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“A Gradual Eden” and other poems by Audrey Molloy

A Gradual Eden

After the lava had cooled,
hardened like a carapace
over the fresh-earth
graves of our marriages,
nothing happened for a while.

Sure, you and I still talked all night,
once dared to walk arm-in-arm
like a real couple to the Vietnamese
restaurant with the string-bead curtain
and napkins folded into swans.

I had to learn the basics:
I only knew your every thought,
but not, for instance, how you took
your coffee, how you swam at five
each day, leaving me to wake alone.

Nothing grew on the hard-baked
basalt of us. Ditches that had defined
our highways vanished,
once-shady trees now jutted like antlers
where the lightning had struck.

When the strawberries were gone
we ate dandelion and fiddle-head ferns.
You were an inventive chef, but I
was sick of roots and leaves; I wanted
Passiflora (or violets at the very least).

Once, longing for old comforts, you peeked
back under the edge of the rock-crust
for a glimpse of green, but the lawns
were mustard and thistle-pocked.
Twice I peeked too.

Watering didn’t help much.
Neither did planting seeds.
After a year or two, we got used to it.
Gave up trying.
Hung up boots.

One day we saw the rock was dusted
with faintest green, just a bristle,
like your five a.m. beard—no more.
And then we saw a stem unfurl,
and then the flowers came.


Symphony of Skin

i. Tuning up

They are there if you listen.
On the train, in the Laundromat—
the instruments, I mean;
bells, stirring in two-way stretch cotton,
(their owner slumped in the window seat,
his work boots tapping a secret rhythm);
timpani buttoned under a cashier’s blouse,
a cello bound by polyester pinafore
in salmon pink. She thinks
the air is flecked with soap dust,
doesn’t realise it’s rosin from her bow.
Air flows through apertures
where, later, fingers will flutter,
strings blur under the rub of horsehair;
their discordant mewl barely heard
above the swish of the train,
the hum of machine,
louder in the darkness of tunnel
or the lull of rinse cycle, then soft again.
Tuning up, they’re getting ready
for this evening’s symphony of skin
to begin at precisely 10.15.


ii. Skin music

And you can never explain it in physical terms—
what happens between two people
on an ordinary bed, in an ordinary room.
Let me ask you, could you school the cuttlefish
in Ludwig’s Emperor (second movement)
in terms of anvil, hammer and stirrup?
Paint the hues of daybreak for the mole?
There is only air, compressed and stretched.
There is always space between skins,
no matter how closely they press.
No touch, only the music of skin;
an oboe sings, a cello answers.
Locked within the strands of collagen,
atoms built of smaller blocks,
each one a capsule packed with strings,
each string a note that’s yet to play.

iii. Reverberation

Afterwards, they lie curled,
two bass clefs facing this way, that.
They talk of anything, of childhood;
croak the lyrics to every Paul Simon song
they can recall; this, the highlight,
now the players have left the stage.
They will meet people
who promise them more than this,
more than you could write about this.
Sleep will come later, a raft
pushed out on a starred sea.
What oak bed? Which room?
There is nothing here
but phosphorescence
undulating along their border.
Only this tiny stage
drifting on the night swell,
a single baton on its floor.


Fortune reshuffled, reshuffled

(The tarot anagrams)

Take off your rings. They are clues to your story.

I. Judgement

I’m getting a strong signal. You will survive an avalanche. When it comes, you’ll be prepared. Keep your hand near your face to clear an air space. Many suffocate. Make sure you know which way is up. This is the easy part: dribble the spit out from your mouth and see which way it runs. Now, dig, dig in the opposite direction.

I see something else coming through here: you’ll give him a kidney. (He is dying, you see, in the physical sense). Worst-case scenario, temperance—you’ll have to cut back on the Sancerre. Best, a scar and an empty comma on one side of your mid-spine. Still, each cluster a small lung, breathing life into the glass husk of him until he pinks up. Then he’ll ask for the other, the fool…

He’ll ask you which one you are—in the show, I mean: Hank’s wife or Walt’s; the pretty, bored house-bound mum with the new baby, who knew about the drugs, or the Type-A kleptomaniac sister. Your love will die but you cannot live with another monkey on your back. Ho! Mind you heed my 4warning. Honour is nothing. They stole your fucking poem. Don’t sign anything.

II. Temperance

I see a case of your best Sancerre, coming from cluster to glass. Is your wife a fool? you’ll ask him, mid-fuck. And the other scenario? An empty life. You’ll have to give him a pink lung, one side dying. He’ll cut up your back, scar your spine in the husk sense. Not physical (comma) worse—something else you’ll see through.

Another strong signal from you: this is Space. In which direction is Survive? Be prepared to dig when the air runs out. Will you know which way? I’m getting an avalanche of drivel: Dig, the opposite of Easy. Face it; you know your part will suffocate many, but each kid’s still breathing. See the way your spit comes up clear now? Keep your hand near your mouth.

A warning sign: At 4 am your mind’s a monkey house. You cannot live with your sister, the kleptomaniac honey, who stole the show. She’ll waltz in here and type you a poem or love you back. Keep mum! Don’t heed anything the pretty ask. They are bound to be mean, bored with the new drugs, which, on my honour, I knew nothing about. The baby will die in this one. Hanky?

III. The Fool

See the way your Mum keeps coming up? She’s a pretty mean type. She’ll suffocate you, cut off your breathing with a hank of judgement you could sense. Heed your kid sister, the midwife, who’s bound to love you. Your baby digs you, honey. He’ll waltz you back to the monkey show, give you space to spit. You’ll ask him to dribble Sancerre into your mouth until your mind clears. (No temperance here).

Another warning sign: your honour is the kleptomaniac that stole the pink from your face. Will the strong drugs put a comma in your near-dying? In this scenario, you survive. Many know your hand. The husk of a lung is bored from your back, a scar on your spine. Keep it in a glass in case the air runs out.

I’m getting a signal. Something else coming through I knew nothing about: you live in a new house, one you cannot empty of poems. You give each other the best life, a physical side. But don’t ask of him. The worst part… Not prepared for anything, you see. Up this way. Easy! Then, cluster-fuck from the opposite direction… 4 die in an avalanche. They are still now.


On the Rocks

There is a kind of love called flotsam. When twisted winds have paused for breath
where the sea foam eddies, this love emerges like a teak plank sprung
from a shipwreck. It floats proud and quiet or hangs just below the surface.

There is a kind of love called jetsam. When the hold is timber-splintered
and the waterline creeps higher, this love is flung on the breakers, entrusted
to the sea bowl. Washed up on a remote shore, it is rediscovered as kindling.

There is a kind of love called lagan. When waves have swallowed the last yellow
fingers and silver rings of the crew, this love drifts from quarter light
to where the hagfish lie. Moored to a sunbeam, it can always be traced.

And there is a kind of love called derelict. When spite has ripped the spinnakers
and set the halyards alight, this love settles at the heart’s base, nestled in the point
of it. Leaden as a sinker, it is never to be reclaimed.


Five Creatures Under Every Mother’s Skin

Age thirteen, the skin splits down her back.
Emerging, clad in shimmer and sequin
and glassy wing to much ado. Pretty head
thrown back, clasped by mate after mate.
The green river air is shot silk
scribbled with their heart-shaped pen.

Seaward, she is drawn tail-first. The river
a silversmith arming her, scale by scale.
The ocean has no boundary, save memory.
Though her flesh will coral with experience,
she will dodge bamboo rod and vernal bear,
return to gravel nurseries of the smolt.

Grotesque red bill pressed to her quilled
leather corset releases the last fry
from gular folds. (This the tongue’s
business, but hers too tiny to roll around).
If they want to believe she pierces her bosom
to blood-nourish her young, let them.

Bring on the night! Let her stalk and cry,
dog-fox by her side, blackberry picking
by moonlight in fur coat and black boots.
By dawn, she returns to earth, her kits
an auburn ball. The sick one she’ll carry
to the wood’s edge and dump it. Just in case.

Pilot Whale
Her skin-rubber, hashed and scored
with life’s scars, hides an armchair heart.
Her glands can still suckle a youngster
bored with waiting for his mother,
God love her, this, so much more fun.
Her children’s children will be doctors.


“A Gradual Eden” and other poems are © Audrey Molloy


Symphony of Skin, first published in Meanjin Volume 76, ed. Bronwyn Lea
A Gradual Eden, first published in Headstuff (Feb 2017), ed. Angela Carr
Fortune Reshuffled, Reshuffled, first published in The Moth Magazine, Spring 2018, ed. Rebecca O’Connor
On the Rocks, first published in Australian Poetry Journal Issue 6.2, ed. Michael Sharkey
Five Creatures Under Every Mother’s Skin, first published in the competition anthology of the Canberra University Vice-Chancellor’s Poetry Prize 2017

Audrey Molloy was born in Dublin and grew up in a coastal village in Wexford. She now lives in Sydney, where she works as an optometrist and medical writer. Her poetry has recently appeared in The Moth, Crannog, The Irish Times, Orbis, Meanjin, Cordite, Banshee, Popshot, and The Tangerine. Audrey’s work has been nominated for the Forward Prize for Best Single Poem (2018) and she is one of Eyewear Publishing’s Best New British and Irish Poets 2018. She was runner up for the 2017 Moth Poetry Prize and has been shortlisted for several other international poetry awards.


Fragmenting…defragmenting… by Breda Wall Ryan

(i) Woman, Fragmenting

Out of reach of Bach's Rescue Remedy,
she free-falls
          through 2, 1, G
                  to the basement.

Wifemask says she's fine,
hides behind her Prozac smile,
offers cake and tea, nods and nods.
        Wearing her disguise,
             she lies

While chemicals scramble signals,
sparks refuse synaptic gaps,
        the machine 

cables snap,
she swallows despair,
       takes what's on offer
              for toxic sorrow,

peels her skin down
to the raw child at the core
of her unhinged matryoshka.
Things can only get worse
       if nobody Zolofts her
             back to the surface.

She tries to grip
the creature—is it she?—
sinking through air, land, water,

(ii) Woman, Defragmenting

She searches for handholds
inside her head, climbs her hair
through a blizzard
on the north slope.
Choking on terrors
of high unguarded places,
she fights the urge
to step off into nothing,
give in to gravity, plunge
through the sea-skin,
then fly, half-cormorant, down
to oblivion's seabed. 
Spiralling riptides
draw her under, she rides
an undertow down,
down where dolphins drown,
     stars nail the lid
           on her sea-coffin.

She floats in darkness, hears
voices call; a bright light
hauls her anchor.
She breathes clearer air, glimpses
a split of sky, blue,
the blue of healing,
of veins unopened,
their steady pulse
the beat
       of her twelve-bar 


After Ceramic artworks by Helen Quill
this white ceramic demi-sphere brimful of the cries of seagulls,
at the tipping point
balanced on blackthorns—
half-moon bowl of light
downy white feather
from the wing of the holy ghost—
downward spiral
strung on a single hair a louse-egg pearl
cochlear swirls thrum
with the sound of waves
weaving an ocean

Breda Wall Ryan grew up on a farm in Co. Waterford and now lives in Co. Wicklow. She has an M. Phil. in Creative Writing (Distinction) from Trinity College, Dublin. Her awarded fiction has appeared in The Faber Book of Best New Irish Short Stories 2006 – 07 and The New Hennessy Book of Irish Fiction. Her poems have been widely published in print and online journals, broadcast on community and national radio and translated into several languages. She has read at poetry events throughout Ireland, in the United Kingdom and USA. Among her more recent awards are The Gregory O’Donoghue International Poetry Prize and The Dermot Healy Poetry Award. Her collection In a Hare’s Eye (Doire Press 2015) was awarded the Shine/Strong Poetry Award. Raven Mothers (Doire Press 2018) is her second collection.

