Beir Bua Press Nominations for The Pushcart Prize 2023 – READ THE POEMS

The list of nominations is here.

(Smilax australis family Smilacaceae. Native Sarsaparilla.)
Shrunken Spanish olives, with green snuck in out of place. Dented aniseed balls to blacken tongue and teeth, but no teeth-chippers here; rather, they sedate and anti-spasm. Drying red wine grapes, or they could just be currants. Or Pluto-blue balls on a Mars-brown bramble. A rosie ring. A star attenuation. A pronged spiral. We all hold hands. Or black-capped synchronised swimmers as non-drupaceous vivacious. Funereal black becoming cocktail-hour frock. Communities, classes in their holding-together via vine stem, and string or leg-arm spiral-hold. Their pond-lily leaf pontoons, mother-ships – always accessed and ring-string anchored alongside circular-stemmed, airy-spinning dervish-dancing altering favourably the course of any ailing. Restoring. Restoring. 

This poem was published in the below collection and was nominated for a Pushcart Prize.



Apology to My Mother

Every time we fight 
you sweep up the glass, rehang
certificates to prove
I am not mould or dust. 

I hate that you love me as much when I blister as 
when I melt to wax and dark and sad as 
when I am a star scorching the night to ash. 
I hate that last week I hit myself 
over the head 
with a torch and afterwards you
held me like a precious, precious stone.

I hate that I am happy, mostly, and 
cruel. I hate that I nearly Cluedo-ed
myself in the bedroom; that when
I punched that sick, seething organ
I was punching something that
once dreamt inside you.

You say I want to be punished
like a Victorian. When things get
loud I cover my ears and think
of death till the sense fuses.
When the concussion-fuzz
fades I kiss my brain at
all its broken corners.

The word odd burns at the
splinter-edge of vision.

The Most Natural Thing In The World by Desmond Traynor
When I was eighteen, during a summer spent working as a bus conductor while waiting on Leaving Certificate results, I thought I’d got my then girlfriend pregnant. Through a warm, endless July, she crept from two to three to four weeks ‘late’. Finally, one evening, a phone call came with the good news that she was happily surfing the crimson wave, and there was great relief all around. It must have just been prolonged exam stress, we agreed. But the strange thing is, while obviously not quite ready to be a father then, I have never really been as open to the possibility of parenthood since. During the extended period of waiting for her period to arrive, we discussed what we might do if worse came to worst. She contemplated an abortion – a big deal in Ireland in 1979, even if she was, rather too neatly symbolically, nine months older than me, and already in college; as was, if you can believe it, the very fact of having premarital teenage sex itself – while I was prepared to abandon all immediate plans for further studies and instead get a job to support her and our offspring. Never such innocence, or foolhardiness, again. It must have been Love.

Throughout my twenties, I hardly ever gave much thought to reproduction, unless it was as to how to forestall it. Of course, there were girlfriends, but I was never with anyone with the underlying agenda of ‘getting married, settling down and having a family’ (or any combination thereof).


Barricades of Pain

I wandered into a cannonade of nations.
I saw lamps of democracy and wings of liberty.
I saw a crown, a cross, and a spear.
There was Hellenic delight and anarchist passion.
There were Christs, boy-priests, and soldiers.
The children of kings remained 
shamed and dissonant,
like the wildest oranges retreating
before the memory of snow.

God knows how far the spray 
of the holy bloody sun
will overhang the flowers of Genoa,
God knows how long each bright bird 
will sound a discreet cry of dull woe.
A blossom moon fills inviolate rights 
with waves of terror.
Narcissi drown in a bay
of treacherous mirrors.
The curved green weeks cannot save
the bitter sea.

They have slain the soul of my brother,
they have robbed his young mind.
His eyes roar and rage
but the hour of his reign has passed.
What has been written
has burned and died.

BRITISH P(oe)Ms by Dave Drayton

Winston Leonard Spencer Churchill
1940 – 1945 / 1951 – 1955

To the House I present blood, toil, tears and sweat. 

We will encounter a horrid ordeal.

What are our policies? To pursue war on sea, land and air, with all our sinew and the wellies the lord presents us: to pursue war with a swollen terror, unsurpassed in the pitch, wretched cache that lists our sins. These are our policies.

What is our aim? I can answer in two words: To win, to win at all costs, to win despite all terror, to win, no concern how spread out and hard the road is, as without the win there is no Us.

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