Three poems from Joseph Horgan

Joseph was born in Birmingham and lives in Cork. He won the Patrick Kavanagh Award in 2004 and published his first collection, Slipping Letters Beneath The Sea, in 2008 from Doghouse and The Song At Your Backdoor with Collins Press in 2010.  He recently completed a residency in Achill, Mayo. I’ve been a fan of Joseph since hearing him read last year, and I’m delighted to post three poems from him today.


People in the city die
in complete silence.
A notice appears overnight,
the bare details
of an unimagined life.
House numbers go into the hundreds,
As and Bs and Cs.
An address that does not exist.
In the loving care

of the long streets.
Passing away again and again.
Not many left now
and in the end,
after all that,
their photographs come home.
A notice appears overnight.
People in the city die
near perfect deaths.

A Private Matter

This silent society,
a country, a fogbound airport;
for all our shouting on screen
a landscape
of private memories.
The faraway shifting of trains
and high walls topped with broken glass,
as if definition only exists
in the damp kitchens of the past.
In the new country there is no recognisable face.
A raised hand from a car,
putting a key to the front door.

Say small things often.
Shape silence
in order to break it.
We are who we are
when we put our colours on
and then we take them off again.
We wear our sponsors close to our heart.
So down in the woodshed,
a chisel;
in the disregarded air,
with no one looking,
we do our work.

When The Dancehalls Closed

It wasn’t those that stayed that built a country. It was those that left.
It wasn’t the calling. It was the silence.
It wasn’t the getting on a country bus. It was the boat.
It wasn’t the unformed queue. It was the line.
It wasn’t the perfidious. It was the faithful.

And if you are lucky, your way back with a shopping bag
along the streets, the widow or widowed,
the sideburned days and Sunday afternoon drinking gone;
a newspaper notice brings you home.
It wasn’t the country. It was the city.

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