Alicia Byrne Keane, The Impossibility of Music


all of you look tired, looks tired:
sore thumbtacks fermenting,
candied and toothlike

at the glowed place
where colours meet,
the startle around a sting.

I was never good
at finding the boundary
of mosquito bite and skin,

& some constellation corners
drift glacé cheer into tarmac.
Why do they look so unnatural,

lollipop-sticked and sticking?
Nothing like the sideways
slip of their name.

insides congregate,
become star-withered.


I know already what will happen –
the air deadening into road, the
wiped shine of table between us.
A dusk once: mud frozen to peaks
and tributaries. You can see bike
tracks, the corrugation of tires a
rise and swerve halting ankles
with its abruptness. Remember
when we hiked to the place that
scoops light at its centre, a well
above ground – we ran out of
feints and lace by the foothills,
ended up threading ourselves to
the tower’s furthest height. If the
conversation lulls this afternoon
I will fold the glowing fibre of a
wing into my mouth, pretend the
wan stilling leads to sustenance.


The place
a design on tough clothing:
spooky, holographic
where I sit
near the rumple of water,
readying my pose,

a skein
of woodland muscle –
twist gobs of earth,
seed fingernails plainly
in the kind of tufting grass
that only happens
around lamp posts.

At night I can’t keep light
from the flutter
between eyelids,
read each sentence
as if nothing
has come before it,
only the exquisite shadow
of folding.

I can’t keep it all
remembered at once,

so yes,
I was crying
as I ran the lamplit dock
the other day,
the impossibility of music.

Alicia Byrne Keane is a final year PhD student from Dublin, Ireland. Alicia has a first class honours degree in English Literature and French from Trinity College Dublin and a MSt. in English Literature 1900-Present from Oxford University, and is currently working on an Irish Research Council-funded PhD study problematizing ‘vagueness’ and the ethics of translation in the work of Samuel Beckett and Haruki Murakami, at TCD.

Alicia’s poetry has been published in The Moth, The Colorado Review, The Cardiff Review, The Berkeley Poetry Review, Banshee, Abridged, and the Honest Ulsterman, among others. Alicia’s poem ‘surface audience’ was nominated for a Pushcart Prize; her short story ‘Snorkels’ was featured in Marrowbone Books’ anthology ‘The Globe and Scales’, alongside the work of other Irish writers such as Dermot Bolger, Mia Gallagher, and Louise Nealon; her poem ‘Cloud / land arc’ was nominated for the Orison Anthology.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s