The house compacted
then opening up so fast
like a popcorn kernel
or a stop motion flower
exploding with my laughter after
my four year old son’s first joke –
wit like a whip crack
snapping out from his mouth.
In the hall my daughter spins
into her dream of being
a gymnast, she flips back
bends and unfurls herself.
The room is stirred with her energy,
her aura moving through the air
like slow motion orbs of water.
Her older sister has curled up
on the couch, stares into her phone,
opens herself in pixels.
Shows her feelings as letters
sent to an invisible boy.
When the tick turns green on her screen
what comes in reply is like a bomb
going off in her endocrine system.
She walks to the kitchen.
Her mother is making spaghetti Bolognese,
no frills just the sauce from a jar,
We like it simple.
The steam of it on the walls.
The drone of the extractor fan.
The small ceremony
of cutlery thrown across the table.
The daughter helps and can’t help smiling.
Her mother doesn’t know why
but smiles as well.
This is the soft machine of our life.
Last night the house was warm without the heating on.
This morning sunlight woke us one by one
and the noise of a teen hurtling across
the green outside, gunning a scrambler,
accelerating, feeling the wind in his hair.
Inside the engine, small bursts of fire
while his tyres run over the grass.
In the dark beneath this all
new bulbs push hard against the clay.
I saw you coming that night.
It was a long time coming this fight.
You thought you had power on your side,
but my hands had the momentum of pain.
The hole you bore into my chest
by poking and poking with your finger
fed a dynamo that spun so relentless,
with the speed of a hummingbird’s wings.
It felt good to stick my thumbs in your mouth.
It felt good to cut my knuckles on your teeth.
It felt good to let the blackness out,
you’d spent years pouring into me.
Now I no longer hear crying in the wind.
I no longer dread the screams of my mother.
I no longer feel trapped in my bedroom.
I made bastards of my sister and brother.
The Weight of Homelessness
(or How to Think like a Homeless Father)
Think of every material thing, as a tiny hook.
A way to keep your grip on life.
Think of the gifts you buy at Christmas time
to be unwrapped in the morning.
Think of your family sitting around, like in an old painting
of nomads sitting beside animal skins or scalps.
Think of that celebration, the counting of those spoils.
Your reward at the end of a long year.
The things you did to make it through the winter.
Think of the dollhouse you bought for your daughter
so huge, it loomed over all of the other presents.
Think of the neighbours knocking
at your front door to gasp in awe.
Think of her little cousin’s pupils dilated with envy.
Picture the pleasure of putting that dollhouse together,
one of the last things you do before it all falls apart.
Now think of your daughter crying about the dollhouse
while you walk the streets, or sleep in your car.
Everything you own packed into a storage space
like tokens in a shrine.
Think of the furniture you sat together on,
your favourite knife and fork,
framed photographs of holidays and birthday parties.
And think of the Dollhouse sitting there,
holding its own under all that weight.
Think of that pressure everyday.
All poems copyright © Colm Keegan 2018