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
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
self and try to shake
loose what you’ve become
whenever you look
and lie down ready.
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
Phil Lynch – Overheard by Trees
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
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.
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.
one day, their saw ripping through
the heartwood to burn it, thus freeing
long seasons of carbon - my breath,
when the tree's blossom petals will shower
never more in the breezes of spring.
Lianne O’Hara – On the Steps of Hugh Lane
a woman, single
handedly rocking a pram pulls
harder on her cigarette
when she answers the phone
next to the image of a girl
who never waits for traffic lights
will ye hurry up, ye fuckn –
tapping feet on steps, fingers
on phone, her limbs move
too quick for the careless stroll
of the figure in the light box but
match the pace with which she blows
thick sighs of smoke at the memorial
garden while another, with stick legs
and a blonde ponytail
is counting coins, laying them out
on the roof of the pram; alright baby,
she says, we are almost there.
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.
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 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!