Old Cork was more the unconscious
in concrete. It was more the Palaeozoic
parts of us: darkly lit, dingy, dirty
physical parts of who we are, with peat bogs
ectopically on top of rooftops, the locale like
the body of a man running amok
and being a greaseball all over town.

I remember nineteen eighty-four as a swamp:
herringbones of unlit alleyways with men
in mussed wigs mullocking up poulaphoukas
of boreens, and the river non compos mentis
brimmed with flâneurs foot-sucking their way up Pana
with bullfrogs and pram-carts in a place
that was the psychological equivalent

of a mullet hair-cut on a person—it could stand
a serving of psychology’s shadow side: the
showbands’ hucklebucking tone-deaf, bodacious
bandwagon chummed-with behind the persona’s back,
psychotic contracts with the banshee and phouka
conceded to in matters of land, and religion’s
piscatorial Christ caught off Pope’s Quay

on a Friday, served with the contents
of the chip-pan. We could pride ourselves on the appalling
creation of conscience in the smithy
of The Late Late Show, be secretly stricken
by our sinful Saturdays at the dogs,
and hoors shaving our blessedness to a measly aureole
of onion rings. Now Cork is more like a fella

thinking too much, smells nicer
than he is, nicer than he should do,
than we are. Waking up in a bone
china shop, and is careful (but living
on the fragile summit of a swarm),
and proudly feels small enough to give himself airs:
his tipples of Cointreau, his (spat-in) canapés.