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16 October 2014
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Clare O'Reilly

Clare has had a poem published in the Sunday Tribune (Hennessy Literary Awards) and has come second in the Cecil Day Lewis Awards adult poetry. She is a primary school teacher (for her sins!) and teaches Senior Infant Girls (aged five-six years). She loves writing, particularly poetry, especially enjoys the Northern Irish poets, e.g. Paul Muldoon.

Natural History by Clare O'Reilly

Unleash the boys
Shotgun style
To enter a living grave
The very unnatural history museum

The zoo of the dead
No talking, no laughing, no moving
animals crystallised in motion

It's Dickensian here on a summer's day
As deeper in we delve
The dark teak panels stained with blood

Glass cases crammed with taxidermist's sport
Fish preserved in murky fluids
Orang-utan to Homo sapiens

Jig saws of bones
Crazy paving designs
Of animals whose names
I read in tiny black old style print

Faced with wolf fangs and sharks teeth
Heinous monsters braying for blood
The boy hunters are braver than ever before

They snarl in the face of ferocity
Their laughter hollow on the top floor of
magnificent mammals

We plunder through the macabre
Over us parachuting down
Skeletons of the blue tooted whales, rhinos, hippos

In a dark crevice hangs a human photo
which by its very presence catches my eye
a collector benefactor to the hunters of today

Obsessed with animals he collected and catalogued
a vast selection of rare and slippery sorts
this nineteenth century man
A very natural labour of love

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