Laura Cleary is a 27-year-old poet living in Dublin. Her poetry has appeared in Ascent Aspirations magazine, wordlegs and barehandspoetry as well as forthcoming editions of The Poetry Bus and can can. Her poem “Breaking Point” was shortlisted for the 2011 iYeats Emerging Talent Award, losing out in a whirl of sexual tension to the magnetic Kerrie O’Brien. She currently lives in Leopardstown with her partner Colm and an extensive nail polish collection.

Three Poems by Laura Cleary



A slither of footprints was all that she left

That morning last year for her mother and I

To wake to, frantic, an hour behind

-She turned the clocks back, a deft goodbye kiss-

So we scurried to work, determined to last

To lunch without breakfast, unconcerned with her


That whole working day, not one thought of her

Until we returned, realised she had left

Her bedroom unlocked, ransacked to the last

Kirby grip – not one blesséd clip for her mother or I

To keep, to fondle its zig-zags, round ends, to kiss

The strands still caught up, that she could leave behind


But didn’t. Our Best Girl left nothing behind

But curling, popped blister packets of hers

Emptied of Ketamine, Xanax, Codeine, the Barbituate kisses

That left her suspended, glass-eyed as a trout, left

Out on display, still gleaming though glass-eyed

Though dead. She arrived here, home, July thirteenth last


Four months, nine days, longest she’s lasted

So far. She’ll be back. She comes back whenever she’s run behind

On birth-control, self-control, all control, aye

“Run behind”, she says, a favourite of hers

It might be the last excuse she has left,

But then, we always relent with stiff kisses


As though they would help. As though she knew kisses

That didn’t say “Last. Come on. Last

Until I finish, girl.” She’s sure we don’t see the life that she left

Our home for. We do. We see marks left behind

When we bathe her poor body, then dry her, then dress her

Then stand her back up. Year before last she arrived with black eyes


Half swollen shut. She tried to convince her mother and I

She fell forward, clipped her face on a step, but we saw the kiss

That disfigured her breast, his fingertip bruises medallioned upon her

Blue streaks round her neck. We whispered and wondered how long would they last

Convinced she would stay,“she CAN’T leave us behind

Not now, not knowing the life that she’s left”


She did. Again. She left us behind. Her mother and I

With a straight trail of footprints, in lieu of a kiss.

We fell. Knelt with our last trace of her. Until the snow fell, again.


Mister Montgomery

My fingers ran scarlet

From an uncapped lipstick

Mashed through a handbag

I unearthed last week


Your face bled to mind

Vacant and mismatched

Ancient and



I remembered our mornings

Undoing saved wages,

Makeup endeavours

To make us grown up


We’d swear through our paint

Sticky fisted with gin

Aped laughter


Smashed vases




I’d slur to your right ear

You drove me too far,

Aped laughter


Smashed vases





All her shirts smothered her

Budding torso

Still downy, still white, still

Twelve, though twenty-two


She liked to roll numbers through

-out her mouth, watching jaws pump

Endlessly on, while sitting for days

She’d graze her great clavicle

Play her breast plate


She wore air like a fox fur

Viscous and weighty,


She claimed (“Live.



My flesh must have folded

Round crumbs of her scent,

Months afterward

I could taste her decay.