Fred Johnston


The antic gods of this house fled long ago
trailing the light after them.
What’s left is damaged dark, snuffling in corners,
kitchen chatter from nowhere to nowhere.

That’s the nature of a home-place left to its own
devices, a decline as soft-footed as burglary,
as eloquent as murder: a framed
Christ on a wall, ripped heart on fire,
a still from a snuff-movie.

Let’s not blaspheme: good souls slept here
beneath windowsful of wet green fields, a modest sun –
from here too there were voyages
unarmed, perilous, indecently brave
to cities of preposterous savagery

and brute conspiracies, missions of mercy
childlike and without reward. Letters came,
ink-soaked with optimism, ghost-written,
with vivid stamps worth collecting
in exotic currencies, under violent postmarks.

Fred Johnston is an Irish poet, novelist, literary critic and musician. He is the founder and current director of the Western Writers’ Centre in Galway. Johnston is author of four novels, eight collections of poetry. He was Writer-in- Residence to the Princess Grace Irish Library at Monaco. He wrote and broadcast for RTE Radio 1 a four-part series on the literary history of the West of Ireland.