Three poems by Peter O’Neill


 For all who attended Nina Kossman’s

International Bilingual Poetry Reading



Treacherous fidelity, I had held onto you

So closely that I was obliged to betray you.

For your idiom, as everyone knows, is untranslatable.

So, I betrayed you, my Love.



I betrayed you in the most shameless manner,

Finding signs and motifs in my own time,

Which I felt corresponded to your own original sin.

 I who seem to be living in a time



So completely bereft of metaphor, in a world

So literal that ordinary people feel compelled

To stand up and confess in public to the most



Intimate things, as if in some kind of travesty of memory,

So that Mnemosyne herself blushes,

And even you yourself turn your face away, for shame.






For Diana Manole


Her mouth opens and all of the heat

Of the winds comes from out of

Mesopotamia. Is that the Tower at Ur?

I ask myself, seen from the Bird’s


Eye shot out of the sky

And who is now tumbling

To its final resting place

At the very foot of the last step of the stairs.


Down in the very basement

Where immigrants might watch drain-pipes

Like Londoners might watch tennis balls

On the centre court at Wimbledon.




For Linda Morales


Your tongue tapped out the words

Like a Flamenco Dancer would

Tap out the thrill of steps,

Just as taut and diligent.


The diligence of tongues

The diligence of dancers

The words tapping out like steps

The iambs moving in patterns.


So taut and rapid were the movements,

Thrilling my ear just like the words

And ideas thrilled my mind,

Dancing there like only poems can dance.





About the contributor

Peter O'Neill
Peter O’Neill is the author of several collections of poetry, a volume of translation The Enemy- Transversions from Charles Baudelaire ( Lapwing , 2015) and a work of prose fiction More Micks than Dicks ( Famous Seamus, 2017). A bilingual work, translated into French by Yan Kouton, is due of next year.

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