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