Arc Publications logo

50 years at the cutting edge of poetry publishing

“A meeting point for poets of all latitudes”
— VĂ­ctor Rodríguez Núñez

Michael O'Neill, from Wheel



Your Daypex ticket has imprisoned you
in this cathedral city all day long.

Those literary folk have stood you up;
no go-betweens in the L. P. Hartley Room.

Still, now you've trodden the aisle
where Katharine of Aragon rests.

She paid the price for being 'simplex'.
You kill time in a bar, then watch

the merry-go-round in Cathedral Square,
horse after horse melting into a whirled

hoop of light. Vendors of Santa hats
brave the hours you count down, until

you fetch up on the platform as a train,
the one before your chariot of release,

awaits its coffee-seeking driver and
you gaze at a girl's tensed profile

before the driver climbs aboard, the whistle summons,
and the stage of the train departs,

conveying such lit scenery
as clarifies the bleakness of the night.


This in your head, and then the email
telling you the organiser

was absent, and the event cancelled,
because (but the letters began to jumble),

because of a suicide (but all you'd done
was kill time) the previous day.

The ticket lingered on
in the ward of your wallet for months;

it rebuked you somehow, pricking your skin
when your fingers revolved its edges

and it turned itself, once more, into lines.