A Countdown in Poems to the Irish Arts Center PoetryFest

Poem #10: The Ulster Way, by Alan Gillis

November 2, 2015  By Literary Hub

For the next three days Literary Hub will help in counting down the days until the seventh-annual Irish Arts Center PoetryFest begins by publishing a poem, as selected by festival co-curator Belinda McKeon. 

Article continues below


The Ulster Way, by Alan Gillis


This is not about burns or hedges.

Article continues below

There will be no gorse. You will not

notice the ceaseless photosynthesis

or the dead tree’s thousand fingers,

the trunk’s inhumanity writhing with texture,

as you will not be passing into farmland.

Article continues below

Nor will you be set upon by cattle,


ingleberried, haunching and haunting

with their eyes, their shocking opals,

graving you, hoovering and scooping you,

Article continues below

full of a whatness that sieves you through

the abattoir hillscape, the runnel’s slabber

through darkgrass, sweating for the night

that will purple to a love-bitten bruise.


Article continues below

All this is in your head. If you walk,

don’t walk away, in silence, under the stars’

ice-fires of violence, to the water’s darkened strand.

For this is not about horizons, or their curving

limitations. This is not about the rhythm

of a songline. There are other paths to follow.

Everything is about you. Now listen.


Literary Hub is a proud sponsor of Irish Arts Center PoetryFest.

More Story
Best of the Week: October 26 - 30, 2015 Junot Díaz has been declared unpatriotic and stripped of his order of merit award for advocating on behalf of persecuted...

Become a Lit Hub Supporting Member: Because Books Matter

For the past decade, Literary Hub has brought you the best of the book world for free—no paywall. But our future relies on you. In return for a donation, you’ll get an ad-free reading experience, exclusive editors’ picks, book giveaways, and our coveted Joan Didion Lit Hub tote bag. Most importantly, you’ll keep independent book coverage alive and thriving on the internet.