‘Stormriver’ and other poems by Myra Vennard

Poethead

NIGHT TREE

Along the river bank
street lights are lighting
 
the darkening waters glow
the sun is low
 
the mountain crouches low
in shadow
 
light drops from light
dark creeps back to night …
 
my mind struggles with a paradox –
gleams from a self-source
 
and light
falling from a star
 
love is racked – there
is no owning in the soul
 
the void is an agitation
fixed habit of a consciousness
 
unwilling to go into the terror
of going into light of naked night
 
my tree reaches up winter bare
its star is not yet born.
 


GOING OUT

Sea fog curls
around the cliff face
 
the island has no contour
still – and I
 
I am weeping
amid a conflict
 
the wish for forgetfulness
yet fear of clinging sorrow
 
intangible dreams are real
a beatitude…

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“In Rivers” and other poems by Alison McCrossan

Sunray

Here you cast your dazzling eye through clouds
ruptured on surging waters, where in winds
on a mission across skies born
of voids words were loaded:

let me out;

crowns of heaving leaves spilled trees,
turned them upside down, a splay of
tangled guts, and spat out the despair
of the years in a season:

let me out;

until the decay of the black spell
set in, the mulch of slow rot, a creep
of violets unfolded:

oh, take me away

where hushed trees mangled in that storm
descend to the bend on the old-winding road
and fields and dusk woods and torn mills and canals
and Lee waters take on every mood and ripple it back.

 


Father and Earth

Just like everyone else in this city
where grey lines blur sky
to pavement, you’re an extension
of the rain;
the incessant drizzle on these streets seeps
through clothes, misting words of weather and when,
colour coded alerts, storms between showers.

I’d listened as wind gusted every odd night,
worrying for a future I might never see,
where nobody wants their children to be,
and reasoned water never ceases to be water.

You’d become old;
the cough caught you.

I think the sun was setting with no great glow;
patter of rain every odd hour, grey skies
shortening the day.

Your steps faltered, your pulse soared;
rough nights in A&E and finally
the quarantine ward.

You gave the staff the brunt of your tongue,
There’s nothing wrong with me;
I’ll sign myself out.

You didn’t, though you would have.
Tough as mountains, old rock.
Stubborn as the wind that roars.

Old mountains in clouds, mist of rain,
Earth, floods of pain,

will you name yourself out?

 


Scramble

Don’t you know that deodorant is toxic
she says, fanning the air with her fingers.
Puts a song in my head.
I turn to the messages on my phone.
My doctor.
Cholesterol is high.
Advise a healthy diet and regular exercise.
Are you listening? she says. Throw it in the rubbish.
It’ll explode in the dustbin truck.
Who cares about the bin-men? she says.
What about the bin-women?
Well, I haven’t seen any of them, she says.
Hell, I’m trying to read.
What? Letters from the dead?
There’s no chlorofluorocarbons in them anymore.
I’m not concerned with holes in the ozone, she retorts.

*

The wind was high, she says.
All through the dark hours I listened to its protests unaware
she was awake beside me.
It happens nearly every night, she says, between storms.

It’s a top down issue, I insist, and besides, we notice the elements now.

Our granddaughter lets out a wail from the other room.

Rings out like an alarm.

 


Slip into The Sea

Curl under the bridge to sleep awhile,
bullet-force rain dancing in gutters;
pretend you’re the river, the last mile.

Feel tugs of water in your lungs, a vial
prescribed to draw down the shutters;
curl under the bridge to sleep a while.

In twilight, between poison and bliss beguile,
this rain’s furious prance softens to mutters;
pretend you’re in the river, the last mile.

You’re coming to the end of this trial –
I’ll give you the sea, the warm water utters;
stay under the bridge to sleep a while.

If you let the sea take you, saltwater will file
scabs from your soul and offer to suture;
pretend you’re in the river, the last mile.

And if you listen to the waves’ murmuring
sail, essence of this transcendent suitor,
you’ll break from the bridge to swim a while
and find you are beyond the river, the last mile.

 


In rivers

 I see you in rivers,
       the swallowing holes and murky beds. 
 In the water,
    dirt blots my eye; I hold my breath,
    fly rings dot the surface; a broken bottle’s on the floor.
    There’ll be no poppy red, ghastly watercolour spread.
    I don’t tread and I don’t flounder for the above,
    but sink right in until my breath is algae green.
 There’s a moment; in the twilight,
    I’m fearful, not knowing what’s to come.
    The depth of an empty canvas greets me.
    And my dead mother, my brother, you,
    whisper at the watery fence.
    A ghost life-film runs in my mind.
    That’s a fly swatted out.
I struggle with the layers; I hurl against the skin.
There’s nothing I ever gave to sway me from this picture.
What have I ever done of note? Do I want something of note?
Aspiration is for the living; I’m knifing this to death.
 There’s the slow river snake,
            	you whisper, whispering
        patchwork reflections on the pool of the water.
Once this was enough; rise and disturb.
 
Fish playing rings for flies.

© Alison McCrossan

“Safer Distances” and other poems by Jennifer Horgan

“Safer Distances” and other poems by Jennifer Horgan

If you were able

you’d go upstairs with me.
Dream your hips poised mum
jug-like

dipped towards the sun.
In some afternoon’s shuttered light
we’re choosing fabrics to be hung.

Your style,
your certainty, tugs the rope
of a French church bell.

You’re young again, words held
on winding steps in France.
In this dream I have, as then,

you’re sure-footed.
There’s ceramic grace in your descent
confident

decanting scant, satisfied goodbyes,
cascading floors,
myriad lives.

The wind snaps my back door shut
as I move about the kitchen.

I look over to where you’ve been.
Take in the disappointment of your seat.

 


Taxi

The driver’s words are tumours
fat and fibrous, with teeth
sure I’ve seen ‘em blacks fightin in our streets.
his mouth is a gargoyle spout
ink-snaked neck
moss on rivered stone
young voluptuous women
blown across his bones
Tell ya girl, soon Cork won’t be our own
Soon Cork won’t be our own.
Down the bend of the road, he shrinks to small talk
his trip up North
not noticing the cold tap run inside my tone.
Got the cataracts done
Got a deal
Living in a fog, and me behind the wheel!
Fright to god I didn’t get killed.
His eyes are clean; they’re clean
but there’s no light in them
they belong to a child
unsurprised by what’s been done to him.
By the time I leave,
I’m wishing him well.
Remembering again
what it means
        this being human

 


Safer Distances

I’ve seen my city’s private parts, advertised on plywood signs
in block-lettered chalk
Adult Only Store Used-up girls inside, starting life in another country but still
I know them from somewhere
I’ve eyed the types, those grey-skinned soggy men, sunken-eyed from watching
body-parts unfurling

The ships that line our docks are tough but grieve to watch the washed-up
purchased lives they’ve lost
Born without footing across slime and muck, slipping up and down inside
our harbour walls
Freezing to death in backs of trucks, not surfacing long enough to breathe
and float and see

black- water swirling menses, spitting ragged blankets up, onto concrete blocks,
no longer fit to warm them
until summer dries them out, maybe days from now, maybe never, maybe lost
in the hacks and splutters
The muttered lines about safer distances between us, between me and these girls
on scratchy screens

                                inside stores I’ll never enter


 Riverrun                      
      after James Joyce                            
 
Riverrun
     past Eve and Adam
Drip and bubble
 on his tongue
River wash through
       stone and gravel
 Hot traintracks
 His schoolbag
Oh River Run
 Thank him for the gift
 he gave me
to celebrate my newborn son
 River protect
the London boy
 who praised me 
For just
 being there      
River run
 through his black hair
His wings so small
so tightly clipped
Riverrun a song of loss
Forever present on our lips 
    Riverrun
         past Eve and Adam
     Thalweg
 Land bend
  Delta
   Flood
Once 
upon a time
we left him stranded 
but the current’s changing
A change has come
Riverrun, from where
 he kissed him
 in some 
Underpass
Overpass
Armpit
 Ledge
Behind a wall
 Wedge of stone
River how you’ve
   always known
to carry Adam
Carry Eve
Carry every love you see
  River run, past Eve and Adam
Past songline 
Fault line 
Border 
Blood
Past tall orders
Boys 
born in armour
 Tense 
Protective
 On the run
Riverrun 
through tidal waves
Mudflats
Basins
Wider plains 
River find the mouths you need
Inside us 
Make them speak 
of ripples
Oxbows 
Currents 
Streams
 Forever carving
   Changing shape
Oh river run 
and river make
 Build new mountains 
                                   
His life’s at stake

                      None of this is helping
                         None of this is helping

I hate feeling      wanting to hit something           not you
something thick and unsuspecting    a giant block of ice maybe      
 maximum impact 
   Your words are GRATING            and I hate bloody zoom
pressing small hard LUMPS under my skin   Declaring the ugliness 
of life,
My life        how I’m living it      Telling me how many mothers 
are raped
Speaking to their pain, explain      invisibilised deaths at sea.
You turn words into verbs            even your words have energy  
I can’t summon.
You explain the wrongness of charity      Only solidarity, 
connectedness  
but I don’t feel it with you             hard blow to the ego
to feel rage and your language, your speaking to, Honouring, 
framing, your sensitive lens
None of it is helpful;        I’m not at all helped.  
Your naming of friends,  Libya  Syria  Ghana,
Reminds me     how I’ve never met them. My life is angled away 
from, what you call
                      the Global South

I’m left    in no doubt      I’m not good.     I am not good.  
Not like you, whose mascara is too 
thick to look nice,         your hair still wet and dripping
There is no time, no time, no time    your hair still wet and dripping
I want everything to be better         the privilege that’s 
mine is layered and sickening.
But    none of this, nothing about this, or you,   is helping. 

© Jennifer Horgan

“Birthday” and other poems by Kimberly Reyes

“Birthday” and other poems by Kimberly Reyes

 

Drink Before the War

The bells of St. Fin Barre, off again
Five faint chimes and warring finches

2:41am birdsongs sculpt slim air
Rollers, tits, a fidgeting pigeon

Crashes on a glass ceiling
Neck feathers bobbing, weaving warning:

No one with roots doubled under
Can survive these days

I tried             I’ve travelled             I’m tired

Maybe lyrebird or starling
(Define invasive species?)

Can’t tell if it’s a crow or my stomach
God protect me her sensual coo

 


We are all drowned out

If you respect the dead
and recall where they died
by this time tomorrow
there will be nowhere to walk

—Katie Ford

I believe in ghosts
Pray for hauntings

On the road from my grandmother’s grave
Clipping through terrified reforests

Kinderschrecks and pelting rain
Salt and fog through the veil, ether

Eleven speeding hours on I-95
I, alone, wondered

Which lands aren’t haunted?
South Carolina is hailing blood

Whole orphaned babies
Where are the living?

Five Points               290 Broadway            Seneca Falls

New York second only to
Charleston, children sold

At wet markets
Screaming on the block

I hear there’s a crying blue
Baby in Cobh

But can no longer
Hear near the sea

 


Crane Lane, Last Call

Know which parts of you
he wants
what will be thrust

an open mouth
a gin’t tobacco

tart lust
a lichening
a scratched reel of this moment

and all the others you wanted—
a bold flash,
discreet smolder.

