H

H

By Ciarán Carson b. 1948 Ciaran Carson
The Powers-that-Be decreed that from the—of—the sausage rolls, for reasons
Of security, would be contracted to a different firm. They gave the prisoners no reasons.
 
The prisoners complained. We cannot reproduce his actual words here, since their spokesman is alleged
To be a sub-commander of a movement deemed to be illegal.
 
An actor spoke for him in almost-perfect lip-synch: It’s not the quality
We’re giving off about. Just that it seems they’re getting smaller. We’re talking quantity
 
His ‘Belfast’ accent wasn’t West enough. Is the H in H-Block aitch or haitch?
Does it matter? What we have we hold? Our day will come? Give or take an inch?
 
Well, give an inch and someone takes an effing mile. Everything is in the ways
You say them. Like, the prison that we call Long Kesh is to the Powers-that-Be The Maze.

Ciaran Carson, “H” 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

POET’S REGION Ireland

Subjects Activities, Eating & Drinking, Arts & Sciences, Language & Linguistics, Social Commentaries, Crime & Punishment, History & Politics

Poetic Terms Couplet, Free Verse

Biography

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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Poem Categorization

SUBJECT Activities, Eating & Drinking, Arts & Sciences, Language & Linguistics, Social Commentaries, Crime & Punishment, History & Politics

POET’S REGION Ireland

Poetic Terms Couplet, Free Verse

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Originally appeared in Poetry magazine.

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