Steve Whitaker, Literary Editor

Poem Of The Week: Barmbrack By Dean Browne


Mother of God,
two houseflies were making love
on what must have been their honeymoon.
My grandmother struck them with a dishcloth.
The dirty fuckers, she said,
sweeping them into her open palm
like currants falling from the barmbrack loaf
at the heart of which lay a golden ring.

The affront of the grandmother figure in Barmbrack is a gentle infusion of humour in a vignette whose celebratory tone does for the thought of a freshly-baked fruit loaf what William Carlos Williams did for the irresistible allure of cooled plums.

An open-hearted homage to the complex drama of family, Irish poet Dean Browne’s clear affection for the loved object is reflected in the suggestion of a religious sensibility, the knee-jerk foulmouthery, and the wit that is second nature. The observation is both brief and fulsome: a prism, as good poems often are, to inference.

Not least that the treasure lying at the heart of the cake might gild the consummation of the concupiscent ‘dirty fuckers’ in perpetuity.

‘Barmbrack’ is taken from Kitchens at Night, published by smith|doorstop (2022)
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