The Light Knows Tricks by Jo Hemmant

Our writers give voice to what it means to be Irish in a changing Ireland.

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Its tightly-crafted and teasing spell leaves a longing for change in its wake. The tone crackles and the language catches alight in this unafraid and startling debut.

— Cherry Symth

2013 / 72 pages / €10 (marked down from €12)
ISBN: 978-1-907682-21-6
Cover art: Peter White

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The Light Knows Tricks

The Light Knows Tricks

By Jo Hemmant

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JO HEMMANT was born in Manchester, but has also lived in Sicily, Holland and Hong Kong. She now lives in Kent with her husband and two sons and is director of Pindrop, a boutique poetry press. Her poems have been published in Magma, Iota, Dream Catcher, Jericho (Cinnamon Press, 2012) and nothing left to burn (Ragged Raven Press, 2011) and she has won first prize in The New Writer Poetry and Prose Competition 2011(collection category), second prize in the Torriano Poetry Competition in 2011 and runner-up in the Cardiff International Poetry Competition 2012. She is director of Pindrop Press.


An Engine Room off the Coast of North Africa

The asbestos lagging on the pipes
has split and burst. As the engineer peels it back,
dust rises, floats across the room —
a woman’s ghost, a chiffon negligée,
reminder of what they’ve missed.

The men laugh, crack jokes,
a skinny lad from Formby
pulls her in for a dance. At his touch,
she shivers, breaks into a cloud
of dandelion clocks — leaving them
an empty shroud, a story to write home,
traces of her bedded down
in the folds of their lungs.


Tipsy on a swig of Cinzano and lemonade,
you watch the local hunk

send halos of smoke
to the ceiling of his garden shed —

his left hand in your mate’s lap
like a cat; like opportunity.

He passes you his soggy roll-up;
you can’t reel your smile in fast enough

and, as the Sex Pistols shriek
Frigging in the Rigging’, he moves in

for the kill, the lyrics as daring
as him squeezing the 34Cs

you’d give anything to have.
She doesn’t object.

The words
enough’s enough
lounge around in your throat.