Familiar Things

83 pp, 1993
ISBN 978-1-873790-32-8

A marvellous, intelligent collection ... Such work restores one's faith

Pat Boran’s second collection of poems continues his exploration of small-town life even as its focus moves out into the wider world, and beyond the world into the cosmos, seeking out the poetry inherent in science and determined to find and treasure the poetic impulse as balance against the sorrows, cruelties and horrors of our age.


Children in ill-fitting uniforms
drive adults to school, and children
argue the cost of tobacco
in the Newsagent’s nearby.

You must have noticed them.

And in the mornings they rise to slaughter pigs,
cook breakfast, solve crosswords at the office …
Or they send tiny adults into minefields,
barefoot, with pictures
of Khomeini around their necks,
their old toes searching the sand
for death.

And children queue for Bingo
on Ormond Quay, on Mary Street,
and douse their leaking take-aways with vinegar.

And children talk and smoke incessantly
in Eastern Health Board waiting rooms,
always moving one seat to the right,
someone’s parents squabbling over trinkets
on the worn linoleum.

And it is always children
who will swear for their tobacco—children
with beards and varicose veins—
and children, dressed as policemen,
who pull their first corpses from the river.

And who is it who makes love in the dark
or in the light, who haunts
and who does all our dying for us,
if not children?

We leave their fingerprints
on everything we touch.

Angels in Love

When angels fall in love
they dance on the heads of pins,
throw themselves into fireballs, or stay
under water in the pool for hours.

Sometimes they even slash at their wrists
with razor blades or wood planes,
failing, of course, to tear the delicate skin.

For, in the absence of pangs, or flutters,
how else would they emulate our love?