Maeve O'Sullivan

Inside Room 102, The Rules of Salsa & Japan (haiku sequence)

Maeve O'Sullivan

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Inside Room 102

of this Art Deco cinema-hotel,

a youngish Orson holds his second wife,

a most erotic black-and-white embrace:

his right hand firmly grasps her pale left arm,

her head tilts slightly back and to the left,

the lips just barely parted with suspense.

The Lady from Shanghai is being shot -

a tale of  murder, lust, deception, guns -

and Rita’s shorter bleach blonde tresses

are framing her new femme fatale, Elsa.

Her neck and shoulders are completely bare,

an eyelash casts a shadow on her cheek.

She leans back for the kiss and holds her breath,

then tumbles into drink, dementia, death.

First published in The Irish Times, April 2016

The Rules of Salsa 

1. Warm up beforehand.

2. Let the man lead.

3. Stay relaxed.

4. Let the man lead.

5. Take small steps.

6. Let the man lead.

7. Maintain your balance.

8. Let the man lead.

9. Tie your hair up.

10. Let the man lead.

11. Keep a straight torso.

12. Let the man lead.

13. Swing those hips!

14. Let the man lead.

15. Shoulders down.

16. Let the man lead.

17. Turn on a dime.

18. Let the man lead.

19. Never refuse a dance.


First published in the online journal, Spilling Cocoa over Martin Amis, May 2016.

Japan (haiku sequence)

Shinobazu Pond –

even these withered lotuses 

can lift my heart 

* * *

heated toilet seat –

memories of growing up 

in a large family 

* * * 

deep-fried pork:

I await instructions

on how to eat it 

* * * 

we look through the dark

to the place where Mount Fuji 

is supposed to be 

* * *

arrival in Kyoto...

I buy flowers for myself

flowers for the Buddha 

* * *

the clunk of wooden sandals 

on stone paving –

Mount Otowa

* * *

thatched with water reeds 

topped with maple leaves –

Basho-an, the poet's hut

* * *

further uphill 

autumn birdsong leads the way - 

Buson's grave 

* * *

wandering poet's well      its stone collar a lotus 

* * *

dusk over the city     two small girls in flowery kimono

Haiku from this sequence were first published in the following journals:

Failed Haiku: A Journal of English Senryu; hedgerow: a journal of small poems; icebox, the website of the Hailstone Haiku Circle (Kyoto) and Sonic Boom.  

Read her interview in this issue:

Maeve O'Sullivan

Dubliner Maeve O'Sullivan’s poetry and haikai have been widely published, anthologized, awarded and translated. She has five collections with Alba Publishing, the most recent being Wasp on the Prayer Flag (2021). Maeve is a member of the Irish Writers’ Centre and has recently received an Arts Council Agility Award.