Anne-Marie Fyfe - Tuesday 27th November - The Punter

Anne-Marie Fyfe (b. Cushendall, Co. Antrim) has four collections of poetry including, most recently, Understudies: New and Selected Poems (Seren Books, 2010); has won the Academi Cardiff International Poetry Prize; has run Coffee-House Poetry’s readings and workshops at London’s Troubadour since 1997, organises the annual Hewitt Spring Festival in the Glens of Antrim, and was chair of the Poetry Society from 2006-2009.

'Anne-Marie Fyfe’s poetry is taut, eloquent and deeply felt. Her poems are haunted by what the past does to the present, and by the physical relics of that past which is only relayed in snatches.' Helen Dunmore

'Anne-Marie Fyfe’s poems have a lyric clarity, an ontological accuracy and unflinching vigilance that is both spiritual and revelatory.' Tom Paulin


Half-eaten fries, the remains of hash browns,
fill the table's distance between them.
She scoops the car-keys, says she'll not be long.
In the washroom mirror she checks her face
close up; sees years of wearied waiting.
She steps into a sticky afternoon.
How long before he'll notice, before he'll ask –
the forecourt is nauseous with diesel and ocean –
ask if anyone's seen a woman in middle years.
She's onto the freeway, jittering across lanes.
And why, he'll wonder, now that the kids are gone,
now that they're free to hit the road each spring.
She overtakes on automatic, clearing Carolina –
recalls the one dream he has left, of building a boat;
upriver in summer; dry dock in winter. The two of them.
An unforeseen calm settles with sundown: she longs
for nightfall on unbroken stretches of highway.
It's clear ahead as far as her eyes can see.


A day that starts with a skiff-load
of puppets on the Mere, a coat-rack
of Pressburger marionettes
in the parlour, a gold-lettered cabinet
displaying plaster heads
with arched looks
in the municipal clock museum.

The booth-lady at the picturehouse
is a glove, the red-bolero’d
usherette leads you
with her unsteady flashlight pool
to a row where   each ticket-holder
bobs up and down
like a staggered pianola arpeggio
wires flickering in the carbide beam
and lets you sink into threadbare plush,
the ache of a day’s journey
tugging at the brass eyelets
in your elbows and creaking knees.