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


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.



“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.

bind; a waking book by C. Murray

They and I,
O how far we have fallen!
Just to burn here.

 You can now order bind via Turas Press

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bind cover photograph is © Christian Caller, original artwork Bound / Boundless © Salma Ahmad Caller

from the Irish Times

I am a poet without a landscape, a woman poet without a narrative heritage. I began tracing the huge startling landscape of US and European women’s poetry while in college. I could not find its equivalent here in Ireland. bind reflects the facts of absence and fragmentation in my poetry landscape, and the absence of women poets in our cultural narrative. bind is a book-length poem loosely divided into chapters. These chapters act as boundaries within the action of the poem and provide gateways to differing aspects of the processes inherent in bind. The title of the book takes its name from the triple hyphenation that occurs irregularly within the first chapter. bind explores movement, objects and colours that occur in a no-place or a stasis, the fragmented landscape,
if there are birds here,
they are of stone.
draughts of birds.
the flesh-bone-wing
of ‘bird’

(from bindChapter One

read more here

bind (Turas Press, 2018) was launched in Dublin on October the 8th 2018. I include here, with thanks, some details from artist Salma Caller’s response to the text. This is a note of thanks and appreciation to those people who have supported the book from the outset. Liz McSkeane, at Turas Press has written an introduction here  She has taken me through the process beautifully, including a visit to the type-setter, discussions on the visual art aspect of the book, and at all times she has kept me up to speed with the process. Turas is a new press, I urge poets to explore the possibility of publishing there. Eavan Boland very kindly read the text and provided an endorsement for me. I have published the coda to the book and a short poem wing above. bind is a book-length poem divided into ‘chapters’ that act as boundaries within the poem, and as gateways as the poem progresses. The book is not consciously oblique, it charts a progression through a territory that defies description. It might even be said that the book is very simple, although I have tested that theory!


Acknowledgements are due to the editors of Persian Sugar In Indian Tea, York Literary Review, Levure Litteraire #12, The Honest Ulsterman, The Penny Dreadful Journal and Compose Journal, who have all published excerpts from “bind”


mercury pool shatters

the challenge
of           wing.

bird skims black
ice bird skiffs
the tree pool


actual bird,
the image of a bird

the real thing of it,
grasps onto a branch.

             the iron of its grasp


‘Mangoes are a night food’ and other poems by Finnuala Simpson


A candied calligraphy of colours, I said
that I would change the sheets later.
And I said also that I could handle it but I could not, and will I fry for that?
I may, but only if you return.

The stink of sheep hangs on me like wisdom.
You leave in a blur and your bag is heavy with spices,
I hope I do not let you back again.
It depends on my resolve, and on whether the seasons let me float.

I’ll take myself running for the friction of denial,
cross my legs under the tables of the library.
I’ll spin yarns and wear black and eat fruit in the evenings,
till I’m taller and more thoughtful than I have been before.

And I’ll try harder, too.
Kindness is like witchcraft, it must be brewed and stirred,
mulled over in secret with the herb scent of the night.
If it threatens to drown you, you must set yourself on fire.

Do you think of me? Or am I a stop-gap to you?
I marveled at you on the phone when you were talking like a man,
Not laughing or stroking like you laugh and stroke at me.
Talking figures like your car was a woman,
You said fuck it we will fix the white van instead
For by the time the summer comes you will be traveling.

I changed my sheets and they were smeared
sprinkled with both blood and mould.
But washed away now, and quietly, while you are asleep and going south.



God’s the opposite of sentient,
God’s gotta lot on their plate right now
You hate phone calls but you rang rang rang rang rang rang
Kinda like the knock knock don’t stop of the old stories about Jesus and the hearts.

I sit in a pub like the underground volts of mole town with glistening mirrors and brown
And think: and think: and think :
What if I AM us
What if we ARE me

Amen. That boy gets bloody sleepy-eyed and ties you down with internet rope to have the best time,
you can still be held by the every-man compass of inner direction and salt.

Lake licking
I’d be down for some
front door seconds

I love overhand
and crying boys
and absolute disgraces
and civil war tales make me puke
because we are you and I am us and they are
Jesus Christ and the cherubim all interconnected with stones and pencils and lust


Frown Upon Me

When winter falls out I cheer up
Semi-automatic pistol you grip and
It’s like
Put that down honey I’m
Just in league with the bears you know
Don’t be afraid
Just because I am socialist without understanding politics
Just because I say this is how I FEEL out loud loud
And you don’t do anything out loud loud
You say: I am bad at words
You won’t kiss me goodbye in the street
You’re a removable boy access unacceptable
When the moon looms
When your blood is flat
When you are sober
~ Biggest mood: you not letting go of my hand drunk


Mangoes are a night food

I unfurl a peach strip of self denial,
curling tendrils like the mannerisms that
wind me in a high spiral,
each time I sleep I see extensions of my worst trade-offs
and subtle lingering traces of worn out faces and fading tastes.

I see the way your limbs are positioned, they are unsure of
holding company with the air (and really baby I feel that)
yellow soft flesh without a skin and a concrete world he sings
that you stand in hallways thinking about the positioning
of your feet, and the happiness of our lives
was only coming.

I do indeed know the strangest of manifestations,
I do certainly keep company with the eeriest of loves.
Boys can surely contract themselves into small spaces,
the gaps in my brain are of the overly hospitable young.

I held onto him in our old bed and tightly traced
the profile graced with the ability that I gave him
his eyes were closed to look more firmly at the wall
he knew my heart was at his back
he may have held my hand but he did not.
I let love drop from my ears my eyes my tear ducts
Is forever I think)
I held him and said, I wish you well I wish you well I wish you
you hurt me so much
I wish you well I wish you well I wish you everything you can get nobly
I love you
Even as I fall for a better boy
I love you
He took my love in mime
Stayed curled-up, inaccessible and pure
In the dream my sister woke me with her heart at my back
She never touched me
I never touched him
I think that real love is forever
Mango is a night food.


No Chill Kids

I’m sweeping
cold callers collect thoughts and manic and deathly
are you grossed out by sad?
I’m the icky girl no chill just spooky abandon to the rhythmic pulse
gymnastics of feeling floods
like crying toilets drunk
maybe we’ll get cool again I’ll put weed on the balcony
I need a lamp to grow me a glo-up
half streaming
live rot

Well I take photos of lights to hold them in my wet hand cracks
Told her there were two of me that’s a lie there are a million and one
me things
Shakespeare was a matching addict holy hell that quill quick quick good god
give me some Adderall
but I’d only focus on the wrong thing

Drunk dial
Low capped smile
I’d get off at the next stop but he’s gonna miss it
while mentally I put myself down the stairs bang bang
The street slush don’t stop us
Every fucking night I get shot at in my dreams I’m not joking
Last night it was my grandfather
There’s fingers and there’s whingers but I barely kiss gingers
Someone threaded their headphones through their jumper strings
What a strange little hullabaloo
I could do better if I were you
Because I’m a neat-freak never-speak who clean eats
I’ll go far

Mad girls and sad girls might be onto something
I’m crying holla holla wake up at the stars looking down on this shit attack
Honestly get me out asap
I’ll sail space smooth and I won’t look back
But my bones are hollow they don’t ever crack

I see faces places and wastes but I am the one standing on a hill and
Pencey Prep is real as all hell
that is, not very, dubiously transient and flickering like the flame of
a secret place that never cleans itself so sleep me now


Mangoes are a night food and other poems are © Finnuala Simpson

Finnuala Simpson is a twenty-year-old english and history student based in West Cork. In her free time she likes to write, cook, and walk as close to the sea as she can get.

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


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.
Close the door, cry in silence,
wear a mask.
These scattered pieces-
break me up, then make me whole.
I have no power over my thoughts.


Like a pride of lions
I am fierce.
The past,
The present and the future,
I represent them all.
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.


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.


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 mm 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 are © 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


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



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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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


2017 ‘Pulse’ at Double Dialogues 

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

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.


‘Hinnerup’ and other poems by Jess Mc Kinney


It Began as most things do                              moist things do
everything everything       berry stained mouth
beer stickied floor & blood bloom undies
you ‘don’t mind’             and sure
                             I could probably get into you 
                             I only ever feel the bubbles on impact

                            during I’m somewhere else
                       the sun was a hot coal in the sky 
    seeing another one like you                 he came just before	       I                 
              decided a bit too late that I didn’t want what he
  asphyxiated thinking about sourcing justifications for those who insist      swear 
                          that my saliva isn’t a contagion
                          for those who are unknowing

  because kissing me will give you cancer 
  then you’ll never be the invisible thing you imagined running alongside the
and In Dreams                 my hair falls in chunks to a cheering audience
              I grow old & genderless for money
 nightly I wake feverish          trapped in the tight fist of your affection 
         drowning between cool bathroom tiles & Christmas cake sponge

but I won’t keep us downstairs            knitting and gritting at the base
                 begrudging closed doors & far off earing
              while I’m far off reliving tepid buoy lights
                    & what you wanted me to hear
  so I turn my mouth into a repurposed palette for the new                      you
   walking the length of it with sparse sentiments blowing 
					           you              but retaining no heat

       because unfortunately only others can administer the calming
              needed for the curdled bulb of my brain
      between me + heaven: 	           a place where I can smoke
    so I left you holding the cuff of your jumper 	    		     waiting 

                                   & bracing for the blow
AMY: spelled the right way

Frisbeeing your father’s slicked records into the ocean foam
not ‘boomeranging’ as you had once said
not coming back, not this time
but stuck in flux and spinning
reflective disks, CDs scratched and hanging
in the treehouse from which you will fall next year
on a wet November night when you weren’t old enough
trying to smoke a cigarette you stole
that’s why you fell, they said you weren’t old enough

Half our friendship was spent visiting each other in hospital
sparkling butterfly clips offered up on plastic sheets
conniving, bartering for my silence
I’m not supposed to tell anyone it happens
but it was hard to be alone after each cosmic collision
between tempered concussions and snapped clavicles
between fighting parents and shared rooms
so we continue, hushed and daring together, I pinky promise

Primary school passes, as it does, in a flurry
a few fearsome sparks and over, all of a sudden
as if all our memories already belonged to someone else
as if we didn’t need the fumbling trouble to become wisened
hardened, our most emblazoned fights mellowed
our passions come cartoonish like cheap plastic cheese slices
I can’t forget how you’d ring landlines all around town
to find me, 8pm and desperate before bed, to apologize

