Neil Slevin - Poems
Neil Slevin is a 26 year-old writer from the West of Ireland.
An English teacher, he has returned to university to complete an M.A. in Writing at N.U.I. Galway and to pursue a writing-based career.
Neil writes for Sin (N.U.I. Galway's student newspaper), editing its entertainment section and culture column, Resonate, and as Events Reporter for the Institute for Lifecourse and Society.
Neil’s poetry has been published by The Galway Review and numerous international journals.
A Mermaid's Song
One day I went home searching
for waters deep enough
to drown my problems,
but then I thought of you.
As a child, in passing,
I learned about you,
heard your story spoken of
but never told:
how you grew unhappy in yourself,
feared you’d be taken away;
how you couldn’t bear the shame,
you refused to.
Now, I imagine you slip out
and edge your way
along shadows of fading light
through the estate,
hoping no hand will block your path,
no mouth will draw you back.
I follow you,
sense your relief
mottled by despair,
into the darkness you now own.
I prowl behind you at a distance
safe enough to know
you won’t hear my footsteps
over your own heartbeat
and the voices in your head
that pound against their prison walls,
shrieking for release.
You tramp for miles,
yet finish in full view
of a home you’ve now forgotten:
you stop to turn your back
on invisible, unwanted hands,
unheard of, drowned-out voices
and shatter the water’s veil.
The sea accepts you
the way your life never will,
wrapping you with open arms;
you go down gracefully,
and for a moment
you sing like a mermaid
at home in her ocean,
your handful of notes bubbling,
bursting as they brace the air.
Then your song ends.
I listen to the silence,
until strange men arrive
to fish the deep waters,
as if they’d always known
it was here they’d find you.
But I don’t wait for the boy
who thinks you’re still at home
hiding somewhere from him.
The one who’ll always love
that woman who wanders
up and down the hallway,
from room to room,
as if the house conceals
all of her life’s answers,
and they are just sitting there
at the back of a press,
waiting to be found.
The son who will always remember
the last words you spoke to him,
and know they were ‘Goodbye’.
Walking On Your Memory
There exists a gap you cannot fill;
the hole in your heart betrays her missing shape.
Her light creeps through still,
into the dark, uncertain shade she left behind.
She is gone but the space remembers,
and even in those waking moments, ones when you forget,
the ghost of her memory dances on the walls,
her hair still blowing in the wind of dying storm.
That breeze will always blow, however softly.
No matter how you shelter from it, it will find you
and gently claw its way back
to penetrate the cracks of your long-broken heart.
Hand-in-hand, her light and shadow will follow you
like an echo of former existence,
foreshadowing the life you will try to lead
but always a few steps behind, walking on your memory.
The Ticking Clock
Your microscopic heart stopped beating
like a clock forgetting the time.
I wasn’t even there,
was I ever?
Do you watch us in judgement or pity?
Do you look and think, “I had a lucky escape”?
Are you nameless and wandering
like both of us now?
Are you happy, sad,
all those things that we are,
or at least could be
in this mess called life
that we took away from you,
because we were too young – too foolish – too drunk
drags me back to the present,
to thoughts of what I have done,
should have done and need to do.
I wonder what and where you are,
who you could have been,
then I do for me
What have I become,
what will become
The clock is ticking.
On wet, ill-tempered mornings,
that perspex box of phone
was like the Tardis of our town,
abetting our escape and journey
to place and voice unknown.
Deep inside we ventured,
sheltering from late dawning’s misery, its cold,
while spiders webbed and must spread,
and found ourselves a no man’s land
of mystery, stories untold.
But within its space grew less
as we ourselves grew tall, grew old;
the rain would stop,
the sun would shine,
the wind no longer wont to blow.
And time passed in the same way
we grew to pass our Tardis by:
it no longer bore the space we craved –
the room we had to find to spread our wings,
Time left our see-through world
all alone – enslaved;
our phone box Tardis
a copper gravestone –
something we had out-grown:
something else we could not save.
In sobriety, singularity
I search for
and solicit me.
I seek solace
sounds and senses
from somewhere inside –
they spring from
and stretch to fill.
Socially, they serve others
solely, they shape me, and my soul:
I write to be (and escape) me.