Live Encounters Poetry & Writing May 2021
Special edition featuring poets from Australia & New Zealand.
Daragh Byrne is an Irish poet living and working in Sydney, Australia. He has published in The Blue Nib, The Honest Ulsterman, Backstory Journal (Australia), The Cormorant and Live Encounters, as well as in several anthologies. He has had poems recognised as Highly Commended in the Westival Poetry Competition 2020 and the W.B. Yeats Poetry Prize for Australia 2019. His poem “Hurricane” was awarded 3rd place in the Dalkey Creates Poetry Prize 2020. He is the convener of the Sydney Poetry Lounge, a long-running open mic night. He pays his rent by writing software, which he often finds as frustrating, and satisfying, as writing poetry.
Doors ajar, Our Lady of The Sacred Heart
lets out the voices of choir practice.
Chorus lines ascend like pointed arches.
A rousing of a younger part of me;
A memory of when I could believe.
Above the holy water a laminate:
mobile devices make Himself upset.
Aged ten, I thought he was wired up to me:
a sign of the cross was a speed dial
to open up a blessed intercept; a kind of
sacred, half-streamed FaceTime; me a private,
solitary chorister; he a devouring consumer
of my trespasses, eating up my sins,
like at some silent pornographic banquet.
I didn’t understand why he was so
interested. I rarely felt forgiven. Still I sin.
Still we sing. We need an audience,
even in his dull, gaping absence
we invent ways to be watched.
The sweetness of 5G, CCTV –
a web of silent witness, effortless
direct lines to our new gods –
faceless, just as merciless. Sat
in detailed judgement of every note.
Yesterday’s day-drinking hollowed out my sleep.
Summer teased me, but she’s allowed to; today,
down by my favourite five p.m. lake, it’s as bleak as
Tayside in February. I’m lonely, or in love, or just
hungry. It’s my fault, of course: I do it to myself so I
can write. Deprivation is the condiment of creativity;
solitude is its imaginary best writing buddy. The not-quite-
full moon is afloat on an avian chorus and I’m not-quite-
here, diverted by a worry — at the end of this pilgrimage
through the day’s emptiness, I might not catch another poem.
All My Friends are Having Babies
All my friends are having babies, and I’m
fine with it. Tonight, at the long table
in the flickering lamplight, I doubt I’m able
for that alchemy—to turn myself to time,
wipe chins and butts; highchairs, and all that stuff.
Small hands still reach for me, and I can hide
and reappear with the best of them—and decide
to leave when I need to. That feels like enough.
I have my seat at dinner. As the night
extends, inevitably, the mums depart
to soothe their bubs to sleep with their beating hearts,
and I drink with one of the fathers. And I might
leave this world without leaving someone to feed,
but I’m hardly childless—what more could I need?
© Daragh Byrne