“Kafes” (The Cage) and other poems by Müesser Yeniay

Carvansarai of Night

Tonight
here should be
dance of words

-in the carvansarai of your glory-

tonight I am as joyful as the grasses
that saw the sun

and full with the existence of my dream.

 

Kafes (The Cage)

Like a bird looking for its cage, 
                    I am flying around time

In my chest, human voices…
Then an army of ants dissolving

-an ant is eating another-

 They call it a proverb 
                    as they pound on the country

 

Menstruation

                  Postfeminismus

Silence becomes word
drop by drop

I am a woman, a poet
in this nothingness 
that batters my body

egg that leaves my womb
every month
has a legend
in my body

it has a trace

my womenhood
my Achilles toe

my dog that barks every month

                          a man can't be a poet
                          a man can be a pen for a poet

Kafes (The Cage) and other poems are © Müesser Yeniay, translated by the poet.

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). Her work appears in the following anthologies: 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.
 
“Phoenix” and other poems by by Müesser Yeniay
An Index of Women Poets

“Blackjack” a bilingual volume of twenty contemporary Irish poets published by Singur Publishing

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Blackjack; A Contemporary Volume of Irish Poetry (Singur Publishing, 2016)

Cover painted by Sorin Anca
Coordinated by Dorina Șișu and Viorel Ploeșteanu


The twenty Irish poets translated into Romanian for this volume are: Afric McGlinchey, Billy Ramsell, Breda Wall Ryan, Christine Murray, Damian Smyth, David Butler, Dean Browne, Edward O’Dwyer, Eileen Sheehan, Eleanor Hooker, Eugene O’Connell, John W. Sexton, Leeanne Quinn, Maeve O’Sullivan, Mary O’Donnell, Nessa O’Mahony, Noel Duffy, Paul Casey, and Roisin Kelly.
 
The Blackjack translators are: Dr. Isabel Lazãr, Maria Liana Chibacu, Margento, Elena Daniela Radu, Mãdãlina Dãncus, Mihaela Ionitã, and Oana Lungu.

I would like to thank Dorina Șișu and Viorel Ploeșteanu for including my poems, Delicate, Pretty Useless Things and Descent From Croagh Patrick in this edition. Thank you for a lovely launch evening, and I would like to expand the Index at Poethead to include more Romanian poets.

The online edition of Blackjack.
Revisita – Itaca
 

From “Parvit of Agelast” and other poems by Máighréad Medbh

 

From Parvit of Agelast

(Verse Fantasy, to be published by Arlen House in 2016. The poems below are aspects of the ‘real’ world.)

‘Your face is ridiculous: O. . . . . leeeeee ugly:)❤ / thanks, sure i know !’ :L’ – Ciara Pugsley, ask.fm

net
whn th little lite shinin frm abve doesnt
n younguns mad fr luv r spected 2 b home
thumbs go drum on magic pads n open windows
so they travel in thr dreambots huntin souls
they go weft upon th crystal warp unshuttled 
hookin up witout a plan 2 build a planet
trances risin tru th base n snare of ask n tell
wot u c is wot u feel n wot u feels rite
tho snot a total giggle when th trolls r out
—no1 knows th cause like with any freakin demic—
bitch please u aint jesus wots wit all the posin
howd u like my cock up ur ass, u cross-eyed ho

som1 feelin tiny in the sprawlin fabric
hauls back in2 her drum for a re-birth much 2 brite
bodys blinded so her double takes it weepin
2 th woods 
		to be an hero 
				wit a reel 
						hank 
							o rope


 

‘…the body of Wafa became shrapnel that eliminated despair and aroused hope.’ – Adel Sadew

 

The Key to Paradise

You will be snatched back from the place of no landmark,
where you wander, scapegoat, under the frozen hot eye,
blister-backed, hairy, and crunching backward to beast.

You will regain the unrivalled kingdom of your source,
your beauty will be unsurpassed, and you will sit
on the right knee of a virtuous king, all-powerful but
for his abject love of you. There will be bright-plumed birds
and four undying springs of milk, honey, oil and wine.

Your lover will adore you under the great tree, and there
will never be a touch without the perfect ecstatic end
that leaves you weak and wed to the grass you collapse on.
There will be no argument and never pain. Balm will drip
from every leaf in this catchment of considerate sun.

