Issue 9 – Winter 2005 – Fergal Gaynor

Fergal Gaynor


The Flood
(after a reading by Mike Smith and Trevor Joyce)

so here
in the flood’s
obscure tumult
by the dislodged
bodies given
to the fierce onrush
to hard downtow
our apparatus
floating apart
so that 
as hoped for
it is like

it is like those Byzantine apostles
carriers of the word
to fresh peoples
across the border-stream’s
clear babble
forced to sow
new alphabets

it is like
those followers
in their mouths
already changed
feeling the Greek soil
shift underfoot
in their little Sophias
the darkening river’s
swelling polyphony:

‘a new Rome rises
among nomads
off all the maps;
the old Rome is transformed ~
the Forum 
become a cow-field,
the Tiber 
a torrent of lettered stone
spilling slowly
into the Gothic night.’




(a semi-sestina on the occasion
of Cork’s tenure of the office of
European Capital of Culture)

Créad í an ruaig so ar thoraibh
Buala buan a mbona?
(What is this human tumult
with so much fell destruction?)

Shandon tower
that grand old dame
stript of her decorous urns
shall earth never sleep?
the jackhammers strike no
though Murphy nods
and Mahony and Mahood
seeds in the shifting ground
knowing nor ‘bove nor below
so that growth grows
cancerously internal
ah my dead republic!

Oh city galvanic!
foundations sunk
in crab ooze in bog
its fibrous limits
filigree the green
roads shining scars
skirt sleeperless tumuli
the city lifts!
as steel tendrils tauten
we enter breathless air
two hundred thousand souls
rise from their birth beds.

Breeze over the grey Lee
history its shadow
time was streets recalled
Blarney’s wry flaneur
traffic ate the time
the groves of sleep are felled.

Engineless mills
where priestwool was wound
a harvest of hands
broke rosary and rota
the hour comes with no bell
we turn on ourselves.



Fergal Gaynor studied in Sheffield, Swansea and Cork, where he received the third degree for a thesis on alternative histories of modernism. Apart from writing poetry (published in Poetry Salzburg ReviewThe Journal of Nietzsche Studies, etc.) and criticism, he has exhibited and performed as a member of art-interventionist group art / not art since 2000, with whom he co-curated the Cork Caucus project in 2005.