sarahdoyle.co.uk - POETRY FOR PERFORMANCE AND PAGE
Below is a small selection of my poetry, which I hope visitors to this site will enjoy. All poems are © Sarah Doyle.
 
  
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“They are also portrayed [in art] on, or by, bridges, so explicit did the imaginative link seem [to Victorians] between the ‘fallen’ woman and her possible literal ‘fall’ thereafter as she jumps into the water to commit suicide.”
       – ‘The Fallen Woman’ exhibition notes, Foundling Museum 2016
 
 
Flounder
 
Barely a shock to the cocky mud-larks raking
the river-shore for spoils. Here is a ha’penny,
 
here a brooch, a snapped stem of gentleman’s
pipe, carved bone clagged with clay, but still
 
worth the pocketing. The Thames is a pickler,
preserving the city’s detritus in its own juices,
 
a broth of the unwanted. And here she is, fish
out of water flopped on the fore-shore, silver
 
skinned and belly up, a twist of saturated skirts
making a mermaid’s tail. Hardly Ophelia, no
 
weedy bouquets clasped in her un-ringed left
hand, the luxury of grand gestures beyond her
 
grasp. A proscenium sweep of bridge keeps
her obscenity from offending a god who’d
 
never heard of her. There is no baptism found
in these waters. No forgiveness gleaned in the
 
soupy tide. Only limbs, limp; the dampness
of new death: and the river’s uncleansed bride.
 
 
Published in “The Fenland Reed”, issue 3, Autumn 2016


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On Openness
 
Don’t open it, he said – it’s just for show.
The lid stays closed, a novelty-type gift.
So many things mankind need never know,
apparently.  I’m not allowed to lift
 
the lid.  Stays closed, a novelty-type gift?
A pointless wedding present – what’s the use?
Apparently I’m not allowed to lift
or shake the box – its contents might come loose.
 
A pointless wedding present – what’s the use?
A nervous wreck, I was; afraid to touch
or shake the box.  Its contents might come loose
there in my hands.  Temptation is too much.
 
A nervous wreck?  I was afraid to touch
the blasted thing.  I held it at arm’s length,
there in my hands.  Temptation is too much!
I swear, I fought the urge with all my strength.
 
The blasted thing!  I held it at arm’s length.
It bothered me – each night, I’d hardly sleep.
I swear, I fought the urge with all my strength,
and what harm would it do?  One tiny peep.
 
It bothered me each night.  I’d hardly sleep;
I had to scratch that itch.  Who’d ever guess,
and what harm would it do, one tiny peep?
If push should come to shove, I’d just confess.
 
I had to scratch that itch.  Who’d ever guess
my fingers trembled, fiddling with those locks?
If push should come to shove, I’d just confess,
I told myself – it’s just a poxy box.
 
My fingers trembled, fiddling with those locks.
As Zeus’s words came back, I eased the lid.
I told myself it’s just a poxy box –
who’d ever hear what I, Pandora, did?
 
As Zeus’s words came back, I eased the lid.
Don’t open it, he said – it’s just for show.
Who’d ever hear what I, Pandora, did?
So many things mankind need never know.

Commended, Winchester Poetry Prize, 2016

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The Sweeper’s Tale
 
It settles in miniscule drifts, colourful
as fairy-wings, and twice as fragile.
Sometimes, the wind takes it, peppering
pavements with specks of blue, pink, silver.
 
Horseshoe…
 
Skittering across church-steps, treading
a lucky path. Fortune. Favour. Tiny
paper facsimiles of their iron counterparts,
a U-shape made to hold promises.
 
Bell…

Music peals, vibrating a soundscape,
ripples of celebration spreading
irresistibly outwards. Rise, descent,
rise, descent. A ring for a ring.
 
Loveheart…
 
Two curves, rounding, combining,
coming to the same point: a single
meeting place in the soul’s geometry.
Hearts given and held and cherished.
 
Bow…
 
Loose ends reach to fold back on each other,
as knots are tied in never-ending loops.
Ornament and substance. Fibre enfolds
fibre in a lifetime’s embrace.
 
Horseshoe, bell, loveheart, bow…
I sweep the confetti that settles, like snow.
 
Published in Petals in the Pan anthology, Kind of a Hurricane Press, 2015


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Comet
 
Supercharged snowball.
Pale brushstroke on dark canvas,
white tail trail-blazing.
Fissure in the sky’s fabric.
Anticipated. Fleeting.

Published in Dreaming Spheres: Poems of the Solar System, PS Publishing, 2014
 
All poems © Sarah Doyle
 

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