Best of all, you will be thought wise, not inessential.
So gird your waist with red rockets and blow your littler self
to the garden of infinite fecundity. Do it. In one starry bang.

 


 

Sleep is the only escape I have. When I don’t dare think, I dare to dream.’ – Jaycee Dugard

Pine

Each autumn, in Lake Tahoe, El Dorado county, CA,
the kokanee salmon turn from silver-blue to vermilion.
After spawning they die and their carcasses are meat for mink,

that some unabused women sport as symbols of perhaps love.
The kokanee is not a native, arrived in 1944, so a mere child
compared to the happy-birthday lake two million years old.

Jaycee’s eleven were a tiny tint to that time spread,
and the moment when her fingertips touched the pine cone—
print to Fibonacci imprint, whorl to spiral—a netsuke eye.

That darkened in the backyard in the small shed where sleep
was the best activity and a gnarled man made her pine and desire
the woody grenade that was the last thing she had touched before.

A pine can last a thousand years, an eye much less; Jaycee eighteen
in the pulp of a small brain, twisted in and round, not knowing
what would sprout when a forest fire melted the resin
and out fell, in hazardous liberation, winged seeds.

From: Imbolg

(Unpublished Collection)

Your Grace

You are alone in what they would call a new life. What they don’t know is that for you
nothing is old. A morning is always a question, as if you were a web living each day in a
different cell of itself, seeking.

Seeking maybe nothing, but in that mode, hiatus behind and before. It has seemed true
to take a sable cloth to the slate of fact and not only wipe but cover, occlusion of
the frame removing the form entirely.

Entirely it might seem, but like minerals that leave a trace in water, small events make change.
Tonight you have remembered a Columbian dress you bought on impulse at a Fairtrade sale,
undyed, handwoven.

Woven into your consciousness now like most of your clothes, but you wore this slinky to a
wedding and people remarked. For the first time you thought your body taut and that of the normal,
not a flop. You flaunted.

Flaunting was your wont in a sub-chador sort of way. Exclusivity was the bait, the prospect of
private vice. But you see in the mirror tonight a shape that could turn heads. There’s a Grecian
curve at the base of your back.

Back to where you sat huddled in a lone hut by a struggling fire, watching the small yellow flame
fight the red. You had crammed a bush into each windy gap of the hedge. Beyond, how could you know
several had gathered to your grace.

Grace was a false thing, you said, being rustic. But many thought you walked like a careless queen.
They took the switch in your hand for a sceptre, wielded fiercely against the meek, shaken at
the indifferent.

Indifferently endowed, you thought you were, and hardly cared, except for the faint sense
of an untried trail. It occurs to your image now that you could have kept your own counsel,
sat straight-backed and been petal-showered.

Showering in what was given, you might have made some plans, not waited for a suitor to tear
at the bushes and tell you your mind.

 

climacteric in the extreme

 

the room darkens. foetal faces draw
	spotlights from the dense matrix. she kneels.
not a whimper but centrifugal quake and strain.
	ovular potentials huddle in lines for stringing
	crowded and frozen onto a tight choke.
she hugs her shoulders, surrogate, unconsoled,
	and a creature leaps out, trailing chains,
	snarls and spits, goes surfing the tidal walls.
he will not come again to her bucking bounty,
	her bawdy talk, her raucous primitive yells;
	she will not be the bright-haired goddess of the barstool, 
	fabled and revered in ten parched villages.
hail of the ripped legend falls in blades,
a thing of flesh flames in the mouth of the monster 
and she recalls a hard prophesy told in the spring grass.
	lincolns rev on the melting brick
	informants crouch in a lonely copse and beg for mercy
	in the torture room the air sparks and yellows
	black seeps into old pictures
	and the girl with the lank dead hair creeps blindly from the screen.
she probes her body and finds a silent blowhole.
	her fingers return a thousand red messages
	that pool and brindle in the cradle of her palms.
if she screams she doesn’t know, but colours
	curry the weather pumpkin, desert and vulva, 
	lunatic yellow, bum-in-the-gutter green.
she crashes, glass and glint flinging themselves too, 
	watches her eyes picked to the veined bone.
	girl, crook and goblet smithered on the lizard-
	dark floor.

