Shelves of War: The Reading Room of the Cork City Library

There is no war that is not made a book,
Fierce combat in the air, at sea, on plain or slope
Played in vast theatres of manoeuvres,
Rage angry worlds pressed between hard covers,
Though pages’ printed letters not enough
To count fatalities, nor photographs
Reveal where deep unfathomable hurt
Makes secret mutilation of the heart,
Those jaunty cigarette-to-lips regards
Of sometime courageous, sometime coward
Conscripts a uniform camouflage, doubts’
Disguises, before orders to move out.

Here, in Cork City’s Library Reading
Room no one is gravely wounded, bleeding,
No shouting, moaning, crying, cursing heard,
Where words of war now are the wars of words,
Standing shoulder to shoulder, an array
Of titled spines:  Bloody April, D-Day,
Monte Cassino, Stalingrad, Berlin,
Paschendale, Gallipoli, The Fallen,
Fallen quiet, in perfect order still
As on parade before some general,
A shelved review, a brief roll call of ghosts,
Bound in silence to gather civic dust.

Ibbetson Street 2012 and Shore Lines 2012