Wednesday 22 March 2023

Three Poems by Amy Abdullah Barry




I’ve missed the train to Delhi. 


In a wintry hostel room piled 

with Lonely Planets, backpackers 

unfolding maps as they shiver and smoke, 

I choke on sour air, fleas fastened to my flesh 

till it sprouts shiny colonies of blood.


Sunrise: the train arrives.


The stationmaster parades two teeth 

to the east and west of his gum.

The crowd surges forward.

I wonder how trains take all our weight,

if someone will fall to the tracks.


Onward: in cabins.


People are sleeping,

their mouths open, swallowing shadows. 

My neck bends, offering my head 

and all its affairs

to the soft plain of my palm. 


The train snubs nameless stations.


I reach into my rucksack,

wrapped in words.

It is Delhi comes over the horizon

to unwrap me.






I’m there again

every time I step through an airport.


Twenty-two, naïve,

stopped at Hong Kong security.

Thinking only

of Hong Kong dollars

and tacky souvenirs.


I am taken to a room.

I say something, 

but my voice comes from a place

I don’t recognise.

His eyes hold mine,

questions I can’t understand.

Something about diamonds.

I have visions

of wasting my life in a squalid prison

for something I know nothing about.


These things happen, you know.

They do.


After two hours of sweats and questions,

shaken heads and accusations,

he lets loose a sarcastic smirk,

opens his office door.

I am free to leave.


Despite all the years that have passed,

I still see him, hear that voice,

authoritative, stern,

“Where’s the diamond?”





A Jeep bumping through the wet jungle, 

luggage bound tight to the roof.

Omar smiles behind the wheel.

Days of adventure ahead.


Brake. Engine. Silence. 


He touches a tiny leech on his cheek,

green-red, like earth and blood together.

Into his vast skin, it disappears. 

Blood oozes in its wake.


I have read of such blood hunters,

their dark meandering into the chambers of human flesh

churning up fevers, vomiting, pain.

Although I fear for Omar,

I am grateful he has been chosen and not me.


Ruby, a chain-smoking doctor 

who grins more than she speaks, 

draws on her cigarette, 

as it burns lazy orange in her left hand, 

holds Omar’s face firm with the right.

She proceeds to cut his face with exquisite care.


More blood. 

A silence, 

except for the grunting monkeys.


She removes the wriggling leech on the blade,

carefully flings it to the ground;

Quickly, skilfully, she stitches the wound.

We breathe deeper

on the woody cinnamon of air


Watch the bloody little creature

quiver on the brown mud below, 

almost grinning, showing its teeth.

Amy Abdullah Barry is published widely, including  Cyphers, Southword, Paris Lit Up, Sunday Tribune, Live Encounters, Galway Review, A New Ulster and elsewhere. Featured in Breaking Ground Ireland. Her poems have been translated into many languages.Chosen for the Poetry Ireland Introduction Series 2022. A travel lover, she previously worked in the media, hotel and oil/gas industry. Amy has been awarded literature bursaries from the Arts Council and Words Ireland. She is a professional member of The Irish Writers Centre and, an Honorary member of the Pablo Neruda Association, Italy. Amy is the founder of Global Writers. She regularly organises poetry & music events in her hometown. She has performed her work in Ireland and internationally.

‘Flirting with Tigers’ is her debut collection of poems published by Dedalus Press in April 2023.










  1. Wonderful poems. Great sense of place in all three. Love the imagery.

  2. Thanks for the visit, John


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