Abel, love and propagate,

As your loved ones too will do.


Race of Cain, fear heartburn;

Best to temper those appetites!


Race of Abel, you breed and truly believe,

Like woodlice upon a tree.


Race of Cain, born only for the open road,

Dragging your family up through penury.




Ah! Race of Abel, your exquisite cadaver lies

Bloated upon the smoking land.


Race of Cain, your labours will never

Bear you any fruit.


Race of Abel, your only shame being

That the sword is always beaten by the pike.


Race of Cain, storm the heavens

And throw that eejit from his thrown.




First Heraclitean Lesson: Playing!


You are playing catch with your five year old daughter.

She is excited throwing the ball back and forth to you.

The more you throw it together the more excited she becomes.

She jumps higher and higher throwing the ball with more accuracy

Every time, trying to get it past you.

You reciprocate throwing the ball past her.

Suddenly she stops and shouts, looking at you with much anger.

She didn’t like that, you getting the ball past her.

She makes a point of telling you, that was naughty!

“We’re only playing Love,” you explain gently to her.

“I don’t like playing,” She sulks. “I want to win!”

Resistance, then, is the magnet for all further change.











Peter O’ Neill was born in Cork (Ireland) in 1967.  He spent the majority of the nineteen nineties living in France, an experience which was to have a profound influence on him and his writing. His debut collection Antiope (Stonesthrow Poetry) appeared in 2013, and to critical acclaim. ‘Certainly a voice to the reckoned with.’ Dr Brigitte Le JueZ (DCU). His second collection The Elm Tree was published by Lapwing (2014), ‘A thing of wonder to behold.’ Ross Breslin ( The Scum Gentry ). His third collection, a partly bilingual work,  The Dark Pool is due to appear early in 2015 (Mauvaise Graine). As well as being a regular contributor to A New Ulster and The Scum Gentry his work has also appeared in The Galway Review, Danse Macabre, Outburst, Colony, Levure Littéraire, Mauvaise Graine, Abridged, and Bone Orchard.

He holds an honours degree in philosophy (DCU) and a Masters in Comparative Literature (DCU). He presented a paper on the appearance of Heraclitus in Samuel Beckett’s Comment C’est/How It Is at the 2013 Beckett and the ‘State’ of the nation conference at University College Dublin. He has translated Baudelaire, his ambition is to translate the complete Fleurs Du Mal, and Augusto Dos Anjos. He is currently working on his ninth collection of poetry.








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