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Seanín Hughes



the poet

Seanín was first published on Poethead and featured on the inaugural Poetry Jukebox, based at the Crescent Arts Centre in Belfast, in 2017. Her work has been published widely online and in print – everywhere from Banshee and The Stinging Fly to Abridged. Seanín was shortlisted for the 2018 Seamus Heaney Award for New Writing, and published her debut chapbook, Little Deaths, with Smithereens Press in 2019. She's currently studying literature at University of Ulster and working on her first full collection.

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the poems

I Want You To Know
That You Are Alive

00:00 / 01:43

The natural law is that sometimes,
this must hurt. You will find yourself
hurled headlong into a mound of salt,
skin raw, inside out. And you will know, then,
what it means to be the wound—

what it means to learn how to breathe 
through it all. 
Know that it is a bravery to live
at full capacity; fill each lung
with equal measure of dark and light.

Drink every cup dry.

Know that nothing is ordinary,
and all things are temporary—
we can never outrun this bittersweet truth.

But here’s the secret: we can stop, 
for a moment, and taste it,
unafraid of the sting. It’s easier
when you know it’s coming;
when you lean into the fall, go limp,
and let the cushion of your knowing
absorb the impact. You will heal
again and again, until.

You will.

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The Long Bones

00:00 / 01:15

Bring to us your blackest dog, 
your tightrope mania, your voices and visions;
lay them on the table lengthways. 
We'll measure your madness, 
convert it to voltage. Be still. 
Bite down. Listen 
when we tell you, we’ve come a long way 
from fractured femurs, cracked vertebrae.

Here. This holds the chemistry 
to heavyweight your limbs from within; 
no restraint necessary. Bite down, now.
Be a good girl. Slight risk of trauma 
to teeth or tongue while you sleep, 
but we promise, this will eat the pain. 
Yes— on waking, you may forget 
your name, the year, or 
how you came to be here—
but your bones will remain intact. 
They’ll hold you together safely
until the world comes back.

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The Birds Are Silent

00:00 / 00:45

& then the lights go up to reveal 
it all— the beat of fist-deep purple 
in every chest a tremolo,
each knot of bone wet with blood,
bodies upon bodies sharing 
the same wild shake,
a writhe of hot molecules. We know 
the truth now on this godless tilted spin 
around the sun, dancing ourselves 
into frenzied circles:
the end is here, and all the birds 
are silent. 

Publishing credits

All poems: exclusive first publication by iamb

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