the poetry that matters

Séamas Carraher

Séamas Carraher was born in Dublin, Ireland. He lives on the Ballyogan estate, in south County Dublin, at present.

Recent publications include poems in Bone Orchard Poetry, Istanbul Literary Review and Pemmican. Previously his work has been published in Left Curve (No. 13, 14 & 20), Compages, Poetry Ireland Review, & the Anthology of Irish Poetry.


Like A Man with Bare Head

Under the Bewildering rain



Lillie ConnolLY



Today he is a man with

bare head under her recession.

Today, is a subject falling not from grace

but from – profit!

Today her falling, mute as his knife, whispers.

On this day his knives are riddled with arithmetic.

On this day, like any human day, like every sick

and shocking day, cavelike

and holiday,

she is beaten in his figures

- by facts!

Today, they are both, sister and brother,

more knife to our death warrants,

more stone than tree

more hammer than hand

cursing like triggers this puslike sense.


Welcome, then, human, in all our undigging.

Holding her poor roof, like skulls, in these hands.

Today all slavery is free and chosen with elections.


Such building, like a religion, excavated from air!

Building it charred. And skeleton.

Building it blind. And victim. And deathlike.

Then build all his burning with your sad stare.

His head, so liberal in its nostrils, so priceless

in this deluge. Its smell like art! Like culture!

No common john or jim,

a head so valued in sockets,

but. still. it. sickens.


Teach them this, conscience, in your corruption.

i am saint in my private hell, in my third world


i am silent in dull human memory,

butchered by commodity into

common sense.


Once it was field or hill or sky.

Today it is falling, all roofs are fallen,

much like myth in our splitting,

to be both mortal and miraculous, fed with

understanding yet still strange in our


more object in our subjects.


In each disease of words we have been contained.

Here but for our whispering we are butts.

To be wasted.

Stubs. And stubborn.

We sink like stones. Like misters. We bleed.

Raw in our wounding to be both oppressed and

understood, to be simple and stateless,

to be solemn, to be mask.



“Pull the other one.”

“This must be them human rights,”

he thinks for his missus.


In this way we are collected, to be buried in all


To be drowned in all our uprising.

This then another struggle.


Them lakes are ours.

Full of both pain and nature,

their resources and ownership,

each mineral, fish and drowned corpse.

In this moment i am guardian of my other’s evolution,

gut and spirit.


Here is a science fit for us workers.

This is a sorrow fit for drowned men.


Them lakes are like heads filled with granite,

angel and myth, labour and pain.


Do not decipher this in your dullness. It is more

to be eaten. Like soup or dust.

More to be murdered with nourishment.


She sings this and i with her,

surrender me in my muteness of lips,

i see no saying in this, gratefully. Yet.


Labourer, like my third cousin,

we are cracked pious, as cheap glass,

them mouths are more sealed, filled with both church

and corpse.


So she is strong where no human recognises her,

such is suffering, and its cause.

It is here, today, and unheard.

These lips are determined to tell nothing.

Sealed with god-the-spirit, like cement.


After all this, another fucking day! Head bare

in advance of armies,

demented and rhetorical in constitutions,

after all this, even this peace sells blindness.

but for another miracle or a deluge.

He can drop this food from our plate,

both hard, in our change, as a stone.


It is rain, mother, to be human and quarrel.

It is history and it is here.

It is today simply.

To be stunned like an animal for each moment

of our war.

To be stunned in your hemorrhage,

determined and determining

(“for here, also, on the whole, in spite of the

consciously desired aims of all individuals,

accident apparently reigns on the surface.”

Engels 1886)


Accident rains. He is optimistic in his timetables,

grandiose in our liturgy.

She is man, and bareheaded in masks, he is blunt,

he is stumbling and oppressor in all our missing

selves, in all each otherness: this prayer

(“Those with throat slit

Those drowned.

Those disappeared.”

Chile 1973)


This is more mortal than a storm,

sky to all human inadequacy.

It is hard to die in this knowledge,

hard to turn this suit inside out, my brother,

always too late, for that carved child

(that child with throat slit

that child drowned

that child disappeared...)

for you, grandmother, and our stolen children.


It falls.

In these international times it falls, like bank


They are falling on our emptiness.

Feeding on us, like the fat fish they are.


Such is necessity.

Also christlike. Coming darkly from a black


no more rainfall in

railroads and convoys, in our emptiness of labour.

Today all telling like a lie, as if we owned each other.

Both left and right in our absences.

Like a hole,

to be filled with chains. More woman in our slavery.


This here is a man with bare head. Masculine

in its profit. Criminal with righteousness.

This is a door not to be opened. Not by knives or

gunbarrels. These doors are not doors in their mystery.

More universal in their hard skins.

“Talk sense, man!” in its inflamed mankind.


