Joan Carberry

What Was Lost

Joan Carberry

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So Menelaus says to me

“Three Greek warriors walk into a bar

Sit, snigger, nudge and

Tell me dirty yarns about Helen …


Those years, I yearned

To feel the red dirt of Sparta

Under my fingernails

To press my head against

The cool temple wall

And smell the rain-drenched

Rosemary on the evening breeze …”


And as the glass of whiskey

Slides along the bar

He catches it, says,

“I told him, I told Telemachus –

She stands on the shore, on my sand,

Leans out to sea

Pulled across the Aegean, even though

I left the boy dead and the city burnt.

Yet she carries Troy in her breast

Walks it into my walls, releases night-mares to gallop in my streets.


Her body’s here, her flesh -

What use is that to me?”


Joan Carberry


Born in Armagh, Joan Carberry lives in Belfast where she works as a Creative Writing facilitator. She writes short stories and poetry. Her short story Neighbour was shortlisted for the 2014 Michael McLaverty Award. She recently gained a place in the Mark Doty poetry masterclass at the 2017 John Hewitt Summer School.