Geraldine O’Kane is a poet, creative writing facilitator, arts administrator and mental health advocate. Her work has been published in numerous anthologies, journals and zines in Ireland, the UK and the US, most recently Arlen House, Ascent Aspirations, Eyewear Publishing, FourXFour Poetry Journal, Flare Magazine, The Galway Review, Poethead, Lagan Press Online and Poems in Profile. She is founder and editor of Panning for Poems, an online and print micropoetry journal (currently on a short hiatus due to personal reasons). Geraldine is co-host of Purely Poetry a monthly poetry open mic night run in partnership with the Crescent Arts Centre and is working on her first full poetry collection. In October 2015 she gave a TED Talk for TEDx Belfast on poetry and mental health and read at the Poems Upstairs Series in association with Poetry Ireland Feb’ 2016.
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Venus in my Living Room
I was wearing the creativity bracelet you bought me, the night that Venus and Mars were visible alongside the moon, and a girl wanted to sing ‘Strange Fruit’ to the President Elect.
The same night a butterfly came into our living room, and a single speck of glitter was caught hanging on the tail of a cobweb – twirling visible and wondrous.
If they ask, “looking past you, to the moon gearing itself for the night ahead; showering in the setting rays of the sun just behind your head.”
Not looking at the vintage handbag tethered to your neck by a friend its handle short, leaving it to rest on your full-bodied chest as a giant necklace. Nor the blue blanket with the white stars adorning your knee, already beaded with rain, another kindness.
I am staring past the pink rain sheet and the coffee-to-go mug in your good steering hand. I am boring right into your centre, to the place your courage lives, cupping my hands for scraps, for I know You.
I have helped unstick your wheelchair from disability unfriendly places. Have listened to your creativity wiggle its way beyond your paraphernalia. I have witnessed you arriving and departing in a flurry of unabashed inconvenience.
I have never askedyour name or anyone else’s, in case my enquiry be misconstrued as a hand of friendship, that is the length of my courage. I will say, “I was looking at the grace of the moon.”
My Faux Angora Fur Hat
You were serene as a blanket covering ears; as feet disturbing first drift of snow; as a barricade for eyes against first blush of light.
A comfort-muffler to the background of my day- hum of radiator, harmonising with breath; rumble of kettle rocked by its boiling; pit-a-plop, trickle of rain on hood; bleep of mouth at beep of horn; chirrup and buzz of uninvited calls, birdsong; unfailing reverberation of overhead planes, rustle, sniffle, achoo – restless shuffling before bed.
You were a tea cosy for the sun aping midnight with a round diamante brooch giving luminous shift to mohair threads.
You could have been a pair of Ragdolls curved into each other upon my head, ruched elastic; snug against my nape ouroboros – a tail.
Your peak lifted my face higher than Tibet, took me past Everest, it was like God held a hand close to my mind fashioning a static charge of creativity every time you bedizened my head.
Perched on a hospital bed opposite a doctor
resting easy in the high back visitor’s chair,
he hands you a clipboard and paper having drawn
a simple square asking “can you copy the shape for me please?”
You contemplate the pen he gives you
like it was just plucked from the back of a crow,
you always had beautiful handwriting
I tried often but could not mimic its soft cadence.
Concentration lines take shape on your face
as you try to comprehend how you might
make the pen move on the paper.
Eventually you mark the page with a barely perceptible squiggle,
present it back to the doctor with a triumphant confusion.
Unsure if what you have done is correct but the relief
of your shoulders from having produced something defines the moment.
I want to enfold you in an embrace
transfuse back into you all the knowledge
you poured into me from my very first breath
but you aren’t finished giving, so I meet your eye
smile and proclaim “well done”.
I’m sorry I came to your poetry reading.
I’m sorry I came to your poetry reading, straight from my works dinner.
I’m sorry when I came to your poetry reading, the room allocated had changed, from auditorium to a cabaret style affair.
I’m sorry when I came to your poetry reading, you were dressed scalp to heel in Black, reciting the horrors of your home country.
I’m sorry when I came to your poetry reading, I sat right at the front, where it got so hot I had to take my puffa parka coat off.
I’m sorry I came to your poetry reading, dressed in a neon green novelty Christmas jumper complete with baubles, tinsel and flashing lights.