Rapture (2016) is Róisín’s first chapbook of poetry. Published by Southword Editions, it’s available at the price of €5 (€7 for international orders) from the Munster Literature Centre’s online bookstore

‘Kelly, as great writers do, compels her readers to engage, and for readers of Rapture, that engagement is with the past… Kelly’s poetry is at once tender and savage, steeped in tradition yet brave in expression.’ —Los Angeles Review of Books

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Self-portrait on Kefalonia, Greece, 2016

‘fresh, sensuous, and direct.’ —The Irish Times

‘Unafraid of sentiment…a master of endings.’ —Poetry Ireland Review

‘This brief collection shows remarkable emotional range. Kelly leaves the reader afloat on a tide of colour.’ —The PN Review

‘fierce and mysterious, beautiful and compelling.’ —Leanne O’Sullivan



Two poems from Rapture

Mars in Retrograde

June comes to the sky above Leitrim
and Mars is as red as a rose.

Our garden’s roses stare longingly upwards,
this heat is killing them.

Oh Plough, slip some water
from your tilting pan to my poor roses,

into the red mouth of Mars.
The swinging bench moans like a ship

all around me, and I am adrift
in a sea of stars.

Cut me loose from this rope of fairy lights
entwined like a glittering snake

around the chains and the boards.
Let me float to Orion,

let my fingers find his belt’s cold buckle.
Oh Mars, my love with red hair

is gone from me, and in your single,
maddened eye, I have glimpsed

the men I’ll sacrifice to find him.
I have seen the future slipping from me

like a lonely satellite. I
have heard the creaking of a thousand

ships released at once
like a breath across the face of Earth.


You are leaving, as the others have in turn,
after they took what worth there was from the time
we had together. Here is the fallen apple
crumbling in its flesh, the bright flush of skin
fading to a winter sunset’s pale red.
Here is the separation of seed from core,
the slow return to earth. What happens
down there in the black soil, what dream
of the frozen world? I believe
there is something still alive that waits,
sweetening in its fermentation, in its nourishing
of an earth that returns again and again
fruit rounded in its wholeness. In our hands
we cup apples like memories, bend to taste
what seems the same juice, the same sugars,
that remind us the sun will rise after night,
the birds will sing after winter. I watch your plane
ascend at dusk and play the scene
backwards on a loop, so that you do not fly
but fall, returning and returning to me.
But I will let you go, for only then can the seed
you leave burrow as a cold star towards
my heart. In years to come, I will search the sky
for you, its sugared constellations like a trail
to another world in which we’ll meet again.
For now, the runway stretches into darkness.
In the cellars, barrelled apples sleep
and dream their short lives in reverse.


Purchase Rapture here