Poetry Sharing: The Crack in the Looking-Glass

Hi folks! I’ve been writing a lot more poetry recently, which has me excited because I went through a very dry spell last year. Not having the time to commit to writing can really make you feel like you’ve lost your spark. The longer you leave it go, the harder it becomes to turn the the line.

Field in summer with wooden fence.
Field in Summer

I’m not writing particularly well at the moment, but I’m writing and I think that’s something to  celebrate. My journey with poetry began when I was 14-years-old while studying English in secondary school. It wasn’t that I read a few poems and thought ‘yeah, I could do that’, but more that I enjoyed reading poetry. My English teacher at the time was very enthusiastic too and I suppose it was slightly infectious!

After secondary school I went on to major in English and Creative Writing. Luckily for me, second year contained a creative writing module dedicated to poetry facilitated by writer Mary O’Donnell. I’ve always thought I should have shared my writing from this time more, so I’m going to be blogging some of the poetry I’m currently writing along with some from a collection I wrote for my thesis. I was lucky enough to also have Mary O’Donnell as a supervisor during my final year and she gave me constant encouragement and advice which I am very grateful for. The collection I wrote during third year is called ‘The Crack in the Looking-Glass’. The silly joke behind the name is that Joyce had a ‘nicely polished looking-glass‘ that he was going to allow the Irish people to have a look at themselves in through his writing. My humble mirror was cracked at the time of writing – at least, that is my excuse. Here is the introduction to the collection followed by the poem ‘The Fruit Fields’.  I wrote this poem about adventures I had with my childhood best friend. We were 11 at the time and always up to no good!


The collection reviews the events and imaginings of a young adult, with the theme of adulthood being coupled with themes such as urbanity, materialism, change –destruction is presented as a necessity to this change – and nostalgia. There are many poems about childhood too, such as ‘The Stolen Child Garden’ and ‘Punched into Colour’, which reverence the period of childhood as a time of great creativity and exploration. Childhood is depicted as a time when a person has the freedom of being sheltered from society. I have placed the child in nature much throughout the collection, in juxtaposition to the adult who occupies a more domestic, ordered and contained space. For example, in poems such as ‘The Builders’ and, the title poem of this collection, ‘The Crack in the Looking-Glass’, the subject mostly inhabits the confines of the home. ‘The Doll House’ emphasises the child’s deviation from the domestic sphere, by mocking and subverting the regulations of that space through child’s play. There are also themes of economic collapse (Cocaine Hats), domestic abuse (‘Make you Sorry’), family and friends (‘An Artist’, ‘blu-hay-arr’), love and heartbreak (‘Perfume’), drug abuse (‘Cocaine Hats’, ‘Chimney Whispers’), aquaphobia (‘Towers’, ‘The Drowning’) suicide (‘The Drowning’), sexual exploration (‘Boots’), female desire (‘Boots’, ‘Perfume’), self-harm (‘Towers’) and death (‘Death of a Magpie’ ‘Changeling’) in this collection.  My main concerns in The Crack in the Looking-Glass are the experiences and non-experiences of a young person in present day Ireland. 

fruit picker
Fruit picker

The Fruit Fields
She was Curly and I was Moe.
We knew no other Stooge.
That summer we picked fruit
for newly-minted money.
Almost everyone made me nervous but
anything made her so.

Curly and I visited the graveyard often.
Travellers’ graves were grandest
but unkempt –
their headstones yellowed with flaky lichen.

We liked to roam fields, scaring livestock.
The priest’s avenue was a favourite of ours.
She and I scaled its high granite walls
for the sake of the overgrown garden –
always where we weren’t supposed to be
and ready to fall silent.
Curly had great ears, and I gave a good leg-up.

Some days we went to church and prayed for people,
other times we cycled our bikes up and down the aisles.
Things took our fancy.
During dress-up she peeped at me to figure herself out.
I glanced back at her crystal-blue eye
and nothing had happened.

We grew tired of fishing for stubs to smoke.
On a walk back to her matchbox house
Curly spotted a damp pack of Silk-Cut Purple:
long skinny 100s like Our Lady’s pale fingers.

I lit some off the Sanctuary Lamp in St Joseph’s and
told her those things were always burning.
We smoked and our heavy summer
slipped from around us –
like another mirage on the road to the fruit fields.

Thanks for reading!

Poetry Sharing: The Crack in the Looking-Glass

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