 


Birthday

“I was lonely for a while for this evening
listening to the crows caw as they returned home.”
—Bobby Sands

The hue of 5am before June
upside down on sleep
gravity claws
at 43 years
in thin lashes between
day and honesty              
an expiry

a Christmas Cake
you’re called
across the water         
out of date

it’s funny how we knead
each other
for future and holiday.

What if, let’s say,
 
hunger was all for nothing
deaf laughter
what if
this is it and all we get
under the tree.

 

Crane Lane, Last Call & other poems © Kimberly Reyes


 

Kimberly Reyes is an award-winning poet and essayist and the author of three books: Warning Coloration (dancing girl press 2018), Life During Wartime (Fourteen Hills, 2018), and Running to Stand Still (Omnidawn, 2019). Kimberly currently lives in Cork, Ireland as a Fulbright fellow studying Irish literature and film.


 

“Threads” and other poems by Sara Mullen

“Threads” and other poems by Sara Mullen

 

Threads

Not long ago
we were wearing
our neighbourhood’s
pass-along clothes.

Dirndl skirts, duffel
coats, old dungarees
did the rounds
of our townland.

Two hills away,
fourth or so cousins
broke in new blouses
and pinafores.

Their jumpers next
on the boys up the road;
mine for a time
the following year.

A spell awhile
with second cousins
then back in time
to fit my sisters.

Mothers knitting,
prodding, stitching love
and themselves into
raiments we wore.

Fibres of us
in the cotton, the wool,
spores of our summers,
the thorns and burrs

of our everyday;
secrets too, silently
absorbed like
melting snowflakes.

Knots of us
trailing to school
in our communal
stitches and threads,

hawthorn blossom
on our shoulders,
catchweed clamped
to our backs.

Gossamer skeins
of blood between us,
but our clothes
bound us thicker.

We nod now
from cars as
we pass on the roads
we used to tramp.

At the back of a press
the odd little giobal
discovered, unfolded,
held up to a face.

 


Dresden Plates

My fingertips scan
the stitches, read
their finesse:

the fleet needle
drawn along, dabbing
at fabric with tiny teeth.

Imagine her window
in Maple Street, the
sun and snowlight.

Salt bags, their
seams unpicked:
unfolded fields,

cream cotton
plains of possibility
and she the pioneer.

Dresden Plates, like
smashed china deftly
mismatched,

but in patchwork;
scraps harvested
from flour sacks,

exhausted blouses,
superannuated
summer frocks.

Judicious snippings,
her eye, her hand,
assessing, sorting

her derelict miscellany
assembled for
new adventure:

sepia daisies pop
petals; bunches
of cherry powder puffs;

bleach-clouds scud
on blue; faded chocolate
forget-me-nots,

grids of viridian green
on white; frogspawn
in a crimson pond,

polka dots dense on
gingerbread, spaced
out on a midnight blue.

Pieced in rounds
of seventeen, thirty
scalloped circles.

Chicago rises past
her contemplations
as she crafts

this bedspread that
comes home at last
in her stead.

 


Little Bird

A little bird
told her,
she told me,

I’d been
playing by
the railway.

It told her
too, that other
time, of my

climbing
on building
site lime.

Skinny-malinks!
Word among
the birds:

Some little
girl wasn’t
eating.

Tap on nose,
her last word
a little bird

and her laugh
light and
mocking.

In cahoots
with feathered
familiars,

her charm
drawing
them down

from trees
and skies,
telephone wires.

What little bird
had its eye
on me?

Was it a
dickie bird?
Peter? Paul?

Or Robin
Redbreast?
Jenny Wren

cheeping
tidbits in her
cocked ear?

A cartoon
television
bluebird

officiously
flitting
about her

with the
low-down
on us all?

What had her
so quiet
that night

at the table?
had some bird
been and

flown, left
her with
that news

she’d
keep,
alone?

 


Kimberley Road

Joe asleep in the kitchen smiles in a dream
gleaned from two months here and the previous nine.
Out on the wall-top, next door’s Bengal queen

purls her subtle way; planes above her gleam
in apricot skies, contrails swell and decline.
Joe asleep in the kitchen smiles in a dream.

From behind the garden shed fox kits teem,
Tumbling together beneath the washing line
Up on the wall-top, next door’s Bengal queen

steps into the depths of a cypress screen.
Fox kits disappear at their mother’s sign.
Joe asleep in the kitchen smiles in a dream.

Wending solemnly west, the clouds convene
and early evening stars begin to shine.
Joe asleep in the kitchen smiles in a dream,
out on the wall-top, next door’s Bengal queen.

 


White

You sewed it
together in Sonna,

the bridal
trousseau

now folded away
like your true age.

Cotton oblongs,
linen squares.

Sister-stitched
handkerchief:

tears dried-in
on the sea air,

waving her off
on her resolute way.

Far apart now,
never more

the quiet roads,
you minding her.

Small hand in
yours, her outlook

broadening ever
beyond your scope.

Letters from her
hand to yours

cross an ocean,
read, folded away.

Yours: nine sons,
daughters two:

For all her
enterprise,

no-one,
only you,

the lighthouse
to her star.

Threads and other poems © Sara Mullen


 

‘Ludus’ and other poems by Roula-Maria Dib

‘Ludus’ and other poems by Roula-Maria Dib

Ludus

or “A Thousand Poems”

You’ve written a thousand poems for me, my friend
–in your sapio-sudsy head…
in a world as real as this one,
where the ebb and flow of its soapy tides,
brush off and on that murky shore—
where all that can’t but is,
all that shouldn’t but will,
and all what’s hidden is naked
under that ruthless, roofless hut:
your eyes.

A thousand thought-fruits you’ve yielded
and ignored the tree in vain—
rejecting, pushing, plucking,
peeling, carving, craving,
…and ultimately, feasting
upon the forbidden.

While gnomes gnaw the inner walls
of your cerebral cave, engraving them
with cuneiform fantasies,
a thousand lyrics you pen,
and sing to that tune of what I recognize
to be my own voice.

 


 

Lavenders

With the night hushing irises away, lavenders call at the break of dawn,
waving purple corollas at the vigilant apertures.
From a provincial path, and beyond the hinterland of memory,
the healing embrace of a once-stranger dwelling in my heart
thaws the ice-patched knees of my soul.
Defrosted, touched by frankincensuality,
I wonder at the sight of embosoming blossoms
in aesthesis, inhaling the sweetness of the vision.
For a moment, I am alive, awake, and here,
in synchronicity with an eternal dawn.
This moment is now, tomorrow, and forever.

It is you again, visiting. As ever, knocking at my dream-doors,
gently caressing faith with lavandula petals.
This visit I shall return, willingly though unknowingly
when amethyst bushes lead the way once again.
Miraculously, like a butterfly to a tea-rose,
I find myself on that much-trodden path
through the heart of an ever-open door.
And I kneel, drunk with love, lavender, and light.

 


Iconic Existence

Keep her locked in an eternal smile, that loving gaze
you see in your mind’s mined cave deep within your Self,
or in the symbol on the solid wooden surface.
Let her sing, but from her nether-world into yours.

Silence the singing icon to keep it alive,
never conjure the image or form it
in this foggy existence.

You kill the icon when playing Pygmalion.

Strength lies in the centuries-old wood, solid-tude in solidity,
and purity in the hardness within its heart of gold.
There’s reality in imagination and more life in stillness,
One that is beyond the tangible and breathing.

Glossolelic, it speaks in echoes from the outback of non-air.
When gods materialize, they die.
Only to be born again…

Ludus and other poems © Roula-Maria Dib



“The shame of our island” and other poems by Siobhán Campbell

“The shame of our island” and other poems by Siobhán Campbell

The shame of our island

is that we killed the wolf.
Not just the last
but the two before that.

I knew a man who met a man
who was the cousin removed
of the great-grandson of the man
who killed the third-last wolf
on the island.

Slit it he did,
to see the steaming innards –
how long they were, how tightly wound.

Had it a white paw to the fore?
That gene would have been recessive.
Was there a black bar across the yellow eye?
No time to notice its différence.

Is this a wolf with its bared teeth
and its lairy smell
and its fetlock tipped with white?

Is this wolfish?

 

Tone

Tone says here is the other cheek, why don’t you have a go at that?
Tone is when you’re giggling at a double bluff and you see someone crying.
Tone is an artist dropping a Ming vase and calling that art. Tone is another
artist slashing that guy’s canvas, calling him a fart. Tone is muscling up to
the Peace People, they don’t have a mandate for peace. Tone sings a Satanic
mass in the civic center, where tone agrees to use vinegar for urine.
Tone is an author in search of a character able to roll tone home from the bank.
Tone wants a reader in tune with the tone that is there and the one that is not.
Tone is peeling an orange in its pocket so the smell will madden, building
a bungalow on your eyelid with an overlook to the back. Tone is a weasel,
drawing the birds down with a special sensuous dance and then, tone is lunch.

Nothing trumps tone but when there’s a crack in it, watch what slips in.
It might be an anti-tone – undoing bravura, dulling the gloss, leaving tone spent,
in a fierce bad mood, exposed in the light of all that we once thought we shared.

 

Weeding

When you weed a field, bend over the long root suckers,
the weeders moving in a line across the ridges,
a stippled human stripe of inclined heads against
the ordered rippling rows of mangels,
then the world seems right and we are in our place.

When you refuse to weed and hang out with a friend
under the dreeping willow in the bend that is not ploughed
where no grass grows over the stones and what is buried,
you watch the workers easing themselves to night,
its shadow keeps ahead of them as they cross.

Then you might think of sacrifice or the greater good
but you don’t, flirty with heat as heat leaves the day
and you separate, seeing things anew, filthy
with possibility. It’s too late now to join the weeding crew.
And the willow laughs its long thin laugh at you.

 

Quickthorn

Don’t bring haw into the house at night
or in any month with a red fruit in season
or when starlings bank against the light,
don’t bring haw in. Don’t give me reason
to think you have hidden haw about you.
Tucked in secret, may its thorn thwart you.
Plucked in blossom, powdered by your thumb,
I will smell it for the hum of haw is long,
its hold is low and lilting. If you bring
haw in, I will know you want me gone
to the fairies and their jilting. I will know
you want me buried in the deep green field
where god knows what is rotting.

 

Photos of the islanders

They have forebears. Noses and foreheads
forged in the art of fact.
They have seen a daughter wither from ill use,
prayed for her, sent bread to her funeral.

There’s a welcome stapled to their tongue
and they count your leavings when you’re gone.
       What we make now must get us through the winter.

What do they see when they look out —
a one who says they are still married to belief,
a one who thinks they are mired in a falsehood?

Is the split at the picture edge
an implication? That they neither do
nor undo.

*

Poverty Isolation Tradition
Pressure comes in threes.
Devout in practice, loved by an unnamed god,
who will they be today?

Who will they be today?
Masked by the strip of archetype.
Life as a scene of foreshadows.

*

He wears the dagger tattoo of his father
and his cap, and like him can
twist his eyes into his head
leaving the whites behind.

Losses eddy in lines about the mouth
and when he sits, because his father asks
to help repair the trawl,
he is tamed in the fray of its knots.

