“Fabric” and other poems by Kate O’Shea


Italians hunt song birds, gawping silence,
decaying rope from where a small girl hung
in the rubber hoop of an old tractor tyre
a lifetime ago, no limits on adventure
growing up to carry the fire
not knowing about box files,
computer monitors
the prescribed texts and reading lists
that deformed desire
replaced it with a constabulary of deception
despite all this she did not dwindle
into a wife and mother
the spindle of life is cruel
it twists and turns –
one makes the other.
The brushwood burns,
watchmen flock together
and camp in the open.


The Night Watchman

Love is not real estate
expansive as flood plains
intimate like silt
destructive and constructive
it is not for those who role play
or get lost in the night
led astray by bright lights
and flesh turrets
maidens with drawn out hair
beefy knights.
Love is insomnia of the soul
and you are always watching
it is more satisfying
than breathing a little
call that a life?
to watch over, to be there,
to suck out the poison
to break down delusions
delicate as spiderwebs
surf the tsunami
cradle the fragile skull
like a Fabergé egg.
Nursery rhymes house more truth
than any ideology.
Humpty Dumpty’s great fall
makes martyrs of us all.
Let us be grateful
for the gargantuan effort
it takes to stay awake


The Last Rose

a ball of cells vacuumed
in the first trimester
scarabs and virgins
bore children alone
became religious symbols

the maternal ball is horse manure
an oval-face on the wane
blue babies and young beetles

housewives and whores
are lower on the food chain
the messy trade of sexual fluids
wets our lips
traitors speak about
roses, love and birth
as if we own this earth



after Brueghel’s Icarus

a small figure in the distance
a pair of feathers

the farmer continued to plough
the angler taken by a scheme
somehow did not register the boy
the shepherd counted sheep
as the sun fell in the sky
ship rapt in glorious masts
drew the eye

a small figure in the distance
a pair of feathers




Shattered ranunculus flowers
petals like teeth from a dream
the garden is not real
wind prowls round
a research station in Antarctica
the sky is a hologram
I don’t give a damn
downing cup after cup of coffee
complex as an orchid
the death of insects
one long-drawn funeral
I tend flowerbeds
dreaming of a mother
Alice stands stock-still
amongst butterflies
moths with laughably
long tongues probe
eyes, velvet antlers

© Kate O’Shea

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