Veritas vincit  
Penniless Press... the inexhaustible voice

Sheila O'Brien

In order to combat the boredom associated with the dry purgatory that is South Korea, Sheila O’Brien has taken to writing mostly hopeless short fictions and poetry that, in their realization, remind her that life actually could be worse. Before being excommunicated, she lived in Sandy Hill, Ottawa where she pretended to be a poet but in reality pretty much just drank and smoked cigarettes. Some of her poetry has been published.


The Landscape

There’s a message there.


like the stiffened snow
beside the highway,
it has paused:

a peach frieze blasphemy
oiled on the
cloud stretched canvas sky;

permanent in the
garbled branch gnarls
of the barren Rock Elms;

a spray of chalk dust clutched
like a frost seized drip
caught jutting from the moon.

There was something in
my mouth that night.

A cracked marble
catching flesh,
a wasp sting;
a pointed thing
too blunt to pierce
your ear.

Tonguing it cut me,
so I emitted it,
I admitted it
to the static snow
In a whisper: icy slow

It’s still there.



I have committed sin because
I won’t don his badge
That metal’s ice against my breast
And too close to my heart.
Frigid steel
Reminds me of the cold November public
And empty gropes in the dark

Lord, help me.
I’ve been fondling a hypocrite
That poet
Who pisses out words
Like liquid against my leg
And lets acrid hang
For ages


With rigid knees together I
Knelt down in whispers
Lit seven candles in liturgy
To the dead poet
Then bent my head
And blew out all but the last

I sat for hours in glaring revelry
Letting the yellow solicitude
Emblazon me
Then I reached out for air
And my hand caught
On nine poems of nothing
And I burned each solitary
Until my thumbs singed
On page corners


And now I’ll confess
I collected the cinders of words
Mixed them with spit
And ground a paste
To line the inside of my mouth
So that the next time
I kiss the hypocrite
In the blank November public
His flesh dies
Poisoned by his own poetry


We burned our throats
on Dunhills
that semi-fateful night.
We listened to the moths
sizzle and
die on the porch light
and talked about
the fallacy
of a still dawn.

We didn’t know then
That the two of us
Were catastrophic
Or that every
Tossed smoke stood
For a fallen man
Torched alive
In the tunnels of London

Living in the Complex

The basement light
The broken washer
Chugging at half past

I couldn’t scour the yellow carpet
The filtered sunlight
The lint traps

The drain coughs up
The howling cats
And heated ladies

Douched in daisy fresh
The sprung season
Bouncing back

The withering calm
The winding of dread
Around cedar boughs

Should the clothes be hung to dry?
Mixed with the leaves
And twisting

Sacrilegious Clumsiness

I learned at thirteen
that when you drop
the Body of Christ
the Priest has to eat it
off the floor.

Eking Out a Living

I’ve got it together.
I’ve got one bedroom .
One roof below the sky.
A coffee maker, cigarettes,
that life gleam in my eye:
forks and spoons and knives.

I listen to the new music on Saturday night.

I am falling apart.
I am one bedroom.
One bed at night to sleep in,
seldom ever accompanied.
Two blue sheets to the wind:
cases and covers and ties.

I work to keep myself from going dry.

I’ve got it all right here.
Gin and tonic and beer.
Dope to keep me flying high.
A vague memory of you and I.
Casual sex on Monday nights.
Legs and arms and eyes.



















©2006 Penniless Press