“Queen Medb Speaks to the Shy Poet” and other poems by Trish Bennett

Connemara Rocks

You held me with champagne
in a Galway crystal glass.
The light fizzed through its facets,
and danced a sparkling ring.
‘No dawter of mine’ll be on time,
make him wait’  you said.
Your brother; our driver,

We parked at the church,
set into the mouth of a bad turn.
The blessed virgin — mounted on granite,
stood guard outside.
Celtic crosses scattered
on the grave hill behind.
To the side, a stream flowed
under the stone-bridged road,

feeding the lake in front,
from where two swans watched
you open the door,
and hold my hand
to support my high,
heeled step.
You carried the weight of my frock,
the countryman’s Gok Wan.

I held tight to my autumn bouquet
as we strolled into that place,
built on unyielding rock
—a slope to its aisle.
‘The Coolin’ began.
My Bridesmaid led the march,
you slipped your arm in mine,
laughed, as you led me on.

Flower girls ran in a fizz to grab hold,
and tow us up that hill,
to the green marbled altar.
You smiled,
as you sacrificed me there,
to face the music
— half-cut.


Publication Credits
An earlier version, entitled Galway Crystal, Shortlisted, North West Words / Donegal Creameries Poetry Award 2017. Published in North West Words Magazine, 2018. Editors, Nick Griffiths, Deirdre Hines and Deirdre McClay.



You caught me today, at the turn
of that tight hill, before home.

When the sun dissected the trees,
a slice of the past shone;

that summer’s day
in our shop,

your suet-softened hands
held the knife,

as you dissected a liver
to show me fluke

Keep a tight grip‘, you said,
so it won’t slip as you slice.

You carved the disease out,
diced the rest for cats.

‘I could be a surgeon in another life’, you remarked
and we laughed,

before the memory fades,
replaced by the last sigh from your lungs,

as the grip tightens
around my heart.

Publication Credits
Published, Issue 1, Smithereens 2018 Editor Kenneth Keating.



In the half light
betwixt day and night,
A glimmer whispers
by the edge of my eye.
Tendrils of a moment,
between the suns last rays,
and the moonlit sky.

In the half light,
they appear.
Goosebumps salute the past.
Yet, no deceit lies
in those prickly scents,
mellow roses,
wisps from a long-dead pipe,
envelop the heir,
to their circle of life.

Publication Credits
This poem was previously published in A New Ulster: The Hidden and Divine, Female Voices in Ireland, October 2017, Editor Amos Greig.



I stand in the corridor of power
and face the congregation.

The sun
illuminates the island altar.

Solid walls echo the sizzle of pans,
steaming hymns.

Often, my chant — not quite Gregorian,
catching the custard on the cusp of a curdle.

We’ll leave soon.
I will miss this chapel of a kitchen,

the soul of a borrowed place,
we never called ‘home’.

Our brown boxes,
taped to escape,

surround the naked dresser
in scribbled rows.

I plant my feet firmly,
whisk in hand,

seize a tight grip on the bowl.
The final liturgy begins.

Publication Credits
This poem was previously published in A New Ulster: The Hidden and Divine Female Voices in Ireland, October 2017, Editor Amos Greig.


The Day I Became a Royalist

The memory of that day’s still sweet,
the way the sun filtered through hedges
beginning to explode
with blooms of hawthorn and chestnut;
the coconut trace that floated up
from yellow bubbled whin;
the excited buzz from her fans,
humming as I set to work.

Deaf as beetles they were,
yet they danced their tales,
while their friends watched
and felt the vibrations.
I longed to dance too,
but my rebel feet refused.

I looked the part.
In fact, I was smoking,
with all the right gear to meet a Queen.
No high fashion, fascinators, stilettos or frocks,
demure — in loose white,
a veil over my face,
and gloves.

The roar arose from the crowd.
Herself was close.
Royal guards drew lances,
made charges as if to say,
‘Your kind’s not welcome here’.
I worked on — ignored the line,
like my Father before,
when I was a child.

When her Highness appeared in my frame of view,
maybe it was the alien look of her dress,
poured out in layers like dark chocolate,
or maybe it was her long legs,
that could do with a rub of the razor,
that made her look huge.
She walked that confident walk of a girl at the top.
Her retinue fussed, had respect.
While her signature scent was strong,
they remained happy, loyal

My senses captured it all
in a way no camera could;
that joy as I watched them dance and hum,
the chinook noise from drones,
the scent of our land collected, condensed,
mind-stamped into my memory cells,
that brought me home to childhood days
when my brother and I dug sections of gold
on our Fathers return.

The memory’s still sweet of that day
when I turned,
on meeting the Queen
of Apis Mellifera Mellifera,
my black honey bees.

Publication Credits
BBC Radio Ulster Time of Our Lives, Jan 2019.
The Leitrim Guardian 2019, Nov 2018, Editor Bláithín Gallagher.
Highly Commended, Bailieborough Poetry Prize, 2018.


Queen Medb Speaks to the Shy Poet.


In my time,
the bardic kind commanded the rath of royalty.
For fear of their sting,
we gave them everything.
They ‘liked’ me,
shared my scéal*,
I was Eireann’s Kardashian Medb.

The monks’ day dawned
and Kings were drawn to the power of the quill.
The page had turned.
The Bardic way faded like old ink.

Clerics came,
they scripted my tale in “post truth”.
Two thousand years have passed,
yet pilgrims still climb Knocknarea with a stone for my cairn
wondering whether I lie there, or at Rathcroughan, my home.


Twenty first century banfhile**,
cooking, cleaning, rearing young.
You hold back your words for fear of their power,
twitter as you peer into your faceless world.

Grasp the quill in your hand banfhile**
but feel that bard in your blood,
share your words aloud.
Let the tale prevail,
yet script your celtic truth,
or sit there doing nothing,
and become a relic too.

*Scéal = story.
**Banfhile = poetess.

Publication Credits
An earlier version of this poem was previously published in ‘A New Ulster: The Hidden and Divine, Female Voices in Ireland’, October 2017, Editor Amos Greig.


Trish Bennett hails from County Leitrim. She’s got the breeze of Thur (the mountain, not the God) in her blood. She crossed the border to study over twenty years ago and was charmed into staying by a Belfast biker. They have settled themselves into a small cabin near the lakeshore in Fermanagh, and try to keep the noise down in their bee-loud glade. Bennett writes about the shenanigans of her family and other creatures. Sometimes she rants. She was a finalist in seven poetry competitions in the past two years, including North West Words, The Percy French, Bailieborough, and The Bangor Literary Journal, and has won The Leitrim Guardian Literary Award for poetry twice. Bennett is a Professional Member of the Irish Writers Centre.

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