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“The Middle of April” by Fióna Bolger

The Middle of April

 
After Robert Hass
 
i
whan that Aprille with his shoures soote
the droghte of March hath perced to the roote

my grandfather quotes
Chaucer from the vinyl
 
ii
he knows more now
we will too soon
 
iii
in the spring
pelmet of green
 
in the summer
scarf of orange
 
in the autumn
shawl of white
 
iv
bamboos knock out a tune
until disturbed by elephants
grazing, discarding as they go
 
v
The dangers lie in the jugular. No one really likes the smell of elephant poo but it makes paper of a
high quality. Words written on digested bamboo. Nothing is lost between page and palm. That is
mystery: pen, ink, paper, thread, card, dream, word. A memory clings like the smell of dung. And
there are always fibres
 
vi
let there be peace between us
let us learn together
om santhi santhi santhi
 
vi
there’s no shit like
your own shit
 
vii
And instead of entering the reserve forest we wandered through the village. The tea shop sold weak
milky tea. We heard them, small black cows with bells around their necks. People warned us an
elephant herd was nearby. We found their still steaming dung. This was all free and unreserved.
 
viii
the green mango is sour
best eaten karam with vellum
 
Nagpur loose jackets are rare now
orange trees cut to grow apartments
 
the iron red soil of Niyamgiri
woven into the shawl
 
ix
Here are some things to eat from a banana leaf: idli, dhosa, uttapam, appam, idiappam, sambhar,
rasam, chutney, chutney podi, kozhikattai, thair saddam, thokku, chappatti, parratta, puri,
anna saru, chakra pongal, ven pongal. Ungaishtam sapdingo… Eat your desire.
 
x
still searching
for the man in the cafe
 
xi
silk saree
 
xii
she said: ask them
and he said: no
she said: why is it
like this?
he said: nothing
she said: no
he said:
 
xiii
theyn kuricha nari
the fox who has drunk honey
 
xiv
and from vinyl I learned
He loves you, yeah, yeah…
Did you happen to see….
myself in those songs?
 
xv
agni nakshetram –
water tastes sweet
as mango juice trickles
from finger tip to hand
to elbow and bathed every veyne
in swich licour, of which vertu
engendered is the flour
 
The Middle of April is © Fióna Bolger

fiona bolgerFióna Bolger’s work has appeared in Southword, The Brown Critique, Can Can, Boyne Berries, Poetry Bus, The Chattahoochee Review, Bare Hands Poetry Anthology, The Indian Muse and others. Her poems first appeared in print tied to lamp posts (UpStart 2011 General Election Campaign). They’ve also been on coffee cups (The Ash Sessions).
 
Her grimoire, The Geometry of Love between the Elements, was published by Poetry Bus Press in 2013. Her work has been translated into Irish, Tamil and Polish reflecting the journey her life has taken.
 
She is a facilitator at Dublin Writers’ Forum and a member of Airfield Writers. She works as a creative mentor with Uversity MA in Creative Process. She lives between Dublin and Chennai.
 
from The Geometry of Love Between the Elements (Poethead)
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Excerpts from ‘The Muddy Banks’ by Michael S. Begnal

Uptown

 
1.
 
Yellow and crimson leaves, the sidewalks and streets,
leaves of vines clinging to tree trunks
and brick buildings, concrete staircases overgrown
with weeds and roots—
 
vines cling on tree trunks, brick buildings are
concrete things, dwellings of a dead mind,
dwelling-places of a vanished mind
that stained such things as this—
 
dwellings of a vanished mind, saw someone,
saw things, broken windows, crimson leaves,
mansards, toilets whose porcelain is stained
and rough, whose water ran—
 
broken windows saw the concrete staircase below,
its iron handrail rust like leaves,
its steps buckled and cracked with roots and weeds,
hacking coughs—
 
window broken to the cold, saw someone hacking
over the porcelain stained rough like leaves,
a mind vanishes, someone vanishes
in a cold apartment where the toilet runs—
 
a dwelling-place is empty but of concrete things,
broken panes, a toilet’s porcelain dry and rough,
a mind has vanished down a concrete staircase,
across the highway, to the cold river
 

Uptown

 
3.
 
Snow on one of the two
blue steel arches
of the Birmingham Bridge
blue-green, white, and splattered
with rust, the snow sour curdled milk
 
sheets of broken ice
floating in the Monongahela,
pieces accrued together
in frozen geometries
of white-grey on grey-green
 
empty trees de-veiled,
the South Side hills in snow, and
from beyond that distance,
from beyond the hills,
from beyond other ridges,
 
announcement, an announcement:
 
  I bring news,
  a stag lows,
  winter snows,
  summer has died
 
  high wind cold,
  sun is low,
  short its track,
  river a riptide
 
  the ferns all red,
  a shape concealed,
  a goose rises,
  ancient its voice
 
  cold takes hold
  of birds’ wings:
  a time of ice
  is my news
 
These excerpts from The Muddy Banks (Ghost City Press, 2016) are © Michael S. Begnal,

Note: “Uptown” section 3, lines 17-32 (beginning with the line “I bring news” and continuing through “is my news”), is my translation of an anonymous 9th-century Irish poem beginning “Scél lemm duib. . .” (which also appears on a t-shirt made by An Spailpín Fánach).


⊕ Purchase Link for The Muddy Banks by Michael S. Begnal

Mike S. Begnal Michael S. Begnal has published the collections Future Blues (Salmon Poetry, 2012) and Ancestor Worship (Salmon Poetry, 2007), as well as the chapbook Mercury, the Dime (Six Gallery Press, 2005). Formerly editor of The Burning Bush literary magazine and formerly longtime Galway resident, Begnal’s work has appeared in numerous journals and anthologies and has been nominated for a Pushcart Prize.

Contacts for Michael S. Begnal:

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‘I wanted to tell you, but there was no time’ and other poems by Csilla Toldy

Kitchen

 
With hot chilli in my eyes
I read between the lines,
a coded message of noises:
A child’s scream sheathed in wind blasts,
 
gashes through the cracks.
The mandalay porcelain clock, riveting,
ticks between my shoulder blades.
I carry my life like a snail.
 
The fridge sighs,
a boiler roars into motion,
it broils the oil of the seas and heats
– my place, the kitchen at dawn.
 
Clouds scrub the stratosphere with desert sand;
a mad dog, stuck in fear, just shrills.
The river at the bottom of our glen,
shushing its song, cushions our senses.
 
In my body’s kitchen
the heart spins unrelenting.
Organs send impulses talking to each other.
“Thanks for the parcel, we enjoyed the food.”
 
The universe of enzymes awakens,
matter is transformed, vibrations vocalise.
My body is gauze, from Gaza, letting through the particles
of light – staunch at covering the wounds, so absorbent.
 
Beyond its wonders I remember
last night’s cosmic dance at this table,
our conversation about intelligence and order
and that we are bacteria in God’s body.
 
First appeared in Red Roots-Orange Sky, Lapwing Publications, Belfast edited by Dennis Greig
 

Danube – Duel

 
Is that a boat or a coffin
bobbing up and down on the river
framed by the intricate lace of the parliament?
 
The country taught me hate
the tightness of place, sometimes echoed
when the gales gather and attack this island.
 
No escape, lie low, let the winds blow overhead,
wait, even if you are sitting on a hot spring
even if you fume vitriol.
 
Remembering the river’s bank
ragged lines of men and women, shot
after they were told to slip off their shoes.
 
Boney bare trees reach up into the sky
grab the pain – hanging on
pulling it down, draw it deep into the soil.
 
The Danube splits the land. From the crack
incredible amounts of fresh water, hot and clear
bubble up with the smell of rotten eggs.
 
Healing waters – they say –
good for the bones and joints,
the ailments that plague the core of the nation.
 
The Jews that never got buried
float away into the sky – in the spas soaking
people play chess in sulphuric silence.
 
First appeared on Poetry24 edited by Martin Hodges
 

I wanted to tell you, but there was no time

 
In my dream I had to take the key to your flat and leave it there
It was very hard to do
I had to balance on steep rocks and loosened iron hoops
In my thoughts I tousled your hair and something lifted me up
A force – and my stomach jumped into my throat.
I was laughing, for this was what I wanted.
Then it was over – (some new dream, new convolutions began about
a girl who dived into the awesome blue of the sea –
Cassandra – I was glad that she left me alone
Like a sunset, her blonde locks sunk into the sea)
 
I was thinking about symbols on my way to you near the southern railways
And my stomach was in my throat.
Arriving, I felt the usual little pain, you said I was beautiful
and I believed you. There was no doubt about it – I could love
You as it was good for me. We were standing at the glass panels
In front of us the space
I did not tousle your hair, there was no embrace, although desired
I left, I was in a street again and a force lifted me up –
the one that was leaving dragged me with itself.
I was a weak woman then, tiny and the struggle with my own power
Seemed ridiculous. I let it fall into the void.
 
First appeared in A New Ulster edited by Amos Greig

Broken – Winged

 
The first time I heard your voice on the line
defensively bored, I thought my pleading
rendered me powerless. But surprising:
It was the key to your poor, broken heart.
 
I admired the splinters: Twisted sky,
land, barbed wire manifold reflected,
Medusa eyes flash, piercing the sadness,
but whirls of winds carry us to new heights.
 
I believed in me being your healer –
making you whole a possibility.
Wanted to be the cohesive matter,
 
Superwoman with the magical torch,
blind to your pain’s artful prosperity –
to the cage of guilt and cunning reproach.
 
First appeared in Red Roots-Orange Sky, Lapwing Publications, Belfast edited by Dennis Greig
 

Photo by Alistair Livingstone

Photo by Alistair Livingstone

Csilla Toldy was born in Budapest. After a long odyssey in Europe she entered the UK with a writer’s visa to work on films and ended up living in Northern Ireland in 1998. Her prose appeared in Southword, Black Mountain Review and anthology, Fortnight, The Incubator Journal, Strictly Writing and Cutalongstory. Her poetry was published online and in print literary magazines, such as Snakeskin and Poetry24, Savitri, Lagan Online, Headstuff, Visible Verse, A New Ulster and in two chapbooks published by Lapwing Belfast: Red Roots – Orange Sky and The Emigrant Woman’s Tale. Csilla makes videopoems, available on her website:  www.csillatoldy.co.uk &  https://soundcloud.com/ctoldy

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‘Sonnet From A Derelict House’ and other poems by Daniel Marshall

metamorphosis

 
gulls bathe & fish in temporary rock pools
near the recycling spot in ongpo village. i wonder
if the dead mermaids of old jeju are reincarnate as gulls?
whether they thank the wind for bringing morsels of food to them?
 
have they returned to the place they liked to forage abalone,
where they taught their children how to recite the poems of the sea
& laced a 1000 soups with shell fish & sea weed?
in the translucent pools objects that don’t belong to the sea
 
but the sea has made ornate on its potter’s wheel
lie like artifacts waiting to be raised from the dead.
you can hardly recognize shards of green bottles,
broken, budget china plates, the flutes & spouts of blue vases
 
& their bases with the artists name erased by the currents.
but a saucepan lid, the nipple of its handle.
a rusty tobacco tin with mushed up cigarettes inside.
a bottle of washing up liquid. a cement bag collecting shells & kelp
 
go unchanged. no matter
the hours the mad sea potter clocks in.
 

 

the pacific

 
we walk 1 km or so,
pass through gangjeong village,
away from where ajummas
who look like permed mussolinis,
gut & flense red porgy & barter
at the pitch of cash registers, on the street corner.
beyond the outskirts
where the abandoned banners of protest
against the construction of a naval base is stationed,
to where the pacific ocean is being itself.
the land emptied. the roads emptied. people emptied.
the ocean here moves the mood to its own way.
& we are moved with it too.
because we are people.
 

jeju church

 
the telegraph cables wobble like plucked harp strings.
i follow them to a church: the modem of god.
the fastest router to his love & law.
 
i doubt they get a decent signal there;
therefore anxiety’s doppleganger cowers behind the plastic pews,
in a church, without nave or apse; persistent
 
their’s is a church suitable for gaggling wants to god.
the neon crucifix where the lightning rod should be picking petals of dark
to save the air conditioned congregation from the godless element.
 
the don’t see that the weather is god, their livelihood.
they don’t see out there is all god can be
& the only place he might find comfort from the grind of his silence.
 

 

눈 = snow & eye

 
this blizzard two days deep is an anomaly
: it hasn’t snowed like this for 35 years.
the island’s comatose yet comfortably delivered from
the common arrangements of any old day
: farmers off the hook with needy furrows;
disheartened tourists hop scotch 4 dimensions a-z;
the restaurants full of happy people getting drunk;
biyang island’s buggered off all afternoon,
a graphite smudge in the corner of a child’s sketch.
i feel a perfect ease in this seraglio of snow,
furnished with moving tapestries of conifer & crow.
litters of onion & cabbage, the brown flame
of decay like the edges of old manuscripts
spreading to the whorls & cores.
the harem wenches shaped like soil who swaddled them,
who with familiar cuddles warmed
their spindly legs until the autumn harvest,
look bored without their motherly duties.
there isn’t a soul & if there was
a barrier of snow rushes between us.
flocks of sparrows navigate the drift,
the traffic of currents & pockets of gale
quiff the snow on the ridge ahead.
i hope i never find time to return to the world.


sonnet from a derelict house

 

the village houses dumb with old age. blind & windowless of their worth.
their pipe-orifices blow off excess steam. asbestos hunkered in their heads.
a few roof tiles absent : old storms popped them off like champagne corks.
cut short like children who are seen but never heard. downcast & diffident.
they mime their rantings at a generation that admires but does not fix.
they had an idiolect arrested by indifference & so they do not croak
objections to invasive mainlanders with café aspirations.
they’ve busied themselves like a mouth chock full of ginseng sweets
so long, they forgot the peal of beauty poking from their grout,
the saturating mold that sticks them together. you’ve not decided you have value yet.
when the aesthetic nuances of apartments lie in tatters: when the weathered marks,
the petroleum foot prints & ichor rust begin to tell on iron bones & fiber glass skin
they’ll hurry back to you with a lick of paint, stucco & warm sibilant love,
their guests will write on post-it notes they are too guilty to compose themselves.

fish lady

 
the jeju grandma who squats outside the chiropractor
sells gold bream, kelp & mackerel piled in little blue baskets.
the lamppost is her backrest, the pavement is her chair.
her back’s bent like an oreum. she must be in a lot of pain.
most of the day she naps with the fishes. i never saw her sell a thing
& i can’t cook fish in the café : it makes a dreadful stink.

the air in hallim town is thick with salt & brine.
it comes from the sea hidden in netted hauls of jeju cuttlefish
-red freckled tentacles like broken fingers & heads like bone china vases.
her bones are rusty as a trawlers’ nuts & bolts.
her knuckles have been bleached with salt & cold.
she’s wrapped up in a microfiber blanket, she has no gore-tex clothes.

her veins bulge out of tissue flesh, like highways on a map,
the luggage of her grueling years drags under her eyes.
after working seven days a week, outdoors in the fields,
or on the wet street, since she was a teenager,
the elements have buffeted her geography’s shape inside & out.
we can travel her hardships without a compass needle.

there is no son or daughter to help her lug the stock.
she has mothered. be sure of that. suckled & smacked them into citizens.
they’ve been consumed with seoul’s nightly attractions: pork & soju.
disfigured by charts & indexes, the etiquette of the salary man
: the boss says drink! we say how much? the boss says jump! we say from where!
if only she’d not shamed their island roots they’d be less corpulent.

on sunday all the shops & vendors on the street stop trade.
she goes to church & tends the spirit then goes home to tend the soil.
she has a little garden behind her little house beside the sea.
she grows a row of cabbages, spring onions & garlic
: in autumn for the umpteenth time she’ll make kimchi for the year ahead
: the fuel for her to endure one more ring of seasons in the harbour town.

one day, i’ll go to the chiropractor & she won’t be outside
& her fish will not have been caught & birth prodigious shoals.

Daniel Marshall is a poet from England who now lives in Jeju Island, Korea, where he runs a café & guesthouse, which he built with his wife from the soil up. He is an emerging writer who, when he manages his time well, writes & blogs. You can read several of his ongoing projects here & a number of articles he wrote on dream psychology & analysis whilst he lived in the mountains of mainland Korea. Feel free to contact him anytime through his blog:
 
https://danielpaulmarshall.wordpress.com/
or at danielpaulmarshall85@gmail.com
 
Sonnet From A Derelict House and other poems are © Daniel Marshall
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the subtle flavouring of fish // C. Murray

teserrae of names
dull mustard
fiery gold flames
organics of mushroom tea
 
gaudy/ Gaudi/ lace/ paste
St Audrey/ rust/ blood/ lace
yes, tawdry lace
 
           -I can use that
 
round and round
the mulberry bush
oranges/ bees/ fish/
old chain letter/ old
poems stuck together/
spermed-together/
cum-came/ come on!
 
books published
unaltering of anything/
but the subtle flavouring of fish – maybe
 
dom/dominatrix/domestic goddess/
GOD !
           this girl’s great in the kitsch-en
cook-stuff/ cock-stuff //really // cock-stuff/
 
who knows
what goes
on where the
rosey-poesie
poetry muses lie ?
 
butterfly-netted the
bee-priestess/poetess
black veiled butterfly-swoop
unguarded ungirded/
girdled //corsetted//cosseted
 
our bee-keepers are impotent
poetess/priestess jiggle your
tits /make soup/
 
and I thought /
                        I need more meat than this to feed my brain,
 
words of madness /of bloodletting/
vein of salts/salts in the blood-wounds/
of those who … (know)
 
lady take my hand/
let us go to the bare
birthing room/ the death-room/
                 the room of whispers/screams/
some agony of death is here/
clean kitchens /jeyes fluid/
orange savlon/salted wounds/
 
//cif //blood//
eggs//
 
ANYTHING …
but spare me the details for the subtle flavouring of fish – please
 
abstract paintings surrealism artwork german traditional art max ernst surreal art 1455x1050 wall_wallpaperswa.com_37© Christine Murray &  first published in Colony Journal.Image by Max Ernst
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A Good Question: Anna Akhmatova (1960)

Could Beatrice write with Dante’s passion,
Or Laura have glorified love’s pain?
Women poets – I set the fashion . . .
Lord, how to shut them up again!
 
by Anna Akhmatova: 1960

Someday we may understand why the blatant copying of Ted Hughes’ & Heaney’s inspiration is acceptable to the Irish Poetry Editors who publish and award it as if it were something new ?

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“Fintona” and other poems by Aine MacAodha

Windowless church

 
My church has no windows
in fact it has no doors either
and to be fair no altar
it has no ordained minister
or priest or gospels.
Its in my heart, in
the starry sky
the moon shining over the land
its the planets in our solar system
the sun when it shines or not
its the foods god/creator
left us, berries, leaves, nuts
my church has winter winds that
cut to the bone and to enlighten
I have the sweet smell of roses
as I follow the seasons.
It is bog cotton waving on an
early Autumn evening as the
sun bids farewell.
On nights like these
dark and Irish wintery
the familiar trees and hills
become ancient septs
ready for battle with the ether.
Fields caped in winter fog
appear as crafted cities of the dead
souls roam among the rushes
in search of utopia or a home.
Trees scan the darkened horizon
the wind calls out names too and
winter hangs around like a threat.
This is my church.
 

Distractions

 
It’s the end of April.
Spring late this year
begins its infinite ascent
to the tips of the cherry tree
birds come by often
a come-all-ye in the front garden
their songs reach an inner place
like listening to Franz Haydn
his strings reaching out
from centuries past making clear
contact in a podcast
channelling his toils and efforts
an artist whose initial struggles
with mind, soul, pocket
rise and fall with each
strike of the bow
altering my thoughts on outer things
a distraction, like the bird song often
heard in my childhood estate longing
for far flung horizons.
 

Stone circle alignments

 
They invite soul connection
invoke an energy of some sort
long past histories underfoot.
Early man was quite the architect
aligning the stones in such a way
that at equinox and solstices
sun rises to light up the passageway.
A seeking brings people here
an ancient longing that needs met.
Creevykeel court tomb is a full tomb
the largest in Ireland.
Tievebaun Mountain seems to guard it
shadows come and go with the sunsets.
we don’t give ancient man enough credit
for the science they carved into the landscape.
 

Fintona

 
Or to give it its’ town-land meaning
A fairly coloured field.
A small country town, familiar, friendly.
one can see the whole shopping street
from left to right without shifting a foot.
There is a jewel though
a hidden forested area
where a raised fairy fort stands
once druids conferred their words
in praise of nature.
 
There too I find the remains of a
burnt out wreckage of a car
perhaps stolen years ago left now for
mother nature to clear up which she did
wrapping her briars in and through the doors
designing the broken glass with her leaves.
 

Awakening

 
Sun slants in through the venetian blinds
dust particles float in the narrow space
books, a pen, Sundays newspapers
and a mobile phone cling on the quilt cover.
 
Its 9.30am Spring has come, crisp April air
drifts in from the ajar window, it will soon be
Summer again, warmth of the sun rejuvenates.
 
I wander the halls of my mind on wakening
sieve through last nights dream
catching broken pieces of a story or place
and wondering all day if it meant something.
 
Fintona and other poems is © Aine MacAodha
These poems have been published in the online journal Episteme, Vol. 4(1), June 2015 under the section IRISH POETRY | Web address | http://www.episteme.net.in/

 

Aine MacAodha is 52 year old writer from Omagh North of Ireland, her works have appeared in Doghouse Anthology of Irish haiku titled, Bamboo Dreams, Poethead Blog, Glasgow Review, Enniscorthy Echo, poems translated into Italian and Turkish, honorable mention in Diogen winter Haiku contest, Shamrock Haiku, Irish Haiku, thefirscut issues #6 and #7, Outburst magazine, A New Ulster issues,2 ,4, 27. Pirene’s Fountain Japanese Short Form Issue, DIOGEN Poetry, Argotist Online, The Best of Pirene’s Fountain ‘First Water’ Revival and Boyne Berries. She self published two volumes of poetry, Where the Three rivers Meet and Guth An Anam (voice of the soul). Argotist online recently published ‘Where the Three rivers Meet’ as an E book. Her latest collection Landscape of Self was published by Lapwing Press Belfast.
 
https://sites.google.com/a/lapwingpublications.com/lapwing-store/aine-macaodha
http://ainemacaodha.webs.com/index.htm
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“The Reading” and “The Back Bedroom” by Sarah O’Connor

 

The Reading

 
In the mock parlour room, people come and go.
No one speaks of Michaelangelo.
 
The words are thin and the wit is dull.
Arrogance saturates the air. No lull.
 
The Liffey water turns green, olive, matt black.
The lights upon it are buttered mosaic, forth and back.
 
The moment of grace is brief and it is bright.
It is sign-posted by no hot spotlight.
 
I want to drum heels, point and shout:
Talent is here; talent is out.
 

The Back Bedroom

 
It lurks lonely, like a figurine
It smells stuffy, like a chintz quilt
 
The wardrobe full.
 
Its faded finery, guests long gone
Its pillows thin and soft, clean like powdered snow
Its pincushion, still spikily sharp
Its duckling wallpaper, growing yellowed
 
The window fogged.
 
It smells of old, like winter silt
It sings of old, inexorable guilt
 
The door closed.
 
The Reading and The Back Bedroom are © Sarah O’Connor

img_4751Sarah O’Connor is originally from Tipperary. She studied in UCC and Boston College, and she now lives in Dublin. She previously worked in publishing and now works in politics. She is 34. She is working on her first novel and on a collection of poetry. She has been published by Wordlegs and The Weary Blues.
 
