‘Punishment’ and other poems by Mary Kennelly


The music woke me up
To early morning winter dark.
I have been neglectful of my craft
These past few months.
Now this new dawn is filled
With unexpected promise.
Before long all those other things
I had set before the sound are gone.
I am the mad dog
Chasing the wild boar of song.
I only crave the tune.
But ill-use refuses to reward.
My words will not be moulded,
They jostle and jar and scorn the path
My meagre skill sets out.
Locked in this struggle,
I begin my day with failure,
The melody is gone.

Treasure Trove

When she is gone
They’ll sort out all her stuff –
Clothes and shoes to charity
In seemingly endless bags –
Jewellery, paintings, ornaments –
All divided out or sold –
The books, to God knows where.
Then they’ll find the box,
Her lifelong treasure chest.
Inside a silver-plated wedding coin,
First locks, first shoes, first teeth,
A plastic holy-water bottle,
Price intact at thirty pence,
Gift from a three-year-old,
Home-made birthday cards,
Baptismal candles, a christening gown,
Her list with weights, and times and dates,
Copies, pictures, drawings.
Cardboard-encased memory.

Prince Charming

In fairness, it’s nothing like it promised in the story book.
Maybe we should sue that blasted fairytale ’cause
To be honest our little castle soon got rather cramped
When you moved in with all your rugby gear and magazines.
And three kids really do make a lot of mess and noise
As they hoover up our money, space and time,
And precious little else.
They also did for our spontaneous encounters
Upon the kitchen table.
Our passion – if you could call it that –
Now calls for military precision, five minutes on a Thursday night.
Inside I know I’ve betrayed the sisterhood but
I find it hard to be a feminist while picking
Smelly clothes from the bedroom floors
And cooking endlessly same, stale dinners.
Even if you brought me champagne every day –
Which of course you don’t –
Kids’ homework with a hangover is the biggest pain on earth
And my liver just cannot take it any more.
But still it has its compensations and I know
That you will be with me through all our mess
To reap the whirlwind of the life that we have sown
And you’ll still come running with the loo roll
When it runs out while I’m sitting on my throne.
Punishment’ and other poems are © Mary Kennelly from Catching Bats Takes Patience (Liberties Press, 2015)



Mary Kennelly has been involved in arts events in Ireland for many years, including Listowel Writers’ Week and the Brendan Kennelly Summer Festival. She was a participant in Mindfield: Spoken Word section at Electric Picnic 2014, where she performed alongside the Limerick collective The Whitehouse Poets. She has written for publications including The Kerryman, The Sunday Independent and The Sunday Tribune. Originally from County Kerry, she now lives in County Limerick.

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