News and Updates

Get the latest information on events, competitions and bookings from Dromineer Literary Festival, County Tipperary, Ireland

Read the winning poems in the 2011 DLF Competition


Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Dromineer Literary Festival Competition Poems 2011

POETRY Competition was judged by Dermot Healy

1st Yoga Class by Liza Costello from Dublin 

Yoga class

 

Nine people stand before one

whose clothes are the colour

of a child’s crayon sun.

 

Outside, a cyclist skis by,

through collapsing rain.

Hands flash naked and white.

 

It’s week eight. We are old hands by now.

Without words, we salute the long set sun,

turn ourselves into cobras, bridges, ploughs.

 

Outside, street lamps ping awake.

One by one they make the yellow

circulatory system of the dark.

 

He just watches, walks around,

presses his hand against someone’s back,

moves a foot two inches farther out. 

 

‘Come into shivasana,’ he says. Corpse pose.

Where blood buzzes fast and warm.   

Machine gun rain against ceiling windows.

 

Afterwards, shoe-lacing chat.

Will the weather break for the weekend?

The pain of Thursday evening traffic.

 

The man on the television later that night

lies face down on the pavement.

Above his head, a badly drawn heart.

 

 

2nd Meeting Himself Coming Back by James Martyn from Galway

Meeting Himself Coming Back

 

Coming back, having failed to buy books

in a strange part of a stranger town,

Furey turned a corner and met himself.

He recognised himself immediately,

easing by on the narrow footpath, music

from a pub making his alter-ego look away.

 

But it was himself: the same slow gait,

eyes cast down but not humble,

the wicked click in his left knee,

that unmistakable froth of wispy hair.

Of course the clothes were different,

he never would have worn such a suit:

a broad pinstripe and the tie smacked

of some club, a repeated golf-ball motif

with a Latin text above a waving flag.

He thought the overcoat unnecessary,

never having owned one himself, but

they would have agreed on the shoes,

and the briefcase would have fitted-in

anywhere Furey would have gone

if he could have afforded it.

 

When their knuckles touched

on the narrow path,

he heard his other-self exhale,

a spasm almost in the quick release,

a groan of something lost or worn down,

and when he turned, his shadow

seemed to shimmer for a moment

under a burden they both could feel,

Furey’s lifting as his footsteps lightened

and he turned away.

 

3rd The Grip of the Dead by Paul McMahon from Sligo

 The Grip of the Dead

A man's hand washed up on Strandhill beach, I heard

through the grapevine. An hour later I was suddenly walking along

the shoreline where the tide brought it in, trying to understand why

I felt like the sky had broken and the sun had become a trumpet

of darkness and I longed to run into the waves.

 

The hand had resisted the liquid, dreaming void of the sea,

clutching the tide-rocked peddles; the lullaby

of the tide’s to-and-fro couldn’t macerate

those driftwood-fingers into the sleepless vacuum

of the deep’s sombre hunger. The playful laughter

of the tidal-lines is a tumbling moon-netted mockery

to our invention of the Gods. Born on land with lungs,

a full-grown man struggling in aquatic depths,

a Darwinian impulse for gills kicking into his genes,

an amphibian’s antonym summated to a severed

fingered dorsal, stranded just beyond the tide’s reach.

 

The shoals of mackerel run on, their blue

Atlantic conspiratorial markings a moving window

of blinding Venetian scomber, a fool’s gold gleam

of the shooting star he declined to wish upon;

their fluttering tiger marks – the wings of the bird

he once caught indoors and set free without pleading

for the return of the one that got away.

 

Suddenly I realize why I'm here – guilt hauntingly

comes into being, like a shoal of one's own tormented fish,

within the bottomless ocean of the mind: I pried open

 

the shuttered chain-gang slats of the mackerel shoal

to see the drowning man’s vaulted story but they turned                              

inside me and vanished into my own vast emptiness, leaving

one sinking hand reaching out from the hollow dark,                                       

a flare of lost memory grasping to be remembered,

a mute yearning sensed too late to clutch,

an infant-call still gilled in its mother’s core,

 

the tiny unknown hand I had naively let go of

in the endless ocean of the womb.