© By Paula Cunningham

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This year I tried on voices just like hats.

Whore hat
Bored hat
Life’s a fucking chore hat
Tore hat
Sore hat
Never bloody score hat
Can’t take any more hat
Roar hat
Soon be thirty-four hat.

I was running out of fabric

But then I found a blessed hat
Poetry obsessed hat
Need a bloody rest hat
Got to go out west hat
Realised that politics are best avoided
Put on my Sunday best hat
Soon got bored with that.

Tried on my dead serious issues hat
My rhyme all the time hat
My why can’t I write like Paula Meehan hat
My fek it have a drink and write like Brendan Behan hat.

This year I tried on voices just like hats
The weather changed
The cease-fires came
And screaming like a banshee
My severed tongue grew back.


My father wore a hat when I was little
we lived in Omagh O-M-A-G-Haitch or -Aitch
as tribally decreed.
He was a travelling salesman for ice-cream;
a Dublin firm Hughes Brothers or H.B.
he was their Northern Ireland diplomat.

He knew his clients well - a studied discipline,
some would not buy HB ice-cream on principle.
My father’d done his homework;
to some he’d sell Haitch
B, to others Aitch B.

One day in Derry/Londonderry my father’s car was hijacked.
The men wore hats pulled down with holes for eyes and mouth.
They held a gun, they nudged his hat.
They asked my father where we lived
and ordered him to spell it.

- š

This year I tried on voices just like hats.

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