3 Re-published Poems from Denise O’Hagan

Between beauty and decadence

Like a shred of satin
Crumpled and creamy
It caught my eye
Lying there, near a clothes peg
Against the brick red patio.

Luminous, exposed
Halfway between beauty and decadence
With the day’s bruise already on it:
The world’s aches
Perfectly expressed
In the throwaway gift
Of a fallen petal.

First published in The Blue Nib (Issue 39), 15 Sept. 2019
https://thebluenib.com/article/denise-ohagan/  

Separateness

The silence
Between us
Thickens and grows
And flows around us
Like a third presence
Waiting, malevolently,
For one of us to break it.

How did we
Get to this point?
Is there a line running
From the quickened heartbeat
The clutched hand
Of youth
And easy collusion
Of middle age
To this?
Was the end
Implicit in the beginning?
Or did we
Take a wrong turn
Creating a fault line
Damaging ourselves
And dislocating the ‘us’?
My thoughts are heavy, clunky
And going nowhere.

Years of misalignment
Have made us wary 
Suspicion lies coiled
Between us, serpent-like,
So we take refuge in routine,
Imbibing the evening news
With our chamomile tea
And the other rituals
Of stale, safe domesticity.

But all the while
Nuggets of resentment
Weigh down any deeper disclosure 
And neither of us
Want to admit 
To boredom.

First published in The Blue Nib (Issue 37), 15 March 2019
https://thebluenib.com/article/denise-ohagan-new-poetry/


A journey of sorts

You didn’t see me
But I turned back 
And then for years
Every time I passed that place
I’d see your crumpled form
Wheelchaired across the courtyard
Plastic bracelet pale against your wrist,
Resistance in the set of your shoulders.

Did a lifetime spent abroad
Sliced up between three continents
And all the years of travel
(good luck tiki in your inner pocket)
With their attendant rituals
Of collars pressed and briefcases clicking 
Inching forwards in countless check-in queues
Nodding acceptance of clunky hotel keys
Patient layers of rewritten drafts
Pencilled scribbles up and down the margin
Handshakes, boardrooms, coffee in plastic cups
Inhaling overblown officialdom
With cigarettes over too-long lunches
In that quiet way of yours – did all this
Stand you in good stead?
For this, too, was a journey of sorts. 

The white gash of your hospital gown
The glow of multicolored monitors
Recording your vital functions
While nurses replenished, adjusted and tweaked 
The spaghetti curls of drip lines and silver stands
With which my mother and I did hopeless battle
To ease your situation
Prompting a final, wry quip
And a chuckle from a nurse of stone:
Humour in extremis.

And on the last night 
They gave you the last rites
And then we settled down 
To wait.

First published in Eureka Street, Vol. 29, No. 18, 16 September 2019
http://www.eurekastreet.com.au/article/the-quiet-assimilators 

Bio: Denise O’Hagan is an award-winning editor and poet, born in Rome and based in Sydney. With a background in commercial book publishing in London and Sydney, she set up her own imprint, Black Quill Press, in 2015 to assist independent authors. Recipient of the Dalkey Poetry Prize, her work appears in various journals including The Copperfield Review, The Ekphrastic Review, Quadrant, Books Ireland, Eureka Street and Hecate. Her second poetry collection, Anamnesis, is due to be published in October 2022 (Recent Work Press).
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