On a Line from the Collection “November” by Sean O’Brien

by Rick Storey
Desert Moon Review
Third Place, August 2012
Judged by Troy Jollimore


This hell of time, unbroken
by amnesia or lies, contains
all history, all conflict, all amity.

History that does not, as yet
exist and cannot run free: from
what sea coast shall those

warships slip their moorings
depart upon those burgeoning
tides of time that act

to separate war’s darkness
from the light of peace, and
running from the dark

gaze upwards to see
the countless archipelagos
of stars scattered upon

the black cloth of the night
sky whose relative motions
like that of drifting continents

appears in one human lifetime
so slow as to deny their reality –
velocities ranging almost

up to “c” the speed at which
time ceases to exist and hell
itself freezes into an eternal

present having no recognizable
past or future, no beginning,
and no end, no truths nor lies.


This is a nice, quiet poem with regular short lines that builds, in its modest way, to a fairy resonant conclusion. There are good phrases throughout, though nothing that really stands out from the rest; the poem rewards attention without necessarily grabbing it. It’s like a gentle, beautiful song that you don’t notice until about the fiftieth time you play the album, and then suddenly it’s your favorite song for a while. The last couple stanzas are unexpected, and especially good. --Troy Jollimore

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