Five Poems by Steve Denehan

Gossip Magazines, Dog-Eared Children’s Books and Two National Geographics

In the waiting room none of us are sick
we are without diagnosis
without prognosis
we live in the world of the well, the un-sick
until our name is called
and we shuffle into the examination room
listen to our test results
nod as if we understand
feel the heavy cloak of time
drape across our shoulders

we fondly remember five minutes earlier
being healthy enough to be disappointed
that there were only
gossip magazines, dog-eared children’s books and two National Geographic’s
healthy enough to be annoyed by the woman having a full-blown conversation
on speakerphone
so healthy as to wish for an off switch on that baby

we did not realise
until it was too late
that the waiting room
was paradise

Seagulls and Silence

I wipe sea spray from your fringe
you point to the horizon excitedly
there is nothing
only seagulls and silence
I look back and you are gone

I find you in the kitchen
the kettle whistles
and we let it
we pick the dried candle wax off the table
in a walnut coffee haze until
there is a shriek

and I am running
and she has blood running down her shin
ice cream soaks up tears and she
is running
away, once again
later, we play Monopoly and my father phones
we chat, he tells that he has just watched a film
Gregory Peck was so young
I return to giggles and discover
that I have lost my fortune

we laugh, we laugh and never cry
besides our happy tears
and I can still taste the salt of them
and I can still see you all, the ghosts of you
and I know that I shouldn’t go back there
but I do, because only you
only you
can understand


It was our first visit to London
I had expected more
for it to be different
but there it was
old, grey buildings
pasty skinned people shuffling by
the smiles of camera-carrying tourists
the only light
Dublin, with more pigeons

after grabbing a bite to eat
we descended beneath the city
The Tube
that impossible maze of echoing burrows
the smell of rubber, oil and bodies
streams of people
flowing down and down

we arrived at a platform
holding a map with coloured lines
something our daughter might have scribbled
a train was coming
preceded by a charge in the air
the slow rumble exploding
as it roared into our bubble

the train stopped quickly and all the doors flew open at once
a man stepped out
a big man
in a small jacket
the sleeves reaching only halfway down his forearms
he moved in stops and starts
jittering, just yards from us

the train doors closed
a calm and mechanical voice said
Train departing. Please step away from the platform.
within seconds the train was gone
as if it had never been there in the first place
the jittering man looked at me
red-eyed, I saw it dawn on him
“My bag. My bag!”

he ran to the edge of the platform
leaned out
looked into the dark and empty tunnel
and screamed into the thundering silence

Glass Bottom

I am surrounded by smiles
smiles so wide
I find myself wondering
how the smiling faces
do not crack
allowing what is in
to seep out

we stand on a glass bottomed boat
looking down
and through
the underwater cosmos
I find myself wondering
if the glass were to crack
would we fall through
or would the water come
and find us

Shoulder to Shoulder

Months, years pass
she, there
I, here
she, knowing me
I, knowing her, and sometimes hearing
her easy laugh on evening breezes

she had returned from France
a failure
to some, to herself
brave and broad-shouldered
vulnerable, searching, sentimental
hiding in cigarette smoke

I remember
seeing weeds instead of flowers
how knowing
that she was out there
was enough

I remember sometimes
she would find a rain cloud
on a sunny day
under my umbrella
how we would look at sunny-day rain
shoulder to shoulder
how I would nudge her gently
try to make her smile
how sometimes, I did

Steve Denehan @SteverinoD is an award-winning poet who lives in Kildare, Ireland with his wife Eimear and daughter Robin. He is the author of Miles of Sky Above Us, Miles of Earth Below (Cajun Mutt Press), Of Thunder, Pearls and Birdsong (Fowlpox Press), Living in the Core of an Apple (Analog Submission Press) and A Chandelier of Beating Hearts (upcoming with Salmon Poetry). His numerous publication credits include The Irish Times, Poetry Ireland Review, Acumen, Westerly and Into The Void.  He has been nominated for Best of the Net, Best New Poet and has been twice nominated for The Pushcart Prize.

Banner Image : In the Cold by Robert Frede Kenter

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