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New Poetry, Fiction, Essays

5 poems by LORNA SHAUGHNESSY

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LORNA SHAUGHNESSY was born in Belfast and lives in Co. Galway, Ireland. She has published three poetry collections, Torching the Brown River, Witness Trees and Anchored (Salmon Poetry), and a chapbook, Song of the Forgotten Shulamite (Lapwing). Her work was selected for the Forward Book of Poetry, 2009. She is also a translator of Spanish and South American Poetry. Her poem, ‘The Dual Citizen’ was joint winner of the Poems for Patience Award (UHG/Cúirt) in 2017. Her spoken word piece for theatre The Sacrificial Wind, was staged in the Cúirt International Literature Festival in 2017.

  

El Rocío


The night breeze is damp,
though it has long forgotten
the smell of salt water
by the time it reaches us.

A voice calls, a horse starts,
its shoes a muffled percussion
in streets paved in sand
where nothing has a echo.

The pilgrims have departed
in a halo of dust, a rumbling of tractors
and wagons at dusk. Candles burn
before the sleeping virgin in her niche.

In the darkness, white belfries
release a portion of the light
they stole from the day’s sun.
From a window, a guitar-strum.

Beyond the town a shifting horizon,
tomorrow will not stand still
but eludes us, always,
like the moving dunes.

 

 

Pope’s Quay, 1983

 

Easy to forget

that being young and poor

was no hardship then, that wealth

was an abundance of time

to share our bodies in damp rooms

that smelled of briquettes.

The Corpus Christi procession

passed within feet of our single bed.

We watched through a lace curtain

the faithful shadows that lined the kerb,

emerged at midday for tea and bread,

survived on a diet of cheese sandwiches,

pints, tea in cafes that had newspapers.

That winter, I read in the warmth

of the Public Library while you rehearsed,

befriended the homeless and the staff.

And once, inexplicably then,

I cried for hours in our favourite pub.

 

 

Spool

 

There’s nowhere to hide

when all’s been said and done,

 

no moral ground high enough

to stand on, throwing stones

 

to break the windows

of glass houses we used to own.

 

No ruses left unused

to stand over abuses,

 

no excuses left to excuse

not doing what we should’ve

 

no rewind to erase what was said

or done, only replay

 

over and over,

the same wounding words,

 

the same old reel-to-reel

turning in our heads.

 

 

 

Flinch

 

A kettleful of anger

steams up the kitchen;

words scald.

 

 

 

Hummingbird Lessons

 

To be at once all endeavour and yet effortless

stillness and motion,

 

to make sound from movement without intention,

eagerly awaited

 

yet always unexpected flash of iridescence,

presence of grace

 

sustained by a skeleton so small;

substance of wonder

 

that defies equations of bodyweight, time and acceleration,

in the fact of vast distances travelled

 

here, now, needle-tip dipping

in absolute attentiveness,

 

concentration contagious to the observer

who can only watch,

 

compelled to put aside the task at hand

to not utter,

 

absorb through the iris

this nectar.

 

 

 

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