This Video Has No Sound

by Padraig Regan

I could read my non-existence in the clothes
— Roland Barthes


Curious persons,
reads the white
& jittering text,
gather around

& press the black-
coated masses
of their bodies
against the gates

beyond which history
is happening
& visible.
I watch them

watching; I move
the cursor back
to make them
watch it all again.


I love those fractions
of seconds between
one happening
& the next

when the screen
allows itself
some respite
from its task

of witnessing
& fills with nothing, but,
for example, two black
circles on a field

of white, or becomes
a black expanse
some random slices
of light pass through.


It is easier
to hymn the pixels
& scratches dancing
like backwards snow

than to write the fact
that these figures
are more than light
made legible

or were, at least.
It is a luxury
to praise the abstract;
an abnegation

to notice only
the momentary holes
opening in the image,
like woodworm, like grapeshot.

This is one of ten poems commissioned by UCD Library, Poetry Ireland, and Arts Council Northern Ireland as part of Poetry as Commemoration, a two-year initiative supported by the Department of Tourism, Culture, Arts, Gaeltacht, Sport and Media, under the Decade of Centenaries 2012-2023 programme.

The aim of Poetry as Commemoration is to encourage creative engagement with the material history of the Irish War of Independence & the Civil War.

This poem was inspired by newsreel footage of Dublin in July, 1922, held in the Irish Civil War 1922-1924 Collection, British Pathé Archive. The newsreel entitled Curious Persons features on the Irish Film Institute website.

The poem will be published in Grief’s Broken Brow, a limited fine press edition designed and produced by Jamie Murphy at The Salvage Press featuring original artwork by James EarleyGrief’s Broken Brow will be presented as a gift to 100 repositories providing a tangible record of the Decade of Centenaries and a legacy object for future generations. Poems are made available to the public via Poetry Jukeboxes, the Poetry as Commemoration website, and the Irish Poetry Reading Archive.