If I think of a poem
as I take the next step
on the stairs of my home,
I will fall to my death

and you’ll never have known
that I loved you the best,
because I lost that poem
when I missed the next step.

Photo: Traditional eve of Mayday bouquet on doorstep

Unquiet Flows the Tolka

Bridge of Tolka, Drumcondra Park, spelter baluster, pewter spate. Spectre of Swan’s liturgy, philtre of Stac’s refrain, and peroxide Ida, acid exchange student, your college green a prairie to our Botanics. You sexed me with a buttercup, highly, and yogi-sat akimbo. Oh Ida, we shoulda. I’da!

Where are you now, Obama bounden, marked for McCain, bankrupt in Ohio, divorced in Union City? Do men put their words into your mouth in Idaho? Are you a mother of succour or did you die purple-hearted by the tracks in Maine?

I’ll seek you high and low in Isle au Haut, I’ll trade Manhattan for rosary beads and pray for an apparition, I’ll drop into every dive from Atlantic City to shining Zee, and go over Niagara in a glass-bottomed boat, looking for my Tolka naiad.

But should all peroxide Idas look the same, I’ll find out what Martinis are and drink them dry, I’ll down firewater without reservation in the Indian nations, I’ll find a night door and wait for you there as longing, unquiet as the Tolka flows.


Photo: The Tolka river viewed from the bridge at Drumcondra

Dear Foot

Dear foot, you are as much a part of me as this thought.
I see our veins the doctor said were not of concern “at this stage”.
I’m sorry for thinking you were ugly, now I need you, you are lovely.
Don’t think of socks as hoods for kidnapped hostages kept in the dark
In a humid, sweltering basement,
Think of them as robes of armour and invisibility
So you can go everywhere without being seen.
And now forgive me, I have to talk to Righty.

Photo: This text as I typed it into my notes on my phone the other morning. It came to me while getting dressed. You can argue that this is not a poem but do I care? (Screenshot from Evernote)

Willesden Short Story Competition 2022

I am reading for this competition, with closing date 31 August. If you enter a short story early, yours might get to be the best so far and then fend off quite a few or maybe lead all the way. In other words, send in! I love reading brand new fiction.

New Short Stories

We’re back with a competition for inclusion in Willesden Herald: New Short Stories 12. Open to international entries. Closing date will be August 31, 2022. Entry fee £5. There are ten prizes, as follows:

  • 1st prize: £300 + one-off inscribed Willesden Herald mug
  • 2nd: £200
  • 3rd: £100
  • 7 x £50
  • Plus you get a copy of the anthology when it’s published.

We may invite a guest judge to select the winning entries from a shortlist. Please visit our page for full details and to Submit.

EditorS.J. Moran

The Obscure Object of Desire

Photo: One-off Willesden Herald mug inscribed “Willesden Short Story Prize 20xx”

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Who do you think you are?

Mother Superior’s no paragon
Francis is not the Pope’s real name
The arch bishop with his dry wit
Doesn’t impress me one little bit

Mother Theresa is not my mother
Father Harney means nothing to me
Brother Benildus is not my brother
Believe it or not, I have a family.

Sketch for a cartoon, clerical figures “not my father/mother/sister/brother”

Postcard from Venice

On a vaporetto back from the island,
turbulent wake of Murano jade
splashes about us out in the stern.

The sun is chasing platinum facets
from the lagoon to molten confiserie.
We roll with the swell, then into dock.

Children awestruck, the engine reversing
churns the canal like a waterspout
and our vessel wallows by the wharf.

Where we go there’s not much shade
but water trickles always from a tap
to the pavement, for us and for the birds.

Photo: Venice lagoon in bright sunlight with view of a small cargo boat, its boatman in the stern. In the background is the church of San Giorgio Maggiore. I took this photo while on the journey referred to in the above poem, returning from Murano to Venice. (2001)


Years fly by and you get to an age
when they give you a pension.
Then in no time at all, you get to an age
when they give you a funeral.

And they carry you out of the house
past your last joke, so typical,
a sign that says Dunbotherin.
I wonder who will say, ‘Well he is now.’

Photo: Union Station clock number 570, window of architectural salvage shop

SJ Bradley Author

Author, short story writer, arts project management

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