Poetry Introductions 2017 Application | Sarah Padden

Ten Poems


These days of cabins

and fires without a grate of restraint

of mountain roads split by grass

of small windows framing sheep

gathered under reaching trees

in stone-walled dells,

are nearly gone.

These last days slip away unremarked

like spring water

from your untended well

overrun with reeds and mire.

What was once sacramental, ennobled

now flushes away quartz-slabs

mutating the yard into sucking mud

around your endangered home.

These decaying days of undying rain driven into

rotting thatch split chimney

from hearth

dampening the fire for the first time

since your father carried the flame

from his birthplace.

Those days were recasting you for wilderness.

We witnessed your last hours on bog

you were born into

whilst jackdaws murmured above you

ice and fog shrouded Nephin

to ensure you were not taken to modernity

on a cold trolley

then interred on St. Joseph’s to slip away

unnoticed behind a thin curtain.

Céide Fields, Co.Mayo

Independence Story

...and awaken in modernity, not only the gold leaf

continuation of giant

sprung - pillowed waves, bashed green then

sphagnum - squeezed onto Céide,

but rows of placed rocks and stones

ever- island in the ocean of half-mercury bog,

an expansive Lir-land beyond and before

the annals of lore

calling sixteen 16s and 5,000 of them

to return to Céide’s green white gold lichen

to slip over or reverb

into crawing rock splits.

rebirthing daughters; re-sounding

and realigning warped time.

Recur emerald

alone in the Gulf Stream Lir-storm...

Frack the North

Standing amongst remnants of Rievaulx Abbey, I’m searching

for the archaic but there’s a whole new dialect

amongst the cloudberry and bracken.


Incessant drilling deadens sheep and Snipe acoustics

gas flares illume derrick trees, even the rocks

have shifted, no longer immutable


against fissures forced to

~~~~~~~~~rupture and run like

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~a thread underground.


I thought I’d preserved the past under a dressed-stone

window sill, adorned with lichen flowers

which held pots of sweet William


but it was flung far from here

and there is no finding it now,

after the earthquake.


I heard it could be in Gouthwaite reservoir,

in poisoned silt more toxic

than the Dead Sea.

Brother, Dear

If I were to assemble you from scratch

I’d begin by making you last

to emerge from our communal womb

by five or six years, so you can’t sulk

your way to middle child resentment


I’d turn you into a girl called Lollie

whose passions are crochet and ballet,

for tranquillity you grow artichokes

and weed an herbaceous border,

pondering life through your telescope


In a cupboard you’ll have exotic teas

gathered in Bhutan, en route

to relocate in the Outer Hebrides,

reassembled: you’re an earth mother

brother, with a brood of barefoot brats

Ciúnas, Le Do Thoil

To survive one must understand one’s place:

For instance, the _______* (insert antagonist) must be silent, must accept the omniscience of those entrusted with the seal of the red pen, who have already achieved the high standard of Unseeing, having been invested as philosophers in the art of ciúnas at a slow processional ceremony in the Aula Maxima. For ______s who aspire to that elevated position where they can exercise their innate brutality, unimpeded, their first test is compliance and in shrinking back to protect the self no matter what they may see. There is no personal advantage in breaking the omniscient’s code. Nothing good ever comes from speaking out against ciúnas. This is your first lesson in post-truth.

Naturally, the ______’s reaction is to resist at first, even dogs and monkeys understand the concepts of fairness and nepotism but the dark-art professors would argue that initiating resentment is crucial in maintaining silence. They invest their office hours into _________s willing to assimilate into the Primacy, at the first test. Eager ______s are referred to in the paradigm as early adopters whilst more advanced practitioners learn techniques of explaining away and selective hearing, both crucial skills of Unseeing. Neo-rhetoric is taught at introductory weekend retreats which also include silent meditation. ________s are preened by their fellow retreatants, their nits and ticks squished whilst resting in the contentment of shared silence, certain that their fellow _______s are enfolding each other into compliance and not sacrificing them to inner-truth.

Those that resist will later or sooner be brought before the secret tribunal which is spun as ‘counter-ciúnas enforcement’. Of course, the rules are written by Chancellors - those most proficient dark-art lords and the ____________ is judged in absentia in the manner of witches’ trials without representation, as the ______ will be found guilty and should a __________ not submit to the ruling they will be left in a silent room until they conform to post-truth ciúnas.

Aegis of Remembrance

The slim road to Fanore

near Dereen

pulled out of the headland

like orange peel,

the kind of place you’d like to

have taken a drive to see

on a Sunday afternoon.

Malham Cove, in the Dales

was a Sunday spin which

reminded you of The Burren

and now I see too

twenty-one years since your passing,

and though we were never

here together

the god of remembrance is reflecting

the ocean into our heart cave

of limestone pavements,

illuminating my now.

A Proclamation

Be a child, always

ride your bike downhill over dandelions and daisies


become an angel on deep snow-days

hide in the tree canopy during soft rain


build a den with an abracadabra door

let go of the rope swing over the lough


fly a kite on the strand in January

dance about the campfire in July


soar a mile above bright white clouds then

bounce on their sunny-side.


Be a child, be cherished

and when you are aged


cuddle up on the couch in your jim-jams

listening to stories of the day you were born

In Praise of Trinity

I thought you were the altar statue, Peter-God

peering down from your plinth in solemnity

a fossil with ornate keys and a carved beard

a ‘wait till your father gets home’ distant Daddy


until Rublev’s icon of your immense banquet

equal and empathic, with a place for seekers

like open Russian dolls, unveiled an intimate

hygge between the Divine and human creatures.


My static statue of childish concepts smashed

into atoms does not disprove your presence since

psalmists only need look at the moon and stars

to ask why are You so mindful of us? The liminal

why in response to the twitch of the fish hook.

Connaught Ranger

June 1917

We woke in death in the mud of Messines

with cramped fingers around metal muzzles

sullen as the soaking summer skies,

carrion crows screeched in no man's land

all night, like boy soldiers hoping to be heard

quickly gathered and tagged, we were buried

like knackered horses in bare earth.

In letters home I'd asked - whose war is this?


I dreamt unknown son of my daughter

that in the shadow of the round tower

in Belgian fields stuffed with British graves,

our Irishness conjoined. You came with poppies

at last, after the hundred-year shame had passed

to reclaim me and concede, that I too fought

to cherish all the children of the nation.

Wrestle the Angel at Peniel

And never cease yearning

Acclimatise to frayed desires

Then accept the unruly flux




Then accept the unruly flux

Acclimatise to the frayed desires

And never cease yearning




And never cease yearning

Acclimatise to your frayed desires

Then accept the unruly flux




Then accept the unruly flux

Acclimatise to your altered desires

And never cease yearning

Sarah Padden | Co. Galway | Poetry Ireland Introduction Series 17th February 2017

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