Four Poems by Graham Allen.


There’s a silence in the birdsong that interrupts the morning,
there’s a silence in the way you say my name.
There’s a silence in your fingers as they touch me,
There was a silence in the crowd before you came.

There’s a silence in the words we whisper gently
as our baby dreams the dreams it cannot own.
There’s a silence in the forests and the valley s,
there’s a silence at the end of every phone.

Th ere’s a silence in the language of the gossip
who takes a thread and weaves it into song.
There’s a silence at the heart of every siren,
whether it shelters good or hunts down wrong.

There’s a silence in the smiles that you gift me,
there’s a silence in the lies I told your son.
We are looking for the silence in the eyes and the lips
of the faces that we had before the world began.



You are less than the ghost of yourself.
At the back of the desk, two keys

to the door of some house in which you once lived.
Long afternoons of boredom,

brilliant, uneventful mornings,
night sessions with the telly and the bottle,

plans about vocation, books half read, narratives
filled with careful rhetorical turns,

all gone from memory now, all lost.
You have mislaid your own history.

You have become a stranger, someone you w ill
never meet in that lounge you cannot now re-enter.

What promises did you make there?
What dreams and inventions did you betray?

What bargains did you entertain
with the deities of your broken slumber?

What clothes did you wear as you looked
out of those now unimaginable windows

into that now unlocatable country,
in what was, no doubt, another world?



This is not death, or dying, or sorrow ,
this is not life at the end of its frame.
The grass is quiet but remembers the sun,
the trees cloak themselves in their own endurance.

All along the frozen fields a pulse beats slowly.
The river murmurs on beneath the ice,
an eye alert within its sleeping lids,
and round about its frosted banks
small birds maintain their latticed bunkers,
filling their minds with the blazing sky.

The mind and heart of the world is motion,
sure affirmation of decay and rebirth.
Nothing despairs except me and yo u,
blind guardians, unseasonable visitors.



There is a storm coming.
She drives off into the desert
carrying the future into no-mans land,
far south of the border now.
She is the heroine because she knows
and because she says so.
She neither hide s nor murders the word.
That few will listen cannot deter.
She is the poet at the end of things,
lonely muse of the bolted door,
pointing at the diminishing sun.
It does not matter that it stings her eyes.
First a storm will fill the sky
and wash away the abodes of men.
It is men, in truth, that will not listen.
Then another storm will take its place,
lacking nature, man-hungry, irresistible,
a nightmare wind to dry all tears,
as furious as her mother love,
as pitiless over all but one.
One single offspring is disputed.
All else are given to the flames.


Graham Allen is a Professor in the School of English, University College Cork, Ireland. He has published numerous books, including Harold Bloom: A Poetics of Conflict (1994), Intertextuality (2000), Roland Barthes (2003), Mary Shelley (2008). He researches and publishes on Romantic literature, literary theory, and film, and is currently completing a book on philosophies of education and Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein. He has published extensively on Kubrick’s films, including papers on A Clockwork Orange, The Killing, The Shining, Dr Strangelove, and A,I, Artificial Intelligence, and is currently researching a book on Kubrick’s contribution to Future Studies. Professor Allen is an award-winning poet. His poetry collections The One That Got Away and The Madhouse System are published with New Binary Pres s, as is his ongoing epoem Holes His new collection No Rainbows Here will be published by Salmon Press in 2020.

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