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Falling in love with broken things

Alvy Carragher

ISBN: 978-1-910669-43-3

Page Count: 74

Publication Date: Monday, June 13, 2016

Cover Artwork: Cover Illustration: Lucy Carragher. Cover design: Siobhan Hutson

Click to play movie Alvy Carragher reads her poem "te amo / je t'aime / i love you" play
Click to play movie Alvy Carragher reads her poem "Canal Bank Moon Walk" play
Click to play movie Alvy Carragher reads her poem "Numb" play

About this Book

Falling in love with broken things can be described as a coming-of-age narrative or Bildungsroman. Alive with crisp images, the poems range from childhood memories of freedom and enchantment to the uncertainties of adolescence and young adulthood. Unflinchingly, they look at early experiences of loss, at complex and ambivalent family relationships and the mysteries of love and heartbreak. Moving outward geographically from the nucleus of family, countryside and school, to university years and further to a wider world beyond Ireland, the poems’ courageous and attractive honesty and emotional depth are achieved through the poet’s control of poetic techniques and language, and her unique blending of traditional forms and “spoken word” styles. Alvy Carragher is a skilful and sensitive poet who, astonishing in someone so young, possesses a high degree of psychological insight and tact, and her portrayal of the emotional undercurrents between people is at the same time forceful and subtle. It is a first collection that will resonate with and delight readers, a book they won’t want to put down until they have finished it in one sitting.  


Author Biography

Alvy Carragher received a First Class Honours in her MA in Writing from The National University of Ireland Galway, where she focused on poetry. A pushcart nominee, she has been listed for many prizes including: Over the Edge New Writer of the Year, The Gregory O’Donoghue Award, The Cúirt New Writing Prize, Doire Press International Poetry Competition, and the Irish People’s Poetry Prize. She is a two-time All-Ireland Slam Poetry Finalist, a Slam Sunday Winner, Connaught Slam Champion and a Cúirt Grand Slam Poetry Champion. In 2016, she was selected for the Poetry Ireland Introduction Series, and was chosen to represent the series at a reading in New York. She has performed at many festivals throughout the country, and even abroad, including: Cúirt International Literary Festival, Edinburgh Fringe Festival, Electric Picnic, Body and Soul, Lingo Spoken Word Festival, and Imagine Waterford Arts Festival. Her poems have featured on RTE’s Arena on several occasions. Her work has appeared in various publications. She is also an award-winning blogger, and her blog With All the Finesse of a Badger has been archived by the National Library of Ireland. 

Read a sample from this book

Te amo/ Je t’aime/ I love you

smell the beeswax on the dinner table, sister,
muffled quiet, tick of clock hands,
cough out words, try to say the missing thing,
rub the scab on your forehead, your protective moon 
hardened around silences you still can’t translate,
even now you’re grown, a woman
the girl in you hates the ways of the woman
you should have figured it out by now, sister,
sound of knife scratch on plate, you cannot translate,
the secrets of foreign words in your hands,
tongue whispering French under a Spanish moon
and vodka makes words sound like the right thing
scribble your name in the sand, photograph things,
post them online, convince yourself of this woman,
eyes caught sad, smile as big as the moon,
who are you looking at with all that regret, tell me sister,
the next snapshot shows you making gang symbol hands,
thug life and a grin cracked open, for us to translate
haven’t seen you in months, easier to translate,
the odd email, filling my inbox with thing after thing,
you theme another party to stop the shake in your hands,
phone to say you feel like the hollow of a woman,
meaning beeswax and childhood, meaning dinner table, sister,
come home, let’s yell profanities at the moon
you’re a shitbag, fuckwit, calloused old moon, 
a sentence anyone can translate, 
meaning fuck you moon, you won’t eat me alive, sister,
not if you shout back, punch the thing,
rise up against it, I’m asking you, woman, 
stop making it worse with the click of your hands
counting Facebook likes, till there’s love in your hands,
at night, awake under the bitch of your moon,
it shapes you, makes you this woman,
who says amor and amour as if you can translate
them into words that you understand, the right thing
is to find love in our language, sister
you woman, have amor scratched into your hands,
you, sister, are amour in the light of our childhood’s moon,
translating love, yes, love, to find the missing thing