*

A line of men along a wall
each of them matched by a pine behind.
They sit and the dry wall presses back
a heritable skill, plucking and picking
by sight and feel. Wall-making by touch.

One has a hat with ribbon bands,
the dandy among them –
equally protected and despised.

They share the hill behind until they die
thinking it is theirs.

*

clearing stones the first peoples made the fields
and on nights with a red dusk you can hear them ease
the pain of strained backs, too much bend
how three feet takes a whole night to clear
how the wall begins at the edge with what they sling
the wall begins to keep something in

if you follow a heifer she will show you where there’s a spring of fresh water
not everything is old wives’ tales

*

just what would fill the head of a goat
we know the fleet of its feet
the bass of its baa
the burr on its coat

when we know the fleet of its feet
the burr of its baa
the bass of its burr
how to turn on a goat
look it square in the eyes
the dare of it

disrespect in the pupil

it can be slit before its hoary time
the flat black capsule of the pupil

slit and hung before its hoary time
how to better a goat
we’ve passed this down

the only way is to make a pipe we play
from the sac of its udder
then blow a melody out of her

a mournful lament is the only way
to get the better of a goat

is the way we put a pipe in its udder
 then finger a melody

put in the pipe
   put in the pipe and squeeze a music from the teats

 

Piebald

Horses of the others,
the thinkers, the travellers,
tethered on the edge of new dual carriageways,
tied in the blank side of advance factories.
They verge on the flanks of dealers and shakers
where plans end in a thicket of rubble and stumps.
What are they for?

A yelled canter down the scruff-sides of dusty villages,
barebacked warmth sidling
and a hearts-beating thud between your knees –
where mis-remembrance is a dream to nourish,
where promise can out-run irony.
Not the hero horses, beauties black and brave,
who took the warrior to battle and will not return,
these are compromised, misled and confused,
heads too big for their ribcage, scrawny as the
screed of grass they pull.

Yet they must have been there from the start –
round the back of wired-off ruminations.
We pretended not to notice the occasions
when they recalled a field,
the hock-stripping speed of a gallop down a long hedge
where a quiver of legends misted into song
but when they started to gather
in places built to house a desperation,
they seemed to trick our vision of a freedom.

That was a world we lost before it named us –
none of the promise, the clang
of potential,
instead the fetters that hold us to self-interest
the binds that make taxes out of failure.
That was a world lost before we named it,
part of a larger undertaking
to help us understand captivity.
Go back, go back they seem to say
but we have no direction,
rounding again the ring road to the city
as if we know the story behind the story.

The shame of our island and other poems are © Siobhan Campbell
From Heat Signature (Seren, 2016) and Cross Talk (Seren, 2010)

Siobhán Campbell’s latest collection is Heat Signature – ‘poems that give us an insight into alternative ways of being… a poet invested in words as a powerful social currency.’ (Compass Magazine). Previous books include Cross-Talk (Seren), The Permanent Wave and The Cold that Burns (Blackstaff Press) and chapbooks That water speaks in tongues (Templar) and Darwin Among the Machines (Rack Press). She is co-editor of Eavan Boland: Inside History, (Arlen House/SUP) and critical work appears in Making Integral: the poetry of Richard Murphy (CUP) and in The Portable Poetry Workshop (Palgrave). In 2016 she was awarded the Oxford Brookes International Poetry Prize which follows awards in the Templar Poetry Prize and the National and Troubadour International competitions. Siobhan is on faculty at The Open University, UK. Anthologised widely including in the Forward Book of Poetry, Women’s Work: Modern Women Poets Writing in English, Identity Parade: New British and Irish Poets and The Golden Shovel Anthology: Honouring Gwendolyn Brooks, she publishes in magazines including Poetry, The Southern Review, Magma and Agenda.

website: www.siobhancampbell.com
twitter: www.twitter.com/@poetrySiobhan

“Clutch” and other poems by JLM Morton

“Clutch” and other poems by JLM Morton

Hex

without her, his gut
is like a hag stone at high water
craving for the sea

 

Voyeur

For weeks I pass the affair, on the turn
from common tarmac to unclassified track,
where shorthorns lap at the galvanised trough,
gliders rise on the ivied beech.

A people carrier parks in the lay-by
limestone creamed to the mudguards, the wheels,
the egg of his head tips back on the rest
his jaw goes slack and weak.

Dark forms heave as she takes him,
he takes her, they take. Two days a week
I pass, imagine her perfumed, well-groomed,
knitwear with no trace of lint.

Her hair glints in the weak winter sun –
he tweaks at the mirror and he gives,
she gives,
they give. Each week.

It isn’t love she feels.
I can tell by the bridge of her back,
how her body arcs over the gearstick,
reaches those thighs where his hands lay flat.

For weeks, they’ve an air of wilful oblivion,
unaware of that spacious interior,
how visible their mundane lust         how exposed

the tiny football scarf suckered to the window.

 

First Earlies

The first, still sun we’ve had for days
and we bathe in it, incredulous –
me with our babe in arms, he with our first in hand.
Dazed, we survey the storm-swept borders
scan the allotted land for harvest.

Potatoes! We fall on them, finger rake the moist warm loam
for tubers, swiping their luminous skins with our thumbs.
Our eldest gasps and utters streams of sound with infant joy.

We stop, we stand.

We breathe.

We smell the petrichor,
watch as she turns up spuds like her newest words:
a vegetable lexicon tumbling over the stones.

First Earlies was originally published by Yew Tree Press, 2019.

Clutch

for h.l.

in the nest of my fist, a fledgling
scooped up from the lane

her soft unfinished beak
her shining eye
a buoy ringing in the green cathedral of trees

a single yellow feather wisps across my knuckle
there is a twitch of elephant digits

and I think about keeping her

raising her as my own
feeding her worms

but I let her go

chirring for the ones I could not save.

 

Oil on Canvas

In the chiaroscuro of her eyes there are deserts and swamp forests,
escarpments, flats of salt and vistas beyond the folds of flesh
soldered shut by surgical birth, the liverish scars gone waxy white.
There are palimpsests of palms upon her palms – the weens, the work fucks,
the women who took her last yuan for tapestries and hair combs on the mountain.
Whirlpools are quarried to embers in the clotted scumbling of her gut –
her conduct rendered now with prudent strokes of fat over lean.
But the song inside her head is still stuck
on her alla prima approach to relationships       I hate you
the rasping of a parent’s dying breath         go well, I love you –
held on the impasto of her lips, the anatomy of her dancing feet.

 

Good Girl

Her climb was perpetual, summit after summit,
scrambling over fissile shale, porous as swaddling,
sick with altitude. The air thinned, cymbaling her chest
like a mechanical monkey – but she was gut-tugged
through parting cloud, a full blue line, taut and expectant.

At last, she found it on a mountain top, half-submerged
beneath a cairn of stones –stacked, matt, pale and sheen –
a liverish disc, gritty to touch. Meat-heavy. Such
tightly woven cotyledons of villi, veins and blood,
the deciduous matter of family lore.

She did not flinch when hefting this foundation stone
into the nave of her life. Did not see its feathers
at her neck, crushing her spine with the weight of itself
until her fingertips revealed the words carved in:
daughter, brother, uncle, a mother’s mother’s gift.

Kneeling at the shore she hacked the cord with granite
until her knuckles showed, unloading on the salt, swell, source.
.

Clutch and other poems are © JLM Morton

 

JLM Morton lives in Gloucestershire, England, snatching as much time as she can to write between caring for a young family, renovating a house and staring up the barrel of a demanding day job. Her first set of poems was recently published by Yew Tree Press for the Stroud Poets Series and she is currently working on a collection.

Website: jlmmorton.com

“In A Southern City” and other poems by Margarita Serafimova

Brilliantly dark, beak shining golden in the noon —
an ornament of an Egyptian god,
the Eleonora falcon in flight
is manifesting above the incandescently brown island
what it means to be a prince in whom time is.

 

That Which Is Coming Is Unknown

On a dark September dawn, in my head,
I was leading a conversation with a man I desired.

In a Southern City

As soon as I went out the underground,
the Sun was there, and took me in its arms.
We made love as I was walking.

*

The sunset goldenly entered
from raised clouds.
Love was exiting.

*

At dawn, August languished away.
High summer passed
in the grasses.

*

When I die,
at the exact moment when soul leaves body,
a baby will cry.

“In A Southern City” and other poems are © Margarita Serafimova

Margarita Serafimova was shortlisted for the Montreal International Poetry Prize 2017, Summer Literary Seminars Poetry Contest 2018 and the University Centre Grimsby International Literary Prize 2018; long-listed for the Erbacce Press Poetry Prize 2018 and the Red Wheelbarrow 2018 Prize, and nominated for Best of the Net 2018. She has three collections in Bulgarian. Her work appears in Agenda Poetry, London Grip, Waxwing, Trafika Europe, European Literature Network, A-Minor, Poetry South, Great Weather for Media, Orbis, Nixes Mate, StepAway, Ink, Sweat and Tears, Mookychick, HeadStuff, Minor Literatures, Writing Disorder, Birds We Piled Loosely, Orbis, Chronogram, Noble/ Gas, Origins, The Journal, miller’s pond, Obra/ Artifact, Blue Mountain Review, Califragile, TAYO, Opiate, Squawk Back, Harbinger Asylum, Punch, Tuck, and Ginosko

“Beochaoineadh Máthar Maoise” and other poems by Ellen Nic Thomás

Beochaoineadh Máthar Maoise

A dhílleachta linbh gan ainm, gan athair,
Do chraiceann ar aondath le humha an nathair,
A lúbann timpeall do thaobhán uiríseal,
Mar bhata ceannródaí is sníomhanna sisil.

Is trua liom ciseán do dhóchas a fhíochán,
Do dhán a chaitheamh i bpoll an duibheagáin,
D’eiseadh a chruthú ar bhunús baill séire,
‘Nois tá tú chomh cotúil leis an gCailleach Bhéarra.

A iníon, a mhiceo, a ógfhlaith bocht,
A leanbh truaillithe, maith dom mo locht,
Imigh anois leat, ná bí do mo chrá,
Le smaointe ciúinchiontacha ó mhaidin go lá.

 

Ordóg Fhinn

Ordóg Fhinn —
The salmons skin
Brushes the truth to his lip.

The cardinal sin
The space within —
He dares to taste a sip.

Blistering bliss
The hero’s kiss
Upon one fingertip.

The bubble bursts,
The burning thirst —
Quenched.

 

Itch

Not a fever-stirring, raging thing,
The kind of sore that, left alone, won’t sting,
But crueller still it tempts me to indulge
To rake the wound and make the blisters bulge.
It calls my nails to dig deep in my skin,
And soon or late the call will always win,
And I will tear and bleed and scab and scar,
But know that I could have escaped unharmed,
And that is what will cause the deepest hurt,
For I have rubbed my own wound in the dirt.

And you will stand and watch and softly grin,
And say that this you have had no hand in,
For words are words and can’t be sticks or stones,
And breaking skin is much like breaking bones,
And if you ushered me towards an act,
No blame could duly be called yours in fact,
For faint-hearts will accept a tyrants rule,
Or simply none the wiser play the fool,
And so I’ll cradle wounds and loath mistakes,
For God will punish men and never snakes.

