Jackie Gorman – Four Poems

jackie gormanJackie Gorman is from Athlone. She been published in Poetry Ireland Review, Wordlegs, The Honest Ulsterman, Headspace, Bare Hands, The Sentinel Literary Quarterly and Obsessed With Pipework. She was long-listed for awards in 2015 such as the Erbaccae Poetry Prize, the Allingham Poetry Prize and the Dermot Healy Poetry Award. Her work has appeared in a number of creative writing anthologies. She received first prize in the 2016 Phizzfest Poetry Awards.

The Stag

Near Cloonark, I step out of my skin
and follow him through the trees.
Tawny antlers rise above the grass like church spires.
Spell of velvet coat, soft wet muzzle and deep brown eyes.
He moves quietly and quickly, knows where he’s going.
I’d go anywhere with him
to follow the hazy scent of memory,
wanting the husky sounds of history.
I drink pure silence as he crosses the stream.

He does what he must to survive,
stripping the bark off ash and birch trees.
He may take something that doesn’t belong to him,
kale or winter wheat, potatoes or rye.
Or perhaps what I want, another chance, another life.

He shows me how to wait without waiting,
to be careless of nothing and to see what I see.
Digging up the soil with his cloven hooves.
The translation of something felt, the dark deep silence
where we dream ourselves human.

My life reflected in his eyes, until I see I am him,
watching him slink towards my slough,
assuming its empty folds and creases.
I found a skin like this before and hastily cast it aside ;
a thin membrane of an old reality.
I should have treated it with delight and not disdain.

I walk out of the woods and the clearing gleams.
Water and words, the trail I leave behind.
He’s breathing behind me, shallow and fast.
My breath whispers like a remembered undertow ;
“here, see me as I am, dark crimson flesh, warm and solid.”

Water Memory

The bottom untouched by sunlight,
heart shrinking down as though the future isn’t real.
Nothing to hold on to.
Musty smell of the lake,
fish and forgotten hooks.
Boats on the horizon.
Just the water before thought.
My hook snagged in the want of this world.
A silent urge to be like water,
flowing yet strong enough to hold a ship.
I draw a fish in my notebook.


In the Strand Book Store in the East Village,
I searched for Persephone.
I found a hard-back book for $30.
I read it again and again and I understood.
She loved the darkness,
the long entrapment,
the bitter-sweet taste of pomegranates and freedom.
She felt more fully alive in her awareness of death,
as she emerged from the long Winter.

The Acorn Shell

You may find an acorn shell.
So small, you’ll wonder why you noticed it.
So clean, all trace of the life it once held consumed.
Warm it in your hands,
it will give a soft light and earthy scent.
When you put it down and walk away,
it may not be seen or held again.

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