top of page

A High Cabriole of Fire


As I rested, between the dozen hearths I placed to minister

The bones that soon would constitute my bed,

A hunger wove through me, not in sound, but in sight,

As maroon and mustard licks of burning light, tongued the air,

Kicking high, in one indented curve – lordosis, but woven not from flesh,

Composed, instead, of the residue of combusted wood -- curling upwards,

Thirst-heavy for space, in one long, high and doubled cabriole. 


I watched then, the borders of the flame, in near fluorescence, as its lemon tips became

A rimming wave that lulled then reached -- a painted impasto outline spun --

And the shape of this latest outcropping of burning wood, enthralled me, too,

Turning thought to thick string pulled by horizontal force between a tailpiece and a peg.


Next I saw a twisted heliconia – a lobster claw – as the geometries of living heat kicked,

But then the fire, it tore, again, upon itself, cannibalizing itself – one holy brick red maw –

To weave a fresher melody in the skein, splitting, as it climbed, metres high, unto a joining

Parallelism -- its core cleaved to produce a double -- two legs of burning air, each eager, and apart.


Between them opened a cavern, too, through which even birds might fly,

But each lick of fire swift grabbed hold of folded of air and space, dreaming of its renewal

In flushed pinks, in scarlet and amber twinned, and in the hue of powdered cinnabar, too,

All to become a raging vermilion blossom birthed between split legs – its theme a hunger --

It born a living invocation to burn, an elegy for glutting heat, and a birth fugue for love.


And then it surged again, that double inhalation of a thirsty lung, stretching to create its pair,

Its double: two equal but opposing arms, open to the sky, carmine frames throbbing,

Equidistant from the other’s leaping flanks of flame, each, all the while, bordered by veils

Of thin white and saxe blue, each, all the while, a living rumination of hewed lumber,

Each, a last thought before an inevitable snap-ping inward pull, wrought of heat and warmth: 

One holy high cabriole of fire.

Oisín Breen is an Irish poet, doctoral candidate, and journalist. He is a multiple Best of the Net nominee and Erbacce Prize finalist, is published in 112 journals in 22 countries, including in Agenda, North Dakota Quarterly, Books Ireland, About Place, Door is a Jar, Northern Gravy, Quadrant, Decomp, and The Tahoma Literary Review. Breen’s widely reviewed and highly praised second collection, Lilies on the Deathbed of Étaín will be reissued by Downingfield in October. It follows his critically well received debut, Flowers, All Sorts, in Blossom, figs, berries, and fruits forgotten (Dreich, 2020).

bottom of page