The Elm Of The Aeneid and Spadework by Peter O’ Neill

The Elm of the Aeneid

After Virgil , Lines 282-295, Book VI
In the vast shadows of the Elm,
Under her ancient boughs where,
According to men dreams are allied to nightmare,
Intricately woven into every arrow-headed leaf,
There monstrous shapes and forms
Become crafted by the elements,
As beheld through the Light Trees,
Where everyone fashions for themselves
The proper demons which people their most
Specific exactitude; Just as Aeneas saw,
Him-self, those heady Chimera and which
He pursued with wrought steel,
On through the torturous waters of the
Tarterean Archeron, where the roads led.
This translation of The Elm of the Aeneid, After Virgil , Lines 282-295, Book VI is © Peter O’Neill



 In memoriam
Out in the allotment, thinking and digging,
And considering Heaney’s analogy
Of the opened field – Immense acreage
Of sovereignty to be found there
Emanating beneath the wood of his words,
Their clayey, and powderish substance.
And, pausing to take a breath, before I too
Rake up the skeletal remains of Baudelaire.
Field then as page, words as soil or clay;
Tossing the stones and weeds from the mind,
Into Hell’s ditch! The Norsemen and
Bog bodies, as with the spectral corpse of Croppies,
Figuring there, as in any archaeological site,
All with neurological accordance of mind.
Spadework, in Memoriam is © Peter O’Neill

elm of aeneidPeter O’ Neill’s debut collection Antiope  was published by Stonesthrow Poetry early this year, “certainly a voice to be reckoned with.” Wrote Dr Brigitte Le Juez (DCU). He has had poems published in The Galway Review, A New Ulster (5,8,12), The Scum Gentry, Abridged (29) New Town How (1) Danse Macabre Online Review (66, 70) The Original Van Gogh’s Ear Anthology (8) among others. He has an honours degree in philosophy, just completed a Masters in Comparative Literature and he has just presented his first paper on Heraclitus in the works of Samuel Beckett at the annual Beckett and the ‘State’ of Ireland Conference at UCD.

Impress by Candi V. Auchterlonie

candiImpress by C.V Auchterlonie. Published Punk Hostage Press 2012


I see us
as if we’re not us at all
as if we’ve let our body suits already
slipped off and skinny dipped under some glass blown
one in /one out
we walk the same /we drown the same.’
 nest is © Candi V. Auchterlonie from Impress (Amazon)

Impress is Candi V. Auchterlonie’s second poetry collection, published by Punk Hostage Press 2012.

Candi V. Auchterlonie  is a woman of the landscape. She is a poet of the open vista and of the outdoors. One feels that the house and the hearth are an alien skin that somehow do not fit her. The house functions as doors and windows that lead to water and wide open spaces. There is an obsidian thread running as a deep cleft through and under her expression. She mines this vein revealing a controlled sure craftsmanship in her approach to poetic form.

Auchterlonie’s writing approach to her poetry is singular. Whilst she takes on themes of motherhood, alienation, beauty and violence, the aforementioned obsidian vein reveals a  linguistic nomadism inherent in her expression and it runs through the whole of Impress.  Sometimes the words she seeks to communicate the depth of her experience are lost to her pen. This does not give her pause, nor does it reveal a desperate clutch for the right image or symbol. In fact, Auchterlonie shows herself prepared to wait for her poetic imagery to develop.

Auchterlonie handles poetic series and inter-related themes with extreme care and she will extend them without losing control of the symbols she has assembled to voice her poetry. There are series of poems with interlinked themes throughout Impressterrarium, chambers, walnut, woman without a landscape, and ghost hands the ultimate poem of the collection are in series.

