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Doreen Duffy

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the poet

Doreen Duffy, MA Creative Writing DCU, studied creative writing and poetry at the National University of Ireland, Maynooth, University College Dublin, and online with the University of Oxford. Her work has appeared in many publications – among them, Poetry Ireland Review, Washing Windows Too, Arlen House, The Galway Review, The Irish Times and Germany's Beyond Words Literary Magazine. Doreen won The Jonathan Swift Award, and was presented with The Deirdre Purcell Cup at the Maria Edgeworth Literary Festival.

the poems

An Altered Landscape

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                                    They changed the flow

                                    of traffic along the quays

                                    we were seventeen

                                    Bernie Phelan got in a car

                                    with Rasher Mullen

                                    full of the joys of life

                                    We could see her throwing

                                    her head back gurgling, laughing

                                    but he forgot

                                    and drove the wrong way

                                    We could see her head being

                                    flung back

                                    her throat gurgling

                                    Someone made the journey

                                    to our house

                                    to tell us

                                    because we had no phone,

                                    back then

                                    Two days later

                                    we made the trek

                                    to her funeral in Bawnogue

                                    A flat piece of grass

                                    where people dance

                                    that’s what Bawnogue means

                                    But there was no dancing that day

                                    We climbed the fence

                                    and crossed the fields

                                    bundles of poppies

                                    splats of red

                                    where the diggers

                                    had thrown them aside

                                    four of us girls

                                    all silent,

                                    when we were never quiet


                                    They’ve cut the road

                                    straight through there now

                                    so I can hardly remember

                                    the long walk

                                    through the fields of grass

                                    or even where they were

                                    but I remember how

                                    she danced

                                    the night before,

                                    spinning and turning

                                    until

                                    the memory’s a blur

How to press a rose

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                        I Google ‘How to press a flower’

                        a sunflower fills the screen


                        This star-shaped flower

                        petals spread like an open hand

                        bring me back to the image on the news

                        fingers immersed in dust grasp

                        and scrape among the rubble

                        for someone’s wife, a child, a mother


                        ‘How to press a flower’

                        ‘Pick all the petals off,

                        lay them out face down

                        like soldiers,’


                        The TV continues to spatter

                        dystopian scenes of the darkest opera

                        the barbarity of its sole composer

                        buried in every image


                        I leave the room to breathe

                        when I return

                        framed behind the glass

                        this city, this country in black and white

                        women and children walking towards borders

                        a hollow caustic scene

                        The thorns that remain clutched tight

                        cause my skin to bleed, the people I see, become my own


                        My mother walks across the screen

                        Her knotted hand clutches her scarf

                        her bewildered eyes searching

                        My child muffled in her warmest coat

                        the skin of the rose in my hand her velvet collar

                        Her feet sweep through all our photos and memories

                        littered on our floor

                        My son, eighteen yesterday, clutches her to him

                        just once

                        And then, he turns to me, his eyes already reflect the fight

                        seventeen years evaporate

                        he goes to join the other teenage boys

                        teenage boys with kissing mouths

                        drawn into hard lines

                        A dog that doesn’t understand

                        Why his human boards the train

                        And leaves him there alone

                        Strains on the rope that keeps him there


                        There is lace over the trees over the screen

                        billows of smoke over a hidden thing

                        Slanted rain washes birds from the sky

                        their screams a painful slide on a guitar string

                        A flame shoots across the sky

                        at a hundred beats a minute

                        A coin flicks in the air

                        it spins and all eyes below roll

                        A cluster of clouds in the sky

                        form a star


                        My red rose

                        has turned brown

                        the petals curl away

                        the stem still strong

                        holds its heavy head

                        weeping,

                        the colour drains away

Gypsy Moth

00:00 / 01:01
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                                    In this November

                                    night sky

                                    tucked in the corner

                                    of a window

                                    in the radiology room

                                    a fully winged

                                    flightless moth is trapped

                                    She tries

                                    to vibrate her wings to fly

                                    The blue gowned child

                                    watches from the bed

                                    death still

                                    She waits

                                    The silence is frightening

                                    waiting for the sound

                                    is worse

                                    Cut between

                                    slats of MRI slices

                                    she isn’t here anymore

                                    Beneath celestial moonlight

                                    the pull too great

                                    she plummets into a

                                    spiral flightpath

                                    until

                                    radiant she touches

                                    the source of this light

                                    the energy of the sun

                                    and like the moth

                                    she has gone

Publishing credits

An Altered Landscape: Poetry Ireland Review

  (Issue 129, Ed. Eavan Boland)

How to Press a Rose: Live Encounters 13th Anniversary

  Edition 2010-2022 (Live Encounters)

Gypsy Moth: exclusive first publication by iamb

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