‘Dublin Puzzle’ by Aoife Lyall

Dublin Puzzle

The porous bag sliced through.
Sediment gathered in the corners.
We upend the pieces into the lid and bottom.
We shift through them, panning for edges, corners.

We kneel on the green felt kings use to play chess and
peer at each piece; inscrutable, divine, mysterious.
The gradations, lines, shadings, out of place –
the edges connect, the real work begins.

Some pieces fit easily, naturally,
matching colours, patterns, cross-hatchings,
letters, body parts, shapes: others
we come back to again and again –

resurfacing in the shoggled box like a guilty secret,
a prick of conscience, a broken promise –
a piece of cloud, a shadow, a joining piece –
rotated, beleaguered, threatened, coaxed.

It refuses to fit in any one place but its place.
It niggles, annoys, frustrates, creates
false hope of victory, until –
suddenly it clicks – that little cloud,

that shadow – there, there, there!
It fits, slips in among the other shapes,
glides and drops, first time.
The shape, complete.

And now, finished, it lies ignored.
Now, accepted, it attracts no attention.
Now, in its place, all mystery lost

(published in Irish Times, 25th July, 2015)
Aoife Lyall is an Irish poet living in Scotland. Her work has appeared in the Irish times and The Poets’ Republic, and is forthcoming in The Stinging Fly and Northwords Now. Shortlisted for the Hennessy New Writing Award 2016, she is currently writing her first collection. Twitter @PoetLyall

Blog: Aoifelyall.wordpress.com

Two poems by Eileen Sheehan

My Father, Long Dead

My father, long dead,
has become air

Become scent
of pipe smoke, of turf smoke, of resin

Become light
and shade on the river

Become foxglove,
buttercup, tree bark

Become corncrake
lost from the meadow

Become silence,
places of calm

Become badger at dusk,
deer in the thicket

Become grass
on the road to the castle

Become mist
on the turret

Become dark-haired hero in a story
written by a dark-haired child
(first published in The Irish Times (poetry editor Gerard Smyth)

My father,
a most gentle man,

fed the leavings of the table
to nesting crows
that screamed and whirled
in a nearby stand of trees.

From a branch of sycamore
that overhung
his newly-planted drills,
he suspended
by its gnarled legs
one dead crow;

for weeks
the wind-jigged carcass
swung there
in a crazy parody of flight.

My father,
a most gentle man,

appeasing the dark gods,
their appetite
for sustenance,
for blood.
(from Song of the Midnight Fox , Doghouse Books)
Eileen Sheehan lives in Killarney, Co Kerry. Her collections are Song of the Midnight Fox and Down the Sunlit Hall (Doghouse Books). Anthology publications include The Poetry of Sex (Ed Sophie Hannah/ Penguin/ Viking); The Watchful Heart: A New Generation of Irish Poets (Ed Joan McBreen/Salmon Poetry), and TEXT: A Transition Year English Reader (Ed Niall MacMonagle/ Celtic Press). She has worked as Poet in Residence with Limerick County Council Arts Office and is on the organizing committee for Éigse Michael Hartnett Literary and Arts Festival. Her third collection, The Narrow Place of Souls, is forthcoming.

Two poems by Eleanor Hooker


She visited again last night, no pike this time.
She was singing too. Her song is the sound of a heavy body
Dragging itself, deadly, up the stairs. Her malady
not too dissimilar to that thud-thump heartbeat
In my ears. She brought mirrors into my mind
and in my mind she filled the mirrors with crows,
huge-beaked, hungry crows. That fed. And though
I couldn’t move, I kept my eyes open,
I wasn’t frightened; I knew sooner or later I’d wake,
And she would have to leave with her mirrors and her crows,
Leaving my pulse behind.
(first published in the Celtic Mists edition of Agenda, Summer 2012)
i.m. Michael Hartnett

And just because the stand of oaks was blind
she gave them eyes; iridescent glow stones
from fathomless seas. And once inclined
to hold the sky with seasoned hands grown
out of touch, they cupped the light, dappled
it for shadows and for shade. Now in sight
of things they know the shape of, they grapple
with her lonesome walks on moonless nights.
They whisper to each other, even the sky is alone tonight.
She presses her eyes to their eyes and inside their world
she finds you there, naked surgeon, a light
by your well, your body unfurled
as the stars flow through you, to trace
your hopeful song, so music is heard in space.
(first published in the Irish Times newspaper, February 16 2013)
Eleanor Hooker‘s debut collection of poetry The Shadow Owner’s Companion was published by Dedalus Press, February 1 2012. Eleanor Hooker was selected for the Poetry Ireland Introductions Series in 2011. Her poetry has been published in journals in Ireland, the UK and in Germany. She is a founding member, Vice-Chairperson and PRO for the Dromineer Literary Festival. She is a helm and Press Officer for the Lough Derg RNLI Lifeboat. She began her career as a nurse and midwife.