The pivotal part of Impress occurs in the series woman without a landscape:

woman without a landscape

it still startles her
the way old pain does.
she remembers it well, every hurt that tamed her
it hits her like a thousand paper cuts
to her fragile vellum skin.’
woman without a landscape is © Candi V. Auchterlonie

The tropes and symbols Auchterlonie has assembled for herself are dominated by water, rock, ocean, blue,and metallurgy. The home represented by the house sometimes feels imprisoning or unsafe in the poems of Impress :

terrarium 1.

should you remember
in retrospect
the gossamer, or
the ghostly silence
of her
the glass house in the hills
tiny crystal knobs over brass
secret kept,
unbroken stave, marble smooth
terrarium 1. is © Candi V. Auchterlonie

House is not a place of safety from storm and almost exists alone to provide metaphor or symbol. Houses have cellars and doorways that are like a magic kingdom into well-guarded memory


middle of the night storm
so very turbulent
that this house of mine
began to caw and creak like a flock/
like antique brass hinges flittering off like fairies.
the old house rattled right
down to its foundation.
I could hear its old belly aching
discomfort and some superficial seething pain.
3 am.
only to be woken
by the violent husbandry
of the shaking of my walls/my bed.
I began conversations
with the trees outside.
from rock-a-bye by Candi V. Auchterlonie
 Objects and Auchterlonie’s perception of them are made new when she observes her child in his world. In her poems about motherhood there is a tsunami of tenderness and of self- recognition, and of her own engagement with the small and miraculous world of her son.
 The experience of birthing reflects the sex that created the small boy  _whose silence /goldfish gasp _  are the poet’s own. The child in Impress is the keystone of the arch that supports her epic structure. He is  a window to the world and his visual language and gesture is a learning curve for the poet.

once upon a time ago

his tiny peach hands
distorted blur under lemon white
the glow of animate life
his, the digits of newness still
over worthless relics broken
ever storyless, he carefully cleans and collects them
from around the yard, ‘
from once upon a time ago by Candi V. Auchterlonie

Often there is a sense of total alienation from the domestic world, and that nomadism or will to unfold the world is of the utmost importance. Domestic ties and a tying to objects is secondary to unravelling a feeling of her place in the world.
 The importance of place and one’s relation to it through the observation and study of talismanic objects, natural objects which speak of mystery are always subject to the poet’s minute investigation, as if the huge is presently too much to handle. She holds in her own hands small symbols of the enormity of place, these are shards of wonder and not remnants or leavings from. There is a questing curiousity about Auchterlonie which bodes well for her future work , as it is allied with a subtle craftsmanship in her approach to form.
 Alienation from is a still evolving in Auchterlonie’s forms and tropes. Stone (or crystals) / the walnut/ water, and sub-total immersion provide useful tools for a sense of powerlessness or littleness in the utter vastness of nature.

That  thread of obsidian running through the book which belies the poet’s statement of beauty as encompassing all and everything. There is a determined desire to find her place in a world which is hers – an almost childlike beligerence and desirousness to make sense of it all. This may be a linguistic disconnectedness, a nomadic inherence , or an endless wanting that is eternally restless. Restive even.

feast of figs

ravens are rare here
I find when I fumble stumble across one
should I be so lucky
I fall onto my knees searching for
the stars, Corvus!
I think of the greeks and Babylonians
the hydras tail, the raven and adad
the story of apollo’s raven
and the feast of figs, the punishment
of being stuck in the sky, thirsty for all time.
the cost was high, I recoil.
I immediately search for headstones
marble carved eyes
that’s where the stars live these days
onyx forms
perched and crooning over
named and muted pale stones
under storms of rusty steel wool.’
feast of figs is © Candi V. Auchterlonie


‘I’ve got the Fukushima Blues’, by Glenda Cimino

Even though it’s not in the news,
I’ve got the Fukushima Blues.

Strontium 90 on the grass,
Iodine 131, cesium, plutonium –
Cow’s milk is poisoned in your glass,
But don’t tell- there’d be pandemonium!

Three reactors in meltdown,
Tepco now confess
But where the radioactive water’s gone,
Is anybody’s guess.

Even though they say I have nothing to lose,
I’ve got the Fukushima Blues.

Radiation spikes sky high,
People told to stay indoors,
Animals abandoned to sicken and die,
Workers sleeping on radioactive floors.

Radiation in your taps should not alarm,
They lie; for radiation will accumulate
Over days and years; but this sure harm
They do not want you to contemplate.

