New Irish Writing: April’s winning poems

How to Use This Poem, and Homage to Wendell Berry, both by Kevin Graham

Kevin Graham

Kevin Graham


How to use this poem

Walk out of your life by ducking under
hanging ivy on a summer’s day
and feel the earth culminate underfoot.

Finches and snipes will skitter
in the elms’ leaves, hawthorn seed
spilling into the air. Your broad-leaved

heart will check itself in the shade
of the banks of a river without a name.
Belts of stinging nettle will guide you

under the stone arch of amnesia,
past the grief of bluebells and honesty
of wood-sorrel. Running through time’s

passage will be all the stanzas of light
you meant to experience. Branches
will part like so many good intentions

and the sun will warm your collar bones.
Once near the sea, you’ll be able
to take this page and hold it level

with the horizon, examine it for mistakes.
The current you feel will be equal
to the square root of peace multiplied by sky.

Homage to Wendell Berry

You’d like it here, this picture postcard
where the scenery scans like a Van Gogh –
rolling fields, endless sky. The scent of anemone,

milkweed, blue-eyed grass, bluntleaf.
Cycle paths crisscross like a net of consciousness
reasoning nature’s lot. We know the world’s

in trouble, you called it fifty years ago
yet we live in a bubble of our own making
where temperatures soar and our hearts

are sold to global corporates. Here
the young sustain the earth, sweat gold,
brush away muck and count against death

the loaded basket. Keeping abreast
of life’s fruit takes its toll: an orchard
of plum trees, the green breeze carrying

a patch of wild strawberries. Vineyards
line up like soldiers and the fields are lit
with the yellow flames of courgette flowers.

We cycle knee-deep in an absence
of ignorance unable to see the path ahead,
counting breath, listening carefully.

Kevin Graham’s recent poems have appeared in The Stinging Fly, Causeway/Cabhsair and Crannóg. He lives and works in Dublin

New Irish Writing: Submissions to New Irish Writing, edited by Ciaran Carty, should be emailed (as a Word document or pasted) to Stories should not exceed 2,000 words. Unless space permits, New Irish Writing poetry will only appear online. Until further notice no postal submissions can be accepted