 

Junk Mail

This new-age madness spits its acidity on the skin of my mind,
Sweats and shivers like a junky,
In dry-tongued convulsions,
Mad for a fix.

The technicolour screen visions
That break the barrier between reality
And wired hallucination
Draw us all back in again
To its surreal futuristic nightmare-come-true

And byte by byte by gigabyte,
Devour us whole.

 
“Beochaoineadh Máthar Maoise” and other poems are © Ellen Nic Thomás

 

Ellen Nic Thomás is a bilingual poet from Dublin. She graduated from Trinity College with a BA in English and Irish. Her work has been published by headstuff.org, Tales From the Forest and The Attic.

‘a song to rest the tired dead’ and other poems by Raine Geoghegan, MA

‘a song to rest the tired dead’ and other poems by Raine Geoghegan, MA

Romanichals in the 1950’s

(i)

covels packed
chavies scrubbed clean
me rackley’s bal washed with panni
the grai grizhomed holled

(ii)

opre and gel on
dikk the next atchin tan
a fellow chal pookers
kushti bokt

Romani words: Romanichals – English Romanies; Covels – belongings; Chavies – children; rackley’s – girls; Grai – horses; Grizhomed – groomed; Holled – fed.

Opre – arise/forward; Dikk – look for; Atchin tan – stopping place; Chal – Travelling man; Pookers – calls out; Kushti bok – good luck

 

Somewhere in Apple Water country

Me Mum’s cookin’ sushi stew.
Me Dad’s chinning the koshtie’s.
I’m practisin’ handwritin’ with a fine pencil.
I’m lookin’ forward to sendin’ a proper letter
to me cousin Louie, she’s a didikai and goes
to school in London. Me dad calls it royal town
and say’s ‘e wouldn’t go there, not if yer paid ‘im.
She ‘as to wear a uniform, red and gold, but she
can’t wear ‘er gold ‘oops, it’s against the rules.
If I ever went to school, me dad would ‘ave murder
if anyone touched me ‘oops or me ears.

Apple Water Country – An old Romani word for Herefordshire.
Romani words: sushi – rabbit; Chinning the koshtie’s – making pegs;
Didikai – non Romany.

 

A Memory of the Hop Fields

She is in the front garden
bending low, picking bluebells,
wearing her old red apron,
with the Spanish dancer on the front.

She stands up, rubbing her lower back,
her mind shaping a memory.
The hop fields,
her mother lean, strong,

picking the hops as quick as a squirrel.
Her bal in plaits, tied on top of her head.
Her gold hoops pulling her ears down.
Ruddy cheeks, dry cracked lips.

Her father pulling poles,
sweating, smiling,
his gold tooth for all to see.

At the end of a long day
she would stand on top of an apple crate,
comb his hair, kiss his neck tasting of salt.

He would pick her up,
Swing her high, low and say,
   ‘You’re the prettiest little chi there ever was.’

Romani words: Bal, hair. Chi, daughter/child.

 

Koring Chiriclo ii – a triolet

Jel on, me dad would say.
Pack up yer covels, we’ll be on our way.
Take our time, get to Frome’s Hill by May.
Jel on, me dad would say.
The cuckoo’s callin’, untie the grai,
Up onto the vardo. It’s a kushti day.
Jel on, me dad would say.
Pack up yer covels. We’ll be on our way.

Romani words: Koring Chiriclo – the cuckoo; Jel on – move on;
Covels – belongings: Grai – horses; Vardo – wagon; Kushti – lovely.

 

‘a song to rest the tired dead’

im of Celia Lane
it is dusk
she has come to wash the body
a table is set by the bed
a bowl of lavender water
clean muslin cloths
a white towel
  ‘too young for death’
she thinks as she removes all the clothing
and jewellery from the body of her niece
she notices stretch marks on the thighs
how the breasts have dropped
from feeding the chavies
    ‘forty years ago, just been borned
sucking at her Daya’s breast.’
taking a cloth
she dips it in water
squeezes it hard in her hand
sets about her task
malts stand by the doorway
aunts, daughters, sisters and the daya
singing in low soft voices
a song to rest the dead

she speaks quietly
to her loved one as she gently cleans
lifting one arm up then the other
holding it
placing it down carefully
as if it was made of glass

the others won’t move too close
it is mokkadi to do so

this woman who washes the dead
now holds both feet
letting them rest for a while
blessing them for all the miles
they have trod the earth

she dresses her niece in the finest of clothes
combs her dark tangled hair
places the gold chain and earrings in the palm
of the right hand
puts the wedding ring back on
the third finger of the left hand
    ‘such small fingers’
bending forward, kisses them
   ‘you are ready now my gel, sov well’

Romani words: Chavies – children; Daya – mother; Malts – women; Mokkadi – unclean; Sov – sleep.

 

O Lillai Gillie

(Angloromani)
Prey o lillai, prey o lillai
Gillyava a gillie
Prey o chick, prey o charos
Gillyava a gillie

Prey a panni, prey o panni
Gillyava a gillie
Shoon me vas’ tacha
Gillyava a gillie

Prey o raddi, prey o raddi
Gillyava a gillie
Chumos for me pen
Gillyava a gillie

Prey o lillai, prey o lillai
Gillyava a gillie
Prey o chick, prey o charos
Gilyava a gillie.

Gillyava a gillie, gillyava a gillie
Shoon me vas tatcha,
Gillyava a gillie.

 

The Summer Song

In the summer, in the summer
I will sing a song, a song
Of the earth, of the heavens
I will sing a song

On the river, on the river
I will sing a song
Listen, my beloved
I will sing a song

In the night, in the night
I will sing a song, a song
Kisses for my love
I will sing a song

In the summer, in the summer
I will sing a song, a song
Of the earth, of the heavens
I will sing a song

I will sing a song, a song
Listen my beloved,
I will sing a song.


a song to rest the tired dead’ and other poems are © Raine Geoghegan, MA

Author’s note

Please note that the following poems are published in Apple Water: Povel Panni,
‘Romanichals in the 1950’s’,Somewhere in Apple Water Country’ andA Memory of the Hop Fields’.
‘a song to rest the tired dead’ was published in Here Comes Everyone in the Ritual (online edition, August 2018)
‘A Memory of the Hop Fields’ was published in Words from the Wild  (Summer Edition, 2018) editors, Louise Taylor & Amanda Ostusion
‘Somewhere in Apple Water Country’ was published in Bonnie’s Crew (May 2018) editor Kate Garret.
‘Koring chiriclo (ii)’ was published in Under the Radar (Summer Edition, 2018)

Raine Geoghegan, MA lives in West Sussex. She is half Romany with Welsh and Irish ancestry. Her poems and short prose have been widely published and her debut pamphlet, Apple Water – Povel Panni published by Hedgehog Press was launched in December 2018 and previewed at the Ledbury Poetry Festival in July 2018. Her poetry has been featured in a documentary film about hop picking ‘Stories from the Hop Yards.’ She is a Pushcart Prize and Forward Prize nominee. Other publications include, Under the Radar; Poetry Ireland Review; The Curlew; The Clearing and The Travellers’ times, amongst others

‘A Glass of Tea, a View of the Atlas’ by Shadab Zeest Hashmi

Trade


An assortment of crooked 
and straight arrows
for the crest of a bulbul 
or a handful of sesame

Uncut turquoise
for juices of scorpions and glow worms
                                            A dozen poisons 
for an embroidered collar/
                                            a pinch of saffron/
                                            abalone knob

Spotted eggs for knotted shoes 
Peacock feathers for beet sugar

                                          How much fur 
                                    will buy cloves for my toothache?
                                 How many sprigs of mint/
                                    radishes to restring your rabab? 

The market is spinning 
between us 
                                      How much of us has been stolen
                                          by the ghosts of aromas?

When night comes 
there is spinach again
for the promise of quail 
Your dream of cake
feeds on wild berries

                                           You kiss my cold shoulder
I comb 
out the market from your hair

A Glass of Tea, a View of the Atlas

 

You give me Fez honey on Fennel cakes

in a ceramic saucer because you
say, to eat from this bitter clay (glazed and
caressed with geometric precision), will
draw me into the shapeless sob of the
future. You read invasion’s epistle even
in the smoothness of ebony— ashes
of ancestor acacia on your lashes—
I raise my tea glass to level with your
eyes, the snowy Atlas scintillates behind
you— cream on your dish of weeping clay.

 

Untying the knot of ker-chiefed bread in a cedar grove

she would shudder, your mother, child of exiled
Andalus, memory embossed with two kinds of
histories— one flitting like a citron
butterfly, the other wrapped in linen,
knotted, turned to cinder over a cedar
flame— tongue of the grand inquisitor
leaping from Spain to Morocco, night-sweats,
door-chains, the informants and their fistfuls
of gold, the choke-hold of banned prayers.
Tender, the bread sponges the lava of fear.

 

Only the footed teapot’s shadow

on the wall dismantles its truth, its rigid
stance and military-medal-silver
muted in the bounty of the skylight
flecked with pheasant foot-stains from nightly rain.
Its handle forms the shape of a perfect
heart, if there is such a thing, and between
breath of Konya and bloodbath of empire,
furs of sable, mink and squirrel, and the
soft grasp of a baby around the planet’s future,
there are names for the divine in every tongue.

 

Serendipity

“Straight from the tea gardens to the teapot”

Slogan from the island of Sita, thieved goddess
who takes her tea cold in America-of-the-
ice-blue-eyes, new trail of old jewels. Not my grandmother’s
time yet, the rupee coin in India bears an empress
looking away, facing West. On the reverse,
under a wreath, the coin says: East India Company
As in, coffers/coffins, divide/conquer. Neck to
navel, garlands of tea bags exhale the sweet manure
of Ceylon around Sir. Thomas Lipton, delicate-dark fingers
ghost across lifelong tea terraces, burial grounds of language

 

“You can buy estates here for a song,” Lipton’s agent says

Fungus consumes the coffee crop in Ceylon
before sellers and drinkers do, and like a kiss
snuffing a flame or a diamond in the ashes of a dead
lover, it seals Lipton’s fortune: Georgetown Semi-Weekly
Times says the Scottish grocer and tea Mogul Sir Lipton
(“the largest landowner in Ceylon and one of the wealthiest
tea merchants in the world”) is looking to
invest a sum of half a million in South Carolina—
A day for the rain raga, Serendip showers silver
dollars, pounding the earth with the reign of tea

 

Under the Tea Table, Watching CNN

Euphoric, gold-maned lion with tea (or assault
weapon?) in its raised paw, “Ceylon,” the box is
called, and sits next to a tin of condensed milk, scalloped
petunia teacups. The sweets from Alif Laila
are not real but are in phantasmagoric excess:
Syrup of Qandhaar lacing quince of Nishapur,
apples of Syria, Tus apricots, dates
of Kirmaan, Nawahand pears— I’m rocked
by the dream of a fruit-scented boat, eyes shut to
the television screen, quaking with grenades

 

Poisons of the Golden and Silver Screen

Splash of arsenic in the eye, the great
art of hooding and unhooding on screen:
naming me ‘enemy’ in the cartoon,
the four o’clock news, feature film, the late-
night talk show with the spotlight-artist of
my absurdity, star-novelist who
maps my crooked mind, catches me mid-dream
in my plum-palace of crime, catwalks, the
seven discarded veils of Salome— douses the lectern
in the slow, deep, tweed-colored toxins.

