Summer 2011

Table of Contents - Vol. VII, No. 2

Poetry    Fiction    Translations     Reviews

Karen Douglass

Kevin of the Streets
(Donegal, 13 Oct. 2009)

Pushing his bicycle through soft rain,
knit cap over gray hair, beaming,
he hands me a Miraculous Medal
on its own blue thread. I hesitate.
“Take it. Take it. Pray to Mary
to be what you are meant to be.”
Surely the man knows
he cannot change the world
with a bit of metal and blue thread,
wheeling and smiling through Donegal.

I kept the medal: Mother of God,
we still have recourse to thee,
land the plane, steer the cab,
set my feet firm on steep stairs,
mother me in my great age.
Keep Kevin in your hands.

Because where famine raged, people eat,
where bombs and bullets fell and flew,
they polish motorcycles in the town centre,
push prams, drink Guinness, shear their sheep
and call home to see if Mam needs a thing
or two from the store. Maybe
we have Kevin to thank,
him with his hat and his smile still riding
--no hands--in a world stranger than I knew.

The Red Hand of Ulster
(Cookstown, NI, 2 Oct. 2009)

Two flags fly in County Tyrone,
the queen’s Union Jack and

the Red Hand of Ulster. Long ago
a man in a boat, to touch land first

and claim it, cuts of his left hand,
and flings it onto the shore, the price

of land is the bloody hand. Hands
stained red will rule this place for years.

No sign, no line, the border is invisible, but
Yield twists into Give Way, the Euro’s useless.

I’ve come to visit the church where
my great-grandparents were married.

The grounds are fenced, the gate locked; no one
prays here on Friday. No failte, no welcome.


© Karen Douglass

Poetry    Fiction    Translations     Reviews

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