The Next Life

100 pp, Sept. 2012
ISBN 9781906614553

The Next Life

Despite echoing the promise of religious belief, The Next Life of the title of Pat Boran’s 2012 poetry collection is entirely to be found in the here-and-now and the near-to-hand, in the play of sparrows on a lawn, the death-exploring game of his two small children (‘Let’s Die’), and in the trust and faith of lovers whispering together “words never uttered before”.

Worm Song

servant of the plain truth
seldom stated,

part link, part chain,
serpent echo
in the slow lane

though sawn in half
on your journey
to the heart

of darkest matter. O lonely
shunting of the earth song
too low to sing; O hole

in the ring; O dull
but faithful sexton
of hallowed ground,

of growth and change,
pushing ahead
(again, and still again)

to where the sun
can never enter
though the rain seeps in—

O mindless worker,
blind muck-raker,
self-buried miner,

in your endless night
unmake all this, we pray,
to make it all alright.


Pushed out of the boat, my father
like so many of his siblings learned to swim
out of necessity. He’d seen, no doubt,
a sack of cats go down into the same

Dinin River, and might well have dreamed
the blackness at the far end of that string
of beads, those seeds of air that rose
to bloom and blossom on the water’s skin.

And perhaps that helped. More likely though,
fear moved faster through his veins
than any conscious thought, and he was
kicking water, grasping, gulping air

almost before he knew he’d been pushed in,
his father extending from that small craft
an arm or splintered oar with which
to fish him out, still gasping, into an ark.