When a bad shot sent the ball into her front garden
Callous Alice came running out
with a big knife out of an ‘80s slasher film,
a knife that was both a blade
and a wicked, stainless steel smile.
We’d watch her gleefully cut the ball open,
slice our games to tragic ends.
It was a quality meant for young love,
that eagerness, that zealousness of hers,
her dressing gown often cape-like behind her.
There were rumours going about, too,
that Callous Alice had been leaving out poison
for all the curious cats in the neighbourhood.
Too many were inexplicably vanishing.
Everyone believed she was guilty.
Back then none of us would have been surprised
to see Callous Alice on the news, to learn
she was guilty of a series of grisly murders.
We’d seen her ecstasy opening up a football
and knew enough to name this evil.
Poem for a Tree
“There were one too many poems about trees,
leaves and the changing of seasons…”
– Róisín Kelly, note from a review of The Rain on Cruise’s Street
There’s a reviewer in the near future
advising against this.
I can sense her there, sitting at her desk,
her head shaking at the title
while the light of confused weather
comes through the window.
Against her better judgement, though,
the words on keep leaving my pen
and falling autumnally
onto the page, itself
once a tree, now playing
the ironic role of preservation.
The particular tree has suffered.
Since the years of my childhood
and today, still, it suffers.
It always tilted enough
to be easily climbed and this moment,
as a result of our games,
it is close as can be to horizontal.
We tied many rope swings out of it
and, naturally, we spent those years
getting heavier, pulling it downwards
with our bulks, yet – near impossibly –
it keeps on going, keeps on being a tree,
it’s stoicism equally
a comic and tragic sight,
with never the slightest temptation in it
to give an undeserved inch to gravity.
Here in the present, I understand
that there are small yet significant guilts
that etch their names beneath the skin,
and that the braille of them
tells the body to tell memory
that their healing needs the right salve,
and so I must ignore
said reviewer’s disapproval,
remind myself this was never about trees
and leaves and the changing of seasons.
Edward O’Dwyer, from Limerick, has poetry published in magazines and anthologies throughout the world, such as The Forward Book of Poetry, Poetry Ireland Review, The Manchester Review, A Hudson View Poetry Digest, The Houston Literary Review, and many others. His debut collection, The Rain on Cruise’s Street (2014), is published by Salmon Poetry, from which the follow-up is due early 2017. He is an editor for Revival Press, a community publishing house in Limerick. He was selected in 2010 by Poetry Ireland for their Introduction Series. He has been shortlisted for a Hennessy Award, the Desmond O’Grady Prize and the North West Words Prize, among others. His work has been nominated for Forward, Pushcart, and Best of the Web prizes and is translated into Slovene and Romanian.