Poems by Michèle Vassal

Drunk as Brendan Behan

Lovers    lovers
their empty skins
hang limp in opiate closets
pulsing between insinuations
of naphthalene and the barbitural scent
of forgetting, they swing embittered
and toxic, mothy costumes
of a play that lingers only
on faded posters
and skin.

On the wrong side of midnight
drunk as Brendan Behan
I scooped up a last high king
kneeling on Clontarf road
         battled out
knees sanded to the bone
by the wet grit of ancient wars
about not worrying about a thing
amongst Viking corpses
on the steps of the Bank of Ireland
where Wood Quay used to be
we kissed ourselves an island.
I clinched a burned out arsonist
       hands shaking
     climbing railings
in Stephens Green
left an aftertaste of phosphorus
        reeking red
       like inhaling
the soul of a cracked match.
I chased a light eyed dragon
heart caving in to the count of nine
elliptic filigree of sins I kept
twitching inside a reliquary
of abalone dreams whilst
the rosary of Chopin’s Polonaise
undid itself in silver beads.
I slashed my defeats in the wrists of actors
snorted stars on the mercurial mirrors
of their well rehearsed eyes
and DT-ed on night’s poitín
when I drank neat the distilled dew
glistening on the mouths of girls.
© Michèle Vassal, published in A Taste of Hemlock, Salmon 2011

Dublin 75

Nineteen seventy five and
Mary worked Fitzwilliam square
genuflecting at closing time
for wretched men in nylon shirts
too drunk to know
too drunk to care
that whilst on bended knees
she thought only of communion.
From the Liberties to the Green
Dublin vomited poets and patriots
under the gassy glare of streetlights
leaning on convoluted shadows
and not quite balladed out
saints and scholars spewed up Spancil Hill and
Dirty Old Town, like a bad pint
In nineteen seventy five
love smelled of stout and vinegared chips.”
© Michèle Vassal, published in A Taste of Hemlock, Salmon 2011

Michèle Vassal
Michèle Vassal

Michèle Vassal is from Barcelonnette, a small town in the French Alps. She moved to Ireland, aged seventeen, to learn English and stayed there for thirty years. Her collection, Sandgames (Salmon 2000), received first prize at Listowel Writers’ Week and some of her poems were short-listed for the Hennessy/Sunday Tribune Awards. She has been widely published internationally, in both French and English. Michèle currently lives and writes in France.


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