Phillip O’Neil

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.

IN MEMORIAM

 

(Sarajevo)

 

 

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.

 

 

ROOM FLAW

 

 

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

assassin thongs

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.