Berni Dwan

Berni likes to write and perform a kind of poetry that she describes as Frankly Blank Verse, and she does so regularly at Takin the Mic in the Irish Writers Centre. In March 2016, as part of the Scene and Heard Festival, she performed her one-woman show, Unrhymed Dublin, in Smock Alley Theatre. Her poems have been published in The Galway Review, A New Ulster, Stepaway, and the Irish Times New Irish Writing page. In October 2017, she earned second prize for poetry in the Johnathan Swift Creative Writing Awards. Her work has been broadcast on RTE’s Sunday Miscellany and Lyric FM’s Quiet Quarter. Her essays have appeared in Headstuff and Ireland’s Own. She is working on an A to Z of Historical Blunders that should never have been repeated.


Old Hand

I saw you on a Dublin bus at the

end of a faded giant’s arm

of shovel-like proportions

resting on a shaky plateau

like a Komodo Dragon.

Archipelago of liver spots,

fingers like Cuban cigars

tipped with tarmacadam, veins

networked like Spaghetti Junction –

possibly you helped to build it? The

shards of your youth and middle age

buried near Birmingham’s M6; your

services no longer required. You are a

returned navvy; an endangered species. I


am ashamed to meet your rheumy eyes

relentlessly crying rivulets down weathered

trenches. I can’t ignore the rumbling volcanoes

that are your lungs. The smokes and booze that dulled

the pain for forty years, have wasted you. Might


your fourteen-year-old hands have resembled those of

Oscar Wilde before his stint in Pentonville and Wandsworth?

Your stint was longer, though you lasted the course and

here you are on a Dublin bus; miraculous wreck; still breathing.


Your hand betrays your past.


Feeding Station

“Setting up a feeding station?”

the man in the pet store asks. I stack

nesting boxes, bird feeders, nuts

& seeds on the counter.

All the ingredients to give them

the feast they deserve. The term


jars with me – “feeding station”. I picture

starving, pot-bellied children, arms

languidly swatting flies, eyes

searching for justice in an

uneven world.


& what of my feeding station? For all

my pretty ones? No starving

birds in Ireland, yet a

swallow’s flight away, death

snaps at bony heels. No


politicians die from hunger. They

reach the end of their mortal coil looking

more alive & sustained in death than those

blameless wraiths at feeding stations. The


world will be evens when

famine victims eat as well as

Irish birds.



© 2018 Berni Dwan