Sarah O’Connor blogs at The Ghost Station & tweets at @theghoststation.
Poemín and other Poems by Sarah O’Connor

 

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“The Pathologist’s Wife” and other poems by Natalia Spenser

For Sylvia-Down in Adoration

 
You were Fulbright a seismic enigma
the fleet foot hare rising in pastel dusk.
It stalked like crows in the breast of a man
who sold your head for hapless wanderlust.
Your damage was like splintering of glass.
Could he not understand what it is to be
a milk jug, wasted lipstick, the outcast
shadow hung from a star-struck hemlock tree.
But a quiet voice is so more loquacious
than a risen phoenix roaring through air.
Maybe now is the time for tempered hush
time to weave your bridal crown through red hair.
He brought Devon sea shells to your headstone
you were his lotus his night passage glow.
 

For Jane Kenyon

 
Ten years on, while storm buffets glass and juniper,
snowflake tiers inside my porch
finger an army of miniature baubles.
 
The plastic robins perch lopsided. Even
that new star, a rushed afterthought, curtseys
on its axis where a black one legged doll should be.
 
Dear Jane I never met you. But I guess your mother
was at the station with pasteboard suitcases—ready
to sew broken limbs together again.
 
Now as I make end to season,
with more than a single strand of tinsel,
I nest plywood angels and churches
 
for a woman who breathed cypress and pondered why
only nightjars or silver fish
knew how to take shadowless flight.
 

The Pathologist’s Wife

Taken as a whole she is like any other woman 
one heart four chambers one brain eight lobes
 
If I place them in your gloved hands	her weight
is less than a pre-term infant

this woman	mute monkey on one shoulder
zealous cat on the other

At the edge of night she wears a cowl of thorns 
the spines draw blood if I forget to soften my touch

Whatever moves between bright thought & Tahitian body
Gauguin’s veneer is noted	full mouth
 
broad nose	hair above her lip	the nest
of a bird humming at her wishbone		& if

you crystallise sadness	look close 
under a microscope	you find
deep sea brittle stars	in that one rare tear
Natalia - CopyNatalia Spencer B.A lived in North Africa at the start of her life & now inhabits a quiet niche of South West England. Like most writers she knows, she has family, cats, many books. Her flash fiction has appeared in Kissing Frankenstein and other Stories, & Flash Frontier. In 2015 she won The MSF Silver Award for Best Poem from Visual Stimulus. More recently she has poems published in The Poetry Shed & various magazines. She is working towards her first collection.
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“Tea with Akhmatova’s Cat” and other poems by John Sexton

Tea with Akhmatova’s Cat

 
I’m having tea with Akhmatova’s cat
who purrs in English passable enough
that half-wit mice can follow what she’s at.
 
She speaks in metres forcible but flat:
a mix of Milton, Keats, hairballs and fluff.
I’m having tea with Akhmatova’s cat.
 
Quite bored, I count the fibres on the mat,
pretend I’m listening, fake attention, cough.
The half-wit mice can follow what she’s at.
 
Her ginger body trembles in its fat,
remembers pogroms, deaths, and other stuff.
I’m having tea with Akhmatova’s cat.
 
The truth is, I’m not worthy of her chat,
miss the point, even though it’s not so tough
that half-wit mice can’t follow what she’s at.
 
The cat consumes the mouse and that is that;
in canine jaws the cat will know its worth.
I’m having tea with Akhmatova’s cat;
the half-wit mice can follow what she’s at.
 
John W. Sexton
From the collection Petit Mal (Revival Press, 2009)
 

The World under the World

 
It is midnight with no moon. The sky is dulled
with cloud and the stars burn above unseen.
The old woman carries a lantern and swings it
over the long grass; the grass reveals its own tangle
of shadows. She is looking for the seam of the hill,
where it was sewn tight before her mother’s mother’s
mother’s time. She was told of it when she was a child,
but neglected the task of unpicking it. Unpick the seam,
she was told, and the true world will be able to get out.
An owl passes overhead and she looks up. In the gleam
of the lantern the owl’s work is clear. It is weaving the air
tight, so that the true sky is held back. Her bones are stiff
and a tumour is growing in her brain. From the woods below
a dog barks three times, three bites of the night. Her mind
will soon be tangled thick as a kittened skein. In the hilly
meadow she finds a thick ridge under the grass; the ridge
travels the height of the hill. This is the seam she seeks.
Setting the lantern carefully down in the uneven ground
she bends to her task. But she knows she is far too old
for it now. A snake passes under her and follows the ridge,
and she knows it is tacking an extra thread into the seam.
She falls exhausted. The lantern gutters and everything
is dark. The owl passes overhead once more. The true sky
has no hope of returning. The true world will remain
deep in the hill. The old woman drifts into sleep. If she
can sleep a thousand nights through, her true mind
might return. In the morning her lantern will be found,
cold in the grass. There’ll be no sign of herself, not even
a thread from her shawl. She’ll be searched for, the entire
height of the hill. But in sunlight she’ll be too frail
to be seen. Eventually she’ll become a story; then
a mere rumour. Some dusk perhaps, or on many dusks,
her voice might be heard in the meadow. If it’s ever her
then the hearer will know that it is merely the complaint
of one who is waking before a thousandth night is up.
 
John W. Sexton
 
First published in The Stony Thursday Book #14, Edited by Mary O’Donnell
 

A Father Escapes by Rain

 
Daddy’s grassy fields had been driven in
by the feet of cattle; a stone-black bull,
throating complaint, shone from the rainy hill.
She took nine steps up steps of exposed stone,
slippery rocks that jutted through the grass,
until she stood before the bull, his head
massive, his hide grazed where earlier he’d shoved
his way out of the bull-shed. The bright brass
ring, like an ouroboros of golden snot
pinched through his nostrils, hung with a milk
of lesser snot. The bull puffed rancid breath,
stepped through her as if she was fog, a silk-
nothing like the rain itself, sopping rot.
Daddy’s constant rapes would keep their secret.
 
John W. Sexton
 

A Matching Coat for Her Man

 
With each step her bare feet
un-silvered the dewy grass.
The blossoming furze, buds
tipped with rust, unwound
in bursts of birdsong. With
a long pointed twig she gathered
a skein of spider’s silk, dismantling
web after web onto her stick.
 
Under the flickering dust-light
of moths, her shadow seated
beside her, she made a coat
from the gathered strands. Made
a coat for her one true man, one
he could wear for the fog, stepping
visibly invisible as smoke, one
that would be lit by the sun.
 
Or, lit by the moon, one he could
wear to be bright as the stars, one
he could wear stepping out
with the hares; light as the air
he’d take her hand, and down
by the long lane they would walk,
their long grey coats a-stuck,
moth-light bleeding around them.
 
John W. Sexton
 
First published in Sixty Poems for Haiti (Cane Arrow Press, 2010)
Edited by Ian Dieffenthaller and Maggie Harris
 

The Witch

 
With a laugh like a clattering shutter
the magpie flew into the bedroom, knocked
bottles of perfume from off the dresser,
scattered her underwear all over, picked
one fine golden ring from out of its box,
then out through the billowing curtains, out
into the trees that had escaped the axe,
the border of willow yet to be cut,
and flinging the ring straight into its craw
began to shout like a jester gone wild.
So when she came wet from the bath and saw
the perfume spilling from jars, the unpiled
clothes and mess, she slipped the latch of her tongue
and cursed the bird, who withered bone by bone.
 
John W. Sexton
 
First published in Cyphers #46,
Edited by Leland Bardwell, Eiléan Ní Chuilleannáin, Pearse Hutchinson & Macdara Woods

John W. Sexton is the author of five poetry collections, the most recent being Petit Mal (Revival Press, 2009) and The Offspring of the Moon (Salmon Poetry, 2013). His sixth collection, Futures Pass, is forthcoming from Salmon. Two novels for children have been published by the O’Brien Press: The Johnny Coffin Diaries and Johnny Coffin School-Dazed, which have been translated into Italian and Serbian. Under the ironic pseudonym of Sex W. Johnston he has recorded an album with legendary Stranglers frontman, Hugh Cornwell, entitled Sons Of Shiva, which has been released on Track Records. He is a past nominee for The Hennessy Literary Award and his poem The Green Owl won the Listowel Poetry Prize 2007. Also in 2007 he was awarded a Patrick and Katherine Kavanagh Fellowship in Poetry. Recent poetry has appeared in The Irish Times, The Edinburgh Review, The Ogham Stone and The Stony Thursday Book 2015.

John is a pagan and Muse poet, believing in the Goddess of Complete Being. His poetic process encompasses the literary traditions of Metaphoricism and Magic Realism.

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“We Did Not Choose The Sea” and other poems by Philo Ikonya

Unrecorded

 
Stone music
When your music rises
from your grave in flower
and some stones quiver
and sing notes musical
I hear your voice
 
When music pricks the air
from a needle in friction
and touches the first traction
molecule of air kissing your ear
I have memories
 
When your words attach a molecule
of air to another and in you we
breathe, sing and live in hope
when we cannot forget we rise
I sing my soul your language
 
Our hair is proud and sings on air
When loving is truly spoken
It is in your ear in seconds
in your heart and mind and soul
 
Add warmth and fire to it
Your own interpretation original
Your body moves in dance
Still you rise, still you rise, dance
and fall and rise from grave in flower
 

Weave your joy

 
With the tips of your fingers
And all of you like the
Orchestra conductor knows that music
Know your body:
Its heart drum
Piano toes…
 
The epic of weavers undaunted
the road to the market is mine
my head is a carrier of universes
I know my step is in space
and those arrows you see on my cloth
have known many lights…
nights and colors
 
Recognition that ignites
when that face you see again out of nowhere comes
Suddenly feelings surge
blow and rage a real storm
inside
Heart shaken like a vessel love filled bubbles
Feel every nerve awake
Blood rush blush…
Something lost now
rare since a screen touch keeps
telling where and how you are
Soon surprise will be ancient human feeling…ouch!
 

trembling dreams

 
You wake me up each time
but I dream on with hope
You tell me children cannot
eat dreams in a poem
But when I look I see them
only clad in dreams
the only pants they wear
that you cannot tear
 
I have sat and mended endlessly
and washed with tears
things mention would tear this paper
things surfing in my soul
 
Come again, enlarge my spirit
into dreams and let me sleepwalk
and stalk in my talk so many ghosts
Until I ring my bell of peace
and you fall out of your fantasy
and see saints sainting without fainting
 

We did not choose the sea

philo 6.1.2014
 
When we found them washed ashore
they were barely alive but still breathing
We spoke for the voiceless they
said, many times, and now speak to us
and for us and with us share this breath
 
We shuddered at life’s turns and twists
when the madding crowd kicked them hard
They slave them again, they do, their voices
deadly drilling the stones so alone intone
 

Longing

 
Solitary times teach
so loudly that silence
grows so deep and speaks
a new language: And now
Let me see my love, let me
hear my hope, touch my faith
Let me taste our belonging in fragrance
It has been so long and I have
a new alphabet to share with life
 

Come

 
You come closest
to my chest and tell
me in my own tongue
that you are my latest thought
the fount sings unending
the ocean rises as the rivers dry
and we see the stones still
washing and washed
 
Humans never understood
color then, never not in
all those matches in design
Not in all those pastels in
cake and bathroom tiles
 
Not in all that whiteness
and darkness in the broods of life
We so challenged by the sun
without which we wither
think
color must be bright
and I know
that we have not understood color
Cold
We have not got it in color
We attach to it not the warm sound
that leave our mouths to cut the air
frightened of it we are when it rains
purple
and now we know that sign
like we have worshipped the rainbow
for years
 

Round the rock

 
Roots then finding
their way blindly down
trying you
to pass they go this way
and that
through soils find you
and hug you
 
You sing to them the
song of beginnings you
play for them the sound
of the music of their birth
the sign of life
Do not be sad you are
not in a foreign land you tell
them as they move
 
Rain
falling finds those still
thrusting roots
 
Yours of stone
you have them
and the roots of a tree
carrying generations into
this other freedom so hidden from
our eyes
that the place of gray we think
but we never understood
 
Here to go everyone has a visa
given by the first cry, you life and
friction before in your forbearers
Here to go everyone is in song
 
Hug us rock and break us
as we broke you, break our wood
and if we are ashes, kiss us rock
and let your hardness be the crook
of Our Mother’s arm, so soft
 
We Did Not Choose The Sea and other poems are © Philo Ikonya

downloadPhilo Ikonya is a writer, lecturer and human rights activist. She is the President of PEN Kenya. She taught semiotics at Tangaza College and Spanish at the United States International University in Nairobi. She graduated in Literature and Linguistics (The University of Nairobi) before reading philosophy in Spain and Italy. She worked as an editor for Oxford University Press (Eastern Africa). Born in Kenya, Philo speaks Kiswahili, Gikuyu, English, Spanish and some Norsk. She has a grasp of Italian and French. Philo is a mother of one. She is currently living in exile in Norway.
.
Her fiction includes two novels, Leading the Night and Kenya, will you marry me? She has published three poetry anthologies: This Bread of Peace, (Lapwing) Belfast, Ireland, and Out of Prison- Love Songs translated into German (Aus dem Gefangnis Liebesgesange). Philo is a Pan-Africanist.
.
-from PEN: http://www.pen-international.org/who-we-are/board/philo-ikonya/#sthash.tasg0SKN.dpuf

Featured post

from “breath(en) flux ” by Michael McAloran

I

#

.…silence yes/ silenced yes/ as if to ever
having done with it/ stripped solace no/
 
vital lapse in all depth of becoming-un/ as if
because it were unto/ ash unto/
 
no/ pure as never was/ ever was/ given to
yet it cannot/ asks of dust what climb or
other than /
 
dry reach in catascopic/ hence shadow never
vital/
 
all traces then forgotten/ yet given to un-
forgot/ blind edge laughter/ afar/ no/

#

clamours afar/ yet nothing to it/ in banquet
of nothing no not a/

hence shadow’s dissolve in bit night balm/
well-spoken silenced/

of ghost-limbed rapture no/ call cards as if
to/ dissolve yet surface of what to it/

spit in eye of eye of it/ no/ traipse till yet
un-afar a-light unlit light of silhouette dark
what dark/

yet for as if to/ not a sense of all’s retrace/ of
fading nullity/ ever only of it/ spliced no
not ever…

#

…further echo further no/ as if to say that
no/ non further yes/ silenced in stripped
silence of/

rapture suffocate in which a-dream/ not a/
vibrates yes yet lack of sounding all colours
clear/

waste upon waste/ useless forage/ nothing
that ever was/ ever was or if/

what will in-speak derivative of what or
else/ blood can only ever be/ what can be/

unspoken detritus desire demarcate/ dim
light of eyes all dredged/

 

#

speaks yes or no no answer collapse of/

fallen flourish/ being in/ silence in/ yet not
a trace there is yet / silenced/ two three
what can be/

opens up in head of time spent forgotten/
fade of five steps/ back or forth no matter if/

dries eyes with waxen what bodily volatile/
reduction of all/ bind bite what what/

time rotting within skull of gild/ meat
locked to/ breath silencing allwhile…

II
#

…in breathless of/ all suffocate’s desire in
realm/ forgotten closure fissure fissure ice
until/

drag of tilt till shear of open spasm/ flail
naught un-sky/ dressage vortice no/

yet given of until/ reduct blind forage
empty emptily/ walls seep solace rupture
eye/

eclipt drags out all what once was once or
ever other than in if/ ashen dislocate/

resurgence/ resurgence no/ head drowns in
bloody latrine clear glass/

#

ruptures rails in absent sense derail/ cracks
blind all shadow deft until/ light snap
stone/

dirt in trace reduct/ fallen/ haven yes or no/
price of elective/

price of unsung what reach of purpose
strips death cloud from eye/ frozen breath
collapse/

juggernauts too/ two or four/ fore/ of a/ not
a/ resurgence nothing cracks here or ever
unto/ dead head disarm/ rolls dice around
on lacerate of tongue/ spits lest dawn…

#

…expels from out of which/ desire silence
breathless overtures/

oceanic collapse/ drags din wind collision
of/ sun forgotten/ worthless/

in click-clack steel bone drag hilt no/ rots
clap hands/ drained ever/

ever on yet what from purchase present
nothing was whatever was/

cold walls in which to/ collapse un-dread re-
dread/ head in vice of cold colours/
trick of light/

#

blood from out of forage ever-no/ steers eye
unto further no further distance/

screams out from it/ visage no/ warped
bones ever all/ all lies all present and
correct/

bitten white light silence breakage point
was once spoken or was not/ bites again/
rain rain in obsolete pulse bulb/

there is spit/ there is shadowing untold/
light’s corrode/ dead laughter realm/
bruised/ tacit/ stammers once more as if it/
silence silence/ rotting colours abound…

III
#

…in-dreamt capacity/ trades meat for
absent shores/ given less/ shadowed no/

nothing dreamt of furtherance become yet it
cannot/ furtherance of which in else of other
lessened/

meat trade in opulent unsound it trace
nothing/ unsound retrace un-meat of fallen
ash/

of prism pillage traces/ yet drains of/ there
or other/

collapsed purpose unfelt in an un-sky of
shatter-glass abattoir/

.

#

distances that never were unforgotten/ in
stench reek to abound one step shit flow in
veins/

it is cold it is not/ collected from/ wayward
sentence as flies gather in/ if said what once
was never once/

opulence/ circling skulled veins what
matter (the) vultured teeth of it/ scar tissue
un-livid/

naught a closed wound apathetic/ apathetic
stretches boundary tint/

collapse still yet nothing pressed to the
bone’s collision/ unspoken of…

#

…echo erased that never heard was not of a/
design utter violet sheer/ cold cast a bitter
a/
 
longing stretched/ meat solace of which of
eye in-dream/ else collision solace final/
 
redeem non-touch meat cold as ever was
before lapse eye a sleight of hand/
 
nothing to follow yet cannot/
 
etches from out of nothing furtherance
undone resolve forgotten/ rotted meat a
blister here/
 
#
 
solace fracture/ another’s density/tomes
cast dead no sentence in only of ever-like
fettered resound/
 
yet cannot sense/ un-sensed/ a locket/ in-
breath of sarcophagus eye given to fall/
 
long foreign hours never to be proven/ yet
what what longing/ else of none/
 
till dense approximate/ crumbling
measurements/ trace cold dead teeth a sneer
at the unutterable/
 
pressure point of long non-stir/ into utter/
cold meat as ever was before/
before having…

 
from breath(en) flux & © Michael McAloran

Michael Mc Aloran is Belfast born. He is the author of a number of collections of poetry, prose poetry, poetic aphorisms and prose, most notably Attributes (Desperanto, NY, 2011), The Non Herein & Of Dead Silences (Lapwing Publications, 2011/ 2013) Of the Nothing Of, The Zero Eye, The Bled Sun, In Damage Seasons (Oneiros Books (U.K)–2013/ 14); Code #4 Texts a collaboration with the Dutch poet, Aad de Gids, was also published in 2014 by Oneiros. He was also the editor/ creator of Bone Orchard Poetry, & edited for Oneiros Books (U.K 2013/ 2014). A further collection, Un-Sight/ Un-Sound (delirium X.) was published by gnOme books (U.S), and In Arena Night is forthcoming from Lapwing Publications. EchoNone & Of Dissipating Traces were also recently released by Oneiros Books. breath(en) flux, a chapbook, was recently released by Hesterglock Press.
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“Satellite” and other poems by Roisin Kelly

To a Writer

 
You write of raspberries and snow
of the mimosa flower’s scent
of how it makes you feel to put on lipstick
and heels. Of how it feels to wander home
 
below the stars, drunk but not too drunk
how you always like to show a little cleavage
though you never undo more
than the top two buttons of your shirt.
 
But there’s so much else I’d give to you
like the full pale weight of your breasts
bared to the world and wild.
During menstruation, don’t stay in
 
breaking chocolate before a laptop screen:
dip your fingers between your legs
and stain your face with red.
Write down all of last night’s dream
 
not just the parts with crystal seas
but the parts you’d rather not think about.
Drink whiskey until you vomit.
Stand on a beach in your bare feet
 
and cry about the guy who betrayed you
but comfort yourself also
with thoughts of his drowned body
his groin now a home for nibbling fish.
 
For the last time, I give to you one
of our mornings at the Claddagh
where we used to meet and drink coffee.
Take this pain-au-chocolat
 
in your hands, tear it in half
and devour its fragrant cloud
down to what you so desperately desire:
the dark liquid heart of things.
 

The Morning After

 
She leaves the holiday cottage early
thinking we’re all still asleep. I hear the latch’s rise
and fall, the click of the closing door.
 
Lying in bed, I picture her walking down the lane
past fields of wheat, and tiny gardens already vivid
with islanders’ clothes hung out to dry.
 
I imagine her on the beach, shading her eyes
against the sea’s neon-green, stabbed here and there
with the black knives of sea-stacks.
 
A gull circles, its cry like an accusation.
I know she’ll have knelt where waves crawl to foam
and have started digging a hole.
 
The tide will rush into the hole as many times
as I poured wine into her glass last night
while the others drank at the harbour pub.
 
She’ll bury the things that weren’t hers to keep:
the wine-cork, the used matchsticks, the candle-stub.
Later, when she returns, the kitchen is filled
 
with the smell of frying bacon, its red hiss.
Someone’s made tea, they call for a towel
to swaddle the pot and keep it warm.
 
I keep my back to where she stands at the door
and crack eggs one by one in a bowl.
 

Unforgiven

 
The sun sinks blood-red beyond the plain.
My horse continues towards its closing eye
step by weary step. Between my hands I grip
 
the saddle’s leather, feel at my hip
a pistol. A coyote howls a warning to the space
between the setting of the sun and the rising
 
of the bone-white moon, and you are unforgiven.
I will find you, my lover, my condemned sinner
and when I hunt you from your hidey-hole
 
even the familiar stars will show no mercy.
I know every rock and twisted tree that marks
this barren place. I know my way in the dark.
 

Satellite

 
On the bench where we first kissed, I sit alone
above the city. The scent of roasting hops seems to come
not from the brewery but from the Plough’s
starry saucepan tilting in the sky. I trace
its crooked handle, and remember how you cooked for us,
standing at the stove’s heat and stirring onions—
your movements as tender as you wanted them to become.
 
I stood beside you, watched the slivers turn translucent.
Last winter, when infatuation spread through me
like a cancer, I could have stayed on this hill
forever, where you put your downy Canada Goose coat
around my shoulders, and rolled joints
with your cold hands. Clusters of orange streetlights
on the opposite hills dazzled my eyes,
 
stuttering here and there with the stray, rogue cell
of a traffic light changing from green to red.
These city lights no longer trap you in their honeyed glow
but my stars are still the same as yours. From your country
do you see that satellite drifting through the sky
like the ghost of you growing fainter by the minute?
I follow its patient path until it vanishes,
 
slipping butter-smooth past the horizon.
How long until it returns? Passing and passing
over the world, over my city replicated in miniature: bars,
cafés, cathedral spires, this hill, this bench.
Will you spend Christmas alone? If you shook the globe
containing the perfect scene you left me in
I’d feel the earth move, but it wouldn’t snow.
 

Laundry

 
It was one of life’s thoughtless routines,
lifting your clothes from my floor.
 
When I find some of your old shirts again
I hold them as gently
 
as if they’re fragile eggshells, the warm
yolk of life gone from them.
 
I know what it’s like to feel as empty
as a man’s unwashed shirt.
 
For the last time, I wash your clothes
with my own; for the last time
 
I perform that domestic ritual of love.
Our clothes hang side by side
 
once more: mine bright, yours dark.
Damp cloth, the scent of floral detergent.
 
Cherry blossoms in April,
two people caught in a sudden shower.
 

Christmas, Cork City

 
Our first date was on Christmas Eve
when we wandered the streets, past candlelit cafés and bars.
On the courthouse steps we cracked open beer cans
like a precious clutch of eggs, drained their cold yolks.
 
A traffic light swung like a bauble in the liquid black
of your pupil—the red of a single, dangerous berry.
You struck a match for your cigarette. At the same moment
my mother lit the window’s candle back home
so Mary and Joseph would know they were welcome.
 
