Poems by Edward O'Dwyer (Ireland)
Published in The Ofi Press issue 46
Nadine, our four-year-old daughter,
has more Irish than any of them,
but they try out their few words on us,
and mispronounce them.
We’re Irish, the family of Yanks tell us.
Oh, we say, and leave it at that.
Fáilte, Nadine says to the man
in baggy jeans and a massive chequered shirt.
He is definitely a gun owner.
He has the red, whiskery face
of a man who enjoys his dinner that much more
if he has killed it himself.
Fáilte, her little voice as soft as a póg,
soft as the good rain,
our summer rain.
There is none of our accusatory ways in her,
none of our time-bought cynicism.
Capitalism, Bush, Guantanamo mean nothing to her.
She isn’t thinking about the guns this man owns,
the kinds of guns teenagers buy
at WALMART stores before they carry out
a massacre at their high-school.
She says it again, a little louder this time.
Fáilte, and this time he hears her.
He takes in the word.
He chews the word, and rolls it around
in his neo-imperial mouth, tastes it.
Fáilte, he says back to her
with a slow, torturous drawl,
stretching the syllables to their breaking point,
like they are his prisoners now,
and they will tell him what they know.
Knocking On Her Door
On and off, and for eight or so years,
I have been thinking about it,
of knocking on her door once more,
like I’m picking her up, like we have plans.
Sometimes, I imagine, she answers,
slowly pulls back the door, looks up,
and we are in love again at the first sight.
We embrace and kiss madly,
and we forget, in our burst of passion,
to shut the door behind us
as we ricochet down the long hallway
to her bedroom, our clothing
an untidy trail all the way there.
Sometimes, he answers, which is awkward.
Awkward because you must love him now,
and it’s the most foolish thing
I’ve ever done, knocking on your door
now, and eight or so years later.
I want to hit him, but he just stands there,
doesn’t know why I’m here, or who I am,
what we had, so I play the stranger,
pretend to be selling something.
He says thanks but no thanks. I leave.
Sometimes, I imagine, the door is red,
not green anymore, and I turn around.
There is nothing to do but go home.
I know she has changed everything.
There is no point knocking now,
not if the door isn’t still green.
I really must knock on her door again.
For real, and very soon.
There is only the worst
that could happen to worry about,
which isn’t anywhere near as bad as this.
Edward O'Dwyer was born in Limerick, Ireland, in 1984. He has had poems published in journals and anthologies throughout the world, including The Forward Book of Poetry 2015. He took part in Poetry Ireland's Introduction Series in 2010 and edited the anthology Sextet for Revival Press. He has been shortlisted for a Hennessy Award and a Desmond O'Grady Prize, among others. He has been nominated for Forward, Pushcart and Best of the Web prizes. In 2012, he was selected to represent Ireland at the Poesiefestival in Berlin for their EU 'renshi' project. His debut collection, The Rain on Cruise's Street, was published by Salmon Poetry in 2014. The follow-up, Stop Killing Sean Bean!!!, is due in early 2017.
Image: "Gas street lamp" by City of Boston Archives.
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