Olive Broderick: New Wave Canute & Hunting Unicorns


New Wave Canute

He says that money is no object

and all the breached defences

can be rebuilt immediately.


He is not on the seashore

running into a monstrous wind

with laughing children who


are pushed back by a gale

that causes grown-ups to doubt

their ability to stay upright.


He is not taking tea in the kitchen

with a woman who is glad

she still has electricity.


But it’s hardly ideal’ she says

as the toxic water laps at the ankles

of her wellington boots.


He is speaking from a dry location.

Not a hair out of place, and nothing,

thus far, has shaken his belief


in this force called money

that he can wield in the face

of weather systems:


that can hold at bay

every destructive thing,

should he so wish.


Hunting Unicorns

Hear the song of the arctic flood.

Look for them, a pod of narwhals

tusks raised in the open water,

before they submerge again

to places least known in the universe.


Mostly imaginary creatures

these sea unicorns, whose

appearance is a gift, whose

lives are a mystery – who

surely have magical properties.

An unfathomable defence against death

– is that what magic is?


You may see them

in your mind’s eye, in stories,

in photographs by determined

explorers who always speak

about the wonder of the experience,

the sense that all is well –

or even better than expected.


All of that is held in those rare sightings;

nothing more. They move on.


Their tusks, in reality, are teeth

and hollow as horns that

may, in fact, serve to amplify

the music they bring to their cold oceans.

But coming to a point – slender as a bayonet –

sharp like every archetypal spear,

they speak of enemy.

The world is a dangerous place

if you carry a gun.



Originally from Youghal, Co. Cork, Olive Broderick travelled to Northern Ireland to undertake the Creative Writing MA at Queen’s University Belfast, setting in Downpatrick in 2003. In 2009, she was one of the Poetry Introduction series readers and won a Henessy X.O. Literary Award, Emerging Poetry Category for the same year. Her first publication – pamphlet ‘Darkhaired’ (Templar Poetry, 2010) was shortlisted for the Michael Marks Award for Poetry Pamphlets. She acknowledges the support of the Arts Council of Northern Ireland 2010/2011. More recently, her work has appeared in the FourXFour Poetry Journal and HU.
She has also been involved in a number of verbal/visual projects including ‘Crash’ postcard series by Abridged, ‘Products of Perception’ exhibition, part of the Belfast Book Festival and a range of collaborations as part of Castle Ward Arts and Crafts collective. She hosts a monthly writer’s group at the National Trust Castle Ward property, Co. Down.

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