David Mc Carthy, After Words

David Mc Carthy is a recovering academic living in Dublin and is working on his first collection, Mute Variations, to which these poems belong. His work has appeared in A New Ulster.


the immigrant self
is unknown, always
before, an other
silence, not ours


a forgotten period
of unlikeness,
created by the word
alone, inertial


nobody – spelling
error – happening,
a moving mirror,
asymmetry of now


learning to read,
sounds of the
names, unspoken

Absence Before the Meeting

“it is the common thing which is anonymously about us”
William Carlos Williams

the word for a literal image, I
nothing other, is not yet written remembering,
the answer without a question being asked,
language spoken within music itself,
a motionless sound, accurate in its expression,
what cannot be touched by distance,
the difference between silences,
empty common space, vanishing point
of no return, unlearning to forget,
certain as loneliness is imagined,
the same life lived twice, unable to begin
from the beginning, the image incoheres,
the word is named I always, irreducibly ours,
being each in the other, before we abandoned it


After John Ashbery

today because tomorrow
before the end of the
sentence, time and words
what was was and is
possibly different, one
resounding after the
other one, without
changes between,
remembering and
forgetting, the shadow
of a shadow, immediately
created, this semblance
instead of memory
almost before it happened
naming loss, as in
conversation, still
performance, the body’s
imprint, never elsewhere
a place of waiting, nothing
other, here we can hear
speech, not preceded
by silence, what has
yet to occur until now

Was That It?

it has all lead to this moment of words
on paper, the question you forgot to ask
before I left, with the sentences in my
mouth, that way of happening, reconciled
with the legible silence outside me, in
which nothing happens, a music of changes,
of crisis expressed as personal event, the
arrested instant again of everyone and I,
what we have each inhabited, attention
intended only now, in speaking we breathe
together reciprocally, words unto the world,
a community of no one together, where
my vocabulary confines me, alone yet
invested against our vanishing, but who
remains responsible for what was not said?


dancing in the dark / we imitate the printed structure / learned before language / with our definitive body / the opaque voice / already written in white ink / between the lines / reread to resist / until it exceeds our circular syntax / a sound transfused with material / the original vocabulary / meaning’s only measure / what is beyond the noun / a place of appearance / with nothing at its centre / parallel movements that remain / above the descension / the word is our last resort / spoken by choice / by omission

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