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Gerry McCullough
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Gerry McCullough    award-winning Irish writer & poet


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Poems published in Fortnight magazine
[ Perception ] [ Dodging the breadline ] [ The Field in winter ]
[ Background music ] [ Darkley ] [ Raymond: At Islandhill ]

Perception

Accent? I thought I didn’t have one.
Casting for Gwendolyn years ago, at school.
"She wouldn’t speak like that, she’d sound more English.
You can play the maid, your voice would suit that better."

Accent? I thought I didn’t have one.
I come from round here,
That’s the way we speak.

Promotion time, the interview goes badly.
I answer well, but no-one thinks I’m suited.
Accent? I thought I didn’t have one.
Someone from England gets the job I wanted.
I come from Belfast,
That’s the way I speak.

The BBC rejected my best story.
"A strong subject, sensitively handled.
But far too many local words and phrases."

If I’d thought it meant so much, would I have changed it?
Accent? I thought I didn’t have one.
I’m an Irish writer,
This is how I speak.



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Dodging the breadline

From Central Station we flow across the road.
Beside the Waterfront a cold
Sun shadows the trees in the smooth
Courtyard, by the river Lagan.

Early morning, early April freshness.
Beside me the metal shepherd herds
His metal sheep.
Creeping like snail. But the schoolboy sees an ending.

Late already, I walk faster, driven and herded.
Going towards my job, my source of income,
Well-dressed and cool, on a glorious April morning,
Or to be more exact, going to be swallowed
By a cold and crushing Hellmouth sharp as shark,
Where bitter hard indifference leaves its mark.



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The Field in winter

Ugly naked old bodies
Stretching and shivering.
Mostly pines, pining for the Spring.
Ashes, too, not quite cremated
And sycamores earth-bound without their aeroplanes.
Quick, cover up the ugliness,
First with the delicate see-through green of April.
By the twelfth they’ll wear thick suits,
And sashes of concealment.



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Background music

Snowdrops and crocuses spring upright
And force the chilly cracking of a heart.
Couldn’t he love her? Nothing worked out right.
Don’t it always seem to goÖ
It’s gone so deep, but he’s gone tonight.

Swop it for toothache? Okay, any day.
It’s just not true that body pain is worse.
Come, stab and end the creature, might as well.
The echoing words he said
Won’t leave her head,
And his picture on the wall
Needs to be slashed and ripped beyond recall.

She sits up on the creaking bed.
Memories sit up and beg
For his lovely moving body.
Pains of rejection shoot her through the head.
What’s wrong with her?
This time the boy was going to stay,
She thought. Oh yeah? No way.



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Darkley

Peace resting on the brow,
Stillness upon the tongue.
Beyond the sound of singing comes the quiet
Smoothing out sorrows.
Deep silence quivering on the edge of joy.
A power of peace
Dappled with gleams of love.



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Raymond: At Islandhill

Now the naked trees stand up.
The sky wears stripes of red and grey.
His silhouette is small against the wind.
His woolly hat, pulled down upon his ears,
Sodden with rain that drips like tears;
But he is not weeping.
His boots are strong against the clogging clay,
And triumph rides his lip and chin.
A butterfly unpinned,
Ready to fly.



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This page last modified: Sunday, 03-Jan-2016 22:00:42 GMT
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