All neon invitations are ignored. No souls
pass the threshold to buy a happy ring
or waste an afternoon at shrill slot machines.
We are left to ponder the question
of our time – Why go Bald?
A shop window implores me to buy
a white latex nurse’s uniform and cap.
Never has a scrub dress looked so unsexy
and we all know stockings always fall down.
Each street sucks at the sourness
of the Liffey’s waters, but delights
are still found in its twinkle as it eddies
around wheelie bins and twisted bikes.
This is the last lie we tell ourselves
that Summer’s embrace still holds,
until winter cripples the leaves
of the blunted silver birches holding
guard along O’Connell Street.
No one will be smiling then.
A preacher steals no crowd on a wooden
fruit crate. Ginger hair matted by sweat,
Jesus spittle on his lips. Just one woman
stands. Hands held to the sky praise
the guts of this guy for letting the world
and God know he has two last believers.
Dead Cleary’s clock still runs. A church
hidden on a side street hits play
on the Angelus. Some light candles
and pray. Some lay down their shovels,
pitchforks and pens. Some contemplate
laying down their arms, then don’t.
Some genuflect at the feet
of their mistresses. Some devote
their loins to their wife. Some wait
by blacked-out windows
for lovers to arrive, who never do.
But somewhere in the world hips rise
to greet mouths and entrap tongues.
Indian Summer was first published in Banshee. Editors, Laura Cassidy, Claire Hennessy and Eimear Ryan
until you reached up
to that fine ivory neck
unzipped yourself along
the length of your spine
turning cotton wool innards
cleaving wires slack
tossing your copper
horse hair wig
to the floor
I wanted no answers
from your stuck red gash
of a mouth scored
into alabaster clay
with a slight tilt of my hand
and the dull twist of a wrist
you whittled the vowels
of my name down
a record jumping
now no one notices
when you move
Marionette was first published in minnesota review. Editor, Janell Watson
Dog, you act as though this is your first time in the world.
But it’s not. Leash bound and squirming, your black nose
cleaves the air. Left to right, then snuffle, as one would douse
for water in the desert. We are hunters, Dog.
Tracking tabby cats and chicken bones,
stop to appraise only the ripest of turds.
You divine the thread of each step that passed here.
The air carries the past to you, sandwiches
dropped at lunch, piss stains from Friday night.
Hey Dog, those skunked faced youths shuffling
and kicking cans against the bookie’s window,
mind them. Side-eye, you are more suspicious
of them than I. No worry, Dog. Humans too, are wary
of young fellas in baggy tracksuits, peaks pulled low.
Watch out Dog, the border terrier is running circles
in his yard, digging trenches with his paws
in advance of his battle with us at the rusting gate.
He’s so angry with the world, Dog, but aren’t we all?
An old man proclaims, Bet she wins big at the races,
even though you’re just a leggy hound with
a thick, bull head. His thick, hairy hands
maul your haunches. That’s no way to treat a lady.
Heckles surge and you jump to snap
the cap from his head. He retreats.
Shake it off, Dog. Good girl.
Protesters line the traffic island
waving placards. The dip of a tail.
You drag me past.
You have no interest in politics.
But stop. Someone tossed a watermelon
into the road, innards erupting pink flesh
and black seeds too festive for winter.
You’ve never seen anything as glorious before.
Savour its flesh with a considered lick.
To the church, Dog.
There’s good grass there.
Sniff, squat, shit.
Packs of schoolgirls are out and roaming.
Cower. The creep of tail between your legs.
They are damp wool uniforms
and the swish of skirts, the smack
of grey chewing gum and squeals.
You hate their pitch,
the sway of their excitement.
As do I, Dog. Clever Dog.
Dog Walk was published in Room Magazine. Editor, Chelene Knight
Une Nature Morte
Dawn washes down over police tape flittering
against the empty street. The idea of a stampede,
the pounding feet, screaming bullets, speeding cars
that left behind a crying wife seems obscene now.
But war too, has its quiet times.
By the gates of Ballybough House a photographer waits,
but the blood is dry, shrapnel pocketed into plastic bags.
Here flats blackened by the lick of flames flank balconies
hung with baby clothes and pink skirts. A man stands
and stares like a dog pinned in a corner. Life razored
his eyes into flint. By the Tolka’s crawling water,
two young boys waste time in a playground clad by iron bars.
Without a ball they kick a half loaf of bread as seagulls
circle overhead. One cocks a finger tense at the other.
Pulls his thumb trigger. His friend dies writhing
until resurrection or time for tea. A winter sunset
low over the hedges, will temper the sight of limp, white trainers
tied, thrown and looped around power lines in rose gold light.
Look up. The skies look less like war and more like art.
Une Nature Morte was published in A Level Crossing. Editor, Pat Boran
The jut of the pier is the end, the drop
of colour into grey. Through salt crusted
squints we search for the tug
on a line to interrupt dull, flat cloud.
Your flapping silver hooked
from the steel capped waves,
broken from the fight.
Consider your death, but really,
I know of only three ways to kill a fish.
A toe of a boot against your curling body
and lashing spine. A knife housed in leather
cooked hard by salt water, its blade
blackened by whetstone. An easy slice
down below gasping, sanguine gills.
A world ebbs.
Your last glance will be rich with
the redness of spilling innards
Man fixes the world
through the sharpness
of planes colliding. The soft thud
of your skull on an edge. A smart
smack muted by squalling wind.
This is no grand exit.
Without the blast of a death blow,
curt against the ear,
you are no life to mourn,
just a slow twitch beside the bucket.
The barb hanging
from your lip unhooked by slimy fingers.
Your mirrored scales in the cracks
of my palms. As one would lay an infant
to sleep, I place you gently in water.
Wait for the longest time,
the struggle for breath begins.
Mute confusion as you face
the sky for the first time.
I gaze at you in your plastic coffin.
My world inverted
in the arc of your dying eye.
Execution was published in Magma. Editors, David Floyd and Lucy Howard-Taylor
This is our angelus, though our timing is off.
Pausing over a meal of charred meat,
and verdigris leaves. A lush cream sauce
coats the tongue with rich, ivory fur.
Curdled blood spilling to the rim
of two ceramic plates coats an argyle glaze
in hues of rusty pink, culinary aesthetics
deadened by the cheap pine of the table.
Between the click and a pause of each second
marked by the clock, we measure
the shape of our world. It is a slow respite
and we are waiting. Later I will plunge
my hands into water churning glossy with fat,
the globules creeping up the sides of the sink,
onto my flesh, refusing to disappear with the dishwater.
Grazing and other poems are © Deirdre Daly