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Róisín Tierney
Róisín Tierney

Róisín Tierney is an Irish poet living in London.  Her debut collection The Spanish-Italian Border is published by Arc Publications.  In 2012 she won the Michael Marks Pamphlet Award for Dream Endings (Rack Press, 2011).  Her work also appears in several pamphlet anthologies; Gob by Deegan’s Riposte (Donut Press, 2004), Ask for it by Name (Unfold Press, 2008), and The Art of Wiring (Ondt & Gracehoper, 2011), as well as in many magazines including Poetry Ireland Review, Magma, Horizon Review, The London Magazine, and The Lampeter Review.

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Róisín Tierney Poetry



Imagine my Great-Uncle Mick, a young man then,

working with his father and Tommy, the hired man.

Imagine the father, swearing at Tommy as they worked

felling trees, or fencing, or whatever.  Imagine

the swearing and the bullying and Tommy’s meekness –

he needed, not just his wages, but his keep.

And Mick’s placid nature, you’ll have heard of that?

How he was always cool as cool and hard to rile.

That day he turned and swung for his father,

hitting him hard with his fist and letting him know

that there’d be no more making a mockery

of the hired man on this farm, that Tom

was welcome  on his own terms, so long as he worked.

That put an end to things – that set things straight,

and Tommy Burke lived there until he died.


Some say home’s a place you haven’t to deserve.

When Mick threw that blow it only went to show

that deserving makes no difference, that the boy

with the blue mongrel on a piece of string

outside the supermarket had maybe

no-one to throw for him when it counted –

or that the wayfarer who turns up

in Monkton Wylde three or four times a year

and speaks of how he was brought up in care

‘when mother died of a floating kidney’,

was married once, and once was in the army,

could have done with more of a hand up,

more of a lift, when the time was right.


See there – the leery moon’s as bright as ever.

The earth breathes gently under her cold swell

and the seas rise up to greet her.  I lay to rest

that house where Tommy dandled my small shape

and boiled our eggs for tea.  Since then, my fist,

though smaller than Mick’s great ham,

can throw a solid punch, could take the ground

from under you, for example, knock you flat,

or even lift you up and dust you down,

or furthermore (stop laughing at me) ruffle that quiff

that runs along your crown, your leaning head.

And as for home, why, I’ll take it where I find it,

just as a cloud might hit or miss the moon,

yet continue her trajectory through the sky.

The Blush


He lived down the Littleton Road in his bender,

a homemade number, just a piece of green tarp

pulled over bent willow.  There he tended his she-goat

and minded the fire with bit-sods of turf,

old pieces of timber.  A gentle old man,


he came up to our farm only for water.

It fell into the pail from the tap in the yard. 

As shy as a wild hare he’d nod his head,

we’d nod back at him, and then he would smile.


When the bucket was brimful, it was back to the bender,

to the shaggy white she-goat with vertical pupils

and dung-yellow eyes.  Well-mannered tinker!

When once I swore, out of plain wonder,


with that flowery vocab country children acquire,

one hot afternoon as I passed by his site

with its smoky smell, its olor gitano,

‘Lord Jesus Almighty! She has only two tits!’


(for all other beasts in the known world had

four, or eight, or sometimes twelve,

except for us, to my girlish knowledge),


he coloured and flushed, and a ruddy tinge

seeped up from his neck and raddled his face,

and further rose, this fiery blush,

to his freckled ears, their hot, translucent tips.



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