Poem of the week: Referendum

A new poem by Sean O’Brien

Miami Showband Brian Maguire, Road Manager, with Des Lee, Sax Player and Ray Miller, Drummer, of the origional Miami Shgowband, at a wreath-laying ceremony organised by Justice for the Forgotten, at Parnell square, Dublin. Photograph: Eric Luke

We posted ballots in absentia -
Three for the Miami Showband -
Due on at eight-thirty
And still sounding grand.

Asked Derry and the Romper Room,
Enniskillen and Omagh
To put the x's in the boxes
Where all the bodies are.

We recalled the dead
From their state of disorder
And asked them to safeguard
The wide-open border.

Ave and vale
And how do you do?
Ten to a mile
They're waving us through.
Ten to a mile
They're waving us through.


Sean O’Brien’s ninth collection Europa was shortlisted for the T S Eliot Prize. His book-length poem Hammersmith will be published in 2020.