Mary O'Dwyer

Fear Of Birds

It’s the sudden appearance of a moving force,

Unexpected fluttering of wings;

Feathers tightly packed, yet easily removed.

It’s the powdery fluff that dust-traps my eyes

As the wings part their aerodynamic arms.

Curved beaks open when eyes see me,

As the vultures I saw at Regent’s Park Zoo—

Claws, jaws, haw-haw.

The screech of impending death.

Clumps of fresh meat strung on trees.

Dumb pigeons dropping shit-bombs on my head.

It’s the claustrophobic

Air aerobics

Closing me in wings.

Hawk eyes ogling down from above.

Where’s the peaceful dove,

Sleeping like a book?

If I had seen robins or wrens,

Heard the music of nightingales,

Surveyed the gentle soaring


Jet-setting in carefree swoops,

I would love birds.

Music In The Nursing Home

Without music I’m like a crumpled tissue,

smelling of sweat, wee and poo.

I’m strapped in a wheelchair

with nothing to do.

As time ticks by,

my useless cells die.

My body’s bent over

like a dying flower.

I stare at my footrests.


I face the same square of carpet.

I listen to mutters and primal screams.

I have nothing to say.

Then someone puts on a record:

I spin my body around

like an out-of-control windmill,

singing like a nightingale—

I have come alive

for half an hour.

Mary O’Dwyer © 2010

These poems are excerpted from Mary O'Dwyer's

debut collection A Coat of Blanket Dreams

(Creative Future, 2010)


Clouds are sliding by:

Long, drawn-out milky shadows;

Puddles in the sky.


Full of expired air

A pin-prick from sudden death—

An empty stomach.

A Storm In A Tea-Pot

It’s an Earl-Grey sort of day:

A steamy, dreamy, beastly day.

From dusk to dawn,

The winds sharp as tusks—

Charged up.

A swinging pendulum

Sprouting forth an elephant

(Tail-end gripped),

Lets rip throughout the morning

Its thunderous trumpet.

The kettle rumbles:

Hiss, hum, mumble, grumble,

Upsetting the crockery

With wolf-whistle mockery.

Raindrops squat like bubbles,

Wallow in the sun

Infusing in the kitchen

With hot-cross buns.

An uproar of tea-leaves

Unsettles the dust,

Foretelling the future

Of the warm-blooded creature

So cosy in his overcoat.

Milk plops in a giant cup,

The sugar cubes crumble up.

The spoon stirs up a final whirl.

A gulp. Red-cheeked, a wholesome girl.

Misty, saggy bags, half-winked,

Twinkle in the sink.

Mary O’Dwyer © 2010