Oh lonely orbit of stars and traffic lights.
I waited in the city’s desert darkness
for the glimpse of gold beyond your drawn curtains—
for the promise of a threadbare sofa to lie on,
of bread and wine on the table. Of the three gifts
of your eyes, your hands, your lips.
 
That night, the earth would slow in its turning
before a new sun began to rise,
tearing itself into existence between the old, known world
and some fiery entrance to elsewhere.
 
Satellite and other poems are © Róisin Kelly

Picture © Linda Ibbotson

Picture © Linda Ibbotson

Roisin Kelly is an Irish poet who was born in Belfast and raised in Co. Leitrim, and has since found her way to Cork City via a year on a remote island and an MA in Writing at the National University of Ireland, Galway. Her poems have appeared in Poetry Chicago, The Stinging Fly, The Timberline Review, The Irish Literary Review, Synaesthesia, Aesthetica, The Penny Dreadful, Bare Fiction, The Baltimore Review, Banshee, and Hallelujah for 50ft Women: Poems about Women’s Relationship to their Bodies (Bloodaxe 2015). More work is forthcoming in Best New British and Irish Poets (Eyewear 2016).

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An Excerpt from “Delicate” at MarsPoetica (HiRISE)

Click on this image to visit the HiRISE site.

Click on this image to visit the HiRISE site. The image is © HiRISE at Beautiful Mars (HiRISE)

Delicate

A sea snail, most precious egg, as if
It had touched the ruby feather of a
Bluebird. A most precious thing,
Bird-egg-shattered, dust in my pores.
 

This excerpt from “Delicate” is © Christine-Elizabeth Murray.

When we widen the lens, the bigger picture can be divorced from the reality that we think we may have momentarily grasped. The above poem is an excerpt from “Delicate” which is being submitted to an Irish Journal at the present time. I expect I will publish the poem in its entire at some later point. BUT here the poem is performing an imagistic collaborative function and I am very grateful to Ari who notified me of the #BeautifulMars and #MarsPoetica project via the Poethead Contact form. I hope to have more news on #MarsPoetica for readers and contributors to the blog soon !
About HiRISE (HIGH RESOLUTION IMAGING SCIENCE EXPERIMENT): The HiRISE camera onboard the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter is the most powerful one of its kind ever sent to another planet. Its high resolution allows us to see Mars like never before, and helps other missions choose a safe spot to land for future exploration.

NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, a division of the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena, Calif., manages the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter for NASA’s Science Mission Directorate, Washington. Lockheed Martin Space Systems is the prime contractor for the project and built the spacecraft. The HiRISE camera was built by Ball Aerospace & Technologies Corp. and is operated by the University of Arizona.

Submit to MarsPoetica

Featured post

“The Aunties” and other poems by Josephine Corcoran

Honeymoon

 
I wouldn’t call it a honeymoon,
those muffled nights in mothballed rooms.
With cake in the boot we pilgrimmed north,
taking a young marriage to old widows,
 
my father’s brothers dead,
their crucifixes still hanging.
In each house we were given the double bed,
my aunties inviting us to fornicate
 
on concave mattresses holding dead men’s
seed. Had we come one week before,
you would have been given nothing
but dusty blankets on a downstairs floor,
 
and I would have sunk, alone and deep,
into the mildewed sponge of a cousin’s bed.
My aunties would have spread
as wide as angels in their marital sheets,
 
their doors ajar, the solemn whispers
of their night-time prayers beating
as sweet as deathbed love-making.
But our wedding vows were said,
 
so we sipped tea on upright chairs
still dimpled from Brylcreemed heads,
and rolled like screws in sideways jars
on shelves in locked-up sheds.
 
   Seven years,
one son, one daughter later,
Jesus has been sent to us.
(The aunts are gone, their houses stripped)
His legs are broken (long marriages skipped,
 
thrown into landfill) and we laugh
when our little children ask about our honeymoon.
I see you dreaming down our garden path
as you hold the broken body in your hands.
 
He was nailed to the Anaglypta. You are picturing
the twist of wire you’ll use to bind his legs;
the nail, the hammer, the spirit level, the pencil
mark the place he’ll eternally outstare us.
 
I love the way our daughter sings
as her finger traces our wedding rings.
 

Dead Sisters

Maria and Elizabeth Brontë, died aged 11 and 10
 
So young to be marooned here,
we spend our pain on travelling
dreams, skating over frozen seas,
following their inky maps,
our boats to Gondal trapped
on battered moors. We straddle
the backs of galloping hares,
fly flat on the wings of marble-
eyed hawks grown dragon-sized,
since in our dreams we are
as tiny as toy soldiers.
We cry for them to carry us
beyond mountains and frog-filled lakes.
 
They shake in their beds.
The travelling box lies waiting.
We tiptoe on lopsided floors,
watch the news from Angria
ripple over them in sleep, whisper
We mustn’t keep you any longer.
 
They have laid out shadows
and attics and mists.
 
We disappear.
 

The Aunties

 
Brewing tea in our kitchen
we snort, remembering you screaming
to your mother we were witches.
Behind her back
we flew to fetch biscuits,
you said. We were trees in the dark
who followed you home,
the lampposts that tiptoed after you
to blind your unclenched eyes.
 
We fed you trifle, persuaded you
we hadn’t eaten your mother,
that shadows were not black blood
against a sunlit wall. You understood
she was drinking wine,
there was no hole in her side
where we’d ripped you from her,
and you knew that knives were for cake
and the crusts of sandwiches.
 
You threw careless waves to your mother,
ran into our house like a spring tide,
the seagulls laughing;
the old tricks had worked again.
 

Gasps and Sighs

 
Is it because
we fell from our nests
before we knew
we had wings?
that we remember
our heads crowned
in pain? our upended
legs? is it because
our wombs are
falling? a lament?
does all this explain
the gasps and sighs
we hear on landings,
through half-opened
doors, when we are
burglars at the top
of the stairs,
imagining ourselves
beating through
rooms, stealing
nothing?
 

Thanks for Not Switching Me Off

 
I’ll have no concept of time
so, no rush, and I may fail to respond
to painful stimuli,
and to sound, but don’t let that stop you
from playing me The Three Degrees
singing When Will I See You Again?
because even though I may be oblivious
to the doctor tipping light in my eyes
from her sterilised torch,
that doesn’t mean I won’t see again
Miss Travis,
Miss FitzSimons
and Mrs Cuthbertson,
or rather, three sixth-form girls on the stage,
done up as them, in gabardine raincoats,
sturdy shoes, clear plastic rain bonnets,
doing the moves, singing
hooo_ooh, haar_aarr,
precious mo_ments!
(The Three Degrees Fahrenheit! came the shout)

 
and wheeled to the daylight
I’ll shake again,
a laughing girl again
in a sea of other laughing girls –
when the future flung open
the world’s windows,
our lives soared in.
 
I’ll fly again with oxygen in my blood –
that was the first time I understood love
when I dared to look at the three of them
on the day of their retirement.
They laughed too,
their rock-hard curls trembling,
tears bright
on their bat-wing glasses.
We never knew
if they liked the carriage clocks,
if they ever set
their hearts ticking.
 

I Remember the Fear of Forgetting

 
I remember the fear of forgetting
the Austro-Hungarian Empire
under the cuffs of my school blouse.
Archduke Franz Ferdinand
and Sophie, his pregnant wife, are hiding
in my pencil case. The Black Hand,
Bosnia-Herzegovina and Serbia
aren’t visible until I creep
my skirt three inches up my thigh
and Sarajevo, 28 June
1914 is folded so small
it’s a blister on the sole of my foot.
 
I take Gavrilo Princip to my lips;
I would rather swallow ink
than hand him over.
 
The Aunties & other poems are © Josephine Corcoran

downloadJosephine Corcoran left school early with few qualifications. She returned to full-time studying when she was 30 which was when she started writing and submitting her work for consideration. She has two BBC Radio 4 credits, for a play and a short story, and one of her plays was produced at the Chelsea Centre Theatre in London. She has been writing poetry seriously since 2010 when she was a runner-up for the Bridport Prize. She has been published or is forthcoming in, among other places, The Rialto, Under the Radar, The Manchester Review, New Walk and Poetry Wales. Her pamphlet The Misplaced House was published by tall-lighthouse in November 2014. She edits the poetry site And Other Poems.

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Four voices confront the absence of women in Irish poetry

I have endured the scholastic training worthy of someone of learning.
I am versed in the twelve divisions of poetry and the traditional rules.
I am so light and fleet I escape from a body of men without snapping a twig,
without ruffling a braid
of my hair, I run under branches as high as my ankle and over ones high as my head, I scrape thorns from my feet
(not mine) while I run, I dance backwards away from myself, these rites
are quite common among primitive nations,
I am seldom admitted into the companionship of the older, the full privilege of the tribe, without them.
 
By Kathy D’Arcy A Meditation on Ireland, Women, Poetry and Subversion” at the Honest Ulsterman.
There is a narrative gap in Irish poetry that appears to the woman poet, her reviewer, and the poet essayist as ‘absence’, indeed as a type of intellectual privation. That a new generation of women writers are confronting Irish women poets absence from the canon, along with it’s previous attendant tokenism, is truly delightful to me. We are busily exploring emergent genealogies in Irish Poetry, or it could be stated that we are unhappy with what Eavan Boland refers to as a suppressed narrative. To bring forward a skewed national cultural narrative that disavows the woman poet’s place in the canon is to my mind culturally damaging. Not alone is it culturally damaging to present part of a narrative that claims the intellectual impetus in the imaginative creation of a nation, it is personally and professionally damaging to women poets and to nascent writers who are now devoid of their narrative heritage.

Alex Pryce confronts the absence of Northern Irish women poets in her thesis “Ambiguous Silences ? Women in Anthologies of Contemporary Northern Irish Poetry” I read about Pryce’s worthy thesis in Moyra Donaldson’s blog under The Influence of Absences sometime ago. I was so interested in what Pryce had to say that I downloaded the PDF from her Academia.edu account. At the same time, I was in conversation with Emma Penney who had sent me a copy of her thesis Now I am a Tower of Darkness: A Critical History of Poetry by Women in Ireland. Penney and Pryce are investigating and confronting the constructed heroic post-colonial narrative that has really has done it’s time by now. The post-colonial narrative beloved of some critics who would view the whole world as an extension of their ideation has been flogged to death. It’s over darlings. I grew up not knowing or studying any Irish women poets. The women writers that I read in college were Elizabeth Barrett-Browning (in epic poetry and quasi-feminism) and Virginia Woolf. It was as if women poets did not exist in Ireland.

Irish women poets have never quite left us however, despite their historical absence from anthologies and from third level academic study. There has been a slight recent improvement in the publication of women poets and in their critical review, but it is not enough. Our women poets emerge whole and singing in essays, in current blogs like in Billy Mills Elliptical Movements, and in lines of melody put through mine and others’ search engines. It is time to celebrate our absent poetry foremothers and to confront the indignity conferred upon Irish women poets who were thrown to the side in the search for a heroic poetry to express our chosen political-cultural narrative.

In her thesis, Now I am a Tower of Darkness: A Critical History of Poetry by Women in Ireland, Emma Penney challenges the critical reception of Eavan Boland and the restrictive criteria, developed in the 1970’s, under which poetry by women in Ireland has been assessed. She considers the subversive nature of women’s poetry written between 1921 and 1950, and calls into question the critical assumption that Eavan Boland represents “the first serious attempt in Ireland to make a body of poems that arise out of the contemporary female consciousness”. In Object Lessons, Boland concluded that there were no women poets before her who communicated “an expressed poetic life” in their work. Emma’s thesis reveals how this view has permeated the critical landscape of women’s poetry, facilitating an absurd privation of the history of poetry by women in Ireland and simplifying it in the process. Emma Penney’s work centres around the poet Freda Laughton, her thesis was picked up by Jacket2 Magazine and The Bogman’s Cannon blog.

Kathy D’Arcy looks at the absence of Irish Women Poets in anthologies, and at literary feminism, in her “A Meditation on Ireland, Women, Poetry and Subversion” at the Honest Ulsterman,
    Once there was a woman – no, two women. Then they became beasts, then trees, then stones then even stars. How they fought! And that woman was Cú Chulainn.[4] And that woman was Fionn Mac Cumhaill, daughter of Cumhall. And that woman was Queen Maeve. And that woman was Brian Boru. And that woman was Eibhlín Dubh Ní Chonaill, and that woman was her husband Airt Uí Laoighire. And that women was Pope John Paul the Second. And that woman was Declan Kiberd.

In Catriona Crowe’s Testimony to a flowering, a marvellous essay on the erasures, faults, absences and blindness exposed for all to see in the first Field Day Anthology,
  “When confronted about the near absence of women from the book, Seamus Deane stated that ‘To my astonishment and dismay, I have found that I myself have been subject to the same kind of critique to which I have subjected colonialism. I find that I exemplify some of the faults and erasures which I analyze and characterize in the earlier period.’ It is perhaps possible to compress these sentiments into ‘I forgot’, but he did not say the words. He said that documents relating to feminism would be his first priority for inclusion in the revised paperback edition of the anthology, expected to appear in one or two years.

And yet, privations occur and recur in poetry lists, in national celebrations, and in other media or tourist-led strategies that consistently and poorly neglect the woman literary artists’ voice. I do not know if it is intellectual laziness, or if it is that the cultural narrative is so engrained that no-one questions the historical absence of women in Irish poetry? Indeed also in the theatre arts, as can be seen in the recent Waking the Feminists debacle. Maybe it is time to look closely at the Irish view of women that is set in stone in the Constitution and confront the idea that women literary artists fought for our cultural heritage just as hard as men did, but for some lazy and elusive reason, we refuse to celebrate their work.

 

Dorothea Herbert

 

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Poems from “Off Duty” by Katie Donovan

Wedding

 
“Hasty,” the judge mocked
until he read the letter
from the consultant,
his jaded face changing to pity.
We got the green light then,
to marry in a hurry.
 
We turned up in our jeans
and limped through the ceremony –
upsetting the officiating lady,
determined to make this
a special occasion.
 
Outside the registry office
we inked a shadow
on the next couple:
the bride, glowing in her plumage,
her robust young groom,
their flower girls fidgeting.
 
My brother and his wife
had used their lunch hour
to be our witnesses.
They went back to work,
and my new spouse
rode off on his bike:
the big triumph that,
with six months to live,
he could still cycle.
 
I had to collect our children –
the paltry nuptials would have been
disappointing – no frocks, no fun –
just this boring signing thing,
and so I kept it secret,
left them with Gran.
 
I sloped off to the train.
It was bright, a May day,
and I was forty-seven –
finally, improbably
a married woman.
 
Wedding is © Katie Donovan first published in the November 2015 issue of Cyphers Magazine, edited by Eilean Ni Chuilleanain, Macdara Woods and Leland Bardwell
 

Operation

 
In the hospital,
gowned in gauzy cloth,
he is prepped;
his limbs so thin,
his head bursting with the tumour,
with knowing that wrestling
the thing out may kill him.
 
All day the cutters and stitchers
are at work, slicing from lip
to clavicle, sawing bone,
careful not to snick an artery,
gouging a flap from his thigh,
to patch the gap
where the tumour hid
thriving in its secret lair.
 
When it’s out –
and they have fixed the jaw
with a steel plate;
rivetted the long L-shape
of the wound –
he lies arrayed
with tubes and drains.
He floats in the shallows
of the anaesthetic,
his breath echoing eerily
from the hole in his throat,
his face utterly still.
 
The night before the operation
he read “Peter Pan”
to our children,
and in the morning
he surrendered;
waving from the trolley,
as if to clutch a last particle
of the life we figured for him,
as if to let it fall.
 
Operation is © Katie Donovan first published in Irish Pages, The Heaney Issue, 2014, Vol. 8, No.2, edited by Chris Morash and Cathal O Searcaigh
 

Off Duty

 
Is my face just right,
am I looking as a widow should?
I pass the funeral parlour
where four weeks ago
the ceremony unfurled.
Now I’m laughing with the children.
The director of the solemn place
is lolling out front, sucking on a cigarette.
We exchange hellos,
and I blush, remembering
how I still haven’t paid the bill,
how I nearly left that day
with someone else’s flowers.
 
Off Duty is © Katie Donovan first published in The Irish Times, 2014, by Poetry Editor Gerry Smyth
 

Katie Donovan has published four books of poetry, all with Bloodaxe Books, UK. Her first, Watermelon Man appeared in 1993. Her second, Entering the Mare, was published in 1997; and her third, Day of the Dead, in 2002. Her most recent book, Rootling: New and Selected Poems appeared in 2010. Katie Donovan’s fifth collection of poetry, Off Duty will be published by Bloodaxe Books in September 2016. She is currently working on a novel for children.

She is co-editor, with Brendan Kennelly and A. Norman Jeffares, of the anthology, Ireland’s Women: Writings Past and Present (Gill and Macmillan, Ireland; Kyle Cathie, UK, 1994; Norton & Norton, US, 1996). She is the author of Irish Women Writers: Marginalised by Whom? (Raven Arts Press, 1988, 1991). With Brendan Kennelly she is the co-editor of Dublines (Bloodaxe, 1996), an anthology of writings about Dublin.

Her poems have appeared in numerous periodicals and anthologies in Ireland, the UK and the US. She has given readings of her work in many venues in Ireland, England, Belgium, Denmark, Portugal, the US and Canada. She has read her work on RTÉ Radio One and on BBC Radio 4 and BBC Radio 3. Her short fiction has appeared in The Sunday Tribune and The Cork Literary Review.

 
Entering The Mare and other Poems by Katie Donovan

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‘Moving Like Anemones’ and other poems by Lorna Shaugnessy

Crystal

 
The blower adds breath to heat,
turns and blows within the mould
until he finds precise form.
Molten glass vibrates.
It takes ten years
to learn how deep you can cut
before the glass shatters,
how deep you have to go
to catch the light.
Mistakes pile up
waiting for the furnace,
a second chance,
instability anchored
by the weight of lead.
 

Río Tinto

 
We cannot enter the Roman graveyard.
The gates are padlocked and chained
so we press our faces to the wire,
squint at the skewed angles of mossed stones,
the departed minions of enterprise and empire.
Behind us the mines, where pulleys and sidings
punctuate strata of centuries-old endeavour.
Rock and mineral are bared in russets and ochres
too raw for peopled places. Their cratered wounds
fill with water so deep you could drown there.
Today is Sunday. In the high, hushed
absence of trucks to rumble up the hill
we try to hear beneath the wind,
listen for the sound of stone,
touch the injured past, its fissured heat.
 

Moving Like Anemones

(Belfast, 1975)
 
I
 
I cannot recall if you met me off the school bus
but it was winter, and dark in the Botanic Gardens
as we walked hand in hand to the museum.
Too young for the pub, in a city of few neutral spaces
this was safe, at least, and warm.
The stuffed wolfhound and polar-bear were no strangers,
nor the small turtles that swam across the shallow pool
where we tossed pennies that shattered our reflected faces.
We took the stairs to see the mummy
but I saw nothing, nothing at all, alive
only to the touch of your fingers seeking mine,
moving like anemones in the blind depths.
 
II
 
Disco-lights wheeled overhead,
we moved in the dark.
Samba pa ti, a birthday request,
the guitar sang pa mí, pa ti
and the world melted away:
the boys who stoned school buses,
the Head Nun’s raised eyebrow.
Neither ignorant nor wise,
we had no time to figure out
which caused more offence,
our religions or the four-year gap between us.
I was dizzy with high-altitude drowning,
that mixture of ether and salt,
fourteen and out of my depth.
 
III
 
The day was still hot when we stepped
into cool, velvet-draped darkness.
I wore a skirt of my sister’s from the year before
that swung inches above cork-wedged sandals.
You were all cheesecloth and love-beads.
I closed my eyes in surrender
to the weight of your arm on my shoulders,
the tentative brush of your fingers
that tingled on my arm, already flushed
by early summer sun.
Outside the cinema I squinted,
strained to adjust to the light
while you stretched your long limbs like a cat.
You were ripe for love and knew it;
I blushed and feared its burning touch.
 

Dogged

 
The injured past comes back like a mangy dog.
It hangs around, infecting my doorstep with its sores
and the smell of neglect, trips me up when I venture out,
circling my legs, ready for the next casual kick.
If I feed it, it’ll never go away.
If I ignore it, it’ll never leave
but press its scabby skin against the door-pane,
crouch in the corner of my eye, licking its paw,
or cower in the wing-mirror as I drive away
and limp out to meet me when I come back,
loyal and unwelcome as disease.
 

The Watched Phone

 
Her son is out there somewhere
the rain beats his jacket seeps through his jeans
runnels of water travel from nape to chin
 
somewhere out there her son in seeping jacket
beaten from nape to chin
travels through runnels of water
 
out there the rain seeps nape to chin
water runnels down jeans and jacket
her beaten son is travelling
 
he seeps through jeans and jacket
runnelling out somewhere
rain beats
 
water seeps and her son
travels rain-runnelled nape to chin
beaten out
 

Pain has a shaved head

 
and no eyebrows. It stands on one leg,
one foot, the side of one foot,
afraid to take up too much space,
knows the meaning of nothing
and the provisional nature of everything,
knows in a split second it could plunge into something worse
but has no tongue to cry out, only a beak that opens
and closes without sound. The soles of its feet are charred,
toenails thick as claws and a grey-green mould
grows slowly up its legs to bloom in the moist places
of the groin and under arms. Spasms
contort the torso into impossible forms
but its eyes never leave the pitiless ground
that thrusts frangipani, oleander, passiflora,
bird of paradise, hibiscus and royal palm
up and up, relentless,
till the nerve-ends of fronds
touch blue sky.
 
Moving Like Anemones‘ and other poems is © Lorna Shaugnessy

t4_-491194348Lorna Shaughnessy was born in Belfast and lives in Co. Galway, Ireland. She has published three poetry collections, Torching the Brown River, Witness Trees, and Anchored (Salmon Poetry, 2008 and 2011 and 2015), and her work was selected for the Forward Book of Poetry, 2009. Her poems have been published in The Recorder, The North, La Jornada (Mexico) and Prometeo (Colombia), as well as Irish journals such as Poetry Ireland, The SHop and The Stinging Fly. She is also a translator of Spanish and South American Poetry. Her most recent translation was of poetry by Galician writer Manuel Rivas, The Disappearance of Snow (Shearsman Press, 2012), which was shortlisted for the UK Poetry Society’s 2013 Popescu Prize for translation.
Featured post

‘The World Reduced to a Sound’ and other poems by Anne Tannam

Unfinished Business

 
On their wedding day his father said
I’ll forgive you everything if you do right by this girl
the unfinished education
the empty table setting at Christmas
the family name unpolished, unloved.

 
I never met my grandfather
a man who lived under the glare of his wife
but I remember my grandmother, a small woman
her mouth eternally disappointed with life.
Dad bringing us down to visit her
to the small dark house on Bulfin Road
where the furnishings took themselves too seriously.
 
Later in that same house, I found a studio photograph
of the polished family; my grandfather, something familiar
in the way he’s leaning against the table
my dad, a beautiful child about three years old
sitting beside his brothers and sisters, and there
my grandmother upright and disapproving
staring into the camera, daring it to blink.
 
That blonde haired little boy
the man who loved his wife for sixty years
couldn’t wait to cycle home from work
gave up his wages every week
cooked our fry on Saturday mornings
scrubbed our nails, polished our shoes
 
still wonders if he did enough
still wonders if he’s been forgiven.
 
Published in Spring 2015 Edition, Skylight47. Editors Kevin O’Shea, Susan Lindsay and Nicki Griff
 

At Sea

 
I’m watching a film.
There’s a scene at the end
where the leading lady gets into her car and drives.
The camera, a bird’s eye view of highways and roads
follows her progress until the journey slows
curves along the edge of sunshine and sea
before braking to standstill on gravel and sand.
 
