Victoria Kennefick

the poet

Victoria Kennefick is a writer, poet and teacher based in Co. Kerry, Ireland, and co-host of the Unlaunched Books podcast. Her pamphlet White Whale won the Munster Literature Centre Fool for Poetry Chapbook Competition, as well as the Saboteur Award for Best Poetry Pamphlet. Her poetry has appeared in Poetry Magazine, The Poetry Review, Poetry Ireland Review, Ambit, The Stinging Fly and several other publications. Victoria was awarded a Fulbright Scholarship to research at Emory University and GCSU in Georgia, and completed her PhD in English at University College Cork.

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the poems

Cork Schoolgirl Considers the GPO, Dublin 2016

00:00 / 01:16

I am standing outside the GPO
in my school uniform, which isn’t ideal.

My uniform is the colour of bull’s blood.

In this year, I am sixteen a pleasing symmetry 
because I love history, have I told you that?

It is mine so I carry it in my rucksack.

I love all the men of history sacrificing 
themselves for Ireland, for me, these rebel Jesuses.

I put my finger in the building’s bullet holes;

poke around in its wounds.
I wonder if they feel it,

those boys,

I hope they do, their blooming faces 
pressed flat in the pages of my books.

I lick the wall as if it were a stamp,

it tastes of bones, this smelly city, 
of those boys in uniform,

theirs bloody too. I put my lips

to the pillar. I want to kiss them all. And
I do, I kiss all those boys goodbye.

January

00:00 / 00:42

I have begun the purge.
Month of hunger,
raindrops fall
from window sills, ice
slithers in puddles,
the smoky breath of animals
greets the air. Morning’s back
already broken, veins
obvious on everything.
Emptying myself
of all things ripe
and wanton, I am winter grass.
Observe me survive
as earth’s shoulder blades
that jut, cut up the sky
that pushes down on all of us
as if it wants to die.
See, I am transparent
as sunrise.
Starving, I count
my bones as valuable.

Family Planning

00:00 / 01:18

You are tugging at my skirt, aged two,
wanting a toy, a spoon from the drawer.

You are a few months old, just able 
to hold your big old baby head up on that teensy neck.

It is your birthday. I am sweating and empty and you are 
greasy-white with vernix, rising and falling with my breath.

I survived and you did too, your father is crying.
We are a little family, neat as a pin. Except

you are still waiting, Portia or Lucia or May
in parts. I carry a tiny piece I secrete

so secretly each month, you grow impatient when water 
turns that warm and brilliant shade. It is alive

while you are not. Daughter-to-be, if you could form 
your hands into little fists you would bang on my womb,

that carpet-lined waiting room, but your father has your fingers
and I have wrapped up your nails so you can’t rip me to ribbons.

We keep you apart, even as we come together, but I hear 
him whisper your name, soft as blame in his sleep.

Publishing credits

Cork Schoolgirl Considers the GPO, Dublin 2016:

  Poetry Ireland Review (Issue 118)

January: The Poetry Review (Winter 2019)

Family Planning: bath magg (Issue 3)

© original authors 2020

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