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RON CAREY

 

 

Ron Carey

Ron Carey was born in Limerick and lives in Dublin. He has had poems published in New Irish Writings, the Irish Times, The Stony Thursday Book and Revival. In 2010, he was a runner up in the Fish International Poetry Prize and had two poems shortlisted in the Bridport Prize. In 2011, he was Highly Commended in both the Bridport Prize andthe iYeats Poetry Competition. Also in 2011, he was a runner up in The Lightship International Poetry Prize. In 2012 he was a top five finalist in the Cinnamon Press Poetry Awards and short listed for the Over the Edge Writer of the Year Award. At the moment he is studying for a Masters in Creative Writing at Glamorgan University and working on his first poetry collection. Follow him on Twitter @roncarey49 .

 

 

Highly Commended in the Gregory O'Donoghue International Poetry Competition

 

My Father Built England

 

‘Show me your hands.’ It was the only question

The foreman asked. They were your references

And your scholarship. That is why my father used

Piss to harden his schoolboy hands, as was custom

When blisters set fire to the skin, an ancient trick

Shown to him by a Meath man who died beneath

A truck, sober in Kilburn. In 1939, England needed

A solid Paddy full of gristle, to be counted on,

Semi-British for the duration. You supply your own

Sweat and wellies but could pick a white virgin

Shovel from the Gaffer and return it sharp, shined

By gravel. Only once was he broken, when black

Winds blew down the scaffolding; its tubular legs

Dancing across the unfinished airstrip. As he lay

Dead, a Geordie Tea-Boy nursed him well.

Wet Time was a bloody nightmare; always under

The Landlady’s feet and once he was thrown

Out of digs in a row about Rex’s favourite chair. 

It was 1942 before he could pin fifty pounds to

The inside of his overcoat and take himself home.

Then, while German bombs fell on England,

My father built Ireland for Hogan and Son.

 

©2013 Ron Carey

Judge's Statement

This is a wonderful poem about our Irish migrations, about the navvies of Kilburn, piss, sweat, gaffers and fifty pounds pinned to the inside of an overcoat. It describes a life of sweat and wellies with a quietly assembled latter-day chauvinism. There is a clarity of description, certainty of naming and complete confidence in the paternal material. The closing couplet is understated and deadly.

 

 

Author Links

 

Ron Carey homepage

'Mexico City': highly commended poem by Carey in the iYeats Competition

'Upstairs': poem by Carey recognised in the Fish Competition

 

 

 

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