Publication in Live Encounters online Magazine

hashtag#liveencountershashtag#poetryhashtag#10thanniversaryEamonn Lynskey – The Safety of Numbersliveencounters.net

I am indebted to Mark Ulysses and his wonderful website for the publication of these two poems.

The Safety of Numbers

How did they ever get around the world

with those old charts, our ancient mariners,

our bold explorers of the unknown vasts?

And did they think Herodotus had fixed

the boundaries with his two awkward lumps

depending south and east of Europe? Or

did Strabo ever lead a midshipman

to shout in loud excitement Land Ahoy?!

.

They’d heard reports of terra incognita

stretching from the horizon towards the rim

with monstrous creatures over-brimmed and men

with heads that grew out of their armpits,

humanoid fantasticals described

by those who’d ventured – but not ventured far,

in holy fear of falling off the edge

and into God’s great anger at impertinence.

.

Possessed by incoherent certainties,

unfazed by years of being disbelieved,

they sailed with little but their intuition

as their guide— as still it is with those

defy the safety of numbers, choose

to steer beyond the known with Erikson,

convinced that almost everything that leads

to anything worthwhile is wagered on a hunch.

.

Trackway

Keenagh, Co. Longford, c.148 BC.

.

Eamhain Mhacha’s fame was spreading,

Royal Cruachan Aí expanding  

when this timber corduroy track

was laid to bridge these ancient wetlands.

.

Here, the heavy work of those

who felled the several hundred trees

and those who strained to load the carts

and haul them creaking to Corr Liath.

.

Here, the skill of carpenters

that split with axe and shaped with adze,

and here the work of dextrous hands

that wove the beds of brushwood mats.

.

These mortised joints, with tenons tongued

to lock exactly one to one,

were honed before the Inca masons

paved the Andean trails with stone.

.

A muffled sound of wooden cartwheels

seems to echo from these logs,

and thud of shaft-hole tool to linger

on the silence of the bog.

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