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By Cairns Clery

ISBN: 978-1-84991-941-8
Published: 2013
Pages: 204
Key Themes: Mental Health, Poetry, Human Nature


‘Engenderings’ is a collection of short and long poems which address the themes of identity across time and space in the context of uncertainty about the meaning of the human condition. The unifying thread running through these poems is an affirmation of what it means to be a person and to have feelings. The transcendent qualities of imagination, kindness and caring for others are given the longest shrift and viewed as shining like shooting stars in an otherwise largely dark universe.

About the Author

As a young person Cairns was treated in the NHS with electro-convulsive therapy (ECT), but since then has worked in the mental health sector of the NHS in a variety of roles, most recently as a consultant family psychotherapist with children and young people and their families. Writing from experience of both sides of the mental health fence, Cairns is easy to categorise as a vegetarian, tree-hugging pacifist of uncertain gender, or as a literary-minded, caring professional, but does not like labels of any kind and would prefer you to read some of these poems and come to your own conclusions.

Book Extract

Paradise Left.

Perfectly composed, though naked, Eve was quick as silver,
Well within herself, not neurotic at all in discreetly discovering
The magic charm of secretly cheating in an Eden as warm
As her aching womb. And as it was the Creator she was conning
It somehow felt especially neat. With an innocent, sidelong look
She squeezed her hands between her knees to stop herself from
Being seen about to taste the oddly sharpened circularities
Of the apple. Hiding behind appreciative sighs of semi-genuine
Admiration for the anodyne works of her maker, her true soul
Desire was to bite hungrily on the fruit of the knowledge-tree.
With mock indignation she protested she wasn’t wanton to the
Wicked and tiny androgynous serpent now curled sleepily
In her lap dreaming of difference, making sure her Progenitor
Heard her. That He was deaf to her lie was a blinding truth and
She exulted as He and Adam discussed the meaning of Necessary.
The time was now ripe for swiftly cramming apple after illicit
Apple into a tummy whose emptiness mirrored the eternal life
She was so sick of. And which felt like a tomb. As the green
Juices ran she wanted above all to be free to go to fucking hell
If need be; to live eternal life through death and procreativity.
She longed for blood and children to give her feelings succour.
The snake in her lap stirred and whispered the word ‘Mother’
And she felt no deep sense of belonging or identity at all with
All the prettiness surrounding her, recognising only the darkest
Space between the stars above as hers. So she ate the worm as
Well, swallowing it whole. Her stomach heaved. And lurched; but
Her dinner stayed down and she didn’t mention what she’d done as
Adam droned on about Choice versus Responsibility. Ignoring him,
She said whether or not he came with her she was leaving right now
Because she wanted to step out into uncertainty, old age and cold.
Maybe she’d discover how to cover herself with colourful clothes
Or feathers, or sleep with wild and dangerous animals. Whatever;
She would die, but this wasn’t living. Adam, all talk till then, lit up
With life of his own. Thus enguiled they left; their genitalia fanged
And dripping. Meanwhile, pristine, still, Eden is still now forever a
Glorious golden garden which always was, yet still never has been.


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