Monday’s Verse 10-15-07

Well it seems I’m on a little Irish poetry kick of late. Only fitting,
three years after formally leaving it behind, that I should experience
for myself “the return of the repressed.” I was reminded of this poem
when a colleague of mine mentioned the slang term “Irish confetti”
during a cram session last week. Does anyone know what that is?

Well here’s Ciaran Carson’s “Belfast Confetti.” Is he playing on the
term? This has been a favorite for a long time. It looks good on the
page. Its references to punctuation nicely puncuate the speaker’s
reactions, the confusion, ultimately his own inability to answer the
more pressing questions of the day. Although the references are a
clever metaphor, they are also poetic “proof” that the violence and
dead-ends of those streets are intimately bound up with language
itself. Broken type as shrapnel–brilliant. It’s fun to think about
the line breaks, too–anyone care to comment?

Ciaran Carson, born 1948, studied at Queen’s U., Belfast, grew up in
an Irish-speaking home (if memory serves), and is an accomplished
traditional musician. -ed.

BELFAST CONFETTI

Suddenly as the riot squad moved in, it was raining
exclamation marks,
Nuts, bolts, nails, car-keys. A fount of broken type.
And the explosion
Itself–an asterisk on the map. This hyphenated line, a
burst of rapid fire…
I was trying to complete a sentence in my head, but it
kept stuttering.
All the alleyways and side-streets blocked with stops and
colons.

I know this labyrinth so well–Balaclava, Raglan, Inkerman,
Odessa Street–
Why can’t I escape? Every move is punctuated. Crimea
Street. Dead end again.
A Saracen, Kremlin-2 mesh. Makrolon face-shields.
Walkie-talkies. What is
My name? Where am I coming from? Where am I going?
A fusillade of question marks.

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