Tuesday Poem: Chuculainn

Michael O’Loughlin was born in Dublin. For many years he lived in Holland, but he returned home to settle down several years ago. He has published five collections with Raven Arts Press and New Island Books. He will read next month at the Cork Spring Poetry Festival. 

Tuesday Poem: Chuculainn

If I lived in this place for a thousand years

I could never construe you, Cuchulainn.

Your name is a fossil, a petrified tree

Your name means less than nothing.

Less than Librium, or Burton’s biscuits

Or Phoenix audio-visual systems —

I have never heard it whispered

By the wind in the telegraph wires

Or seen it scrawled on the wall

At the back of the children’s playground.

Your name means less than nothing

To the housewife adrift in the shopping centre

At eleven-fifteen on a Tuesday morning

With the wind blowing fragments of concrete

Into eyes already battered and bruised

By four tightening walls

In a flat in a tower-block

Named after an Irish patriot

Who died with your name on his lips.

But watching TV the other night

I began to construe you, Cuchulainn;

You came on like some corny revenant

In a black-and-white made-for-TV

American sci-fi serial.

An obvious Martian in human disguise

You stomped about in big boots

With a face perpetually puzzled and strained

And your deep voice booms full of capital letters:

What Is This You Earthlings Speak Of.


More in this section

IE Logo


Your guide to staying at home


Join us for our International Women’s Day virtual lunchtime celebration on Monday, March 8 from 1pm


Have the Irish Examiner delivered to your door. No delivery charge. Just pay the cover price.