4 Poems by James Finnegan


I like my shadow in the sun

sometimes it blocks me

shoulders me away from a door

where I look

for something more

I wrestle with it

manage to get it in a headlock

it squeezes through my arm-hold

latches onto the back of my heels

follows me into another room

where I grab a broom and sweep it

off its feet

it appears

I am like this shadow chasing form


her last evening     Elsie came to greet me

she rolled on her side     let my hand stroke her

     four sods on orange plastic     soil on blue

     a small deep grave ready for the next day

sedative     then anaesthetic OD

administered by the visiting vet

so it came     that she was lain 

in a back-garden corner within sight

I’d bought two copies of The Irish Times

one copy for me     the other for her


the music teacher played some Debussy

I said it reminded me of a wave

set upon the sea which never comes to shore

like being alone from now forevermore

a sentiment framed within a poem a time ago

after the break-up of a first love

     the teacher liked what I said

but it seems my aimlessness began in Oz

unlike the Kansas start of Billy Collins

     in Aimless Love Collins begins with a wren

then a mouse     seamstress     bowl of broth

     finishes with a bar of soap

     during it, I am taken to Oz

where Billy props his heart on a tripod 

in a field     ready for the next arrow

     if I’d begun with a seventeen

year-old girl and a nineteen-year-old boy

maybe I could have taken it from Kansas to Oz


there’s a hunter with a strange brain

and razor-blade mind 

who shot an old giraffe in Africa

and posed with painted blood through her dark hair

whilst surrounded by her majestic kill

there are other hunters who do the same

this hunter     in-your-face     face-booked it

with gun-hunger and deadly aim to tease

and claimed     the giraffe     a herbivore

can be a dangerous animal

and also claimed to feel a connection with     her kill

About the contributor

James Finnegan was shortlisted for the Hennessy Literary Award (2018) and highly commended in the Patrick Kavanagh Poetry Competition (2016, 2018). He is published in New Hibernia Review (2019), The Irish Times (2018), Poetry Ireland Review (2018), and others. His first full collection Half-Open Door was published with Eyewear Publishing, 2018. A new collection is forthcoming with Doire Press in 2022.

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