To Flann

I’ve just spent 5 very pleasant and surprisingly sunny days in Dublin. I lived in Dublin for several years, firstly in Avoca Terrace, Blackrock, in a garden flat in the same building Flann O’Brien / Brian O’Nolan / Myles na gCopaleen used to live. The picture above was taken in a nearby street.

Flann was a comic, satirical writer years ahead of his time. He dreamed up weird theories about molecules, about the nature of light and day, of time and of heaven and hell. A tragic figure in many ways.

I did a workshop in Listowel last week, and one of the exercises was to write an epistolary poem – a poem addressing another person. I wrote my epistle to Flann. Flann was a notorious drunkard, and I imagined him at his second floor window, looking down on my young self. If you don’t know Flann, or his works, the poem will mean very little to you. It’s very much a workshop poem – lots of loose ends, but there are fragments of good ideas in it, I think.

To Flann


an unsteady silhouette
in the second floor window
Looking down on my callowness
Seeing through the spokes of science
Dreaming the molecular magic
to theorise men into bicycles
To metamorphose murderers
into gallowed horses


Swimming in the wake of Joyce
your cross fingered conversations
with the Plain People of Ireland

For you

and your schizophrenia fuelled
Cruiskeen columns

I raise a Pint of Plain


are the only man

Copyright Mike Hopkins 2013

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