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Best of Irish Poetry 2010
Editor: Matthew Sweeney
Songs of Earth and Light
Barbara Korun poems translated by Theo Dorgan
Done Dating DJs
by Jennifer Minniti-Shippey
Winner, 2008 Fool for Poetry Competition
Richesses: Francophone Songwriter Poets
Edited and translated by Aidan Hayes
Munster Literature Centre
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Michael McKimm (b. Belfast, 1983, now based in London) won an Eric Gregory Award from the Society of Authors in 2007. His poetry has appeared in PN Review, The Warwick Review, Horizon Review and Best Irish Poetry in English 2010. His collection Still This Need (Heaventree Press) was published in 2009. In 2010 he was an International Writing Fellow at the University of Iowa.
The Ice Harvest
Honorary Mention in the 2011 Gregory O'Donoghue International Poetry Competition
At that time of the year the river froze
and the men entered my life, young and old,
men who thought no difference between
felling timber and sawing blocks from ice,
who carried hats in their hands before
my mother, and had snow in their beards,
huge furls of snow that came with them
from Iowa, Illinois, wind-harried, twisted
ghosts, laying down on the ice, day after day.
I took them soup, eggs when we had them.
When their fingers blued or bled I used
warm water, salts, tried to eke a smile
from their sunken eyes, and if there was
a fiddle night I’d dance, short silly jigs.
Each afternoon I went out with their lunch
on a woven sled. The ice creaked under
the weight of men but did not budge, seemed
to like the stress and heave, the give
and the not-give, its interminable strength:
Look what I have done to your great river.
Stopped it in its tracks. I went from man
to man with bread and coffee, watched them
guide the horses on the grids, the one-armed
saws going in, picks nudging loose blocks
into the channel. They laughed at me
shivering. That’ll shrink your balls. Boys
not much older than me had sawdust
in their hair and on their undershirts
when they returned from the ice house. It fell
like quavers of snow to the kitchen floor.
They taught me cards, forbidden games.
I did not tell them of the part I’d play
in the coming months, when they were gone,
when ice that was not loaded onto trains
was hauled around the summer streets,
sold to cool the drinks in the big hotel.
I did not tell them this, or other things,
just pretended all was dory when the trees
began to drip and we welcomed in the thaw.
©2011 Michael McKimm
Michael McKimm home page
5 poems by McKimm in Horizon Magazine (Salt)
The Messages, another McKimm poem in Southword