Wednesday, 20 April 2016

2 Poems by Bernadette McCarthy

HEAVEN VILLANELLE 

Heaven, don’t stare at this empty frame,
let it dwindle back to whin and spaghnum moss.
The altar’s smashed and the shrine profaned; 

sooner be a rock without a name,
sooner turf to heat a soldier’s pot.
Heaven, don’t stare at this empty frame. 

The stones sweated faith in the flame,
the floors swore, the chimneys howled their loss:
‘The altar’s smashed and the shrine profaned’. 

Boiled-out eyes within the open grave
can better push against your pike-head glance.
Heaven, don’t stare at this empty frame 

for purity and peace will never be obtained
in this unholy Roman land unless
altar be smashed and shrine profaned. 

A lost soul can never be regained;
God is deaf as lead in a gold cross.
Heaven, don’t stare at this empty frame.
The altar’s smashed and the shrine profaned. 


HELL GHAZAL 

Your fasting hand upon my knee is hell.
Your hennaed wrists, an augury of hell. 

Bleached gown panting on the damask
counterpane: organza, expired and been to hell. 

I would have freed the spider from the lettuce bag,
but you folded him into a tiny, creased hell. 

There is poetry in the fall of your sleeve
as you tattoo me, fringe delicate as a seashell. 

Let us go the wrong way round Gobnait’s well,
turning the sorrowful mystery tuathail . 

Red weather warning and Dingle blacked out.
Tea-lights on the counter. ‘Dusky as hell’. 

Kohled brows can never chasten Berber eyes.
Open them wide and punish me to hell! 


Bionote

Bernadette McCarthy lives in Co. Cork, Ireland, and has a PhD in medieval archaeology. Her poems have featured in The Lake , The Linnet's Wings , Crannóg , and Cauesway/Cabhsair . She is editor-in-chief of Brain of Forgetting . 

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