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Frances Browner – Exile’s Lament

Browner profile Dec 2020

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Live Encounters Poetry & Writing, Volume One, December 2020.

Frances Browner creative writing/history tutor living in Wicklow. Poetry has appeared in The Irish Examiner, Ogham Stone, Skylight 47, Poems on the Edge, Tales from the Forest, Ink Sweat & Tears, Live Encounters, A New Ulster, Bray Arts Journal, Boyne Berries and on Limerick’s Poetry Trail. Micro-Chap, Selfies, was launched online by Ghost City Press, Syracuse, NY, summer 2019 and collection, Roots & Wings, published by Revival Press, December 2019.


Exile’s Lament

Lying in bed, missing my home town
Two Church spires against a sepia sky
Royal Marine sandwiched in between
Yachts moored at the harbour
In the Baths, children scream
A stroll on the pier, Teddy’s ice cream.

The woman in the Metals every morning
on my way to work, smudged pink lipstick
to match her scarf. Coffee in McCullagh’s
Purple Silk Cut from the corner shop on
Cumberland Street; Friday night pints in
Norah Barnacles, might lead to Peekers.
The shopping centre packed on Saturdays.

One day, I hopped on a 747, not the 7A
landed in America, made my home in
Manhattan, Yonkers and the Bronx
Montauk, on the tip of Long Island.
Ma wrote me letters at the kitchen counter
the mail boat gliding across the Bay.

Twenty years later, everything changed
Buildings boarded up; the centre a shell
the heart torn out, but the soul remained.
The seafront exploding with arts, letters
Pavilion Theatre, Town Hall, Peoples Park
a new Lexicon soaring into the skyline.

Then, things were quiet again, streets empty
dogs roamed. Down the coast in Greystones
I looked out at the same sky, the same sea
but, for a while, it was not to be.
Exiled once more from my home
Outside the five-kilometre zone.

Guitar Gently Weeps

I got no intonation
Strings have lost their zing
Got no inclination, for
Playin’ chords that bling.
Plectrum is a strummin’
Nerves are taut ‘n twangin’
Fingers keep on pluckin’
But, sounds they are a suckin’.
Have I no more Mojo
No key changes, Capo?
Even with this hard neck
Is my beat off a wanderin’
Or am I gone all crappo?
Blank faces in a square
Look back at me and stare
Captivated? Confused?
Mute, unmute, overused.

Hey, hold on, I got it!
No sweat, no threat
No need to fret
I’m on it
No worries, don’t despair
I ain’t outa tune
I just been on Zoom.


She Has To Stand Her Ground

Because you want to buy fancy furniture
And fine paper for your printer
She daily fights illegal loggers
Helps save her husband’s agriculture
Because you like to wear high fashion haute couture
She has to trod barefoot on barren earth
Watch her children choke on polluted water
Stave off drought; suffer beatings and threat
So you can remain outstanding on your ground


© Frances Browner