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A Latvian Poet Encounters Ròisìn Dubh

You make me rub your back till the skin is red and broken.
You make me press your bones till they crack.
I want to reach my fist down
deep inside your chest
to pull out your heart, and hold
it up to glisten in the light,
hard and black as a piece of bog oak.

I want to fillet out your spine
and have it mounted in Kildare Street
alongside the Great Irish Elk
just to make the poor extinct fucker quake.


I like it when you sleep
and I press my nose against your skin
you smell of rain on the hillside
you smell of nothingness
you smell like a Neapolitan saint
emerging from her coffin
after a hundred years in paradise.


You lodged beneath my skin
like a sliver of glass. Good pain
when I pressed, it made me feel alive.

Now you move like the Minotaur
through my body’s dark maze
to carve me like an invisible butcher.


The Vikings would have loved you,
would have chased you across the peaty hills
your white feet splashing in black water
and torn you like a kitten from Mother Ireland’s paps
from which you drank your poison straight.

They would have known who you were
but embraced you anyway, as I do
believing all men are lucky or doomed,
and taken you back to your sister, Gudrun,
who goaded four good men to their death:

Thorkel the chief, Bolli the comely
Thord the wise, and Thorvald.
Grown a pious old women, she’d say:
“The one I loved the most
was the one I treated worst.”