Broken Lyre

Broken Lyre

You cannot see her
for the soft blue of the firmament –

 she dresses to be lost,
slow dances the turning earth,

takes refuge in the pluck
of a single string. 

Draw closer, pick out the harm –
a rip through sleeve to skin;

 note how she does not flinch
leans toward the denouement

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The green glass vase will break

The green glass vase will break
in transit

so smash it now;
either you will try
to carry your memento, and it will crack,
or you will refuse to leave it behind
and never travel.

broken is the only way to carry
the vase,
each piece a doll’s house saucer
of light,
each a palm open
to the room where you pack to leave.

Beat the light into crystals
so that you are free to move –
and when you travel,
fold them in a cloth.

At your destination,
don’t try to reassemble
the vase;
its old form has gone –

but in the workshop at the lough-side
tip out the crushed pieces
and fuse them into something new.

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Sculpture of Nine Verses

Sculpture of Nine Verses
                        (Inspired by Saloua Raouda Choucair) 

I’m drawn
            by interlocking pieces

grace between each line
how space alters          every note
            how                 each     limb

striking alone
                        is softened in shadow
when lying down together 

                  I listen             cannot recall voice until
through silence
                          you return

the rise and fall of your imperatives
come here
                                                     listen you

            we are in umbra now
gaps between               take shape
                       open                and close

rearrange                     alter
                        features align
like verses –

                                    we elide –
hairline throat              
nose                 our mouth        clavicle 

nape                 the cages of our hearts
the pit of us                
                                    our bald scars

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because I am typing your words
on tracing paper
                        typing as slowly

as saying a prayer
                        so that you
are the fixed centre around which

my eye moves
            because I am doing this
in a room I have made white –

because there has been too much blood
in our years together –
and because     it is only in this solace

of white           in this slow action
that the next word will come
            because of the space –

created by the time
                        between words
                        all of the spaces white

and because of the echo
            of the typewriter
in this empty room           empty

            save for a bed
white of course
                        because of this

you have delivered pink roses
with an abundance of leaves
their petals small tongues whispering

            their firm hearts layered
                        and beautiful to peel
it is because of the white

                         that the roses are here
imploring dancing                   dancing
under a candelabra of white papers 

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It’s November and half way through the Our Father
when Richie lifts his head and slurs ‘Halloween

be thy name.’ We serve plates of food –
little rescue rafts on an uncertain sea.

Even the homeless centre reminds me of you:
the way you talked to the man on the street in Dublin,

bought him a meal in The Bleeding Horse and told him
you’d just lost God. I didn’t know who was helping who.

Richie shovels bolognese, his head hits the table.
Coaxed into standing, he slides

backwards and forwards in unlaced shoes,
‘Come on lad! Come on mate!’

A bruise for a face. He falls and rises, slips
and staggers away between unsteady men.

The chairs are wiped, the floor is brushed,
we wash our hands, and the room steadies.

I remember O’Shea on the steps of The Merrion Hotel –
clean-shaven, his hand out for money, his soft voice.

I gave him five euros just to listen to his story
and wondered if he knew you:

the Good Samaritan from Fermanagh
clutching National Geographic shouting

‘There is nothing. Only this.’

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Rachel BennettCaveat
Our table is vacant at the Walker café

Our table is vacant at the Walker café

I pray for you
before Dante’s Dream
retrace our steps
beyond The Sense of Sight
walk back past Pietà, rest

in room five, and tell you
how the cabinet of amber and ivory
created in 1700 to hold treasures
is too heavy for me now –
all riches too much to care for                                
when all I want is weightless

 First published in Issue 1 of The High Window

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In The Kasbah

In The Kasbah


they eat sliced oranges
bright with sugar.

He pours mint tea from a height,
loves the drama.                     

She’s in his darkness. 
A purple shadow makes a thumb print,
a smudge, a small mistake.

It’s a squall of white that captures her attention,
alters something,

like the promise of a covenant.
She could speak
or take the lemons from this scrubbed table,

but she doesn’t want to disturb
the arrangement.         


First published in Crannóg, 2016

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Maria Isakova
After Cezanne

After Cezanne

I saw a bowl of peaches on your desk,
no books, there were no words, no heat,
no candles spilling light. My life
was closed in your still hand,
I moved a finger slow across washed skin,
held fruit in my hands, rain fell soft,
small drops appeared above your lips
and hail hit windows.

First published in Crannóg

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The Paper Tree

The Paper Tree

I thrash from a sea bed to the surface, breathe,
backstroke through dreams. Last night –
Oxford. Jericho, cafes lit

in the afternoon. A panini, an Americano,
and I’m in every cafe where I talked with him
from here to Rosapenna.                 

The years flicker – notebook pages turn –
the story sleeps. I dig into my bag
for scissors, shred and quill paper. A tree rises

from the pages’ heart: its branches frayed. 
The table is scattered with paper remnants –
the book won’t close:

I hug it to me, leave
         and wander through crisp air. The tree
in my arms as my boots echo

I am with him again –
late at night in a cellar bar,
drinking till we fall.

First published in Prole

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A high pitch of mandolin and bazouki,
the clack of backgammon counters;
some place drenched with mint,
jasmine, and sweet coriander;
where night is absorbed into morning,
where the sound of the tide
is soothing white noise;                      
where there are no borders –
streets fall to the beach,
cedar watch waves, know secrets;
where there is no distinction
between memory and dream:
I pour myself, an offertory –
wake with incantations on my lips.

First published in Issue 1 of The High Window

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Liverpool Lime Street, Sunday Night

Liverpool Lime Street, Sunday Night

A wind like a paring knife peels the platform,          
lights are dim and two androgynous guards
pace, cheeks bulging before the next blast,   

a screel of suitcase wheels, a last minute stampede,  
high pitched yells, a pause – and the whistle –
a semibreve as the train pulls out.

Boys and girls, men and women,
two by two, pressed against railings,
arms hidden inside each other’s clothes.

Slow angel kisses, eyelids and cheeks,
then, Eskimo style, and sometimes, a change
of beat, butterfly kisses. My queue is single file,

chins to necks, stamping feet,
blowing into fisted hands. Vacant eyes.
I want to be in the kissing queue.

First published in Crannóg, 2014

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