BILLY RAMSELL was born in Cork in 1977 and educated at North Monastery and UCC, His poems have appeared widely in magazines and journals and he was short listed in 2005 for a Hennessy award. The poems in Complicated Pleasures, his debut collection, exist on the border between the personal and the political, combining delicately lyrical meditations on love, art and memory with darker works that confront head-on the pressures and uncertainties of an urban globalize. Complicated Pleasures is a first collection of considerable daring and undeniable accomplishment

The Magic Carpet

Because I am the greatest in his realm
your husband sent for me, left me alone with you in the inner palace

where, on pain of death, no man may tread.
My commission was to render your face

in silks and thread of gold, the most delicate of textiles.
Of course the inevitable happened (for the rumors

of your beauty weren’t exaggerated) and I set out to make your portrait
unfinishable. Every night I heard the women and eunuchs murmur

in the corridors: ‘Hush, hush, the master is working!’
while every night my work was withering,

stitch by ripped stitch, in my own hands. How long can I explain the delay,
my doings and undoings, this ‘Penelopian’ dithering?

Your face shimmers on the floor beneath me.
I cannot insert the final threads of jade and blue

for fear that we lift off before I can even step aside
and it carries me away from you.


Just before they upgraded the crime scene
they took the half-naked body to storage

in a blacked-out Volvo (as the evening darkened
like bruise-skin and turned bruise-orange

at its edges), past concerned locals, forensics
from Dublin, the resting crew of the Sky News helicopter,

Gardai in their high-vis vests, through a hydra
of microphones and a rolling maul of photographers

that made me think of Cantona’s one-liner
about the gulls and the herring ships,

past a yellowing van not far back in the shadows,
hooked up to an uncertain generator, selling chips.

My Voice | Poetry In Our Time | In The Name Of Poetry | Editor's Choice | Our Masters
Who We Are | Back Issues | Submission | Contact Us | Home