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The Illegal Immigrant
by Niall O’Connor

 

Twelve steam irons, and a thousand business cards
— if you ever felt the need to count them —
and we didn’t.
Free newspapers folded neatly, never bought, never read,
a bus stop complete with pole
and all manner of warning signs about
men at work, and naked flames, and live
electricity, and gaping holes.

Filed inside the folded mattress,
the identities of young girls and men,
foreign
eyes soulful, putting their hopes
in the hands of anyone who would hold this photograph,
take them to a new life in an unknown island,
Ireland,
that must be like Britain or America, only smaller.

Their lives arrived before them, and were
filed away in a damp and dark ground floor flat,
where the curtains never opened,
and where they still lie,
musty and mouldy,
but still hopeful.

Thirty suits that have seen the glamour of NGO land,
and the embassies of the world, where
a fairy world exists above the harsh bureaucracy,
and needs acolytes of its own
to maintain the apparent gentility;
embassies that embrace with a Moi! Moi!
but no real affection.

Plastic, childless scrotum filled with coin,
hidden everywhere,
but never retrieved,
every letter, every mention of his name
piled and buried, folded
and pressed down by the weight of the years passing,
and superficial encounters,
love letters entombed in this flat
that has now become a crypt,
and where he still hopes for immortality
while breathing out his last gasps.

Thirty years of refusing to return home,
thirty year of refusing to make home,
thirty years, and a life held in such secrecy
that it was flittered away in its neglect,
— no respite in prayer.

Oh Holy Mary, Mother of God!
The Bible, The Koran, the Tarot cards
and the psychic healing;
all refuges of a man who had no home,
not even within himself,
— a shadowman.

 

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