Michael O'Brien

the eggs and ants of helsinki

outside your neighbour beats a mat

The shell leaves the egg easily. You remember reading that eggs peel best if they’re at room temperature before boiling them. You took these eggs straight out of the fridge. So you doubt the validity of this. The egg shell drops into the bin. The smell of shit. Rotten vegetables. Coffee grounds. You wash your hands. You put the egg on a arabia print plate. It is a fish print. Then you season the egg. Aromat. Black pepper. A pinch of chili. You try to eat it slowly but it is gone in less than thirty seconds. The overcooked yoke feels chalky on the roof of your mouth. You think about how eggs are different here than where you were born. For one the shells are white. The eggs back home have a brown shell. They also smell much stronger when they are fried and that is why you now eat them boiled. You feel like saying eggs are a good source of protein but there is no one to say it to. The room is empty.

you step off the train wanting to count ants but it’s late september and they’re all dead so you count fingers instead

After all fingers are accounted for you take a walk. You walk through the park. It is technically a park but it is just a managed woodland. The park is named after someone that died in the civil war. You’re not interested in which side they fought. A hundred years later it seems pretty irrelevant to you. You walk through the woods. On the other side is a mall - Kaari. You walk towards the mall.

back and forth a chameleon imitates a leaf

In the car park at the mall. You notice the modern art thing has finally been moved. It was a hollow gold car with holes like cartoon cheese all over it. You didn’t think much off it and you’re glad that it has gone so you don’t have to look at it when you go to the mall.

you tell the backstory of your neighbour’s remote controlled nazi tank to a giant ant


It is 3AM. You are awake. You want to sleep but something has crafted a barbed mountain out of your skull. Oh. You think about your two favourite conspiracy theories that involve tupac and cryptids. You think about eating something even though you are not hungry. You process the night colours of the curtains, carpet, rug and coach. The smell of things too.

You go to lie down. You put your phone on charge beside the bed. Ok. You want to say something to make sure your voice still works. Who will pick cotton on the far side of the moon? The phone’s light fades out.


Your mother wanted shells. You shot at the toy poodle. The dog turned its head towards you and then back to its original position and then walked off. You put your hands in your pockets. You awkwardly pretended to search for something. After a short while you wondered where the dog went.


you rip
the autumn sky in half
and reveal a rusted endocarp


counting the days
since your last thought of suicide


you think of ants
and then a helicopter passes over
and you become one


turning wind
the porpoise
and your whisper


panning for gold
the child

                if pine blossom
                if gold

Michael O’Brien is the author of numerous collections, the most recent being Silent Age (Alien Buddha Press). His work has been published widely in print and on the internet and has been translated into other languages. An extensive list of these publications can be found here. You can follow him on twitter @michaelobrien22
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