Canal bank moon walk
I want the sky to be monumental, but it won't cooperate,
better to think about the moon, to stalk the walk of moon talk,
once, you pointed to its round orb, said it's a mystery for lovers,
I laughed, but you never meant to be funny
I don't dance like Michael Jackson or know like Kavanagh,
Who would have understood the way you spoke, 
always filling each syllable with meaning, 
you saw the magnitude in each blade of grass,
those clumps of green hulking with metaphors
I sit on the bench, where you said goodbye,
the place where you first told me your sadness,
we watched a furled swan unravel as if to crack our skulls,
you said something about beauty or transience,
I saw only its hard beak, capable of bone break,
back then, I must have been scared of everything, 
fear of swans, mostly, and dying without saying anything
as for the canal, in all its borrowed romance, 
you pointed at our trapped reflection,
said we're stuck in a moment of time, 
and I cursed your brain magic,
I felt nothing, no shimmer, just a watery fish-grave 
full of coke cans and slouched condoms
after you left, I started to see others – 
doctors, bankers, anyone without a thought for the canal,
I keep their kisses, they don't make me feel insignificant, 
they don't know about moonwalking canal banks, 
or how you gave me night-time flutters,
they see the dead water that I see, 
their scarves are thick and braced for winter, 
they all have warm skin, not like,  
your cold hand pointing at the moon


a mouldy old house party, crushed into the dustbin, 
as he kissed me, the smell of a dead fish
and I was thinking, this is not ideal, not ideal,
kept glancing over his kisses at a girl in the corner
passed out from space cakes and a dog with cross-eyes
I could have sworn was trying to save me

in the cold room, just upstairs, my hands shivering
in the new moon of a fresh year,
thinking this is not what I resolved,
the burn of whiskey between us 
trying to mean something,
and I was thinking, this is not romantic, not romantic,
his hands snatching at me in darkness,
the black of spiders crawling behind my eyelids,
the scrawl of his body pushing me backwards,
and I was thinking, not here, not here

but he didn’t know what no means,
didn’t know that it was a barrier I was setting up between us,
that it was a wish not to wake four times from my dreams
to his hands and all their nightmares

no meant that it hurt to be drowned in desire,
no was the white of my mind as I shut down 
and off until it was all just silence,
’til it was all just movements,
no was my eyes fixed on a ceiling crack
as he moved above me,
hoping it would splinter outwards
and let the stars through

no is a word I’ve had misunderstood before
by a long term boyfriend
after we first split, 
he whispered to me in the 
back room of my mother’s house
the same thing,
the step too far,
the kind of guy that doesn’t know
what no means 
afterwards, saying we’ll get married,
my heart screaming no, no, no
my heart saying, baby, 
you don’t know what you’ve done

I thought it was my fault, 
blamed my short skirt,
or my big eyes,
how they were asking for it 
under all that mascara

I’ve heard this same story too many times
most days it’s not even mine,
these skeletons of men 
that don’t know what no means,
we tell each other stories about one night stands
that don’t sound like one night stands, laugh-hollow
at things we don’t understand, not realising that
the way you said no, it meant something,
even if he never heard you
this is not our fault
no short skirt, or lingerie, or red lipstick 
can speak for you

because no means no
and what about the wedge of another word,
beneath your tongue
not sure you should say it, 
because it belongs with strangers faces,
and dark alleys and spiked drinks, 
rape is a whisper from another girl 
a kind of helpless stranger

I kissed both those men goodbye
because I wanted it to be more
than a headache of memory,
more than a dead thing sitting on my chest,
more than the thought of them 
criss-crossed and dead-eyed above me,
how it happens again and again and again
more than a girl whose been fucked-over and under, 
until she can’t remember if she said no,
can’t remember if she meant it

All poems copyright © Alvy Carragher 2016

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