Issue > Poetry
John Tangney

John Tangney

John Tangney is from Cork, Ireland. He teaches literature at NTU, Singapore. His recent essays can be found in Literary Imagination and Litteraria Pragensia. These are the first poems he has published.

Ethics

I had a thought this afternoon while reading Aristotle,
about ethics, but it didn't last that long and soon
the doorbell rang. It was a girl I know
from Kentucky, who wanted to take off my clothes.

We went through the motions of making coffee
but never got to drink it, and afterwards I teased her for a bit.
She left angry, but still in love with someone I'm not,
and I straightened up the apartment where I live,
a human animal with traits I'm not conscious of.

I turned the AC off because I'm an environmentalist
of sorts, compared to her at least, and sat in the kitchen
in a nest of books and papers and tea,
with a view into the branches of tall woods
where birds sing and squirrels live, and I felt okay
about myself, though the world as I knew it
hasn't long to go, icecaps are melting, and that kind of stuff.

The New World

A strange golden light hovered over the mosquito screen,
some trick of opulent summer. Mexican painters were talking
outside by their SUV, while Al Gore preached cycling
to save ourselves. I was heartsick, it comes back to me,
being one too many by myself, and one too few as well.
I watched Pocahontas on my computer screen, some actress,
imagining how she would've been, but I didn't believe it.
I reckon she smelled of grease and shit to a modern sense,
and so did John Smith, and they weren't beautiful to us,
only to themselves, and only for a while. They died of something,
I don't know what, and left their names for me to play with.
A small patch of that forest lies outside my window.

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