top of page

The Stayed Hand in Prayer

Long ago, I forswore of again partaking in the gabble,

Of letting myself be bewitched by the dousing rain of polymers, 

And stamped feet on age old pedals. 


I forswore –

Feeling my soul lifted by the innocent raggery of young boys sounding the music of the old in grey stone temples until all that remains is the hair raised on my skin –

Theirs a gift that touches even flint with pain and thereby reminds us how we endure. 


I forswore –

Murmuring incantations many – my hands dried on flecks of rubbed sand – leaning to the earth to submit, and through submission find peace. 


I forswore –

Holding but one thought – thoughtlessness – and heeding but one vision – abjuration and through it an end to the ceaseless lament and a beginning of wisdom – laughter at the end of a rope, and the end of a glass, and the top of a mountain, with each outcome being just the same, for I return and return and return.


I forswore – 

The pious clattering of gathered jades and rose-quartz, topaz, quartz, lapis lazuli, smoky quartz, emerald, red jasper, orange carnelian, and the garnet stone – so that I might purify myself, restoring trust, joyously forgiving, and heal myself till my bones shake with restored intentions – anxiety banished, pain banished – then love myself unconditionally and in balance so that I might find the soil again sundering my spirit with creativity, filling me with desire and want and need – truly a living fire.


And I held back praise for the mother of liberation, whose face is red, and who told us once of her eight fears, but also holds the hearth at Teamhair,

And I was lipless numb even for the 142 who dwell there with the holy at the entrance,

Even though there the Catechesis is a living breathing rite of words, 

Even though it is the sanctuary of space, by Dumha na nGiall, where the hallowed lay buried, 

Even though when once there, I, under the watchful eye of the readers of the Senchas Már, drank ale to observe the ban-feis and hold my consort in my hands; 

Medb, whose dirge still stirs my bones today:


Macc Moga Corbb celas clú – one brief divine interpretation:


Her gift to us concealing fame,

He, who daubs redness with swift incision,

Who holds up the capstone of his grave, always to speak, 'for it is a pity',

Who battled in Limerick, the Cliu Mail.


Who never spurned the raising of a hand to stay another, 

Who tore his rivals down when they were strongest, 

Yet took the principal land today not by his hand but through his wit, 

But his power, like an unsteady load, needs must, it crushed him.

I forswore.


Irish poet, academic, and journalist, Oisín Breen’s debut, ‘Flowers, all sorts in blossom ...’ was released Mar., 2020. Breen has 163 poems published in 75 journals, including in About Place, Door is a Jar, Northern Gravy, North Dakota Quarterly, Books Ireland, the Seattle Star, La Piccioletta Barca, Reservoir Road, and Dreich, which will also publish Breen’s second collection, (4² by 5), later this summer. Breen’s third full collection, the experimental Lilies on the Deathbed of Étaín will be published by Beir Bua Press, January 2023.

bottom of page