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Alicia Byrne Keane

Executive Function

Do you ever just finish a poem and think, yep that was just like all my other poems -
In the garden the trellis lists waterlogged on its side and there is a gentle white damp
To everything. They are announcing a contest on the radio in warm voices. Yesterday

A guy - words fragmenting and making him sound older through the phone line - said
If the schools closed, the teenagers would all flock to Temple Bar, I imagined the city’s
Tides lopsided and fraying in crescents. Wallowing flats of sand as viewed through the

Railings under a full moon, the Tolka, the place I walked to once having left someone’s
Dark bed. The poem has started in my head like a recording and when the orange juice
Angles itself in sideways splashes down the stepped surface of the kitchen cupboard I

Know I always feel a specific strain of lethargy in this kitchen, the sense that nothing
Is enough. I wonder if all the Lewis Capaldi type song writers start with grandiose ideas
Of how avant-garde they are going to be but then end up singing in that performatively

Grieving voice cracked and laconic, I wonder if they didn’t intend their songs to all get so
Easily resolved. Last week fear telescoped itself across the next few pale months, the
Appointment with the radiology clinic, the eventual date for the biopsy, and I wondered

Could I learn to carry an uncertainty like the furled globe of a root in the dark, or would
This somehow kill me before anything else did. Does it become something you work with,
A void that opens itself fantastically in the pavement that everyone learns to step around,

Like how your eye compensates for the migraine’s transparent blotch. Or does the terror
Stay with its spectral fizz bringing you outside of your own lungs and back in, hitting air
Pockets. I wash the juice carton out under the sink, collapse its lingering spaces, and leave.

Nautical dawn

Some things I didn’t ask you at the time resurface:
did you know pearls dissolve in vinegar, or, how
long have we been in this waiting room? I hope
you don’t mind I tried on your glasses once when
you weren’t there, two perfectly contained weights
shifting on cartilage, a fraction too dispersed for
my liking, a diluted solid transparency, imagine.
The lenses made everything seem extra warm and
yellow, the bus fizzling around the corner funny
like a big primary school textbook, a pale leather
jacket the colour of blonde wood spread out on
a chair seemed like something so alive a wounded
deer that I wanted to briefly pat all the surfaces in
the room as I left, ask how the room was feeling,
had we upset it at all. January gradually relented.

Salthill & Monkstown
After the play ‘Beckett’s Room’, dir. Bush Moukarzel & Ben Kidd

Sunset (peach, filtering)                                             
Sea-surface (helical, skin-like)                        

       It unspools ahead of our wide
       Parting gestures the steps are so
       Hard on the clung flesh of bare
       Feet was I always as heavy as I
       Feel with blushed extremities
       Splaying on concrete, earlier

                                                            The carriage socketed and rotating about itself
                                                            My best friend and I tried to speak to each other

From some sort of adjacency, Salthill & Monkstown
                                                A stop too late a fortuitous missing and a wall to
                                                Walk along

Later, when the /                                                         / news got worse along with
                                                                                    / winter’s steep corner

I sat wearing unfamiliar headphones

Onstage a house cut in half

The crowd sifting through the auditorium

                                                There would be
                                                A huge image of a closed eye onscreen
                                                It darted, looked like it belonged

                                                To a dreaming person,
                                                All I could think about was anesthetic:
                                                Its silted shallows

Alicia Byrne Keane is a PhD student from Dublin, Ireland, working on an Irish Research Council-funded PhD study that problematizes ‘vagueness’ and the ethics of translation in the work of Samuel Beckett and Haruki Murakami, at Trinity College Dublin. Alicia’s poems have appeared in The Moth, Queen Mob’s Teahouse, Abridged, The Honest Ulsterman, and Entropy.

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