Shortlisted in Haibun Award

I found out that I was shortlisted in a haibun award. I got an honourable mention in the Genjuan International Haibun Competition 2021. This is quite a prestigious award.

Haibun is a combination of prose and haiku or tanka. You can check out the details of the award here https://hailhaiku.wordpress.com/

The haibun is called Village Clean Up and it will appear in The Haibun Journal in due course.

6 poems in Green Carnations anthology

Queer Writers of Ireland published an anthology of poems called Green Carnations. In Oscar Wilde’s time gay men sometimes wore carnations died green to indicate that they were gay. It is an honour to get so many poems published in one anthology. Well done to the editor John Ennis for editing and publishing the anthology. Unfortunately the anthology is not available online but you can read the poems here.

You can follow Queer Writers of Ireland here https://www.facebook.com/QueerWritersofIreland/

Jogging in the Sun

In this ice-cream weather
my shoes hit the ground,
feels like they are running under me.
Lampposts in a row move slowly.

My tongue is a dry field, 
skin tingles as sweat covers my forehead.
Fear bubbles up in me. A jumble of worries 
comes to mind. I keep this rhythm up, 
release each thought with the pounding.

I take a sip from my bottle,
the magic of water
cools me from within.

This day all things are right
and in there proper order.
The sweats dries away as the sun beats on,
sparks flash on passing cars 
and the traffic sings. My thirst slackens.
I feel the glitter of hope as I run home.

Count Day

I drove a cute guy home.
I hoped he and I could start dating,
nothing happened. Near his house there was a church
with girls and boys in their holy communion dresses.
The snow of their clothes filled the estate.

I was exhausted and went home
In bed alone I slept fitfully for a few hours
remembering the white ballots spilling from the boxes,
the buzz of counting, trying not to miss a single tally.

I woke to hear the official result
and was too exhausted to even care.
Four months of solid canvassing.

Later that day I made it into Dublin Castle,
the nerve centre of celebration.
People were dancing on the streets,
laughing, crying, and singing.
My heart swelled with pride.

A man stood there, with his placard
demanding that gay people repent 
and live a life according to the Bible.
A crowd surrounded him and chanted
“Love heals all.” He ran away.

In a bar met a lady.
She thanked me for all my dead legs, bleeding toes.
She could not have stomached asking people
to allow her to marry her girlfriend. 

By night time I was with my friends
outside in the warm May night.
We lit white paper lanterns.
They floated up and away 
into the dark Dublin sky under the wooly clouds. 

Origami Skin

to Ryuichi Okamoto 

I

My Japanese boyfriend 
said my skin was like origami paper.
The pressure of his hand was a jolt of electricity, 
the frisson of skin on skin.
We held our tongues together,
shared semen on and in each other.
He wanted whiter skin.
I wanted different hair,
to change my skin to a darker shade.

II

In Japan I learned to slur the ‘l’s and ‘r’s.
I picked out words from the streets signs,
round my mouth to say them right,
‘exit’, ‘entrance’, ‘up’ and ‘down’.
I appreciated the sheen on a lacquer screen,
admired a traditional tea cup,
held a fan the right way.
I knew the local ways
and yet there was still a gap.

III

I missed the umbilical cord 
to my motherland,
so loose it could unravel.
I wrote home,
felt the pressure of the pen 
marking its message.
I folded the letter and posted it,
asking them to send news,
and without using its name
to spell out love.

St. Stephens Day

I meet my childhood friends in Charlie Mac’s Bar.
We exchange polite gestures.
I stand at the edge of the circle a little crowded out.
We talk of the latest match, who is engaged,
and the price of houses.
I am unanchored here.
Whether I would return here, break up with my boyfriend,
or settle down is simply beyond them.
I am a tourist in my own town.
I will find my family is elsewhere among those whom I do belong. 

The Pressures of Love

for Ishmael Marquez

And then you and I slept naked.
Your chest against my back,
the hairs electrifying me,
your heat came into my body.
You played with my earlobe,
slid your arm under my arm
and stoked one of my shoulders,
drew your hand down my chest,
I felt your manhood against me.
There was no gap then.
I turned,
kept your look
and the pressure of your body on mine.

The Rose Garden

We walked hand in hand though Inchicore
to the War Memorial Garden,
sunken beside the road.

The roses came up to our waste,
boxes and boxes arranged in a circle
divided by a central grass plane.

There was a stone wall and pillars,
a plaque said something like ‘remember’.
I recall your kisses, the way our lips met,

how we imprinted the grass with our bodies.
I placed my legs between yours
you held me in a tight embrace.

I smelled roses, cut grass 
and dandelions. No birds sang 
but they could have for all I knew. 

My heart soared, floated above
and I saw the pattern of love
criss-crossed in the paths.

2 poems published in Crossways

Two poems of mine have been published in Crossways issue 10. Unfortunately that is the last issue of Crossways. It was an honour to be included in that publication. The name of the poems are Night Drive and The Bridge.

Check out the link to the poems here. https://crosswayslit.com/1532-2/

You can read the poems here.

Night Drive

I set out and the full moon is in the sky.
The road curves suddenly turning in on itself,
a carpet of black with cat’s eyes.

The moonlight silences the sea, 
a ring of copper around torn clouds.
A town glitters against the bay
as mud sucks the water in.

My lights flash against another car
who flashes back, momentarily blinding me.
The dial moves up a number
and time stands away.

There is surprise in each corner
and yet the same darkness keeps up with me,
the same line of paint glowing.
The road unfolds as it does 
neither adding nor taking away.
Finally my mind is quiet.

The Bridge

The canal is quilted with brown leaves.
There are nine trees on the right bank, 
teasing towards nudity. My college days are over 
and the breakup of my friends is near.
I am left with the company of water, leaf, and tree.
I walk under the bridge and whistle to its stones
not wanting to return home and pack my bags.
A flock of swans fly over the bridge
their underbellies pure white,
they call in unison and settle in the rushes
far beyond my reach on the other bank.

Won the Ballyroan Library Poetry Prize

I found out that I won 2nd place in the Ballyroan Poetry Prize. Thanks to the organisers. Here’s the link and the poem below.

Aftermath

They knife their food in unison, scrape their plates.
She clears her throat and asks for the salt
a hard word from him falls onto the table.

He marches out around the garden,
pulls leaves off the shrubs, 
tests the hose, checks the lawnmower.

She pokes the fire, feeds kindling to the flames
and runs her finger down the tongs,
tension held in the clasped claws.

Link to the poem and the Ballyroan Poetry Prize Facebook page