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.
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.
“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
& 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
© 2018 Berni Dwan