And when the time came to finally confront you
we were 16 and alone in the middle of a field at night
I’d crawled away from the boyfriend I got to match yours
from the tsunamis of cider, from the gendered expectation
but it was impossible still to make you understand
probably between my being drunk and crawling
so you say it never happened as you help me up
and then I just can’t stand you


turning vodka into wine

*hushed* it’s not just
not just the tropic tonic_____ now
it‘s heavier glassier receptacles
that are emptied quicker

quickly quenching the wild fire
the candle burning at both ends
wilting there now_____by the oven
before bare feet & childish eyes

sonic mother, please provide the cover
and resuscitate my ignorance
hand over cries, humming under covers
could I have been anything_____but a lover?

steady the line between us_____ just & unjust
a lot thinner when you’re stumbling
I’d do anything to be older
old enough to help you up



when well-meaning people align with me
align their lives with mine
it seems that they quit trying to become
or achieve themselves for a time
in a dastardly sense which can only descend
descend to ashes on communion
quickly quenching my reckless romance
romancing which necessitates an end
and so I approach you with an openness
forward an eager and honest grasp
but with well-meaning hands instead I rouse
rouse the ashes already put to bed
tidied away when setting aside the past
covertly hushing the used and the dead
so my digits recoil with the disenchanted
dragging back reverberated perspectives
the intoxicating promise of new loves
desires staining my plain epidermis
with electric potential that will not adhere
when I explain that I’m trying to be good
I don’t want to be problematic at all
honestly not at all and I never did
but that’s the woe of commitment and honesty
a small drop of milk to offset the acidity
I just wanted to love and be loved once and truly
not violently over and over as it has been
a great many loves each more fantastic than the last
the salubrious possibilities adjacent my reaching
my salivating hands reaching towards you
pulling you into the room and into my life
promising you a great many things
leaning beyond you to shield my eyes
but yearning to stay put please
hands reaching to never stop holding yours
I don’t want to disappoint another one
I will not disappoint you anymore



sewing after so long
i wonder if there exists a song
a glass of water warmed in the sun
for each age she’s ever been
all the taps here run scalding
following the dregs of wine
flowing from hot water factories
tell me about her lover
stagnant on the periphery
who lived three towns away
making it harder to soak
she would travel hours to him
the wilting orchids
every other weekend
softening on the windowsill
found sanctuary with his family
reaching up into the day
young and in love
delicate and deliberate
i’d like to know how she felt
like grandmother’s thin fingers
on the birthday that I learned to hate
shaking but capable
the night i faked to get away

Jess Mc Kinney is a queer feminist poet, essayist and English Studies graduate of UCD. Originally from Inishowen, Co. Donegal, she is now living and working in Dublin city, Ireland. Her writing is informed by themes such as sexuality, memory, nature, relationships, gender, mental health and independence. Often visually inspired, she seeks to marry pictorial elements alongside written word. Her work has been previously published in A New Ulster, Impossible Archetype, HeadStuff, In Place, Hunt & Gather, Three fates, and several other local zines.

‘At the door’ and other poems by Eva Griffin

Are you feeling this?

My desire is holding you in its mouth
shaking like a dog toy
amputated to fit my mould.
Regularly, I confuse excitement for affection
in a slow, crowded elevator
where a whisper of white buttoned shirts
is the scream of a night sky in my head,
close as a shoulder brush.

Something to work with

For the work, he says.
Square panels of it
lighting up my screen:
tarp-painted abstractions
punctuated by self-capturing,
sun-faced with grey crown
but not old.
Never old.
A father’s age perhaps.
Yet, I open the message;
orange brimming notification
tells me that he’s thinking
of my shivering in bed
on the other side of the island.
Says that he’ll be good
if he gets the chance.
Good for me.
Good for his ego.
Small slip of a thing waiting
for a night visit, the hot
shower of another body
sliding under covers.
Strong tattooed grasp
on waist; leathered, but
not old.
Light breath in my ear
catches hair like a summer
breeze in his stubble.
As if we’re not in October.
As if we’ll ever be here again.
He whispers, for the work.
It’s all this is.
I am for the work.


Eyes into the fire he tells me
that he sees it,
the next painting:
chrome yellow,
petals on the floor like ash
by our feet,
heads drooping close
like ours could
if I hadn’t left my heart
in the dregs of a pint
soaked through, too wet to carry.
I hold it, cold glass
little sanctuary while my legs burn
bright against the flame shadow.
He notices
I keep stretching it away,
a short press against
the slick stone and back
in again to see the orange
flicker on white,
to feel the pain of stolen heat
and I wonder
will my thin calf be the painting;
warmer in his eyes,
burning under the weight of him,


A jug of milk in the fridge
is what he left me;
half of his own litre
brought from town.
For the tea, we imagine, but
standing in the kitchen
brewing it strong
he feels more like ground coffee;
ember smell of him
from lighting the fire,
rough-handed from work.
Outside, rusted mountains
crease along the skyline
like his eyes, laughing now;
almost disappearing but so full,
I want to believe, of me,
and the clouds of Kerry
in that moment
they look like cream.

At the door

Now, watch as I hang in the air
tempting as a sunset
and just as long.
Storms are not inclined to wait;
better to spill my secret wilderness
as I leave this love,
sucking light out of your blue.

At the door and other poems are © Eva Griffin.

Eva Griffin is a poet living in Dublin and a UCD graduate. Her work has been published or is forthcoming in Tales From the Forest, All the Sins, ImageOut Write, Three Fates, The Ogham Stone, HeadStuff, and New Binary Press.

‘Sugar’ and other poems by Müesser Yeniay


I have another body
               of me

they call it

[but this is pain]

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


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

I find myself

[my love
my doctor]


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


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 written and 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.


Making ‘Den of Sibyl Wren’ by Salma Ahmad Caller


Notes on Salma Ahmad Caller’s process for the making of ‘Den of Sibyl Wren’.


The Den of Sibyl Wren is my response to A Hierarchy of Halls (forthcoming, Smithereens Press, 2018) by Christine Murray. It is my response to words Chris wrote about how she feels about this poem, and what she sees in her mind’s eye.
Details of the image ‘Den of Sibyl Wren’ by Salma Ahmad Caller 
Materials: Watercolour, Indian ink, collage, graphite and gold pigment on Fabriano acid free paper 57cm x 76.3cm

My process involves an intense working back and forth with words and images in my imagination. I write a lot as part of my creative process as an artist, and these writings help me create and develop the visual image. The so-called ‘visual’ image is to me embodied, materialised, haptic and tactile. So the ‘image’ in poetry and metaphorical writing is almost the same as the visual image in art, to me. So there is not a huge gap between text and image. Not in my mind in any case. The flat 2 D image is neither flat nor 2 D – but rather it is a complex and multi-dimensional terrain of emotion, sensation and concept, just as is the written word, especially in poetry.

So it felt very natural to respond to Chris Murray’s very imagistic poetry, which I already love so much.

In preparing to make work in response to A Hierarchy of Halls, I spent time reading and re-reading the poems and reading and re-reading Chris’s little notes she had sent to me via Twitter. And so the The Den of Sibyl Wren emerged. My notes on my own thoughts and responses to reading A Hierarchy of Halls and to what Chris told me about her notion of a Sibyl that represented the wren and its qualities:

  • The smallness and greatness of Sibyl Wren, her green den of spaces that we cannot see and her flight paths carved out in the sky. Tiny but potent and majestic in her domain.
  • A shamanistic female bird being interpreting or bringing the mysteries of the other worldly to us.
  • A materialisation of the invisible.
  • A feminine nature of delicacy, strength and bravery. A guardian.
  • An oracle seeing into the unknown and leading the reader bravely forwards through pain and difficulty.
  • A garden world of tiny potent things.
  • A sky above that is carved into great structures and pathways by nature that we cannot see.
  • A fecundity and joyfulness. Spring, summer.
  • A soaring upwards towards mystery.
  • Invisibility of worlds around us and within us.
  • The dandelion clock telling of another time besides the time we know.
  • A bird shrine under a shadowy tree to the dead bird in Chris’s poem.
  • A tiny female presence sitting and moving in an underworld of unseen unspoken spaces.

Twitter Notes

What Chris Murray said in a series of little Twitter notes to me: “the chapbook is called ‘a hierarchy of halls’ and is about small things, flight, wrens, and huge dreamlike structures are implied, my sibyls and messengers are birdlike creatures/ the little chapbook is called ‘a hierarchy of halls’ and is about a wren’s flight through my garden, am obsessed with bird workings, i didn’t, see a sibyl specifically in bodies, but the first image on the poethead page has a little putti and she is small. this is how my head works: I see the wren as a type of sibyl , small messenger and female. the sibyl should represent the wren ! a type of oracle who leads one into the book

Salma Caller’s process and approach to the Smithereens Press published chapbook ‘A Hierarchy of Halls’

Salma Ahmad Caller is an artist and a hybrid of cultures and faiths. She is drawn to hybrid and ornamental forms, and to how the body expresses itself in the mind to create an embodied ‘image’. UK based, she was born in Iraq to an Egyptian father and a British mother and grew up in Nigeria and Saudi Arabia. With a background in art history and theory, medicine and pharmacology, and several years teaching cross-cultural ways of seeing via non-Western artefacts at Pitt Rivers Museum in Oxford, she now works as an independent artist and teacher.

The Infinite Body of Sensation; visual poetry by Salma Caller
Patterns of Sensation, the Bodies of Dolls, by Salma Caller



All images & images associated with ‘The Den of Sibyl wren’ and ‘A Hierarchy of Halls’ are © Salma Ahmad Caller


‘Invisible Insane’ and other poems by Afric McGlinchey


You can’t decide, you keep glancing
between two lines of thought
the whole length of the tree-hung street;
and you recognise someone saying your name,
and you go right up to the moment,
right up to the third person within you,
but they’re a different shape
in some essential way,
and you re-read your traces,
like a tree, stroking
its silver leaves against the wind
a tree in the cold,
a tree its own breath.
First published in Tears in the Fence (Ed. David Caddy)

On the Road to Westport

I’m trying to shift
focus to the brain, but my heart’s driven
all the blood to my gut, which is churning.
Didn’t know that I’d lost it, till I found
myself halfway to Westport, following you,
a BLT in my lap, cappuccino
in the console, cats’ eyes leering. On the stereo,
You knew all about the racing start
of the heart, then the skidding halt at the trespass.
I race onward, into the dark,
letting my terror be for the bends I’m going round.
It feels like some sort of countdown.
Eleven years ago, I thought about the lesson
I’d learnt from you. Had it at the start
of the journey, alongside this pot
of gladioli, flashing their bravado.
Sit tight, I tell them. We’re taking off.
You knew all about hitting the road
in a rage. The time you rocked
up at our student digs, surprising me and the lads–
and you didn’t bat an eye when you found
I was sharing a room with one. The fellas
adored you, the way you flirted, sitting on the counter
top, impressing them with your rugby know-how.
Praising Robbie for his cooking.
Four long days of liberation,
swimming in the sea
with a boogie board, margaritas
on the roof. Then, you tucked
tail for home. Ah, mum.
I only know that it’s Westport I’m going to,
because I passed the signs three weeks ago.
How long have I been on auto?
See the shovel in the footwell? It’s to honour
a runaway rebel. I’m going to plant
these brazen beings on your grave.
Then follow through.

