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Tuesday, 15 March 2011

Sea Saw

See the great mouth of the ocean, opening,
the ships upturned, their foredecks prised,
surprised tin cans of people, emptying, cars
float past houses drowning, all the things
that should be standing, falling, the high
tide water mark erased by waterfalls, all
vanishing in the widening rings, the pool
of dislocation with her giddy swirls that
draw the weak eye in,

                                       unbalancing, turning
the world into an emptying, a draining vase
of something left for dead, dead flowers,
dead hopes, dead animals left tethered in the
fields that filled and filled and as we watch
them, drain and drain again, until we see it all
now - all the missing, all the living, all the dread.

©  Helena Nolan

Japan hit by tsunami after massive earthquake


Helena Nolan's poems and short stories have appeared in a number of anthologies and literary magazines including; The Stinging Fly, Abridged and The Moth, as well as on the Spoken Ink audio website and The Guardian Poetry Workshop. Last year she was shortlisted for Strokestown, runner up in the Fish poetry competition and came second in the Patrick Kavanagh Award. She holds an MA in Creative Writing from UCD (2008).


  1. A powerful, beautiful poem that puts into elegant words the emotion we all feel about the events in Japan.
    The image of the 'draining vase' is both chilling and beautiful.

  2. So skillfully written, the rhythm of the sentences alone and what it did to my breathing as i read, brought a mounting dread.

    "See the great mouth of the ocean, opening" a chilling opening.

    It captured the horror, helplessness and smallness of being the spectator, and for me, it also questions the act of watching, "our" pecrceptions of scale - "surprized tin cans of people"

  3. A fantastic poem. nice structure to it.... More please!

  4. Very nice poem. We are so proud of you :)

    Nidale and Walid

  5. Great rhythm in this poem. Evocative and heartfelt.

  6. The rhythm of the changing sea along with powerful imagery and currency make this a breathcatching read.

  7. Stunning poem. I love, particularly, the powerful simplicity of this: "all the things
    that should be standing, falling,"

  8. Excellent. Tremendous imagery with beautiful use of language.

  9. excellent poem mom. i love how you conected it to the current affairs around the world. AMAZING!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! love you xxx