Maurice Devitt – three poems

A Simple Twist of Fate

And in the nub of time
you will wake to a day
that seems to fit every dream
you have forgotten
and the light, the cautious light,
will seep into a blotting-paper sky.

Maybe then this will all make sense.

How he never told you
about the illness until it was
too late, how her name appeared
from nowhere to claim the house
and how, after the funeral, every call
seemed to be the undertaker
looking to settle his bill.


Homeless

The doors on your street
have become strangers,
the windows no longer smile
and the dogs bark
at your unfamiliar shadow,

as though, when you received
the letter to return the key,
someone secretly erased
the years of carrying messages
from the shop, buggy wheels

finding every crack, and
pretending you had some to spare
when neighbours called
to borrow sugar.

Now you hurry past in the glim
of evening, breath catching
as you hear a child
crying in the empty hall.


One Summer Evening

Only the trees will remember –
the road ribboned in the evening haze,
a car, full to bursting, tacking
the corner of that stingy chicane
and the quiet certainty of a man
puttering home in the outside lane.

A brother, once back-seated
and buoyant, now jostling
for his life. A sister waits,
wishing she could whisper life
into spent breath and ignore
the raven tapping on the glass.


In 2016 Maurice was selected for the Poetry Ireland Introductions Series and shortlisted for the Listowel Poetry Collection Competition. Winner of the Trocaire/Poetry Ireland Competition in 2015, he has been placed or shortlisted in many competitions including the Patrick Kavanagh Award, Over the Edge New Writer Competition, Cuirt New Writing Award, Cork Literary Review and the Doire Press International Chapbook Competition. A guest poet at the ‘Poets in Transylvania’ festival in 2015, he has had poems published in various journals in Ireland, England, Scotland, the US, Mexico, Romania, India and Australia, is curator of the Irish Centre for Poetry Studies site and a founder member of the Hibernian Writers’ Group.

Maurice Devitt – three poems

Domestic

On dark nights she taunts him
with names from her past,
men she’d had

in the eavesdropping rooms
of cheap hotels, men
who slobbered love,

then left her with the aura of sweat
and a crumpled bank-note.
Tonight he remembers their names

recites them
like a litany of devils,
voice spiralling

until it cracks
and in the sharp cold of morning
he heeds her advice –

Be sure
to button your duffel-coat
right up to the neck


Growing Up in Colour

We argued
was grey really light black
or dark white? It didn’t matter,
either way you wanted red,
the colour of a dress
you had seen
on the back of The Bunty
when you were ten,
cut out with precision
and blunt scissors.

The uniform chaos
of your teenage years,
lost in a sea of slate
and beige, brightened
with a sneak of lipstick
for the short walk home
and later your first tattoo,
a small red heart
still waiting for a name.


Missing

You disappeared on one of those bright,
geometric days when everything is visible
and now we fill the hours
with imaginings of you. Waving
from the deck of a cruise ship
on the Baltic, the man beside you
turns his face away. On a forest path
not far from here, a stranger,
chasing a dog, spots you walking alone,
but always yesterday, never today.
Then hazy pixels of you,
goofing on the street corner
of some vaguely familiar town, face
scarfed against the wind, eyes scuffed.
And every day we wake
while the clock sleeps, lie listening
for your cough in the morning mist.


A graduate of the MA in Poetry Studies at Mater Dei, Dublin-based Maurice Devitt recently won the Trócaire/Poetry Ireland Competition 2015. He has been placed or shortlisted in many competitions including the Over the Edge New Writer Competition, Cuirt New Writing Award, the Listowel Writers’ Week Collection Competition and the Doire Press International Chapbook Competition. He has had poems published in various journals in Ireland, England, Scotland, Mexico, the US, Mexico, India and Australia and is a founder member and chairperson of the Hibernian Writers’ Group.