Two Poems

Ciaran Carson

Quarter

we found Red Hand Commando
masks and combat uniforms
laid neatly in the attic

along with some bomb-making
literature and a token
cache of weeping gelignite

like their men had just gone off
to mutilate their hand-guns
with shipyard angle-grinders

and we had taken them at
their word for what it is worth
which is to say that peace comes

when there is no one left to
kill and words are the measure
of what has been delivered

whether in a language no
longer intelligible
or past all understanding

as we irresistibly
are drawn to the attic light
to contemplate the primrose

yellow decommissioned cranes
of the Titanic Quarter
under an iceberg blue sky

Onset

I push open the green door
to be taken aback by

the ku-klux of a cocked shot
gun echoing from the wings

deserted as it was night
I could not see my way to

whatever plot I’d stumbled
into or what sudden stage

I stood upon the pages
of the stuff I was to read

dissolving before my eyes
like a sackcloth face that burns

on a burning dummy’s head
whose bright upholstered body

writhes in the flames of its own
making and the whole theatre

now that the lights have come on
is waiting for me to speak

but I have brought the wrong book
try as I might not to read

the writing on all the walls
commissioned by holstered guns