Hennessy New Irish Writing, May 2017: Poetry

'I could have been a contender' by Berni Dwan

Poet Berni Dwan

Poet Berni Dwan


I never had the chance

to be a home. If only

they’d got the roof on

I could have housed

someone. If only

they’d got the windows in, my

someone could have watched

with folded arms the

garden growing, dogs

sniffing at the gate,

door to door sellers hesitating

before ringing the bell.

My half built wall shouts,

“Melissa loves Dean 2012.”

Wonder if they’re married now, looking

for a house with windows and a roof?

I don’t qualify for a welcome mat.

Enter at your own risk.

I’m a death trap, my pipes

and cables connected to nothing,

like those who shelter in

my corners. I am

a rubbish dump, hangout for junkies

and users; a public toilet,

condominium for used condoms, fag ends,

syringes, empty beer cans, broken bottles.

I’m a lucky escape, my bricks

and mortar laced with pyrite.

Some poor sucker strapped

to a mortgage might have

watched me expand,

crack and crumble. So,

here I am in a commuter belt town;

beyond the industrial estate; not for sale.

I was Melissa and Dean’s

first love nest.

Don’t think I’ll be seeing

that pair again.

I’m a home all right,

a home for the demented.

Berni Dwan teaches journalism, history and English literature in Dublin. She performs her ‘Frankly Blank Verse’ at ‘Takin the Mic’ at the Irish Writers Centre and ‘The Merg Sessions’ at Tallaght Library. Her website, oldfilibuster.com is a response to everyday life.