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Live Encounters Poetry & Writing January 2023
A Women’s Cross, poems by Jim Ward.
A Woman’s Cross
I drank quietly in shadows,
thinking what ifs whenever she came near.
Occasionally leaving umbra for penumbra, risking life
(or so it seemed),
to put the question without even asking one.
My cheeks red with blood – internal heating in walls –
undetected in the Club’s flickering darkness.
Her answers bit into my heart, but only my eyes took the pain, unflinching.
Then back to my corner like the Conger eel to his underwater hole:
man following nature’s orders.
For her…well practised fly-swatting, the woman’s prerogative
– to create or to destroy.
Another load that women carry.
Between the cigarettes and sweets I caught her,
Aoife, stealthily tonguing him.
My innocent impressions destroyed,
her innocence turning to womanhood.
Deftly I looked away, embarrassed.
He arrogant, forthright, defiant.
Now what was it I came in to buy?
Oh yes, cold tongue for dinner tonight!
Trying to tame a mustang
Untamed and riderless he covers the range.
A trail blazer free, maverick of his age.
In leather boots, thigh high, a rider – no mount.
She dresses the part – chaps reveal hungry gaps, enough to distract.
Her lariat catches his sinewy neck thrusting out,
glistening with pearl drops of saltiest sweat.
Mounted at last, her shanks grip tight waist,
he snorts all the while, exhaling hot breath.
A breaking match, contest of wills,
bronco bucking in hot heat, the mount feral, rider shows skill.
It ends with a jerk – he’s gone – breaks loose when he pleases,
comes and goes forever. Does it with an ease.
– Life’s rodeo’s too short for just the one rider.
© Jim Ward
Jim Ward is an Irish writer published for poetry and stories in Irish and English in various publications. His play Just Guff won ‘Best in the West’ award at Galway Fringe Festival, 2017 and has toured nationally. His poetry has twice been runner-up in award categories, including the Bobby Sands Creative Writing Contest, 2021. A second play Three Quarks was performed live via Zoom on February 2nd 2021, Joyce’s birthday, by The James Joyce Centre in Dublin. His memoir piece Begging from Beggars was published in The 32: Anthology of Irish Working Class Voices, edited by Paul McVeigh, in 2021. He finished his first novel during the lockdowns. Jim is also a published cartoonist.