Spleen. An angry poem by Peter O’Neill

To suffer possible contagion at every living breath,
Masked on the street, walking through the pandemic.

You entered the local supermarket, grabbing the necessary
Items, and walked with clear purpose to the checkouts.

There you confronted him, King of the Gombeens,
Unmasked and defiantly guffawing it up with the local

Cashier girls, who knew no better. There he was, in all
His many-fold splendour, the bold bloody buachaill.

That was it, something in you that had been building
Up for so many weeks suddenly snapped. “ Eejit!”

You whisper screamed, passing him, gritting your teeth
As you made a beeline for the front door passing him.

And as you did you wished for a terrible thing; that the
Virus would come, right there and then, and utterly consume him.


Peter O’Neill is the author of five collections of poetry, the latest being Sker ( Lapwing, 2017), a volume of translation, The Enemy, Transversions from Charles Baudelaire ( Lapwing, 2015), and  work of prose fiction More Micks than Dicks ( Famous Seamus, 2017).

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