Highly Commended: (Sometimes)

They’d sit in the shadows of fathers drunk on depression
Sift with grass-stained fingertips through
Muddy crumbs of earth
Trying to salvage what’s left Of what it’s worth
With hope so dull you could write with it
They dug
But their fruits of labour didn’t feed.
After all, there’s no need-
They were fine.
A word that walks the line
From the soft swear on the lips that births it
To the breath that shoves it out the door
Wobbles on the verge of truth
But falls back onto the floor
Here’s another.
As in
Nobody argued when
They shot a man for
Thinking otherwise, because
He put lead to heart hoping for it not to hurt
And cradled the same amount of what it’s worth
Between fingers too young to hold a gun with ease.
Composing screams into white noise
So it was easier not to listen to
Choruses of lowered gazes when told
That a spark as bright and big as civilisation
Won’t survive on old timber
And when the candle’s been lost
You won’t light it with your fingers
They were ill on lingering fumes
But when their stories, carved in blood
Became a list of things they did wrong
When songs failed to detach
From the stagnance of their tongues
The word was more warped than room with walls
Of rippling water
They forgot what and where was home meant to be
Without the longing they were just
Sometimes, though
Someone gleams
Those had an addiction to concepts like freedom
Smoked free speech on the backs of streets
Had ambition lost in famished crowds
And no candle
So they used their fingers
And prayed for it to light.
It didn’t.
While trying to build bridges to the future
With no structure
They only built indifference
Until they realised that reality was catching up
They took a final leap to save their nation
Leaving the nation to save their fall.
When the rebels were captured, they were greeted with
Enough blood and spit and tears
To quench their thirst for what could be
Not out of spite but out of
Submissiveness that grows from fear
Stemming down, roots whispering
Sweet promises that hooked their high
But never guaranteed
Security shattered by threat and left in the hands of
Brokers to pawn off as they pleased
Sometimes it was easier to see
The puppeteer as just the guy who’s helping you move
For him and his supplies
They had to look
They wanted to forget.
Then they shot the rebels.
Handed pistols to brothers and neighbours
Chuckled at cheap propaganda
Disguised as terrorism
Advertised the world’s greatest magic trick
That could make hope disappear
And fired.
In that moment
The people saw a glimpse of struggle glimmer
Raw as it squirmed inside organs of ordinary men
Forcing through wounded flesh and skin
Before vanishing in a gunshot.
It wasn’t hard to see
The pain they were mass producing
Feeding messages that
Clunked around the skull weighing down
Giving truth to the illusion
They thought they would forget.
They met floods
Hurt in gallons breaking dams
Words so sharp
Treating every syllable like a knife they could return to someone’s back
For everything that could have been
They began to scream
For oppression to no longer be a word
To describe a mutual relationship between people
Separated by a few stories and some water in between.
Ireland was tired
But eventually
It grew tired of forgetting
It grew tired of the sometimes.
It grew tired
So it remembered.


Alisa Oriol
Loreto Seconday School
Balbriggan, Fingal