Poetry / Poets / Writers / Writing

Poems by Ed O’Dwyer

Naming It

We do that,
see the same thing
but name it differently.

There’s been things I’ve called love
but you haven’t,
but I think you’re careful with that word,

as though it is deceitful,
to be treated with suspicion,
used only at great need.

There was this time and that time.
I’m sure you remember
so you won’t need reminding.

There was the other time that I called it love
and you called it madness,
and that’s when I said it can be both.

I said there was never someone in love
that wasn’t at the same time mad,
but you didn’t agree with that either.

I wouldn’t have called
the next thirty minutes an argument,
but you did.

Those words were heated, some razor-edged.
But I’d have said it was passion,
pure and undiluted.

You didn’t call that love
but I suppose I did.
Even now, in hindsight, I do.

A Starling’s Death

No more the speck
of speckled beauty
against a backdrop of sky
she was yesterday.

Just corpse.

Stiff, flightless wings.
Beak shut like a tomb,
though it never had much music.

You hold it,
the snuffed out life,
gently in your cupped palms
as though, dropped,
it would shatter like glass.

I, gravedigger, step back
from the opening of earth,
a few spadefuls,

as it draws you in,
accepts your gift
of cold feathers.

In This Poem

In this poem, a glamorous American woman
steps off a train at a busy station
in a busy city in Europe.

Everybody around her
is speaking a language she doesn’t understand,
but it is a rabble that sets a scene, like in a movie.
She is, like in a movie, unconcerned.

In the same poem, albeit a later draft,
she blows a kiss at an unidentified cheek.

This moment changes the poem entirely,
the strange and unique moments
originally befalling the woman all deleted.

That blown kiss is too important to leave hastily,
as that version does.

You’d have to think, if you want it,
it is yours to snatch out of the air.
Presumably, though, you’ll have to act quick,
as surely there will be others thinking the same.

A recycled reference, in this poem
there is a wind. Not too much to be intrusive,
just enough. A cabaret wind
that makes her red dress dance on her body.

But back to the kiss, still there to be grasped.

It will change your day for the better, surely.
You needn’t even wear it on your cheek.
What is to stop you wearing it on your lips,
if, that is, you catch it?

This poem offers no less than a life-changing moment.
Death would be a lesser foe, you’d have to think,
with that kiss on your lips.


Edward O’Dwyer’s poetry is widely published in magazines, periodicals and anthologies throughout Ireland, Britain, the United States and Australia. He was selected by Poetry Ireland for their Introductions Series (2010), later that year editing the Revival Press anthology, Sextet. He has since been shortlisted for the Hennessy Literary Award for Emerging Poetry, the Desmond O’Grady Award, and was nominated by the journal Gloom Cupboard for a Pushcart Prize and by Revival for a Forward Prize. His first full collection, The Rain on Cruise’s Street, will be available from Salmon Press in July, 2014 (www.salmonpoetry.com/). He is a member of the Committee for Cuisle Limerick City International Poetry Festival.

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