Four poems by Liz Quirke

Liz Quirkewas born in 1985 and is from Tralee, Co Kerry and lives in Spiddal, Co Galway. She has been published or has poetry forthcoming in Revival Literary Journal, The Stony Thursday Book, Boyne Berries and Skylight Poets. She won the 2012 Edmund Spenser Poetry Competition at the Doneraile Literary and Arts Festival and was shortlisted in the Over The Edge New Writer Of The Year Competition 2012.


Four poems by Liz Quirke



When I die, bring me to the lake

and pour me in. Don’t scatter.

I want my toes to mingle

with the clay at the bottom.

I will become part of the sediment,

constant and forgotten.


And fish will nibble on my innards

and transport me to tables

all around Boluisce,

as a reminder to torchlight

poachers that they can never know

exactly what they’re eating.


My hair will sway among the rushes,

caressing the soggy shore.

My shoulders will fall into holes

left by bedraggled cattle

trying to water themselves.


My heart, I want you to lob

into the middle of the lake

like a stone wrapped in a letter,

where a salmon will find it

and make it its own.


All this, love, so when you sit

in the damp, my hair will

brush your hand and my heart

will graze your hook.

and the wind will carry my mouth

saying “catch me, I’m yours.”



Peering into that small sitting room,

the one with the fireplace built

by the brother who died alone.


A chamber lit with forty watts

and a Sacred Heart.

Cigarette smoke gives it a

romantic hue,

other worldly to child eyes.


Way past bedtime,

listening to the man

in the good chair.

His face is crinkled tissue

smoothed by fingers raised

to fix a cap, or left to linger

around his cheeks

while lips are busy with a fag.


He is pulled weeds and winter,

whiplash laugh and snare-drum cough.

Rattling as conversation leaps in waves

of which fella is a chancer

and the lay-offs at the council,

tales of feats of strength

by men the size of houses,

of times they broke horses out the back,

of great hurlers pickled with drink,

back-slapped and sodden.


Peering around the door,

chanting silent incantations

to make myself invisible.

Father to my father.

Grandfather to my grandfather.

Your standing stone shadows all of us

and from the light of banished dark,

your past warms small bones.



You are not flesh of my flesh

or blood of my blood,

but I will cherish you.


You are coming

from among the reeds,

where you have been waiting

for me to lift you up.


I can hear the slop and suck

of drink against driftwood,

and I feel the shifting course

of your voyage.


Your beating heart echoes

inside my own,

and somewhere off in the dark

and space between us,

your little hands reach out.



They took you in and

made a bed for you to rest

Shared water siphoned

from leaf to leaf

Held your hands

to ease your settling

Welcomed each limb

into timid embrace


Sleep induced by

powder fragrance

Gave you mountain strength

and will to stand

Recorded your rising

into the firmament

Sweeping your forehead

Brushing your hair

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