Invisible insane

  ‘It was always the other way round’
– Margaret Atwood
Not merging
with your reflection in a shop window,
or your shadow up against a wall,
or three-legged jaywalking
across the city’s
huddled roundabouts –
but no matter where,
there’s no getting you out
of my mind.
After all, our planet’s just a snowglobe
for the angels.
Are you google earthing me?
Is that you I can hear,
between bells, faintly?
(‘Invisible insane’ is Google Translate’s Japanese version of the English proverb: ‘out of sight, out of mind.’)

Storm, passing

All kinds of things are happening to me.
Skin’s becoming scaly, forehead a terrain of anthills,
and my feet are stiffening as though belonging to a corpse!
Hair’s falling out of course. And there’s my vision.
I try to read, but words swirl
in little whirlwinds on the page;
even when they’re behaving, I feel
I’m gazing at some complicated log of random numbers.
Enough of this I say aloud, take to the beach –
perhaps it’s distance my eyes are seeking.
But there I find fish tumbling from the sky,
myself face up in a clump of seaweed
foamy wavelets eddying about me.
Almost blinding,
the light is different from what I’m used to.
and I wonder if I’m dreaming,
back in the southern hemisphere,
if this sinking will have a rising too.
The next cat out the bag’s
a girl, fifteen or so,
standing, mouth ajar,
saying nothing.
A mackerel on my belly, flapping.
I see her stare,
want to reach a hand, see if I can touch her
but suddenly she’s not there, and I come to,
still lying in damp sand like a heavy log.
There’s nothing for it but to roll over,
watch the water gouge a groove
where my body’s been.
Back home, I make a cup of tea.
The kettle boils. I lift a green mug from a hook
pour, and squeeze a lemon in.
So far, so good. I wash pots and plates, utensils.
Stare out at laundry, ponder.
The light is dimming and a rush of heat comes over me.
A massive bank of thunderclouds controls the sky.
I put on headphones, turn up the volume,
dance until my body feels fifteen. Rain pounds against the window.
I close the blinds, keep dancing.
(First published in the Italian journal, Inkroci. Ed. Sara Sagroti)

In an instant of refraction and shadow

A plane floats overhead,
lethargically as feathers.
Egyptian cotton billows.
A train somewhere whistles.
You aren’t happy, he tells me,
until you consider yourself
The afternoon light is falling
in a diagonal the length of the floor.
An arrowed line
of black gun powder.
I follow it, feel him
brace for it, my familiar cry…
and then I’m migrating, I’m gone
and there’s only grief here.
(First published in Poetry Ireland Review, ed. Eavan Boland.)


it overwhelms me, an instant of ocean,
delayed grief for the lost years
i dream you back into existence
i dream you back into
i dream you back
I dream you
I dream
i follow you to an unknowable past, mama
each detail of the journey becoming a magnified ignorance
it’s taken this long to find that a solitary walk can result in a headful of light;
returning, i step into my footprints, a kind of retrieval…
cradled in a closed palm, the ring of plaited light
i write until my fingers bleed, i write out my sorrow,
i write into the terror of forgetting
listening to leaves settle, like the drift of a gown on ceramic tiles,
telling you: i think of you, sometimes,
and the sky is infinite, maybe.
First published in Southword (ed. Leanne O’Sullivan)

Afric McGlinchey is a multi-award winning West Cork poet, freelance book editor, reviewer and workshop facilitator. She has published two collections, The lucky star of hidden things (Salmon, 2012) and Ghost of the Fisher Cat (Salmon, 2016), the former of which was also translated into Italian by Lorenzo Mari and published by L’Arcolaio. McGlinchey’s work has been widely anthologized and translated, and recent poems have been published in The Stinging Fly, Otra Iglesia Es Imposible, The Same, New Contrast, Numéro Cinq, Poetry Ireland Review, Incroci, The Rochford Street Journal and Prelude. In 2016 McGlinchey was commissioned to write a poem for the Breast Check Clinic in Cork and also for the Irish Composers Collective, whose interpretations were performed at the Architectural Archive in Dublin. Her work has been broadcast on RTE’s Poetry Programme, Arena, Live FM and on The Poetry Jukebox in Belfast. McGlinchey has been awarded an Arts Council bursary to research her next project, a prose-poetry auto-fictional account of a peripatetic upbringing.
Invisible Insane and other poems are © Afric McGlinchey

Ghost of the Fisher Cat


‘Tracing Rivers’ and other poems by Ilyana Kuhling

Ambiguous Loss

She is a mortician.

You see
she doesn’t move.
No eyes open, only
ragged breath. Flushed cheeks.

She has prepared the body
nearly a century.
Not yet embalmed
but ready.

The lipstick is a light rose,
it makes white face
seem ghostly

And glasses perch on a nose
like mine
if lids were to open
they still wouldn’t see

She is her own mortician.

I have come to the funeral
every saturday
I have said goodbye

And kissed her

I have watched
the process
of becoming a corpse


Fixed Vortex

Feeble fingers have collapsed into themselves
her fist, like an infant’s
lies limp in her lap

As if made of marble
the grip won’t relax

“What is it that you
are holding on to?”

I take her thumb
try to unfurl the claw, the nails
digging into her palm

she must
be searching for some sensation
some sting of pain


I am watching two blue planets
to see if they
notice the sound

if gravity can pull them,
alter the orbit,
and turn them toward me

“Do you know who I am?”

they are empty planets
they don’t move

she is here
and not here

in the fixed vortex
of this
in between


We took you to mass today
I can’t remember
the last time you spoke

it could have been a year ago

and yet,
the words of the rosary are on your lips
a softest kiss

you can’t forget


I am looking at you now,
piece by piece
to reconstruct the you
you were

I strip away
the hair, white wisps
the skin, paper-thin, translucent
the muscle, the fat,
the soft

Right down to the bone
your bones
containing multitudes
of a lifetime
and my father’s
and mine

I piece you back together
carve the muscles that would
hold me tight in your arms,
the fat that made your
embrace so warm
the skin, toughened with time
the hair as thick as mine.

I am looking at you now
and you are looking at me too.
in those eyes of deepest blue
I think you recognize me,
And I, you

Tracing Rivers

Your frailness
the veins, thin filaments
just under the surface

I trace with light touch
three rivers
as if faintest pressure
might stop the flow

Did you know
some cacti
survive years
without water?

Have adapted
to rainlessness
still bloom

But you?

It has been years.

Would anything
be better
than this?

Even drought.

Athrú / Change

Tá an seanteach seo
ag titim.

Siúlaim istigh, ar chosa éadroma
lámha sínte
chun clocha a ghabháil

Níl ach deannach fágtha


This old house
is falling down.

Palms outstretched
to catch the stones.

Only dust
is left.

Ilyana Kuhling is an Irish-Canadian poet based in Limerick, and a lover of all things spoken word. This year, she won the British Psychological Society’s 2017 poetry competition and her poem Multitudes was published in the August 2017 issue of The Psychologist. Ilyana’s poetry has also been published in Silver Apples, Artis Natura and Dodging the Rain, and she was featured in the Poetry Day Ireland 2017 Mix-Tape, curated by Lagan Online and Poetry NI. Her favourite poets include Sylvia Plath and Elizabeth Bishop, and she firmly believes that a good cup of tea can solve almost anything.

‘Fugue’ and other poems by Chelsea Dingman

British Columbia Pastoral

September: almost snow.
White sheets across
the sky, the fields. How strange
the frost, feral over desert
hills. Sage brush
caught in the cattle’s
teeth. The river cuts
a swath where I am
trying to tell you about grass
that presses up through
the ground without urging.
About merciless suns
taking our eyes. You shield
your mouth as I speak.
The wars I won’t admit
like dying daisies, their corpses
linting the grass. In summer,
we swam in the Thompson
River. In feral heat. Baptized
new again. The kites
of our bodies cutting
a swath through green
water. But as water rises
in spring, it will take you
with it. With thawed glaciers
& snow. With bones
we can’t make smaller
once grown. Dead trees
claw at rocks on the river-
bottom, swollen belly
of a child rising up
like a balloon
in the April sun.
(Originally published in Sugar House Review)

Accident Report: After the Baby Dies at Birth

First, I asked for
mercy, when mercy
was a small sliver
of light. My bones
softened by the body
leaving them. You asked
questions, green
tea in hand. Some
lemon. A cleanse
of sorts, as I refused
your prayers. The sky,
faithless, darkening
again. You wanted
to know what’s next,
when we would try
again, what every doctor
had to say. I was
an empty stall
in a gas station
bathroom. I said, never.
But now I say
now, let’s try now,
before I lose
my nerve. But you
don’t want to touch me
yet. You eye my body
like a broken trough
looking for any sign
of seepage. I drink
from the mug. You move
away, the way the wounded
animal moves before
it tucks tail & runs. Every
good-bye is unnecessary
after holding something
as it dies. I want to feel full
again, I say. The door, open
as a mouth. You raise
your hand over my body
& ask, where does it
hurt? But I can’t say,
everywhere. I can’t
say, it hurts everywhere
I’m touched. I can’t
say, touch me every
-where. Please.
(Originally published in Bennington Review)


“When Plath’s journals, with their claims of abuse, began to be published, many critics pointed out these claims as not only false but also proof that Plath was paranoid, crazy.”
-Emily Van Duyne
There is a river, & in its mouth, the holocaust
night I gave birth to a broken mirror,
the shard that stuck in a man’s neck.
He pulled it out & that was the beginning
of blood. The nightmares. Being chased
through a small ghost
town, windows shut & boarded, only shadows
to command: break or break me.
I had a god, once. Somewhere, I think
I’ll know how to be full & limber
& not the husk that held the crowning
dark. Not the woman, unbelieved.
He hit me. The night the baby died,
I was tired of the blank stars dying quietly
years from here. I should’ve braced myself—
his fists like arrowheads. The glass
river, leaking bodies. I’ll fucking kill you.
Even now, I close my eyes & hear water.
There is no baby. There never was.
forthcoming in Pleaides

Traveling Through Tennessee in January

Again, I drive through dead forests
longing to flower. I think of nothing.
Not you. Not our children with their mouths
hanging half-open like shutters
over the windows, the summer
Rita followed Katrina into the Gulf
& taught us what women are capable of.
Frost on the ground, the morning after
Rita left, when it had been ninety degrees
a day before. The remains of the poor
creatures that couldn’t withstand the cold,
curled on white-tipped grasses. Fields
& hills pass outside the car’s windows, late
afternoon. Houses riven from each other
by land. Not water. Not here, north
of where I left you. The fields, lit from inside
as the sun slides behind hills. I try to remember
your voice. Low, like dusk. It didn’t mean anything,
you said. But I know that you can’t feel
anything & I can’t feel anything
less. At the interchange of I-75 North
& I-24, I drive further into the night
from where I left you. From
where you were standing
when a voice on the radio cautioned us
against a new woman blazing
in from the east, a bloody heart
tucked between her teeth.
Originally published in Arcadia

Hunger [or the last of the daughter-hymns] 

(n) a feeling of discomfort or weakness caused by lack of food, coupled with the desire to eat—

as I talk to wind winnowing my ribs into wind
   chimes. I swallow small coins from the counters,
wanting change my body can keep. I stand

   on the street corner in the rain & coax water
into my mouth like a woman who doesn’t know
   the fullness of the sea. My mother worked

three jobs to feed our family. Now, I horde
   toilet paper & paper towels in spare closets
with cans of soup & creamed corn. The wind

   hollows the oaks. Their bones don’t know
what it is to break, but I am a hollow
  instrument, a sacred text. Daughter [less].

