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Night Walk

John McKeown

ISBN: 978-1-907056-68-0

Page Count: 78

Publication Date: Friday, April 01, 2011

About this Book

“John McKeown’s dark, crystalline poems break in the mind like wafers of longing for a world we’ve nearly forgotten is still ours.  Eat with lacquered chopsticks, and a tea of autumn leaves.’   

     Naomi Foyle

Rather than ‘emotion recollected in tranquility’ many of these short poems encapsulate the aggravations of love untempered by any fireside philosophy. Unrealizable lusts of the eye, unrequited attachment, and moments of  realized and imaginary passion are concentrated into cameos and carbuncles – ‘glimmering tokens of memory’. A calmer but no less acquisitive eye is turned on manifestations of nature, while the taken-for-granted basics of our human background – day, night, and the elements – are imbued with beauty and mystery.  A visceral hatred for the everyday world, for the eternal business of compromise and commerce is also apparent, flashing out with the same unashamed, unadorned, and undiluted clarity as the miniature paeans to unrealizable love. Despite the sense of unreconstructed emotion the dominant tone is cool and mordant, tailing off into acceptance of the heart’s half self-inflicted torments.

Author Biography

Born in Liverpool in 1959, John McKeown is an English/History graduate of John Moore’s University and an alumnus of the city’s seminal Dead Good Poets Society.  He lived in Prague in the 1990s where he was part of the city’s expat literary scene.  In 2000 he moved to Dublin, becoming a columnist for The Irish Examiner, and arts feature writer for In Dublin and The Irish Times.  He was theatre critic for the Irish Daily Mail from 2006 to 2008, and since then has reviewed theatre for The Irish Independent.

His poems have appeared in Orbis, The Frogmore Papers, Dreamcatcher, Other Poetry, Earth Love, Envoi, Borderlines, The London Magazine, Cyphers, The Shop, and Southword.  His work also appears in The Return of Kral Majales (The King of the May): Prague’s Literary Renaissance 1990-2010. This is his fourth collection, after Looking Toward Inis Oirr (South Tipperary Arts 2004), Amour Improper (Hub Editions 2004), and Sea of Leaves (Waterloo Press 2009).

Read a sample from this book


Out of the blue
you nudge me
like a faraway twin.
The perfect complement,
so perfect
you’re folded
out of reach.
But thinking of you
my beating heart
draws you in;
until we’re pressed close,
exactly opposite
against the night’s dark screen.
I feel your blood knock,
and all of me,
answers you.


A soul window, a worm-hole
out of mechanic time
before another morning...
Let me skip between the gears
out to where the airy waters
are unchurned, are still...
Let me be a gnat, a leaf,
drooping over its own reflection there,
or better still, the Moon’s
silvered face, whole, unbroken,
on a dark plane where the mill
of the world means nothing.

Copyright © 2011 John McKeown

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