Val Nolan

The Old Bog Road

Before the by-pass

This had been the by-pass.

Fields of sick conifers. Tender verges.

Black birds hacking at a multitude

Of stillborn kills.

Gamely we turned from

The carriageway and this fast century,

Satisfied that, if this wasn’t our direction,

It was at least a road we chose


It was at least a shortcut,

Play-bickered at, perhaps,

But well away from all those endless,

Crowded lanes on which we

Closed so many distances that day.

And yet I thought that light and time

Were altogether different there—

Starlight over gorse

Raked across an evening palette,

The slow heave of night above mid-Clare.

Eternal sky. Then moonrise

Platinum and cold

And in the crude stab of the headlamp

Fox eyes shimmering in ridicule.

I guess we were ridiculous to hope.

Val Nolan recently completed doctoral research in the Department of English at NUI Galway, where he continues to teach contemporary literature and creative writing. He has published poetry in the Ravenglass Poetry Anthology, and in journals including The Stinging FlySouthword, Crannóg, Revival, Poetry Scotland, and New York’s Mobius Magazine.