(v) have a strong desire or craving for

a body inside my body—
a child, a man. 

Fields, full. The sun,
aflame. Fear like a shot

-gun, an aborted flight
plan, people jumping

from buildings. But 
my daughter, I draw back

down. The one I lost. 
The ones I have left

to lose. Like snow—
the bodies that are ours

for a season. For less.

(v) to feel or suffer through lack of food

        the weak sunrise

in my daughter’s new

      silence. My skin, a loose 

sheet. Her clavicle, hip

        -bone, head. My cervix, 

thinned. Her body, an offering. A prayer

I whisper as I tear

			new maps in a lucid dream

where I live alone

	& she folds herself into a crane

			to hang from the ceiling

of someone else’s womb. 

Originally published in Sycamore Review
Near Narajiv Selo 

-Hunger, cold, and ethnic oppression forced Ukrainian and Jewish people to look for refuge in faraway lands
(1919-1939, when Eastern Galicia belonged to Poland) - Roman Zakhariy

A dark road. Stars like paper 
    lanterns. Long grasses unthread in thousands 

           of flickering fingers. Poppies’ 

mouths buttoned black, as wind 
      shrifts crimson 

petals from stems, from fields torn by tractor tires, from a barn below 
       the hill. My stomach, where I left things 
                 pierced by little more than night 

       air. Like shackled light, the moon is
       outlawed in the pines. I unholster 
the sky: 
        at dawn, cattle cry in the clearing 

as I dig up 
      rutabaga, cabbage to wrap the rice. Water claws through 
      dirt. Claw hammers

for hands, I carve our breaths
into trees. Our breaths, like silver buildings. As I slowly empty
            the earth, sky

          buries night. Night 
  that smells of gunpowder and grease. Night 
         that leaves nothing 
         than a handful of stars, twined 
    in the pines’ 
rime. Nothing more
			than a river
		where no one has drowned.
Originally published in Southern Humanities Review

Chelsea Dingman’s first book, Thaw, was chosen by Allison Joseph to win the National Poetry Series (University of Georgia Press, 2017). In 2016-17, she also won The Southeast Review’s Gearhart Poetry Prize, The Sycamore Review’s Wabash Prize, and Water-stone Review’s Jane Kenyon Poetry Prize. Her work can be found in Ninth Letter, The Colorado Review, Mid-American Review, Cincinnati Review, and Gulf Coast, among others. Visit her website. 

“Alethiometer” and other poems by Eleanor Hooker


for John & Fedelma Tierney
I have one marble only, glass-curled greens and blue.
It’s kept inside a golden globe with turquoise studs,
I swing it from a chain: my dowsing stone, my truth-seer.
Once it knocked against an ancient head, cracked it so its walnut core
Leaked sepia images of a being lived inside another time, another age,
Before the image replaced the real and the real was more than shadow.
Outside the cave I glassed the play of light and shadow,
And when my only marble fell from its golden globe onto a blue
Tiled ocean floor, I swam after. The ancient head, wise with age,
Told me he had too lost his, recalled the studs
Inside the coloured orb, their curled blues, their seedy core
His own two eyes: Learian days that left him sightless and a seer.
My ancient friend dismissed the lies of a mummer seer
Whose falsest claim is that to love someone is to dispossess him of his shadow,
To wipe out every trace of him. Is this not indeed a murderous future? Our core
Belief that we are sworn to good and not extremes is not illusory. Those blue-
Eyed boys in ivory towers profess there is no truth, no self, nothings real; the studs
That breed such suasive tales are only there to fill the storybooks of our age.
Along the furrows of my brow I found a little pebble, it seemed an age
Since I had lost my marble. This purple stone weighed but a fraction of a seer.
It rattles in the golden globe, its hollow ring dislodging all the turquoise studs.
In the desert of the real, we watched the sun expand and then contract my shadow.
The ancient head has none. Though he is dead, we still talk. When the moon is blue
And the sky is starry nights, we harvest all the fruits of happy thoughts and core
Them for their seeds. “Is all of speech deception, all meaning at its core
Inherently unsound?” I asked the wise old head. He’d reached an age,
He said, and no longer feared such things, was satisfied there were no blue-
Prints or master schemes, simple truths apply—it does not take a seer
To tell you that the darkest hour is just before the dawn. All of us are shadow-
Dancing but mustn’t let the darkness intercept the light. The mettle studs
He riveted to the heart of my resolve are turquoise studs
In reinforced solutions. I’ve made up two new moulds, hollowed out their core
For curled glass in colours of the universe, whose negatives in shadow
Graphs are images of beings lived inside another time, another age,
Before I was madder than unreason and he mapped inscape as a seer
And gladness had another view, before betrayal choked intentions blue.
Talk on this blue-green sphere sets the lens within our glass-eye studs,
Through which the seer sees us stumble through the worth of words, in that core
Bewitchment of every age that cannot tell the real from dancing shadow.
First published in WOW! Anthology 2011, and subsequently in The Shadow Owner’s Companion (2012)

Escape Route

You fix our ladder in the scorched earth,
watch as the crows crowd round us,
I hear their cautionary caw-caws, but cover
your ears against their thin black sermons.
And so we climb. Me. Then you.
Runged, we stroke each bird,
‘sedate and clerical’ –
one bestows a molted quill feather,
colour-run like oil-marked silk.
Is it an omen? You ask. Should we go back?
I don’t answer; I’m too busy holding up the sky.

New Year’s Eve / Old Year’s Day

We are the survivors
who wait by the barricade
for the slow countdown.
Some of our dead slip through,
stand beside us, unsteady, unclothed, low –
we cannot take them with us.
The cry goes up for cheer,
smile, they demand, be merry.
Fireworks tear the stars
from the moon, pock the night
with dissimulated Armageddon,
the awed throng pitches forward.
If not in groups then kinfolk
keep in hailing distance,
their calls, inmost, distinctive,
provisional. My Dad sees me first.
He’s changed; parchment against bone,
eyes gone the colour of vertigo.
I am a smashed pane
that lets the rained downpour in,
in to vacant tenure.
As the countdown begins
there’s a clamour for the barricade,
and this is where we’re obliged to live on.
“Escape Route” and “New Year’s Eve / Old Year’s Day” are © Eleanor Hooker

Eleanor Hooker in an Irish poet. Her second collection, A Tug of Blue (Dedalus Press) was published October 2016. In 2013 her debut, A Shadow Owner’s Companion was shortlisted for the Strong/Shine Award for Best First Irish collection from 2012. Her poems have been published in literary journals internationally including: Poetry, Poetry Ireland Review, PN Review, Agenda and The Dark Mountain Project (forthcoming). Her poems have been nominated for a Pushcart and Forward Prize.

She is featured poet in the winter 2017 New Hibernia Review, University of St. Thomas, Minnesota. She won the 2016 UK Bare Fiction Flash Fiction competition. Eleanor holds an MPhil (Distinction) in Creative Writing from Trinity College Dublin, an MA in Cultural History (Hons) University of Northumbria, a BA (Hons 1st), Open University. She is Programme Curator for Dromineer Literary Festival.

She is helm and Press Officer for Lough Derg RNLI Lifeboat. She began her career as a nurse and midwife.

Eleanor’s website.

“Nightmare” and “The Fall” by Eleanor Hooker (Poethead)

“Foraois Bháistí” agus dánta eile le Doireann Ní Ghríofa

Foraois Bháistí

I mbreacsholas na maidine, leagaim uaim an scuab
nuair a aimsím radharc nach bhfacthas cheana
ag dealramh ar an mballa: fuinneog úr snoite as solas,
líonta le duilleog-dhamhsa. Múnlaíonn géaga crainn
lasmuigh na gathanna gréine d’fhonn cruthanna dubha
a chur ag damhsa ar an mballa fúthu, an duilliúr ina chlúmh
tiubh glas, an solas ag síothlú is ag rince tríothu.
Fuinneog dhearmadta ar dhomhain eile atá ann, áit agus am
caillte i gcroí na Brasaíle, áit a shamhlaím fear ag breathnú
ar urlár na foraoise, ar an mbreacscáth ann, faoi dhraíocht
ag imeartas scáile, dearmad déanta aige ar an léarscáil,
ar an bpár atá ag claochlú ina lámh: bánaithe anois,
gan rian pinn air níos mó, gan ach bearna tobann
ag leá amach roimhe. Airíonn sé coiscéim
agus breathnaíonn sé siar thar a ghualainn,
mar a bhreathnaímse thar mo ghualainn anois,
ach ní fheiceann ceachtar againn éinne.
Níl éinne ann.


In morning’s piebald light. I set aside my duster
on finding a view I’ve never noticed before
surfacing on the wall, a new window, sunlight-snipped,
filled with shadow-twist and leaf-flit. Branches shape
the sunlight from outside, sculpting dark forms
and setting them dancing on the wall, green-furred with foliage,
light swaying and simmering through. I watch it become
a window to some other world, a time and place forgotten,
lost in a Brazilian forest, where I imagine a man stands, gazing
at the forest floor, at the reflected speckle-shadow, enthralled
by the play of shade he sees there, and he is forgetting his map,
the parchment that is swiftly transforming in his hand, emptying
itself now, until no trace of a pen remains and a sudden void
stretches before him. He hears a footstep and his breath quickens,
a gasp, a fast-glance back over his shoulder,
as I glance over my shoulder now, too,
but neither of us see anyone.
No one is there.

(Don Té a Deir nach bhfuil Gá le Bronntanas i mBliana)

Tosaím i gcroí na Samhna. Cíoraim gach seilf,
gach siopa, gach suíomh idirlíon. Caithim laethanta
fada ag cuardach fuinneoga na cathrach ach fós,
ní thagaim ar an bhféirín cuí.
Tagann agus imíonn na seachtainí. Táim ar tí
éirí as, in ísle brí, go dtí go ndúisíonn glór na gaoithe
i lár na hoíche mé, freagra na faidhbe aici.
Tabharfaidh mé boladh na báistí duit, a chroí.
Meán oíche. Siúlaim síos staighre ar bharraicíní
chun múnlán oighir a leagan ar leac fuinneoige.
Oíche beo le báisteach atá romham,
díle bháistí á scaoileadh sa ghairdín.
Amach liom, cosnochta faoin mbáisteach.
Bailíonn braonta na hoíche isteach sa phlaisteach,
seomraí beaga bána ag borradh le huiscí suaite
na spéire tite, dromchla gach ciúb ar crith le scáil
na scamall tharstu, agus ina measc, blúirí den spéir
réaltbhreac. Ritheann creatha fuachta tríom agus fillim
ar an tigh, rian coise fliucha fágtha i mo dhiaidh.
Sa reoiteoir, iompóidh an bháisteach ghafa ina hoighear.
Cruafaidh scáileanna réalta ann, claochlú ciúin, fuar.
B’fhéidir nach n-inseoidh mé an scéal seo duit riamh.
I ngan fhios duit, ar iarnóin Nollag, b’fhéidir
go líonfaidh mé gloine leis an oighear ar do shon,
féirín uaim, cuimhneachán d’oíche nach bhfaca tú,
nuair a d’éalaíos uait, chun braonta agus réalta
a bhailiú duit. I ngloine, sínfidh mé féirín dúbailte
chugat – boladh na báistí agus luas a titime araon.
Scaoilfidh mé braon ar bhraon le titim tríot,
báisteach na hoíche ag stealladh ionat, á slogadh
scornach go bolg, titim réaltbhreac tobann.

