“Brother” by Eugene O’Hare

Eugene O’Hare


though a child, you became a god
when you lit your first fire.
learning almost nothing to be unburnable
was how you learned love, finance,
the charms of delinquency, and war.
those lessons self-taught
through the repeated act of burning as much
as you could reasonably take a match to
put you way ahead at school.
your teachers, no better than mine,
hated that you knew everything
without them.
when a drunk history teacher
challenged you to a fight, you sparked
him out and walked home across town in your blue
uniform, stopping only to throw stones in the canal.
between the ages of five and eight i thought
you looked like a flying cherub in one of the
holy paintings in the chapel on the hill
where you served as altar boy.
you said a priest up there accused you of swiping
a twenty from the collection basket
just so he could frisk you. i believed you.
i believe everything you say.
you’re always the first person i call when i’m happy.

from Rattle #79, Spring 2023
Tribute to Irish Poets


Eugene O’Hare: “I was born and raised in Ireland in the 1980s in a border town especially affected by the civil war known as The Troubles. On top of what is already a very oral tradition in Ireland, I believe that growing up with a regular threat of an explosion can heighten a child’s sensitivity to sound and language. I think that was the case for me, anyhow.”

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