The beauty of the game
is lost on me when I watch you play.
I see the curve of your cheek,
the rounded base of your skull
– once a custom-fit for my palm –
and feel again the warm weight of your incipience.
No more walnut-snug in my armour
your head now bobs around the pitch
and air shrieks with the thwack of
plastic against wood,
(first published by The Ofi Press)
i.m. Savita Halappanavar
Suspended at the end of Krishna Paksha,
the moon is a sickle
freeze-framed in the night sky.
The fireworks have been cancelled,
replaced by candles
and a vision of you
dancing on the cusp.
These are dark days
between Diwali and Advent,
for the moon to wax.
(first published by the Burning Bush 2)
On visiting Lascaux cave for the 70th anniversary of its discovery
Inland, the road torcs into forest.
Among walnut trees, the house vibrates
with life: bees, hummingbird moths,
an infestation of squat black crickets.
They love the shade of cool clay tiles
and watch us sleep, eat, bathe, make love.
We sweep them out at night; they won’t jump –
just scuttle, and keep returning.
Deep in the lamplit chamber, shadows
in the knotted scaffolding, they watched
hands palpate the limestone for flanks, spines,
manes – and draw them into life.
And when the lamps guttered, they scurried
over aurochs, bison, the inverted horse,
till a dog arrived, with boys and lights,
and they were brushed aside:
not far, but out of sight,
waiting for night to fall.
(first published by The Clearing online)
In winter I awaken to the dread
of losing something indefinable,
and darkness stretches out around my bed.
September flips a trip switch in my head
and daily living seems less feasible;
in winter I awaken to the dread.
On All Souls’ Night I’d gladly hide instead
of letting on that I’m invincible,
as darkness stretches out around my bed.
By December, it’s as if the world were dead:
to fight the darkness seems unthinkable.
Each winter day I struggle with the dread.
I wish that I could hibernate instead
of coming to and feeling vulnerable
to darkness stretching out around my bed.
I try to think of shorter nights ahead
though springtime now seems inconceivable.
In winter I awaken to the dread
of darkness stretching out around my bed.
(shortlisted for the Strokestown International Poetry Competition 2014, and appeared on their website)
Lacking the romance of source or sea, this river middle, sectioned out in beats,
is nonetheless a beaded string of stories, a rosary and elegy.
Teens of the 1980s swam in jeans –
our Riviera was the weir at Ballyclough,
where we clambered weedy rocks and dived from trees,
sloped off to smoke and throw sticks into the millstream.
Each day at four the river ran from brown to red.
The salmon steps were our jacuzzi, where Jacky Mull
was held under by the current, re-emerging blue
and slower. His life moved one beat down to the factory:
Ballyclough Meats – leaning over concrete walls we watched
him lugging piles of horse-guts and sluicing down the floors:
each day at four the river water ran from brown to red.
In reedy pools beyond the stone bridge lampreys shimmered.
We dislodged them
with rod butts till they coiled round our wellies,
piled them into baskets in writhing grey bundles,
tumbled them onto the lawn at home.
In our houses
we sloughed off our damp silty clothing. Forgetful
of our monstrous quarry, dying slowly on the grass.
Each day at four the river water ran from brown to red.
(first published by The Stinging Fly)