Seanín Hughes

Showreel

womb wrapped/skin silk

pulse pure/warm milk

hours soft/heart drum

rose mouth/clasped thumb

loose tooth/gummy gap

pillow treasure/starmapped

skinned knee/knuckle pop

tongue catching/rain drop

other body/lips lost

limbs enfold/criss crossed

foster flesh/breath songs

here going/going gone

white shock/slow rest

hands locked/full blessed

last psalm/cold coil

into fire/into soil

Diphylleia 

Image: ‘paracosmos’ by torbakhopper

Daughter, please         hold my hand. There is rain       coming; look — a congregation of heavy promise

waits above our heads

to bathe us.        It gives God

to our ordinary air. Aren’t you

beautiful? I have a gift for you. 

Please,

hold my hand; k ep me in your tender palm. Parts of me are fading — your name, your sister       flowers.

Did    have sons? Oh.  Why must

I be               dismantled

s  slowly? I’m afraid. Please     hold my hand. I’m s rry.

Aren’t you          beautiful?

I have a gift for you; diphylleia — the rain makes a s-skeleton    most gentle          from its petals, translucent when touched        by falling skies in Japan. See how its colours      weep

— see that crown of clarity, the petals

in     their party dress, clear as

Cind rella’s glass slipper. Ar n’t you

b autiful?

Pl ase, dau  ter,

hold my hand. Parts of me     fading. A   ‘t you beautiful? There’ll b   ain    for flow rs

today. I named you

after a

fl wer,  crowned  you   mine. Please

I  m

be utif l.


hold my hand?


First published on Poethead, June 2017

Going Dutch

image: Paperfish6, Jacque Davis

I cut my teeth on you;

let enamel tear

through the warm pink tissue

of adolescence.

I bared my legs, but bent them inward,

dressed them in angles in case

you found them

too soft

too fleshy. You didn’t (they weren’t).

I kept my hair down

so subtle shadows fell

where cheekbones might be,

stolen symmetry, in case

you realised I wasn’t

pretty enough. You didn’t (I was).

We’d play pool –

I never won (I never cared) –

and eat chips on the way home;

you paid your way and

I paid mine, and I never needed

to wear my coat (I did), until

that one night when

you didn’t walk me home,

the night I fell asleep and

you cut your teeth on me,

the ones you lied through (you did),

and I paid in full.



First published by Poethead, June 2017.

Equilibrium

 

I’m strutting: stratospheric,

embellished and splendid

in my NHS wedding dress.

My mother was here before me,

her father before her, his uncle

before that, lucky lucky me.

Our platinum gilted heirloom hops generations and genders,

our gene pool a puddle of madness

thickened with blood and tear-streaked shrieking saliva.

I’m in my unsilent season,

souped up and bursting,

far too sexy

to sedate. This is my circus

and I am the airborne acrobat

defying my earthly anchors

until they come for me,

saturnine.

First published on Poethead, June 2017.

Pink Is A Sister Sick 

with sweetness. Bright;

blinds beautiful men, robs

them of their enamel, but


they never protest.


Fat lashes fan those

flushed cheeks, like


blood blushing milk,


bones so high and hollow

beneath. Pink licks the dark,

but refuses to wear it.

I went panning for

black diamonds in her hair

in our girlhood, and found


nothing but dirty pebbles


and rust for treasure; I

couldn’t love her. She’s

a predator with doll parts,

a perfect Pinocchio gone

rogue and hungry


for boyprey.


I’ve got a perverted

prayer that in time, she’ll

dissolve into herself;

melt at midday,

nothing more

than a


discarded boiled sweet.


First published by Chris Murray at Poethead, June 2017.

Anthem

New York’s summer breath

climbs heavy through the window

and the restless worm wrestles

through apple rot.

Narcissus’ trumpets

wither in astonished atrophy,

recoiling into the earth

as the amnion ruptures,

a parting of seas in the

holiest of churches –  

between

the wide open legs

of an obedient woman,

held to ransom by

blanched agony, lips

anaemic, lily white.

Skull shards shift tectonic

and give passage

to the crowning;

the searing stretch of emergence,

the ripping of the mantle,

the sting of the slap –

And it breathes.

The bed sheets are soiled

with immigrant blood

the colour of November poppies,

and writhing in it,

the jaundiced newborn skin

of an epoch in waiting:

a God complex

with baby sized fists

clutching nuclear warheads.

Published by Poethead, June 2017.

Sunday Mass

The strands of us all

lived in a tassled green pouch,

bound by thread and bloodline.

The house that held it

still holds my softest days

in dream sequence;

of them all, slow Sunday afternoons

out back, in the care of hands

that performed miracles –

a table for my dolls to dine,

a wardrobe for their clothes,

a seesaw solid enough

for every one of us, and we’d convene

on the oak and take turns

soaring skyward.

Under the corrugated roof, we

shared a feathered semi-silence;

it nestled there, contented

and I’d follow the dust motes

as they floated down on a sunbeam

to meet the sawdust

that carpeted the shed floor;

fresh tendrils from the steady hand’s

tempo, his maker’s rhythm.