Poetry: Selections from S.C. Flynn

They lied when they said that nothing
would ever be the same again,
when the icy truth cuts much deeper;
nothing will ever be different.
Turn your back on the challenge if you want to,
but at last when we’ve opened every door
in our frantic search for whoever it is
holding the missing pieces of us
in their tightly buttoned pocket
and you’re tired and giddy from hanging
like a bloodless bat from a crystal ceiling 
dreaming up conspiracy theories
and wondering what’s really going on,
come out of the cool, darkened corridor,
take my sweaty, trembling hand in yours;
choose or be crushed by the choice you didn’t make
and then let’s climb into the sky on a rope
or walk, on and on, unblinking, into the sun.

Northern Australia
I scramble up the highest tower
like a war priest climbing a pile of heads,
clinging on somehow among the rubble
as sheets of sand and dust slide down the sides
and ants swarm thick around my feet.
I spread my arms out, stretching north and south
to make a sunburnt aerial. The mounds
are in my mind and I am their voice;
the loudest of all in the land of the deaf.

The wind is all that is left of the sky
and it chases the night through the streets.
Sleeplessness is a strict father that drags me,
a stumbling shadow in clothes, on and on,
over Beckett Bridge, around and back.
I want to crawl into my memories
and lie still, but there is so much more
to deceive myself about right now
and so many new ways of doing it.
The city’s lights are strung out like thoughts,
mostly disordered but sometimes lined up
as if leading towards a hidden goal,
only to vanish suddenly, swallowed
by the monstrous grin of the mystery.

Go outside, drop to the ground, lie flat, stretch
and hold the grass as tightly as you can;
feel the resonance of rocks
that might one day rise up and flower
into houses or jails, walls or schools.
Ignore the calls from other worlds,
their wordless but convincing rhetoric.
This piece of Twenty-first Century we are chained to
is all there is and all there will ever be,
so don’t fall off the Earth; there is nowhere else to go.

Who will leave first,
who will go with whom,
who will meet again:
the confusion of travel arrangements
after my grandmother’s funeral
displaced the priest’s assurance.
We can never really understand
the early versions of ourselves – 
though reverse deepfakes are tempting – 
but maybe at eleven I began
not thinking of what we cannot know,
shielding my eyes from the blast zone. 

Together we write the book of time,
adding a word here and there to the text,
painting tears on statues with our fingers.
Every key we were given was a lie,
just ghosts clasping hands and dancing
in the air above a cemetery.
Sitting among the cheerful people
in my hand-me-down clothes and jokes,
I hear my own laughter from far away.
Hope fools us all with its childish chatter:
why should we not have happy things
just because one day they will be gone.

S.C. Flynn was born in a small town in Australia of Irish origin and now lives in Dublin. His poetry has been published in many magazines around the world, including Rattle, Quadrant, The Antigonish Review and Cyphers. His poetry collection “The Colour of Extinction” will be published by Renard Press in September 2024.