Election in Temple Bar

A Poem By James P Leveque

Early Morning. Dublin, 2014.

The living, delicious and upturned
to the dreich, torn to the brick walls,
torn to the flat rooftops, to
the river, dredging the riverbed
and hanging from the bridges,
giggling the breeze through smiles.
The living, not quite alive enough
here, on this corner, out of breath
for exuberance, alveoli
swelled with much too much joy, panting
like this, every morning, as kegs roll
over the cold, stretch sleep out from
dreams, out from a dull, local pain
but still grinning at ovations
buried in his blood, body lost
in the swift kick on the screen caught
in each goal and every gut only all,
now, all eyes are vision alone, each
salute uttered for one and all ears,
then stiffened in the joints, slowed
in heart by the rain made steam.
Anyone might be raptured
in this weather: wiping, with splinted
fingers crushed by yesterday’s metal,
wet hair, sweat then bursting in
his sudden nonexistence;
vanishing inside a flurry
of last-minute cleaning before
unlocking the door, the space where a girl
waited will wait in her place. That’s that.
“To be gathered up in two palms,”
she thinks, at her hand’s pause,
then resumes wiping the glass
of the café window, across
the sky’s reflection of the moon
in daylight, a reflected star
collected again and again. Election
as the uttered color, the man
at the table uttered into
his clothes and his morning coffee
by the tenacious language
on lampposts and rails, plastered
against the bridge’s keystone, holding it
against collapse into the water
onto whatever reprobate, evangelizing
to the pigeon as much to the man
that throws back aspirin for headache
and broken fingers. “Brace yourselves,”
sloganized astride the letters,
the calm lips, the eyes inviting
the sun from sunless and gulled sky.
“In these,” she hears, “uncertain times,”
“the territories on which we stand
ever shift the horizon’s
angle, and turns like the wheel
over the cobbled road.”
Every smile kind and earnest,
threatening to nothing, craving
to stand, with eyes closed, by the tortured
statue of Yeats in St. Stephen’s
Green, and blast these bills clean,
to shreds, spun into the sad howls
of an incomprehensible name
swept up from the gutter and drain
yet unheard by the driver
in the street-cleaner’s seat, innocent
of how the mist’s mixture with dust
paints sky in the language of shade,
in the manner of a world
not meant to be known; and the quiet
confirms the failed prophecy
called into the person it bears,
leaving us with the elect,
sometime weeping, sometime laughing;
sometime election as the misplacement
of the gear that turns you, that turns
the man, lifts his head to utter his name,
his job, a strange feeling
of desiccation being suddenly
saturated by the woman
who took the reflected star in her palms,
absconded with it, and ask how her lack
became clouds spilled across the sky,
like oil, like a call too loud, too clear
to be heard over the ringing in our ears.


James P Leveque is a London-based writer, and literature teacher, and trade unionist. His study on religion and avant-garde poetry, entitled Words Like Fire: Prophecy and Apocalypse in Apollinaire, Marinetti, and Pound, is forthcoming from Legenda in 2019. He is the co-host and co-producer of ‘The Savage Reading Podcast’, which can be found at savagereading.com, and his twitter can be found @apollinightmare. He is originally from California.

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