“Devotion” and other poems by Lani O’Hanlon


The occupational therapist who came to visit
left an invalid toilet seat with handles
in the bathroom and a gadget with a claw hand
to pick up things from the floor.

My mother demonstrated how they worked,
rehearsing to be an old lady
hobbling on arthritic feet.

Until Stein arrived,
the sailor she’d had an affair with
thirty years before.

‘You have no idea how angry your father was.’
‘I do. I was in the next bedroom.’

And so the Dutch man came, with flowers
and still wearing her Claddagh ring.
He had blue eyes and a dog called Bonny.

The invalid toilet seat vanished.
She made my sister go shopping for new underwear.

First published in The Moth Issue 19 Winter 2014/2015 Ed, Rebecca O’ Connor


That was the year we drove
into the commune in Cornwall.
‘Jesus Jim’ mam said,
‘back-up quick, they’re hippies.’

Through the car window,
tents, row after row, flaps open,
long haired men and women
curled around each other like babies

and the babies themselves
wandered naked across the grass.

I reached for the handle, ready, almost,
to open the door, drop out and away
from my sister’s aggressive thighs,
Daddy’s slapping hands.

Back home in the Dandelion market
I unlearnt the steps my mother taught,
bought a headband, an afghan coat,
a fringed skirt –leather skin.

Barefoot, on common grass, I lay down with kin.

Published in POETRY March 2018,  Ed, Don Share


Birds on a prayer tree
descend to the feeder
you have filled

the same way
you put daffodils
in our rooms. 

when we gather
each morning.

Moments in meditation
before we open our eyes,
offer dreams
like gold
from silted rivers. 

Then we part
each one
to a separate


until the evening
when we return
like strands 

of a plait,
across, under, over,
blonde, black, brown.

In your house below
Sliabh na mBan
we three

in retreat,
worship returned
to the creative act.


On my way to the little theatre
in Carrick-on-Suir,
the Comeraghs stage left,
a hot air balloon glides in, stage right.

Five year old me in the back seat, sulking.
I re-assure; ‘This is different, it’s a poem,
you won’t have to dance or sing.
It will be dignified, a small audience.’

But she jitters about, wants a drink, wants to pee.

I drive towards the balloon,
my dead mother in the passenger seat.
‘Don’t forget lipstick’ she says ‘and those clothes,
those flat boots, have I taught you nothing?’

She takes another swig of coffee laced with vodka.

On we go and the balloon rises, arcs slowly stage left.
My mother shrieks ‘Did you bring the poem?’
The car becomes a bumper car, veers
towards other drivers, throwing their eyes heavenward.

The child opens the black book, holds up the poem.
My mother sings; ‘There’s no business like show business….’
then straight into ‘Give my regards to Broadway.’
The child sings along ‘Give my cigars to Broadway.’

I put on my sunglasses and take them off again.
‘Fix your hair,’ my mother advises,
voice beginning to slur.
The lurex top shows off her freckled cleavage.

I check out my hair in the mirror.
Why can’t it sit down or tousle nicely?
‘BE QUIET.’ I shout.
The child and my mother disappear.

I drive on. The balloon. The little theatre.

from The Little Theatre poetry chapbook funded by Artlinks



How carelessly I cooked it
and we ate without noticing
in the same way that Fionn
put his thumb in his mouth,
we sucked, chewed, swallowed
coral flesh, light as honey
the sea still in her.

Called forth by the wisdom in the other

our tongues,
our female tongues
silver splashed and orange
corralled each slice
of light, of dark,
spewed it up, transformed.

First broadcast on RTE’s Sunday Miscellany, Producer, Sarah Binchy

Devotion and other poems are © Lani O’Hanlon

From a theatrical family, Lani O’ Hanlon is an experienced group facilitator, dance and movement artist/therapist, author of Dancing the Rainbow, Holistic Well-Being through Movement (Mercier Press 2007) She has an MA in creative writing from Lancaster University, studied fiction with The Stinging Fly and received a travel and training award in 2017 from the National Arts Council to complete a first novel set in Ireland and Greece.

Her first poetry chapbook, The Little Theatre was funded by Artlinks and she has been awarded literary mentoring and bursaries from Waterford City and County Arts Office. Her writing has been published; in POETRY, Poetry Ireland Review, Mslexia, The Irish Times, Southword, The Stinging Fly, The Moth, Skylight Poets, Solas Nua, the Anthologies; Small Lives (Poddle) Halleluiah for 50ft Women (Bloodaxe) and is regularly broadcast on national radio – RTE’s Sunday Miscellany – her fiction has been shortlisted or won award including The Hennessey New Irish Writing, The William Allingham Award and Over the Edge. Her poetry has won, been highly commended and/or shortlisted for FISH, Mslexia, DiBiase, Poetry on the Lake, Dromineer, Brewery Lane and the Bridport Poetry Prize.

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