Judy Ireland - "Song of My Cell Phone" and "Awake at Night"

Song of My Cell Phone                       

My cell phone plays “Amor Perfecto”

when you call. I hear salsa,

and know it’s you

with your black eyes,

curly black hair, a few greys

I gave you

coming in.

Everyone else in my phone

is “Brick House” –

which is what I am made of,

fire station red brick

and a lot of smoke

(so said the bartender

the night I wore low cut black lace

and bent forward over the bar

to ask her what black label whiskey

she had).

except my other ex, who is “Wild Thing”

who made my heart sing

back when everything

was groovy.

My cell phone rings every day

and you play among the noises

in my head.  I hear the sound

of plantains sizzling in an iron skillet,

I hear the slap of your hand against

a corn-colored arepa.  I hear your clock tick

while you sleep.  I hear you singing

as you pick up palm leaves

that have dropped from the trees


My cell phone plays “Amor Perfecto”

when you call.  I hear salsa,

and know it’s you

with your black eyes.


Awake at Night

A woman in a window across the way

lifts a baby from slatted bed to breast

in shadow behind a drawn shade

paper-thin, cream color turning

to darkened yolk at the edges.

A sort of siren, calling to the drowning

with her gentle lift, bared breast, slight sway

from the hips as she rocks standing.

I sit in my chair, glass and window screen

between me and the wet grass, her building

and mine.

I remember many years ago,

a friend said –

women’s energy is round.

The window is now a black square,

flat on the face of the other building.

The absence of color, I think, helpless

against the phrase.

But it is for the baby

that I pray – the thing that swam

in the woman’s sea, making mantic

shadows on the ultrasound,

circular energy moving,

the borders

between sleep and what comes

after, bound to be difficult but promising

and delivering.




Born and raised in the Midwest, Judy Ireland’s poetry benefits from the verdancy and barefaced authenticity of that working class culture which keeps her work grounded and focused in the ordinary world where extraordinary ideas reside with great subtlety and power. Her work is also influenced by the lush excesses of South Florida, where she currently lives and works. Her poems have been published in Hotel Amerika, Calyx, Saranac Review, Cold Mountain, and Folio. In 2010 her chapbook,Cement Shoes, was listed as a finalist for the Split Oak Press Chapbook Contest and the Palettes and Quills Poetry Chapbook Contest.

Posted on December 17, 2013 .