Liz Houchin

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the poet

Liz Houchin lives in Dublin and holds an MA in Creative Writing from its University College. Her first chapbook, Anatomy of a Honey girl, was published in 2021, and she was recently awarded a bursary from the Arts Council of Ireland to support the completion of her debut collection. Liz's work has appeared in Banshee, Journal.ie, RTE, Visual Verse and several anthologies. Her poems have also been shortlisted in the Fish Poetry Prize, Bridport Prize for Poetry, and the Fool for Poetry International Chapbook Competition.

the poems

Beauty and the Beech

00:00 / 01:22
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            I knew what they were saying

            behind handfuls of confetti

            under hatfuls of flowers

                                                ‘there she goes marrying a tree’


            silly girl and her silent knight

            taciturn and towering over

            callow pea-green saplings

                                                ‘in a sludge brown suit in June!’


            who dared speak as one vow

            cartwheeled down the aisle

            one murmured on the breeze

                                                ‘I’d say he’s some barrel of laughs’


            the band played and I twirled

            gazing at my spotting point

            as they raised a mocking glass

                                                ‘let’s toast beauty and the beech!’


                      but the day gave way to crickets and stars

                                 my dress lay puddled on the forest floor

                                             and my ear pressed to his rippled trunk

                                                         heard sparklers and peonies and pearls.

It’s snowing in Omaha

00:00 / 00:31
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            He said, when I asked

            for a table inside

            and I tightened

            like a good sweater in a hot wash


            It’s only a sweater, he said,

            as I unwound it

            from a pair of tracksuit bottoms

            and pulled it

            in every direction

            away from its heart

cast off

00:00 / 01:33
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            When we cast on, years ago, knitting our love sweater

            we followed our own pattern, starting with a slipknot

            new needles click-clacking as we found our rhythm

            uneven at first, our threads pulled a little tight in places
            —but too fine a gauge to worry about strangulation—

            we counted stitches in twos, like heartbeats, watching

            lines of plain settle smooth into our unthinking centre


            a u t o m a t e d l o v e l i v e s

            m a c h i n e d m o n o t o n y

            p e r f e c t p a r a l l e l p a i r


            But there it was: a peephole, there, in line seventeen.

            Who was counting after all this time? Me, I never stopped.

            I wonder if you had already noticed the dropped stitch,

            untethered, a loose loop ready to unravel us all the way

            and perhaps you let it drop to allow some other’s light

            illuminate your exit while I fumbled with a crochet hook

            to ladder us back up again, to make us look like new.

Publishing credits

Beauty and the Beech / cast off: Anatomy of a Honey girl

  (Southword Editions)

It's snowing in Omaha: exclusive first publication by iamb