poem index

sign up to receive a new poem-a-day in your inbox

About this poet

Pádraig Ó Tuama received a BA (Div) from Maryvale Institute, Birmingham, and an MTh from Queens University Belfast. He is the author of the poetry collections Daily Prayer with the Corrymeela Community (2017), Sorry for Your Troubles (2013) and Readings from the Books of Exile (2012), all published by Canterbury Press in the United Kingdom. He is also the author of In the Shelter: Finding a Home in the World (Hodder & Stoughton, 2015), a book of spiritual reflection.

From 2014-2019, Ó Tuama was the leader of the Corrymeela Community, Ireland’s oldest peace and reconciliation organization, which works with over 10,000 people a year to transform division through human encounters, with focuses on sectarianism, marginalization, public theology and the legacies of conflict. Ó Tuama lives in Ireland.

The Pedagogy of Conflict

I

When I was a child,
I learnt to lie.

When I was a child
my parents said that sometimes,
lives are protected
by an undetected
light lie of
deception

When I was a child,
I learnt to lie.

Now, I am more than twenty five
and I’m alive
because I’ve lied
and I am lying still.

Sometimes,
it’s the only way of living.

 

II

When I was a child
I learnt that I could stay alive
by obeying certain
rules:

let your anger cool before you
blossom bruises on your brother’s shoulder;

always show your manners at the table;

always keep the rules and never question;

never mention certain things to certain people;

never doubt the reasons behind
legitimate aggression;

if you compromise or humanise
you must still even out the score;

and never open up the door.
Never open up the door.
Never, never, never open up the blasted door.

When I was a child,
I learnt that I could stay alive
by obeying certain rules.
Never open up the door.

 

III

When I was a child,
I learnt to count to five
one, two, three, four, five.
but these days, I’ve been counting lives, so I count

one life
one life
one life
one life
one life

because each time
is the first time
that that life
has been taken.

Legitimate Target
has sixteen letters
and one
long
abominable
space
between
two
dehumanising
words.

“The Pedagogy of Conflict” Originally published in Sorry for your Troubles (Canterbury Press, 2013). Copyright © 2013 by Pádraig Ó Tuama. Reprinted with the permission of the poet.

“The Pedagogy of Conflict” Originally published in Sorry for your Troubles (Canterbury Press, 2013). Copyright © 2013 by Pádraig Ó Tuama. Reprinted with the permission of the poet.

Pádraig Ó Tuama

Pádraig Ó Tuama

Pádraig Ó Tuama is the author of Sorry for Your Troubles (Canterbury Press, 2013). From 2014-2019, Ó Tuama was the leader of the Corrymeela Community, Ireland’s oldest peace and reconciliation organization. He lives in Ireland.

by this poet

poem

In-between the sun and moon,
I sit and watch
and make some room
for letting light and twilight mingle,
shaping hope
and making single glances last eternity,
a little more,
extending love beyond the doors of welcoming,
while wedding all the parted people,
even sons to

poem

It is both a dignity and                                                          
a difficulty
to live between these
names,

perceiving politics
in the syntax of
the state.

And at the end of the day,
the reality is
that whether we
change
or whether we stay

poem

27ú lá Meitheamh, 2012

Because what’s the alternative?
Because of courage.
Because of loved ones lost.
Because no more.
Because it’s a small thing; shaking hands; it happens every day.
Because I heard of one man whose hands