A Latvian Poet Climbs Killiney Hill by Michael O’Loughlin


A Latvian Poet Climbs Killiney Hill


This city has dyed her hair blonde

And had her breasts remodelled

To look like the whore
In the hotel foyer

Anywhere in the world

I want to know what she looked like before

So I climb Queen Victoria’s Hill

To look at the famine obelisk

Because I know that hunger

Is the true God of the Irish.

It came down from the mountain

And gave them two commandments:

Thou shalt devour and thou shalt hate

And laugh and dance and sing to fool

The angel of death into thinking you’re alive.

Looking down the hill at the muddy path

I think I see her looking up, half-crawling

Yellow maize porridge cakes her lips

Her breasts hang slack and luscious

As dying fruit on her ribcage

Which trembles like a songbird’s throat.

Her skin is white as the mushrooms

In the cold ground of the Latvian forest

But her eyes and hair are black

Black as the wind in the thorn bush

Black as potatoes rotting forever

Deep in the black earth.


Michael O’Loughlin



6 thoughts on “A Latvian Poet Climbs Killiney Hill by Michael O’Loughlin

  1. Afric, thanks for setting this up and introducing ‘new’ poets – do you comment on the poems? Maybe you should, by way of introduction – why you like them and all.
    I have a question (no doubt displaying my ignorance): what’s the Latvian reference? Is this a modern reference to Latvians in Ireland?

    • Hi,
      Michael O’Loughlin spent some time in Latvia, and on his return to Ireland, created a Latvian alter ego for himself! This poem is one written by the fictional Latvian immigrant to Ireland. I like the way O’Loughlin uses this persona, and merges Irish history and metaphor, his symbolism, the way he creates associations. And this is a very visual, as well as a political poem.
      Thanks for your comments and suggestion, and you’re right. I might introduce poems with a sentence or two, just to let readers know why I’ve picked them.

  2. He manages to cram a great deal of history into few lines.Stark. Now, do you have a reaction to some poems and not to others? (Well, obviously, as you wouldn’t have included them – but why?) Isn’t it strange how some reach into our marrow, while others are forgotten as soon as we turn the page?

    • Exactly. I suppose it’s to do with where we’re at in our lives too, and also whether the language/imagery attract us. It’s all so personal. The ultimate test, of course, is to see which poems continue to endure with us…

  3. This one 😉 I like it a lot, but I love thou shalt devour but not convinced that thou shalt hate but then maybe this Latvian poet would see us like that…

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