You can’t decide, you keep glancing
between two lines of thought
the whole length of the tree-hung street;
and you recognise someone saying your name,
and you go right up to the moment,
right up to the third person within you,
but they’re a different shape
in some essential way,
and you re-read your traces,
like a tree, stroking
its silver leaves against the wind
a tree in the cold,
a tree its own breath.
First published in Tears in the Fence (Ed. David Caddy)
On the Road to Westport
I’m trying to shift
focus to the brain, but my heart’s driven
all the blood to my gut, which is churning.
Didn’t know that I’d lost it, till I found
myself halfway to Westport, following you,
a BLT in my lap, cappuccino
in the console, cats’ eyes leering. On the stereo,
You knew all about the racing start
of the heart, then the skidding halt at the trespass.
I race onward, into the dark,
letting my terror be for the bends I’m going round.
It feels like some sort of countdown.
Eleven years ago, I thought about the lesson
I’d learnt from you. Had it at the start
of the journey, alongside this pot
of gladioli, flashing their bravado.
Sit tight, I tell them. We’re taking off.
You knew all about hitting the road
in a rage. The time you rocked
up at our student digs, surprising me and the lads–
and you didn’t bat an eye when you found
I was sharing a room with one. The fellas
adored you, the way you flirted, sitting on the counter
top, impressing them with your rugby know-how.
Praising Robbie for his cooking.
Four long days of liberation,
swimming in the sea
with a boogie board, margaritas
on the roof. Then, you tucked
tail for home. Ah, mum.
I only know that it’s Westport I’m going to,
because I passed the signs three weeks ago.
How long have I been on auto?
See the shovel in the footwell? It’s to honour
a runaway rebel. I’m going to plant
these brazen beings on your grave.
Then follow through.
‘It was always the other way round’
– Margaret Atwood
with your reflection in a shop window,
or your shadow up against a wall,
or three-legged jaywalking
across the city’s
huddled roundabouts –
but no matter where,
there’s no getting you out
of my mind.
After all, our planet’s just a snowglobe
for the angels.
Are you google earthing me?
Is that you I can hear,
between bells, faintly?
(‘Invisible insane’ is Google Translate’s Japanese version of the English proverb: ‘out of sight, out of mind.’)
All kinds of things are happening to me.
Skin’s becoming scaly, forehead a terrain of anthills,
and my feet are stiffening as though belonging to a corpse!
Hair’s falling out of course. And there’s my vision.
I try to read, but words swirl
in little whirlwinds on the page;
even when they’re behaving, I feel
I’m gazing at some complicated log of random numbers.
Enough of this I say aloud, take to the beach –
perhaps it’s distance my eyes are seeking.
But there I find fish tumbling from the sky,
myself face up in a clump of seaweed
foamy wavelets eddying about me.
the light is different from what I’m used to.
and I wonder if I’m dreaming,
back in the southern hemisphere,
if this sinking will have a rising too.
The next cat out the bag’s
a girl, fifteen or so,
standing, mouth ajar,
A mackerel on my belly, flapping.
I see her stare,
want to reach a hand, see if I can touch her
but suddenly she’s not there, and I come to,
still lying in damp sand like a heavy log.
There’s nothing for it but to roll over,
watch the water gouge a groove
where my body’s been.
Back home, I make a cup of tea.
The kettle boils. I lift a green mug from a hook
pour, and squeeze a lemon in.
So far, so good. I wash pots and plates, utensils.
Stare out at laundry, ponder.
The light is dimming and a rush of heat comes over me.
A massive bank of thunderclouds controls the sky.
I put on headphones, turn up the volume,
dance until my body feels fifteen. Rain pounds against the window.
I close the blinds, keep dancing.
(First published in the Italian journal, Inkroci. Ed. Sara Sagroti)
In an instant of refraction and shadow
A plane floats overhead,
lethargically as feathers.
Egyptian cotton billows.
A train somewhere whistles.
You aren’t happy, he tells me,
until you consider yourself
The afternoon light is falling
in a diagonal the length of the floor.
An arrowed line
of black gun powder.
I follow it, feel him
brace for it, my familiar cry…
and then I’m migrating, I’m gone
and there’s only grief here.
(First published in Poetry Ireland Review, ed. Eavan Boland)
it overwhelms me, an instant of ocean,
delayed grief for the lost years
i dream you back into existence
i dream you back into
i dream you back
I dream you
i follow you to an unknowable past, mama
each detail of the journey becoming a magnified ignorance
it’s taken this long to find that a solitary walk can result in a headful of light;
returning, i step into my footprints, a kind of retrieval …
cradled in a closed palm, the ring of plaited light
i write until my fingers bleed, i write out my sorrow,
i write into the terror of forgetting
listening to leaves settle, like the drift of a gown on ceramic tiles,
telling you: i think of you, sometimes,
and the sky is infinite, maybe.
First published in Southword (ed. Leanne O’Sullivan)
Afric McGlinchey is a multi-award winning West Cork poet, freelance book editor, reviewer and workshop facilitator. She has published two collections, The lucky star of hidden things (Salmon, 2012) and Ghost of the Fisher Cat (Salmon, 2016), the former of which was also translated into Italian by Lorenzo Mari and published by L’Arcolaio. McGlinchey’s work has been widely anthologized and translated, and recent poems have been published in The Stinging Fly, Otra Iglesia Es Imposible, The Same, New Contrast, Numéro Cinq, Poetry Ireland Review, Incroci, The Rochford Street Journal and Prelude. In 2016 McGlinchey was commissioned to write a poem for the Breast Check Clinic in Cork and also for the Irish Composers Collective, whose interpretations were performed at the Architectural Archive in Dublin. Her work has been broadcast on RTE’s Poetry Programme, Arena, Live FM and on The Poetry Jukebox in Belfast. McGlinchey has been awarded an Arts Council bursary to research her next project, a prose-poetry auto-fictional account of a peripatetic upbringing.
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