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Paul Maddern

Paul Maddern was born in Bermuda and lives in Co. Down. A winner in the 2009 Templar Poetry Pamphlet Competition, with Kelpdings, his ensuing collection, The Beachcomber’s Report (Templar, 2010) was shortlisted for the 2011 Eithne Strong Award. For his PhD at Queen’s University Belfast, he created the Seamus Heaney Centre Digital Archive, an online
resource housing recordings of writers reading their work in public. He will be Teaching Fellow in Creative Writing at the University of Leeds in 2012.





Island Fever







Island Fever



At the height of the lazy season

when there was only the will to observe  


and I first asked how the sea conceived

and contained all of its varied blues,


if waves blooming silently off the reef

were the frills of Gabriels petticoats

of which the old families spoke,


how you could doze in such heat,

distant, secure, no trace

of last nights domestic disturbance,


or if your eyes were wide open

beneath that eccentric sun-hat,


and was it you who hummed the ex-pats

Calypso tune, knowing this wasnt the day

the tropical rock could equal its promise,


a day when yellow bird high up in banana tree

sit all alone, like you and me

was it then you devised our escape route?









Lydia i.m.



1: The Opera Season


As youre no longer here to contradict me

memories can be embellished.


Robert practises his flute,

the sleepwalkers trills and arpeggios

from Lucia di Lammermoor.

Hes note perfect, but only in my mind

do I provide a counterpoint à la Callas

and admire the responsive embouchure.


And you are there, Lydia: hip Mother Cool,

setting your table for my sixteenth birthday request,

the famous lasagne and the promise of a beer.

My mother keeps busy close by,

unfamiliar with the music

but nonetheless in tune with its fragility.

Shes been woken rudely from a dream.

So far, the indifference of youth has been my cover.


Outside the dining-room window

crimson hibiscus folds in

and might weather what looks to be a storm.

You wink and return the metaphor (Only a squall)

and offer grace for families, my mother

who adds a coda by squeezing my hand.

I dont pray but watch the flower heads shiver

as the sleepwalker passes.


Ive embellished only the last detail

but cannot think to contradict it.



2: Mid Summer


You will question the memory

but its the day after and before

I disappoint you more.

Youre with Lydia, in her garden.

She listens kindly as usual.                                                                                                         


Jamie and I are in the glassed veranda

on the edge of the burnt lawn,

rattan blinds failing to deflect the heat.

I rest my head on a bleached window ledge

as I cant pay attention

to the umpteenth screening of Mr. Roberts,

known so well that Jamie absently duets

with Cagney or Lemmon or Fonda.

Raising the corner of a blind,

I look past poinciana

to the mosquito net pergola

where the two of you share a chaise-longue.

I might be forgiven for thinking

Mothers Risen from a Peaceful Siesta.


You will question the memory

but as you lift a dripping tumbler

and sip iced-tea, the splash

of a palm tree thrown overboard

provides the only punctuation.



©2012 Paul Maddern




Author Links


Paul Maddern at Templar

Poetry Proper: magazine edited by Maddern

Poetcasting: listen to more poems by Maddern







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