‘Top Shaggers’ and other poems by Emma Gleeson

Top Shaggers

At first, we felt a clear hot rage.

This girl.

Torn into hysterics.
But not beyond reasonable doubt.

Fear Response
a mind grasps it’s body tight
brain-stem trained by centuries
in how useless it is to fight.

But where justice
is hewn from happenstance
consent is an irrelevance.

But those boys.

Raised on porn and privilege
paying for impunity
in more ways than one.

We have let them down too.
We have let them all down.
We turned blind scoffing eyes as they grew

We let it happen.


My Grandfather,

stepped into his wife’s shoes
the day she died.
He learnt to make soda bread.
Took the smallest one, my father,
to sleep in his bedroom with him
the first year after.
Squeezed the boys orange juice
before school in the morning.

I never knew him in his prime.
His spark and sight dwindled as I grew.
I covet the memories of my older cousins
like jewels through a shop window,
nose pressed against a room I cannot enter.

A few years after Grandpa died,
I asked my father
if he still missed him.
He laughed,
and then looked very old.
And I felt young and foolish
not to know.

Someday I will be the one who hasn’t stopped missing.
And perhaps my children will fail to notice
How much my father always loved fresh orange juice.



rules relaxed
neighbours greet and smile
brighter than eye whites
it tells us to slow
we walk in the middle of the road
giddy with transgression,
the air is glistened
and it feels changed forever.
melts as it falls
like the mayfly
it lives just one bright day.
we cannot help but destroy
the diamond silk of the paths
never touched by another human
we plant our footprint flags
claim it as our own.
looking at the drenched-clean city
we feel the stirring of the great water within.
that from where we come
and that which sustains.
the original sea-womb of all life.
we stand
in a drop of our own essence.
the howling lake inside
silenced in snow.


I am interested in what is held in the body
when we have been unheld
when we have split from ourselves.
Subtle as a dew-kissed leaf
a muscle hardens.
a knuckle can freeze
we crystallise
until one day no melting can come to ease.
But turning back to the hard light
the melting pain
that cure which no one wants
because it hurts,
we can lift our arms high
in the letting go.



I talk to you
as if my tongue skids on ice
the words slip out,
unruly children
no translator by my side
my word birds drop their seeds on barren ground
I stumble and mumble
wishing I could shake you and say


I have to sink myself into someone
like a hot bath,
the first touch being too much
small talk singes my skin,
always too thin
and it takes more time
than most
to unfurl

But still I talk and talk
In the hope that one day
I will have earned the right
to stay silent

Top Shaggers and other poems are © Emma Gleeson


Emma Gleeson lives in Dublin. Her writing adventures include poems, cultural reviews, and essays. She has worked in the theatre industry as a costume designer and events coordinator, and lectures on sustainability. She has a BA in Drama & Theatre and an MA in Fashion History.

Instagram @emmajgleeson
Website http://www.droppingslow.com