Glen Wilson


I pull back the wrought iron gate,
Danger! Construction Site – No Unauthorized Entry,
the joints hiss as Verdigris flakes off.
This is where the Carngrove Hotel
had been, the ground now flattened,
blanketed with flint grey stones.
I stand where the main bar used to be,
where Guinness, Harp and Liebfraumilch
lined up to be served and girls and women
in black and white cleared and set tables.
Each night we caught ourselves in dust-
lined goblets in the mirrors behind us,
We were all curves in turn, corn silk
strands trussed and ponytailed.
We worked when the world played, played
while the world slept, some days still have
that pewter haze, some nights ectopic
with the same broken promise. On breaks
I sat outside on an empty keg, watching
feral cats near the bottle bins, one threw up
what we threw away but returned to it
less one of the others would lay claim.
I can still see door signs –Cedar Room, Oak Room,
Ash Room, Bridal Suite.
Everything those rooms held is now in mid-air
and sun-bleached memory.
As I latch the gate the nearby church bells
of St Gobhan’s peal eleven times.



The land I work runs from the crooked oak
to the dip close to the Garavogue river,

I see how the wind shifts and the grass
abides, bending right over.

I may only be a king of a sublet
but I must still fret, decide and rule.

Potatoes grow in less favourable earth,
but even that hardiness is not enough now.

The eyes are picked out before going in the pot,
to right any horror the witnesses must survive.

The roof is off, and I can see everything;
vivid are the visions of new worlds,

tall towers, ladies holding bright torches,
glimpses of what this land could be.

My daughter huddles near her mother,
youth and beauty should not be bent so.

A small stone cross, eroded by Atlantic wind,
comforted by moss, marks my father’s resting place.

The authorities have men building roads,
agony on the move seems better than the still plain,

the desperate scramble on the scrabbled ground,
all the good arable soil already sold abroad.

Do I give up this fragile claim to land
and sail to where the light rises?

The ships manifests are filling, as are the graves,
I must sign our names to a course.


Leonora Carrington poses with her children

who are high in the tree
and looking to the distance,

bore by thick bough and time
stretching itself for their wonder,

and while they are caught mid-play
their mother is poised, cigarette

held like a wand tired of its magic, conjuring
a grey capricious spirit never still,

juxtaposed with that stare
that challenges the camera;

to only compare
what we can capture.

© Glen Wilson

Glen Wilson is a multi-award-winning Poet from Portadown. He won the Seamus Heaney Award for New Writing in 2017, the Jonathan Swift Creative Writing Award in 2018, the Trim Poetry competition in 2019, the Padraic Fallon Poetry competition, and Slipstream Open Poetry competition in 2021. His poetry collection An Experience on the Tongue is available with Doire Press. 

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