Poem of the Week | Two Poems by Maeve McKenna

Social Boats, Sinking

By Maeve McKenna


I am screened, polished, mimicked by dumb 

mouths in artificial mirrors, talking back.


The scent of my body, its pungent genetics,

lingers on thin bandages of light peeling free


from nights exhibits. A tiny colony of skin-

flakes, mesmerised by their own invisibility,


flutter with impatience, like a swarm of wasps

flaunting death from the tip of a sting.


The sly tool of daylight staples a noose

across my shoulder blade. I am not numb, 


but weary of these patterns of incision— 

trapped bruises — black cloaks of care, hooded. 


I make a hate poultice, wrap loose and unconscious

layers in a skin-dress made of twine, imitate 


petting on strands of hair falling out of favour, 

taunting fingers tapping like meaningless 


love-beads flung from a string. Suddenly, 

I am a leaking boat full with passengers, sunken 


by the pelt of touch, creamy water foaming, 

minutes cracked in half like an egg hardened by the edge 


of a pot, festering after in narrow throat-canals. 

Diving in, I imagine the drowning, how they let go.


Maeve McKenna

Fist, Moving

By Maeve McKenna


Here, small steps mean I am moving. 

I will track my journey later. For now, I

seem to make progress without me.


I wonder about travel. I remember times 

when it attached a person to the joy of living.

Other times it was a reconstruction: 


neon city, long-neck bottle of beer, the knife 

on CCTV, a body 

all sinew on concrete. That was on TV. 


A woman’s knickers in the back of a taxi — 

not blood-stained or torn, just escaping 

with her bruised knuckles — wasn’t. 


I ask around now why we don’t leave the house. 

The sound is on full volume. People 

always have answers.


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Cover photo by Christopher Campbell on Unsplash

Centre Photo by Piotrek on Unsplash