Issue 24: Daragh Breen


Armstrong Suffers Some Last Minute Anxiety

While Armstrong hovered


inside his capsule

            on approach

he was hit

            with the sudden fear

that when he stepped down

            onto the surface

he might involuntarily

            pupate from

his suit

            and find himself

flitting towards

            some distant

strange light.

The Sea of Tranquillity Grows Gills

The sea

dressed in its mid-winter green

lifts its

developing gills to the surface

to breath

before they slap shut again,

again, again,

as if constantly testing the heft

of its own

cradle song that comes crashing

about it

as the gulls try to tug life from

its flesh,

a figure in loose white clothing


themself from its ever-closing gills,


a foundling in this new world.

Armstrong Discovers a Fishing Trawler on the Moon

The black bulking blemish of it

plinthed with concrete blocks

and held down with fraying ropes

of bleached orange and blue

on what was once

the shore of the Sea of Tranquillity,

all the fish having previously

swarmed and broken free of the

sphere, to migrate en masse,

navigating by the stars

rivering through the emptiness

hunting for new spawning grounds.

The Loneliness of Armstrong

His stuttering bounce out along the shore of Tranquillity

where he tried to pause

to let his cyclops visor reflect the Earth

like a candle held behind a hand

                      being walked passed in the dark

and the longing to see and hear

the ocean’s candle-flicker

           tired and exhausted

                      along a pebbled shore,

and then thoughts about frost

like a partially developed image

from a previous century,

          bells of buds

                     silenced by the Earth

as it held its breath for a night

then exhaled a dead world

something remembered from a walled-garden

during a life-time that he never actually lived.


The Adoration of Armstrong on the Moon

As the disc of the Sun descends

and goes through the lunar dusk process

the shuffled sunken boot-prints of Armstrong

resemble the inverted jellyfish that seemed

to have glued themselves to the sands of Dogs’ Bay,

Connemara, their wiring and cables that they had trailed

across the oceans lying exposed and threatening

the hull of their shells having lifted slightly

on to the breathing water, before shifting their

contained weight to slip constantly forward,

these globular shrines, each pinked with a single drop

of the Christ’s blood, which they bear in

Pertinent Testament as they drift the migrating seas.

Armstrong Re-Enters the Earth’s Orbit Through My Dream

Back again in the childhood home

the semi-halo of the South Ring Road           

audible in night’s distance                                   


the same road on which the young swan crashed

mistaking the liquid reflection

of the dying winter sun’s recent rain’s,

coming in to land

on the golden river of its tarmac.


Disorientated by the shifting labyrinth

of the ocean’s echo chambers,

he had come ashore on the west coast of

Ireland, and found himself, as if a thing

abandoned, with his dolphin armour

battered all about him.

This dolphin, barely bubbling life,

balanced on a raft of bright orange

lifejacket in knee-high waters,

the six hands of the three humans

holding it steady, until the ocean

found its rhythm.

On a tide that has been called back

the lifejacket is a pyre as it

catches the sun

and begins to be lifted up on

to the rising voice of the sea,

the retreating bodies of water

wavering in their flowing robes.

Daragh Breen currently lives in West Cork. His latest collection, Nostoc, was published by Shearsman Books in January 2020. His previous collection, What the Wolf Heard, was published by Shearsman Books in 2016. Prior to that, November Press published Whale in 2010 and Across the Sound: Shards from the History of an Island in 2003.

His poetry has appeared extensively in Irish literary journals, and more recently in UK journals such as Blackbox Manifold, Tears in the Fence, Long Poem Magazine and The Fortnightly Review.

Copyright © 2020 by Daragh Breen, all rights reserved. This text may be used and shared in accordance with the fair-use provisions of Copyright law. Archiving, redistribution, or republication of this text on other terms, in any medium, requires the notification of the journal and consent of the author.