(For One who Says that No Gift is Needed this Year)

I begin in November, and search every shelf,
every shop, every website. So many afternoons,
spent peering through windows, and still
I can’t find a gift for you.
Weeks come, weeks go, and I become glum,
I begin to think that I’ll have to give up. But tonight,
the wind’s voice wakes me and her answer is clear.
I will capture the smell of rain for you, my dear.
At midnight, I tiptoe downstairs
to place a plastic tray on the windowsill
and find the night alive with rain,
a flood-fall spinning in the garden.
Barefoot, the rain lurching around me, I watch
drops rush into the plastic cubes until all
the small white rooms brim with storm-waters;
between surface reflections of cloud,
slivers of a vast dark speckled with stars.
Shivering, I turn back home, drizzling damp
footprints after me. In the freezer,
this captured rain will turn to ice.
Stars will harden and take hold in a transformation
both silent and cold. Maybe I won’t tell you.
Maybe on a Christmas afternoon, I’ll just
fill your glass with these ice cubes, a silent gift
from me to you, souvenir of a night you never knew,
when I crept out to catch rain and stars and parcel them
in ice for you. When I hand you a glass it’ll be a twin present –
both the scent of rain, and the velocity of a fall.
The drops will plunge again, a night-rain
moving inside you, gullet
to gut, a sudden, star-dappled plummet.
A gift.
Foraois Bháistí agus dánta eile le Doireann Ní Ghríofa & english translations by the poet

Faoi Ghlas 

Tá sí faoi ghlas ann          fós, sa teach          tréigthe, 
cé go bhfuil          aigéin idir í          agus an teach 
	a d’fhág sí          ina diaidh. 

I mbrat uaine          a cuid cniotála,          samhlaíonn sí 
	sraitheanna, ciseal glasa          péinte 
ag scamhadh ón mballa          sa teach inar chaith sí — 

	— inar chas sí          eochair, blianta
ó shin,          an teach atá          fós ag fanacht uirthi, 
	ag amharc          amach thar an bhfarraige mhór. 

Tá an eochair ar shlabhra          aici, crochta óna muineál 
	agus filleann sí          ann, scaití,          nuair 
a mhothaíonn sí          cloíte.          Lámh léi 

ar eochair an tslabhra, dúnann sí         a súile agus samhlaíonn 
	sí an teach úd          cois cladaigh, an dath céanna 
lena cuid olla cniotála, na ballaí          gorm-ghlas, 

teach          tógtha ón uisce,          teach tógtha          as uisce 
	agus an radharc          ann: 
citeal ag crónán,          gal scaipthe,          scaoilte 

ó fhuinneog an pharlúis, na toir          i mbladhm, 
	tinte ag scaipeadh          ar an aiteann 
agus éan ceoil a máthair ag portaireacht          ina chliabhán, 

ach cuireann na smaointe sin ceangal          ar a cliabhrach 
	agus filleann sí arís          ar a seomra néata, ar lá néata 
eile           sa teach 

altranais,          teanga na mbanaltraí dearmadta          aici, 
	seachas please agus please agus please, 
tá sí cinnte de          nach          dtuigeann siad          cumha

	ná tonnta ná glas. Timpeall a muiníl, 
ualach          an eochair          do doras a shamhlaíonn          sí 
faoi ghlas fós, ach          ní aontaíonn an eochair          sin 

leis an nglas níos mó     tá an chomhla dá hinsí     i ngan fhios di 
	an tinteán líonta          le brosna          préacháin 
fós, fáisceann sí an chniotáil          chuig a croí 

ansin baineann sí dá dealgáin          í, á roiseadh go mall arís, 
arís, na línte scaoilte          ina ceann          agus ina gceann 
	snáth roiste:          gorm-ghlas gorm-ghlas gorm-ghlas

gorm-ghlas gorm-ghlas gorm-ghlas          amhail cuilithíní 
	cois cladaigh      nó roiseanna farraige móire.      Sracann sí 
go dtí go bhfuil sí          féin          faoi 

ghlas         le snáth         á chlúdach         ó mhuineál go hucht. 
	Ansin,      ceanglaíonn sí      snaidhm úr, snaidhm      docht, 
ardaíonn sí na dealgáin          agus tosaíonn sí          arís.

	Under Lock and Green

She is locked there 	still, in the empty 	house, 	
despite 	   	 the ocean between her	and this house, 
	the one	she left 		behind her.

In the green sweep 	of her knitting	 she imagines
	layers, green layers			of paint
a wall peeling 		in the house where she spent –

– where she turned 		a key, years
	ago, before, 	the house that is 	still waiting for her
gazing 			over a vast ocean.

She wears the key on a chain 	that hangs at her throat
	and she returns 		there, sometimes, 	when 
she feels 	weak.		With one hand

over that chained key, she closes 	her eyes and daydreams
	that house 	by the beach, the same colour
as her wool, the walls 		blue-green, 

a house		from water, a house 	of water
	and the view 	there:
a fretting kettle, 	its steam loose, 		leaving

through the parlour window, where the furze is 		aflame,
	fires swelling 		through the gorse,
and her mother’s songbird chirping 		in its cage,

but thoughts like these bind 	her chest too tightly
	so she lets go, and returns  	to this neat little room, this neat little day
another		in this home

this home for the elderly	where she forgot the nurses’ words years ago
	except please 	and please 		and please, and she’s certain
that they		understand neither cumha 		

	nor tonnta 	nor the glas		at her throat,
the weight of a key	   for a door 	she imagines	
	still locked, but 		the key won’t slot 

into her remembered lock	the door has fallen from its hinges	in her absence 
	the hearth fills			with the kindling 	of crows
still, she nestles her knitting 	in near her heart

then lifts it from the needles, 		unravels it slowly again,
again, the lines released		one		by one
	unravelled, the thread:		blue-green blue-green blue-green 

blue-green blue-green blue-green 		like little ripples 
	scribbling on the shore 		or immense ripping oceans. She tears
until 		she is		under

lock and green again, 	with wool 	covering her	neck and chest.
	Then, 	a breath, and then,		she ties		a new knot,
lifts the needles 			and begins 		again.

Doireann Ní Ghríofa is a bilingual writer working both in Irish and English. Among her awards are the Rooney Prize for Irish Literature, the Michael Hartnett Prize, and the Ireland Chair of Poetry bursary. She frequently participates in cross-disciplinary collaborations, fusing poetry with film, dance, music, and visual art. Doireann’s writing has appeared widely, including in The Irish Times, The Irish Examiner, The Stinging Fly, and Poetry, and has been translated into many languages, most recently to French, Greek, Dutch, Macedonian, Gujarati, and English. Recent or forthcoming commissions include work for The Poetry Society (UK), RTÉ Radio 1, Cork City Council & Libraries, The Arts Council/Crash Ensemble, and UCC. Her most recent book is Oighear (Coiscéim, 2017)



SCA/OPES – by Nicole Peyrafitte



Lake Palourde







Tide Pools

Encinitas, California, October 2013


Re-visiting Encinitas California &
measuring the past: 

“how to measure such distances
how to count such measures” sz PJ


in step with Pacific ocean
memories’ ebb & flow
tide-pools of hardy organisms
cast reflection
but what measure measures the past?
remains? newbies?
Anthopleura elegantissima?
I too stretch
& clone myself
wear a shrapnel
shell camouflage
practice both sexual
& asexual reproduction
temporarily attached to
immersed objects

Pollicipes polymerus?
our peduncle is plump
short edible
attached to a rock
beaten by the waves
coping with flux & reflux
anemones, goose barnacles
pelagic witnesses
symbiotic walk
on provisory bottom
onlookers mirror
life of constant changes
shared illusion with
sardines & mackerel
the alternate rhythmic condition
back & fro movement
decline & renewal 

a mighty fear
a sounded fear
a good fear
in a rare intertidal zone
mussels prey on barnacle larvae

Revoir Encinitas, Californie 
& mesurer le passé:

“comment mesurer de telles distances
 comment compter de telles mesures” dit PJ


dans la foulée du Pacifique
ebbe et jusant des mémoires
flaques résiduelles d’organismes hardis
jètent une réflexion
quelle mesure mesure le passé?
les restes? le neuf?
Anthopleura elegantissima?
moi aussi je m’étire
& me clone
porte un camouflage
d’éclats de coquillages
je pratique les reproductions
sexuées & non-sexuées
attachée temporairement
aux objets immergés

Pollicipes polymerus?
notre pédoncule est charnu
court comestible
fixé à un rocher
battu par les vagues
surmonte flux et reflux
anémones pouces-pied
témoins pélagiques
marche symbiotique
sur fond provisoire
où les
spectateurs reflètent
les changements constants
une illusion partagée avec
sardines & maquereaux
une condition rythmique alternée
avec mouvement avant arrière
déclin & renouveauune

peur puissante
une peur raisonnée
une bonne peur
dans l’estran rare
les moules se gorgent de leur larves

West Wing

In Flight To Seattle, Washington, March 2014



image01 image07

nicole_peyrafitteNicole Peyrafitte is a pluridisciplinary artist born and raised in the Gascony part of the Pyrenees & residing in Brooklyn, N.Y with her husband poet, essayist, translator Pierre Joris. Her texts, voice-work, paintings, videos, films, translations & cooking are displayed in a range of multi lingual & multi-faceted performances. Peyrafitte’s work is informed & characterized by a daily practice — a quest for life in art and art in life between two continents & four languages. 

Latest publication: Bi-Valve: Vulvic Space/Vulvic Knowledge, 17 paintings, 17 multilingual texts, 1 recipe & 1 CD (Stockport Flats, 2013). Forthcoming: Land0Scape (bi-langual texts), éditions Plaine Page, France. Her translations work includes, Nicole Brossard, Yoko Otomo, Gary Hill, Marcela Delpastre, Bernat Manciet.

                                        Images and words are © Nicole Peyrafitte

More info on publications & more:

“Sanctus” by Kimberly Campanello


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


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


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

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

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

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


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

Pic by Brian Kavanagh

How to Hide Unhappiness / Cum Ascundem Nefericirea by Ștefan Manasia translated by Clara Burghelea

The Miracle

The red leaves
struggle in the glass-

angels whose name
I don’t know

I press them among the pages
of the dead poet’s book,

whose name I promise
to unlearn.

A little water
(glittering like vodka)

and their torture
seems attractive to me.

From the bus, I showed

the red tree
like the one in Kim-Ki-duk’s
Spring, Summer, Fall…Winter and Spring.

I was afraid the driver
might increase speed

and she will per sempre miss
the miracle.

*Published, Waxwing Literary Journal


Frunzele rosii
Rezista in paharul de sticla-

Ingeri al caror nume
nu-l cunosc.

Le presar intre paginile cartii
Poetului mort,

De-al carui nume
Promit sa ma dezvat.

Putina apa
(sticleste ca vodca)

Si tortura lor imi pare

Din autobuz i-am aratat

Copacul rosu ca-n
Anotimpurile lui Kim-Ki-duk.