 

Fairy of Pearls and Poisons

I scratch out the horned demon on the cover
of my Urdu Dastaan and draw a fairy out of
his fangs. Not much to look at, and smaller than
the hero’s shield (the size of a peppercorn), she
saves his life with her piercing rain raga that ricochets
against the ruby-filled mountains of the dev, winning
the hero his freedom plus a trove of foreign gems:
turquoise of Nishapur, carnelian of Yemen,
garnets of Balkh. And local pearls. She will fight the famous
poisons for him: scorpion, centipede, glow worm — all, but vanity.

 

The Wise Sons of Serendip refuse premature power

refuse kneeling attendants and silk bolsters, each handing
back the crown to their father, the King, whose painstaking
work of raising princes is complete. I’m turning
pages from golden palanquins to the parched mountain
passes: parable narrated by Khusrao’s Princess
of the Black Pavilion, daughter of India, who teaches
the hero the uselessness of might against true power—
Not cleverness but forbearance saves the sons of Serendip—
Opaque watercolor ink and gold on paper, the princes hand back
my faith in a land of stolen languages, of rulers looking away.

 


Serendip Notes

  • Serendip is the Persian name of Ceylon or Sri Lanka.
  • The British East India Company’s exploitative trade policies enabled it to seize control of a large part of the Indian subcontinent. Ceylon became part of the British empire in 1815.
  • 1754; Horace Walpole coined “serendipity” for the faculty distinguishing the heroes of The Three Princes of Serendip, a tale that appears in a famous Persian poem by Amir Khusrao.
  • 1890: Thomas Lipton visited Ceylon and purchased tea gardens with Tamil workers from India. Lipton sold packaged tea throughout Europe and the USA beginning in 1890.

 

The River  [PDF] by  Shadab Zeest Hashmi

A Glass of Tea, a View of the Atlas’ and other poems are © Shadab Zeest Hashmi 

Shadab Zeest Hashmi is the author of poetry collections Kohl, Chalk and Baker of Tarifa. Her latest work, Ghazal Cosmopolitan has been praised by poet Marilyn Hacker as “a marvelous interweaving of poetry, scholarship, literary criticism and memoir.” Winner of the San Diego Book Award for poetry, the Nazim Hikmet Prize and multiple Pushcart nominations. Zeest Hashmi’s poetry has been translated into Spanish and Urdu, and has appeared in anthologies and journals worldwide, most recently in Prairie Schooner, World Literature Today, Mudlark, Vallum, POEM, The Adirondack Review, Spillway, Wasafiri, Asymptote and McSweeney’s latest anthology In the Shape of a Human Body I am Visiting the Earth. She has taught in the MFA program at San Diego State University as a writer-in-residence and her work has been included in the Language Arts curriculum for grades 7-12 (Asian American and Pacific Islander women poets) as well as college courses in Creative Writing and the Humanities.

‘A Meeting With Myself’ and other poems by Wasekera C. Banda

‘A Meeting With Myself’ and other poems by Wasekera C. Banda

 

Vulnerability

Raise the fallen, walk over them.
Fear the consequences of a kind action,
undermine the impact of a bad deed.
Maybe there’s more to life, maybe there isn’t.
Fight the oppressor, break the chains.
Remain slaves?
These haunting memories,
these hopeless days,
These hopeful dreams.
Light a candle, say a prayer.
Doubt!
Close the door, cry in silence,
wear a mask.
Laugh!
These scattered pieces–
break me up, then make me whole.
I have no power over my thoughts.


Greatness

Like a pride of lions
I am fierce.
The past,
The present and the future,
I represent them all.
Outstanding,
I grace the world with awe.
Great storm,
I remain remarkable
In a broken world
I remain whole.
I am superiority,
I am a woman.


PRIDE

Walking with our shoulders straight
and heads held high
our ambitions reach the skies
they throw stones at us
but we build ourselves up
with a belief so strong,
We could grow wings, fly.

We grace the world with awe,
hard rocks melt.
Roaring like lions,
we are heard and felt.

We break the chains of mediocrity.
We amaze them in every country
and in every city.
We have much more, we don’t need pity.
Shoulders straight,
heads held high,
we can’t break, we have our pride.


A Meeting with myself

We’ve met before.
I wouldn’t miss that voice in a million years.
It’s been a long road,
Oh, what a burden for you to bear!
I apologise for my absence,
I shouldn’t have left you to face the storm alone
I hope you understand;
how could I love you when you were broken?
But, Sister that pain you hold on to will suffocate you.
you need to let it go.
You can’t blame them anymore,
I pity you for letting them in,
I despise you for loving them,
I am sorry they hurt you,
but honey you need to heal.
Forgive yourself and learn to love those who put you down.
By forgive, I mean make peace with your soul.
Heal yourself.
More than anything, I wish to see you smile again.


Drifting

I get lost,
Am too proud to ask, so I lose my way.
I get sad too, it’s hard to tell from this smile I maintain.
I have dreams, a little too big, maybe, to come true, but I keep dreaming.
Hopelessness makes a fool of you, stay sane, and keep fighting.
I am grateful for the little things, I count my blessings before I break down.
I get lost in these tears. Pieces of my soul I will never get back.

A Meeting With Myself and other poems © Wasekera C. Banda

Wasekera C. Banda is a twenty-three-year-old Psychology student at City College in Dublin, Originally from Malawi, she has lived in Ireland for three years and was the 2016 winner of the Irish Times Africa Day Writing Competition. Wasekera enjoys writing and reading poetry, she is inspired by the Late Maya Angelou.

‘Fire relies on the leaves of gum trees’ and other poems by Dominique Hecq

Hushed

 
Light pours down
the unrelenting sky
to earth ribbed and ridged
with the tough stroke
of Drysdale’s brush

I track down words
for hues and shades in books
envy the skill of artist-explorers
who forged new ways of seeing

The cries of crows fall

Through blues onto rusty ochres
pulsing with raven dust

This place stills my tongue


Pulse

 
1
 
Somewhere in this night lives
a light
that turns in the open
throat of time.

 2
 
When the sky waits for rain
birds squat in silence
and longing is but
one great sweeping movement that makes the earth quake.

3
 
The clock stands still in the heat, and I
fear the mimicry of clichés—
like a comma usurping all
punctuation.
 

4
 
No, I don’t believe
in the silence
drying up
on your lips.

 
5
 
I dream the wish that inhabits
you is a space
opening up a gap
into the night.

 
6
 
What I write gleams
like the moon
pulsing in a sea
of clouds.

 
7
 
Your lips are grey—a hyphen
between dis and ease
and the ultimate sinking
into silence.

 
8
 
Rain pours.
In my throat words come up for air
like a promise
to skin death alive.

2017 ‘Pulse’ at Double Dialogues 

Catch
  
Smell the rain on the breeze
down at the river mouth
where fishermen stand
in the swirl of incoming waters
  
Feel the first drops on your skin
where the mystery of the ocean
draws away from salt spray
and the chill of the west wind
  
Ribbons of kelp sway in the deep
  
Refracted light dapples your face
as the child comes up for air
  
Your hands, useless 
against the sky
  
Arms, broken wings
	skeleton dust
  
Osprey kestrel tern skua shearwater sandpiper swift



Fire relies on the leaves of gum trees 

No sound fits this spectacle     No sound
but the hiss of fire     bark     grass
searing your world into sheer whorls
of alliterations     Hallucinations
of words resounding with nothing

Following faultlines     a gorge aflame
furrows erased in granite and sandstone
                 lines of scribble gums forever 
receding     The gorge
     		     barring you

Now how could I speak again
when syllables shatter on my page
turning words inside out
when letters hover in the air 
like the smell of your burning skin?
 
We were discussing poetics
on our mobiles    How we didn’t need
manuals for wordsmiths
preferred to work words as an end
in itself     make a poem fulfilled

in its enaction     look inwards
to the materiality of language
on the page and in the mouth
stress the event     not the effect
          You said good bye

And now I dream that you flit
out of my skin     your voice 
lettering me     Poetic enjoyment
perhaps    as if to resist
the etiolation of language

Don’t put individual utterances on show
you say     Perform their moves
of repetition     re-use     reiteration
      show your reader the absurd
desire to contain (       )

For here is the gum and its inferno remains
the grave among blistered roots
the mouthless earth lulling one to leave

If it could speak      it would say
here is the silence          here is the question



The Hanged Man

At the time of writing to you
The sun sinks in Sydney Harbour 
Full moon swells above the bridge
Bizet’s Carmen bursts on the water
Valentines  clink glasses and part
	    clink glasses and part 

In Melbourne a southerly blows across the bay 
Spectral waves ripple, curl, frizz, fizzle 
Madame Sosostris sets The Lovers alight
Fireworks explode in the sky
Rainbows cover the face of the moon
      and rub out the stars

Ropes of rain drop on Esperance 
Pods of pilot whales shore up to die on Farewell Spit
Cascading waters rip into America’s tallest dam
Everywhere on earth lakes fill with fish doped on antidepressants
Margaret Atwood’s Year of the Flood II (non-fiction) is released

In Paris refugees huddle outside the Sacré Coeur where cleaners 
slip them Halal baguettes

In London a Tory student films himself torching a twenty pound note 
next to a homeless man 

In Grahamstown one thousand and seven hundred people catch AIDS

In Manhattan the Statue of Liberty squirms

At the time of writing
Maryam Mizakhani dons no Jihab but wins the Nobel for mathematics

At the time of writing
George Orwell’s Twenty Seventeen (non-fiction) crackles off the press

At the time of writing 
China stacks its artillery and extends its air strips
North Korea fires missiles into the Sea of Japan
Syria leaks chemical weapons
Iraq, Afghanistan, Iran, India bury fresh bodies

At the time of writing
The planet tilts off its axis
Foaming clouds ignite 
Coal-fired power plants belch 
Robotic bees are born

At the time of writing 
I’m out to kill time 
Forget all possible endings to the world
Remember the boy who’d launch himself off into the river like Tarzan, 
rope dangling
        	    from the tree of immortality

At the time of writing
Death has achieved her majority
Madame Sosostris grants you eternity
I tuck away the Hanged Man’s card



Archive Fever Making Tracks


           the arkhē appears in the nude—Jacques Derrida
You are I am a tracker bent crouched close to the page ground looking
for traces and signs that sense you has have passed this way

You sniff sniffing for the scent of absence you
but above all feeling
for the gap in your my life 
that wants to fill this page
alone

The air is incandescent

The white page track glows

Emptiness talks back talks back talks back
to the heat that cracks open the world ground

This is a land of surfeit and lack
of hardness and clarity of image
of absence that opens out
or closes up the world
and sometimes the heart


Derrida, J 1998 Archive Fever: A Freudian Impression. 
Chicago: University of Chicago Press. Trans Eric Prenowitz, p. 92.

 Pulse and other poems are © Dominique Hecq

The above poems have been published as follows,

2015 ‘Archive Fever’. Axon

2016 ‘Archive Fever’. Best Australian Poems. Melbourne: Blac Ink.

