The Tall Lighthouse

Richard O'Brien

Richard O'Brien pushes his poetry in alternate directions, offering the

reader tender songlike pieces and lonesome character narratives, as

well as scabrous chants and reflective poems of self-inspection. Some

of the finest poems here act as charming, extended definitions of unusual concepts. With an ear open for music and an eye for detail, he has gathered

an impressive set of poems in this debut selection of his work.


Richard O'Brien divides his time between his home in Lincolnshire & Brasenose College, Oxford, where he is reading for a BA in English and French. He was

a winner of the Foyle Young Poets of the Year Award in 2006 and 2007 and

the youth section of the 2008 Torbay Open Poetry Competition. He has been published in Magma, Fuselit and The Shuffle anthology. He is a submissions editor of the Pomegranate Poetry e-zine.


I can’t praise this collection highly enough - O’Brien has an immediately palpable delight in language and etymology, articulated in a careful and convincing use of form, but what really sets this work apart is the personality: the arresting correlations  and surreal flashes in a recognisably contemporary landscape. His poetry is full of funny, sad voices expressing,

through their exacting details and initially ephemeral facts, at once how inextricably connected and lonely we are.
                                                                                                          Luke Kennard

your own devices

number 16 in the pilot series

£4 inc p&p

ISBN 978 1 904551 74 4


Songs About Louise 

It's something near to nakedness

to hear each other sing.

You know now how my weak vibrato

tenor trembles like a virgin

and your pure tone’s a dress

that slips from shoulders far too

sleek to see your fingers trilling

down the zip; Baez and Dylan 

found a way of harmonising

side by side in Rolling Thunder.

You and me, babe, keep in key

but if we start to slide asunder

I can set your teeth on edge, the rising

hum from sharp to flat through every

nerve from neck to knee, the jangle

in the beating blood that’s tangled

up in you and blending red

with blue, ascending from your chest

to head and fending off serrated notes

that catch it by its messy hair

and scratch the air above the bed

that’s empty, to the open throat

a breath away from pure whistle –

cactus flower, fruiting thistle, 

wild and thin as mercury,

and every freckle spiking grace

from G to F to middle C,

and into bass. Your face

is spreading like a semibreve.

It’s over now, Queen Jane, Johanna,

Sara, Lily, Rosemary.

Sad-eyed lady. Lonesome sparrow.

Absolutely, sweet Marie.

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