Mi-era teama
ca o sa accelereze soferul

iar ea va pierde per sempre

*Published, Waxwing Literary Journal



My father sends off black
energy also
under the Moons
of another planet.



Tata emite energie
neagra si sub Lunile
altei planete.

The Yellow Armada

Swollen like lead bullets,
the forsythia buds
are about to burst.
Unhinged from their little parachutes,
the aliens have entered the town-
occupied it in one night.
Carlos Williams, Viorel Muresan
are no longer here,
no one will make it.


Umflaţi ca alicele,
mugurii de forsythia
stau să pleznească.
Descotorosiţi de paraşutele micuţe,
alienii au intrat în oraş –
l-au colonizat într-o noapte.
William Carlos Williams, Viorel
Mureşan nu mai sînt pe aici,
nimeni n-are să scape.


About a Girl

She has no signal
but knows how to give signals.
When she holds you tight
by her little, ,
florally-tattooed hand
leading you through the club,
through the colonies of polyps. You’d

follow her, even if
there were a cage
under the butcher’s block
at the end of the hallway.
But she’s laughing now –

a strange Asian woman
at an acupuncture class. You

kiss her and she bites you
and butterflies millions of them,
subatomic, flap
their wings artery
to artery and ampoules
of Benzedrine,
thousands of them,
break on their wings.

And you ask yourself,
almost overflowing with happiness:

What does the childhood of an extraterrestrial look like?
On what part of the male anatomy
did the Stone Age queens nibble?
Who will distribute the clones
in the posthuman social pyramid?


Ea n-are semnal
dar ştie să emită semnale.
Cînd te tîrăşte de mînă prin club
prin mulţimea de polipi
cu mînuţa ei fermă
tatuată floral. Ai

urma-o chiar dacă
în capătul holului
o să v-aştepte o cuşcă
şi-o masă de măcelărie.
Numai că ea rîde acum –

asiatică stranie
la lecţia de
acupunctură. O

săruţi şi te muşcă
şi milioane de fluturi
subatomici îţi
zboară de pe o arteră
pe alta, şi mii de fiole
de benzedrină li se
sfărîmă de aripi.
Iar tu te întrebi
aproape explodînd
de-atîta fericire:

Cum arăta copilăria unui extraterestru?
Ce parte din anatomia masculină ronţăiau
reginele din epoca de piatră?
Cine o să repartizeze clonele în
piramida socială postumană?


How to Hide Unhappiness

Forsythia or Hibiscus?
She asks, passing
Rows of sofas, executive
Chairs with arms, shower cabins,
four-person hot tubs,
energy efficient light bulbs
metal-halide lamps,
table lamps, screws.

Hibiscus, but make sure it isn’t purple,
He says, purple is kind of
common and vulgar.
The Chinese put the sour flour
in their tea
and fill themselves
with antioxidants
for the entire year.

Hibiscus, he says, pink or white.

*Published, Waxwing Literary Journal


Forsythia sau Hibiscus?
întreabă ea, cînd traversează
şirurile de canapele, fotolii
directoriale, cabine de duş,
căzi de patru persoane,
becuri economice,
lămpi metal halide,
veioze, şuruburi.

Hibiscus, dar să nu fie mov,
Răspunde el, mov e aşa
comun şi vulgar.
Chinezii pun floarea
acrişoară în ceai
şi se umplu
de antioxidanţi
să le ajungă tot anul.

Hibiscus, spune el, alb sau roz.

*Published, Waxwing Literary Journal

How to Hide Unhappiness / Cum Ascundem Nefericirea & other poems are © Ștefan Manasia, these translations are © Clara Burghelea

About Ștefan MANASIA

Ștefan MANASIA (born in 1977, Piteşti, Romania). He is a poet and journalist, editor of Tribuna cultural magazine. He founded Thoreau’s Nephew Reading Club in Cluj, 2008, alongside Szántai János and François Bréda, which became the largest Romanian-Hungarian literary community in Transilvania. He published 6 volumes of poetry and had his poems translated in Hungarian, French, German, Polish and Modern Hebrew. He is also the author of a collection of essays and literary chronicles published in 2016: Stabilizator de aromă/ The aroma stabilizer. His poetical credo is Man, this mystic bug.

About Clara Burghelea


Clara Burghelea is a recipient of the 2018 Robert Muroff Poetry Award. She is Editor at Large of Village of Crickets and got her MFA in Creative Writing from Adelphi University. Her poems and fiction have been published in Peacock Journal, Full of Crow Press, Quail Bell Magazine, Ambit Magazine, The Write Launch and elsewhere.

“mia council casa es tu council casa” and other poems by Ali Whitelock

i am the sea

			that january.     
			prestwick beach.

		the sea heaves.  swallows herself down 
	like cough syrup in thick slow gulps. we’d sat on this rock 
just two days before, both of us with our backs to the world 
		staring out across and into 
			the thickness. 

		i counted a thousand and one seagulls that day 
	watched them huddle together, balance like storks 
on a single orange leg the other nestled up in the warmth 
	of their soft white bellies as they, with uncharacteristic
		patience, waited for the rain that would surely fall

		and when the wind whipped up, andrew
	jumped from our rock pulled his emerald green kite
from his rucksack tore off down the desolate beach his kite ploughing 
	a trench in the sand behind him, eager for the gust that would
		lift it to where it wanted to be 
		and every few seconds he’d turn around 
	and run backwards untangling cords and calling out across
the increasing distance between us, ‘c’mon on ali! c’mon!’  and i heeded
	his call, jumped from our rock and ran as fast as i could
		in jeans frozen stiff as though they’d 
			been pegged on the line 

			in an overnight frost and i shrieked 
		with the gladness of finally being here with him— 
	and no black clouds could ever threaten this day for us.  and he kept on
running and turning, turning and untangling till finally a gust obliged and
	his emerald green kite soared skywards and free—as free as we are 
		ourselves if only we’ll listen.
		we’d parked the car just up there by mancini’s 
	snack van, closed for the winter now, its magnum ice-cream posters,
faded and neglected, flap listlessly in the wind and the menu promising 
	hot chips and curry sauce hangs on the outside wall,
		saturated by rains gone by forcing

		words to fade, corners to curl and brown 
	moisture spots to appear in the most unappetising of ways. 
we’d laid our picnic out on this rock, poured tea from our tartan thermos 
	ate buttered rolls, dunked mcvitties chocolate digestives and talked and
		talked till the sun slipped off her shoes, turned out the light 
			and slithered into the black dreams 
				of the irish sea.

			and days later with him already 
		too long gone i am sitting on our rock with my back to the world.  
	the sea heaves still. i watch her swallow the sadness rising 
		in her throat, as broken hearted waves throw themselves 
			at the feet of a shore that really couldn’t 
				care one way or the other.  

Previously published in Pittsburgh Quarterly Magazine. Editor Fred Shaw

eventually you will turn fifty

and this will be the day you will lose your mind.
you will produce honey and certain insects 
will be attracted to you 
you will put on a dab of hollywood red lipstick 
this will be the same colour you discovered 
when you were ten in the cardboard mushroom 
carton that doubled as your mother’s make-up box 
and when you emerged from the bathroom wearing 
the lipstick your father told you you looked like a fucking 
whore and it will surprise you that actually
he was wrong 
you will put on a black frock which never 
used to but now clings to the rolls you seem 
to have developed over-night these rolls
will make you appear more womanly and you will not mind this one bit
you will start to take more time over your hair 
buy a pair of earrings in the jewellery shop
that is closing down they will match your lipstick 
and you will look beautiful because your hair 
will fall over one eye and this will make you look sultry 
you will even consider putting on the MAC eyeshadow 
you bought seven years ago and never opened 
it may still be good a man you do not know 
will tell you your earrings make the green 
of your eyes look very nice and you will laugh 
and look away as though you are shy though 
you will hope the lens of his camera is still 
upon you 
you will have spent twenty years with the same partner 
this partner will love you more and better than anyone 
ever could including your own mother who loves you very much 
eventually your earrings and lipstick will cause your partner 
substantial discomfort though he will not say anything 
about it because he will know that turning 
fifty sometimes means that things might change 
and he will know that all he can do is wait to see if anything 
is still standing once the high pressure 
system has moved through and although he is not a buddhist 
he will accept the river of life will sometimes 
burst its banks that water will rise in kitchens 
and the insurers will need to be called in to assess the damage
to the european appliances and you will know something 
inside you is dying now that the tub of fresh double cream 
that has sat happily at 3 degrees in the refrigerator 
of your life is now on the turn you will meet a man 
you did not expect to meet you will want to spend 
many nights with him you will make up many excuses 
as to why you are coming home late you will ask your girlfriend
who is also very good at lying to join you in your dreich den
of dishonesty and she will agree to act as your alibi 
should your partner of twenty years decide 
to call her one night to confirm you are with her 
on the evenings you are not home your partner 
of twenty years will eat dinner on his own 
and he will cling wrap yours so when you come home 
he can microwave it for you so you can have a hot meal
he will know that things are now very different 
and he will know exactly what is different
but he will not say anything about it because 
he will not want to make you feel you cannot behave 
in the way you find you suddenly need to behave
he will notice you are now shaving your legs 
having your bikini line waxed and sometimes 
your nails painted fire engine red and he will not believe 
the outrageous lies you are telling him 
but he will not call you on them and this will 
make you think you are getting away with them 
and even though he is not a buddhist he will 
not show you any rage rather he will love 
you all the more because he will understand 
that you what need right now is love 
and one morning when you will have stuffed 
your liver so full of your own lies that it sits 
swollen like that of a french goose 
he will ask you gently if you want to talk about 
what’s going on and still you will tell him everything 
is fine and keep on with your lies till you are now choking 
on them   
eventually you will be home for dinner less and less 
and your lies will increase more and more 
and one night you will send him a text saying 
you will be back later than usual maybe even the next day
and your lie for this one will be very original and completely 
unbelievable but you are now so addicted 
to your lies like a kid on nothing but smarties and mars bars 
and tob-le-fucking-rones that you just keep right on shovelling 
your refined sugar onto the fire of your truth and your partner 
of twenty years will text you back simply saying ‘OK’
cause he knows you need to go through what you need 
to go through and he will eat dinner alone that night along 
with all the other nights and he will wash the dishes 
and watch the evening news and he will miss that you are not there 
shouting at the telly when the liberals come on and he will 
put the hot water bottle on your side of the bed 
and cling wrap your dinner because he understands 
the importance of a warm bed and a hot meal 
when you finally come home.

