Bridge to Global Literature

Let’s all remember that more and more poetry gets lost without earnest attempts at translation.Read poetry here to get a glimpse of the rhythms and resonances of languages you don’t know.

Poems by Helen Meneilly

Jul 30, 2021 | Poetry | 0 comments

Good Friday 2021
the 23rd anniversary of the 1998 Agreement ending decades of conflict in Northern Ireland

City lights combat the stars on a black battleground,
lit red at every edge. My thumb rifles stories
on-screen, scrolling past pictures of armoured cars,
riot police, and balaclava-clad.
Appeal for calm. Refresh.
Stay in your homes. Refresh.
Youths throwing stones. Refresh.
Car ablaze. Refresh.
Bottles, bricks, petrol bombs.

I tease a thread of skin from my bit lip and hang
my eyes on the moon instead. A bone shaving
suspended, unsure
if it’s waxing or waning.



I am a flesh memory of tired transgressions
skin and bone description of one sin.
inside a story I bury myself
by the tide. body of sand thick up to
the neck, a would-be funeral dress of
dirt. lips split open on the salted wind,
carved white arms, as roots, hang still. each
foot a husk of travel beside its twin.

then I rise

reverse the sunset as I ignite:
Byzantine beacon
dream-lit, calling no one
to my side.

how I die

folds into the hushed horizon.
each innocent wrist plays a
gentle drum, softly asking
me to turn
consuming a sickness
the way a flame breathes:
eating the air just to burn.


Helen Meneilly is an Irish poet from Belfast, who has studied at both Queen’s University and the Open University. Her work explores themes of identity, mental health, language and feminism.


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