Echoes and hauntings, visions and visitations, glimpses of other worlds in the margins of this … the second collection of poems by Jessica Traynor begins with a brush with death and goes on to explore a startling variety of connections with life and the matter of living. Throughout, from the loss of loved ones to the arrival of a firstborn “no bigger / than a loaf of bread”, the poems stay faithful to a busy cast of characters which includes strangers encountered on a moonlit quay, the infamous propagandist Lord Haw-Haw, and the restless spirits of recent family, national and international history.
“Visionary, luminous and haunted, Jessica Traynor’s poems are home to a host of compelling characters: witches, changelings, the spirit of Hildegard of Bingen. In ‘The Quick’, even the grotesque is rendered with subtle delicacy – a woman whose ‘lungs fold like an origami bird’. These poems will give you goose-bumps.”
— Helen Mort
“These are poems of such formal ease and control that it is hard to believe this is only Jessica Traynor’s second collection. Her marriage of form and material is accomplished, intelligent and right.”
— Mary O’Malley
The Artane Boys’ Band
Da used to swing me over the turnstile,
to see the Dublin matches. I remember
the sight of my own legs, dangling.
I’d never see much of the game;
what’s left is the smell of men,
their coats steaming rain and beer,
being hoisted by my ribs above
the crowd, the pitch spread out
green and vast, the distance of it.
And every half-time the band
playing on the field, their music rising
and falling with the seaweed stink
that rushed in from the bay.
There’s the lads, Da would say,
and he’d wag his finger in a warning
that told me these matchstick boys
made music because they were outlaws,
each cymbal clash a cry of mea culpa,
and I imagined myself out there with them
in this rainy coliseum with my Da as Emperor
giving the thumbs down,
shaking his head for the loss of his son
to that criminal gang:
the bold boys of the Artane Band.