JAMES MARTYN JOYCE / FUREY
This is a unique narrative collection, forthright and honest, with lashings of empathy and hilarity; a fantastic balance of poems. 'Furey' will remain with you.
— Elaine Feeney
2018 / 80 pages / €12
Cover art: Dagmar Drabent
(click to view cover)
by James Martyn Joyce
JAMES MARTYN JOYCE lives in Galway. His work has appeared in The Cúirt Journal, West 47, Books Ireland, Crannóg, The Sunday Tribune, The Stinging Fly, The Shop, The Honest Ulsterman, The Stony Thursday Book and Skylight47. He was shortlisted for a Hennessy Award in 2006, the Francis McManus award in 2007 and 2008 and The William Trevor International Short Story Competition in 2007 and 2011. He has had work broadcast on RTE and BBC and won the Listowel Writers’ Week Originals Short Story Competition in 1997 and the Doolin Writers Prize in 2014, as well as being a joint-winner of the Greenbean Novel Fair in 2016 with his novel A Long Day Dead. He is the author of two books, Shedding Skin (poetry, 2010) and What’s Not Said (short stories, 2012), and is also the editor of Noir by Noir West (2014), all with Arlen House.
He begins with the easy ones,
calls them loud in his sombre drone.
Then the straining ones, still
clear but with a hint of wonder.
Before the need for pondering takes hold:
Ms and Ns swapping places,
followed fast by Ds and Bs,
then Os and Qs and Cs,
until the final line he can stagger
might spell ‘breath’, but doesn’t.
Below, the jumble could be ‘love’,
or ‘fault’, or even ‘guilt’.
The remaining lines a rumoured place
of terror, worms, clay.
Talking to the Wall
Shop Street: anthill busy in the splitting sun,
the young man in the Tigers T-shirt
pummels the wall with his fists,
forehead thrumming on the grubby screen
of the financially reticent Cash Machine.
His scream brings the street to a halt:
buskers hold their caught breath,
the juggler’s baton freezes in the air.
The one-man-band, his left leg rigid,
forgets his elbow and the drumming dies.
The bongo players miss their beat completely,
and the sun-brown girl in the blue sarong shuffles to a stop,
the dance leaving her shoulders stuck
up around her ears.
Even Bernie-B pauses to stare,
forgetting for a moment the rents outstanding,
her shopfronts out there, earning nothing in all this heat.
As for me, shoulder to the bookshop door,
I hear my mother’s voice again,
from the year accountancy didn’t beckon,
telling me: You think you know it all,
talking to you is like talking to the wall.