Philip O’Neil is an English writer living in Prague who worked as a journalist for over two decades in various parts of the globe. His poetry has been published in Ygdrasil, Wilderness House Literary Review, Suisun Valley Review, Mad Swirl among others. His first novel ‘Mental Shrapnel’ is due to be published later this year.
She fades against a sky of stars
a trapeze artist trembling inside her own shadow
on the canvas of a traveling circus
transfigured to the mother of La Pieta
outside the Bislaliko Sepulchri
beside a wall pockmarked by shrapnel
fragments of a war
torn among burned books by live rounds
trembling again the shy girl,
whose war I fear, I loved above
the girl that came before into a life
who shied away the blood
bloodier than the belly of a hit and run
knew death only from a freak accident
a suicide away in the next tower block
Oh! soar to her day and night
Brittled by my own haphazard events
while I enfeebled to inaction when she nears
she breezed into my cracked circle
a train spilling its guts like a dissected worm.
Here’s the nightclub of contradiction,
whiskies and wallets by the roulette spin
under a two-legged knot
of a pretzelling major
lap dancing for tuition and sprees.
‘Dance for me
Why won’t you dance for me?’
These are the hard-graft hours
of the banishing
in our nightclub of the soul,
the lock-in in this odd inn
you stepped in unawares
tickled by fat bouncers’ fingers
‘breaking or starting up a fight’.
Liked then loved, craved then addicted,
a revolutionary and his bloody flag
you also want to leave
but it’s never quite the right time.
‘Dance for me,
please dance for me!’
Remember the daily diary entries
hallmarked with apoplexy and mild conceit
too numb armed at drowning the pickaxe of a past?
Your baby-stare through fish-eyes
delicate for contacts,
watching the stomach of a brain
churned by sour fairies
in the velvet room’s mirrorball
above the stink of last night’s discotheque,
the butt ‘n’ spirited end
of a long and cheap night out …
my sexless, hexed, anorexic dancers split
over broken brandy glasses
blood and ash tables
dead clients face down
in an inherited rot.
‘Dance with me,
Won’t you please dance with me?’
THE FOUNTAIN OF TEARS
(for Gabriel Garcia Lorca)
The hike leads us to a spring in an olive grove
buzzing trees dry as the chafing cicadas
tiny castanets in the gnarls and branches offering
no shade on the old road cracked as a map.
Yet, still, somehow they step out
from no possible hiding-place,
men of leather, torn uniforms and gun metal,
sick, souless eyes with the cataracts of death
spewing keen barbs into every vessel
hooks and claws in every valve
like a hundred fly-fishing accidents
flicking blinding hooks into eyes
We’re whitebait ripped by sharks
that know the common flesh but tear
just the same.
My words want to barter
for the filaments of angels
mindgame a way out
in this place of dead roads
begging and pleading the gangster goons
crying mercy against the gloves
cocking rusting guns.
Lined up by a trench
we wait for the captain (who hangs
scalps where others wear medals)
to step from the old man body of the tree
all stubble, tobacco and spit.
The Fountain of Tears
where men lie stacked playing cards,
food for the groves, siesta country
where peasants dose as civil bullets fly
the poet sent to an unmarked grave
by the fathers of children
who’ll build theatres for his words.