2017 ‘Archive Fever’. Recours au poème : 182 

2017 ‘Fire relies on the leaves of gum trees’. Recours au poème : 182 

2017 Pulse. Double Dialogues

2017 The Hanged Man. Meniscus 5 :1
2017 The Hanged Man. Best Australian Poems. Melbourne : Blac Ink.

Dominique Hecq grew up in the French-speaking part of Belgium. She now lives in Melbourne. Her works include a novel, three collections of short stories and six books of poetry. Her stories and poems have been published internationally. These appear in English and other languages in anthologies, journals and on websites. Over the years, her work has been awarded a variety of prizes. Hush: A Fugue (2017) is her latest book.

 

‘Sugar’ and other poems by Müesser Yeniay

‘Sugar’ and other poems by Müesser Yeniay
Love

I have another body
outside 
               of me

they call it
love

[but this is pain]

if I had carried you in my body
only then I would have felt your existence 
                                  this much


State

My heart melts 
when I think of you

the eyes aren’t satisfied with seeing
neither are the lips with kissing

it is with you
that the eyes feel hungry

it is with you
that the ears have appetite

in this state 
of madness
               -always-

I find myself

[my love
my doctor]


Arub

Darling
so that you stay in me
                 so that you stay
                    
I take you in

I’d like you 
to be my body

               [without you miserable
               without you unfortunate

               with you complete
               with you prosperous

               your humble servant]


*Arub means in Arabic “Woman who loves her man

Sugar

Half of my body is earth
half of it is blood

half of my body is in the hands of a man
half of it is in fire

the soul
is crashing on the walls of the body

[only when you come, it calms down
my soul embellisher, my daylight]

in my mouth are pebbles
I become light as I empty them

I am as such I came from the nothingness 
deep in myself

I have a tongue
-if it knew, it would explain-

I am sugar melting in water
      my water is invisible

 

© Sugar and other poems were written and self-translated by Müesser Yeniay 

 

MÜESSER YENİAY was born in İzmir, 1984; she graduated from Ege University, with a degree in English Language and Literature. She took her M.A on Turkish Literature at Bilkent University. She has won several prizes in Turkey including Yunus Emre (2006), Homeros Attila İlhan (2007), Ali Riza Ertan (2009), Enver Gökçe (2013) poetry prizes. She was also nominated for a Pushcart Prize by Muse Pie Press in USA. Her first book Darkness Also Falls Ground was published in 2009 and her second book I Founded My Home in the Mountains a collection of translation from world poetry. Her second poetry book I Drew the Sky Again was published in 2011. She has translated the poems of Persian poet Behruz Kia as Requiem to Tulips.She has translated the 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 also translated the poetry of Israeli poet Ronny Someck (2014) and Hungarian poet Attila F. Balazs (2015). She has 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 were published in Hungarian by AB-Art Press by the name A Rozsaszedes Szertartasa(2015).

Her poems have appeared in the following magazines abroad: Actualitatea Literară (Romania), The Voices Project, The Bakery, Sentinel Poetry, Yellow Medicine Review, Shot Glass Journal, Poesy, Shampoo, Los Angeles Review of Books, Apalachee Review (USA&England); Kritya, Shaikshik Dakhal (India); Casa Della Poesia, Libere Luci, I poeti di Europe in Versi e il lago di Como (Italy); Poeticanet, Poiein (Greece); Revue Ayna, Souffle, L’oiseau de feu du Garlaban (France); Al Doha (Qatar); Tema (Croatia); Dargah (Persia).

The Anthologies her poetry appeared: With Our Eyes Wide Open; Aspiring to Inspire, 2014 Women Writers Anthology; 2014 Poetry Anthology- Words of Fire and Ice (USA) Poesia Contemporanea de la Republica de Turquie (Spain); Voix Vives de Mediterranee en Mediterranee, Anthologie Sete 2013 ve Poetique Insurrection 2015 (France); One Yet Many- The Cadence of Diversity ve ayrıca Shaikshik Dakhal (India); Come Cerchi Sull’acqua (Italy).

Her poems have been translated into Vietnamese, Hungarian, Croatian, English, Persian, French, Serbian, Arabic, Hebrew, Italian, Greek, Hindi, Spanish and Romanian. Her book in Hungarian was published in 2015 by AB-Art Publishing by the name “A Rozsaszedes Szertartasa” She has 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), Medellin International Poetry Festival, July 2014 (Colombia); 2nd Asia Pacific Poetry Festival 2015 (Vietnam). Müesser is the editor of the literature magazine Şiirden (of Poetry). She is currently pursuing a Ph.D. in Turkish literature at Bilkent University, Ankara, and is also a member of PEN and the Writers Syndicate of Turkey.

Poems from “Barefoot Souls” by Maram al-Masri

Poems from “Barefoot Souls” by Maram al-Masri

Sara

Daughter of Sana
Age 9

 
Why does my father
beat my mother ?
 
She does not know
how to iron his shirts properly.
 
Me, when I am grown up
I will iron the shirts
very well.
 

FAÂdi

Son of Sonia
Age: 7

 
You know, Mother
if the giant comes
during the night
to beat you,
You can come
sleep in my bed.
 
I ate up all my soup
and all my spinach
so that
I can grow up quickly
and protect you.
 

Salma

Son of Leila
Age: 12

 
Why don’t you go to the doctor
and have him give back your smile,
Mother,
your lovely smile?
 

Samir

Son of Magda
Age: 13

I do not remember her face,
I was very small when my father
carried me off to my grandmother’s house
far,
far away.

My grandmother did not like
the one who had brought me into the world,
with every prayer she would demand that God
would punish her.

She would say, hers is the blood of the devil.
she would say, she abandoned you
for the cats to eat you up.

Eighteen months old … that’s very young
for a child
to have to defend himself.

 

Clément and Romain

Children of Florence
Age 12 and 9

 
Don’t forget, Mother
to pack me and brother
in your baggage.
 
We won’t annoy you
we’ll behave this time.
 

Chloë

Daughter of Suzanne
Age: 11

 
I have often
seen my father
drag my mother by the hair
into the bathroom.
I’d hide myself
in the cupboard
and wait until he’d calm down.
 
On the wall in the sitting room
there’s a photo of a crocodile.
myself and my brother,
we used to call it
‘Papa’.
 
from II, The Scream, Barefoot Souls
 

VI

 
Look, look
at all the wounds I have received
in your wars.
 
This wound, deep and dark,
I got it at 18,
the first time you injured me.
I bled until I thought I might die,
swore I would never again
get into a fight.
 
But every time you return,
smiling that smile,
promising paradise and eternity,
 
back I come again
without helmet or armour
and you lunge at me with your words,
stabbing as hard as you can,
as if, truly,
you wished me dead.
 
I do not know by what miracle
I survive,
nor by what miracle
I fall back into your arena.
 
Look, look,
this one is still fresh,
still bleeding.
Be gentle, this time …
 
You see,
I cannot bear another wound,
At the very least, do it nicely ..
 

There are Women

 
There are women
who carried you
who offered their blood and their wombs
who brought you into the world
who bathed you
who breastfed you
 
There are women
who cherished you
when you were small
until you grew up,
when you were weak
until you became strong
 
There are women
who desired you
who entwined you in their arms
who welcomed you in their wombs
who gave you their mouths
who gave you to drink of their water
 
There are women
who betrayed you
and there are women who
abandoned you.
 
These poems are © Maram al-Masri

 

Maram Al-Masri

Maram Al-Masri is from Lattakia in Syria, now settled in Paris. She studied English Literature at Damascus University before starting publishing her poetry in Arab magazines in the 1970s. Today she is considered one of the most renowned and captivating feminine voices of her generation. Besides numerous poems published in literary journals, in several Arab anthologies and in various international anthologies, she has published several collections of poems. Thus far her work has been translated into eight languages. Maram al-Masri has participated in many international festivals of poetry in France and abroad. She has been awarded the “Adonis Prize” of the Lebanese Cultural Forum for the best creative work in Arabic in 1998, the “Premio Citta di Calopezzati” for the section “Poesie de la Mediterranee” and the “Prix d’Automne 2007” of the Societe des gens de letters. Her poetry collections include “Karra humra’ ala bilat abyad” (Red Cherry on the White Floor) and “Undhur Ilayk” (I look at you). (Source: Arc Publications)

Barefoot Souls by Maram Al-Masri (Source: Arc Publications)


“Barefoot Souls” was translated by Theo Dorgan

TheoDorganTheo Dorgan is a poet, novelist, prose writer, documentary screenwriter, editor, translator and broadcaster.

His poetry collections are The Ordinary House of Love (Galway, Salmon Poetry, 1991); Rosa Mundi (Salmon Poetry, 1995); and Sappho’s Daughter (Dublin, wave Train Press 1998). In 2008 Dedalus Press published What This Earth Cost Us, reprinting Dorgan’s first two collections with some amendments. After Greek(Dublin, Dedalus Press, 2010), his most recent collection is Nine Bright Shiners(Dedalus Press 2014). Songs of Earth and Light, his versions from the Slovenian of Barbara Korun, appeared in 2005 (Cork, Southword Editions). In 2015 his translations from the French of the Syrian poet Maral al-Masri, BAREFOOT SOULS, appeared from ARC Publications, UK.

He has also published a selected poems in Italian, La Case ai Margini del Mundo, (Faenza, Moby Dick, 1999), and a Spanish translation of Sappho’s Daughter La Hija de Safo, (Madrid, Poesía Hiperión, 2001). Ellenica, an Italian translation of Greek, appeared in 2011 from Edizioni Kolibris in Italy. (Source: Aosdána)

mc_9781910345375Barefoot Souls by Maram al-Masri
Translated by Theo Dorgan
From |  Arc Translations Series

About Barefoot Souls by Maram al-Masri Detailing the lives of Syrian women living in Paris, these poems, capturing the unheard voices of women whose lives are suppressed in unimaginable ways, allow us to explore moments never mentioned in the news reports. Potent and never failing to capture the essence of the feminine experience with a remarkable amount of insight.
978-1910345-37-5 pbk
978-1910345-38-2 hbk
978-1910345-39-9 ebk
120pp
Published September 2015

Arena Interview on Barefoot Souls by Maram al-Masri

“Lilacs From the Field of Mars” and other poems by Maureen Boyle

Darshan

 
(Hindi: the pleasure of looking)
 
In my favourite of your Indian stories
you are working in your room in the garden ashram:
the air is heavy with mangoes and dung
the cows in the gowshala sing
the saffron cloths of the swami flap like prayer flags on the line.
 
You are working on the Gita intent and peaceful
but suddenly you look up and there is the cook,
Santakumar, with his extended family smiling at your door
and when you ask what you can do for them
he says, “No, no – just Darshan Mr Malki, just Darshan.”
 
And now, on many nights when you are asleep before me
I lie and look and think, “Just Darshan, just Darshan Malachi.”
 
First published in Incertus 2007.
 

