Gerard Beirne


Gerard Beirne is an Irish writer now living in Canada where he teaches at the University of New Brunswick and is a Fiction Editor with The Fiddlehead. His most recent collection of poetry Games of Chance: A Gambler’s Manual was published by Oberon Press, Fall 2011. His collection Digging My Own Grave (Dedalus Press) won second prize in the Patrick Kavanagh Award. He has published two novels, including The Eskimo in the Net (Marion Boyars) shortlisted for the Kerry Group Irish Fiction Award 2004. His short story Sightings of Bonowas adapted into a short film featuring Bono (U2)

Meditation #21 Nothing Is The Matter

There comes a rope hung heavy on the beam of night/I am at a loss to know just who
should hang from it/the draggle tailed wench seducing life with lusty fervour/or
the skip kennel boy obeying its every flunked up order/never a barrel the better herring/

In our talk the stench of its very odour/ the torment and the dross returned with equal favour/
the buffoons have come home to rest/their anacoluthic rack stretched until the bones crack
and break asunder/their terrible words do not come back/ show no respect for dialects/a hex

on hacks/ Nothing is the matter/ On the ward for alcoholics the doors are locked/ the babies
have been tossed out with the water from the bath/the rhythm sprung like a heart
with a single beat/syllabically weak and slack/ kept more intact in the knocking bones/

smooth-polished flat/Enough of that/the rope hangs heavy and that’s a fact/Nothing
is the matter/the heart has sprung a leak/and for our part it would be best
if we never chose to speak/silence is where it’s at

This poem is from a longer sequence of meditations on death. This one explores the notion of 'nothingness'. How “nothing is the matter” - how “nothing” is the substance/the significance of our bodies, our words, our lives. In this way the poem (like the person) runs right up against its own limitations – using words to comprehend silence, using form to interpret formlessness.