Three Poems by Oisín Breen

These three poems by Oisín Breen examine the concept of individuated identity, belief, and the opportunity of change across non-linear time, from the standpoint that there is no single “I,” or “you,” instead, there is a collective of selves in each of us, which iterates into being, in action, thought, and love…

by: Oisín Breen

A Wish

you and I 
have spun worlds 
together, traversed 
the great deluge
and chosen 
to make this
our last life,
knowing mortality
as our greatest wish,
and yet we yearn
in this time of change.

I can not give myself a name.
I can not describe myself otherwise
Than as a structure of shards.

I can not act, not alone, 
Nor with others, for I am not 
Part of some greater whole.

I can understand only hunger
But I am also at pains to listen,
Not being content merely to speak,
A House of Fattened Duck

The walls here in my hut form a lattice of woven strips,
Though when I came here, the crumbling daub offered no protection
From the driving salt-heavy rain pulled from the nearby sea.

I came here with an exchange in mind, eager to trade, though alone, 
My fleshlust for pregnancy, my thirst for satiety, and my tumult
For the will to carry out one act of change.

Yet before I could follow the instructions I had learned to hear
In the infant scansions separating each gust of wind – your breath –
I had to make ready what would be my home for several months. 

Another lived here before me, long ago, but time took its toll on their dwelling.
The wattle had held. No fungus grew. No dampness found its footing. 
But the panels were widely holed, and their gaps illustrated minutes’ turn to years.

For weeks then, I sheltered best by covering holes with hard stapled sacks,
Living, briefly, in a polyethylene skin, and I powdered lime and gathered sand, 
And grew my hair long to use as cuttings, and readied for the spilling of blood.

Then, when the day came, I rose early to cross to the mainland by boat,
And bought a fattened duck to kill, drain, then eat, and when I cut its neck, 
I gathered its blood, mingling it with mine:

A mix of sacrifice and plenty that would soon serve my wind-shook cocoon
Both as barrier and as warden to my exchange of abundance for eternity,
And, as game flesh later passed my lips, I was pleased for this becoming.

Then, when morning came again, the new daub I made, and prayed:
Hold fast till Autumn. I applied it swiftly, too, in thick dollops,
My hands brown with wet slush, and I was happy, and ready to begin.

Irish poet, doctoral candidate, and journalist, Oisín Breen, a multiple Best of the Net nominee and Erbacce Prize finalist, is published in 112 journals in 22 countries, including in Agenda, North Dakota Quarterly, Books Ireland, About Place, Door is a Jar, Northern Gravy, Quadrant, Decomp, and The Tahoma Literary Review. Breen’s widely reviewed and highly praised second collection, Lilies on the Deathbed of Étaín will be reissued by Downingfield in October. It follows his critically well received debut, ‘Flowers, All Sorts, in Blossom…‘ (Dreich, 2020).

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