November’s New Irish Writing winning poems

Teabag and Choosy, two new poems by Denise Garvey


I open all the windows and the doors
strip the bedding, disinfect toilets
attack the lingering invalid odours.

the accumulated rubbish of years
I couldn't call my own.

the leather couch battered
by online adolescent aggression, stained by derision,
bruised by bewilderment.


the day in my pyjamas mooching
with wild bed hair between the kitchen and the garden.

Catch up
with the ironing.
Tear pictures from magazines
to figure out what I am feeling.

images of empty spaces. Thunderous skies
bracken hills, huge windows, purple interiors
a small plane, aviator boots.
Tapestries of the adventurous most.

I am tired of being
the make-their-dreams happen
pariah of their lives

I am tired of being
the save-their-asses
then put her in her place

I am tired of being
the disparaged, dictated to
vented at, ridiculed

whose deafness is experimented on
and found funny by the frater-trinity.

I am tired of being
the squeezed out teabag
dregs of my own life.


He must be upstanding, self supporting and fairly easy on the eye.
He must speak clearly and have something interesting to say.
He must bathe or shower with reasonable frequency, remember to change
his clothes and not sport dirty hair those rare nights he wears a tuxedo.

Reptiles excepted, he may have many passions. They must be life-size
self financing preferred: football, bikes, planes, turbines, horses, pigs
or even poetry. But, the day I see toy soldiers, train sets
or Airfix kits I will run for cover screaming wildly: "It's all over".

He might enjoy a wide horizon: cloudscapes from the Dolomites
lakes from the Maam Turks, the profound no sound
of high snow, the crackle beneath skis, the scary feeling
of a swim in the teeth of a stormy sea.

He will, hopefully, not need to be advised that photography
of young girls in various stages of undress is unlikely
to impress me, especially when taken in my own bedroom
regardless of what excuses, if any, are proffered.

He will have the gumption to rise on a tough day
face the hard part of life without running away, be attentive
to food, rest and exercise until the sun breaks through and if
he ever, ever threatens me with his suicide

I will fetch the stool.

Denise Garvey directs a maths and english study centre in Galway and is a member of a Westside writing group. Her work has been published by Happiness is Vital, The SHOp and Skylight 47. She has performed her poetry at Baffle, Cuirt, iYeates, Listowel, Raftery and other festivals and featured in an Irish Times review of performance poetry. She has read at the West Cork Literary Festival as an emerging writer and has been a featured reader at Over the Edge, the monthly readings at Galway City Library.