Tuesday 2 February 2021

Three Poems by Jeanna Ni Riordain


Beneath the Chimney


(Inspired by the recent discovery of hidden objects beneath the chimney in Block 17, Auschwitz)


They found some objects buried

In Block 17 beneath the chimney

Among them were some scissors,

Knives and forks and everyday utensils


The stash of hidden objects contained several spoons

And the crumbling sole of a discarded shoe

The exact purpose of their burial is not known

But each object tells a story of its own


How difficult it must have been

To acquire these humdrum items

And how great their need was

To have to hide them


What value did they have 

In such a hellish place

Were they pawns in a secret currency

Or tools for an escape?


Were they buried to prepare a future breakout

And have a chance at life

Or were they simply used to be able to eat

And try to stay alive?



 The city stirs to life 


The city stirs to life

Seagulls scrap angrily over bits of bread

Dazzling shop windows light up to reveal enticing goods


The streets have been sprayed clean

Clearing away the stench of stale beer

Washing away the secrets of the night before


And in doorways, in alleyways, in lanes

Sleepers awake from a rough, uneasy night

And watch the world go by for another day 



 Bedtime Stories


If I were rich I’d show you the world

Full of flowers, colours and trees

I’d fill your life with adventure

I’d sail with you on the seven seas


I’d throw you great big parties

Lavish banquets and feasts

I’d shower you with gifts of your choosing

I’d bring the world to your feet


But I’m poor and all I can afford are stories

The far-off view of the stars from down here

All I can give you is all of my love

And every last one of my dreams




Jeanna Ní Ríordáin is an Irish-language translator and language tutor from West Cork, Ireland. She has a PhD in French literature, a BA in Irish and French and an MA in French, all from University College Cork.

She has always loved writing and has recently started writing poetry. Her work has been featured in The Quarryman and Poetry in the Time of Coronavirus: The Anthology, Volume Two. Among her favourite poets are Victor Hugo, W.B. Yeats, and Langston Hughes.



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