07/04/22 15:07 - 01/03/23 00:00

South Dublin Libraries Poetry Competition 2022

South Dublin Libraries Poetry Competition Shortlist and Winners

The competition has now closed to submissions. We can happily announce the final winning order for this year's competition. We want to sincerely thank all those who entered, each year we have the unenviable task of choosing an order for them and this year was no exception. Please enjoy the entries below which the poets have kindly given us permission to share. 


Thomas Brezing – Others

Rachel Handley – Dear Daughter

Fingers curl around

our hearts like missing

bones which whistle as

I lie down ready.

Just enough time for

me to- no, you. For

you to eat seconds,

swift gulps, wide gum stare.

A kind of hello.

Your bones rattle,

mouth wide; a banshee

cry to say you’ve grown

and will grow. You, dear

daughter, crawl into

a temporary

self and try to shake

loose what you’ve become

whenever you look

and lie down ready.

Alison Hackett – Abstraction
Some had been child soldiers. Sent by their parents
from a bombed Beirut to an emergency boarding school
set up in a great house in England. I lure them
into my Euclidean geometry of triangles, circles inscribed,
tangents, chalky proofs running down the blackboard.
They love the explanations, logic is safer than treacherous
memory. Handwritten tests are rolled out on a drum,
purple ink smudging the paper, my fingerprints everywhere.

Because of a blurred number he scores 99% instead of
the hundred he deserves. Lifting up his chair he flings it
soaring over heads, clattering into the blackboard, beside
me. At weekends I supervise trips to town. They always
offer me sweets from the stash they buy by peeling
notes from the fat rolls of cash stuffed in their pockets. 

Phil Lynch – 
Overheard by Trees

Highly Commended

Caroline Bracken – Prayer for Dublin Delivery Drivers

You crisscross the city for UPS   DPD   FedEx
or drive clapped-out vans with flaking paint
no logos   dodgy hydraulics    seen-better-days upholstery.

May you roll on and off ferries as waves flow and ebb.
May the Port Tunnel never be shut and the Eastlink bridge
never be stuck open like a middle finger over the Liffey.

May your loading bays be many and unoccupied
your traffic lights be green and the road to Rosslare Europort
be free from black ice and rogue deer.

May every truck stop have freshly baked baguettes
a bathroom with a working lock and a shower without mildew.
May cyclists avoid your blind spot and boyos in BMWs

never overtake you on the inside. May your dreams
of Wyoming or Maine come true and your left arm
feel as much sun as your right.

May your fellow drivers warn you with flashing headlights
before checkpoints and may your tachograph-tampering
never be found out.

Angela Finn – A Sestina for Louisa

Beaumont Road. In the redbrick house

         Louisa dozes, Peadar reads the newspaper.

         On the mantle, cut-glass vase, honesty leaves

         cheeks pressed to chimney breast.

         In the hot-press, cotton shirts, handkerchiefs, bone

         stiff collars, scorched and folded white sheets.


         On Louisa’s burial day, rain falls in sheets.

They send me to a neighbour’s house

I strip the daughter’s doll, smooth bone

white china, bandage her in toilet paper,

mummify her, hold her to my breast

lay her on a bed of red and orange leaves.


November, trees lose leaves.

Ma’s sorrow is a shroud, an inky sheet,

milk weeps from her breast

walls thicken in our sad house,

voices brittle, parched paper.

Ma’s body turns to skin and bone


she pulls high boots over thigh bone

wet look, high heeled, red, leaves

lipstick smears on folded tissue paper,

smooths out Peadar’s cotton sheets

cleans and tidies up his house

cooks a single chicken breast.


Christmas Day, red robin feathered breast,

we pull apart forked wishbone

gather inside Peadar’s half-full house,

smell burning sweet tobacco leaves.

While outside ice sets in sheets,

the moon is white as blotting paper.


In Glasnevin cemetery, yellow paper

petals fall. A pigeon puffs her breast,

the Tolka is a milky green sheet.

They’ve gravelled over her flesh and bone

brushed aside twigs and leaves,

left flowers. Now, this is Louisa’s house.


Louisa, I lean against your breast, sing inside your house

lie on your smooth white sheet, weep when you leave

turn your paper skin to blossom, cough your collar bone.

Susan Flynn – Incorporated
When the last piece of cake is ingested
and you suck at the lemon drizzle
debris on teeth and lips,

I think of the furcate trunk
of an ancient apple tree
slowly consuming a horseshoe;

in width it is seven inches;
it must have shod a draught horse.
Someone suspended it where

I have watched it for thirty years
of blossom, fruit and leaf fall,
chewing, engulfing the metal

at the pace accorded to trees,
its gnarled bark bulging around
the shoe in a gourmand's embrace,

sequestered within for good luck.
The rusted iron margins still show.
I wonder will someone reveal it

one day, their saw ripping through
the heartwood to burn it, thus freeing
long seasons of carbon - my breath,

the horse's hot breath, and car fumes,
when the tree's blossom petals will shower
never more in the breezes of spring.

3rd Place

Lianne O’Hara – On the Steps of Hugh Lane

2nd Place

Lisa Perkins – Calling a Bear a Bear

On an evening where light dripped 

it’s honey flecked tail, we found one in the woods. 

Polar bear! Luke bellowed.

Loom scruff and marble-eyed, bear-like through a squint eye, 


Unmopped fizz of make-believe bubbled through the scrub 

of wool and shade. Fully committed to what seven year old 

eyes can see - you better believe I believed. A grown woman 

who still hears a roar from the back of every wardrobe.

I know this forest floor, alive with eyes, whispers soft as fleece.

The fidelity of nature a hymn, that drowns our tonsils clean.

I don’t know how a bear landed on the toes of the 

Dublin mountains. Or what angle it threw to capture a boy’s 

Arctic circle eye. But I thank the careless herder, be it dog, 

man or a body entirely fantastical for this slight of sunset 

gift, this gold for a child. 

1st Place

Alicia Byrne Keane – Dentist

I had forgotten how they tilt you;

clothes whisper, I feel almost upside-down.

I make a sea-floor of the glints, get dizzy.

Later I am outside at the bus stop, assured

the things I need are all happening in the future,

after the cases swell and crest.

There has been, will be, no pain today;

a nearly-motorway stretches incongruous.

A man beyond the traffic pauses at the wall

of a nearby green. A moment’s thought,

loose alertness in the knees. He jumps

four, five feet from a standstill, lands on narrow brick.

I’ll think it didn’t happen: his feet fixed

in their apartness, like there is a skateboard

beneath him. Like he has brought

some piece of the ground up into the air.

Thank you!

Thank you so much to all entrants, our judge Mark Ward, and Ballyroan Library for hosting our prize-giving. We are already looking forward to running Poetry Competition 2023!