Poetry Corner: Once Alien Here

A selection of poems taken from The John Hewitt Society project, “Once Alien Here.” The project was inspired by the aforementioned poem written by John Hewitt, who himself, struggled to reconcile the legacies of his own ‘planter’ origins and Ireland’s conflict history. To find out more about the John Hewett Society visit: www.johnhewittsociety.org

Salon Secrets – Is it you or is it me?


“Lie back relax, we’ll just get you started”

The Hairdresser’s chitchat was nice, light hearted

Head back in the basin, she began to wash

My eyes met her gaze and her question came quick as a flash

“You’re not from up here, are you?” she said to me

I felt sick to my stomach and weak at the knees

Trying to control my voice,I simply said “No”

I silently prayed that my nerves didn’t show.

I wanted to run but where would I go?

On this foreign road I am not a friend but a foe

She continued in silence to wash away suds

I could hear nothing but my heart thud, thud, thud

She finished my cut and style in silence

When was it coming? Where was the violence?

She thanked me for my custom I thanked her for her services

She said “Please call again. You can choose any one of us”

She smiled at me as I paid her

All I could think of was:

“Is the problem with her – or with me?”



(In response to the discussions at Lower Oldpark Community Association)

You’ve got to be careful about tracksuits.

There’s rules about which kind you can buy.

Only Cathlics wear McKenzie and O’Neills;

on account of their association with the GAA.

Adidas is alright. Adidas is for Protestants.

At the Integrated they’re particularly tight about tracksuits.

My granddaughter can’t even wear her Jack Wills hoodie because it has a wee totty Union Jack on the back.

It’s not even red, white and blue. It’s pink.

But it still counts as contentious.

Baseball caps are a problem too.

You can tell if someone’s one side or the other

by the way they fix the peak.

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