Invoking St Ciarán of Saigher

 
When the blackbirds begin to build their nest against your house
we take it as a good sign – an omen of continuance, of the birds
knowing it as a gentle place, trusting its rafters, burrowing
into the soft hydrangea, coming right into the luctual house,
the house of the dead. They swoop in – the rich open sough
a sound bigger than themselves, comic with beards of grass,
busy with the build. But at your month’s mind, the birds are frantic
through the night and in the morning the perfect nest is overturned,
one small fledgling left by the sparrowhawk upon the ground
and the bewildered mother bird still flying in with worms, unable
to break her instinctive act. I lift the scalding and feel again the cold
of death as I had on your cheek in the bright mornings of that May week
when I stole downstairs to be with you alone. Now I wish I had the power
of the Midlands Saint, whose prayer alone could bring back the birds,
could put the breath back into men when it had gone.
 
First published in Festschrift for Ciaran Carson 2008
 

 

Lilacs from the Field of Mars

Bringing armfuls of lilacs from the Field of Mars
blushing girls hide them under cotton skirts,
stiffening petticoats like the dancers’ horsehair net
bought by the shimmering bolt they have seen carried
to the costumier’s in the neighbouring street. Once in place
they must brave the babushkas who sit in the dusky corridors
of the old theatre knitting, darning the dancer’s shoes
holding the block in the satin where blood has soaked into cloth.
The hidden flowers rustle as they walk and when inside
are pulled out in a wash of Spring scent to be handed
carefully over the balcony and down to the blind box
where they will wait until the last beat of his pas-de-deux
and then fall in a lilac shower – flowers warmed
by the thighs of girls as offerings for the young god.
 
First published in The Honest Ulsterman 2014.
 

Weather Vane

Your love, Lord reaches to heaven
your truth to the skies.

Psalmody

I am on the roof this breezy day,
in the sixth month of my pregnancy,
picking off the moss and lichen and tossing them
in soft bouquets to the ground.

Above me are the chimneys –
their stacks the colour of sand
and round the tops, circles of hearts
opening… to the sky.

I am a billowing blown crow
in my dark work clothes
and this is punishment for vanity.
For finding my face in a bucket of blue

Sister brought me up the back stairs.
The slates I clean are greens and shell-greys
that turn dark ink-blue in rain.
Today is a weather-breeder

the nuns say, presaging a storm,
so I am here to clean the way
and the rain will wash the loosened moss
in green runnels when it comes.

I am as high as the monkey puzzle,
Its open branches wide smiles
at the level of my eye, arms outstretched –
as if they’d catch me.

Down below is the road I will walk
my baby across to give him away
he, in a big dicky-up pram,
me, all dressed. Every Monday

the nuns take me to the parlour
to write a card telling everyone
who needs to know: that I am well,
that the sea is wild, that I am working hard,

that I miss them, when all the while:
I’m sitting at an oak table –
the smell of polish heavy in the air,
the grandmother clock ticking nearby,

dry spider plants on the windowsills
and a sad-eyed Mary hanging her head
in the corner. They take a lot of trouble
with the cards. The gardener runs them

up to Portrush and posts them there
so that the stamp’s right, so that the postman
can tell everyone I’m grand
and it’s not just my parents’ word on it.

I talk to my baby up here.
We’re not supposed to but the wind
takes the words away.
They say Our Lady had no pain

in either the making or getting of God
and she was allowed to keep him.
I’d have liked mine to have an angel for a father –
he’d have been light on me.

I mind my Granny saying
that when the midwife helping Mary
put her hand in to touch
it withered away.

Who’ll help me when the time comes?
It’ll be one of them and I think I’d love
to have that power to wither their hands.
My hands are cold; the first raindrops splashing

on the slate. The red bricks of the walls burn
in the dying sun’s colour and the birds have gone,
taking the little offerings of moss and lichen.
They’ll line their nests with them.

First published in Poetry Ireland Review in 2007.

Audio Poetry by Maureen Boyle

Maureen Boyle on Youtube
From the Fishouse
Maureen-25 (1)Maureen Boyle grew up in Sion Mills, County Tyrone and now lives in Belfast. She was awarded a UNESCO medal for poetry in 1979 when she was 18. She was runner-up in the Patrick Kavanagh Poetry Prize in 2004. In 2007 she was awarded the Ireland Chair of Poetry Prize and the Strokestown International Poetry Prize. She has been the recipient of various awards from the Arts Council of Northern Ireland – most recently an Artist’s Career Enhancement Award in 2011. In 2013 she won the Fish Short Memoir Prize and was shortlisted for the Fish Poetry Prize. She was a finalist in the Mslexia single poem competition in 2013 for a long memoir poem ‘Incunabula’ which was published in Germany this year. Her poem ‘Amelia’ was a BBCNI commission to mark the renovation of the Crown Bar in Belfast and was used in an art installation at the City Hall, Belfast in 2014, as part of the University of the Air Festival, marking 50 years of the Open University. Her poems have been published in The Honest Ulsterman, From the Fishhouse, Fortnight; The Yellow Nib; Poetry Ireland Review; Mslexia; and Incertus. She teaches in St Dominic’s Grammar School in Belfast and with the Open University. She lives in Belfast with her husband, the writer, Malachi O’Doherty.

 

‘modern art’ and other poems by Anamaría Crowe Serrano

the stress clinic

it’s ok	no one need know	only negligible
impending threat 	i’m going to leave you
let healing happen
i’m turning left into the coffee shop	it’s easy 
	like this		one step	
one more
comforting to sit 
even on seats slashed by spooks	

i can wait	learn patience is learnt on the edge
	other worlds where others wait
for the breath		something that “presents”
a hiatus between one distress and 
the nest you’re reluctant to leave

it’s ok	the world is out there	still	the density
you love suspended in space	preparing 
the next problem for you to solve 	you’re good
at that		talented		
are you ok?	me too 		it’s just 
the acid sprung on a tensile in my stomach


at ulica Freta, 16 – before radium or polonium

the wood seeps into your bones
in a room that lives	as if its grain 
& whorls were part of your nervous
system – smooth	marrow – polished 

in your tea one lump, two	meticulous
the molecules contract till they disappear
optical illusions have their own reality

billowing on the balcony	Poland
is diluted	Prussian Russian 
fission renames a people
invents a purpose of its own

but you can shut it out	indomitable
in a room that soon is rubble while thunder
splits the summer	partitions your
future	gladioli everywhere 	alert
to your black dress	alive	your luggage
waltzing in the street

(originally published in Can-Can #2)




modern art

you’re slung 
    rigid
against the wall

boxed in the past

adroit
your mouth apes
bereft of tongue
hoping to emit
a word
a silence, even

something, anything
of the side-tracked route
you had to take
from primitive iron
lodged in some alpine nook
through ism, to prism
to plexiglass

you’re waiting - aren’t you
for me 
to gut you
get the warm feel
of your spasm
when I tug
on the spinal cord

and watch you
crumple
to the ground
crimson
refusing to be pressed





Taipei


i wake 		my arms wrapped 
around the city		legs enjamb-
     ed with its towers 	
skyward			/a formal
				composition/

       silence 		      /stylized/
         flowers through its lights	
the smallness of them		struck
			by shadowed stills
     the colour of cavities	
    of not wanting to disturb	   /harmony 
                                       respect/	

28 degrees at midnight	slums unshimmering 
slumber	the eye insists on definition
          colour resists		/chaos v order/
                         could hang me 
         it’s a hollow that isn’t black 
          but marinated 
			stinky tofu 		
             where the street light 
sizzles

	maybe it’s a smell	a size
			the meaning of a name		
				i can never forget   /beautiful 
soup/

corrugated iron angles into place	discreet  /elegant/
                          blanketblue & rustroof red 	 
     staggered across some great want			
                          where the revolution daubs
	its palette of scars

the stress clinic, at ulica Freta, 16 – before radium or polonium & modern art are © Anamaría Crowe Serrano. Read Jezebel & Taipei (PDF)
Anamaria Crowe Serrano-by RK at 7T

Anamaría Crowe Serrano is a poet and translator born in Ireland to an Irish father and a Spanish mother. She grew up bilingually, straddling cultures, rarely with her nose out of a book. Languages have always fascinated her to the extent that she has never stopped learning or improving her knowledge of them. She enjoys cross-cultural and cross-genre exchanges with artists and poets. Much of her work is the result of such collaborations. With a B.A. (Hons) in Spanish and French from Trinity College Dublin, Anamaría went on to do an M.A. in Translation Studies at Dublin City University. Since then, she has worked in localization (translating hardware and software from English to Spanish), has been a reader for the blind, and occasionally teaches Spanish. For over 15 years she has translated poetry from Spanish and Italian to English. Anamaría is the recipient of two awards from the Arts Council of Ireland to further her writing. Her translations have won many prizes abroad and her own poetry has been anthologised in Census (Seven Towers), Landing Places (Dedalus), Pomeriggio (Leconte) and other publicationsShe is currently Translations editor for Colony Journal: www.colony.ie.

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

‘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’ and other poems © 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

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

.

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.

Ceathrúintí 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.

Vinca Haiku by Virginie Colline

Vinca Haiku

she grazes her scar
old blood the color of rust
on her maiden lace

charcoal and red smudge
nothing can make up the pain
the dark trudge quickens

tiny wallflower
you cannot hold a candle
you, periwinkle

 

The Spanish Girl Haiku

she follows the clouds
the breath of the summer wind
gently down her throat

explosion of light
the world was but a shadow
the minute before

vociferous sky
she walks through the bead curtain
the storm in her wake

suddenly the sun
the Sevillian girl rises
in a hiss of silk

Vinca Haiku & The Spanish Girl Haiku are © Virginie Colline

 

Virginie Colline lives and writes in Paris. Her poems have appeared in The Scrambler, Notes from the Gean, Prune Juice, Frostwriting, Prick of the Spindle, Mouse Tales Press, StepAway Magazine, BRICKrhetoric, Overpass Books, Dagda Publishing, Silver Birch Press and Yes, Poetry, among others.

“And her yellow music caught in the throat of birds” by C Murray

And her yellow music caught in the throat of birds

 
I waited a minute on the wind,
on your roof, outside.
 
She had been awaiting me in the middle of the day
having come warm over those seas to find me,
 
high over the little streams and the lakes
she came
 
and she playing—
and she jumping—
crying and talking in my ear.
 
She had carried her warm music over those streams,
over the frail blue flowers that grow on the lakeside.
 
And you were sleeping soundly.
I left you, I left the city for a little time.
 
I left the noise of the city, to wait on
the little breeze to bring me news.
 
And her yellow music caught in the throat of birds,
agus a ceol buí a thógail i scornach na h’éanaithe.
 
© C Murray  
“and her yellow music caught in the throat of birds” by C Murray is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.

 

‘La Pucelle’ by Nuala Ní Chonchúir.

In the hush of my father’s house,
before dusk rustles over the horizon,
I take off the dress my mother made
-it’s as ruby red as St Michael’s cloak-
and with a stitch of linen, bind my breasts.
 
By the greasy light of a candle,
I shear my hair to the style of a boy,
in the looking glass I see my girlhood
swallowed up in a tunic and pants,
I lace them tightly to safeguard myself.
 
My soldiers call me ‘Pucelle’, maiden,
they cleave the suit of armour to my body,
and know when following my banner
over ramparts into Orléans, that
there will only ever be one like me.
 
