Executor Sale

The ad said:
approx half an acre,
extensive, magnificent.

A gulp of magpies,
we peck our way
around an empty nest.

The agent has a crooked spine,
eyes of a sparrow hawk,
he flits from our path.

Inside, dark tongues
of floral wallpaper disclose
a smell of mould and must.

A square blue bottle
on the dining table:
Royal Salute Scotch Whiskey, 1801.

The ad said:
approx half an acre,
extensive, magnificent.

A panic button
in the master bedroom;
a cantilevered wheeling table;

depressions in the sand-pink carpet
where the beds' feet stood;
one mustard armchair.

They'll be sold,
jokes a magpie-man,
as props for a film.

Here on the sideboard,
a funeral service sheet, inscribed:
With Christ which is far better.  

The ad said:
approx half an acre,
extensive, magnificent.

Winner of Listowel Writers' Week Single Poem originals competition 2014


Presbytery Curtains

Like the threadbare carpet,
clapped-out cooker, we

are to be thrown in
with the house.

Far from this
our mitred corners.

Did we not pull our weight
for piety, security and insulation?

Far from this
our goblet pleats, our inter-lining.

All these years
we kept you artful and discreet.

Not once
did we swagger or rail,

not once reveal
the catch behind our nets.

Far from this
our custom finish.

Not for us
to draw conclusions.

Fourth place in Hungry Hill Poetry Meets Politics competition 2014

My Husband, The Dog Whisperer

He has taken to quoting
from Cesar Millan,
dog whisperer to the stars,
or at least to the dogs
of the stars.

“It's all about nose,
then eyes, then ears”,
as he sifts the dog's dinner
through his fingers,
folding it with his scent.

He practises the soft bite
on my shoulder,
forming a jaw with his hand,
restrains me as a bitch would her pups;
then practises on the hound.

He turns down the volume
on our favourite series
to nuzzle me gently,
stroke my back, remind me
to get inside the canine mind.

He tries out some whispering
during the ads,
some rehabilitation,
and Minnie does active submission
like she's read the book herself.

Be more like your dog,
he whispers: forgive, take naps,
fill your head with every new scent,
she is our Sirius, our summer,
our brightest star.

Poem appears in North West Words, Poetry for Public Spaces, Donegal, 2014

Email Shirley McClure