games people play

Blood drips and drops,

Then seeps, dark and silky,

Into the water; it’ll never wash off.

The wound looks pathetic,

Prosthetic even, yet

It’s real, and the pain is real.

What games people play just to feel

Something, to come out of the abyss,

And back into body, this used,

Abused body, rejected and worn,

Not enough, or too much.

Old news. Old wounds,

Close to the bone, but restrained.

Enough is enough, cries for help,

Tended to by doctor, soldier

Or Indian chief. A new story stitched,

A new wound etched

Onto the fabric of life. 

empty chair

tea rooms, dublin

While there was nothing wrong with the chair per se, I suddenly felt very intimidated and small. It was just a fold down chair, with a white paisley cushion.

 “Sure,” I said, “I will give it a try”.

I caught myself looking at the door and encircling my thumb and forefinger around my wrist and rotating it furiously, my body giving my mind away. It does that a lot, I’ve come to learn which is both good and bad knowledge at my disposal.

 “What do I do exactly?”

She explained the process to me although I admit I was only half listening. The gist was that I spoke to the chair, the ghost of my mother, and tell her how I was feeling. It sounded simple enough and I had said all of these things to her before, if only in my head. The second part, however, is what intrigued and unsettled me. I was to sit in the chair, and embody my mother, that impossible woman I’d loved and loathed in equal measure. I’d tried so hard, for so long, not to be like her that I was afraid to even give it a go. There was a lot of stuff bubbling under the surface all of a sudden, and I was too close to losing control of myself.

She reassured me that she would not push me far. I hated her in that moment. It was supposed to be just her and me in this space, my space to let it all out and not fear the repercussion. I had steadily developed my trust in her and had made progress. But know, she wanted to bring in my mother into the room, so strong was her presence already. I felt betrayed, even though I had asked her to push me a little. I wanted to be challenged, I’d said, I need to move forwards. Turns out, I was happier in the unhappiness I’d created in my life. It was comfortable, familiar. I had a sense of control over it.

I felt hot and teary though we had yet to begin. My stubbornness is acute, and I was going to give it some sort of a go, if only to please my long-suffering therapist, I told myself. Alarm bells, co-dependent behaviour; self-awareness can be such a tenacious bitch.

So I began talking to this empty chair, feeling as uncomfortable as it looked, and found it easier than I thought. I rambled on, tears streaming down my face and was surprised by my words and memories. Finally, after twenty odd years, the little girl I was found her voice and the courage to say how she felt.

I exhaled sharply and nodded at my therapist to signify that I was finished. Before processing it, my therapist asked me to sit in the chair, take a breath and speak to myself as that little girl.

I sat. I closed my eyes, took a breath and flicked the back of my hand towards my empty spot on the sofa. I tried to find some words but couldn’t. I exhaled but it sounded more like a grunt of disregard. It was all I could manage. I felt disappointed in myself, and told my therapist so.

 “I can’t do it, I just can’t”.

“That’s ok,” she said, “I think we have plenty to work on with just that”.

She smiled at me, and gestured towards the sofa.

“Tell me, what was going on for you?”  

And we were back, as normal, just the two of us in this space, my space to let it all out, no-one listening or watching and no repercussions to worry about.

la petite mort

Lounging on my bed,

You read to me from that

Battered book, your voice

Gravelly and gravely picking

Apart the sentences into words,

Then words into sounds, weighing

Them down, burying them in the moment.

I scratch your chin, cactus like,

And your face rumples with your smile.

My heart threatens treason so I busy my mouth.

Distracted, your voice hangs in the air,

Squirming under this duress.

Then it’s over.

You pull me to your throbbing chest

Picking up that old, battered book,

And I listen intently, but don’t hear a word.

open sesame

Image retrieved from
Image retrieved from

I was sitting alone when the heavens opened and began to wash away the summer’s day. I stayed sitting in the moment, the air still warm and the rain bouncing hard against the surrounding pavement. It was not a pitiful summer shower; this was the heavy storm that signified the change on the way

I let it pour down on me, matting my bleached hair against my shoulders, and dripping down my face. My tears went unnoticed against this backdrop, and the rain did not so much as wash them away as it did join forces with them. In those moments I let myself wail like a hungry baby, then wiped my eyes with my sodden sleeve.

It stopped as soon as it started yet the sky kept it grey blanket over the city. My teeth chattering, I wiped the snot from my face and began to squelch home, longing for the heavens to open once again.

