Bernadette Gallagher – Walls of Bones

Profile Bernadette Gallagher Live Encounters Poetry & Writing 8th Anniversary December 2017

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Walls of Bones, poems by Bernadette Gallagher

Born in Donegal, Ireland 1959, Bernadette has been living in County Cork since 1986.  She has collaborated with visual artists and musicians. Bernadette’s poems explore the nuances of memory and experience ranging from the personal and local to the universal and global.  They include poems on life, love, humanity and nature to poems on refugees and war.  Her poems have been published in a number of journals including Boyne Berries, ROPES, Stanzas, in the US peace journal DoveTales and online at, Picaroon Poetry, The Incubator and Poethead.    Bernadette was long listed for the Cinnamon Press Debut Poetry Collection Prize 2016 and the Cinnamon Press Pamphlet Competition. Two of her poems have been published in the anthology, In the Cinnamon Corners. Bernadette is a founding member of Poets Abroad and organised the first reading by members of this group at Books Upstairs in Dublin in 2016.

Walls of bones

Eyes raised to Syria, Iraq, Turkey,
Lebanon, Jordan, Greece
Children drown in our artificial tears
We make lent to salve our conscience.

Eyes lowered; the sea washes
Over the sand covering and uncovering
Our sins, washed up bodies.

Eyes raised to play the Trump card
To build walls of bones.
Our fore fathers and mothers ask
What are we celebrating?

Eyes lowered; we sleep safe and warm
Arms sold to protect us by killing our own.
The dead stare with empty sockets.

Home Alone

Alone, we two sisters,
The rest at Mass.

Playing some type
Of cartwheel – I fell
And broke some teeth.

Nursed with sweets
I couldn’t eat.

Man at Window

From photo by Willi Ronis

He could be your father or mine
He could be without child.

Cigarette between fingers
Is he locked in or out?

Lines on forehead
Many roads travelled.

Moustache but no beard
Jumper over shirt

Why am I here?

Plumbing her own

After Rafiq Kathwari

Light follows the sun
Tugging at my work and other

Over-time night-time, my-time
Not one to walk alone in the dark

I walk alone in the dark warm Autumn
Dry under and over foot

High-viz, a torch on my forehead
I am the scary one.

© Bernadette Gallagher