When the pyre flames fly up my legs,
I do not think of the Dauphin,
or my trial as a heretical pretender,
but see my mother, head bent low,
sewing a red dress for her daughter to wear.
 

La Pucelle is © Nuala Ní Chonchúir

Tatoo: Tatú, le Nuala Ní Chonchuir, Arlen House, 2007.

‘The New Natalism’ and other poems by Claire Kieffer

‘The New Natalism’ and other poems by Claire Kieffer

The New Natalism

Mother is in bits
but only literally
she doesn’t find it funny at all
this new slug covered in shreds of skin
his or her own, she doesn’t know.
She doesn’t want to think
about which of those are hers
about the things she ripped out
that took on a life of their own
but from what she hears,
you have a lifetime
to get used to it.

Father is aglow
with a job well done,
he knows they say the women
do all the work, but privately he thinks
he had a little something to do with it
and that his wife’s tits
never looked better,
but maybe that’s the drink.
The lads at the pub
kept shouting the rounds

“Let’s call him Derek”
father says,
a Derek would know how to play the guitar
how to have fun
how to fix cars
how to play ball
but still save for a mortgage
on the sly.

“Let’s call him Christoph”
mother says,
and she sees handsome Christoph
bring her lilies to the retirement home
father long since
six feet under.

There is a minute of silence,
and two hundred and fifty babies are born

Father says:
“He will do great things,
let’s give him the name of a leader
Barack or Franklin
or maybe Winston”
“and why not Boris or Donald while you’re at it,
here, you know what goes really well with Miller?
Nigel!”
Father says nothing,
the lads at the pub warned him
about pregnancy hormones.

There is a minute of silence,
And another two hundred and fifty babies are born

Mother thinks of those
Sunday afternoons
they were one,
It was love
she was sure,
she had seen it on TV.
Offscreen, white deflated penises
litter the floor
each with its own harvest of thousands of slugs,
whole cities
in a Durex.

There are minutes and minutes of silence
Thousands of babies are born.
As Mother and Father stare
At the child, they thought they’d made together
but really had made
each on their own.

Next week a hundred people will get a card in the mail
“Welcome to the world”
The card will read,
“to baby Jack”

 


Poem for a dead dog

Days came and days went
outside my window,
summer days
made of blue skies and green trees.
Smells of freshly cut grass and sounds of voices
tender evening chills and powerful sun streaks,
but, I did not go to meet them
for I knew they were all lies.

And in the tender evening the stones
who used to be my friends
into treacherous traps turned,
and in the blinding sun, I got lost.
Wandering up or wandering down, I do not know,
and tumbling
until old voices passed me, and I was grabbed.
Naked hands on bony pain, ascending,
Master of my path no more

I sit looking at the meaning of life,
wobbly,
one eye white as milk
sixteen years, the old voices said
sixteen, seventeen years
that’s the age for a dog.
And they had a meaningful ring
To them.

 


Fishponds

There will be
Still waters again
Soon enough.
Where do you see yourself
In five years?
They asked,
And she said:
“I have a right now plan”
And it worked
A treat
She turned them down.

There will be
No more rough waves
Rubbing you
Harshly
Lovingly
On reefs of days
Grey
Cold
Full of time
And yet
Empty.

There will be
Full days again
Don’t fret, friend.
It’s easy enough
Just don’t
Make waves
We will be employed
In harshly lit offices
Again,
Blinds down.

There will be
Still waters
Again
Soon enough.
And, into untroubled souls
We will look
Like we used to look
To the very bottom
Of our grandmothers’
Fishponds.

 


Lungwater love

I lie awake at night, eyes open to the imperfect darkness of the room. Hold watch as the same old shadows take their seats, the plaster flowers around the lamp dance inexplicable messages. Next to me a sleeping body; a body that loved me so during the day.
 
But now there is no love, there is no hate either, no nothing. He is like a stone, a warm breathing stone. He turned his back on me in his sleep. His mind has gone all into himself, and unless I wake him there will be no reassurance of his love. He is walking the fields of dreams alone; I who would follow him anywhere cannot follow him there. Where is he walking, and how far from me? When he wakes up, will he be the same; or will his nightly walks little by little change him and take him away from me? If only we could never sleep and only share manageable walks of reality. Then we would never drift apart.
 
But night after night he sleeps, and I lie awake feeling cold and alone like a snake. I want to climb into his dream and touch his heaving ribcage; but the sleeping body shivers and rejects me. It is the master of the ship now, no brain or heart here. It knows only needs and pains, and now it needs to rest and not to be disturbed; and it knows nothing of romanticism.
 
Take rest.
 
Take rest.
 
Take rest.
 
In the morning, flatmates wear clogs and tap-dancing shoes. Dead-fish eyes open inwards. Lungwater on the window, the only place on earth where souls mingle perfectly. Soon, the day’s first coffee will bring life into limbs again, we are at that stage of addiction where it could be cut with fentanyl for all we care. When I come home later he has made my bed, folded my pyjamas. The waking body abides.

 

© Claire Kieffer


“Trees Walking” and other poems by Joan Mazza

Blue Moon

So bright tonight, woods glow,
as if some rare magic is near,
orchestra building to a swell,
crescendo
followed by abrupt silence, pierced
by an animal’s anguished squeal,

sound that sends my heart thumping
though my dog doesn’t bark.
Imagination with a dash
of desperation for a happening,
some quickening.

Stultifying summer heat,
occasional cicada hum. All day
anticipation, not dread, for a shift
toward desire, propelled
by a passionate cause.

Circuitry fired up, tasting
like obsession. Sweat drips
from my chin. Off balance.
Drunk on moonbeams
and shadows.

 


Trees Walking

I’m a willow today, pale, still green,
stirred easily to weeping, waving
flimsy limbs that rustle with happiness,
taste of air and spores flying. I strike
a pose, skirts twirling, fragrant
as green beans and artichokes waiting

for a Sunday crowd, sweet and sour
pasted on their faces while my leaves
flutter, reveal both sharp and rounded
edges. “Hey, Schwarzenegger,
what made you think you could keep
secrets, like my family, who lacked
your worldliness and education?”

Watching you, I’m all muscle, diabolical,
not diaphanous. Creatures live within
my niches and notches. I have been
barren, a desert. Not like you, Maria,
with your good face hiding the happiness
you deserve. “The rich have greater resources
to manage life’s upsets. They have servants.”
She knows the abyssal plain of satisfaction
runs flat, deep underwater, too cold to swim.

Where sunshine beats chilly rays, darkness
grows darker. This tree looks rooted, but can
walk away, as I did from today’s plans.
Spontaneity I once denied. I won’t spend hours
where I don’t want to be.

Joanie, dear. At nearly any moment
you can change direction, step off the line
drawn on your calendar or book of life.

Today is the foundation of the next
two years, first page of the book
of yesterday’s tomorrow. Inside
an opaque crystal ball, Voilà.
Nothing there but your imagination.
Trees walking, dragging their roots
like a train, dropping slender leaves,
not rose petals.

 


I’m not the one

who frets about pimples and cellulite, who fears
countries with enriched uranium. Whom to believe?
My hair is all roots, grayer with every cut. I don’t
go to spas, salons, fat farms. You won’t catch me
at a healer, reader, or any séance. I don’t care for
sports or stadiums full of shouting fans, can’t get
excited about winning a weekend in Las Vegas.

No video games or computer apps to track birthdays,
no lottery tickets with impossible fantasies. I don’t
send e-greetings but will craft you layered cards
with folded papers, ribbons, window openings
with photos. I buy stamps, pay extra postage
for the thickness of a plastic jewel at the center
of the paper iris. You’ll get it in the mail.

I’m not the one arranging deck chairs on the Titanic,
who cleans the inside of the dishwasher, irons sheets
and underwear. I won’t ask to borrow money,
tools, or your lawnmower. If I ask for a book, you know
you’ll get it back. I don’t make lists for Christmas gifts
or send Easter cards. When someone loses a love—
person or pet—I send a handwritten, handmade card.

I’m prepared for disasters that will likely never happen:
flu pandemic that will keep me avoiding contagion
for months at home with a year’s toilet paper, tissues,
pet food. Yup. That’s me washing my hands again,
remembering not to bite my nails, fire extinguisher
next to backup firewood. There’s a lot of heat in books.
After I read them, I can burn them if I have to.

 


Bodo’s Bagels Before Poetry Class

Today is a pot of beef barley soup. By the scent
of bagels and this cold gray light like jagged cliffs,
it could be New York in December, not early
October in Virginia. Time warp.

The brown tug of longing tells me,
“It never was the way it used to be!”*

In the parking lot, I get over myself by tasting
oaks that murmur autumn through clamped jaws,
toss acorns for passersby to catch. Everyone litters
the carpet with poppy and sesame seeds, add cups
and forks to Landfill Mountain.

It’s the cause of young patrons falling into bed
on third dates. “511!” is shouted when their food
is ready, and, “Take screaming children outside!”

The tossed salad of happiness will make you
weep for all you’ve lost. The screaming child’s
father lifts her to her feet. “Grow up!”
Not wanting to, he makes her taller than all.

Gentle devils storm the restaurant. You know
this is your destiny. You don’t have to run
a marathon or hike the Pacific Crest Trail, Chickie,
to have that transformative moment. Don’t say,
Oy vay. You’ll give me a kenahora!

The carpet says, “Call a cleaning crew.”
You order a dozen bagels to go.
All plain. You have all the seeds you need.
The barley soup chants your name.

*quote from Shann Palmer


Libido

Desire is a blast of fireworks, tie-dye colors fading more
each year. They wear thin, not like the end of your rope,
not down to your last thread, you are part of the normal flow
of a cycle all mammals know. Free of an infant, fertile again,
time to mix up the genes, find a new partner with novel skills

that make you sweat and quicken your breathing. Darker
skin, lighter hair and eyes, one who makes music, defies
norms, permits cries in the middle of lust.

She smells like wet sand. He loves to pet and be petted.
Each able to be alone. You didn’t lose your desire.
It’s time to transform passion’s myths. Not your cheatin’ heart.
That urge is your selfish genes, finding a way to get around,
stalking parks where parents push swings. When your mother

told you, Don’t do it! she meant, Do! Back then, she was drowning.
Lubrication proves attraction, not wisdom. White lace
and satin promises are best for coffin linings. Monotony

is insured by monogamy, gay or straight, a narrow loop
of landscape without scent or color. Long married, you sleep
in separate rooms, yours pristine, and compete for novel excuses
to avoid touching, sharing a bed, if only for a few minutes.
How stable you seem, bathed in serotonin. Your cold passions

are ice cream and skiing, the spark never ignited except
with someone new and forbidden. Don’t think of it
brings the object into focus, obsession you can’t shake.

Au revoir! You want fireworks in color, without the lingering
burn, the scar, the scent of gunpowder hanging on.

© Joan Mazza


Joan Mazza worked as a medical microbiologist and psychotherapist, and taught workshops nationally with a focus on understanding dreams and nightmares. She is the author of six books, including Dreaming Your Real Self (Penguin/Putnam), and her poetry has appeared in Rattle, Valparaiso Poetry Review, Prairie Schooner, Poet Lore, The MacGuffin, and The Nation. She lives in rural central Virginia, where she writes a daily poem.

www.JoanMazza.com