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Filíocht Nua: New Poetry

From: New Hibernia Review
Volume 17, Number 3, Autumn/Fómhar, 2013
pp. 56-62 | 10.1353/nhr.2013.0045

In lieu of an abstract, here is a brief excerpt of the content:

The Suitcase of Bees

She brought it with her everywhere,
its silver, dimpled surface effervescent
with the whirr of wings within. In public
she would spread her skirt’s thick folds
to mute the angry drone, paint a smile
across her face, hope no-one would notice.

Once inside her own four walls
the vibrations grew so shrill
she held her head and hummed.
The ambulance crew was gentle
as they led her owl-eyed through the gates,
bees still rustling taffeta in her head.

The case was silent, a ruse
in sly collusion with the doctor
who swore she was an expert,
knew all there was to know
of stings and swarms, their stridency,
how to outface the queen.

They built a wooden beehive,
surrounded it with lemon balm, sweet basil, mint.
And now, except for mild tinnitus, she is calm.


after seeing Clonycavan Man and Old Croghan Man at the National Museum, Dublin


Your neck’s wrung round for one last look,
one mean stare at your executioners,
one they’d remember, a look to pierce
their hearts the way they planned to pin you
to the soggy depths, make sure
you’d not be back to haunt them.

The summer was coming to an end,
the crops were in, days shortening,
your henna-ed hair fixed into place
with best French resin, backcombed
to a prehistoric Mohican in celebration.
You were no ordinary rocker.


Tall as a Dinka, old at twenty-five,
your strong arms swing in graceful dance.
Now less than half a man, your long legs lost,
your headless torso is all that’s left,
a child’s bolero crumpled from the wash.

Intimate as an arm across my pillow at first light
I study the pores of your umber skin,
examine every last hair’s socket,
follow the veins roped round your knuckles,
wonder at the tailored nails, your unclenched hands.

The Coping Stone

It’s not a weeping rock the faithful come to kneel at,
or a stoup that never dries in the wall of a ruined church.

This slab is more enigma, a mystery dressed by hand
who knows how long ago. It lies inert—a fallen cap-

or coping stone—too thick to lift or shift. But, like you,
sometimes it happens: water wells, heaves up in lumps

from a source so deep memory cannot tell of it; tears
swell through weighted lids, untold grief tips over.

Otherwise, Stillness

Heinrich Böll Cottage, Achill

The picture in the window does not move,
except for a caravan of snails
inching the horizon, except
where the sea’s surface crawls.
You can make out its curled lip,
the slow snarl onto the beach.

Except for my eyes
probing the bushes
for robin, for wren.
Otherwise, stillness.

It is a painting, I another,
the two of us propped
against the walls of a corridor,
watching each other,
contemplating the width of our universe.

Warning Shots

When you live on the edge
of an ocean, you cannot pretend
you did not see it coming.

The leaves are still, birds
chatter, the sea is a sheet
of steel. But out west

where last night the sun
left a sky illumined
like stained glass

dirt heaps up,
someone else’s dustpan
emptied on your doorstep

and a magpie
rattling gunfire
at first light.


What if the world did shift
on its axis, made bockety turns,
sent hiccups through
day after day?

The view from our window
has already moved. The landscape
has split, slipped like the hill
above Leenane, or ice.

Ripped. Then silence.
No sound returning
of bird, or you calling.


For three million euro
—give or take—
you can see the sun rise
eighteen times a day.
It’s true. I heard it on the radio.
And where would that
leave the moon?

With us, making our descent to Jo’burg,
a lost eyelash,
brittle and new,
snagged on the pre-dawn’s lurid
lightshow, orange, green
and deepest blue.

Or waiting for us back up north,
old and wall-eyed, watching
as we slide under water into Paris,
rock pools gleaming.

If you travel fast enough
you can live...

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