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Afric McGlinchey
Afric McGlinchey

Afric McGlinchey grew up in Ireland and Africa. A Pushcart nominee, in 2012 she won the Northern Liberties poetry prize (USA), was highly commended in the Magma (UK), Joy of Sex (UK), and Dromineer poetry competitions, and shortlisted in the Bridport. She was commended in the Poetry Space Competition (UK) in 2013. Afric won the Hennessy Poetry Award in 2011. Her début poetry collection, The lucky star of hidden things, was published by Salmon (2012). She is a book editor, workshop facilitator and reviewer. She also  tutors poetry online and lives in West Cork.

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Afric McGlinchey Poetry

My son’s Nairobi to Harare motorbike odyssey


I watch our strange December sun,

see you

where harry potter tattoos

whiplash across the sky,

warthogs barrel across your path,


thieves, who spotted

your gleaming bike

back at the Broken Bridge Café,

lurk in the baobab tree,

ready to ambush your odyssey…


I screen old movies of your childhood:

the swallowed camphorated oil,

which nearly swallowed your life at two,

the dive from a kopje at three,

caught at the ankle


by a fleet-footed uncle;

nail that sprang

from a half-built tree-house

into the white of your eye,

your small torso on a bolting horse.


Now every hazard is permitted entry –

the rabid-bat, shadow hand, hurtling lorry,

burning sun and thunderous rain,

the slow puncture, empty fuel tank,

non-existent map.


But your road lies open,

and never before

did such an openness exist.

I trust that you will continue to be charmed.

After all, how can the gods resist?



First published in the Irish Times, 22 June 2013.

More than skin 

(after Frida Kahlo)


Among cacti phalli

where you hold court,

an uproar of falling towers.


Dark skin floats to light, transcends pain

lavish as radishes

among lush leaves.


You drown it, 

escape by tightrope,



Your Judas bones, a  frame

for the spiralling weave of tendrils that hold

to the petaled womb of your art.


A corpse bird with fractured feet,

twenty red-tipped toes ­–

wings in flight.



First published in Valve literary journal, Issue 2.



They call us

in the tokoloshe hours


to take mrs jimmy

to have her baby


but mrs jimmy has already

had her baby


by the creaking gate

where the cattle come in


grief-witted, arms tight

as rope, she rocks;


baby fingers curl in the dirt,

pale as a bleary sun.



First published in Magma, Issue 52.

Some things are hard to shake off


These days, only the Polish fill a church on Good Friday;

the music is sublime, so I slip in

to the memory of habitual coughing,


watch children tripping up the aisle

with pressed palms

still fresh with innocence, 


while the old remain in pews,

heads bent,

praying for buried friends,


and I find myself

saying the words again,

dipping my fingers


in holy water, shaking them

at something

behind me.



First published in The SHOp, Issue 41.

Homage to the hummingbird


Flying jewel,

tiniest flashing genius,

prism miracle.

Your chartreuse brilliance

seduces one and then another

in the feckless mating season,

charms shimmered or hidden at will.


Oh ruby-throated


feasting at remembered petals,

tasting their nectar

a thousand times

as wings hum

their countless blur,


you are such an acrobat,

with backwards flight, rotating wings;

no wonder you slow-wave

to torpor, a slumber

you sometimes don’t survive.

Stay alive, my small dazzle,

for one more summer.



First published in Bare Hands anthology, Issue 4.



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