Toronto, I miss you

It’s nearing two years since I returned from Toronto to Dublin. The decision to return was all mine, I chose to come home to return to study. I had a great job in Toronto, and lived on the edge of the Annex with a great group of friends I made upon my arrival. I had a small group of Canadian friends and I was beginning to settle in well. Of course, that’s when I upped and left. I fell in love with Dublin again upon my return. But there are days, like today, where the humidity is high, and I spend the afternoon in the hub of the city when I really, really miss living in Toronto.


Some things in particular I miss-

 1) The Summer– I arrived in TO in the summer of 2010, two days before Canada Day, into the, sometimes oppressive, heat. I lived in a hostel with crappy air conditioning, with a bunch of other Irish people and quickly learned that we don’t tolerate the heat that well. I spent my days rambling around the city looking for work, fretting about money, establishing friendships for life, discovering places to eat, looking for houses, pool hopping, summer nights in Kensington Market listening to music, walking the city at night feeling safe, exploring the waterfront and high park, Canada Wonderland, and simply falling in love with all the city has to offer.


2) The Fall– In Ireland, we don’t really have distinctive seasons and from late September to November was really when I began to find my feet, and I felt most at ease in my new home and in my own skin. I love the change in the weather, and the thunderstorms and heavy rain. I loved hanging around in High Park, the colours of the foliage and jumping into piles of leaves, swinging on swings ‘til dusk and wandering around the little zoo. I loved walking to work from Bathurst & Bloor to Adelaide & Spadina, soaking in Chinatown, or meandering through Kensington Market onto Queen West. I loved sitting in our back garden (sadly, we had no porch to speak of) and debriefing my day with my housemates.


3) The People– I really love Canadians, I found them to (generally) be such nice, friendly, kind people. I thought that they are very well rounded- educated, socially aware, interesting (hobbies, passions etc.) and simply, good people. A little reserved and quietly confident. I admire their manner and outlook on life.


4) The Diversity– I felt very accepted in Toronto. There is such an eclectic mix of people, young and older, and there is something for everybody in this city. I grew more comfortable in my own skin here, I found myself dressing more casually, reflecting that feeling. I felt that the people I met were more interested in what I had to say, than how I looked or what I was wearing, which I sadly find is often the case in Dublin.


5) The Distillery District– One of my absolute favourite spots in the city to kill a day; people watching, gazing at art, the chocolate shop, grabbing a cold beer, marvelling at the sculptures, strolling around, spotting the newly-weds having their photographs taken & buying some (very expensive) arty, unusual knick-knacks.


6) The Annex– Luckily, I got to live on the edge of this hub, mixed in with the idealistic students, angst ridden writers & poets, subdued lecturers to name a few. Beautiful in the Summer & Fall, miserable in the Winter, this place is just full of character from Honest Ed’s, Bloor Cinema, Sonic Boom, Koreatown & Christie Pits.


7) The Islands– a beautiful place to hide away from the city when the blistering heat hits. There is a perfect vantage point for a shot of the city, and the little community living there have beautiful houses and houseboats. BBQ’s with friends & daring to swim in Lake Ontario, fire pits on the beach and sing songs galore.

This list could go on, and on, but today, this is what I miss the most about Toronto, that does not include all the friends I left behind living there, Irish & otherwise, the challenges I set myself out there- living in a house with 10 people (at one point), a mouse infestation and a totally useless, permanently high landlord is definitely a challenge, a completely different job environment, first Christmas away from home etc.- and the memories I gained from my experience.



Toronto, I love you. 

two ways

Suddenly, then gradually,

I gave myself away.

I fell for you,

As lovers do,

Then walked into the fray.

Between heart and head,

Lust and love,

All that goes between.

It felt so real,

And they say wounds heal

With every passing day. 

little one

Inside this maze, overlooking the world,

I saw her standing there.

This Little One, all quiet and shy,

Veiled by her messy hair.

I knew all of her, though not born of me,

And reached out to draw her near.

But she took off into this labyrinth

Running, as if in fear.

I followed her footsteps, and entered

The void, enveloped in this

topiary womb.

She ran fast, and never looked back,

And I lost the sound of her breath.

I drew to a halt, and gave up the chase,

Too far into the abyss. I felt her pain,

I felt her fear, not knowing what she

Or I would become. I long to return,

I long to find, and comfort

that Lost Little One.