Literary Orphans

Katyń, 1940 & Two Other Poems by Dean Buckley


Slow Down

Now, we’re alone, just me, you and

the cold stone face that reminds

me that you are gone.


My face is dry but not for want

of washing with the salty rain.

If the stones beneath me glittered now,

they would not reach my eye.


Slow down, slow down.


Tight and aching, my chest shudders

horribly, like a dying fish

in the desert of my eyes.


Your voice was the music of making light,

a song of spilled milk and laughter.

I like to think that you went laughing

when you left us.


Slow down, slow down.


Your voyage down the black canal

was without ceremony or pomp,

as you’d have wanted it.


That I could have seen your face

in the water, wrinkled like

a well-read book, and just watched

for one last time—


Slow down, slow down.


I hope you’re happy with the bed we made,

of lacquered wood built and satin lined.

I hope you sleep well.


Walking away, I feel and hear

the rumble of the obituary train,

ready to burst forth and hit me.

I am not ready.


Slow down, slow down.


O Typekey Divider


Katyń, 1940

The noble bearing of the pigs

was no concern of the butcher’s sons

as they set to work in the forest of Katyń,

disposing of the tainted stock,

stained with the blight of intellect.

They kept their records in clean ink,

ordered, they drove the muddied trucks

to the grave. They took the pigs in ones,

brought them to the burial pit,

fed the hungry forest floor,

overfed it, maybe, forced

too much meat in its moist mouth.


The forest grew on the mounds of pork,

filled with flies and became tropical,

began to produce seasonal storms

that blew in the face of the unseeing war-gods,

and, then, from the trees, came the gorillas,

armed with fists, whispering words,

testing the sounds they had learned from the ghosts

of the pigs of Katyń. Finding them good,

they called the ancient forest magics

and transfigured the mumbles and murmurs to roars,

rushed from the forest and unfurled their fists

to fill their hands with earthed lightning.


O Typekey Divider


The Slates

Once upon a summer’s day,

my dad was on the roof.

“My boy, we come from noble stock,

this slating is the proof.


Once these slates were slated on

a castle out the way.

Our ancestors were justices,

the nobles of their day.


But then they tore the castle down

and used the stone elsewhere.

There’s pieces now in Mitchelstown

and more right here in Cahir.


You never know, until you look,

where history may be found.”

And then he ripped some slating off

and tossed it to the ground.


Once upon a summer’s day,

my dad was on the roof.

He told me of my noble stock,

then shattered all the proof.

O Typekey Divider

Dean Buckley is a writer of fiction and poetry, originally from Cahir, Co. Tipperary and currently living in Galway City, where he studies creative writing at the National University of Ireland, Galway.  His interests include browser games and competitive debating. He has previously been published in ROPES, Verse Kraken, Revival and A Hundred Gourds.


O Typekey Divider

–Art by Lisa Griffin
–Art by Sarah Hardy

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