Poetry: "Banshee Bones" & "Polish"

Banshee Bones

As soon as I see them

on the shelf in the petrol station

I start to salivate

my tongue winces

preparing itself

for the explosion of flavour

that now

is inevitable

my daughter asks the question

I pick up a pack

read it to her

Banshee Bones

Screaming Salt & Vinegar Flavour

Maize & Potato Snacks

the banshee on the front is hideous of course

a dark-eyed old lady

her hair smoky and wild

teeth pointed

claws at the end of spindly fingers

the skin translucent

the bones visible

we sit in the car

open a pack each

the smell, the same

nostrils sweetly stung

the taste, the taste

the taste

she wakes me

before I have tumbled all the way back

asks me to tell her

about banshees

I say that it is a spirit, a ghost

a shrieking, screaming, wailing woman

that if you hear her wails

it is already

too late

that someone close

is close

to death

she looks at me

open mouthed

eyes wide

asks me

if I believe it

I tell her

that I did


that we all did

as we circled the camp fire

or sat on the park wall

that we ran home those nights

on the balls of our feet


only when the door was shut behind us

I tell her

that I don’t


that a banshee wail

is a howling wind

that heralds only rain

I ask about her fears

she thinks

tells me that sometimes

she believes

the shadows are alive

that they might

get her

that her head knows it isn’t true

but her heart is not so sure

she tells me that once

or maybe twice

she was sure

that there were monsters

in her wardrobe

she smiles

I rub her leg

smile back

ask her if the Banshee Bones are tasty

she nods


they are, they really are

on the drive home

I think back

remember those same fears

and long for them


I read an article about poetry

learned how each line must be carved, meticulously

sculpted, for hours, sometimes days

until it is perfect

until the sheen is blinding

how every word must be polished

how every syllable must be considered

objectively, painstakingly

it was hammered home

poetry is revision, revision, revision

I could relate

having read so many poems

smoothed down, to almost nothing

perfect constructions

linguistic firework displays

even the letters

the curve of the D

a half moon, a blade

the X, a cold, loveless kiss

the T, a crucifix on which the poets splay themselves

in amongst the Greek gods, garish stylistic flourishes

po-faced misery and relentless similes

I find the W

its prongs honed over weeks and months

into the finest of points

sharp enough, plenty sharp enough

to drive into my eyes

Steve Denehan lives in Kildare, Ireland with his wife Eimear and daughter Robin. He is the author of two chapbooks and two collections. Twice winner of Irish Times' New Irish Writing, his numerous publication credits include Poetry Ireland Review, Acumen, Westerly and Into the Void. He has been nominated for Best of the Net, Best New Poet and has been twice nominated for The Pushcart Prize