I’ve seen this film before, a light-hearted affair
no hidden meaning or sudden twist at the end
but this time, I’m sitting on the couch, trying not to cry
wondering why the sight of the ocean at the end of a film
feels like someone close just died.
 
As the credits roll, I let the waves run in to shore
until my breathing calms and I am more myself again
forty six years old and counting
acknowledging the sadness
of continents and planets unexplored
of a single self who got side-tracked early.
 
I think of childless friends
who speak of emptiness and longing
the inconsolable sea inside
and that defining moment
whether through age or circumstance
when only one reality remains
and grief shows up to fill the void.
 
Published on-line on HeadStuff website Poem of the Week, June 17th 2015, Editor Alvy Carragher.
 

Groundhog Day

 
I laugh at 1950’s woman
tied to the kitchen sink
hair in curlers, head filled
with cleaning products
and ways to please her husband
after his long day’s work.
 
Yet sometimes
lying awake
juggling roles
adding items
to a list of never ending tasks
to be completed
 
I hear in the darkness
the kitchen sink
shuffling towards me
 
and her laughter
as she applies coral pink
lipstick to her smiling mouth.
 

South Wall

 
We walked the full length
sat on rocks
backs to the lighthouse
looking out at the lazy sea.
 
The air hummed dusk and evening
water turning from gloss, to satin, to matt
sky and breath descending.
 
Headed back in silence
footfall into the arms of Dublin bay
its familiar outline softening
night, a short car journey away.
 

The World Reduced to Sound

 
Lying in my single bed
a childhood illness for company
the world reduced to sound.
 
Behind my eyes the darkness echoed
inside my chest uneven notes
rattled and wheezed.
Beyond my room a floorboard creaked
a muffled cough across the landing
grew faint and faded away
 
My hot ear pressed against the pillow
tuned into the gallop of tiny hooves
then blessed sleepy silence.
In the morning
steady maternal footsteps
sang on the stairs.
I loved that song.
 
Published in collection ‘Take This Life’ (WordOnTheStreet 2011)
 

Consolation

 
In a claustrophobic room
just off intensive care,
he outlined the facts.
 
‘She only scored four
on the Glasgow Scale.
It’s not looking good.’
 
Even as he said it
I knew this moment
defined ‘before’ and ‘after’.
 
I hyperventilated.
My mind looked on
as my body drowned.
 
We sat by her bed.
The word ‘coma’
came and sat beside us.
 
That evening she awoke.
Everything had changed.
She saw her daddy cry.
 
But a lifelong disease
is so much better
than no life at all.
 
When we got home
the house has moved
to another galaxy.
 
Published in The Moth Issue 2 Editor Rebecca O’Connor

Both a page and performance poet, Anne Tannam’s work has appeared in literary journals and magazines in Ireland and abroad. Her first book of poetry Take This Life was published by WordOnTheStreet in 2011 and her second collection Tides Shifting Across My Sitting Room Floor will be published by Salmon Poetry in Spring 2017. She has performed her work at Lingo, Electric Picnic, Blackwater & Cúirt Literary Festival. Anne is co-founder of the Dublin Writers’ Forum.
.
Anne Tannam’s website
Featured post

‘Chasing Tails’ and other poems by Layla Hehir

Beware of the Hey Man

 
Beware of the Hey Man,
he’s lurking in the street.
That hipster-hatted Hey Man,
the coolest guy you’ll meet.

He’s sipping on his coffee,
a pained artistic soul.
The only thing that this guy’s
drawing is the dole.

His conversation sparkles
as he bums a cigarette.
He’s working on a book you know,
it’s just not finished yet.

Beware of the Hey Man,
he’s drifting through the crowd.
If you keep drifting every day man,
the world won’t wait around.

The screenplay never written,
the painting never hung.
You’ve wasted years
and missed the boat
but hey man, it was fun.

Sharon

 
She scurries through life
like a squirrel on cocaine.
Her manner is harried,
her banter inane.
Give her one problem,
she’ll come back with twenty.
Don’t ask for ideas,
you know she’s got plenty.
 
She’s sorted the inventory
nobody needed.
If she stays the latest
it means she’s succeeded.
She feels so hard done by,
why all the complaints?
Will anyone tell her
she belongs in restraints.
 
We all have a Sharon
in some form or shape
whose purpose is solely
to cramp and frustrate.
So watch out, she’s lurking
In everyone’s crew
If no bells are ringing
then maybe it’s you.
 

To groups of women in restaurants

 
To groups of women in restaurants,
please tell us what you had
and tell us how you really shouldn’t
but you’re getting wine, you’re mad!
 
To groups of women in restaurants,
speak up now don’t be shy.
We’d love to hear about your day
and how you’re way too good for that guy.
 
To groups of women in restaurants
we understand your pain.
The decision to get dessert is tough,
but don’t you deserve it Lorraine!
 
To groups of women in restaurants,
be careful now, don’t choke.
I don’t care if you get dessert,
I don’t care about your day.
It sounds like he was right to leave you.
Next time please get a takeaway.
 

Chasing Tails

 
It’ll all be fine in Canada,
I don’t care what you say.
Just punch in time,
pack up, goodbye.
We’re counting down the days.
 
We’ll never fight in Canada
I know we won’t, okay?
It’s just this place,
stagnant state,
long hours,longer days.
 
I’ll do yoga in Canada
We’ll both go gluten free.
I wonder who’ll be laughing then
We’ll get there, wait and see.
 
I’ll play the harp in Canada.
I’ll practice every day.
But why would I start learning now?
I’m leaving anyway.
 
I am still set on Canada
I don’t care what you hear
Just laying low
And making plans
It’s only been a year.
 
What’s so great about Canada?
That’s what I always say.
I was never going,
Are you mad?
That scumhole, stay away!
 
I’m thinking about Australia,
that’s where it’s at, you know.
I’ll learn to surf,
like I always said,
it’s the only place to go.
 

Rosanna, Queen of the World

 
We sit and laugh,
Wes and I
as we start our second pizza.
They believed it,
every word.
It couldn’t have been easier.
 
Phase one of our plan now complete,
the cogs are slowly turning.
They went for this,
who knows what else ?
The world will soon be burning.
 
What next you ask?
Why it’s phase two,
to tighten my control.
We say ALL food
is the enemy now
and watch them starve,
behold!
 
Just when their strength is burning low
and life but clings to bone,
I’ll make my move,
the world is mine!
Rosanna takes the throne.

“Chasing Tails” and Other Poems is © Layla Hehir

Layla Hehir is 25 years old and was born in Limerick. She was shortlisted in the Hot Press Write Here Write Now competition 2015 and the Creative Writing Ink May Competition 2015. Her poem ‘Beware of the Hey Man’ was featured as poem of the week on the Headstuff literary website in September 2015. She won the readers choice award in the Headstuff Lacomic Cup Short Fiction Competition 2015. She has had poetry published in Ropes literary journal 2013. She enjoys writing poetry and fiction when she is not drinking wine with her cats.
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‘Pillars’ and other poems by Alice Kinsella

Sea walk.

 
A grey day
Bitter winter
Biting wind
And there was us
 
We got our shoes
Wet and our toes
Wrinkled
In our socks
 
The sand clumped
Our fingers curled
And I tasted salt
Coating your lips
 
Goose bumps rose
On our arms
And the hairs stood stiff
Like tiny white flags
 
The air licked wet
We bundled coats tighter
And your fingertips put
Bruises on my skin
 
You said we’d come back
When the weather
Turned
And Wade barefoot.
 
The weather turned all right.
But we never did,
Did we?
 

Tea Leaves

 
Amongst the ghosts
Of coffee dates
Gone by
Two old friends met
to share a brew and some moments.
They sat on rickety chairs
out of doors in sticky rain.
Shredded tobacco with shaking hands
Into thin bent rollies
And tugged on them to fill their mouths
with anything but words.
Coffee for her and a green tea for him
A long repeated order
a rehearsal of a memory
And do you remember when?
He did.
And how we used to?
She did.
They were great times weren’t they?
They agreed they were.
He tells her he remembers
when she bought those earrings
a flea market wasn’t it?
No it wasn’t she tells him
These were a gift.
Oh.
They were sitting still.
But they knew where they were going.
The cups emptied
the butts smouldered like late night peat
They waited a bit longer
Before paying the bill
Spilling coins on the table like a flood of tears
that just wasn’t coming.
They rose with silent mouths to say
Well
Good luck then
And thanks for it all.
Before dividing paths
They looked smiled again
A shallow curve that didn’t reach the eyes
They brushed hands instead of lips
trading nods instead of love.
 
Tea Leaves was originally published in The Sunday Independent.
 

After the storm

 
The dress I wore was black
Every day for a month
In and out
My mother would steal it as I slept
To run it through the wash
Scrub away the musty smell of sleep
 
Each day announced itself with light
Breaking through at 5.15, 5. 05. 4.55.
Reaching in, it did not brush the hair from my eyes
With love, a gentle reminder of the world beyond dreams
No, it pushed through with a silent scream
And bolted me awake in one shocking leap of heart
 
Every day in and out
Wake, shower, walk,
Eat, read, sleep
Repeat
Repeat
Repeat
 
“take your pill did you remember?”
Yes
“did you remember to take your pill?”
Yes
“don’t forget to take your pill”
I won’t
 
At night I sit by the window let air in
To merge with Turf and tobacco scent in my hair
Shorter than before
“less hassle now isn’t it?”
Eyelids droop “no more caffeine or vodka now no”
But they didn’t take my fags at least
 
There is a calm not before but after
Unlike any other
No longer an anticipation of release
Lacking the fire, the fury, the fear
Now there’s a deathly droll of life
On repeat- on repeat- on repeat.
 
 

The Stranger.

 
The daisies in her hair wept
Each petal curling at the end
A flick of a goodbye to the day
The sea licked her little toes
And her mum watched on
Half distracted
As mums must be.
 
Her blonde plait
Jolted and darted
Down her back
Like a snake.
Her new teeth like tiny fangs
Jabbed through gums
Her tooth fairy money
Still jingled in her
First big girl purse.
 
The sun lay heavy
dropping towards the sea.
He watched from his perch of a rock
And thought how nice it was
To see the young
Enjoying the beach.
 
“Mister why are you wearing shoes?”
“I’m not going into the sea.”
“and what’s that stick for?”
“it helps me when I walk.”
She showed him the shells
That she’d collected
“do you know their names?”
She shook her head
So he told her the names of all the shells
And the creatures who used to live in them
He thought of his daughter
And how she’d learned
The names of the birds
Out on this beach
So long ago
When she was small too.
 
Her mother almost dropped her phone
And hurried over.
She couldn’t believe
How little attention
She’d been paying
To her little girl.
“come away from that man
You’re not to talk to strangers.”
Her mother didn’t look him in the eye
Just scowled
And muttered the word
All parents fear.
 
He tried not to take it to heart.
He had a daughter too.
He’d been the same
When she was that age.
He’d been a police man.
Back in his day.
He knew the things all parents knew.
He loved his daughter.
She lived in Australia now.
Her picture was above the mantel at home.
He loved his own daughter.
He’d never hurt kids.
 
 

Pillars

 
There were seven
if I recall correctly
in our townland
When we were young
three now
or there were anyway
last time I was home.
 
You’ll find them in any house
round those parts
with the leaky roof and the mongrel
who tore open the postman’s leg.
 
There’s Paig who lives by the sun
after the ESB charged him too much
ao he ripped the wires out
of his six generation old shell of stone.
Whose rippled forehead
and bloody eyes gestured
as we flew by on our rusty bikes.
We never stopped
so’s not to be a bother.
 
There’s Jon Joe then with the single glazing
and the tractor older than any child
he might have had
would be now
had he had one.
He’s the one we all know has the punts
stuffed under the mattress.
The one that never sponsored our sports days.
 
And then there’s Tom.
Old Tom not as old as you may think.
who lost his namesake
to a kick of the big blue bull.
They weren’t talking
at the time
but he sold the bull afterwards
and the money went on the bachelor pad
because She kept the house.
 
You’ll find them anywhere around those parts
at the right time
once you know the right time
that is.
 
They’re the shadows of the women
these men.
 
They’re the welcome and g’afternoon
at the church doors
holding up the walls
later holding up the bar
(Neither in nor out)
 
You’ll know them by the cut of their turf
and the cut of their jip
by the stretch of their land
and the hunch in their backs.
There’s the grit in their voice
and the light in the eye.
 
And when they die
they’ll be called pillars
of the community
but we didn’t notice them crumble
and we’ll soon forget they’re gone.
 
 

Making Pies

 
We would pick black berries
Every day after school
For three weeks before
Dressing up and dreading
Pooka’s poison spit.
 
We’d munch as we gathered
be left with only half our winnings
lick our fingers dry of juice
and always come home late.
 
To protect their labours
the briars would attack
and tear into soft finger tips.
I’d delve delicately into
the gushing wound,
lap up the coppery flow
and suck out the hidden prick.
I’d always say it didn’t hurt.
 
There was an orchard in my back garden
there we could pick our second ingredient
Apples.
Six a piece to make a pie
 
They were high up
And buried in the auburn curls of autumn
You’d give me a boost
And half the time we’d fall over
Stain our trousers
With the dewy evening lawn.
You’d always say it didn’t hurt.
 
One year they were sparse
“a bad year” my mother said
So she bought cooking apples
From the new Tesco in Town
And I had to peel the stickers
Off before she skinned them.
That was the year I learned to
Use the sharp knives
And we didn’t go trick or treating
Anymore.
 
Pillars” and other poems are written by and © Alice Kinsella.

Alice Kinsella is a young writer living in Dublin. She writes both poetry and fiction and has been published in a variety of publications, including Headspace magazine and The Sunday Independent. She is in her final year of English Literature at Trinity College Dublin and currently working on her first novel.
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‘Three Red Things’ by Christine Murray

Three Red Things

the three red things are:

a red umbrella with a black lace trim
spoke-shattered it belongs to my mother,
does not match my abstract and faux
snaky blouson jacket,

Alfred Schütze’s The Enigma of Evil
a memento-mori from his old library,
its red cover is rain-glued-sodden.
I bind myself to a tree,

a shopping bag, berry-red
not much to say about it
is the third red thing.

And I am in the park,
moulded to the body of a tree

its roots are moving beneath my feet.
I am afraid it will tear up from the
soil’s hungry drinking as,

form crystallises

assumes its
almost shape,

within the silica of
this holding-skin,

beneath crystal swipe
and tungsten-lunge

into the exact point
and drain,

then seep
from the vessel-encasement
not sustainer.
 
Form crystallises
 
until,
form becomes
 

A Stone Dress

 

press-to
drop-by-drop
raindrop-and-sinew
the whole woman

not tamp-in
onto the still-living-soil
a new shape

embed-in
the bone and the
living-sinew-of
the still-warm blood

slowly-so
and infinitely blue
the milk-flow from crystallising breast,

material as silk-soft
(as) caul or veil
can be sweet as silk or rain or

blue,

rain sinews against and into
chalice of womb.
half-into the wall
and often not

 

still,
      a lone bird night-sings and a

 

Tremor Of Rain

 

tremor of rain runs liquidly down the bodice and gather,
as gradual operation of hand-upon-hand, hand-on-stone
make a pleat, a stitch, a fraying thread, on bodice sequined
for silica-plinthing.

" Lady in Red", 1932, painting by Wilson Henry Irvine.

Three Red Things the title poem of Three Red Things was published by Smithereens Press in 2013.

Image: ” Lady in Red”, 1932, painting by Wilson Henry Irvine.

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‘Settlement’ and other poems by Lizz Murphy

$600

 
Here for $600 you can buy
a purebred Siberian husky pup
a digital display microwave
a proheat all rounder vacuum
a freestanding cooker
a mini laptop
a man’s bike barely used

There for $600 you can buy
a 12 year-old girl not used at all

© Lizz Murphy
— from Six Hundred Dollars (PressPress 2010)
 

Through a Child’s Eyes

 
She is a child whose play eyes
settle on the fine grains
sweetly falling through sugar fingers

She is a child whose factory eyes
settle on a shatter of sequins
like falling fire or a stitched up sky

When night settles one girl will close
her eyelids the other will want to tear hers off
Here a forest will grow each leaf a child’s eye

© Lizz Murphy
 
— previously published in Cordite Poetry Review #43 Masque
— from Shebird (PressPress forthcoming)
 

The Morrigan

 
The Morrigan’s throat-hackles
riffle air her baneful call
forewarning strife
cordoning off territory

She hitches up her raven lips
her tongue and gum reckoning
Her wrap is a fox a skulking road
I know something of this woman

Her black river sheen
one fallen feather
a bowl of brine
She is the washer at the ford

The fetters are cast
The other bird on its back
wings extended in abdication
Its arching neck its thrashing bill
its adversary treading liver

I unwrite my skin
a black crow underscore
I know this line
this unravelling line
two cups of blood one foot
on either side of the river

© Lizz Murphy
— previously published Abridged: Torquemada
 

Settlement

 

That settlement on the lowland the noise of them chittering and squawking Those single-note whistles sucked back unutterables everyone scattering One so much less agitated sailing wings draped like arms around someone else’s half-hearted shoulders legs trailing absentminded the feet chewed stick ends The choughs flap and stretch nettled silk each fan-fold a clearly outlined breath Two magpies flee to another patch the first knows its song well the other repeats her last phrase on a seven second delay like someone who can’t contain thought or an unacquainted tongue And then the falcon flaunting his high authority the rearing sun his silver edged wingspan limbs extended his binding decision his bite to the spine

© Lizz Murphy
— previously published Rabbit: A Journal of Non-Fiction Poetry
 

Myth Breaker

 
She knew instinctively when she was twelve
saw it in his eyes at fifteen was middle-aged
before she understood what it was she knew
what it was she had witnessed

It was that country of not knowing
that they colonized
 

Blackbird

 
Bushlark hands
empty swirl and rinse
fresh-baked terracotta

I hear the slide of leaves
as olive residue separates
reveals fine scarlet threads

Here I am with a worriment
I tell anyone listening in
the hills collapsing into themselves

The adult rosellas have parasites
They are snips of red cotton
the sweepings after dressmaking

The unsewn moments
of this warm
loose-mouthed afternoon

Earlier we heard the blackbird
playing flutes from the spire
of its conifer cathedral

That melodic intruder
its precise tangerine beak
scissoring at the sky

And the raiding currawongs
with their priestly wings
and hook-beak frenzy

Sweetmeat hatchlings
the tear of earth
the choir of keening magpies

Then the silent flyover
Younger red-green natives
captured only in the surprise
of transitory shapes

Swift tattoos across sparse lawn
the grey grill of grevillea
the ridged roof robust in all seasons
its iron whisperings coaxing in a cold front

How long till the blackbird is
back foraging finding invertebrates
in undergrowth shrinking into itself

How long since a fledgling
its feathers the stain of tended soil
runs an unsteady length of broken board

Or a juvenile flying the shortest of spans
flagging gutter to slumping branch
And game again on the verandah
launches itself in a gay splatter

Its stiff limbs like poking fingers
its panting spotted breast
pressing a path through space

First empty nest then empty distance
You recognize the wind of chance
in their jubilant eyes

They are full of the new life
have found their own un-compassed way
Just like you told them they would
Like you told them they should

It has caught my generation short
the skin of it settling over the migratory pass
Streamflows knotting around long unmoving stones
shucking their occupant souls together

They have the vacant knock of brass
The bell strike of hammer on nail
The scuff of spade entering sod
The rasp of the smallest of the deaths

© Lizz Murphy
— from Walk the Wildly (Picaro Press 2011; reprint: Ginninderra Press, forthcoming)

DSCN0433_2_2Lizz Murphy has published 12 books of different kinds. Her seven poetry titles include Portraits: 54 Poems and Six Hundred Dollars (PressPress), Walk the Wildly (Picaro), Stop Your Cryin (Island) and Two Lips Went Shopping (Spinifex). Recent poems can be found online in Abridged (Ire), Blue Pepper, Cordite Poetry Review, Right Now, Shot Glass (US), Verity La, Wonderbook of Poetry and a number of print anthologies. She is widely published in Australia and overseas. Born in Belfast she moves between Binalong in rural NSW and nearby Canberra ACT.

Lizz’ awards include: 2011 Rosemary Dobson Poetry Prize (co-winner), 2006 CAPO Singapore Airlines Travel Award, 1998 ACT Creative Arts Fellowship for Literature, 1994 Anutech Poetry Prize. Special mentions include: Highly Commended – 2013 Blake Poetry Prize; finalist – UK’s 2013 & 2014 Aesthetica Poetry Competitions. She sometimes blogs at A Poet’s Slant

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‘View’ by Helen Harrison

View

 
He wrote a picture postcard to me;
A fishing boat on the edge of Lough Currane
Close to his home.

Beside the window where he writes his news
The view of fuchsia beside a stone-wall,
Flecked with the sun.

His side of the glass; depression, for years
Dependent on medications; then the
Further frustration;

As invasion of cancer then threatened
A future made all the more precious;
Delivered in the post,

Passing on this message; ‘I knew you’d enjoy
The picture of the lake; thought it would do
You the power of good;

Though; my dear; I know you don’t need it
Pray for me, and write soon,” he pleaded.

View is © Helen Harrison

Helen Harrison was raised on the Wirral, seven miles from Liverpool, by Irish parents, and has lived most of her adult life in the border countryside of Co Monaghan, Ireland where she is married with a grown-up daughter. During 2014 she was awarded a bursary from the Arts Council of Northern Ireland to study poetry for a week at The Poets House, Donegal.

 

Her poems have been published in A New Ulster, North West Words and The Bray Journal. Her first collection of poetry The Last Fire was published during 2015 by Lapwing. Some of her poetry can be found at poetry4on.blogspot.com

The Last Fire and other poems by Helen Harrison

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‘Essence’ by Kate Dempsey

Essence

 
Do you get that smell? Sweet sour hops drift upwind,
mists ripple the Liffey, ghost the quays,
ruffle three buskers on O’Connell Street.
Beshoff’s chip papers batter takeaway lattes.
 
There’s fresh oranges on Mary Street,
fresh words, fresh sprayed on concrete walls.
Port containers sigh out in a diesel cloud;
sea-salty air sloshes a swill of spills in gutters.
 
The brutal stink of bins in puddled alleys
mingles with stale heat stealing from pub doors,
the flare of matches, a cigarette catches
and someone somewhere soothes a honey saxophone.
 
Essence is © Kate Dempsey, published in The Space Between (Doire Press, 2015)

KATE DEMPSEY is from Coventry and studied Physics at Oxford University. She lived and worked in the UK, Nijmegen, The Netherlands and Albuquerque, New Mexico before settling in Ireland. She has lived in Maynooth, County Kildare with her family for more than twenty years. Prizes for her writing include The Plough Prize, Cecil Day Lewis Award, shortlisting for the Hennessy New Irish Writing Award for both Poetry and Fiction and two commendations for the Patrick Kavanagh Award. She was nominated for the Forward Prize and selected to read for Poetry Ireland Introductions. She runs the Poetry Divas, a collective of women poets who blur the wobbly boundary between page and stage at events and festivals all over Ireland. The Space Between is her debut full-length poetry collection.(Doire Press)

The Space Between
Emerging Writer

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Honour the women of Irish Theatre

I very rarely add petitions on Poethead, but in the case of The Abbey Theatre’s baffling exclusion of women artists from the 1916-2016 Centenary I am willing to make an exception for a number of days. The issue of authority in the literary arts has always been problematic in Ireland. In poetry, in literature, and now in theatre it is usual for exclusions to occur. That exclusion is hurtful, demeaning and abusive is too much for me. That I saw my heroine Olwen Fouéré holding up a bit of paper calling for parity of esteem this morning has really angered me. They should be throwing roses at her feet. The idea that a skewed exclusionary narrative represents the intellectual and creative development of the idea of ‘State’ is not on. It is not acceptable. Eavan Boland referred to the absence of women artists in the canon as a suppressed narrative’, there are too many fine Irish women artists for this type of exclusion to manifest at critical junctures in state celebratory events, in this instance a centenary event.
 

