Poem of the Week: Caitriona O’Reilly’s “Sleep and Spiders”

We are looking forward to kicking off next year’s publishing calendar with Caitríona O’Reilly’s newest volume. But since it’ll be many months until we can share those poems with you, we chose one of her poems from The Wake Forest Series of Irish Poetry, Volume I. As the editor of that volume writes, O’Reilly’s voice is “consistently striking and original,” a statement that continues to hold true.

Spiderweb Abstract

Sleep and Spiders

It is too strange to kill.
The symmetry of its eyes,

its eight paired legs askew
on the lintel, exoskeletal

and tiger-striped, all digestion.
It looks sudden but is still

for hours, eyes on stalks,
awaiting news from hair-triggers

that might be legs or fingers
(the whole thing a claw)

come to touch me in sleep—
hammock from which

black shadows seep.
Stars go milky, then go out.

I wake at five to what five is—
a cold blue glow and a self

trussed, barely breathing,
paralytic with dreams.

Caitríona O’Reilly, from The Wake Forest Series of Irish Poetry, Volume I (2005)

Caitriona O'Reilly

Posted in Caitriona O'Reilly, Irish Poetry, Irish Women's Poetry, Poem of the Week | 1 Comment

Poem of the Week: “Calendar Custom” from The Sun-fish

small red flowers

Calendar Custom

What is the right name of that small red flower?
It’s everywhere, spilling down over the stones
In the sun, every year at just this time.

The colour dims for a minute as the line of dust
Follows the loud white van uphill, and just now
The girls in the bar offer me a glass of water.

What is the soft smell that is everywhere,
The water reeking like tar? and while the cloud
Swells and the rain begins, the man standing

In the yard outside inhales the damp half-hour.
The red is fading again to a pinkish beige;
The plants crouch like cats while it pours down.

The smell is harsher, the light warped panels do
No good, the piecemeal shutters can’t keep it out.
Then as his uniform dries to a full blue,

And half of the window brightens, the tall girl throws
The door wide, and the man and the air are allowed
To blunder inside by pillowfulls. She tears

Two pages off the calendar. All colours now
Bright as a mirror drown out the little flowers
Drooping in the soft breeze as their date comes around.

-Eiléan Ní Chuilleanáin, from The Sun-fish (2010)

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Poem of the Week: “Proposal” by Ciaran Carson


It happened over an apple. We were in a market,
sunshine and August showers flickering through the glazed roof

over a barrel of apples, green with a blush of red,
the dew still seeming to glisten on them. You picked one up.

Try it and see, Miss, said the vendor. You nodded, and bit
into the crisp flesh. You felt its juice explode in your mouth

as I did when you passed it to me for the second bite.
They’re called Discovery, said the vendor, a very good

eating apple. We bought a pound of them, some wine and cheese,
and repaired to the country where we picnicked by a stream.

You offered me a Discovery. This time I could taste
your mouth from it through the juice. We took bite for bite from it

until we finished it as one. We threw away the core.
Then we asked things of each other we’d never asked before.

Ciaran Carson, from For All We Know (2008)

Ciaran CarsonCarson - For All We Know

Posted in Ciaran Carson, Irish Poetry, Poem of the Week, Poetry | 2 Comments