Ruary O'Siochain




South of Spain



Walking near Tarifa beach

is that the continent of Africa we see,

faintly brooding,

and just across the bay?

The Sunday strollers give no hint,

and anyhow, the kite surfers,

whose sails billow in pulling

multicolour bands, flash and grab our eyes

to the risky water games they play.


Next morning on another nearby beach

we come across great hulks of fibre glass -

motorless, rudderless flat bottom boats

dragged far up into the dunes away

from no sea game but deadly contest

played with just two chances,

a migrant wave who drown

or reach a ragged freedom.


Life being both price and prize -

one lived on the margin of Europe’s table,

but for the others only

the faintest memorial;

someone has stencilled

the sides of fibreglass

with human effigies,

one for each beach found corpse,

numbered now in hundreds.  

They come from Africa,

across the bay,

it’s hard to see.  




Terminal Oil Choice



We stop for heat rest

among the olive groves of Jaen.

The landscape had become heavy lidded

and the golds suffused to purples

on the haunches of the further hills.


Beneath the spikey parasol of green

we take the shade that soaks the sun

into a maze of energy and health -

these hanging drupes and good-for-alls

refresh the stulting day, while

breaking through the silence

a gurgling trickle of silver water is

running from a system of narrow pipes

-it’s feeding time for the roots below.


As I step for bread and cheese

a supprise glut of glistening mud

has me slide a near comical fall

head first.

This is lethal, I say.


The Moors first developed

Olive Oil and called it

liquid gold

in times before being told

to go home to Arab lands

and, missing that elixer fruit,

searched every scrap of soil

before striking gold

once more.


Later I work to clean

the gloop of feral clay

that limpids to my boots like clogs

and, with silvery water, stones and sticks

get part unstuck the cling of earth.

And then, yes, starting the motor

whose engine throbs on gasoline

that oozes from that other ground

and is traded like revenge -

we head out down the road.


This is lethal, I say.








Ruary O'Siochain © 2009




The Spanish settlers named this city

after a brightly colored bird


in an irony so grounded and caged

it now wears a cloak of resigned melancholy.


Tending a garden that had become overgrown I swop

morning notes with one who survived by staying on the wing.


Outside my wall cars and buses with crabby engines crawl and foul the air with a dense of badly burned petroleum.


In a country so burdened with riches it took the work

of centuries to fully sequester all that was desired.


The bodies of  drunks lying in the Sunday morning streets are never robbed, there’s nothing more to take.





Force Feeding



The field is pale now, wan.

Yesterday I watched a harvester

march strip after strip

intense and brutal cut

of violent grass letting

gush an arch of green

into a noisy red trailer.


The cutting season has come round.

Now it looks all whacked out,

like a beaten boxer supported

by a ropey ring of green hedgerow,

while rooted in its stubble ends

are just dreams of shoots -

the lost lushness waits.


It’ll come, the sun warmed day,

the slaking mist and raking rain.


A cattle fodder cycle starts again.






Ruary O'Siochain © 2009