Petitioning The Board of The Abbey Theatre, #WakingTheFeminists – Equality for women in Irish theatre

Background: On Wednesday 28 October, the Abbey Theatre, Ireland’s National Theatre, launched its programme to mark the centenary of the 1916 Rising – an event that ultimately led to the founding of the Irish State. The Abbey Theatre and its members were actively involved in both the Rising itself and the debates around the founding of the Republic.
 
1 out of the 10 plays programmed in the 2016 programme are written by a woman – 3 out of 10 are directed by women. #WakingtheFeminists is a campaign by Irish artists to demand change of the systems that allow for such chronic under-representation of the work of women artists at the Abbey Theatre, and in Irish theatre generally.

From : Sign the Petition

Image from Olwen Fouéré’s website.

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“Inishturk” and other poems by Alvy Carragher

Confession

 
he gave me three Hail Marys,
even though I couldn’t remember
any sins to tell him and relied solely
on things I’d read in Dennis the Menace,
whispered words I’d heard my parents screaming,
just to hear how they sounded, see his face fall
and figure out how bad they were
 
I sat in hard pews looking at my sister
bent over in remorse and
wondered if God heard me lying,
stayed head bowed long enough
to look like I’d said mine
 
I slipped the Hail Marys into my back pocket
and left my sins to sort themselves out
 
we made our way home,
two miles of country road,
my sister high on forgiveness
 
I pressed against the cold pane,
our dog cracked against the chain,
there was the smell of scrubbed floors,
the mottle of memories stuck in our carpet
 
I waited for the slump of my sister through the door,
slower up the last hill home, I had left her there,
the slap of my bag on my back
and from my pocket
the sound of Hail Mary
screaming her own name
 
the off-kilter crooning of my mother
as she sang eighties music to the oven,
it was easy then,
lost in the ritual of coming home
 
before the softness broke and the silence fell,
we sat tight fists at the dinner table, waiting
for his words, hoping they landed on someone else
 
I want to tell my sister, even now,
about the Hail Marys,
how I should have said them for her
 

Inishturk

 
I slowed my step for you,
as we dipped between hills,
at the edge of the Atlantic,
they sent us away each morning,
no room in the cottage to hold us,
you tripped to keep up, as we ran
our small wild hearts out to sea
 
at the cliff’s edge,
our backs to the sun,
that big American wind
ripped the coats off our bodies,
we dropped and rolled to keep from blowing over,
cousins told stories of pushing battered cars in,
to watch the sea’s snarl swallow them whole
 
our uncle kept an eye on things,
bent to the window of his front room,
the shake of his sick hands
pressed to the telescope,
waiting for that terrible sea to rise-up
and force out another goodbye
 
we hid in the calm of the bay,
scrambled over wet rocks and seaweed,
settled to a day spent smashing barnacles,
making bait to fish-out a hundred crabs,
just to throw them back in again,
until, one cracked against a currach,
split its hard shell, and we stood still
as the slosh of water pulled it under,
the dull ring of death sat between us
 
that night, playing suduko
by the turf fire, huddled together,
and you, too young to understand,
watched my numbers dart across paper,
we walked the black roads,
the sky awake with starlight
led us along pot-holed boreens,
as we counted the wink of houses,
and trusted the land beneath us
 

The carpenter’s daughter

 
sits in the sawdust heap, because it smells
just like her father, all warm dust and work
 
sweeps wheelbarrows of it out from under saws,
the scent of steel, the blade still above her head
 
pulls planks bigger than her across the room,
wants to know how to fix a shelf, or sand a chair
 
she loves most what wood can become,
rubs the blisters on her soft hands
 
they’ll turn calloused like his carpenter’s skin,
a small sacrifice, to be the one, to make-
 
a new world from that which has fallen,
sliced from the sky to never see it again
 
she has the gist, but not the knack,
the gist is building with bravery
 
to take a tree stripped of all its dignity,
then put it back together tenderly
 

It’s easier if you pick a moment

 
one place in time where your eyes met,
most likely there is red wine involved
or mascara and bad but flattering lighting,
there’s a dance floor with a pulse
driving you into his arms, remember that
 
or was there a simpler day,
cocooned in duvets till afternoon,
sunlight filtering your laughter
and he made cinnamon toast
in the sandwich maker,
you got butter in your hair and the bed
smelt like burnt sugar for days
 
you probably fed each other, at least once,
was it chocolate or grapes or
another excuse to have your
hands bare at the others lips,
mouths salty with the taste of skin
 
did you catch him, sometimes,
shadowed in the morning,
as he slipped into day-clothes,
you pretended to be sleeping,
so he could leave you a love note
and the coffee seemed sweeter
with his morning words
penned across paper
 
remember when you sat by water,
head in his lap, just listening,
he told you a story about lost loves
finding their way back to each other,
you didn’t think about the words,
just thought that it sounded nice
 
it’s easier if you forget the context,
the fight before, the hours spent
screaming over dirty dishes,
how the bills grew up around you
 
details will only make you forget,
the part in the story, when he says
he will always love her
and you know with certainty
that he means it

Inishturk and other poems is © Alvy Carragher.

alvyA Pushcart nominee, Alvy’s Carragher’s first collection is forthcoming with Salmon Poetry (2016). She has featured at events like Electric Picnic, Edinburgh Fringe Fest, RTE’s Arena and Cúirt International Literary Festival. She has a first class honours in her Ma of Writing from NUIG where she focused on poetry. Her work has been published in The Irish Times, The Boheymth, The Galway Review, Ofi Press Mexico, Bare Hands Poetry and many more. She is also an Award Winning Blogger at With All the Finesse of a Badger.
 
Featured post

“blurring” and other poems by Kerrie O’ Brien

Bamboo Grove, Kyoto

 
everything seemed familiar
and so we kept walking
the light, hushed with green
no path looked different
we didn’t speak –
a bright rain
left the earth fragrant
we found a temple
hidden, waiting
and paper fortunes
only you could read
your tears –
gold rivers
felt like stars
falling on my hands
 

Aftermath

 
you know pride is a terrible thing
and we’ll be a long time dead
what does any of it matter now
when it’s all stripped back
it will hit you one morning
crying making eggs crying trying to eat them
the love won’t go away
worse than the fear or the hate
stubborn around you
red ball and chain
the days don’t make a difference
I’ve tried to stamp it out
like I’m constantly on fire
when we meet now there’s a sadness
like we’re talking from the dead
like we’re both being unfaithful
but also the odd beauty
of how the love can still live
even if we’re not in it
we still talk
we are always talking
but never saying a thing
and what are words
they don’t matter
they’re just the noise we make
it’s muscle that has memory
muscle that make me shatter and twitch because
our bodies are used to touching
memory and habit and want
the body doesn’t understand it’s not allowed
I focus on your eyes while I try to get used to it
your hands two jump leads on the table
I try not to touch
I think you just want it to be ok
I’ll put on the smile you offer, I’ll put on the mask
I can see those eyes through it
they tell me they’re sorry
they tell me this is hard
they tell me we can’t do it again
all that love still pulsing
but this time
love saying no.
 

Inherent

 
my great-grandmother had it
though few will talk of it
how she lived on a hill
closer to the heavens
lighthouse
where the cloud shadows
would change the colour of the fields
screaming yellow in July
something sacred, godlike
they would come for miles
to be healed
wide holes in their cheeks, mouths
a lifetime smoking pipes –
carrying too much
elixir
bird feather suspended
in glass
the scent
would linger for days
the sight of the wounds
something about this
stirs memory
trembles within me
the burning urge
to cure
 

Blurring

 
Take off your coat.
Let it fall from you.
Want to watch you do that.
I’ve been thinking of you too much.
Now, I want to make you real.
Do that and come here,
Fall from yourself and don’t think.
Stop talking.
To name this moment
Is to sap it of itself.
Stop looking.
Don’t ask love,
It’s beyond me.
Leave before I wake, will you?
It’s kinder that way.
Morning, and your searchlight eyes,
Shining, trapping, blinding.
Who can bear that?
I’m sorry I talked
To everyone but you tonight
But I find I’m like that.
Please accept it all, or go.
It’s all the same to me, these days.
Now I know I’m saying
None of this out loud,
But I’m hoping you’ll hear it in me
This time,
If you’re listening.
 

Incense

 
The bed is too small
as I turn and try
not to wake you
your body is still unfamiliar.
It could be anytime –
my first time
in your room.
I should go.
There’s a smell of incense
you burn it like a priest
hoping to purify
you burn it like flowers
that will cling and remind me.
Slowly you begin to touch
without opening your eyes
as if your hand is awake
and the rest of you sleeps oblivious to
your slow touches and the morning
making its entrance.
I move with you
without words
my hands in your black hair.
I’ll never be yours.
Outside,
There are no birds singing
 

Core

 
you need to be very still
to hear the concert of your body
to think about what you contain
salt and water
knows what it’s doing
renewing itself
back to earth
it is a quiet thing
this is where our riches are
we are all red inside
brimming with love
all fluid and quiet and fire.
 
These poems are © Kerrie O’Brien

picKerrie O’ Brien has been published in various Irish and UK literary journals. In February 2012 she was the first poet to read as part of the New Writers Series in Shakespeare & Co. Paris. Her poem Blossoms was chosen as the winning entry in the Emerging Talent category of the 2011 iYeats Poetry Competition and her work was highly commended for the Over the Edge New Writer of The Year Competition 2011 She was the winner of the RTE Arena Flash Fiction Competition 2012 and Culture Ireland sponsored her to read in Los Angeles in June 2012. She has received an Arts Council Literature Bursary for her first official collection and two of her poems have appeared in New Irish Writing in the Irish Independent. She was one of the emerging writers chosen to read at the Cork Spring Poetry Festival 2013 as well as the Poetry Ireland Introductions Series 2013, Listowel Writers’ Week 2013, Cuisle International Poetry Festival 2013 and The Bram Stoker Festival 2013.  She will have work forthcoming in The Bohemyth and The Irish Times. Her poetry chapbook Out of the Blueness was published in 2011 and she is currently working on her first official collection Illuminate.
 
www.kerrieobrien.com

Featured post

‘Tread Softly’ and other poems by Michael J Whelan

DELIVERANCE

In the orphanage a child
cowers from cursing men outside.
She wants to climb back into
her dead mother’s womb
and hide inside its warm, soft,
un-edged safety,
where no explanation is needed
or reason to hide under splintered
staircases or run the gauntlet to basement
bomb shelters, existing minute to minute
with strangers until the dawn arrives with her
deliverance and she refuses to be born.

© Michael J. Whelan (Published in Cyphers, Nov 2011)

GRAPES OF WRATH

 

It happens on a Thursday, just after 2pm,
when ancient cultures and beliefs conspire
and vultures spiral above a peacekeepers’ camp,
where cedars age slowly and the Litani River
caresses the ground where Jesus turned water
into wine, where artillery salvos rip the air
on their long flight and bite deep, deep into
that place of safety vaporizing its concrete
walls and burning and blistering and tearing
apart the mass of terrified flesh and innocent blood
seeking refuge from the hate of man.

A soldier climbs from the rubble limbs
and discarded faces, his eyes caked black with tears,
his hands at arm’s length clutching the newborn baby
that looks like a headless doll.

© Michael J. Whelan

(Qana Massacre April 18th 1996)
During ‘Operation Grapes of Wrath’ Israeli Defence Force artillery shells strike a Fijian UN compound in South Lebanon protecting 800 civilians fleeing the fighting, approx 120 died. Published in the Galway Review 2013 & The Hundred Years War – Anthology of 2Oth Century War Poems, (Bloodaxe 2014)

 

BROKEN SPADE

You lay in your frozen field, slack-jawed at how you
came to be there, your mouth caked in last year’s mud,
limbs twisted about your body as if in the midst of some
remembered dance or tempered at your rotting crops,
bent over in disgust, yielding in the half light and startled
at the cold – they have never felt.
This harvest, un-reaped and yet reaped upon you
hides the stale shoe and crushed spectacles,
the broken spade that hastily covered you in the soft
clay you loved, now steeled hard against the sharp sky.

I imagine the fears of your kin as they searched the high
golden horizon that summer day.
They might have felt the distant calamity that took you
following the bullet casings along the beaten track,
and I wonder if they found you,
then I see the scars of cluster bombs and scorched
stalks of your petrified labours and there, there in the shrapnel
of this bitter harvest I behold your seed,
torn apart but reaching out to the one who bore them.

© Michael J. Whelan

Published in And Agamemnon Dead – An Anthology of Early 21st Century Irish Poetry Edited by Walter Ruhlman & Peter O’ Neill (Paris, 2015)

RENDEVOUS

The sodden fields are bleak, the road
is broken and I am tired.
Rain shoots off my weary face,
its cold tears count the ribs
that cage my distant heart.
At night I make my rifle safe,
fling this conflict to the floor,
it gathers round the worn-out boots
that tread in miseries of a war.
But I have a rendezvous,
a memory in a future place.
That short black dress, golden hair
tumbling to her shoulders.
Laying foetal, arms wrapping
her soft body, kissing the curve of her
neck, I breathe her in, capturing her.

© Michael J. Whelan

TREAD SOFTLY

It’s raining, always is,
that sticky hazy rain that gets down your neck,
behind your ears and saturates your face, your hair
as soon as you step from the vehicle
even though the uniform is multilayered,
your boots get soggy straight away
and the pistol grip on the rifle resting in your arms
slips in your fist.

You’re not really afraid – for yourself,
though your heart is racing approaching
the recently finished mass grave- their hurting ground
covered in fresh clay, flags and wreaths,
you’ve just driven over the ancient village cemetery as you entered
like it was a cross country speed test on rough terrain,
the old grave markers are long gone.

No, you’re not afraid for yourself,
the fear comes when no adult arrives to greet you
or check out your party as a possible threat
save for the elderly ones corralling young children
behind hedges and outhouses on the high ground,
who watch you as you watch them
barefoot and half dressed in the rain
and you taking photographs of yourselves
at the place of their parents.

You – the uniforms that stormed into their hurting place
feeling like liberators but to them resembling conquerors,
you who come to help but instead bring memories of terror
and usher a fear they keep from the last time
soldiers conquered this place,
you who tread softly then when you realize what you have done,
when you see the muddied feet of innocence and the future in their eyes
peering down.

© Michael J. Whelan

Published in Three Monkeys, online magazine, Feb 2013

PARADOX OF THE PEACEKEEPER IN THE HOLY LAND
I am forever walking upon the shore
betwixt the sand and the foam.
The high tide will erase my footprints,
and the wind will blow away the foam,
but the sea and the shore will remain forever

Kahlil Gibran

In Lebanon I sought redemption
like the pilgrim at the crossroads of Heliopolis,
on the Bekaa’s great range where Bedouin caravans met
and Romans laid their bodies down in supplication to their gods,
to Aphrodite and Jupiter, and long before this peacekeeper came
on what seemed a fools errant, whose only armour
was the feeble weave of a blue flag,

before these wars for modernity and religion
where the new city’s shadows fall like dead soldiers
on the broken steps of Astarte’s Temple,
where the priests of Baalbek burned incense,
lay themselves prostrate with tribute and homage
beseeching fertility over the land and on warriors on the eve of battle

and the same priests parcelled out her favours to believers
who built new columns to the sun god on her ruins,
before all this there was blood on the stones and in the dust
of Tyre, of Sidon and in Byblos,
and the gods looked down from the heavens and laughed
for they knew that man knew not of their fallibilities,
their eyes kept the storms that belief constructed –

the defence of Masada by Jewish zealots
against ramparts, siege-towers and battering rams of enemies – never giving in,
the caliphs who ordered the conquests of Bilad al-Sham,
Helen who setting forth from Constantinople to Jerusalem
in search of the Cross set beacons ready to burn along the way
and Constantine, her son, converted his empire in promise to his mother

who lit the path for Crusaders and the burial places of a thousand years
under these skies of mumatus clouds that hang like fronds of fruit
above the hills at dusk, who rest like relics with Saracens
and Mamluks, the swords of east and west,
the holy books of Abraham, Mohamed and Byzantium,
where Gilgamesh cleaved the cedars for his ships

and where now the free man might dig with trowels once more,
adjure in the Temple of Baachus, revere the flake-bones of gladiators
under the triumphal arch of Al-Minah – the hippodrome at Tyre,
where fishermen still cast their nets on the same Phoenician shore
in Galilee beneath the stirring sands of Jordan
and camels sometimes carry scholars through the Quadisha Valley
like in the old days passing slopes of red anemone, wild tulip, oleander and poppy

and young girls might seek the damask rose in the gorges of forgotten ambushes,
where sultans and kings slaked their pious thirsts – slew their enemies
and exiled the youth of many futures – those pawns who lay penitent at the altars,
who laid down in the Temple of Aphrodite like the peacekeepers lay down now,
yes we who lay down with our wives and lovers like knights with sacred talismans
and far away they lie down with us under the same different moons,

they wait and pray looking up upon the many faces of the gods
who see us only as a fleeting moment on the pages of passing civilizations,
the rising and setting of the sun and we know the signal fires are burning,
the funeral pyres rise up in pillars of ash in the marches between the watchtowers
along the border wire and we know that so much metal has been fired in this cauldron
from arrowheads and spears to icons and the corrupted jagged shards of bombs,
shrapnelled landmines and bullets. On a rainy day we can almost smell it
weeping through the red mud tracks of an army and we must watch our step.

© Michael J. Whelan

Published in A New Ulster, issue 32, May 2015

poethead 2Michael J. Whelan is a soldier-poet, writer & historian (Curator – Irish Air Corps Aviation Museum) living in Tallaght County Dublin. He served as a peacekeeper in South Lebanon and Kosovo during the conflicts in those countries in the 1990s, which inspires much of his work. He was 2nd Place Winner in the Patrick Kavanagh Poetry Award 2011, Shortlisted in 2012 with a Special Commendation in 2013. He was 3rd Place Winner in the Jonathon Swift Creative Writing Awards 2012, shortlisted in the Doire Press and Cork Literary Manuscript Competitions and selected for the Eigse Eireann/Poetry Ireland Introductions 2012. His work has appeared in the Hennessy New Irish Writing 2013, Poetry Ireland Review, the Red Line Book Festival and many other literary magazines and newspapers. His poems were recently published in a new anthology titled The Hundred Years War published by Bloodaxe UK in May 2014.

Michael blogs at https://michaeljwhelan.wordpress.com/

Featured post

“Nadelah” and other poems by Geraldine O’Kane

Hitting to Hurt

(after ‘The Leaping Lamb’)
 
Everybody saw us as the bull
and the lamb, that is how I hid for so long.
 
He was a chunk of a man; I sliced him
to bits with my words, buried him with shame.
 
I am sorry for using such callous language,
I’ll try to rein myself in; let’s start again.
 
The first time my hands rose, it felt
like they belonged to someone else;
afterwards I wished so hard that they did.
 
It’s not like it happened everyday
but the second and third time I knew
the fists were mine and I kept on using them.
 
He stood there as I threatened to leave him
if he didn’t fight back or if he did I’d go anyway;
soon I was saving all my energy and hitting to hurt.
 
Once I drew blood and no longer saw him
as either bull, husband or human being;
it was then I knew I needed help.
 
Commissioned by Artist Brian Kielt for an Exhibition in aid of StART Talking a local mental health charity.
 

Nadelah

(meaning one who has been transformed)
 
Pre-boundaries and pre-colonisation, I was Nadelah to my Native American tribe, a sacred gift, a two spirited, third gender, in continuous state of transformation. Born raw, I existed ungendered until the ceremony of the basket and the bow, where my choice let me live revered not feared. Pre-boundaries and pre-colonisation, I transcended the masculine and feminine, to see in both directions. I was a conduit to the spirit world, I lived a life of community, unaware of my sexuality, until the white man straightened the circle I inhabited. Renamed me Berdache – but I tell you I was slave, sexual or otherwise to no one.
 
Biligaana must show himself
a liar or conceive –
I am his single spectre.
 
Berdache (Boy kept as sexual slave)
Biligaana (Navajo for White Man)

The Living Room

 
My grandmother’s kitchen was a tea cosy,
knowledge and love brewed there in equal measure.
Everyone reached full flavour inside that room –
with the softest unsliced bread in Ardboe
and the sweetest bananas.
 
The cake mixer was always whipping up something
to go with the tin kettle permanently on the boil.
If you were lucky you would hit on licking-time;
buttercream from the bowl is best! Days clinked
to a start, and ended with spoons stirring hot milk
and bread for her cats. She smoked twenty a day
in that room with hardly a window open and
forever smelt of Yardley – Lily of the Valley.
Evenings rendered the kitchen silent
as everyone poured into the living room.
 

Playtime

 
We were playing hide and seek round our estate,
when he grabbed my wrist.
Much older than the other kids
he would know all the good places, so we ran.
He took me to the best spot,
“scream”, he said,
“no one will hear you.”
 

Presence

 
He used to greet her with a noose,
Wait for her to ‘talk him down’.
 
Until the sight had her turning on her heel,
voice squeezing through the closing
front door, “do it, see if I care”,
unsure she believed.
 

Doorman at ‘Invisible Illness’

 
Falling out of sleep into feeling
all belonging to me is dead,
yet you are there right beside me;
my dad calls it his black days,
mum calls it the days her head
is not in this world.

 
In my teens this didn’t register
now I know the fight too well;
days when I am quiet,
methodical to rise and shower,
dress, make myself up before breakfasting
but always a hug and a kiss –
wishing you a beautiful day,
before I head out to work,
you keep the wounds from my door.
 

Tree Tunnel

 
We walked mid road under the tunnel of trees
huge trunks branched above us
their leaves feathery boas floating
from about their necks, sheltered us for a moment
– only a moment
 
In a split second through the arc of recess
where the sun had warmed to our skin
came sheeting rain; energetic beads
with bellies full readily dropping their payload.
 
We did not twist with arms flung wide,
in circles with heads thrown back,
catching rain with our open mouths.
After twenty minutes and two car passing’s,
we were drenched chills crept over our bodies.
 
We stopped sought sanctuary along the verge
you mimicking the tree trunks
providing as much shelter as your frame would allow,
curling in on me, latent, against your chest,
chin resting on my porous hair,
elemental I attuned to the call –
of your heartrate, your skin…
 
when a car pulled over
sweeping us away
from the summer downpour.
 
‘Nadelah’ and other poems is C Geraldine O’Kane.

9975568Geraldine O’Kane is originally from County Tyrone. She has been writing poetry since her teens, and has had numerous poems published in journals, e-zines and anthologies such as BareBack Lit, FourXFour, Illuminated Poetry Ireland, Poetry Super Highway and more.
 
Geraldine is a regular reader at the Purely Poetry open mic nights in Belfast. She has previously been part of a local writing group at the Craic Theatre, and has performed some of her work in local theatres and at the Dungannon Borough Council Arts Festival. Her poetry is mostly inspired by observation and the human condition. She specialises in micropoetry. She held her first solo exhibition in the 2013 Belfast Book Festival, using art, dance and music to interpret micropoetry centred around the theme of relationships and decay.
 
The Poet O’Kane
Featured post

‘The Talking Cure’ and other poems by Angela Carr

The Tiger’s Tail

 
City, a howl of chemical laughter;
menace fingers the air, seeking purchase
in the drunken smoulder of narrow streets.
Young girls toss ironed curtains of ebony hair —
shared tribal head-dress. Tiger sucklings,
knock-kneed, moon-eyed calves, they perch on the heights
of borrowed triumph: Prada, Miu Miu, Louboutin.
Fierce children, almost feral, wresting frenzied
joy from the teeth of new calamity:
night yawns deep, and they do not know it.
Car headlamps sweep the junction, horns blare;
ground shifting beneath them again, the girls
totter into the bloom of darkness,
each on milky limbs, pale and slender as a birch.
 

