Sheila-Na-Gig online


Lachlan Brooks


I am a writer and actor with a B.F.A. from NYU’s Tisch School of the Arts, where I studied drama, minored in linguistics, and was the recipient of Tisch’s “Artist and Scholar Award” in 2017. My poetry has appeared in publications including The Remembered Arts Journal, Chronogram, Red Weather, and Open Minds Quarterly, as well as appearing previously in Sheila-Na-Gig online.

Gaelic Has No Possessive

No word for “have” precludes both coveting or keeping,
Or claiming, or naming the theft that is ownership;
The stolen nothings manifest into somethings; possession
Denies that all things are purloined from oneness, pinched
From abiding naught, by thought and symbol soldered valuable.
No words for yes or no in Latin; it expects you to explain yourself,
Fully. Language prioritizes—the utmost, or the utleast—
It is only shortcut to idea, allowing quick access to meaning,
Allowing (mercifully) the inside to get out.
English has no way to say that all existence is error,
That there is an omnipotent tremor, a shiver,
That residing in each of us there is a mirror
Whose four sides frame a trapped other,
A facsimile of self on display; each of us sees our own self
In excruciating focus. The I is the cosmos’ locus.
There is no word for the self in any language; a whole lexicon
Unfurls to fill that gap. If I say you are mine, I say that I can have,
You be had, that personhood and thinghood have a Venn overlap
In my desire to codify and formalize tenderness,
The basest need to put word to metaphysical tug.
There is no word for love, not really, and no word for hate—
Only anthologies of exhaustive literature, catalogues
Of idea and image that offer, in lieu of precision,
Some flowery total, impressive in its speechlessness.
Mute and immutable, the muttered world of feelings
That is so much a cringe or squirm or shudder. Inalienable possession—
All object possession is temporary because all object is temporary
And the act of having is attached to the act of being:
Mortals cannot have, not really. Some languages know.
Being is too transitory; it does not belong and cannot
Have belongings. Language settles on every compromise, but seeks,
Since it knows its inadequacies, and leaves room; absence speaks.
‘I have’ in English, ich habe, but cannot ‘have’ as Gaeilge,
Cannot especially capitalize a German Idea, cannot split the
Infinitive ‘to have’ in Latin; ‘I have’ becomes less an assertion
Than an indication of relative position: ‘it is at me’, ‘it is near me’,
‘It is for me or of me’, the malleable ablatives, preposition
Or proposition, the imposition of the desire for ownership—
Becoming the hurried ‘have’ in English, presuming with arrogance
That a kept thing exists for you beyond proximity. Miraculous
Transubstantiation: thing becomes essence, essence purchasable.
Language has secret wisdom; supplies a word for Want’s devouring;
All description is half-truth; all having is a grand borrowing.


Windowless bedroom, where all my selves congregate,
you have appointed yourself guardian of private longings.
The unweathered indoors, coddled and swaddling,
the wombed bedroom where I am nascent and alone,
entirely potential. If I lived in a windowed room
I’d have a frame to contain, in geometry, the Rest, the All
of greenery and sound and riddle, color, tone –
that plural too plural to be numbered. All of world
is window and non-window, frame and unframed.
A half-heard laugh from the street below, a private sob
through the wall – life’s scintillating stamps are everywhere,
asserting their voices, insinuating themselves into my privacy.
And I, singular and remote, even in my windowless
bedroom, cannot elude it—the being part of an all,
inescapably, even through a wall, there is no isolation
without reminder of the all; the call of human instrument
like violin or vacuum, is existence’s brief emphasis.
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