April/May 2013 - Vol. 67


poem by Sean O'Neill

I am walking down the tracks
In the bright sun.

The steel worker
Who emptied the crates of beer
And rolled out the barrel to the staging depot
Is asleep under his own belly
Covered over with the leaves of sweet excess.

The bent cleaning woman,
Advertising her rock bottom prices
From her truck on the boulevard,
Creeps in and out
When the bankers’ wives are not looking,
As though to see her upsets the economy.

And the three stand-ups
Who came to pick up the old CRT set
Were a breath of fresh soap.
Operatic but avoiding longer contact.

The mutter of the tree-bearded garbage-sifters
Along deserted highways
Has everything to do with death
And their fearlessness of it
And pain.

The cranial capacity of the ant
Dwindles with the weight of brawn needed
To tug a leaf
Beyond the threshold
Of the shed’s rotting larch door.
I watch him 
Quietly overcome 

All along these tracks
Across the warehouse culverts,
In the overgrown sidings,
Under the backs of wholesalers’,
Between the oil-fired boilers,
The radio masts, the pylons,
And behind the concrete electrical substations,
Railroad riders do this very thing:
Carrying the weight of humanity’s conscience
For the simple indictment:
Blessed are the poor.

They are 
The least of my brothers. 

> See other poems in Living Bulwark by Sean O'Neill
[Sean O'Neill is originally from Glasgow, Scotland, and currently lives in St. Paul, Minnesota, USA. He has published two books of poems and several novels.] .
With this new collection of poems Sean O’Neill explores the relationship between the child, the youth and the adult. What are the key moments that have contributed to the construction of a fully-formed human being? Here a number of poems masquerade as memoir but have a deeper message, sometimes wistful, sometimes humorous. Here, too, he draws on his Celtic upbringing and the questions of identity that it raises. Some of the nature poems are a new departure and celebrate the complexity and beauty of animals, insects and the weather. This book of poems is more playful than O’Neill’s first book “this stage of life”, and uses a more accessible idiom to convey mood, but nevertheless offers a coherent voice full of color and depth.

Book available at Amazon.

This collection of Sean O’Neill’s poems is his first. The poems cover periods when the poet lived or worked in London, England; Milan, Italy; Drummore, a small fishing village on the West Coast of Scotland; and St. Paul, USA. The subject matter of the poems therefore varies from the grittily descriptive ‘Bridges’ and ‘Sweet Thames’, which are set in London, to the pastoral ‘The Hill’ and ‘in this atlas of headland’ set in the South Rhins peninsula. The poems cover several years and a multitude of situations and yet a consistent voice emerges finding meaning in apparently insignificant details, and clothing mundane events in a tapestry of rich wordplay. Several poetic sequences are contained in this collection including the four-part ‘this stage of life’ a wry commentary on modern life and ‘Winter 2011’ which centers on the view from a window during the harsh weather conditions of that year. Some of the poems are satirical; others celebrate the joy of simple things. Some are dark while others are full of hope. Whatever the reader’s disposition he or she will find something valuable in this volume that echoes the mood of the moment or the season of life. Book available at Amazon.
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email: living.bulwark@yahoo.com