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. 


The Ulster Way, by Alan Gillis


This is not about burns or hedges.

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.

Nor will you be set upon by cattle,


ingleberried, haunching and haunting

with their eyes, their shocking opals,

graving you, hoovering and scooping you,

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.


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.

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