Peter O’ Neill


Peter O' Neill 2








When we were legion, nesting crows

Signalled our departure from the bay,

At Drumnagh. Now to strike out North,

With a determined march, our blood up.


It was the month of Mars, warlike we came,

The blood pumping clearly in our veins.

Our centurion sang a marching song,

Which we returned to let the enemy know.


The Roman eagle had come. And our ranks

Were full of both novice and veteran.

For Servius it was his first campaign.


He marched with equal parts of fear and

Wonder. And when someone cried, “ Aquilam!”

We watched it soar high above us, as one.






On Charon’s skiff we boarded, eight men

In, our contubernium, set off

From Deva Victrix in LXXXII,

At Agricola’s bidding. Mare


Hibernium! Us, but a lone cohort

Set sail to consolidate the

Trading post at Drumanagh promontory,

And to ascertain the strength of the


People there. Our blood was up

With the flush of success during our

Wars in Caledonia. Agricola


Wanted to consolidate our position,

And extend the empire into places unknown.

All in the month of Mars, god of war.






mille passum… unmolested, we marched.

Till one of the immunes, an engineer,

Placed the first wooden marker to denote

The first M paces, counting both feet.


Such is how empires begin, people

Forget. Built on the strenght and power

Of two small feet, multiplied by D.

All synchronised, and marching in pairs.


Such momentum. Servius looked down

Briefly at his cuneiforms, bare to

The air. The rest of his foot sandal


Bound. He but a single unit of this

Century. Two hundred feet on the move.

Armour and shield all making a noise.  




VIIII. The  Ban-Gaisgedaig


My trick in battle was to bewitch men.

Throw back a cape, expose a breast,

While putting a firm foot forward.

It stopped countless in their tracks.


More fool them! For instead of feeling

The gentle warmth of my bosom,

The swift thrust of raw iron would be

Upon them, penetrating to the core.


Flesh ripped, bones crushed. After the

Shock they would scream like skewered

Pig. Then, limp and passive, quickly fall.


Sometimes their privates exposed, members

Erect and wet, having shot their final load.

I then a metaphor, encompassing both sex and death.






we came at them with chariot

driving our horses out from the woods


we had been surveying them all the while

weighed down with armour and belongings


you could see full on terror in their eyes

as soon as we broke out screaming


firing spear and lance at them

I put an iron shaft through one’s throat


the full force of a horse behind it

the neck bone snapped in an instant


warm blood spurted every way

soon we were all covered in it


fighting for our very lives

especially us women




Copernican Shifts


unforeseen categorisations

matter aligned with the apparent


weightlessness of cloud from which are emitted

like cooling moisture a disinterested harmonisation


topological shifts which come about

with the relentlessness of unseen and


random atomisation, paradigms

of existent yet invisible


organisms which co-exist alongside

of us day to day inebriating


visions of breath as yet to be even forecast

and which can inhabit the minute groove


of your index or forefinger terrain

so vast and intractable so as to


send one leaping back at once to the overtly








The Aristotelian notation,

The coded speak of things, their enigma.

Constantly returning to ground zero,

All bibliographies awash in


Tabula rasa. The polished

Becoming again, birth and death

Found in each consummate engagement.

For example, the skyward burst of


The ulmus uncovering its opaca,

Chimera waywardly looking on the

Horizon. Roman oars dipping out into


The bay of Loughshinny. The singing

Alliteration of rain, its drops

Dripping in pools of words, now at sea.




At the Writing Table in the Boathouse


Bars of light cover the notebook

Page, once inside your new cell.

Gull bicker and shriek, down by the pier.

A lone van is parked by the fishing boats.


Martello, then, straight ahead, over on

The promontory of Drumanagh, where

Apparently the Roman post, or fort,

Was stationed. British mimic again


pater familis. Above the strand,

The cliff of folded limestone rings

The perimeter like an amphitheatre.


A couple with bucket journey toward

You, bearing crab, shrimp, mere worm, or shell fish?

The trace of their footprint visible still.




The Sirens


The fell voices on the air, filling it

with empty skulls dressed up in

gosameer. Ulysses standing with

his back to the mast, listens to their


enchanting melodies, playing over

him. Tapping his foot to the beat of the

plaintive rhythm, which he has heard time

and time again, and as he listens further


he relaxes more and more, leaning now

against the wooden post, with a wry smile

upon his face, seeing again the images


of all the women he has ever known.

Their faces and bodies swirling into the

ether, never to be seen by him again.










Peter O' Neill


Peter O’ Neill is the author of six collections of poetry, the latest two being Divertimento, The Muse is a Dominatrix ( mgv2>publishing, France, 2016 ) and Sker ( Lapwing, Northern Ireland, 2016 ). He was born in Cork in 1967, though lived in France for almost a decade an experience which was to have a profound effect on his writing. His Dublin Trilogy ( 2000 – 2015) comprising of The Dark Pool, Dublin Gothic and The Enemy, Transversions from Charles Baudelaire has been gathering great praise in reviews. Most recently, the poet Michael S. Begnal wrote in Trumpet , Poetry Ireland, of The Dark Pool ( mgv2>publishing, France, 2015 ), calling it a “unique achievement.”




Articles similaires