Alexander Fhionnuisce: New Poem (‘Invasions’)

Irish poet Alexander Fhionnuisce’s writing deals with the intersection of technology, alienation, and meaning in modern life. He was awarded University College Cork’s Patricia Coughlan award for his writing in 2017. His work is included in the anthology Atlantic Currents: Connecting Cork and Lowell (Loom Press, 2020).

On Invasions

(February 24, 2022)

It always begins with the crossing of

a boundary, insidiously innocent,

likely verbal, a subtle changing of tense,

or the conjugation of a state from a

fixed solid to a sudden, fluid mass.


The aggressor, confident in

ancestral authority, delivers

judgments from the comfort

atop hierarchy, “I,” they say,

“can do this because I am

older than you,” they justify,

“I am stronger than you,

and what you believe is yours

is yours only to the extent I grant

it,” they sneer “It of course,

all originating with me.”


Proclamations are rarely

enough for their kind, though

do not dismiss the joy with which

they speak the unspeakable,

already having thought the unthinkable,

what is left, but to do the undoable?


Borders, whether lined with barbed wire,

materiel, and the brave, or material that

separates flesh from air, seem so defined,

so immutable, until they are not,

What matter the years spent undisturbed,

if one can roll a tank, or a hand across

the line, and damage, deplete, violate?


A dark expansion, then, occurs,

The horizon shifts, and the bottom

of it all cracks, revealing a world in which

pressure confines from all angles,

Pressure that stuffs itself inside the shapes

of men, of women, of a mother, even,

and shows children sights to blind them.

The blade of a guillotine descends,

bisecting the mind from a future unsullied,

delineating clearly before this and after

this, to the point that one must beware

before this, for how innocent could

be the path that lead here?


And so we turn to body counts,

tabulations of damage, faceless

numbers, such as years since,

number of sessions, maladaptive

behaviours ceased as of . . .

All attempts to quantify the



We play at psychics, transporting

ourselves into the mind of those

who survey the world and judge

it their playground, devoid of

equals, populated with playthings,

“What do they gain?”, “Is this

how they secure their legacy?”

“How could they do this?”

Those of us in the trenches, if

we live to see another day,

think smaller; “How long

can I survive?”, “Is today the day it stops

hurting?”, or “Can anyone love

me after seeing these wounds?”


Our names slip through the cracks

of history, blotted out by statistics

and policy. Think of us, won’t you?

Build a memorial in your hearts

and let it shine like the sun.

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