Clare McCotter

They are Real & Broken Off

Clare McCotter

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They are Real

In this sea of voices

I am an archipelago

my shoulders volcanic eruptions

my hands rocky outcrops

my legs coral atolls

small shores pounded

times till all is submerged

beneath wave on crimson wave.

So talk no more

of diversions and distractions

instead gather me in

cast out your nets

gathering me into the light

of your goose neck lamp.

And with me

chart these waters

flowing me back

to the estuary

the river the stream

helping me paint

the legends of my maps

where sea monsters were

let there be sharks

a species, a genus

a family with history and habits.

Write with me

stories to better their own

and plotting the heavens

change courses with an amulet of stars.

But of the child called Pearl

speak not a word

for she will remain.

As she is.



Broken Off

Peering over the top of horn rimmed glasses

the doctor told it like it was.

Tingling in the tip of the forefinger

would spread and spread

sweeping him off his feet

like the light in her light brown hair.

Doing the right thing

only thing he could

he broke the engagement off

breaking her heart and his own clean in two.

For a stack of years he lived alone

a modest man, pocketing rosary beads

and a big white hankie

heading toward the door

each morning at a quarter to eight.

A modest man

paring down his tall frame

shoulders rounded in a suit hard as cardboard.


The weeks and weeks and weeks bracketed off

with Kojak and mass

and a match up at the pitch

until tingling jiggling his fingers and hands

and arms, turned legs to lead

bringing him here

to be hoisted from chair to bed.

Laid out on the broad of his back

he laughs and coughs and rubs his nose

while trousers are wrestled down to his knees

laughing and coughing and rubbing his nose

while sticky tabs are opened

on an incontinence pad

flat on the broad of his back

laughing and coughing and rubbing his nose

while disposable wipes

wipe the reek of stale piss away.

The job almost done

nine times out of ten

a laugh or a cough or a nothing at all

calls up another splutter of tears

from his withered rose.

With eyes fixed

on the crack in the curtains

letting day show

he says I’m sorry about that.

It’s alright we tell him on our way out the door

telling him it’s alright clicking out the light.

Where the larks nestle in the furrows of his brow.



Clare McCotter


Clare McCotter’s haiku, tanka and haibun have been published in many parts of the world. She won the IHS Dóchas Ireland Haiku Award 2010 and 2011. In 2013 she won The British Tanka Award. She also judged the British Haiku Award 2011 and 2012. She has published numerous peer-reviewed articles on Belfast born Beatrice Grimshaw’s travel writing and fiction. Her poetry has appeared in Abridged, Boyne Berries, The Cannon’s Mouth, Crannóg, Cyphers, Decanto, Envoi, Iota, Irish Feminist Review, The Leaf Book Anthology 2008, The Linnet’s Wings, The Moth Magazine, A New Ulster, The Poetry Bus (forthcoming), Poetry24, Reflexion, Revival, The SHOp, The Stony Thursday Book (forthcoming) and The Stinging Fly. Black Horse Running, her first collection of haiku, tanka and haibun, was published in 2012. Home is Kilrea, County Derry.