Four Poems of Alienation

By Alan Ireland


Like the buried city, 

I have forgotten myself. 


In the cell of my mind, 

I am a thinker 

of compulsory thoughts. 


I am forced to believe 

the Book of Lies, 


and under watch 

to mouth its words 

with the tongue of others. 

(Spain, 1550) 




A black cloud 

rains selectively 

on the dispossessed, 

a wretched lot. 


My billowing abaya 

now clings to me, 

revealing my form. 

Their glances lacerate. 


The road stretches 

to the horizon, 

but has swallowed 

my expectations. 

(Palestine, 1948)



‘I’m a failed Muslim. 
I drink raki now,’ he says. 
A bottle twinkles 
on the upturned orange box. 
On the unmade bed, 
a punch-drunk pillow 
lurches in a sea of ruptured quilts. 
‘I never pray,’ he adds, 
as hawk-eyed Ataturk 
retreats to an ascetic frame 
and glowers at the room. 
And we who are too precious 
to confess our faults 
feel awkward in the silence. 

(Turkey, 1990) 



All decisions are made
at a desk in another country. 

They pass through 

‘in’ and ‘out’ trays, 

collecting signatures along the way. 


Then, one day, 

they become a concrete wall, 


where once a few 

tired weeds grew. 

(Afghanistan, 2017)


Alan Ireland is a poet in Palmerston North, New Zealand. Some of his published work can be found at .