Her unheard dilemma is here, to carry her child

like a sack into my mouth, as gravelike

as a swimming pool.

To be weak as air and hard as shrapnel in my comfort.

Furious with each passing famine.



All our humanity is similar in its butchers,

sister with your breasts bare,

sister without hands, classless in your emotion,

my insomnia and rage your bitter embryo,

see it flower,

you have bred me in your pain, (this sinking like stones)

you have bred me in your animal ‘til i am hurt with dreaming,

in our callous day like rain, it is no accident,

in these stumps, in this empty skull


that we are beaten and beaten, like all machines

in our nature.

Oh i am you in my unbecoming, propped like a disused

building between these hard sick knees.


And today! It is this seasonal stillness

falling, once more, like the stock exchange.


She is mute as a cave in our terror,

my optimism withers, my faith holds her like a glue.

Today there can only be this whispering

and beaten heads.


Her street curls childlike like a pointed fish,

these heads, in its rottenness, like an


hardly heads in their greedy doubt, more limbs

half withered in our yearly whispering.


Today it is cold enough and blind enough.

This is, similarly, the costs of the rich.

Loud. Catastrophic.

More flesh than voice.

In here we stand on our heads,

here this ritual is hungrier than a priest,

this skin like a fashion.

“Dirt cheap.”


To be nice and murderous in your incoherence

like a coalmine or a coup,

humble and sly as a hymn: this is a landlord.


This is our hard starving with no name for it

even in its exploding celebrations.

Today it is cold enough and blind enough.

Today she is severed in his economy

almost like an artery our of the unknown.


He is a man with bare head and bald eyes

his money can no longer buy food,

His money can unbake bread!

This man can bare his nothingness like a cap.

This food on the plate here feeds hunger,

this money is more like a disease.

Like a cancer. God in all our unnatural eruptions.

Still we are washed with our whispering.


Still he is a man with bare head among brothers.

With him, we are each other in our clothes.

With you, brother in your theology,

we swim like sheep in our sorrow.

In here is how her understanding widens,

here is how her footprints trample you down,

to be squeezed in tight in these wounds,

to be narrowed and individual in this womb,

to be alone! so fat! so fed! To be full to the cheeks

with bitterness.

To be burst in all that bloated wealth.


Here it is close.

To be so close to myself like a smell.

Object and process in the price of your hands.

i turn her child in your undoing, inside out.


This bare man without a head,

processed in this torment with time,

you don’t know this yet.


Lenin, in your fistlike paradox,

both beginning and end calm in their convulsions,

both beginning and end labouring to our extremities.

Here at the border we are all the same.

Tell the priest that. Or the jailor. Or the sentries.


Today, geographical in its debt collectors and

world bank,

more quotation than schoolteacher,

today you are raining full of university professors,

more air than heart in them knives.

Human, we are always on some verge.


It is this falling, your beating, our whispering.


Man, your groans are furious like a wallet.

They open, like surgeons, this peace

like our death.

We die like rats. Like lice. Like sheep.


This is to die in the head with a roar, to die

with these eyes still unopened,

to die like a fly in the wind.


Man, you are always on this verge.

Your redundancy no greater than nature or words.

You are meat to the bullet or worse.

Also to the undertaker’s bill.


This is a man with bare head under the bewildering


This is a man with my genitals sown on.

A human man falling from skies.

A human man, also brother to my other brother, falling,

his sky also shattered with birds.


Brother, listen here.

We are bent with your crippling.

Brother, please listen.

We are amputated with your progress.

Brother, you have a choice, at the end of this tongue.

Your knives are contagious with philosophy.

Maybe he don’t want to be free.


They have given you in our forgiveness

this glass eye, these timber legs, this polluted


Brother, this home is seizing in its mechanical stomach.

Sister, in my chemical lies and secondhand clothes

i prefer this cancer in my brain.

This howling without interpretation.


Here, today, is where we make no sound in

all cold absence to be

dead as dummies, weighed in wages, calculated

in silence, in her inner explosions,

in our metal shells,

always no more than this dying, daily,

always no more than this first time,

in that shock,

to be filled full of life in that shock,

here at the edge of our shoveling,

to be filled and forgotten with life,

to be dead without dying.


Today all roads empty in their human uselessness

he is left with a razor in her head

(all his drinking grim with silence)

(he is this mirror with throat slit,

he is that sorrow too deep to be drowned,

we are all, on this uphill march, disappeared).


She is left in this leaving,

in his abstract and calculation of air,

in this decorated and murderous indecision,

he is left to words like mad dogs.

They fall,

today, as reckless as any inhuman day,

they fall like pigeon droppings on



they fall like rain on the shoulders of

Larkin’s statue.

Your hands stare at this half imaginary construction.


This history, in our undoing,


where we delay.





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                                                                                                          July 18, 2012