Occupied

28 October 2011
 
White slab on the doormat, postmark,
a familiar china blue — the forfeit
of dignity in monthly increments —
and I’m sick to my stomach, again;
on TV, Occupy Wall Street,
as though greed were a discovery,
injustice, a shiny toy or the new black.
 
I’ve been in my foxhole for three years now,
dug in behind enemy lines: terraced walls,
the polite exterior of war; wrestling
the slick of their machinery, bare hands
ink-bloodied in daily skirmishes with quicksand
bureaucracy and you — with the placard,
the ironic slogan — where the fuck were you?
 

Junkie

 
iPod, laptop, coffee machine (never used),
good for fifty euro, maybe more;
not to be sniffed at, enough to score
 
probiotic yoghurt, three weeks of Lexapro,
prescribed, of course. You’re nothing without your health.
Sweating, nerves buzzed, I trip rain blacked streets,
 
flash electrical goods at likely marks:
people who still care about appearances.
Don’t judge me, I wasn’t born this way.
 
I blame my parents — the ones who weaned me
on this crippling addiction to comfort — pushing
Food, Money, Education as security.
 
And when the world takes my roof, I learn to crave Roof.
And when the world take my land, I learn to crave Land.
And when the world takes my voice, I learn to crave Voice.
And when the world takes my power, I learn to crave Power.
 
My parents should have raised me a gypsy:
shown me the road, the cut of air,
the smell of dirt.
I smell it now.
It’s close.
 

The Talking Cure

 
The day I pull my face together,
paint lash and liner (the ordinary mask)
is, predictably, the day you make me cry,
as though the smudge of black across my lids
is just the beginning: a surface schism.
 
You draw me like a rotten tooth:
another battle-blooded version
of myself — raw and tentacled, untethered —
and, as you show me the extraction,
hold me up and turn me over,
 
I hang there, and sit here —
all tear-stung, throaty bile-burn,
oozing rust-rivered, black-eyed jangle —
and poke the ragged opening
with my tongue.
 

CAT Scan

 
A craw wind catches me and I trip
past gatepost guardians, the turn of railings,
into the hospital grounds. Hypodermic
drinks darkness deep, shows it to the light;
an apple’s skin can never know its core.
In the sting of a burnished room,
glass and disinfectant hold me safe and distant,
the scratch of gown makes me smaller than I am.
A cracked voice cuts into the hollow
of the machine, as it spins and slices me
like ham. Don’t worry, it says. You’re almost done.
Inside the blink and grind, the growl of plastic –
deep and still – I see a field in the half-light
of summer’s dusk, grasp a long feathered grass,
the nub of its soft head, wet like a kiss.
Three black lines, track to another somewhere,
pass the house and barn, their cut silhouette
gentle: an inevitable homecoming.
I find a face in a tree, there; black eyes,
truffle snout, mouth agape in silver skin.
I hold its gaze in the drizzle of darkness,
humming to myself; the tree bends to listen.
I hum the song again, in the quiet room,
where they tell me, spinning tree, grass, night,
through and through my fingers. Back out on the street
the wind shifts; I brace for the oncoming squall.
 

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Angela T. Carr is the author of How To Lose Your Home & Save Your Life (Bradshaw Books, 2014). Her writing is widely published in literary journals and anthologies — Mslexia, Abridged, Bare Fiction, The Pickled Body, Crannóg, Boyne Berries, Wordlegs — and has been broadcast on RTE Radio One. Three times short-listed for the Patrick Kavanagh Award, her debut collection won the Cork Literary Review Poetry Manuscript Competition 2013, judged by Joseph Woods. In 2014, she was selected for the Poetry Ireland Introductions series, short-listed for the Listowel Writers’ Week Single Poem Award and the Cúirt New Writing Showcase, a finalist in the Mslexia Poetry Competition, judged by Wendy Cope, a runner up in the Over the Edge New Writer of the Year, and winner of the Allingham Poetry Prize. Angela has read at numerous literary events and festivals around the country. Born in Glasgow, she lives in Dublin.
 
Website: A Dreaming Skin
Twitter: @adreamingskin

 
Featured post

‘Janus- His Mistress Responds’ and other poems by Peter O’Neill

Kitchen Maid with the Supper at Emmaus, by Diego Velasquez (1617-1618)

For Máire Holmes

Through the serving hatch, or silent butler,
The Christ is seen at the moment of revelation,
While the maid, in the foreground, averts her eyes
From the immediate task at hand.

The bowl, which is falling from the table,
Like a globe, and which has just startled her
Is certainly for mixing the ingredients;
As the garlic lying temptingly to her side would testify.

With it, no doubt, the contents of the mortar;
Pepper and the ‘fine spice’ to add to her
Dobladura De Carnero – Hercules being
Mythologised in the toasted hazelnuts.

Circumnavigating the room, bread breaks to thunder clap,
And the bowl erupts at the announcement of the returning of the lamb.

Dies Solis…

An unseen yellow dwarf, over one million KMs
In diameter, transforming 620 million mega tons
Of hydrogen into helium per second, in a process
Of thermo nuclear fusion, generates luminance,
Which is transported upon solar winds,
Taking eight minutes and sixteen seconds to touch
The earth.

Such are the scientific facts behind revelation.

And, such is how a particular convent in Seville
Was illuminated for the painter Diego Velasquez,
When he painted the Moorish model la mulata in his depiction
Of the events at Emmaus, in the early seventeenth century.

Although these astonishing figures only in part explain
The accident which is about to happen.

Janus- His Mistress Responds

“O man magicked Evil with the first pelvic thrusts,
His Juju Daemon damning up my hulls, with bull lust.
And the dawn shall have even more repugnant abominations
To daily chide us our births, beavers flailed and strung
Up alive, all screaming in Pythagorean mode, orchestrated
By Saint Saëns, though handless, on one of Cliquot’s organs-
The lacerated tongues of Siberian Cossack, the voice makers
To windpipe his Te deum. While, in Saint James Gate,
Minos is housed, his dark spirit fermenting, anticipating
The precious imperial measure, when he too will be poured only
To lie like Mercury on the glass floor for the sons and daughters
Fore-score, to raise and cheer before the storm blows out the old year.
And there, in table-breaking, earth momentum pound,
Rupture, shag, break the hell hound’s round.”

And Agamemnon Dead

The ovarian arms is the true embrace of all
Horizontal extension; Fuck elevation –
The systematic bureaucratisation
Of all phallocentric concentration !

Plato is truly the author to be despised,
The cunt of cunts ! I seek to undermine
Your perfect calibration, decode or unravel
The genetic-social cuntstruck.

Around the two burn the Herakleteon fire,
Which we both step into, lost among
The panorama of Ephesus.

Through the equalling stratagem of the walk,
With you, muse, finally off your pedestal,
We can perhaps begin to walk together into our future.

Janus- His Mistress Responds and other poems are © Peter O’Neill from Dublin Gothic (Kilmog Press, 2015)

Peter O’ Neill (1967) was born in Cork where he grew up before moving to live in France in the nineties. He returned to Dublin in 1998, where he has been living ever since. He has been writing poetry since the eighties, and has been published in reviews in Ireland, USA, UK and France. His debut collection Antiope (Stonesthrow Poetry, 2013) was critically acclaimed: ‘certainly a voice to be reckoned with.’ Dr Brigitte Le Juez (Dublin City University). With over six collections behind him, he is currently translating Les Fleurs Du Mal. His second collection ‘The Elm Tree’ was published by Lapwing Press in 2014.

The Elm of the Aeneid and Spadework by Peter O’Neill

Featured post

‘Punishment’ and other poems by Mary Kennelly

Punishment

 
The music woke me up
To early morning winter dark.
I have been neglectful of my craft
These past few months.
Now this new dawn is filled
With unexpected promise.
Before long all those other things
I had set before the sound are gone.
I am the mad dog
Chasing the wild boar of song.
I only crave the tune.
But ill-use refuses to reward.
My words will not be moulded,
They jostle and jar and scorn the path
My meagre skill sets out.
Locked in this struggle,
I begin my day with failure,
The melody is gone.
 

Treasure Trove

 
When she is gone
They’ll sort out all her stuff –
Clothes and shoes to charity
In seemingly endless bags –
Jewellery, paintings, ornaments –
All divided out or sold –
The books, to God knows where.
Then they’ll find the box,
Her lifelong treasure chest.
Inside a silver-plated wedding coin,
First locks, first shoes, first teeth,
A plastic holy-water bottle,
Price intact at thirty pence,
Gift from a three-year-old,
Home-made birthday cards,
Baptismal candles, a christening gown,
Her list with weights, and times and dates,
Copies, pictures, drawings.
Cardboard-encased memory.
 

Prince Charming

 
In fairness, it’s nothing like it promised in the story book.
Maybe we should sue that blasted fairytale ’cause
To be honest our little castle soon got rather cramped
When you moved in with all your rugby gear and magazines.
And three kids really do make a lot of mess and noise
As they hoover up our money, space and time,
And precious little else.
They also did for our spontaneous encounters
Upon the kitchen table.
Our passion – if you could call it that –
Now calls for military precision, five minutes on a Thursday night.
Inside I know I’ve betrayed the sisterhood but
I find it hard to be a feminist while picking
Smelly clothes from the bedroom floors
And cooking endlessly same, stale dinners.
Even if you brought me champagne every day –
Which of course you don’t –
Kids’ homework with a hangover is the biggest pain on earth
And my liver just cannot take it any more.
But still it has its compensations and I know
That you will be with me through all our mess
To reap the whirlwind of the life that we have sown
And you’ll still come running with the loo roll
When it runs out while I’m sitting on my throne.
 
Punishment’ and other poems are © Mary Kennelly from Catching Bats Takes Patience (Liberties Press, 2015)

Mary Kennelly has been involved in arts events in Ireland for many years, including Listowel Writers’ Week and the Brendan Kennelly Summer Festival. She was a participant in Mindfield: Spoken Word section at Electric Picnic 2014, where she performed alongside the Limerick collective The Whitehouse Poets. She has written for publications including The Kerryman, The Sunday Independent and The Sunday Tribune. Originally from County Kerry, she now lives in County Limerick.
 

Featured post

“Lifelike” and other poems by Jennifer Matthews

Family Portraits

 
With skin like that,
you don’t have to
open your mouth.
 
Muting
praise; Mother twirled
back the sardine-tin key
of his sister’s tongue.
 
Richard Avedon, embryonic
photographer
fixed his Kodax Box Brownie
on Sister, to exhume
her from her own beauty.
 

… she believed she existed only
as skin, and hair,
and a beautiful body …

 
He sought
sun, the negative of his muse
in hand to place on his shoulder:
used his own skin
as a contact sheet
for the image to burn into him,
to carry her
as widows clutch framed photos
of loved ones lost
to war.
 

ok

 
1.
 
His tattoo: a stitch of self
harm, a barcode, a brand,
a word he wants so badly
to replace his own skin
that he signs consent
to be burnt blue.
He lies down
to give his flesh
to the upper-hand,
the cruel beautician.
 
2.
 
Beauty is nothing
but a flaw so stunning
it can’t be ignored.
Its twin image burrows
into the soft space
of the beholder’s mind,
home-making, breeding
ideas, word by word
they contort and leap
to twist every eventuality
into the bent shape
of ok.
 

Lifelike

 
Transcend the gown without
leaving your body: your first mission
should you choose to redress it.
Followed by negligé negligence,
flattened heels,
unproductive visage
with lips unstuck
and colourless toes.
Forget bridal makeup packages,
beauty queen campaigns,
perfectly accessorised communions.
What lies
on bare skin but dead skin
motes of past times
exfoliated until your final
newness halts
and you are painted lifelike
and dressed
in something really very You.
 

Scent of a Woman (Echolalia)

 
Text: NPR article ‘Smell that sadness? Female tears turn off men’ by Joe Palca (7.1.11)
 
From human testosterone
levels in this specific moment
edge sweat or saliva.
A drop in arousal, colleagues
say, dribbled down cheeks.
 
A team of scientists starts crying.
Crying serves a purpose.
 
What is the state
of sexual chemical communications
causing this effect?
Whatever substance
women’s tears may reduce—
tear donors watch, seeing clearly
questions.
 
Researchers had their female
smelling authors of compassion
(a recognisable smell).
Colleagues sniffed, not convinced.
But scientists could be found
in a lot of places, willing
to donate tears.
 
The urge to signal: your human
tears may have an effect on you.
That was responsible
for quiet after men. Even if
you can’t look at pictures
of women’s faces,
a few drops of a woman was
to see a reality.
 
‘Lifelike and other poems’ is © Jennifer Matthews

jen_headshotJennifer Matthews writes poetry and is editor of the Long Story, Short Journal. Originally from Missouri, USA she has been living in Ireland for over a decade, and is a citizen of both countries. Her poetry has been published in, or is forthcoming from Banshee, Poetry International — Ireland, The Stinging Fly, Mslexia, The Pickled Body, Burning Bush 2, Abridged, Revival, Necessary Fiction, Poetry Salzburg, Foma & Fontanelles, and Cork Literary Review, and anthologised in Dedalus’s collection of immigrant poetry in Ireland, Landing Places (2010). In 2015 she was selected for the Poetry Ireland Introductions Series. A chapbook of her poetry, Rootless, is available to read free online at Smithereens Press.

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“Mulcair” and other poems by Amanda Bell

The beauty of the game

 
is lost on me when I watch you play.
I see the curve of your cheek,
the rounded base of your skull
– once a custom-fit for my palm –
and feel again the warm weight of your incipience.
 
No more walnut-snug in my armour
your head now bobs around the pitch
and air shrieks with the thwack of
plastic against wood,
against bone.
 
(first published by The Ofi Press)
 

Dark Days

 
i.m. Savita Halappanavar
 
Suspended at the end of Krishna Paksha,
the moon is a sickle
freeze-framed in the night sky.
 
The fireworks have been cancelled,
replaced by candles
and a vision of you
dancing on the cusp.
 
These are dark days
between Diwali and Advent,
waiting
 

for the moon to wax.

(first published by the Burning Bush 2)
 

Troglodytes

 
On visiting Lascaux cave for the 70th anniversary of its discovery
 
Inland, the road torcs into forest.
Among walnut trees, the house vibrates
with life: bees, hummingbird moths,
an infestation of squat black crickets.
They love the shade of cool clay tiles
and watch us sleep, eat, bathe, make love.
We sweep them out at night; they won’t jump –
just scuttle, and keep returning.
 
Deep in the lamplit chamber, shadows
in the knotted scaffolding, they watched
hands palpate the limestone for flanks, spines,
manes – and draw them into life.
And when the lamps guttered, they scurried
over aurochs, bison, the inverted horse,
till a dog arrived, with boys and lights,
and they were brushed aside:
not far, but out of sight,
waiting for night to fall.
 
(first published by The Clearing online)
 

The Darkness

 
In winter I awaken to the dread
of losing something indefinable,
and darkness stretches out around my bed.
 
September flips a trip switch in my head
and daily living seems less feasible;
in winter I awaken to the dread.
 
On All Souls’ Night I’d gladly hide instead
of letting on that I’m invincible,
as darkness stretches out around my bed.
 
By December, it’s as if the world were dead:
to fight the darkness seems unthinkable.
Each winter day I struggle with the dread.
 
I wish that I could hibernate instead
of coming to and feeling vulnerable
to darkness stretching out around my bed.
 
I try to think of shorter nights ahead
though springtime now seems inconceivable.
In winter I awaken to the dread
of darkness stretching out around my bed.
 
(shortlisted for the Strokestown International Poetry Competition 2014, and appeared on their website)

Mulcair
 
 
Lacking the romance of source or sea, this river middle, sectioned out in beats,
is nonetheless a beaded string of stories, a rosary and elegy.
 
Teens of the 1980s swam in jeans –
our Riviera was the weir at Ballyclough,
where we clambered weedy rocks and dived from trees,
sloped off to smoke and throw sticks into the millstream.
Each day at four the river ran from brown to red.
 
The salmon steps were our jacuzzi, where Jacky Mull
was held under by the current, re-emerging blue
and slower. His life moved one beat down to the factory:
Ballyclough Meats – leaning over concrete walls we watched
him lugging piles of horse-guts and sluicing down the floors:
each day at four the river water ran from brown to red.
 
In reedy pools beyond the stone bridge lampreys shimmered.
We dislodged them
                 with rod butts till they coiled round our wellies,
piled them into baskets in writhing grey bundles,
tumbled them onto the lawn at home.
                                  In our houses
we sloughed off our damp silty clothing. Forgetful
of our monstrous quarry, dying slowly on the grass.
Each day at four the river water ran from brown to red.

(first published by The Stinging Fly)

unnamed (2)Amanda Bell is a freelance editor living in Dublin. She completed a Masters in Poetry Studies in DCU in 2012, which proved a catalyst for her own writing, and since that time her work has appeared in The Stinging Fly, The Burning Bush 2, Crannóg, The Ofi Press Literary Magazine, Skylight 47, The Clearing online, and in haiku journals Presence, Blithe Spirit, shamrock, cattails, and haibun today. In 2014 her work was shortlisted for the Cúirt New Writing Prize and the Strokestown International Poetry Competition, and in 2015 she was shortlisted for the Fish Memoir Prize, and longlisted for the Rialto/RSPB Poetry Competition. Her critical writing has appeared in journals and essay collections. She has a research interest in ecocriticism, and particularly the work of Kathleen Jamie. She reviews regularly for Children’s Books Ireland’s publication Inis. Amanda is a member of the Hibernian Writers’ Group, and is editor of their forthcoming collection The Lion Tamer Dreams of Office Work.
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“Delta” and other poems by Stephanie Conn

Wie is de vrouw on de overkant?

 
Who is the woman on the other side?
It was the only phrase that stuck
in months of pre-trip conversation class.
 
As I struggled with the syntax,
it became clear you were a natural,
spending hours in the lab perfecting your grasp.
 
You couldn’t wait to track down a local
to ask how to say I love you? Ik hou van you,
you said, content with your acquisition.
 
You led me in the appropriate response,
encouraged me to practise daily. Ik hou ook van you;
all it took to keep you happy.
 
The towns we visited belonged to you,
their guttural place names all tongue and throat;
Groningen, Maastricht, Utrecht.
 
You strode through their stone streets
listing the features of gothic churches,
as I fumbled with a bi-lingual map.
 
(first published in the Yellow Nib)
 

Delta

 
The dilapidated hut at the sand’s edge
is a trick of the light, and shadows lift
to reveal a delicate arrangement of driftwood,
crate and rope; the uprooted debris of the sea.
 
Sunlight settles on a sodden sponge.
 
Here on a flat shelf of beach
disparities are ironed out;
faded plastic strips, origin unknown,
dull the glare of emerald glass.
 
Curious shallows slip to the shore.
 
Inland, the polder’s stillness is not disturbed
by the pylon’s hum or the clouds insistent shift.
She is remembering the sea, its possibilities,
drained by the regulated tidiness of men.
 
(first published in The Open Ear)
 

The Metronome

 
In my life there are several firmly fixed joys: not to go to the Gymnasium,
not to wake up in Moscow of 1919 and not to hear a metronome.

Marina Tsvetayeva

 
Tick-tock.
I am four –
I want to live in a cuckoo clock,
emerge on the hour from the wooden door
to call my call.
 
Tick-tock.
I am six –
straight-backed on a black stool as a steel stick
oscillates, its methodical click
measuring my days.
 
Tick-tock.
I am eight –
I want to live in a bright street-light,
peer at the path or up to the sky, and wait
to speak to the stars.
 
Tick-tock.
I am ten –
lead-legged on the parquet floor as mother
sneers at the words that flowed from my pen,
and rips the book.
 
Tick-tock.
I am twelve –
I want to live in Valeria’s room,
touch powders, pills, scent bottles on shelves,
lock myself in.
 
Tick-tock.
I am grown –
know now that love is sharply felt in parting
for she played her last note, left me alone,
free at fourteen.
 
Tick-tock.
I am old –
the clock sends shivers through my clicking spine,
the power of the lifeless over the living told
in the steady beat.
 
(first published in the Ulster Tatler)
 

The Portrait of his First Wife

 
Jealous of whom? Of the poor bones in the cemetery?

Maria Alexandrovna

 
They stand
face to face,
his two wives –
 
no, not quite.
The young one, seventeen,
still has her feet on the ground.
 
She looks up
to the other, hung high
on the drawing-room wall.
 
The beauty gazes back,
smiles with her dark eyes,
her mouth as delicate as a bird’s.
 
The girl walks
to a tall window, looks out
at the silver poplar leaning across the gate.
 
A growing daughter
quickens at her centre, drives her on
through the rooms of this wooden house.
 
And she waits
for the strong wail of a son
to drive out the song of all her nights –
 
the call of a nightingale,
emerging softly from beneath
the locked door, to sooth a living boy.
 
(first published in the Stony Thursday Book)
 

Blinking in the Dark

 
If you have placed your hands, at their urging, on the new wet skull,
small as a cat’s, and recoiled in surprise at the slippery touch
of matted hair, despite the months of waiting, of willing this moment
to arrive, then you too can go back to the start of it all;
to that moment in the dark, eyes shut and alert to every touch
when I caught my breath, and you took it and made it your own
and surged blindly on, splitting to become whole; of course,
we were totally unaware in the instant we set you ticking (busy talking)
but that night I dreamt of rain, or heard it on the window pane –
persistent drops that fell and found the swell of a lake or river and made
for the open sea; I thickened as shadows pulsed on screens and lines peaked
and fell long before the quickening that made you, finally, real –
you held on tight, where others had faltered, and were content
to watch your tiny hand open and close in that watery room until the walls shuddered
in their bid to expel and you emerged and cried out into the light –
our cord cut, they carried you off to count your fingers and toes,
the vertebrae of your still-curved spine, checking for tell-tale signs
that you might be less than perfect; they did not see the cord take form
or hear it hiss as it slithered upward, past my breast, and I lay caught,
lead-legged and tied to machines, as it rose up, ready to swallow me whole.
 
(first published in Abridged)
 
These poems are © Stephanie Conn

blog_32_54d0e3dbad78b-290x200Stephanie Conn was born in Newtownards, Co. Down, in 1976. Her poetry has been widely published. She was shortlisted for the Patrick Kavanagh Prize, highly commended in the Mslexia Pamphlet Competition and selected for Poetry Ireland Introductions Series. She is a graduate of the MA programme the Seamus Heaney Centre. Stephanie is a recipient of an Arts Council Career Enhancement Award and recently won the inaugural Seamus Heaney Award for New Writing. Her first poetry collection is due to be published by Doire Press in autumn 2015.
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Looking at how the media presented the Oxford Professor of Poetry Election for VIDA !

maxresdefault (1)There is an interest for women poets in how media presents electoral processes like the recent Oxford Professor of Poetry appointment. Just as there is an interest in how media views poetry generally.

“I would like to see something different at the next election. I would like to see the media discussing women poets and the benefits that they can bring to the chair, and how their role can influence emerging women poets. I feel that this can be achieved by speaking to women candidates with intelligence and not utilising them as filler material in your ossified view of what poetry is.” (VIDA)
 
I started Poethead as a platform that could create visibility for women poets and their translators. Poetry is primarily a process of creation, however, media often engages with poetry at the point where it has become a product, often within the published book. This convergence of media and poetry was always going to be problematic. That a lifetime of creative effort goes into a finished book or books is not recognised by the reviewer who is only interested in producing copy. In order to fully understand the poem within the book, and the book as object, one often has to read the entire body of work by the poet. That we need magazines like Jacket2, Harriet, UBUWEB, Wording the Between, Poetry Foundation, and other platforms wholly dedicated to the poem is a given for the poetic reader. That the media finds the poet a difficult and irascible creature is also a given. It seems far easier for media to use a simplified strategm or model to present the reader with something amounting to cultivating interest in poetry. Evidently the British national press has been using outdated models to platform poetry. It requires review.
 
