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antiprose 2: notes from kilfenora, by Jake Buckholz

NYC Layover (May 31st, 2015)

I bought a slice of pizza
from a pizza shop simply named Pizza
and stared, mesmerized, at the
flashing screeching black
of the New York subway.
The patriarch of the family
sitting across from me
had just bought a new phone
and discovered selfies.
He took five in a row, giggling at each one,
and flashing his phone in the face of
his unimpressed wife
while their silent and ghoulish baby
stared at me.
Later, on the plane, the man beside me
drank himself across the ocean.
At twelve dollars a glass,
he must have spent my entire travel budget.
After a week in NYC with old pals,
he did not want to return home.

Bag of Bones (June 2nd, 2015)

Over the centuries
the rocks
 in the circle fort
spilled into the

interior

and covered access
to the ground beneath.

There was a surprising and disturbing
amount of modern animal bone.
The land—dense with stone—
made grave-digging difficult.

So for generations, the landowners
had deposited their dead
animals in the stony ruins of the
cashel.

sheep, cows, dogs,
cats of the farm decayed
together.

When we ran out of room to store the bones,
we dumped them in another pit
on the far side of the pasture.

I’m carrying a bag of bones,
carrying a bag of bones,
I’m carrying a bag of bones
‘cross an Irish field at dawn.

Cliffs of Moher (June 6, 2015)

The ocean and death occupied our day,
death: the great adapter.
The seafoam escaping the crash of the waves
floated up the cliff face
and higher still,
ascending like souls and dropping as rain

—our tour guide informed us this was a popular suicide destination
and I could see why.

Vaughan’s (June 19, 2015)

Imagine a one street town in the middle of sheep country:
three middle-aged, unmarried siblings
dark-haired, small,
sharp and quick. Born and raised in an
apartment over the pub their parents own.
They grow up, do whatever, and their parents die.
They move back and take over the family business.
The boy takes the pub because that’s what the father wanted.
One sister takes the hostel next door,
or maybe she starts it, but
they run them together and
the youngest sister is there to help.
That’s the story of Vaughan’s, as best as I can guess it.
The men drinking at the bar are probably the same
men drinking at the bar when the father was in charge.
Who knows how long the bartender has been around,
there are photos of him as a young man
hanging on the wall, holding the man who now owns it.
Sharpie on poster board decor, “Nuns” above the women’s room,
”Feck it” above the bar. Enter through two sets of doors.
Sometimes there are old men smoking just outside
and they do not move or smile or even look at you as you squeeze by.
There are more old men crowding the bar inside.
They talk in a language that is your own, but not perceived as such.
They are not so friendly either.
The barman is tall and has bad teeth and messy hair.
He is shy and slumps forward.
Turn left and there is a cigarette machine and Father Ted memorabilia.
Grey balloons and black mold along the ceiling
and in the men’s room the urinal
is barely perceivable as separate from the wall.

A Bench in Kilfenora Remembers Me (June 22, 2015)

What exactly is so nice about this place?
It is a bench in a field behind the cathedral,
surrounded by cows
where I go to drink wine and read Proust.
It is pleasantly warm, I’ll give it that.
And quiet except for the birdsong
and baying cattle.
Maybe what I like best is the stone ruins.
An array of plant life has claimed one wall.
The opposite remains bare.
The bell tower of the old cathedral peeks out over some trees.
Sitting near stacked stone has an appeal all its own.
It is the stillness I like best, the solidness,
the way the green interacts so easily with it, and all the
birds, the warmth, the breeze, the wine. Breaking it down
into its components does not do it justice.
There is a faint smell of cowshit.
There’s a sky that is all blue
and those stone ruins. They are almost a companion.
Small; maybe 20 feet in length, 10 wide.
Only the butts remain, connected by a low wall:
no roof, no beams. Birds and bugs live in it.
Yet, it remains. Not forever, but for now.
It is watched over by the church and,
in turn, it watches over this field.
Large and strictly green, dotted with livestock,
breathed upon by a cool breeze. The baying
does not stop. The sun is warm on my face.
The wine is mixing with dinner in my
tummy, leaving me warm and full.
I am up against an inability to describe my own
happiness and perhaps it is not happiness,
but contentedness. Our vocabulary constricts our
frame of mind. Happiness is like a drunkenness.
You are not in control.
Contentedness is level.
It is the exact middle of your skull where
your essence floats always.

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