 

history

(from ‘the second of april’)

I walk.	
Where is home except in repeated kisses of foot and ground.
I am having affairs.
	With, for one, the bonded pavement, complicit as a slice of river.
I glide on ice,
	step lightly on the unreflecting glass panel of a foyer floor.
Nakedness is rare.
	I don’t tell how I used to take off my shoes and mesh my toes with sand.
But even that was a skim.
	I slyly stepped on a rock and, recalcitrant, took off.
I pause at running water
	and watch its inscrutable fingers take sun to rock in a work of art,
then abandon it, dissatisfied.
	Among a tree I become a stretch of soil and burnt grass and harden.
There are always tears.
	They seem to come from outside and wash me down until, like ivy,
I am again rambling.
	On a tarred path my jaw is jolted by hard, inexplicable haste.
My ankles wound each other.
	I bleed and wonder if I should spancel myself to slow.
There are creatures
	who only pace the one field. Even a hobbled route finds knowledge.
I look at my feet and don’t know them.
	Too long with my eyes on a misted goal has cost me my body.
Happenings are always outside. 
Strange, when I see no walls. Where is the place of occurrence?
I thought life was movement.
	Coming to gravel I have less ground and that brings thoughts of release.
Water is too deep
	and I fear high places. To walk is the freest I can do and I wipe my tracks. 
What will pass is the breeze
of a small body, non-native, a light touch on a puzzled cheek.

Máighréad Medbh was born in County Limerick. She has six published poetry collections, and a prose work, Savage Solitude: Reflections of a Reluctant Loner, was published by Dedalus Press in 2013. Since her first collection, The Making of a Pagan, in 1990, she has become widely known as a performance poet. She likes to explore themes, which led her to write a sequence on the famine, Tenant, published by Salmon Press, and a sequence inspired by astrology, Twelve Beds for the Dreamer, published by Arlen House. Her work has appeared in many journals and anthologies, and has been translated into German and Galician. She has performed widely, in Europe and America as well as Ireland, and on the broadcast media. Máighréad has written three novels and a fantasy sequence for children. The novels are online as ebooks. She has also written for radio, and publishes a monthly blog/essay on her website. A verse fantasy, Parvit of Agelast, is to be published by Arlen House in 2016.

 

www.maighreadmedbh.ie

PDF version of this work

“Wending” and other Poems by Allis Hamilton

Mrs. Piper

after Pied Piper of Hamelin
 
He came home with that wooden whistle
one blustery winter’s day.
 
Said he found it on the snow
at the crossroads of Hamelin and Coppenbrügge.
 
It was just lying there he said.
He learned to play it fast enough,
 
one could well say he was a natural.
But I got rather fed up with his playing here in the cave.
 
It bounced off the stonewalls and I could get no work done,
so I sent him out.
 
The first time my husband returned after a day out
with that whistle, it was flies that followed him.
 
All a-buzz in swarms like swallows on a summer’s eve.
Next it was the worms slithering along behind him
 
like one enormous python.
He used them to catch us plenty of fish.
 
When he brought home the rats,
that was quite something.
 
I smoked the meat from most of them;
we had a winter’s worth of food.
 
And I tanned their skins of course;
they made for wonderful shoe warmers.
 
But when he brought home all of those children,
that was something else altogether.
 
Published in The Australian Poetry Journal 2015 Issue 5 No. 1,
Edited by Michael Sharkey
 

The Fottie

 
Often we saw her walking the hushed hills,
making her way among sheep-worn heather.
Her feet shod in the skin of lambs – lambs
 
whose dead eyes knew the pecking beak of crow.
Always she was wrapped in her tan and green shawl,
her hair as wild as night.
 
She collected clutches of wool caught in clumps of hawthorn,
tangled in clusters of heather, blown by winds’ fierce breath
onto thistle-thorn. Sometimes digging roots with a broken antler
 
on the burn’s steep brae where the roe deer spar.
She gathered lichen long grown on granite rocks; picked
yellow flowers off gorse with small careful fingers,
 
placing them like stolen kisses into her apron pocket.
We villagers wondered what she did with her collection,
she, as shy as fox, as quiet as grass.
 
After we found her beautiful body beaten blue
by the bashing burn – washed up on the banks
from a tremendous storm – we discovered her craft.
 
