Poems written in Dublin by Sarah Chen

The Defamiliarizing Effects of Walking Around as a Passerby in Dublin City

The defamiliarizing effects of walking around
as a passerby in Dublin city
a camera in hand and a greater
inclination to look up
are sweeping and various.

You suspend dizzy with secrets –
knowledge of red bricks and grass blades
spoon-songs echoing from street to streets
teal bikes intertwined in leggy daydream
watching beer barrels sleep –
or is this just the hangover
from last night?

The pink lady and the blue lady
glide past the Celtic refrain
but are enchanted yet
same as you.

The many lovers in the green
are the same as the bookish man beside you
is the same as the jogging woman in heels
is the same as the boy feeding the seagulls
is the same as the man laughing at the boy feeding the seagulls
is the same as the seagulls
are the same as you.

Jerking back and spinning forward
many times and many “sorry’s”
sudden stops and the ever-present hesitance to street-cross
you’re swept dizzy again with barks and cars
and smoky smells and sea air
and sameness and Self and sky.

You stumble onto this street again
different stumble than the empty swollen nights
the same cobbled hands
that caught your bare feet frenzied
now cradles flower stands
now upholds sand-man and backwards-guitar-man and you
are the same as them.

Yet it is different
the way burgundy edges sharpen
with just a bit of sun
like wind wakes
or is it you?

Through the wade of beauty
the Wave of All Things
you see her still –

Take her hand and pull her
into the curtainless shower
of red bricks
and unnoticed upper stories
and Guinness with or without black currant liqueur
and grass blades
sharing simultaneously
secret knowledge.

Well, you walk and wave
and wonder now
will you see her again?

But only fleet glimpses on Front Square
only know casinos on O’Connell
only love her on a sunlit day
only a passerby.


I’m Falling in Love With Myself

I’m falling in love with myself
Bed serenaded by sun-soaked singers
Beep beep beep of backing truck lingers
Ever running rivers on my skinny fingers
I’m falling in love with myself.

I’m falling in love with myself
Sister wakes up and sighs delight
Dappled movie drawings loop in our minds
Arm hairs seem to multiply
I’m falling in love with myself.

I’m falling in love with myself
Sunk too deeply in ethnic pride
Took brother’s mayonnaise and shifted my eyes
Rose up, texted, apologized
I’m falling in love with myself.

So large and small and dual am I
Coloured and black and white am I
Take the lift and face the sky
Siblings below and siblings above
All cloud-kids and mirror tell
“I’m falling in love with myself!”


That Last Night

Spark me once more
in your watery ways,
in your absent wars,
in your sharp-eyed face.

Charm me once more
in your cloudy gaze,
in your secret shore,
in your steady haze.

They told me in your early days
you built roads that led to nowhere.
Draw my threads down wandering
the roads that lead to nowhere.

Spell me once more
in your timestuck pace.
Close your colored doors
and forget my face.

I’ll tell you once more
the words I wrote
and give you some American advice.
You’ll smile sweet,
I’ll stand and go
Quickly and hide my eyes.

Greener grass grows fed with tears
and swallows steps inside.
Did I tread too softly here –
leave no traces behind?


Seymour’s Fat Lady and My Mom

Seymour’s Fat Lady and my mom
anticipate me at the gates
so I will remind myself 
     that I’ve crashed twice already
     and I can’t read directions
     and I’m full of highways
so let them drive me off the plane
and I’ll sing ‘em a song.

In Vocation Of Now

From home to here
From “only there I cannot say where” 
From bright-starred field to Dartry Road
Rathmines Dublin Six

Seven cities this semester
Half-ten heart tanglements 
And probably too many poems

Now I am a now-vessel
Shaped and painted and ever still
 	I will put on my Isbell playlist
 	I will dip my salmon in sesame
 	I will set a reminder to call Mom

I will mend the nets 
To fly by

Poems written in Dublin are © Sarah Chen

Sarah Chen is an emerging poet and 19-year old college student. Raised by Chinese-immigrant parents in Texas, she moved to Dublin in August 2018 to study English. Her writing experience was previously limited to songs performed with her rock band, but now is expanding into the territory of written poetry. Her collection of poems, Poems Written in Dublin was written in the span of a morning upon completion of her first year of college.

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