We are delighted to announce the winners of the Boyle Arts Festival Poetry Competition for 2016.
1st Prize Breda Spaight : The Suitcase
Highly Commended: Gavan Duffy : Consolations
John Harris : LISP Procedure
Commended: Amanda Bell : Dreaming
Jackie Gorman : The Nest
The Suitcase by Breda Spaight
By now, I’m a collector of secrets.
I seek mute corners,
sift dream from the half-remembered,
meaning from the half-known-
staccato night whispers in the kitchen,
the long silence. Bone-white elbow tip, all that’s seen of my father’s
arm under my mother’s skirt in the orchard that sunny day, her toes
clenching grass, the shudder in her voice, nettle-sting shock
ripping between my legs.
I move silently against the scent of their bedroom,
against white light soaked from the sheets
stretched skin-tight, the black suitcase
beneath the bed; the lining, blood-red as blood, dotted with dot-size,
white stars, carnival in scale,
my mother’s old dresses- blues, greens, pinks, black & white stripes, vital
shades in a magician’s trick.
I covet them,
as though knowing the burn of a man’s hand
on a body that looms in me, one I recognise in slim belted shapes
I drag from her raw self, a girl who flirted, jived,
her dress the flared bloom of a foxglove, her core signalling its want for
me in her womb,
not knowing that in giving me life, I will seize everything
time after time.
Consolations by Gavan Duffy
There are fresh cuts on my fathers fingers,
we watch them burrow under
and lift a slice of apple pie,
the pastry tears where the knife failed to reach.
He rolls it into a sloppy cone, bites away
its harmless point
He seems to forget then,
the remainder still in his hand.
His lips stop moving,
his eyes seem puzzled
by the empty space they view.
This time we are old enough
to offer consolations,
my mother has briefed us,
but still no one says a word.
We had barely known his sister,
I remember her shyness,
how she greeted us by raising her arm
and wriggling her fingers,
as if she were hoping
to hide behind her own hand.
The seconds fall and gather,
like coins counted into a bag.
I wonder what my father remembers,
wonder is he craving the past?
I try to read his face,
like as a young child
I put stories to the pictures
on the covers of his books.
But find instead I look more
to my mother who waits behind him,
one hand on the back of his chair,
the index finger of the other
pressed to her lips,
like a pen left on the page,
to cover what it has just written.
LISP Procedure by John Harris
Each statement, you know,
Consists of Procedure plus Argument.
Procedures do anything you tell them
Arguments get things done to them.
I am a Procedure
Long and slinky and razor-current fast.
Here I come weaving and flashing
Burrowing my way at the speed of light
Through mountains of binary digits
Squeezing confessions out of helpless Xs
I have made my peace with the powers-that-be
I am perfectly amenable, perfectly psychotic
I will, quite literally, do anything.
If so instructed, I will tear down
A hundred years of symbolic architecture
Mindlessly unthank every other Procedure
Of a named kind
Take away my first thoughts
Delete every millionth move I made.
I will search the serried ranks
For each red-headed recruit
Missing none, triggering no false alarms,
Darting up to each face
For a millionth of a second’s
Perfect photographic record-check.
If you are red-haired
I will pick you out
With a certainty backed up
By a one-thousand year errorless history.
I am never resisted:
The best of them when they see me coming
Bare their necks to my cutlass
If the whim is handed down to me
I will send every last one to the gas chamber.
My hand never shakes
And my nights are filled with dreamless rest.
I can remember everything I have done
Every single last thing done to me.
*Procedures are the basic entities in the programming language LISP
Dreaming by Amanda Bell
(after Hokusai’s Dream of the Fisherman’s Wife)
Beating the octopus against a rock
to tenderize its dense white flesh, he sees
the clustered suckers on its arms, and baulks
to contemplate the breadth of what it feels.
Onshore she dreams him diving deep for pearls,
lungs closed, eyes wide, hands combing through the weed
where oysters are concealed, their ridged shells curled
around each tiny iridescent seed.
The artist halts with blade in hand, to think
how images etched into wood with steel
will come to life where paper meets the inked
woodblock: his inner reveries revealed.
The dreamless sea embraces every grain
of sand- more salt than blood, wetter than rain
The Nest by Jackie Gorman
A nervous bird with a red pointed beak.
The moorhen nested near our house,
at the water’s sunlit edge.
In her nest, I saw my father’s death.
He died when the purple loosestrifes bloomed.
Among the mud and twigs, there was grey hair,
a red cardigan button, a black pen and
a brain haemorrhage.
A clot, the colour of a fire engine.
Cow parsley drowned in the clogged capillaries.
Shock, cold and thalo blue in colour,
bound to the heart.
The perfumed stench of impermanence
hangs over the forget-me-nots.