© By Ciaran Carson
Suddenly as the riot squad moved in, it was raining exclamation marks,
Nuts, bolts, nails, car-keys. A fount of broken type. And the explosion
Itself – an asterisk on the map. This hyphenated line, a burst of rapid fire …
I was trying to complete a sentence in my head, but it kept stuttering,
All the alleyways and side-streets blocked with stops and colons.
I know this labyrinth so well – Balaclava, Raglan, Inkerman, Odessa Street –
Why can’t I escape? Every move is punctuated. Crimea Street. Dead end again.
A Saracen, Kremlin-2 mesh. Makrolon face-shields. Walkie-talkies. What is
My name? Where am I coming from? Where am I going? A fusillade of question-marks.
© Ciaran Carson, Belfast Confetti, 1987, complete text,The Irish for No, 1987,The Gallery Press.
Ciaran Carson finds himself displaced in a world once familiar, in which rioters and soldiers confront each other not just with their separate technologies of combat but with dazzling new vocabularies. Turning from the rioters he finds himself questioned by soldiers about his movements and finds one barrier to his progress as irksome as the other.