Maurice Devitt, The Calm Before

Runner-up in The Interpreter’s House Poetry Competition in 2017, Maurice Devitt won the Trocaire/Poetry Ireland Competition in 2015 and has been placed or shortlisted in many competitions including the Patrick Kavanagh Award, Listowel Collection Competition, and the Over the Edge New Writer Competition. He has had poems published in Ireland, England, Scotland, the US, Mexico, Romania, India, and Australia, runs the Irish Centre for Poetry Studies site, and is a founder member of the Hibernian Writers’ Group.

The Calm Before

If only we could write history
in advance, draft colour-coded
plans for evacuation and supplies,
know exactly where to hide
from the bullying of the storm.

We could spend our morning
on the step, hands shading eyes
from a tricky sun, knowing
that each finger of sky
would remain blue, the puncture
puffs of wind would keep us cool
and then, before the moment arrived,
we could move
our neatly-packed belongings
to the refuge of higher ground.

Instead, we are greeted
by the spectre of an eye
at the window, a scream
in the glassy air
and a twisted breath
making kindling of our homes.

Play Your Cards Right

The strange thing is
we can only lie
when we know the truth,
only cheat
when there’s something to lose
and beginner’s luck
never repeats
so if it feels
like love at first sight,
don’t deal
from the bottom of the deck,
don’t confuse
a diamond with a heart.

Cornflower Blue

Buried at the back of the hot press
this old cardigan of yours.
A summer colour in a winter sale,
a shield against the darkness
that sometimes crept into your eyes,
it matched everything you wore.

* * *

But what is it about time and taste
that prompts us to cast off
our favourites, yet never
give them away? Woven
with some small relic of our past,
it is like the reassurance
of a friend lost somewhere
in a crowded room – no need
to touch or even see, their power lies
in knowing they are there.

* * *

I leave the cardigan casually
on a chair, as though expecting you
to walk in anytime and put it on.




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