She had woven exquisite colourful, detailed tapestries
that covered the walls of her crumbling croft.
There it all was, the stories of our lives as seen from her eyes:
 
Missus Brodie and her black-eyed triplets, husband long dead
at the horns of a boar; Johnny the knocker with his four-fingered
hand standing by the blacksmith fire; laird Edward McIntosh
 
with his mistress Missus MacLeish laying deep in the shade
of a willow grove; Claire and Norma trading goats’ milk
in sloshing metal pails, sometimes for more than money;
 
Albert and Dave climbing down a tall Scots pine,
crows’ eggs in their mouths running, late for school;
and there was myself, my brown eyes wide, looking
longingly towards her.
 
Fottie is a female wool-gatherer.
 
Published in Painted Words 2015, a BRIT TAFE Anthology,
Edited by Professional Writing and Editing Students
 

Wending

 
On a grey rainy day, a cuckoo bird comes to a tree at my window.
At irregular intervals it hammers among fat drops falling on the flat tin roof.
 
Uncurling the sleeping cat from my lap, I walk out into the misty sky to try and find
the feathered form. Given a choice I would live forever in a day like this: wet, grey,
 
visited by birds singing their intricate songs. I would read stories of bicycle rides
and embroider the thoughts of a honey bee. It takes me days to wash off
 
the nagging world, rinsing and rinsing until finally I find my own skin.
Though I just can’t seem to find that bird that is hammering.
 
Published in Plumwood Mountain, Volume 3, Number 1,
Edited by Tricia Dearborn
 

White-necked (Pacific) Heron,

Ardea pacifica
 
Still
as stone you stand
on long leather legs
in water older than stars
 
As stone you stand
keeping patience
in water older than stars
lapping the lips of the lagoon
 
Keeping patience
your incremental movements
lap the lips of the lagoon
more monk than bird
 
Your incremental movements
clues to the source of stillness
more monk than bird
head bowed collecting prey
 
Clues to the source of stillness
serpent-necked fisherman
head bowed collecting prey
using shadow as ally
 
Serpent-necked fisherman
your charcoal cape enshrouds
using shadow as ally
a trick the sunshine taught
 
Your charcoal cape enshrouds
scrying water’s soft underbelly
a trick the sunshine taught
from the sky’s open lid
 
Scrying water’s soft underbelly
beak poised as a precise knife
under the sky’s open lid
waiting
 
On long leather legs
still
 
Published as part of the Bimblebox 153 Birds, An Australian touring exhibition
Compiled by Jill Sampson
 

Wince

 
Amanda eats ants
underneath the cherry tree,
placing the acrid
green biters
on her wet
flinching tongue
 
Published in The Caterpillar Issue 12 Spring 2016
Edited by Will Govan
 
“Wending” and other poems is © Allis Hamilton

Allis Hamilton in LightAllis Hamilton lives in a small, hand-built shack powered by the sun, in regional Australia where she scampers barefoot over rocks. She creates poetry, art, and music. She was an acrobat and classical musician until a brain haemorrhage put a stop to that. Allis is a co-convener of PoetiCas, her town’s poetry readings. Some of her poems live in Australian Poetry Journal, The Caterpillar, Plumwood Mountain, among other places.

The Story Telling Tent

“Cuween Chambered Cairn” and other poems by Tim Miller

Cuween Chambered Cairn

 
I should go on my hands and knees to you,
you farmers from five thousand years ago.
Even though your skulls are no longer here
or the small skulls of your two dozen dogs,
in retrospect I realize how wise
I was, dipping in and out of your dark
—the familiar main chamber and three rooms—
to never pause in all my picture-taking
to never stop and extinguish the light
to have found you at the end of the day,
so that we were tired and a bit rushed.
Something like the terror at what went on here
would have overwhelmed me in the moment,
the seriousness of generations
which I only became aware of later:
like an ancient fireplace still smudged with smoke,
our shoulders were soiled from the gloom on your hands.
 

Horses on Orkney

 
Horses curled in the flaming spiral of sleep,
the huge immensity of their bodies
 
belied by the blankets they wear, or the
tight scroll they twist themselves into on the ground,
 
an enormity suddenly made small
or at least passive, compact, the coiled braid
 
of body closer to tree or landscape,
the tilted, chiseled head nearer to stone
 
or steel or something pulled from the fire,
some monument to just how this place works
 
that you do not escape the wind, but dream in it.
 

