Anne Walsh Donnelly – How Did You Know?

P Anne Walsh Donnelly LE P&W Vol 1 2019

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Poems by Anne Walsh Donnelly

Anne Walsh Donnelly lives in the west of Ireland.  Her work has appeared in many publications including Hennessy New Irish Writing in The Irish Times. She was nominated for the Hennessy Literary Award for emerging poetry and selected for Poetry Ireland Introductions in 2019. Her poetry chapbook, “The Woman With An Owl Tattoo” was  published in May 2019 by Fly On The Wall Poetry Press. Her debut short story collection, “Demise of the Undertaker’s Wife” was published by Blue Nib in September 2019. To find out more about Anne and to order her books go to her website:

How Did You Know?

Mam, don’t die on me while I’m gone,
your words a hook in octopus tentacles
that twist around my neural pathways.
Your father revs his van in the driveway.

I wave goodbye, shut the front door
slump, to the hall floor. Octopus
releases its ink-black cloud,
blinds and chokes. Dark waters beckon.

I finger the note in my pocket
dream of days I could swim with eels
lounge on a lake’s bed
gaze up at earth’s ever-changing sky

no longer susceptible to its moods.
More of your words surface
Mam, my life would be screwed if you died.
I haul myself to the bathroom

shower my body, cry myself dry,
watch fire flames curl my note.
How did you know?
I loved you too much
to screw up your life again.

Trust Is A Knife Thrower’s Wife

She sharpens his blades
before each act, let’s him strap
her to a plank of wood
buckled by wrist and ankle.

Safe in the knowledge, she’ll survive
his onslaught, she tells him,
to do what he has to do,
no matter how bloody that might be.

He holds each knife by its steel blade
and with a flick of wrist
let’s it fly in a half-spin towards her,
(with much less skill than Sylvester Baum*).

Trust doesn’t flinch when a knife lands
millimeters from the tip of her right ear
or another grazes her left thumbnail.
“More,” she says,

until there’s nothing left to throw.
After the applause, she pulls each knife
from the plank, locks them in a steel case
until they’re needed again.

*Sylvester & Barbara Baum were a German couple and professional
knife throwing act
who began their career in the early 1940s. Sixty
years later they were honoured by the International Knife throwers
Hall of Fame with the “Knife Throwing Pioneer Award” and
the title “Wild West Duo of the 20th Century”.

Talk To Me Like Lovers Do

I slip my legs into red silk knickers.
Put on your control panel pants.

I clasp my transparent lace bra.
Your breasts are going to sag in that rag.

I gaze into the tallboy mirror.
Have you nothing better to look at?

I button up my new frost-blue blouse.
That does nothing for your complexion.

I pull my faux leather skirt over my hips.
You can’t go to shopping in that get-up.

I squeeze into my new turquoise shoes.
No wonder you have bunions.

I spike my hair with some L’Oréal gel.
What happened to your lovely permanent wave?

I lick seeds from passion fruit for breakfast.
It’s a bowl of porridge you should be eating.

I renew my dating app subscription.
Have you nothing better to spend your money on?

I flick through the latest copy of Diva magazine.
Since when did you stop reading Good Housekeeping?

I write a poem about having sex at sixty.
You should be knitting scarfs for grandchildren.

© Anne Walsh Donnelly