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1st Prize - OPEN

Richard Halperin "Snow Falling, Lady Murasaki Watching "

1st Prize - EMERGING

Lyndsay McCabe "Dunyazade to Her Sister "

Highly Commended (in alphabetical order):

Rachel Hegarty "Being Bold at the Dunsink Observatory "
Brian Kirk "Taking Simple Vows "
Anne O'Connell "A Beatitude "
Breda Ryan "On Doing Fourteen Lines "
C. P. Stewart "Silvered Now, and Fine "

1st Prize - OPEN

Snow Falling, Lady Murasaki Watching , by Richard Halperin

At the window
of her simple home
she watches snow slowly falling
forming little hills in the garden.
Her husband whom she loved
dead a long while and still missed,
the Emperor’s court its hypocrites and good souls
very far away.
A brown bird alights
shockingly alive in the snow.
Why am I still here? she thinks,
How will it all end?
Arthur Waley the translator stands
just outside of view
captures it
captures it.
I look up from my café table
at posters on which models
smiling insincerely endorse things
of which no one has the least need.
In the sky above a silver airplane
is on its way

© Richard Halperin

1st Prize - EMERGING

Dunyazade to Her Sister , by Lyndsay McCabe

Before him, it was I who kept you up
on muggy summer nights when winged beetles
crept under our window as we whispered.
Remember the afternoons when Father
was out, and we ran through the fields? How I
unhooked your dress from the snarling brambles
that grabbed at your ankles?  Remember how
we knew how to sing before we could speak?
I never forgot the words, but you know
I never let any word slip past me.
I nursed those words like the stray pups in town –
cleaning and caressing them, letting them
follow me back to our room where I told
you stories of sailors, genies, and thieves,
occasionally asking the darkness
Are you there, Sister? Are you still awake?
I’m not sure if you ever liked my tales
since my voice often echoed back alone
from your side of the room, but now I know
you listened.
     Scheherazade, I’ll lend you
the stories to keep his hands from reaching
for your soft bronzed neck. Bring back every ghost
we ever knew, the tomes and the gossip –
anything to keep his eyes from gazing
that way, dusky and blank.  I feel it all
while I lie under the bed, lips moving
in a dumb pantomime while the sun sets
on you and him. The mattress above me
bows, and I close my eyes.  If only I
were a little bolder, I’d rewrite your
story and make it his throat in my hands.

© Lyndsay McCabe

Highly Commended (in alphabetical order):

Being Bold at the Dunsink Observatory , by Rachel Hegarty

No entry signs and doors left ajar
is asking for trouble.
So when you say to me
Let’s go where we’re not supposed to,
I am happy to ditch the tour and scarper.
It’s easy to be bold in an observatory.
All you have to do is find the stairs.
Each step up into the dark
is a cold excitement on the back of the neck.
Every creak on wood is a suppressed breath
until we come to huge mahogany door.
I turn the key and we threshold a domed room.
We look up and behold a revolving roof
wide open to the cloudless sky of a winter’s night.
Stars shine down on the darkest corner of Finglas.

© Rachel Hegarty

Taking Simple Vows , by Brian Kirk

Stat crux dum volvitur orbis
After you left I never spoke again
except to pray your name to God each night.
In morning’s frozen breath I savoured you
as I relearned the anguish of the habit.
Beyond the Hermitage I dreamed you close,
among new leaves your smile was apple bright.
All day I walked the Liturgy of the Hours
’til Mass, when in the altered Host I relished you.

© Brian Kirk

A Beatitude , by Anne O'Connell

Dancing on water. That even beats Jesus!
Dancing among men off the Forty Foot, still better.
Blessed be the light-hearted and light-footed
and all that celebrates pink.
Blessed be the brave-hearted,
water-dancing on Christmas day.
Blessed be the open-armed and open-hearted
in cold December seas.
Amen to the jump.
Amen to the sea.
Amen to the shout and splash, to the heart
that doesn’t stop when ice meets flesh.
Blessed be full immersion, the entrance and the exit,
the sky and its limits, the sea and its depths.
Blessed be woman, in all her forms of delightfulness.
Happy the red-headed child in her drindle skirt.
Blessed be the donkey who carried Mary
and the one who carries fire in his creel.
Amen to the load.
Amen to the black cross etched on his back.
Glory be to the turf, to the footers and sleán,
to the smile of a girl leading him home.
Blessed be the dog fox, fine-combed and sleek.
Blessed be the keen eye and black whisker.
Praised be the white mush and upright ear.
Glory be to the wet snout and wildness,
Alleluia to cunning in the hunt for food.
Blessed be wildlife that keep us in check.
Blessed be balance on the earth’s shaky bed.
Glory be to nature still fighting to survive.
Blessed be man’s learning, open-aired
and within walls. Glory be to the teacher.
Amen to the pupil, the open-minded,
Praise be the poverty of being indefinite,
the willingness to question,
Alleluia to the trust in doubt,
Praise be the pursuit of knowledge,
Blessed be man’s delight in finding answers.
Amen to the hope of passing some on.

© Anne O'Connell

On Doing Fourteen Lines , by Breda Ryan

Picture yourself in a club with great music;
you’re either sleepwalking, wasted,
or you’ve got the moves. The girl you put the move on tasted
of cherry lipgloss; she’s being sick
in her handbag, her nose glows cherry, your last line of coke
is up her nose, your hangover kicks in, the bloke
kicking your mate in the kidneys is a bouncer who’ll
chuck you both in the alley and try to kill
you with a kick to the head while the girl scarpers by taxi. Later,
you puke on the cop who cites you for public urination
and detains you overnight at the station.
None of this will make tomorrow’s paper,
except your indecent exposure
below the fold on page eleven, which your wife will discover.

© Breda Ryan

Silvered Now, and Fine , by C. P. Stewart

Silvered Now, and Fine
Birdsong wakes me;
you sleep on,
one eye concealed by a fall of hair ─
silvered now, and fine as mist.
I stare.
Love’s work, time’s business
never done.
This face it was given me
to gaze upon
these twenty years,
whose beauty wounds me, then repairs,
repairs and wounds without respite ─
my soul’s delight, my heart’s undoing.

© C. P. Stewart