Dedalus & Icarus

 
The old craftsman came to Cumae after
a long life of art and flight, love and theft,
came alone to the Sibyl’s Italian shore
wasted with age and reputation
 
to the one who knew every alphabet,
the seeress who saw the future in driven leaves.
And warped with the same old age as him,
she asked that he carve her sanctuary.
 
His bent wrinkled body covered in dust,
he hammers and carves and polishes away
all of the horrors let loose from his hands:
his dead nephew; the bull-impregnated
 
woman and its awful issue; the youths
brought from Mycenae for its food; the slave
girl’s love that bore him a son, and the love
he took pity on that imprisoned them both—
 
he strikes them away and leaves them on the wall,
all of them and so much more envy and
revenge and awe at his talents, hammered
forgotten. But not his son. Twice he’s tried
 
to let him go, as the sky did before
the sea took him; twice he’s tried to fashion
his face or his descent or his youthful limbs
or just his eyes, and twice he’s stopped in tears.
 

Skara Brae

 
Follow the alley of flagstones
to a slab door of wood or rock,
locked with a shaped bar of whalebone.
Inside, opposite the door, a
dresser stacked with pottery, wool,
beads of bone and shell, or pendants
of whale’s teeth or the ivory tusks
of walrus or boar. The hearth is
central, the hearth is heat and light
and the cooking of all that’s caught:
mutton and venison, gannet
and golden plover and lobster,
eel and salmon and mussel, cod
and crab and pork, gull and scallop.
Wild berries fill the belly too,
wild cherries, hazelnut, honey,
some form of fermented plant for beer,
or the richness of cows and goats.
Near the hearth, a tank for fish bait,
while beds and shelves curl around,
around the fire fueled by seaweed,
and beneath the rafters of whale ribs.
 

There’s one building with no bedding,
but still a hearth, always a hearth,
no metal yet and only stone,
only wood and bone: blades, mattocks,
whistles, fine points or polishers,
all undertaken so near the sea
(but not so near as the sea is now),
generations of food-waste, ash,
dung, bones, broken pottery, shells,
or rope of crowberries—centuries
of families, layers of houses
stacked like rock atop each other,
farmers farming, hunters hunting,
a nameless North Sea and a still
nameless wind giving sound and flavor
to the landscape and the prized lives
that prompted those circles of stone,
that made an occasion of a
hill or loch, coast or height or isthmus.
 
Through the unknown, unremembered gate
we found the village and the bay
another excuse for green and blue,
five thousand years to our first world,
having flown far to propitiate
those who may have sailed from the south
to this true north, treeless and edged like a blade.
 

Robert Oppenheimer

 
Now I come to write in light and fire,
in a language of power we all know,
beyond every letter and poetry
and all the dithering of philosophy,
all the prevarication of politics.
The physicists have known sin, it’s true,
but also the brilliance of a burden
overcome in the brittle mountains,
a foul display that was beyond awesome,
beyond my conscience but still atop it:
in less than a second tens of thousands
turned to piles of boiled organs and black char,
the burnt but still living running for the
cisterns or the boiled, dead-crowded rivers.
 
News of a flood or an earthquake makes me
think of myself, since the questions usually
given to heaven are now tendered to me,
and its silence is something like my own:
any remorse is just ridiculous
and any warning is usefully late,
since I’ve already handled God’s fuel.
I cannot keep from swagger, or from mourning:
this knowledge a weight you will never know,
and with it a satisfaction, a pride:
numbers and elements resolved into
a thing that worked, but never should again.
 

⊕ Bone Antler Stone (Museum Pieces) by Tim Miller

Cuween Chambered Cairn” and other poems are © Tim Miller

IMG_4352Tim Miller’s most recent book is the long narrative poem, To the House of the Sun (S4N Books). His novel Bearing the Names of Many is forthcoming from Pelekinesis, and he also write about poetry, history and religion at www.wordandsilence.com.

“Sequence in Green” and other poems by Gillian Prew

Sequence in Green


(i) breaths

Like in lights/breaths		the woodwind song
meets the trees. A green growth/
a rush of roots/	   birds.