Previously published by Beautiful Losers Magazine, Editor Lee Ellis 
& Wakefield Press, Editor Julia Beaven

mia council casa es tu council casa

	i live out of sydney these days it is close 
to the beach though we are not wealthy.  
Some days there are whales other days dolphins 
occasional jellies and never dead babies i like visiting 
the art gallery in the city it takes me one hour 
to drive there i park at the expensive 
multi-storey it is a $10 flat rate on a sunday
after parking i cut through hyde park past the statue 
of robert burns standing alone and too far away 
from scotland we are both foreigners here of the acceptable 
kind. i like the location of the gift shop 
it is right next to the entry which is also the exit
i always go to the gift shop first they have handbags 
made of unshaved cow and earrings like hot air balloons 
and a dimly lit section at the back with mysterious 
art books in thick polythene covers the thickness 
of the polythene indicates their seriousness 
and the price and there is an arsehole in there wearing 
jesus sandals though he bears no resemblance 
to jesus and the arsehole says to a random 
woman (who turns out to be an arsehole too) he took a holiday 
in paris once on the left bank some thirty 
years back when it really was something and if hitler 
was alive today this whole thing with the syrian refugees 
would not be happening and the female arsehole agrees 
then the jesus sandalled arsehole says what’s going 
on over there is nothing but a european invasion 
and the subject of the little boy’s body on bodrum 
beach comes up and i have been there on holidays 
some thirty years back when it really was something 
the hotel was right next door to the doctor’s surgery 
bent black clad women came daily clacked rosary 
beads on milk crates in full view of fat tourists 
bathing topless on hotel loungers ordering 
chips and cokes they did not need from kadir 
the turkish waiter who brought me proper chai 
in a glass and taught me how to say 
‘tomorrow i am going to instanbul’.
After the little boy’s body got washed 
up on the sand australia offered synthetic 
duvets fake chai lattes and empty promises 
to twelve thousand of the five million 
in camps who cry themselves to sleep at night
and i have calculated this on my iPhone and it works
out to be a teardrop in the ocean to the closest 
decimal point australia i have offered 
more hope to more cockatoos more safety 
to kookaburras more gum leaves to koalas
than the crumbs you are flicking 
from your all you can eat buffet 
it is time to feed the birds australia 
tuppence a fucking bag sure what does it cost 
to pipe in a haggis share some tatties and neeps 
raise a glass to their health mia council 
casa es tu council casa australia the world’s
eyes are rolling in your general direction 
and right now you look like some kind of jesus 
sandalled arsehole sitting on the veranda 
of your ocean front property with your deep pockets 
and short arms pretending you don’t even know 
it’s your turn to buy the next round at the bar.

Previously published in Other Terrain Journal, Senior Poetry Editor Anne Casey
& Wakefield Press, Editor Julia Beaven

there is no sound when it snows 

like when you pull your tam o’shanter 
down over your ears and i know this muffled 
silence so well it is there always 
in the forest at the end of our road 
where conifer boughs layered with thick snow sway 
like fat babies just fed their heads 
lolling on the brink of nodding off and the train 
to london whizzes past twice a day punctuating 
the silence with two giant exclamation 
marks triggering tremors causing snow 
to loosen and waltz from boughs with a whispering swoosh 
and there were times i was on that train 
mum would drop me at the station in the village
then race back through the forest 
to wave as my train sped past and as the forest 
approached i’d wave through the window 
though the train went so fast i could never 
quite see her––but i knew that she was there. 
the air is iced and sharp here and i breathe 
it willingly stick my tongue in the air 
catch snowflakes that flit i swallow 
their flesh drink down their blood 
till i am the snowflake the snowflake is me.  
i lived here once. in this icy silence
the place i live now is hot and there are days 
i could weep for the boughs of my forest 
and the north wind that gusts and near blows 
the toorie off my glengarry this hot place i live is australia
the land is dry and cracked here 
much like the skin on the heels of my feet 
that were never like that when i lived in scotland
i’ve got my father’s feet they say heels 
that need softening in the bath for a fortnight 
before you could even begin to take the cheese 
grater to them and only then will the thick skin 
come away crumbly like the mature scottish 
cheddar i’ve never enough money to buy in the supermarket 
things have changed since i came to this hot 
place i’ve forgotten a lot about scotland 
sure that’s what i came here for in the first 
place but i have my reminders all around 
me now indeed as i lay here on my bed 
on this hot january afternoon wilting 
from the searing heat and not a breath 
of air to be had my dog eared copy of antonia 
fraser’s ‘mary queen of scots’ jams my sash 
window open since the cord of the sash snapped 
and sent the upper case hurtling to the sill 
like the guillotines that have taken the french 
heads off more people than i care to remember
and i have my postcard on the wall 
the one of the highland cow my brother 
sent me from his camping trip on skye – 
‘come back ali’ it reads ‘before you forget 
how good this air truly tastes.’ and i read 
that card daily and it too is dog-eared 
for i peel it from the wall each morning 
and stick it back with the same lump of blu 
tac i’ve been using for the last as many years 
i can’t move in this heat 
all i can do is lay here on my now damp cotton 
sheets damp from the sweat i’ve been leaking 
as hot winds torch and burnt dust swirls forcing 
locals into bars with promises of half price 
cocktails served in coconut shells at times 
of day not made for drinking 
i moved into this weatherboard cottage 
with hardly a thing it was the first place 
i’d lived in australia with a garden––i should 
say yard––they call gardens yards down here 
yards make me think of barbed wire fences 
broken concrete slabs and gnashing
guard dogs on choke chains that near sever 
their wind pipes rushing strangers that come too close 
the day i moved in i sat in my new garden 
overgrown with something green and curly
––chokoes the neighbour advised––whatever 
the fuck chokoes are i looked them up ‘native 
to mexico though particularly easy to grow 
in the australian YARD’ and this house 
came with a fish-pond baking in full sun 
naked of algae and the loneliest most bored looking 
goldfish i have ever seen he barely moves 
does not dart nor scoot unlike the darting
scooting goldfish of my youth won at fairgrounds 
knocking the heads off clowns with a coconut
i call this goldfish gordon for no other 
reason than it starts with a g 
sometimes i sit under my chokoe vine 
and stare at him once in a while he swims 
half heartedly from one end of his blistering 
pond to the other humiliated by mosquitoes 
landing on fairy feet pricking the surface 
of his pond there was a time he must have eaten them––
i don’t see him so much as place his lips 
to the surface now all he does is hang 
with all the the weight of the depressed 
man who care barely lift his head 
off the pillow and i get to thinking 
all this gold fish has probably ever
known is life in this simmering pond 
but me i’ve known something different
i’ve seen my frosted breath hang in the stillest
of air and my lips have kissed the chill 
of snow that brings a silence money 
couldn’t buy you so i’ll lay here 
on my damp sheets a wee while longer 
and i’ll dream of scotland and mary 
queen of scots and two-man tents on skye 
where toories are taken in gale force winds 
and goldfish are not boiled alive in some scalding 
sure this hot country is no place for a goldfish 
this hot country is no place for me.

Previously published by Red Room Company, Editor Kristy Wan
& Wakefield Press, Editor Julia Beaven

and my heart crumples like a coke can

you never ate fusilli nor farfalle nor spaghettini. you did not like all that italian shite. you liked chocolate eclairs penguin biscuits beef with string in gravy and custard with steamed pudding which is like a fruitcake. a long time ago we wished you would die. you loved tractors and bob-cats. a bob-cat is the australian name for a digger. one winter you dug a hole in a field with your bob-cat cut off the electricity supply to the entire village burst the mains water pipe. the water froze children skated on it wayward cars skidded into badgers and lambs born in unseasonal snow. your father was a farmer. he gave you your love of tractors. and potatoes. he skimped on other sorts of love. once you gifted a plough to mum. and a socket set. another time a cement mixer. you smoked and drank. grouse mostly. embassy regals. one time you moved a washing machine for a neighbour. you bought old tractors and renovated them sold them in the classifieds. although you could not spell it you were an entrepreneur. your legs went thin. the nutritionist said all you had to do was drink complan. you used to wash your car a lot. the celebrant at your funeral said you would be on your way to heaven in a gleaming vehicle. nobody laughed. you were not religious. i do not believe in heaven. your brother in canada rings me a lot since you died. he told me you were coeliac. it is unrelated to motor neurone disease. you were seventy fucking two. david bowie sixty nine. alan rickman the same. your adam’s apple stopped moving. i realise i too will stop breathing one day. at your funeral your sort-of-wife asked for donations to the disease you didn’t know you had. i don’t know if anyone donated. nine days before you died i visited you at your pebble dashed house, sat beside you on your tan leather couch, watched upside down chaffinches feed on the bird nuts hanging from the hills hoist in your front garden. a hills hoist is australian. in scotland it is a whirly jig. i have been away too long. you tried to make your way to the bathroom on your zimmer frame. you fell in the hall way. i didn’t know how to get you up. i lay beside you on the carpet. you kept apologising. there was nothing to apologise for. the nutritionist was wrong. you died the tuesday after valentine’s day. valentine’s day was on the friday. stephen hawking had motor neurone disease too. his is different to the kind you had. there are four different kinds. yours was diagnosed the day you died. you were already dead. stephen hawkins liked cosmological stuff and the big bang. you liked tractors. when i think of how much you liked tractors, my heart crumples like a coke can.

Previously published in The Neighbourhood Paper (Sydney, Australia), Editor Mark Mordue
& Wakefield Press, Editor Julia Beaven.


“mia council casa es tu council casa” and other poems are © Ali Whitelock

Ali Whitelock is a Scottish poet and writer living on the south coast of Sydney with her French chain-smoking husband. Her debut poetry collection and my heart crumples like a coke can has just been released by Wakefield Press, Adelaide, and her memoir, Poking seaweed with a stick and running away from the smell was launched to critical acclaim in Australia and the UK in 2010. Her poems have appeared in The Moth Magazine, The American Journal of Poetry, Gutter Magazine, NorthWords Now, The Poets’ Republic, The Red Room Company, Beautiful Losers Magazine, Backstory Journal, Other Terrain Journal, Ink Sweat & Tears, The Canberra Times, Bareknuckle Poet, The Bangor Literary Journal, The Glasgow Review of Books, Neighbourhood Paper, The Hunter Writers’ Centre ‘Grieve’ Volume 6 Anthology, The Pittsburgh Quarterly Magazine and The University of Wisconsin’s Forty Voices Strong: An Anthology of Contemporary Scottish Poetry. She is currently working on her second poetry collection and her second memoir.

“Flaxen Sheaf” and other poems by Laura Scanlon

Flaxen Sheaf

Softly winnowing, shifting neat
Deftly yielding seed from sheath,
Sifting cleft wheat from weed,
Sweeping sleeves bereft of seed

Wielding fleets of sickle o’er
Nimbly threshing flaxen plant,
Cloven seams unwoven—spent,
Shafts of sheafs—swiftly rent

The chaffing teeth,
The shearing tooth,
The shaven chaff,
The grieving root.


The Echo

The echo resonates—
confirmation you are alone,
Borne along with contractions
are pitches and tone.

Giving breath to life is labour—
breath pregnant with sound,
–collected in thought,
–delivered with care,
–spoken aloud.

The birth of words weighty,
born into new air profound,
the echo will perish,
the meaning resound.


Sentiment as Sediment

Gloomy Tuesday sits thickly
like a pot of glue,
thick and almost solid,
—almost set

Old Monday like forgotten honey rests,
The dregs lay,
Heavy at the bottom of the thick glass

Tuesday, a blue day.


Flaxen Sheaf and other poems are © Laura Scanlon

Laura Scanlon has recently just completed an MA in Gender, Sexuality and Culture at UCD. Her dissertation focused on social media and the weaponization of the ‘male gaze’. She is interested in writing as well as feminism and masculinity studies. Her poetry displays an intense interest in wordplay, which she often employs to describe human creative processes, both mental and physical, as well as the passage of time and the power of language.