of the nothing of by Michael McAloran

cover1-200x300of the nothing of


Paperback: 182 Pages
Oneiros Books 2014
Cover is © Tadhg Murray
…I genuflect to nothing, in a vacancy of shit..
(from of the none exposed)

Michael McAloran’s of the nothing of is subtly related to another of his works with Oneiros Books All Stepped/Undone. While both collections have a loosely tripartite structure, in of the nothing of McAloran is pushing into the realm of the psyche, and attempting its full expression.
In essence of the nothing of moves from a griefscape like in All Stepped/Undone toward expressing the disembodied voice. It is a work largely sited in the telling of the physical memory. McAloran’s control and direction is achieved through the work under three major headings, of which more anon. of the nothing of has a dystopian expressiveness of some magnitude which he achieves and maintains through voice.
Voice is spoken through pulse-beat, through an imagined interior such as a corridor or a room with a naked bulb, indeed through the voice unaccommodated. Here, a Beckettian mouth through which an ancient howl emerges. Whitman’s Howl meets Not I, but without the celebratory tone. This is not to say that there is no humour here, there is, it is self-deprecating.
of the nothing of is divided into of subtle butchery, of the none exposed, and pulse beats. The larger part of the book is contained in of subtle butchery which is divided into poetry alternating with prose segments. of the none exposed is poetic prose all through, here and there glints of humour are evident. pulse beats are precisely that, short bursts of poetry in four sections merging with and into prose segments. pulse beats structuring is poetry/prose/poetry/prose. it is the shortest section of the book, with the final prose section contained in one and a half pages.

Although the narrative voice, or anti-voice in of the nothing of lacks physicality, lacks a geography, it is clearly (or was) an embodied voice. Voice’s physical experience is one of violence,

…[pulse beat]…

…(oh, how I remember it all, as if, as if in the going on or the getting on were of the nobility of eyes/ stillness-cadaverine/stone mockery/ashes drifting away from an open palm…)…
…[pulse beat]…

from pulse beats

…All said of the what of it, spoken again, as if to spite, till the
dread of which, no not once, vapours of stagnant bleeding, skull
in a vice of empty desolate , winds throughout hollow, as of dead,
yet else, breathing all the while of circus pageantry, where the
hands fall stripped of flesh, having gathered the briars of nothing

..I’ll yet stay, I’ll yet go…

…The hours are very long…

#15 of the none exposed

of the nothing of is not a unified work. There are three divisions within the book. These divisions are arbitrary. I do not think the book should be perceived or understood as a unity. McAloran delights in the non-narrative, and in creating cognitive dissonance. Thus the reader can pick or choose which part of the work suits them to read, without the problem of finding progression/theme/unity /or purpose. Reading the book is somehow equivalent to peering into an anthill of busy piracy and casual marauding, it slips between the fingers and rejects the readers attempt to garner a safe place to pause, to rest,

the flash of a match head/dreaming all the while of the living
and the dead and of the what might be to become of this nothing
that is/ (stunted/ ever-glowing) /ask of the asp the pathway
through tall grasses/

from of subtle butchery

What underpins and creates a sense of unity in of the nothing of is the voice of the poet. The lamenting and anguished voice underpins the entire book. Movement and structure in the book are subverted by voice, making them largely irrelevant. McAloran chose a loose structuring which is sufficient to carry the reader along the black waves of exile and lament.

It is as if voice finds him/self in a degraded and vicious reality. He sings what he sees and dreams, his memory of wholeness. The reading of of the nothing of is difficult, but worth it.

a droplet of blood
.turning lest the light expires
speaking the language
.of the veins
unto the none else/
.fragrance of

from pulse beats

 from of subtle butchery.

Chime unto close


        Strike aloud till


Stillness bears the

ice of bloodless night


In a roomscape

     \of final emptiness


Here/absent traces

Mocking the stitch of the wound


Shroud-bound by



…..colours emptied


Ever to mock the

violent silence


With gritted teeth


Till spark extinguished


Cold weight of naught

A palm closing over final eye


from of subtle butchery

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