(Dublin, 1999)

I

The day has gone to rest, its eyelids firmly closed
after the urban dusk. Street lamps try in vain to carve
a hole of orange light in the mass of the night’s darkness.

Fog tightens around lampposts, and the strangled glow
flickers. Carbon, tungsten, neon, sodium, halogen; all
display their elemental certainty, questioning our souls,

searching homes, bedsits, and temples. Diogenes is out, still looking
for people. Traffic lights ceaselessly repeat their sensible routine
of amber, red and green on wet and empty streets, while zebras trot.

A flock of cranes stand one-legged in their half-constructed nests,
and in a fuss of TV crews, a flash intrudes, capturing a rictus for The News.
Blindfolded, city skies ignore the stars, and celebrate celebrities.

II

There is a smell of business dinner in the air, roast meat, fresh bread,
coffee and dessert on a backdrop of white linen tablecloths and casual
conversation conducted in soft voice. The sound bites are good,

but in our guts there is only a deep demanding call to mend
energies lost and efforts wasted. Another day has been contested
and we badly need a holy truce to lick our wounds and count

the day’s proceeds. Some people walk slowly in the rain, as if
gathering their thoughts, while others rush, concerned. ‘Perhaps
not all has been in vain’, and ‘I am late’, can be read in their steps.

III

Among the soft evening tones, a fight breaks out between
the shrill voice of a drill and the dull concrete of the pavement.
A faceless man in yellow helmet hurries to destroy

another man’s achievements. The sharp point of the hammer
stammers indignation on the ground, and concrete flies in shards.
There are sparks, and the ground yields and cracks

until the city guts are all exposed. Plastic signals are erected,
in red and white and black, to mark another site where the Vikings
were defeated. Not even the night can give us shelter

from the burning thirst of the city-centre. Closing time; ‘Please, folks…
Please, gentlemen…’ The singing and the digging must go on
with alarming regularity; this must be the dawn of the Celtic Tiger.