If the media had generally ignored the Oxford Professor of Poetry election, it might have been better than the samey efforts journalists used to generate interest in the voting process. Mostly the British media opted for failsafe methods in an attempt to bring interest to the Oxford Election. That the press chose to generally ignore one of the candidates who happened to be a woman candidate seems to me beyond remiss. A created invisibility on the part of national media organisations in the case of A. E Stalling’s candidature for the Oxford chair points to laziness and to a lack of effort with regard to examining androcentrism in literary publication and in academic appointment. In the three centuries since its inception the Oxford Chair has been almost wholly occupied by male poets, with the exception of a brief nine-day female occupancy. So, this week I wrote about media laziness for VIDA! Women in the Literary Arts.

If the media is incapable of challenging sexism in poetry, is uninterested in the academic perception of poetry as a male preserve, or indeed in the low review numbers of books by women poets that occur in their newspapers, then what happened at Oxford will continue to occur intermittently and that my friends is just boring.

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‘Cleaving a Puzzle-Tree’ and other poems by Doireann Ní Ghríofa

Cleaving a Puzzle-Tree

 
1.
 
I didn’t see my grandmother’s tree in Chile,
araucaria araucana,
though they grow tall there and are many.
I must have walked under them every day, tripped
over their seeds, but I didn’t think of her, oceans away,
standing in a square of green, raking leaves
around her monkey puzzle tree.
 
2.
 
For over a hundred years, that tree stood between
pruned rosebush and clipped hedge, a long shadow
moving over wet fields and stone walls.
As a girl, I clung to the trunk when we played hide and seek,
rough bark printing maps on my palms.
 
3.
 
In April gales, the tree sways. From the window,
my grandmother watches a chainsaw blade
spin the tree into a flight of splinters,
until only logs and sawdust are left.
In each neat wheel of wood, an eye opens,
ringed by lines of the past. The logs are split,
stacked, the tree turned into armfuls of firewood
which will rise as smoke to the sky,
a puzzle unravelled.
 

Frozen Food

 
In the frozen foods aisle, I think of him
when I shiver among shelves of green flecked
garlic breads and chunks of frozen fish.
I touch the cold door until my thumbs numb.
 
Strangers unpacked his body in a lab
and thawed his hand, watched long-frozen fingers
unfurl one by one, until his fist finally opened,
let go, and from his grasp rolled
a single sloe,
ice-black with a purple-blue waxy bloom.
 

Inside the sloe,
a blackthorn stone.
Inside the stone,
a seed.

 
Standing in the supermarket aisle,
I watch my breath freeze.
 

Museum

 
I am custodian of this exhibition of erasures, curator of loss.
I watch over pages of scribbles, deletions, obliterations,
in a museum that preserves not what is left, but what is lost.
 
Where arteries are unblocked, I keep the missing clots.
I collect all the lasered tattoos that let skin start again.
In this exhibition of erasures, I am curator of loss.
 
See the unraveled wool that was once a soldier’s socks,
shredded documents, untied shoestring
knots — my museum protects not what is left, but what is lost.
 
I keep deleted jpegs of strangers with eyes crossed,
and the circle of pale skin where you removed your wedding ring.
I recall all the names you ever forgot. I am curator of loss.
 
Here, the forgotten need for the flint and steel of a tinderbox,
and there, a barber’s pile of scissored hair. I attend
not what is left, but what is lost.
 
I keep shrapnel pulled from wounds where children were shot,
confession sins, abortions, wildflowers lost in cement.
I am custodian of erasures. I am curator of loss
in this museum that protects not what is left, but what is lost.
 
‘Cleaving a Puzzle-Tree’, ‘Museum’ and ‘Frozen Food’ are © Doireann Ní Ghríofa

DOIREANN b+wDoireann Ní Ghríofa is an award-winning bilingual poet, writing both in Irish and in English. Paula Meehan awarded her the Ireland Chair of Poetry Bursary 2014-2015. Her collections are Résheoid, Dúlasair (Coiscéim), A Hummingbird, your Heart (Smithereens Press) and Clasp (Dedalus Press). Her work is regularly broadcast on RTE Radio One. Doireann’s poems have previously appeared in literary journals in Ireland and internationally (in Canada, France, Mexico, USA, Scotland and England). Two of her poems are currently Pushcart Prize nominated.
.
www.doireannnighriofa.com & DoireannNiG
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“The Corner House” and other poems by Victoria Kennefick

(I don’t know how to spell) Meningioma

 
I float down icy corridors.
My face slips, blurs on skirting boards.
Plastic tiles suck my shoes.
 
In the GA Ward,
the flickering mouth of television
hisses at blankness.
 
An igloo of brains, snow blocks on pillows;
my eyes cast out to look for you.
The German lady asks me for water.
 
She’s never seen you here, she says.
She’s got a tumour, a hail stone in her head,
frozen on an x-ray in the hall.
 
In the waiting room, sweat sneaks out my armpits,
from behind bare knees, freezes like a smile.
Sun flaunts its limbs along the wall –
 
my body perves to lie with it, the mad yellow.
You do not come; I go out double-doors –
anti-bacterial soap melts in my hands.
 
Sun gropes my body back to skin
in the hospital garden.
You are not here but you are warm.
 
My hands are yours, palms up.
The bulbs, the bulbs are polyps too,
they have split open in the soil
 
and there are daffodils.
 

Iron Dragon

 
Mother at the ironing board, washing foams at her feet,
shirts to be steamed into submission.
She pulls one out, stretches its striped skin across the board,
licks her lips, tuts at talk-show drone.
 
A cat purrs against the glass outside, the window full of it,
beyond dark green leaves mantle my mother.
She shimmies the iron into hard to reach places.
In small gaps I think I see where sea turns into air.
 
The iron’s fat plastic body conceals its metal tongue,
pointed with holes, like buds for tasting.
It licks all the wrinkles out,
wraps its long, thin tail around us.
 
At his every-day ring she runs, the beast hot on his shirt.
I reach up; disturbed, the creature’s breath scalds.
At my scream she drops the phone,
her slap on my thigh, we both cry.
 
I touch the burn later; it’s flat, scaly,
like dragon skin.
 

The Corner House

 
Lemonade bottles tinkle in crates,
tiny glass babies kept in drawers;
skulled once by your small gullet
after a day on your uncle’s farm –
a packet of fig-rolls for lunch.
 
Now, push the cap off the bar.
Should anyone open the door,
light would land with a shock
on bouncy floors, splitting ceilings,
flight of the stairs towards sky.
 
Go back, first to the special orders
of bottled stout, golf on the TV,
Paddy Daly’s three ice-cubes in a Paddy;
your father sneaking pints of lemonade,
(before diabetes)
  the colour red.
 
Go back further, your cousin’s underage den,
fairy lights, cider, Blue Jean Country Queens.
Before that? The granny flat,
the curved bridge of her back,
white hair, a surrender to black.
 
To pig’s ears wilted over the pot
overhearing your father’s stories
of shoeless feet, neighbours eating swill,
fires out early, rosaries after dances;
his father making the church gates.
 
Drink up
  (the lemonade is flat and stale).
 
Sneak out
  (this place isn’t yours anymore).
 

Ballycotton Pier

 
Bright lemon day makes our eyes water,
Dad takes us to the pier to fish.
I don’t know where he found the rods &
without really showing us how, we cast off
into silty sea where humpback rocks congregate.
 
I don’t want to catch anything,
imagine something slimy will take the bait.
A tug; Dad shouts instructions, I reel in the line.
The fish’s mouth plucked above the surface
blows desperate kisses into air.
 
Tangled, the dogfish pants, smacks
the swell, swims around itself.
Dad says it’s not worth it, so we cut &
snap – the fish escapes back into black.
We watch it go, white-bellied, bitter & hooked.
 
At dinner, I squeeze a segment over fish
I will not eat, squint my eyes at splattering juice.
The hook in my heart judders, it is all at sea,
we will both carry it, piercing,
into ever deeper water.
 

A Decade

 
Our father is dead, I don’t know where he art,
but my uncle lies in a pale coffin, across the bay window.
We decide they’re both golfing in Heaven, having pints of Murphy’s stout.
My aunt, a Daughter of Charity, leads us in the Rosary;
our lips follow, words jumble out of order, watched children, falling.
Hail Mary (my middle name) ‘Holy Mary,’ my aunt says:
once the little girl who giggled during prayers, scolded, told the ground
would swallow her up. And it will, glory be to God, while my sister’s baby son,
named after my father, is here staring with new blue eyes,
learning how to say the Rosary, so he will be prepared.
 

Afterwards

 
‘At dances they twirled her, an upside-down umbrella,
the night greased-down-shiny, couples plastered
onto the side of pint glasses multiplying at the bar.
 
She stood next to a tall boy for the National Anthem.
He had the smell of petrol, a lift home so;
headlights of his car searched ditches for a kiss.
 
At the white gate, talk of the pictures,
sound of a door closing; gravel crackling underfoot.
She sat on this step under the window, looked out to sea.
 
Black water touched the sky’s soft velveteen.
She breathed in, then out; felt all at once
all at one with the air of everything.
 
Tears pearled her face, drops on a china cup.
She was of the fine make, bone-fine.
If you asked why she was weeping, she couldn’t say.’
 
I cry when my mother tries to explain her mother,
stars spin above us, frozen bodies miles off.
This is the last night we will sit on her step.
 
Through the open window, still hanging in the wardrobe,
her dresses listen, old pennies sleeping in their pockets,
their collars starched, skirts pressed and ready for dancing.
 
A Decade, Afterwards, Ballycotton Pier, The Corner House, Iron Dragon, and (I don’t know how to spell) Meningioma are © Victoria Kennefick


Victoria Kennefick’s chapbook, White Whale, won the Munster Literature Fool for Poetry Competition 2014. It was launched as part of the Cork Spring Poetry Festival 2015. A collection of her poems was shortlisted for the prestigious Melita Hume Poetry Prize 2014 judged by Forward Prize winner, Emily Berry. She has also been shortlisted for 2014 Over The Edge New Writer of the Year Award. In 2013 she won the Red Line Book Festival Poetry Prize and was shortlisted for the Bridport and Gregory O’Donoghue Prizes. She was selected to read as part of the Poetry Ireland Introductions Series 2013 and at the Cork Spring Poetry Festival Emerging Writers Reading in February 2014. Her work has been published in The Stinging Fly, Southword, Abridged,The Weary Blues, Malpais Review, The Irish Examiner and Wordlegs. She was a recipient of a Fulbright Scholarship in 2007 and completed her PhD in Literature at University College Cork in 2009. Originally from Shanagarry, Co. Cork, she now lives and works in Kerry. A member of the Listowel Writers’ Week committee and co-coordinator of its New Writers’ Salon, she also chairs the recently established Kerry Women Writers’ Network . She is the recipient of both a Cill Rialaig /Listowel Writers’ Week Residency Award and a Bursary from Kerry County Council this year.
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“Madame Matisse Is Shown Her Portrait, 1913” & other poems by Susan Millar DuMars

Dreams for Breakfast

 
Sometimes everything is blue;
the hills, my hands,
house keys, chimney smoke.
If I bit the air
my mouth would fill with blue juice.
I’m peaceful, though I wonder,
what casts such a big shadow?
 
Or I’m on a bus
with plaid seat covers.
The other passengers
are wilted, short
of breath. I think
I missed my stop.
 
Other times I walk through
a silent city of stone
and nothing is where I remember
except the swans
and the church on the hill.
 
I unwrap these dreams
for you over breakfast.
You say they are big budget,
Technicolour
while yours are pocket sized,
abridged; small men
in smaller circumstances.
You butter the toast and laugh.
 
I smile, marooned
in all this blue distance.
 
Dreams For Breakfast is © Susan Millar DuMars
 
(published in Dreams for Breakfast, Salmon Poetry, 2010)
 

Learning to Swim

for Mary
  
i.
 
Reach and then kick and then kick and then
breathe in the clean smell of chlorine.
The ripples of light making circles
to thread with my body.
 
So what if you won’t take your pill?
If you clutch at your stomach but won’t let me help?
And I kick and then sputter and spit;
no good at this.
 
ii.
 
Next day I find you entangled in stockings and bra.
How to look without looking, be matter of fact?
I have to be brisk
or we both will be broken.
 
Come here, Cinderella, I say when I finally
put on your shoes. It’s time to make tea so I hold
both your hands and walk backward; like teaching
a toddler to stand. Thus we shuffle along.
What must we look like? I say. We’re laughing.
You reply: We look like we’re dancing.
 
iii.
 
A week later, you’re gone.
 
I do twenty laps.
Pulled through the water like thread
in a stitch. As I get out, I feel
nothing but small,
on the edge
of that open space.
 
What have I learned?
Don’t forget to keep breathing.
Don’t try to move water. Let the water
move you.
 
Learning to Swim is © Susan Millar DuMars (from The God Thing,Salmon Poetry, 2013)
 

Madame Matisse Is Shown Her Portrait, 1913

 
Whose is this face?
A pebble thrown in a pond,
sinking grey over black over grey,
further and further away.
 
Whose are these hands?
Fingers unfinished; flippers to flap
around garden and house.
My hands are stronger than that.
Counted coins, wrote ferocious letters,
once. Don’t you remember?
 
Why that hat?
With blushing rose
and peacock feather.
What does that sexless creature
need with a Paris hat?
Why not a dowager’s veil,
a housemaid’s cap?
Why not a wimple and beads,
my Lord!
The better to toil toward
your veneration.
 
I’m a good disciple, you will allow –
everybody loves you now.
 
Why these tears? Why this feeling I’m sinking?
Portrait of Madame Matisse. Who is she?
Henri, my love, my dear old friend.
When did you stop seeing me?
 
Madame Matisse Is Shown Her Portrait is © Susan Millar DuMars (from The God Thing)
 

Sunday Morning, Lorient

 
There’s a man wiping down the carousel
as if it’s the only thing that matters.
Beneath his white rag flattered panels
blush and flash like fallen sections of sky.
 
There’s an old man up on his balcony
wrapped like something precious in his white robe.
He’s looking at the church across the square.
The air so still he can hear the choir.
 
A pine cone rattles to the cobbles.
Jackdaws, and the warm wood of this bench
expanding as though with breath.
Small white roses grow on the square,
 
their fluttering faces like candles.
I need no other cathedral.
 
Sunday morning, Lorient is © Susan Millar DuMars (from The God Thing)

Hampshire College Halloween 
 

Wearing prom pink with white gloves, I was hypnotised by
                                                my skirt spinning.
Chuck and Mike were lazing on this bench –
                                                the moon was silver.
And Andy walked by, dressed as Jesus in a long white toga, hair wavy
                                                like a midnight ocean.
And he was carrying this crazy cross, big as him, and it was
                                                white in the moonlight.
And Andy said “hey” and we said “hey”, and then Chuck got up
and he was walking behind Andy,
                                                matching step for step.
And I said, “Watcha doin’?” and Chuck said,
                                                “Following Jesus, Dude.”
And we giggled and got in line and then we were all followers of Jesus.
                                                And Jesus led.
And if Jesus drank, we drank; and if Jesus danced, we danced;
                                                and if Jesus did a bong hit,
                                                we praised Jesus,
and did one right after Him.  And we fell around giggling
                                                and Jesus giggled too.
And He led us through the silvered night, and we were free;

                                                and no one got nailed to anything.

– Susan Millar DuMars

 
 
(published in Big Pink Umbrella – 2008, Salmon Poetry)

untitledSusan Millar DuMars has published three poetry collections with Salmon Poetry, the most recent of which, The God Thing, appeared in March, 2013. She also published a book of short stories, Lights in the Distance, with Doire Press in 2010. Her work has appeared in publications in the US and Europe and in several anthologies, including The Best of Irish Poetry 2010. She has read from her work in the US, Europe and Australia. Born in Philadelphia, Susan lives in Galway, Ireland, where she and her husband Kevin Higgins have coordinated the Over the Edge readings series since 2003. She is the editor of the 2013 anthology Over the Edge: The First Ten Years.

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“Something for Sunday Morning” by Maria McManus

Something for Sunday morning

If you took a chance
And let those plates stop spinning,
Stuck your hands in your pockets
Or your fingers in your ears
And stepped back –
What would happen then?

After all that clatter
And when the shreds –
All the broken pieces
Were shovelled up
Wrapped away carefully
And left somewhere for landfill
What then?

All that falling, can only happen once,
And then it’s over. Done with.

As an alternative.
You could gather in those plates
Stack them neatly, one on top of the other
File under ‘something for someone else
Another time’, and let them sit there.

Or you could just watch the wobbly poles
Come to their inevitable standstill and decide
Whether to break them, so that puts
A stop to this, forever.

One way or another – you could choose
Silence, choose stillness, stop playing.

You choose.

II

When Nuria tells me
The Robin died
Because it flew into the glass
I know it is true.

It thought
That what it saw
Was endless sky –
That this reflection of sky
And the Bay of Biscay was reality.

Its neck has broken
And it lies supine on the steps.
I dare say
Death was instant –
I hope so, and that it didn’t suffer.

III

I know this one
And will share with you
Two stories of my own –
Near-misses, if you like.

IV

The first was a dream
Of the Hummingbird
In all its shimmering brilliance, battering
On the window of my smallest most under-used room.
Outside, I’d made a garden, full of colours,
Into it, I planted tame versions of my dreams
Underneath the wild flowers
That greeted everyone who beat their path
To my front door,

But it was the illusion of the garden
Brought the Hummingbird
To beat itself to death upon the glass.

V

The second is the story of an interview.
I faced a four-strong panel. They were back-lit
With the afternoon sun
And the scene outside was rich and wonderful –
A river tumbled down a small green glen – all ferns and damp
And luscious. I could hear the sounds of water
Breakthrough the stultifying must inside.
The vigour of the river had, at one time,
Channelled a mill – the force of it ground millstones.

I remember I wore funereal black –
Considered smart and fitting
For such occasions; an indication
I was serious, reverential,
Intentional about the task –
It was a tailored form of knee-
Bending, a genuflection to authority, to formality –
A message that I would
Concede, submit, serve,
Toe-the-line, fit in.

Then, just as I gathered
My first breath, to lift
The register of my voice,
A summer Swallow flew
Full tilt into the image
Of that garden paradise
And was lost,
After it slammed hard against the glass
And fell into Montbretia.

VI

At The Gower when we walked
We looked skywards. You could
Tell the difference between Swifts
And Swallows, House-martins and Sand-martins.

They’re all beautiful to me.
I find that I am mesmerized and gaze
Always into the blue of where they are –
And it’s enough.

VII

This past year or so,
I’ve tracked the Swallows too,
From Ireland, to Wales,
To Spain and Portugal, to Hungary,
And all the way to Cape Town
And back again.

VIII

Was it you I told the stories of the Hummingbirds to?
I’ve talked about it recently again, I know.

I heard Attenborough
Talk about them on the radio – of how,
Amidst the chaos of this world, and the catastrophic,
Devastation of our earth,
There is one small hopeful story, and it is this –

How people have laid a corridor of sweetness
All the way from Costa Rica to the North of North America
And how in this symbiosis
The Hummingbirds flourish against all odds–
How they reward the wilderness
Of our grey lives,
Gem-like and shimmering
Captivating the available light
And give it back to us
As they migrate
North – South – North –South –
North………….

They are delicate and tiny in the dying of this light.

IX

And then, there is another story–
In the poem of Sah-Sin. Tess Gallagher tells us,
It is the Native American name for Hummingbird
And she tells how, when she found one,
In torpor, in the cold – she lifted it
And slipped it in under her breast
Next to her heart, to warm it,
In the hope it would revive again.

X

Finally, here’s my last message
to you, for now.

I found a montage
Of Hummingbirds with the ‘mirror in the mirror’,
And I’ll play that for you sometime, but –

Between here and there
Between now and then
Don’t fear anything.

XI

And, if you decide
To stop catching those spinning falling plates

And, if you need something for your hands to hold –
Here’s mine.

You might.

.And if you take that chance,
.Just think –

Then maybe, just maybe,
We could dance instead.

Something for Sunday Morning is © Maria McManus

Maria McManus

Maria McManus

Maria McManus is a poet and playwright. Maria’s most recent work is We are Bone (Lagan Press 2013). A screenplay adaptation of the sequence Aill na Searrach; The Leap of the Foals, was developed in 2013 with NI Screen as part of the Short Steps development process.
 
Previous poetry includes The Cello Suites (Lagan Press 2009), which has been recorded with an original score composed and played by the cellist Tom Hughes. She is a contributing artist to Corners of Europe.
 
Reading the Dog (Lagan Press 2006) her first collection of poetry, was runner up in the 2007 Strong Awards at the Poetry Now International Festival and was also short-listed for the 2007 Glen Dimplex New Writers Award. In 2008 & 2012 she was awarded an Arts Council individual artist award. In 2005 she was awarded the inaugural Bedell Scholarship for Literature and World Citizenship, by the Aspen Writers’ Foundation, Colorado USA. She was awarded an MA with Distinction in English (Creative Writing) from Queen’s University Belfast in addition to a professional qualification in Occupational Therapy and an MBA from the University of Ulster.
 
In 2008 she co-wrote Bruised for Tinderbox Theatre Company. In 2006/07 she was playwright on attachment to Tinderbox. Previous theatre credits include His n Her’s and Nowhere Harder (2006) for Replay Theatre Company, and The Black-Out Show (2006) for Red Lead Arts.
 
Samples of readings by Maria can be viewed on Youtube at

Of ‘We Are Bone’ the poet Joan Newmann said ‘A joyful read as if you are coming towards each reader with your arms held out.’

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Three Poems by Müesser Yeniay

Flower Village

 
I learnt how to stand put
from a flower
 
Saw no other sun
drank no other water
 
I recognized my roots as a village
my earth, the sky
 
Seasons passed above me
a nest of ants, bosom friends
 
I learnt how to be a flower
solely… solely standing put
 

Between My Body and the World

 
In my hair, despair is growing longer
its root is in me, however
 
like earth I am smooth
in the center of it
 
if I put my memories in a tent
-and myself in another tent –
 
my eyes are disappearing…
 
I am as if I have gone out a seed
I will go back into that seed
 
I am a footprint of a horseshoe
on the face of daytime
 
between my body and the world
I should put a distance
 

Now Do not Tell Me of Men!

 
My soul hurts so much that
I awaken the stones under the earth
 
My womanhood,
a moneybox filled with stones
a home to worms, woodpeckers
a cave to the wolves climbing down my body
on my arms, new seeds are sprinkled
the man of your life is searched
that is quite a serious matter
 
My womanhood, my cold snack
and my pubic, a home for nothingness,
the world stands here
and you! live with the rubbish thrown into you
 
When he is gone, tell him that flesh leaves nails
that you live with the science of the break
tell him of that serious illness
 
like a lamb skin, I am cold in your gaze
I am not in debt to you your mothers womb, sir!
my womanhood, my invaded continent
 
neither am I a land cultivated…
scratch off the organ that is not mine
like a snake skin, I wish I could drop it
it is not reasonable to be a mother to a murder
 
it is not homeland that is divided
but the body of woman
now, do not tell me of men!

Flower VillageDo Not Tell Me Of men! and Between My Body and the World are © Müesser Yeniay

muesser (1)Müesser Yeniay was born in İzmir,1984. She graduated from Ege University, with a degree in English Language and Literature. She has won several prizes in Turkey including Yunus Emre (2006), Homeros Attila İlhan (2007), Ali Riza Ertan (2009), Enver Gökçe (2013) poetry prizes.
 
