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The Gaelic poets

were kept in their place,

a rock on the chest

to teach them to breathe,

other men’s songs

weighing on their hearts,

passing through them

to be borne on their backs.


They added nothing

until the words they mouthed

were safely on the wind –

dry leaves blowing about

the green land, a few

new lines at the bitter end.



[Published (in an earlier form): The Rialto, No 71, 2011]

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