Paula Cunningham

Two Poems by Paula Cunningham

Paula Cunningham

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Banquet

O squat round Banquet 
margarine tub, your black
and blue SUPERSOFT  letters,

 on permanent Special,
Sleek Sentinel, for weeks
you have held centre-stage.

Flanked by the HP sauce
and the salt, you’re one fifth
of the Kerrygold butter

we crave. Our throats   
burn gold with the blur 
of the buttercup’s disc.

We freeze when the yellowy
ingot appears; it sweats
on its rose-spattered plate.

As the bread basket floats hand to
fluttering hand, we wonder
how long it can hold. 
 
O Banquet, Pale Champion
Duller of Hunger, observe us now
shovelling butter. 

It’s not a bit of wonder
it never lasts. 


Gist

In this his apocryphal pre-incarnation I have him in nightgown and cap
clutching a candlestick, big Willie Winkie cack-handed with drink,
he soft-shoes, manoeuvres himself in behind her, just as the first of his hic-
cups erupts, impressing the spoon of himself on her echoing form, 
more stirred by the whiff of her, dizzy with ale, his left arm walloping
over her waist, misfiring and squeezing, more thrust than hug, 
just under the breastbone he loves so her wrought silver denture 
(three upper incisors avulsed in a fall from a horse and hitherto
schtum) wings forth on that sudden upshot of air, abrupt     
as an utterance too long held, and rings on the earthenware pitcher,
hic hic, her rhythm disrupting before her breath settles and young
Mrs Heimlich recovers the gist of her dream. 


Paula Cunningham


Paula Cunningham is originally from Omagh and now lives in Belfast.  Her first full collection Heimlich’s Manoeuvre was published this autumn by Smith Doorstop and was shortlisted for the Fenton Aldeburgh first collection prize.