“affairs of the unsettled” and other poems by Olly Lenihan

The Robin

You show me your robin
bright little bird
you are gentle with him
He trusts you, dear,
eats from your hand
not scared in the slightest
Not as he should be
not as I was
you were not gentle with me


G.R.C.C. (Galway Rape Crisis Centre)

Through winding streets, I’d never seen before
it didn’t feel like Galway at all
more like a cardboard cut-out town
When I arrived it was silent, empty
a maze of corridors
identical flowery waiting rooms
A calm space, dangerous nonetheless
I felt like if I fell asleep in one of those rooms
they’d never find me again
I believe now that ghosts roamed those halls
shells of those they’ve hurt
white with nausea, I was one of them
Coming home, I caught snowflakes on my tongue
pulled my stolen coat tight against the wind
I felt so far from home. Still do–
I can’t tell what I am today
whether I’m closer to me than I’ve ever been
or whether I’m a stranger, caught on thinning ice


affairs of the unsettled

forehead to forehead while i write poetry inside my head
you take it upon yourself to do the thing that i most dread
caught in my throat, hands formed in ice but carried on to flame
just tell me love, how would it be if i were to do the same
don’t use that word, can’t help but flinch every time i hear its ring
but love for me has always been this blessed, holy thing
i’m going mad equating things to angels tonight
but you looked like a marble statue lying there in the light
don’t want to spend my whole life trotting after you in vain
lovelord, Moonstruck, besotted, bereft, it’s driving me insane
another love, another loss, i’m used to this by now
or at least i would be, if only i knew how.


making do (collected haikus)

oh so bittersweet
to feel calm before a storm
that never arrives
i trip; out it spills
so unwieldy a feeling
rising to the top
words unspoken, pain untold
my ragged exhales

your heart beats so loud
like wild horses in my ear
time passes so slow
it’s something starcrossed
this feeling, or is it just
bent on disaster?
just for you, i’d try
to pull a happy ending
from this disused brain


you are walking the twenty-five minutes home with a push forward, push forward to your step, and you are furious but you don’t know why, and your lips are chapped but slippery with spit, and it’s there in your hand, in a plastic bag with handles sweaty and digging into your palm, and god above do you wish it weren’t.

because you’re going home to an empty house and just on the end of your phone there’s a girlfriend and a best friend and someone who’s somewhere in between, but they can’t see you now, and he is thirty metres away but you cannot do that to him, not now.

on the bottle is some kind of fucking bird or dragon, and you stare at it and wonder what it’s got against you to make you this way, and you pour it into a cartoon mug, full and slopping over the top, and you swig, and it rattles against your teeth, and you’re close to tears, and you know why.

and now you’re swimming in this haze, and that buzzing bites into your ears, and things are not normal but it feels okay somehow, it’s all in real time and it’s a relief, it’s a relief, it’s a relief.

it’s two hours later and you are screaming, screaming, ripping out your throat at nothing, you are ringing his doorbell and he sees, sees it’s you and does not answer, and you are lying outside prostrate on the ground waiting for him to be there because there is no one else left in this town for you.

now you are seeping, sinking deep into the screen, a friend helps but it doesn’t help and you’ve called four times but he is nothing but a voicemail and you don’t know where he’s gone, where inside himself or inside another, and it pushes you towards the edge.

calmer, calmer now, you sip from your bottle, the drink all gone, you turn wine into water and you pray that he will forgive you for tonight’s fuck-up—do not judge me for what i have been, good god, but sharpen your knife and cut me free.

two thirty and here it is, you communicate with the angels, you offer yourself up to her and she accepts with grace, rocking you into your gentle sleep and sending you off with bullrush dreams, and you are free.

you wake, and each side of your body wakes too with a jolt of pain, and you regret it all, how you fucked up yesterday’s casual calm to try and satiate the roaring in your ears, you are lying there, wishing you could forget it all and sleep forever, but it’s morning now, and you have to get up.

affairs of the unsettled and other poems are © Olly Lenihan.

Olly Lenihan is a twenty-year-old poet who is originally from Dingle in the south-west of Ireland. Their writing career began during a disastrous attempt at living in Galway, and they’ve been penning angst ever since. Their poetry encapsulates the dreadful clichéd romanticism of being in love in one’s early twenties, along with themes of mental illness, sexuality and loss. They are currently in their first year of IT Sligo’s Writing and Literature course, and are also working on their first novel.
They can be found on Twitter at https://twitter.com/ragsies


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