Excerpt from The Keenaghan Koans by Paul Muldoon


The following poem appears in our Spring/Summer 2021 issue. Subscribe today or purchase the single issue in digital format to read the rest of Paul’s poem and the entire issue.

Caonach is the Irish term for moss. Keenagh, one of its anglicized forms, is applied to mossy land. The diminutive Keenaghan is a townland name of frequent occurrence.

P.W. Joyce, The Origin and History of Irish Names of Places


Every gambit’s an opening gambit
Every juxtaposition a telling juxtaposition
Every cut-out a cardboard cut-out
Every act an act of contrition

Every chorus is a resounding chorus
Every territory uncharted territory
All flesh is grass
Every poem is a Hymn to Qwerty

Every fortune’s a reversal
All truths are hard
Every pattern’s a holding pattern
Every apple has you eating out of its hand

Every child’s a child soldier
Every settlement an illegal settlement
All philters are love philters
Every change is a change of raiment

Every ransom’s a king’s ransom
All damage collateral damage
Every album’s a compilation album
Every advantage an unfair advantage

Photo credit Beowulf Sheehan

PAUL MULDOON was born in County Armagh in 1951. He now lives in New York. A former radio and television producer for the BBC in Belfast, he has taught at Princeton University for more than thirty years. He is the author of fourteen collections of poetry including Moy Sand and Gravel, for which he won the 2003 Pulitzer Prize, and Howdie-Skelp, due from FSG and Faber and Faber in 2021.

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