Her first book Dibine Düşüyor Karanlık da was published in 2009 and her second book Evimi Dağlara Kurdum is a collection of translation from world poetry. Yeniden Çizdim Göğü was published in 2011. She has translated the poems of Persian poet Behruz Kia under the name of Lalelere Requiem. She has translated Selected Poems of Gerard Augustin together with Eray Canberk, Başak Aydınalp, Metin Cengiz (2011). She has also translated the Personal Anthology of Michel Cassir together with Eray Canberk and Metin Cengiz (2011). Lately, she has published a Contemporary Spanish Anthology with Metin Cengiz and Jaime B. Rosa. She has also published a book on modern Turkish Avant-garde poetry The Other Consciousness: Surrealism and The Second New (2013). Her latest poetry book Before Me There Were Deserts was published in 2014 in İstanbul.
 
Her poems have appeared in the following magazines abroad: The Voices Project, The Bakery, Sentinel Poetry, Yellow Medicine Review, Shot Glass Journal, Poesy, Shampoo, Los Angeles Review of Books, Mediterranean Poetry (USA&England); Kritya (India); Casa Della Poesia, Libere Luci (Italy); Poeticanet, Poiein (Greece); Revue Ayna, Souffle, L’oiseau de feu du Garlaban (France); Al Doha (Qatar); Tema (Croatia).
 
Her poems have been translated into English, French, Serbian, Arabic, Hebrew, Italian, Greek, Hindi, Spanish and Romanian. She participated in the poetry festivals like Sarajevo International Poetry Festival, September 2010 (Bosnia-Herzegovina); Nisan International Poetry Festival, May 2011 (Israel); Belgrad International Poetry Festival, September 2012 (Serbia); Voix Vives International Poetry Festival (Sete), July 2013 (France); Kritya International Poetry Festival, September 2013 (India), Galati/Antares International Poetry Festival, June 2014 (Romania).
 
Müesser is the editor of the literature magazine Şiirden (of Poetry). She is currently pursuing a PhD in Turkish literature at Bilkent University, Ankara, and is also a member of PEN and the Writers Syndicate of Turkey.
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‘Haft Seen’ and other poetry by Shakila Azizzada

Once Upon A Time

 
in memory of Leila Sarahat Roshani
 
Granny used to say
always keep your magic sack
tucked inside your ribcage.
 
Don’t say the sun’s worn out,
don’t say it’s gone astray.
Say, I’m coming back.
 
May the White Demon
protect and watch over you.
Oh, daughter of the dawn,
 
perhaps this sorry tale,
stuck in the mud,
was of your doing.
 
Take the comb from the sack,
throw it in the Black Demon’s path:
seven jungles will grow at his feet.
 
Don’t say heaven’s too far,
earth’s too hard. Don’t throw the mirror
if you fear the sea and her nymphs.
 
Don’t say there was, don’t say there wasn’t,
trust in the god of fairytales.
May Granny’s soul rest in peace.
 
Give the mirror to Golnar’s mother
who, down by the charred vineyards,
dreams of birds and fish.
 
Don’t say the rooftop’s sun’s too brief.
Say, I’m coming and this time,
forget love’s foolish griefs.
 
Shake out the sack.
In the name of the White Demon,
burn that strand of hair.
 
Wasn’t there,
once upon a time …?
Once upon a time there was
 
a girl in whose long, endless dreams,
an old woman with white braids,
forever telling beads, would pray:
 
‘May the Shomali Plain still fill with song
and through the ceilings
of its ruined homes, let light pour in.’
 
Once Upon A Time is © Shakila Azizzada.

The literal translation of this poem was made by Zuzanna Olszewska.The final translated version of the poem is by Mimi Khalvati

Once Upon A Time: this poem refers to a fairytale in which the hero sets off to fight the Black Demon, aided by the White Demon and the magic powers of a sack with a mirror, a comb and a strand of hair. Fairytales traditionally start with the refrain, ‘There was one, there wasn’t one, apart from God, there was no one.’

View from Afar

 
I’m left again with no one standing behind me,
ground pulled from under my feet.
Even the sun’s shoulders are beyond my reach.
 
My navel chord was tied
to the apron strings of custom,
my hair first cut over a basin of edicts.
In my ear, a prayer was whispered:
‘May the earth behind and beneath you
be forever empty’.
 
However, just a little higher,
there’ll always be a land
purer than any land Satan could wish on me.
 
With the sun’s hand on my shoulder,
I tear my feet away, a thousand and one times,
from the things I leave behind me.
 

View From Afar is © Shakila Azizzada
Translated by Zuzanna Olszewska and Mimi Khalvati.
 

Haft Seen

 
If it weren’t for the clouds,
I could
pick the stars
one by one
from this brief sky,
hang them
in your ever ruffled hair
and hear
you saying:
 
‘I’m like a silk rug –
the older it gets,
the lovelier it grows,
even if
two or three naughty kids
did pee on it.’
 
Am I finally here?
 
Then let me spread
the Haft Seen tablecloth
in the middle of Dam Platz.
 
Even if it rains,
The Unknown Soldier
and a flock of pigeons
will be my guests.
 
Haft Seen is © Shakila Azizzada.
The literal translation of this poem was made by Zuzanna Olszewska.
The final translated version of the poem is by Mimi Khalvati.


With thanks to Sarah Maguire director of The Poetry Translation Centre for facilitating my selection of poems by Shakila Azizzada.
 
The poems were translated by Mimi Khalvati and Zuzanna Olszewska for the Poetry Translation Centre

from The Poetry Translation Centre

.

shakilaShakila Azizzada is a poet from Afghanistan who writes in Dari.

Shakila Azizzada was born in Kabul in Afghanistan in 1964. During her middle school and university years in Kabul, she started writing stories and poems, many of which were published in magazines. Her poems are unusual in their frankness and delicacy, particularly in the way she approaches intimacy and female desire, subjects which are rarely adressed by women poets writing in Dari.

After studying Law at Kabul University, Shakila read Oriental Languages and Cultures at Utrecht University in The Netherlands, where she now lives. She regularly publishes tales, short stories, plays and poems. Her first collection of poems, Herinnering aan niets (Memories About Nothing), was published in Dutch and Dari and her second collection will be published in 2012. Several of her plays have been both published and performed, including De geur van verlangen (The Scent of Desire). She frequently performs her poems at well-established forums in The Netherlands and abroad.

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“Ceathrúintí Mháire Ní Ógáin” and “A fhir dar fhulaingeas” by Máire Mhac an tSaoi

Máire Mhac an tSaoi poetry Original Irish versions followed by English translations

.

Ceathrúintí Mháire Ní Ógáin

I

Ach a mbead gafa as an líon so –
Is nár lige Dia gur fada san –
B’fhéidir go bhfónfaidh cuimhneamh
Ar a bhfuaireas de shuaimhneas id bhaclainn

Nuair a bheidh arm o chumas guíochtaint,
Comaoine is éiteacht Aifrinn,
Cé déarfaidh ansan nach cuí dhom
Ar ‘shonsa is arm o shon féin achaine?

Ach comhairle idir dhá linn duit,
Ná téir ródhílis in achrann,
Mar go bhfuilimse meáite ar scaoileadh
Pé cuibhreann a snaidhmfear eadrainn.

II

Beagbheann ar amhras daoine,
Beagbheann ar chros na sagart,
Ar gach ní ach bheith sínte
Idir tú agus falla –

Neamhshuim liom fuacht na hoíche,
Neamhshuim liom scríb is fearthainn,
Sa domhan cúng rúin teolaí seo
Ná téann thar fhaobhar na leapan –

Ar a bhfuil romhainn ní smaoinfeam,
Ar a bhfuil déanta cheana,
Linne an uain, a chroí istigh,
Is mairfidh sí go maidin.

III

Achar bliana atáim
Ag luí farat id chlúid,
Deacair anois a rá
Cad leis a raibh mo shúil!

Ghabhais de chosaibh i gcion
A tugadh go fial ar dtúis,
Gan aithint féin féd throigh
Fulaing na feola a bhrúigh!

Is fós tá an creat umhal
Ar mhaithe le seanagheallúint,
Ach ó thost cantain an chroí
Tránn áthas an phléisiúir.

IV

Tá naí an éada ag deol mo chíchse
Is mé ag tál air de ló is d’oíche;
An garlach gránna ag cur na bhfiacal,
Is de nimh a ghreama mo chuisle líonta.

A ghrá, ná maireadh an trú beag eadrainn,
Is a fholláine, shláine a bhí ár n-aithne;
Barántas cnis a chloígh lem chneas airsin,
Is séala láimhe a raibh gach cead aici.

Féach nach meáite mé ar chion a shéanadh,
Cé gur sháigh an t-amhras go doimhin a phréa’chas;
Ar lair dheá-tharraic ná déan éigean,
Is díolfaidh sí an comhar leat ina séasúr féinig.

V

Is éachtach an rud í an phian,
Mar chaitheann an cliabh,
Is ná tugann faoiseamh ná spás
Ná sánas de ló ná d’oíche’ –

An té atá i bpéin mar táim
Ní raibh uaigneach ná ina aonar riamh,
Ach ag iompar cuileachtan de shíor
Mar bhean gin féna coim.

VI

‘Ní chodlaím istoíche’ –
Beag an rá, ach an bhfionnfar choíche
Ar shúile oscailte
Ualach na hoíche?

VII

Fada liom anocht!
Do bhí ann oíche
Nárbh fhada faratsa –
Dá leomhfainn cuimhneamh.

Go deimhin níor dheacair san.
An ród a d’fhillfinn –
Dá mba cheadaithe
Tréis aithrí ann.

Luí chun suilt
Is éirí chun aoibhnis
Siúd ba cheachtadh dhúinn –
Dá bhfaigheann dul siar air.

Cathrúintí Mháire Ní Ógáin from, Margadh na Saoire. Dublin: Sairseal agus Dill, 1956, 1971.

Mary Hogan’s quatrains

I

O to be disentangled from this net –
And may God not let that be long –
Perhaps the memory will help
Of all the ease I had in your arms.

When I shall have the ability to pray,
Take communion and hear Mass,
Who will say then that it is not seemly
To intercede on yours and on my behalf?

But meanwhile my advice to you,
Don’t get too firmly enmeshed,
For I am determined to let loose
Whatever bond between us is tied.

II

I care little for people’s suspicions,
I care little for priests’ prohibitions,
For anything save to lie stretched
Between you and the wall –

I am indifferent to the night’s cold,
I am indifferent to the squall or rain,
When in this warm narrow secret world
Which does not go beyond the edge of the bed –

We shall not contemplate what lies before us,
What has already been done,
Time is on our side, my dearest,
And it will last til morning.

III

For the space of a year I have been
Lying with you in your embrace,
Hard to say now
What I was hoping for!

You trampled on love,
That was freely given at first,
Unaware of the suffering
Of the flesh you crushed under foot.

And yet the flesh is willing
For the sake of an old familiar pledge,
But since the heart’s singing has ceased
The joy of pleasure ebbs.

IV

The child of jealousy is sucking my breast,
While I nurse it day and night;
The ugly brat is cutting teeth,
My veins throb with the venom of its bite.

My love, may the little wretch not remain between us,
Seeing how healthy and full was our knowledge of each other;
It was a skin warranty that kept us together,
And a seal of hand that knew no bounds.

See how I am not determined to deny love,
Though doubt has plunged its roots deep;
Do not force a willing mare,
And she will recompense you in her own season.

V

Pain is a powerful thing,
How it consumes the breast,
It gives no respite day or night,
It gives no peace or rest –

Anyone who feels pain like me,
Has never been lonely or alone,
But is ever bearing company
Like a pregnant woman, in her womb.

VI

‘I do not sleep at night’ –
Of no account, but will we ever know
With open eyes
The burden of the night?

VII

Tonight seems never-ending!
There was once such a night
Which with you was not long –
Dare I call to mind.

That would not be hard, for sure,
The road on which I would return –
If it were permitted
After repentance.

Lying down for joy
And rising to pleasure
That is what we practised –
If only I could return to it.

Translation by James Gleasure.

Cathrúintí Mháire Ní Ógáin from, Margadh na Saoire. Dublin: Sairseal agus Dill, 1956, 1971.


A fhir dar fhulaingeas…

A fhir dar fhulaingeas grá fé rún,
Feasta fógraím an clabhsúr:
Dóthanach den damhsa táim,
Leor mo bhabhta mar bhantráill

Tuig gur toil liom éirí as,
Comhraím eadrainn an costas:
‘Fhaid atáim gan codladh oíche
Daorphráinn orchra mh’osnaíle

Goin mo chroí, gad mo gháire,
Cuimhnigh, a mhic mhínáire,
An phian, an phláigh, a chráigh mé,
Mo dhíol gan ádh gan áille.

Conas a d’agróinnse ort
Claochló gréine ach t’amharc,
Duí gach lae fé scailp dhaoirse –
Malairt bhaoth an bhréagshaoirse!

Cruaidh an cás mo bheith let ais,
Measa arís bheith it éagmais;
Margadh bocht ó thaobh ar bith
Mo chaidreamh ortsa, a óigfhir.

Man for whom I endured…

Man, for whom I suffered love
In secret, I now call a halt.
I’ll no longer dance in step.
Far too long I’ve been enthralled.

Know that I desire surcease,
Reckon up what love has cost
In racking sighs, in blighted nights
When every hope of sleep is lost.

Harrowed heart, strangled laughter;
Though you’re dead to shame, I charge you
With my luckless graceless plight
And pain that plagues me sorely.

Yet, can I blame you that the sun
Darkens when you are in sight?
Until I’m free each day is dark –
False freedom to swap day for night!

Cruel my fate, if by your side.
Crueller still, if set apart.
A bad bargain either way
To love you or to love you not.

Translated by Biddy Jenkinson.

maireMáire Mhac an tSaoi (born 4 April 1922) is one of the most acclaimed and respected Irish language scholars, poets, writers and academics of modern literature in Irish. Along with Seán Ó Ríordáin and Máirtín Ó Direáin she is, in the words of Louis de Paor, ‘one of a trinity of poets who revolutionised Irish language poetry in the 1940s and 50s. (Wiki)

These poems are published courtesy of Micheal O’Conghaile at Cló Iar-Chonnachta. My thanks to The O’Brien Press for dealing so swiftly with my queries regarding sharing some poetry and translations by Máire Mhac an tSaoi.

Thanks to Bridget Bhreathnach at Cló Iar-Chonnachta for providing the physical copies of Mhac an tSaoi’s poetry, and to translators  James Gleasure and Biddy Jenkinson.

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Ingeborg Bachmann’s Poetry in translation by Mary O’Donnell 1.

FREIGHT

 
Summer’s great cargo is loaded,
the sun-freight lies ready in the dock,
even if a gull cries and plunges behind you.
Summer’s great cargo is loaded.
 
The sun-freight lies ready in the dock,
the smiles of lemurs are unveiled
on the lips of those on the galley.
The sun-freight lies ready in the dock.
 
Even if a gull cries and plunges behind you,
the command to go down comes from the West;
wide-eyed, you’ll drown in light nonetheless,
even if a gull cries and plunges behind you.
 
Freight is © Ingeborg Bachmann. This translation is © Mary O’Donnell
 

FOGLAND

 
In winter my lover thrives
among the forest creatures.
The laughing fox knows I must return
before morning.
How the clouds tremble! And a layer
of broken ice falls on me
from the snow craters.
 
In winter my lover
is a tree among trees inviting
the melancholic crows
to its lovely branches. She knows
that at dusk, the wind will raise
her stiff adorned evening gown
and chase me home.
 
In winter my lover
swims mute among the fish.
On the bank, I stand in thrall to waters,
caressed from within
by the stroke of her fins.
I watch as she dips and turns,
till banished by the floes.
 
And warned once more by the shriek
of the bird that arcs stiffly
above, I head for the open field: there
she plucks the hens bald,
throws me a white collarbone.
I wield it to my throat,
make my way through the scattered plumage.
 
A faithless lover, as well I know,
at times she sweeps into town
in her high-heels,
she parades herself in bars, the straw
from her glass deep in her mouth,
the mot juste tripping from her lips.
I do not understand this language.
 
I have seen fog-land,
I have eaten the smoke-screened heart.
 
from Anrufen des Großen Bären/Invoking the Great Bear by Ingeborg Bachmann ©. This translation is © Mary O’Donnell

Mary O' Donnellbachmann
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Ingeborg Bachmann’s Poetry in translation by Mary O’Donnell 2.

VERILY

 
 For Anna Achmatova
 
He who has never been rendered speechless,
I’m telling you,
whoever merely feathers his own nest
and with words –
 
is beyond help.
Not by the shortcut
nor by way of the long.
 
To make a single sentence tenable,
to withstand the ding-dong of language.
 
Nobody writes this sentence,
without signing up.
 

Verily is © Ingeborg Bachmann, this translation is © Mary O’Donnell
 

NIGHT FLIGHT

 
Our land is the sky,
tilled by the sweat of engines,
in the face of night,
risking dreams—
  
dreamt from skullspots and pyres,
beneath the roof of the world, whose tiles
were carried off by the wind—and then rain, rain,
rain in our house and in the mills
the blind flights of bats.
Who lived there? Whose hands were pure?
Who lit the night,
haunted the spectres?
 
Concealed in feathers of steel, instruments,
timers and dials interrogate space,
the cloud-bushes, touch the body
of our hearts’ forgotten language:
short long long … For an hour
hailstones beat on the ear’s drum,
which, turned against us, listens and distorts.
The sun and Earth have not set,
merely wandered like unknown constellations.
 
We have risen from a harbour
where to return doesn’t count
not cargo not booty.
India’s spice and silks from Japan
belong to the handlers
as fish to the nets.
 
Yet there’s a smell,
forerunners of comets
and the wind’s web,
shredded by fallen comets.
Call it the status of the lonely,
for whom amazement happens.
Nothing further.
 
We have arisen, and the convents are empty,
since we endure, an order which does not cure
and does not instruct. To bargain is not
the pilots’ business. They have
set their sights and spread on their knees
the map of a world, to which nothing is added.
 
Who lives down there? Who weeps …
Who loses the key to the house?
Who can’t find his bed, who sleeps
on doorsteps? Who, when morning comes,
dares to point at the silver stripes: look, above me …
When the new water grips the millwheel,
who dares to remember the night?
 
Night Flight is © Ingeborg Bachmann, this translation is © Mary O’Donnell

220px-Klagenfurt_-_Musilhaus_-_Ingeborg_BachmannIngeborg Bachmann was born in Klagenfurt, in the Austrian state of Carinthia, the daughter of a headmaster. She studied philosophy, psychology, German philology, and law at the universities of Innsbruck, Graz, and Vienna. In 1949, she received her Doctor of Philosophy from the University of Vienna with her dissertation titled “The Critical Reception of the Existential Philosophy of Martin Heidegger,” her thesis adviser was Victor Kraft. After graduating, Bachmann worked as a scriptwriter and editor at the Allied radio station Rot-Weiss-Rot, a job that enabled her to obtain an overview of contemporary literature and also supplied her with a decent income, making possible proper literary work. Furthermore, her first radio dramas were published by the station. Her literary career was enhanced by contact with Hans Weigel (littérateur and sponsor of young post-war literature) and the legendary literary circle known as Gruppe 47, whose members also included Ilse Aichinger, Paul Celan, Heinrich Böll, Marcel Reich-Ranicki and Günter Grass.
 
(Wiki Extract )
 

Poemhunter for Ingeborg Bachmann

Mary O' Donnell

Mary O’ Donnell

Mary O’Donnell is the author of eleven books, both poetry and fiction, and has also co-edited a book of translations from the Galician. Her titles include the best-selling literary novel The Light-Makers, Virgin and the Boy, and The Elysium Testament, as well as poetry such as The Place of Miracles, Unlegendary Heroes, and her most recent critically acclaimed sixth collection The Ark Builders (Arc Publications UK, 2009). She has been a teacher and has worked intermittently in journalism, especially theatre criticism. Her essays on contemporary literary issues are widely published. She also presented and scripted three series of poetry programmes for the national broadcaster RTE Radio, including a successful series on poetry in translation during 2005 and 2006 called Crossing the Lines. Today, she teaches creative writing in a part-time capacity at NUI Maynooth, and has worked on the faculty of Carlow University Pittsburgh’s MFA programme in creative writing, as well as on the faculty of the University of Iowa’s summer writing programme at Trinity College Dublin.

◾Mary O’Donnell
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“Sanctus” by Kimberly Campanello

Sanctus

And what is death, he asked, your mother’s or yours or my own? – James Joyce

I.

At the English pub in Indianapolis, we discuss technology. He says he can already hear the robot’s footsteps on his grave. In the worst neighborhoods, the prairie is coming back. Cattails are pushing up through old sidewalks and nearly all the important species of sparrows have returned. A Future Farmer of America—in other words, a 14-year-old white kid from the pesticide-drenched heartland—slips backwards from a mall railing and falls to his death among the Super Pretzels and Dippin’ Dots down in the food court. I get reminded of incest dreams and the two I’ve had, one for each parent. My mother calls and gives me the run-down on which of her friends is on a morphine drip and which is in remission, and she tells me that when I get back to Miami I should get a job and always keep a full tank of gas. The homilitic style of evangelical Christianity is the same in Ghana, San Diego, Little Havana, and on Ellettsville, Indiana’s Hart Strait Road where in the abortion scene of the Halloween morality play she yanks a skinned squirrel soaked in beet juice from the screaming girl’s crotch and holds it up with food-service tongs before tossing it on a cookie sheet. You’ll have a clean slate if you accept Jesus, right now. We’ll all have a clean slate, if you accept Jesus, now. The body of Christ. Amen. The body of Christ. Amen. The body of Christ. Amen. Don’t drop it. Use a metal plate with a handle that could guillotine a communicant’s neck. And on the third day, I drank poitín at an Irish pub in Bloomington, Indiana, in fulfillment of the scriptures. Take this, all of you, and drink it. This is the bloodshine of the newest and most everlasting covenant. Don’t drop it.

II.

Death is a real bummer. We live through and for our parents and still Freud was wrong. You should hurry up and put your face right in it for an hour and that is definitely a sacrament, more so than that night in Garrucha at the misa flamenca, though the music was nice. Even the Sanctus didn’t offend me. Finally, I would add that the world is falling apart, always has been, ubi sunt qui ante nos fuerent, etc., and that my favorite sounds are when you say things like, Everything is fine, or, That cunt is mine. I hear them and I clench and unclench and I. love. you.

Tell me it’s too much. Amen.
Tell me it’s too much. Amen.
Tell me it’s too much. Amen.

Let us kneel down facing each other, holding razors.
Lather up my head and I will lather yours.
I am worthy to receive you.
I am your mirror. On which a razor
lay crossed. We’ll shave it all off.
If our knees can handle it, let’s stay like this
until it grows back, softer than before.
If they can’t, let’s make love, and say,
These are our bodies,
which will not be given up
for any of you.
Let us say our own word
and we shall be healed.

Sanctus is © Kimberly Campanello, from Consent. Published Doire Press, 2013


 

Kimberly Campanello was born in Elkhart, Indiana. She now lives in Dublin and London. She was the featured poet in the Summer 2010 issue of The Stinging Fly, and her pamphlet Spinning Cities was published by Wurm Press in 2011 . Her poems have appeared in magazines in the US, UK, and Ireland, including  nthposition , Burning Bush IIAbridged , and The Irish Left Review .

Pic by Brian Kavanagh

Featured post

‘Dawning on the Square’ by C Murray

Dawning on the Square

 
Burnt ochre to umber liquefies the dark
Indigo and charcoal quicken, they bleed –
 
A capillary of sorts.
 
The colours ground, establish a sky.
My opaque; ochre from the dirt,
The blues, a stone.

 
© Creative Commons License
Dawning on the Square by C Murray is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.
Based on a work at poethead.wordpress.com.