Nessa O’Mahony – Not everything is metaphor

Nessa O Mahony LEP&W V1 Dec 2022

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Live Encounters Poetry & Writing Volume One December 2022.

Not everything is metaphor , poems by Nessa O’Mahony.

Not everything is metaphor

“The topless towers of Ilium”
Christopher Marlowe

Something shook the pillar overnight,
brought plaster down, shook
crumbling brick and mortar
like red-grey confetti across
my mother’s drive,
chalk clumps scattering
like newspaper tossed in a hurry.

The net curtain I peered through
was also torn. No need
to consider dissolution
as a new occurrence in this house
where switches trip, heaters fail
and televisions lose sound.

Perhaps the deliveryman
had turned, swerved,
was now cursing his fate
over scraped paint.
Perhaps it was the neighbour’s gate,
whirring back and forth
as youngsters played, oblivious
to seismic waves and boundaries.

Good fences make good neighbours?

For how long do you rebuild?
Come a point when walls fall,
when locks break and doors
stay open.
When curtains are undrawn,
when the night is let in
to do its worst.


if survival is not the ultimate rebellion, what is
Jinhao Xie

In the end, the best place.
Propped on the seabed.
In the blue shade
of centuried ice sheets
that kept the sun out,
left moisture enough in planks
to hold shape, the curved prow
of intention still intact.

Imagination still claims it,
chooses whichever myth
suits the modern narrative:
the brave chaps, the dream,
survival for all (save the dogs,
the cat, a few men’s sanity).

© Nessa O’Mahony

Nessa O’Mahony was from Dublin. She won the National Women’s Poetry Competition and was shortlisted for the Patrick Kavanagh Prize and Hennessy Literature Awards. She is the recipient of three literature bursaries from the Arts Council of Ireland. She has published five books of poetry – Bar Talk, (1999), Trapping a Ghost (2005), In Sight of Home (2009) and Her Father’s Daughter (2014). The Hollow Woman on the Island was published by Salmon Poetry in May 2019. She has co-edited several anthologies of poetry, including (with Paul Munden) Divining Dante, a celebration of the 700th anniversary of the Italian poet, Dante Aligheiri (Recent Work Press 2021) and (with Alan Hayes) Days of Clear Light. A Festschrift for Jessie Lendennie (Salmon Poetry 2021). Details of her latest poetry collection, The Hollow Woman on the Island, can be found here:

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