From the Archives: Leon McAuley – Veronica

Dungannon poet Leon McAuley’s collection ‘Veronica‘ was published originally in 1994 by Lagan Press. The volume is characterised by an acute awareness of the fragility of everyday things: love, family, childhood, place.It is a new and refreshingly formal voice, catching the cadences of the tradition of Ulster Poetry-yet remaining flexible enough to address a contemporary world of loss, memory and alienation.

McAuley’s poetry was first published in Trio 4 (Blackstaff Press, 1985). He has worked as a teacher and as a writer visiting schools and as a broadcaster. He edited an anthology of children’s writing, Glistening Emeralds, Grassy Knees, and has published The Fountain, a collection of photographs and reminiscences from an estate in Londonderry. His photographs have been exhibited throughout Northern Ireland. He is a regular contributor to Radio Ulster and his novel for children, Albert and the Magician, was published by the O’Brien Press.


Is sacerdotal, clothed in stiffen silk
and not without its sting, Is said
to purify the blood. Is parcelled
in a brittle quick you can’t draw back.

In the kitchen I sang
as I split the clove,
and the kettle was singing
on the stove

for garlic is whiteness
tinged with mauve,
dry as bone; clutched tight
to emptiness, a baby fist,

touched, like a relic
to throat and wrist
and bloodstained and fanged
and very much in love.


Upper Buckna

A grey crow crucified on a barbed wire fence,
its limp head hanging.
It is, indeed, a warning
and makes a cruel kind of sense.

A grey fog clinging to a barren mountain top.
Upper Buckna, its walls precise and grim,
in the wilds of Country Antrim:
each stone a full stop.

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