By Ciarán Carson b. 1948 Ciaran Carson
They had questioned him for hours. Who exactly was he? And when
He told them, they questioned him again. When they accepted who he was, as
Someone not involved, they pulled out his fingernails. Then
They took him to a waste-ground somewhere near the Horseshoe Bend, and told him
What he was. They shot him nine times.
A dark umbilicus of smoke was rising from a heap of burning tyres.
The bad smell he smelt was the smell of himself. Broken glass and knotted Durex.
The knuckles of a face in a nylon stocking. I used to see him in the Gladstone Bar,
Drawing pints for strangers, his almost perfect fingers flecked with scum.

Ciaran Carson, “Campaign” from Selected Poems. Copyright © 2001 by Ciaran Carson.  Reprinted by permission of Wake Forest University Press.

Source: Selected Poems (Wake Forest University Press, 2001)

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Poet Ciarán Carson b. 1948


Subjects Relationships, Friends & Enemies, Social Commentaries, History & Politics, War & Conflict

Poetic Terms Free Verse


Born in Belfast, Northern Ireland, into an Irish-speaking family, poet Ciarán Carson attended Queen’s University, Belfast. He held the position of traditional arts officer of the Arts Council of Northern Ireland from 1975 to 1998 and was appointed director of the Seamus Heaney Centre for Poetry at Queen’s University in 2003. Carson is the author of a number of collections of poetry, including The Irish for No (1987), winner of . . .

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SUBJECT Relationships, Friends & Enemies, Social Commentaries, History & Politics, War & Conflict


Poetic Terms Free Verse

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Originally appeared in Poetry magazine.

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