Page Count: 70
Publication Date: Friday, November 01, 2019
Cover Artwork: Photography: Jessie Lendennie
About this Book
“Paul Balfe’s poems are distinguished by a forensically intelligent eye for the telling detail which cuts to the heart of seemingly inconsequential encounters or childhood memories. All are rendered fresh in poems that need no recourse to verbal pyrotechnics to lodge themselves within our imaginations. Whether describing a father and a son seeing their past and future within each other; a child remembering his mother finding momentary sanctuary in a grotto off Meath Street or a cow finding no sanctuary from the harsh reality of farming; a horrific case of incest summed up in the rage of four dispassionate lines; the curious juxtaposition of a hospice built beside a graveyard or an ingrained memory of how social distinctions were revealed even within the coded buttons of confirmation outfits; Balfe mines universal truths from everyday life, dissecting his experiences in poems that are shrewd, honest, humane, unflinching and memorable.”
A child of the 60s, Paul Balfe grew up in Dublin. He studied Medicine at Trinity College Dublin and is currently a practicing surgeon at St. Luke’s Hospital, Kilkenny. He was awarded the September 2016 Irish Times/Hennessy New Irish Writing award for poetry. This is his first collection.
Read a sample from this book
An eerie stillness infuses the landscape.
You sit outside, back to the whitewashed wall,
Staring through the twilight gloom.
It’s the Winter of your life, the Summer of mine.
Father and son – separated by more than a season.
A sidelong glance, we observe the other observing.
You, what you were,
Me, what I will become.
Your beauty your downfall.
You knew the ways of men
And you a child.
Self-respect long gone,
You squandered your body
For a few coins.
Until someone saw you for you,
Spoke to you as you,
Laughed with you as you.
You cried and he put his arms round you,
His breathing quelled your fears.
In that moment
Your heart forgave
Your trust rekindled.
You learnt to love again.
Your epiphany endured
As did your courage,
No longer afraid to live in love’s shadow.
You cared little what others thought of you –
Except for one, that is,
The one who stole your heart forever.
My Cat Bob
I adopted him when my neighbour died
Or rather he adopted me.
Reserved at first – me that is,
Until familiarity gave way
To its own comfort zone.
A gargantuan tom
Who likes cold tea,
And keeps sentry beside the oven
Whenever I cook fish.
He sprawls out in front of the fire
And purrs loudly
When I rub his fluffy belly.
I have not gone unrewarded
As I have been brought his quarry
From the hunt –
Three birds and a dozen or so mice.
In the morning,
In the stillness of the early hours,
We sip tea together,
His cold, mine hot.
And when I get home, he’s always waiting,
Crouched on the wall
Poems copyright © Paul Balfe 2019