Even though it is not in the news,
I’ve got the Fukushima Blues.

Have to evacuate another town
Radioactive dust on the school playground
Will people take this lying down?
Maybe the living were better off drowned.

The heat and power of the nuclear sun
Burning down through layers of our earth
Do they know what they have done?
Officials argue and resign, for what it’s worth

Even though they say I have nothing to lose,
I’ve got the Fukushima Blues.

Anonymous workers facing certain death
Trying so hard the leaks to stem
Tepco cannot pay for their last breath-
Nothing but crackers and rice for them.

‘We’re sorry’, they bow, ‘we made a mistake’
-Truth is, that Tepco was often warned-
But ‘who would expect a 9.0 earthquake?’
They took no action, the advice was scorned.

Even though it is not in the news,
I’ve got the Fukushima Blues.

Who needs to fear a terrorist
When respected companies act like this?
Covering it up and playing it down,
It isn’t their children on that playground.

There’s nothing to worry about,
Forget it, you haven’t a care-
Just don’t drink the water, eat the food,
Or breathe the air.

Even though they say I have nothing to lose,
I’ve got the Fukushima Blues.

Deadly radiation released into the Pacific
Poisoning the fish humanity will need
The amount? Can’t be specific-
Measure it in units of human greed.

Nuclear energy so safe, so cheap –
But what is the cost not in their calculations
As a poisoned world we all will reap,
With more cancer, leukemia and genetic mutation.

 Even though it is not in the news,
I’ve got the Fukushima Blues.

Empty towns with deadened lights -
No one could take the time to pack
No need now for energy on dark nights -
Get out while you can, and never look back.

O babes of Chernobyl- what have we done?
Generations damaged beyond repair.
Is this also the fate of the land of the rising sun?
O nuclear fools, learn how to see and care!

Even though they say I have nothing to lose,
I’ve got the Fukushima Blues.

Four hundred and forty nuclear plants
And some still want to build some more
I’ve been accused of anti-nuclear rants -
But is energy really worth dying for?

We all live on only one planet
Travelling around our sun -
We’d better learn to take good care of it;
Surely even nuclear execs can count to one.

They say all will be well in this nuclear hell,
and I’ve nothing to lose-but- I’m telling you-
they’re giving our world the Fukushima Blues.

© Glenda Cimino ,all rights reserved. First published in News Four.

I am adding here a link to Glenda Cimino’s Poem Mr. Sarasota, published  in A.B Edwards archives , with thanks to Glenda for the poems. You can read Glenda Cimino’s  ‘Cicada’ poem here.

Bird poems from Poethead

Preamble to  The Valley by  Kerry Hardie

The first valley is the Valley of the Quest,
the second the Valley of Love
the third is the Valley of Understanding
the fourth is the Valley of Independence and Detachment
the fifth of Pure Unity
the sixth is the Valley of Astonishment
and the seventh is the Valley of Poverty and Nothingness
beyond which one can go no further.

from , The Conference of the Birds by Farid ud-Din Attar, written in the second half of the twelfth century AD. This rendering in english is by C.S Nott.

I published a short poem of condolence this week for the victims of atrocity in Norway, and got to thinking about the bird poems that are linked on the blog. There are quite a few bird  poems,  as there are images scattered on the blog. I thought to link them here today.

The avatar that I chose for Poethead is  a bird,  Max Ernst’s image  is one of a set  of  lithographs used in his illustration of René Crevel‘s  Babylon . My avatar image is just below this short post on the bottom right-hand column of  the Poethead home page (and all of the pages on this blog) .

The Bird Poems from Poethead.

Ireland, by Richard Ryan

‘Treeline’ (1977) by TP Flanagan , from ‘The Delighted Eye’


“That ragged
leaking raft held
 between sea and sea

its long
forgotten cable melting
into deeper darkness where,

at the root
of it, the slow
 sea circles and chews.

Nightly the dark-
ness lands like hands
to mine downward. springing

tiny leaks
till dawn finds
field is bog , bog lake. “

by Richard Ryan

Ravenswood. The Dolmen Press , publ. 1973