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Harry Clifton
In Memory of Ryszard Kapuscinski


L 2ook for us, an Irishman, a Pole,

At the heart of Africa. Having fallen out

So long ago, with our own dark continent

Of Inquisitorial faith, Cartesian doubt.

Exiles, taking time out for the soul –

Our bleak outstation. Tired of argument

With the likes of myself, degenerate and sick,

A liberal tempter – Father Stanislawek


Would welcome one of his own. I see him now

So lonely, so delighted, on the run

Between river and kitchen, with a captured perch

In a bucket, a crate of bootleg beer

From Obasanjo barracks. As you know,

As you always knew, there is nothing here

But heat and people, years. A strawroofed church

Collapsed on itself, a Mary Immaculate nun


In bloodstained habit, on her nightly round.

Karl Marx and Alex Comfort, littered about

With Carlos Castaneda, on a dumping-ground

Of paperbacks, a midden of philosophies

Out behind the post-colonial house

I share with Jerzy. Thunderheads, months of drought –

The coups d’etat a thousand miles away

Are nothing to the power of everyday


Up-country, in the vast interior

Where the lives pass away, an after-image of cloud

On an old exposure…. Still, I’m happy here,

Not that I know it – home in the homeless crowd,

The anonymity. Put me in a wire

With Father Jerzy – nothing to report.

Not that you’ll ever get here. Life is too short.

They are raising water in a rubber tyre


Tonight from a hole on main street. Hallelujah Jim

Is high in session. Charity, Patience, Grace,

Each with her smoke-ring and her tribe-marked face

Behind the wall, are belting out the hymns

In raucous antiphon. Lost on a map of becoming

Somewhere between the spirit-house and the stews, ~

Look for us outside space, in vacant time

Without history, who were never news.


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  Dublin Poetry Review: Éigse Átha Cliath


                                                                                        Section 1 ~ Issue 21a