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Mari Maxwell – Fisherman’s Bait

Maxwell profile Dec 2020

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

Mari Maxwell’s work features in Pendemic.ie; Honest Ulsterman; Headstuff.org; Her Other Language, with Women’s Aid Northern Ireland; Libartes.net (translated to Serbian); Healing Words Exhibition, London, and University College Dublin’s Poetry Wall in 2018 & 2019. Her work is online and in print in Ireland, USA, India, Brazil, Australia and Serbia. She is a 2019 Words Ireland/Mayo County Council mentee, former member of the Irish Writers Centre’s inaugural XBorders project. She received The Story House Ireland/Galway County Council bursary in 2016, The Story House Ireland Residency in 2017. Her poetry/fiction placed second in the Dromineer Literary Festival 2015 & 2008; highly commended for the Francis Ledwidge Poetry Award 2018 & 2014; shortlisted in the 2014 Walking on Thin Ice Short Story Contest; shortlisted in the Cork County Council Arts Service From the Well in 2020 & 2017; and longlisted in the 2013 Over The Edge New Writer of the Year.


Fisherman’s Bait

It sat through Connemara winters
up on cinder blocks
there on the back lawn.

An ebony beetle husk with
ribs splayed to the sky.

Waterproof aged planks
webbed and crumbling
never shifting in Aran winds
nor gales nor hail.

A solid hulk, biding spring
when he upturned the currach,
slathered warm sticky syrup into joints
then stalked the Mayfly and
let the mackerel beckon
them home to Galway Bay.

Upon Reflection

They took your leg
To save your life.
No longer viable,
they said.

They took my breasts.
One cancer journey, and yearly
threats, pokes and squeezing.
I gave them up.
Willingly.

Now we can balance each other,
hold each other up, I said.
It’s not the same, you said.
No mom.
It is not.


Mayo Magic

Outside my window
a hare blurs past.
His white tail shakes
as he bounces by.
And just when I’ve smiled at his
randomness,
he’s gone without a trace.

In the fields where sheep graze,
pheasants court.
The male chafes his desires,
a grating squawk.
Chases her through fence and pasture.
Stretches high, pumps his wings,
his red and tannin waistcoat.

At the edge of the tree line,
where the turlough recedes,
a buck keeps watch.
His doe curls in the copse,
ears alert, her spine a tender curve.
In the softness of her belly
a fawn dozes.

From the depths of Lough Mask
a trout spins high,
up up past the surface.
Rainbows arch and swirl
as the ripples close.

Please Call Them By Their Names

In Hot Springs Arkansas they warned,
don’t climb on the kitchen cabinets
so they zip-tied her to the bed.
Mother used a half-inch thick wooden paddle.
Ligature marks and half-healed scars
across her daughter’s back.
The live-in boyfriend called her Idiot.
A joke, he’d said.

She stood in December frost,
begged for her coat, her medicines.
In a hospital bed, in Ireland’s sunny
south east, he called his mother Fatty.
Can’t anyone take a joke?

In suburban Dublin, father screeched
bastard, imbecile, bollocks.
At dinner, siblings watched tea leaves freckle
their brother’s face.

And so the wheel goes,
spoke by spoke
until the cradle falls.


Winds of Change

You spirited past,
silver light grazing your plumage
as you glided over Lough Mask,
just before the rains upended
and the waves spat white.

Here terns freefall in the breeze
float and scoop the currents,
as the wind guides them sideways
and up, up, up
to where they arc like arrows.

I sit on limestone.
Anchor myself with each bubble burst
and float above the laughing treeline,
the churning water,
to dig deep in the wild iris and lily pads.
Rooted firmly.
Homeward bound.


© Mari Maxwell