The Anvil Earth

A collection of poems by Brendan O'Neill. The majority of which have already appeared in literary journals, magazines, anthologies, websites etc worldwide.







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Pierced with plain words

Back the Strand

Seamus Heaney actually wrote to me to say he liked this one. "I like the movement of your poem. Nice and taut. And I like that “cloud chased Coomanaspig”"


Forced to furl. Framed to form and harrow the dry stone


Traced the scrawl where bony fingers picked out each patchwork rut and row


"Love’s a solitary confinement When axes shift to realignment"

Coming and Going

Some are kin and some are killing


First appeared in Poetry Ireland Review. It also featured on the UK Arts Council website for over a year linked to from the main page!


Decay shoulders the great machines As trundling they fracture future

Lambs in the Road

Leading votive lambs, offerings to some roadside deity.

Landing Mackerel on the Pier Head at Portmagee

A feathered five from fathoms deep distills a shower of broken pearls

No Moses Child

The transport box brought him back past a kitchen garden Gethsemane

On the Famine Ridges, Garrafrauns, County Galway

Weak shadows moving up shallow trenches angry fists beating the anvil earth
Poem of the week

One Driver Escaped Uninjured

the clink of glasses striking a tinder heart


wandering down drills through redshank and nettle cabbage-whites bobbing, stray amongst the stalks, sticking the spade in and heaving the hoard-clutch, excavated

Spring Well

a rood from the Kerrigan place - a brain tumour they say

The Mulberry Bush

Counting out an abacus of small conceits on the chains of broken out beasts

Words on the Wind (Carnsore Point, Wexford, Ireland. 1978)

Millions turn their ears from the words on the wind Deaf to the call from the waste And though Apathy's triumph is gained without blood Death's...

Young Curate

(For G.M.H) An elliptical orbit brought him here Like some crazed moth. This one buzzing with borrowed energy Pentecostal fervour. Fiddling in six months short! Striking


*/ A spider spinning its web A delicate danger That consumes both Innocents and fools Yet craves escape From a home-made prison Will mock the...

Summer Cannot Wait

*/ The fly came through my waiting Shocked life into slow breathed expectancy Not a butterfly Though I wanted one Now the fly must do It has come...

The Slide

In the dark of the park the slide sleeps At the bottom of the stairs a child weeps An African boy with stomach swollen An Angel in black His mouth...

Liffey Swim

No parting crowds Only darkness Eternity to the bay Swimming out From bright harbour light Yearning sanctuary Like some contrite cetacean In the...

The Waiting Room

Cracked walls demand that the silence within them Maintains itself, contains itself In this the Waiting Room A stubborn silence That pretends not to...

Sweet Thing

Gave me a First in misbehaviour Sleeping with a perplexed stranger
Gold cherry

Journey to Minneapolis

Sun bright misty morning Coasting through the goods yards, yawning Into long necked bottles, Coffee cups. Blue smoke rings Catching words like...

Walk in the Park

Coming to this place Was a mistake The shadows of trees lie bare Stripped of leaf We once stood for a moment Watching the breeze Puppet the mad...

Broken Heart Surgery

Friend! You have admitted me To your broken heart surgery Listening to my sad testament Your remedy is self assessment Reason is your instrument...

A Crooked Wind

A crooked wind throws tears Back into the face of mountains Scorched with the pain of dead memories Now only poppies where flowers grew Silent...

Dressed to the Nines

Dressed to the nines Your fashion designs A face to the fact That it's just an act Under the veil Red cheeks hide the sorrow of blue eyes But tears...

At St. Theresa’s

Five candles for you In the suffering silence Five candles for you Amongst muffled cadence Five candles, five flames As you ring out our names Five...


Hermit Tide alone is what moves us Refuge to which need must recourse Trapping the day out with a hard skin Carapace of remorse Driven hard and soft...

Heart of Oak (I)

Heart of Oak (I) Leaves have fallen and covered The trees caress on the barren soil Hard bitten winter has smothered The gift of life, a summers toil...

Heart of Oak (II)

Heart of Oak (II) They came and laid the forest bare Each proud tree rent from the air That leafy shelter once the hood Torn from the face of that...

Lighting Candles for the Lost

Lighting Candles for the Lost Making stations near main-line stations On my knees in contemplation Of angular sanctuaries. Overhead gantries Seeking...

At Small Heath Station

These walls now scored with scratch-black graffiti Hide robot metal eyes which peer along the tracks And dance to the hinge-song of a gate, cast iron...