Cliona O'Connell

Martin’s Diary, 1889

On July 27th he met Hewitt and the two Miss Kytes,
got very great with Miss Flynn and went for a walk.

By August 4th it was the Misses Butler, Ryan and Purdon,
the former the charmer with the deep blue eyes.

August 5th, drinking and chatting with Matt O’Sullivan
about Aristotle and the five trout caught that Friday.

The 16th was a desperate night’s dance where he
stood a dozen porter and the women were drunk

and of course, the Misses White and Piggot and Talbot.
By the middle of September it all got out of hand:

the 15th in Dunlavin with Brady and Browner
and lovely Miss Duffy, dancing and drinking till dawn

and it was the gentle hints of this transaction later
that led to his resolution taken the 21st of October, viz

to abstain from all intoxicating drink, except one pint
or a bottle of stout daily for one year
, the last entry

in a notebook with a cracked leather cover,
stalwart stitching and tied with a dun ribbon.


Calm today,
the bay streams its silks
along its shallows,
troubles the heron’s shadow
to shiver in a hall of mirrors
while the bird stands motionless,
waiting for the minnows
that have gathered in the harbour.
Black brush strokes
like night falling on a broken skylight.
Water turning on its belly,
with the sound of the seal’s swim breaths.


Turning as if turning
by wind curl or the Coriolis effect
are physical and fictitious forces:
the Great Pacific Garbage patch.
Pelagic plastics, polymer roots
barbed aquatic cross hatch
of the new continent of trash,
the size of Texas becalmed mid-ocean
in these latitudes for working
off a dead-horse debt.
Photo degradation in the ocean,
disintegration to ever smaller pieces,
to a polymer, to a molecule,
to flotsam in the food-chain.


Split open your average albatross stomach
and what do you find?
You find spilt ocean zooplankton,
a few invertebrates,
the occasional fish,
but more,
much more that this,
mistaken by the endocrine system
(endo meaning inside, crinis secrete),
mistaken, that is to say fooled
into hormone disruption
(which affects our mood)
are bottletops, lighters,
and fishing lures.