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Cold Coffee at Emo Court

Arthur Broomfield

Revival Press

Limerick, Ireland

Revival Press is the poetry imprint of

The Limerick Writers’ Centre

12 Barrington Street, Limerick, Ireland

All rights reserved

No part of this publication may be reproduced or transmitted in any form

or by any means, electronic or mechanical without permission in writing from the publisher, except by a reviewer who may quote brief passages in a review.

Book and Cover Design: Lotte bender

Managing Editor Revival Press: Dominic Taylor

Cover Image: Photograph by Arna Rúnarsdóttir, of Gunnuhver by Patricia Bennett.

Reproduced by kind permission of the artist.

ISBN 978-0-9934101-5-4

A CIP catalogue number for this publication is available from The British Library

We acknowledge the support of The Limerick Writers’ Centre

For those who read poetry


Acknowledgements are due to the editors of the following publications where some of these poems have been published Acumen, Agenda, Crannog, Envoi, Honest Ulsterman, Icarus, Kim Moore’s blog, Leinster Express, New Irish Writings Sunday Tribune, Ofi, Orbis, Outburst, Poetry Bus, Poetry Ireland Review, Salmon, Stony Thursday, The Galway Review, Tipperary Star, Writing North East, And Agamemnon Dead anthology, The Sea anthology, Envoi Summer Anthology 1990, From Here to the Horizon, Laois anthology 1999, Dundalk Patrick Kavanagh anthology.

Very many thanks go to Mary O’Donnell and Jean O’Brien for their critical readings of these poems, without you this book would not have been possible.

‘What is natural to mankind is not spoken language but the faculty of constructing a language.’

Jean-Jacques Rousseau.

Portlaoise at 46

Coffee in Jim’s Country Kitchen

or The Regency with friends.

An exchange rate is striking here

each transaction

a hieroglyphic

etched on a milestone

paving my journey home.

This place knows my value

my roots are beneath it.

Here my growth has been organic.

So when someone smiles

in recognition

or beams a hard currency

‘how’s it going’?

I glow,


legal tender.

The Bridge Club 1916

After a tapestery

She can calm the crater

in the pit of her stomach

with trays of éclairs

and chocolate fudge

for the church bazaar

and sedate the wounds

on her strawberry flan

with soft breaths

of her cream and pastry knife.


All cockades and corsets

and stiff upper lip

dreading a bad hand to south

like bad news from The Somme

she’ll continue her game of bridge

Because it’s expected of her.

Image of my father

I was curled in a ball

on the leatherette couch.

quiescent in the July sun.

Someone on the BBC

was singing ‘It’s a good day’.

You were firm at the helm

of your armchair,

eyes fixed on some nautical star,

wearing your Lloyd George look

and believing The Irish Times.

Coming home from Irey

My father in the front

of the child-full trap,

holding the whip he never used,

praising us home

from the summer palace

through the remote townlands

of Clondarrig and Ross.

And road-wise Charlie,

on the time-trapped track,

dressed up to kill

in his harness of black,

wrote his steps in the felt-soft pad

that hid the half-blind potholes

from each other’s view.

How secure we were

in the confidence of a dust wrap,

coddled together on the down-soft seat

of the spring-live trap;

feasting on a nectar

of furze and heather scent

and a theophany of summer twilight,

or once, in a rising moon,

being anointed with the magic

of a falling dewdrop.

And I pondering

the dichotomous cowslip

my father told me

only grew in poor land.

The night Bannan’s Threshing Mill arrived in our yard

In memory of Johnny Bannan who died May 11 2011

Johnny Bannan won my respect

the day he declined to wash his hands

‘they’re grand Ma’am, thanks’;

he spoke with the assurance

of one who knows his options.

My mother fussed

and poured his tea.

His overalls, decorated

with medals of exotic grease

sparkled in the reflection

of the Aladdin lamp

that lit our kitchen.

Amorphous transfers

to his face and neck,

from his oily fingers,

confirmed the mystical status

of the Lieutenant of the Leviathan.

I imagined his railwayman’s cap

badged and braided,

the armour plated engine storming along the front,

he leaning out the side door

barking glad tidings

of bushel weight

to expectant farmers,

at agricultural speed.

I, held back on my father’s knee,

wanted to be second in command

in his benevolent army,

to be there when he swung

the starting handle that fired the pistons,

to carry the drums of T.V.O.

that smelled of the future,

to befriend him,

to give him a hand.

The Poetry Reading at Semple Stadium

The first poetry reading

I ever attended

was at Semple Stadium

in the early days

of my love affair

with Tipperary.

Everyone else thought

it was a hurling match

but I knew it was a reading

when I heard the poet

rhapsodise the names

Of GAA clubs

through the charged aura

of a hurling stadium

from his bunker

beneath the New Stand.

Isolated on his podium

by ticket sellers

counting out their takings

the Ezra Pound of Thurles

shocked me with the excitement

of the spoken word.

As he read out the names

Carrick-Davins, Lorrha,


Moycarkey, Roscrea,


and Borrisoleigh.

the fans cheered their players

and their clubs.

And I cheered the poet

for giving me back

my love of language.

The Manchester United crash at Munich

February 6th 1958

You were ironing clothes

when I came in from school

the iron heavy with intent

driving to the tip of the board

each crease-seeking stroke

smoothing and warming

and shaping

the sleeves and collar

of my good shirt.

There were some survivors.

"Poor Matt Busby’s in hospital"

you told me.

We shared the silences

between newsflashes

my eyes avoiding the dinner

I couldn't eat.

Your iron melting the ice

off the wings of the plane

at Munich.

Listening to the IRA through Italia ‘90

You have forced back the boundary

and added new words

to the language

Abercorn – Darkly – Ian Gow –

baggage to declare

at Cagliari and Palermo.

You’ve created space

and stretched meaning

as tight as barbed wire,

each nuance soaked in blood,

like the flag we were ashamed to wave

in Sicily.

We almost want to sing

ole.ole, ole

when you whinge

about Gibralter and Loughgall .

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