Poems from “Some Lives” by Leeanne Quinn

Cave of the Firbolg 

(Nano Reid, oil on board)

Not even a trespass of sky to compromise the dark 
where blood beats in the body of the heart. 
Nobody thinks, Why do we do this? 

The nervous system ferries its thin shards of glass 
down among the clay, where the blunt flint
of the soul remains. 

Pollen embedded in the riverbed, a prehistory 
of refuse in the lower layers, every end 
is a chance to start over, but the river 

cannot start again, or the voice in the cave
speak in a righteous tongue. The body too 
gives way as the blood deposits its memory 

in the tributaries of the cave, the sky 
pushed out, the heart yet to know 
it can go without.

Could Be

The molten coin of the sun 
      slots behind the horizon without making 
              a perceivable sound 

city lights distract from the dark 
         we are about to be pitched into 
                 so sudden the day has ended 

so soon the night begun my vision is slow 
         to adapt I have poor eyes cannot see
                  beyond where the light falls 

shaping the night the moon is no use 
        always misseeing the light at my window 
               as the moon’s which is only 

another misseeing a habit which knows 
        no other way of saying what is seen
                the sun disappearing like the sun

of the previous day going down
         like the sun of the previous century
                going down as a favour to the moon

coming up I should say instead 
       don’t look I should say instead don’t listen
               turn your face 

like you would from a stranger 
        in the city the sun is a bitter crust 
             to swallow is bitter honey 

the noise in my ear is getting louder
      and louder in my ear could be
             the sound of the day going down 
of the night coming up  or the sound of a human  voice shrill and precise berating me slowly  into slander  and admission

Scenes from a Life

Hanging by a hook on the wall, 
mirroring the mirror, 

she has stitched leaves 
for wings, a remedy for boredom.

Riven by the absence of stone, she burns 
down a suburb made of wood,

slumps her body under a tree,
as good a place as any to lie down

forever. On the brittle foliage 
she thinks, If the soul has texture 

it will feel like this.  

Six Easy Steps

In a cubicle    of partitioned light 
I must eat    before remembering
the sign above my bed    solicits 

silence I am misrembering    the brain 
like lightening    must find ground
they ask me to draw    boxes

I have been filling up    pages ever since
I unremembered    the contours
no one speaks    they insist I find

my native tongue    my proper ground 
insist I remember    the proper 
outline of myself    I am misrepresenting 

the dimensions    of my thought
a cube of sky    is visible 
from my bed    six equal sides 

of containment    the part 
impersonating    the whole 
is not helpful    count out loud they say

listen to the sound    of something familiar
the mower    on the lawn
for instance    the cut grass is still 

grass    six easy steps to find again
the self    impersonation 
is not useful    try again 

to speak    in your native tongue
try again to trace    the outline 
hollow enough    for a body 

solid enough    for a soul


     i.m. Caroline Quinn 

The moon on the last day of January 
1998 was full, as far as I can remember, 
though it was, in fact, only the seed

of a moon. I have found the records, 
checked its phase on your date of birth
and mine, now that you are no age.

Is used to the same as forgetting?

I always wanted to live in real weather.
Is it wrong to say I’m no longer sure?

No one here seems to mind. They go 
about as though they have forgotten
yesterday was as bad as today.

Is used to the same as forgetting?

Can you remember the night 
we spent in a house either still
going up or coming down? 

I don’t remember which, but the moon 
was red, something 

I haven’t seen since and can find 
no record of. 

Is used to the same?
I don’t remember which.

This far from sea 

the air in winter is dust dry 
and sears your mouth
when you try to breathe. 

At night I listen for noise 
in the lungs, the sound of winter

I always wanted to live 
in real weather.
No one here seems to mind.

Is used to forgetting?

Surely the moon was a circle
of ice.  Surely our bodies shivered 
beneath it, a row of pines 

beginning winter.

poems from Some Lives © Leeanne Quinn

About Leanne Quinn

Leeanne Quinn was born in Drogheda, Co. Louth, and grew up there and in nearby Monasterboice. Her debut collection of poetry, Before You, was published by Dedalus Press in 2012, a poem from which was highly commended in the Forward Prize for Poetry. Her second collection, Some Lives, is published by Dedalus on October 1st, 2020. Her poems have been published in a variety of journals including Poetry Ireland Review, The Stinging Fly, The Moth, Cyphers, PN Review,  and Long Poem Magazine, and anthologised in Windharp: Poems of Ireland Since 1916 and The Forward Book of Poetry 2013, among others. Having lived in Dublin for most of her adult life, she recently relocated to Munich, Germany.

© Leeanne Quinn