Fobidden Swan and other poems

by Maurice Devitt

Forbidden Swan

I have never seen a swan
smoking after sex,
but suspect they do. How else

can we explain
the nervous pacing on the tow-path,
wings touching hidden pockets

to check for matches
or the slow draught of air
to mask a throaty cough?

So maybe
after fumbled congress
in the privacy of a hotel room

– webbed feet
snared on carpet pile –
the cob lights up,

pads to an open window,
tips a wing and looks back
to see a crumpled napkin.

Early Days

You tear the world to pieces
as you burrow in TK Maxx
for the only shirt in your size,
floral print, a memory

of The Grove, that summer
you unfolded hope, conjured
a world without tears,
Child of Prague homeless

in a city park. And every night
you would count your conquests
on the fingers of both hands,
never one to confuse repetition

with reputation, nor fail
to lose a number or forget
a face. Yet the world picked
your pocket, left you smoking

on the balcony as the first girl
you ever loved, stifled a laugh
in another room.


On a shelf of silence
after rain,
he waits for the mystery
to conclude, the mist
to blow through.
Squabs of heather
crowd his ankles
as the trail unravels
into black. Sight
is replaced by grains of sound
and only silence
has a shape. Foot-prints
shrink to tippy-toes
and gloveless hands
recoil into pockets.
He is frightened
by his voice, so whispers
a secret to himself
to be revealed
if he never returns.

Over Coffee

We talk to steal the silence
as though words could hide
the shoes of doubt or mask
the scream of a man
ankle twisted on the bottom stair.

We stare until eyes tire
of trailing words, lose the sync
between lips and thought,
follow the spark of a brooch
that reveals all there is to know.




A graduate of the Poetry Studies MA at Mater Dei, Maurice Devitt has just been nominated for a Pushcart Prize and was runner-up in the Cork Literary Review Manuscript Competition. Earlier in 2012 he was short-listed for the Listowel Writers’ Week Poetry Collection Competition, placed third in The Joy of Sex competition and long-listed for the Doire Press Chapbook Competition. During 2011 he was short-listed for both the Fish Poetry prize and the Cork Literary Review Manuscript Competition, and was also runner-up in the Phizzfest poetry competition. Over the past twelve months he has had poems accepted by Orbis, Abridged, Skylight 47, Southword, Moloch, Revival, Boyneberries, Paraxis, Weary Blues, thefirstcut, Red Fez, Spinoza Blue, The Galway Review, In Other Words: Merida, Stony Thursday, Ofi Press, Bluepepper, The Weekenders and Smiths Knoll and is looking to publish a first collection.


Art By Judith Shaw



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