Island People by Irene Cunningham

Sit outside cafes
let conversations drip,
settle on skin,
seep up nostrils,
become voices
chattering small storms in heads…
threads of thoughts
managed into

Worlds would spin words,
disjointed un-gossip
in mad marriages
to make sense where life can’t.
Leave scales to shopkeepers;
swing in the uneven flow…
decide whether to go or stay;
days bring difference,
dilemma –
what’s schizophrenia really about
and who knows?

In drizzle
under an awning
men gather – to what?
while away time
while their wives do all the work…
or spend our sleeping hours building
making piles of money
so they can lounge and talk?

The aroma of cheese toasting
on fresh bread makes it hard
to breathe.
The wind churns it,
wraps the smell in my hair.
I take notice,
sketch a mind-landscape
for many futures…
stack them like lollipops in a jar
lit from behind by the sun.

Irene Cunningham has had many poems in many magazines and anthologies over the decades. In 2019 Hedgehog Press published, SANDMEN: A Space Odyssey, a poetry conversation with Diana Devlin. Also, a collection of poems telling the family’s response to her sister-in-law’s time with Triple Negative Inflammatory Breast Cancer: FIONA WAS HERE, is published on Amazon, all proceeds to Breast Cancer UK. In 2022 Dreich Press published her first solo chapbook, No Country for Old Woman. She moved to Brighton last year.