“Detail” and other poems by Rachel Coventry


The world is full stretched,
and sick with possibility.
You find yourself in a gallery
ill with heat and standing.
Waiting for some man
to play his ridiculous hand.
So bored of art, but then
forced into wakefulness
by the feet of Diego Velazquez’
Cristo Crucificado. All suffering
now upon you and you
bear it because you have to.

First published in The Stony Thursday Book


Latterly, my mother’s silent complaint,
the mute argument of her life

articulated itself inside her body
each unspoken tirade

eventually rendered in flesh
scratched into synapse

a foot plants itself on the stair, refuses
to move till she swears, come on

you fucker, drags it sulking
up one but then the other

stops and on it goes
the claim and counter claim

of an insidious dispute
that leads nowhere

First Published in the Honest Ulsterman



I am still haunting at the old addresses
oblivious to cosmetic improvements,
wandering pre-gentrified Stoke Newington
lost in a maze of grey council estates
still transfixed by reverberations
of tower blocks that have not yet
shivered to the ground
but still sweep acid house,
a lonely beam over
Hackney’s waste ground.


Burning like the earth
at the Burmese border
the fans all noise no effect
Thai women, still as Buddhas,
me, western, huffing and bloated
wrestling with Christ on the floor,
really grasping at straws,
weaving pale meanings from gecko calls.
Maybe take succor in a different boy?
Some savage memory blazes momentarily
burns me clean. Give in finally. Breathe

First published The Poet’s Quest for God Anthology

What did I do to deserve you?

We exist so the universe
can experience loneliness

you may think if everything
is one, it will be content,
there will be no suffering

but you are wrong
if there is just one thing
there can be only be longing
with nothing to long for

so here we are, splinters
in the dark, no other purpose
but to break each other’s hearts.

First published in Poetry Ireland Review

As you sleep

I watch the flickering rhythm of skin
the pulse of the carotid artery
wonder and fear at its delicacy
and in reversal only lovers achieve
you are flesh and I am dream.

First published in Banshee

Rachel Coventry’s poetry has appeared in many journals including Poetry Ireland Review, The SHop, Cyphers, The Honest Ulsterman and The Stony Thursday Book. She was selected for the Poetry Ireland Introductions Series in 2014. In 2016 she won the Galway University Hospitals Arts Trust Annual Poetry Competition and was short-listed for the Patrick Kavanagh Poetry Award. She is currently writing a PhD on Heidegger’s poetics at NUIG. Her debut collection was published by Salmon Poetry.

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