	Summer-swell/the flowered edges
of day breaking.


(ii) buds

Hills of green shadow and butter-gorse.

	The dead
made of dry stalks
with all their buds inside them.


(iii) bones

Green lifts and stitches-in	Perfumes/ 
summering		Silver-back
gull, wind-scuffed, sun-buried/ 	

ghost-bird 
with a still-feathered skull, 

each puffed-out wing fragrant with oxygen/
each jade-eye a salty stone

	peering keen

to the wound of the shore
sown with olive pods polished as knuckle bones.


(iv) blood

Emerald, in your daybed of flowers
trapping all the shucked-light of the sun
as sugar/as oxygen/
as diamonds/
as blood.





Ideogram for Red

after Alice Oswald

In a shadow, an invisible red
where the first flower sounds.

Narrow, 
 and red-through in all directions.

Underfoot - roots.	

Blood. A claw of wood.

Red becomes a red-rush/ the flash of a robin’s breast
in a splay of autumn blades.

	Red rising with the sun/
without bearings         vanishing 
in the outbloom of light.

Struggling, like each colour to be seen
red bursts with the fury of a firework	  	folds herself
	into herself

fails for a season.

Sequence in Green is © Gillian Prew

from The Black Stanzas

 

(i) a yoke of blood/my iris-eye

 
Too narrow and grief/stressed by what the toil has tied me to/
a yoke of blood and the weeping flies. All-droop
the black leaking/the drip of wet dust being born. Sun,
the magic sleeper roofed-out and black. Black again
men’s hearts/winter hearts/bags of breathless black.
First spring snowdrop from my iris-eye blooming here
on the concrete/its white-scented sisters a wood away.
 

(ii) a road of blood/a dome of cold

 
Like snow on the moon the cold tucked-in all glass
and weeping winter motes/a road of blood/ of red-
pepper tones tucked-up in a dome of cold. Blue,
the silent summer throats hooked and stuck. Hauled/
black salts/the wounds of weak indifference gold.
 

(iii) the crush of life/the food I am

 
A scrape/a stun/a sticking knife. The crush of life/
the food I am. Up-bent and ruined red. Red into
the sticking black. Shut-down and meat/no epitaph.
 

(iv) a black hole/a blue planet

 
Is to slow darken/is to stagger,                 spin.
Myself nothing/a truckload of me nothing/
a black hole of us fading. A pinhole of sky
a blue planet/an eye.
 

(v) an echo of light/a crimson splatter

 
In a place of grief – light an echo of light –
black rhythms pulse a half-death in
the glass hours of overwintering. Spring
buds a crimson splatter/blooms out
pollen-spiced/world breathing green
beyond the slaughterhouses.
 

(vi) their bud-fists/their black-stamens

 
Each bold bone rooting/forming their green spines
their bud-fists, their hidden light. Stacked-up wounds
blooming red upon red/ a season of blood-letting.
Flowers/risen-out/watercolour wounds in the spring rains.
The clavicle-curves of the tulip basins softer than bone/
their black-stamens fastened in like nails.
 
First published at Bone Orchard Poetry

downloadBorn Stirling, Scotland in 1966, Gillian Prew studied Philosophy at the University of Glasgow from 1984 to 1988.Her chapbook, DISCONNECTIONS, can be purchased from erbacce-press (2011) and another chapbook, in the broken things, published by Virgogray Press (2011). Her poetry can be found at Vayavya, The Poetry Shed, A New Ulster, The Open Mouse, Ink, Sweat & Tears, ‘ditch’, and From Glasgow to Saturn among others. She is a Pushcart Prize nominee and has twice been short-listed for the erbacce-prize. Her collection Throats Full of Graves, has been published in 2013 by Lapwing Publications. Her collection A Wound’s Sound was published Oneiros Books in April 2014.  She lives in Argyll with her partner, children and cat.
 

 

 

Restlessly Driven by Leaves by Gillian Prew 
Three Colours Grief by Gillian Prew

Poems from “Barefoot Souls” by Maram al-Masri

Sara

Daughter of Sana
Age 9

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

FAÂdi

Son of Sonia
Age: 7

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

Salma

Son of Leila
Age: 12

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

Samir

Son of Magda
Age: 13

 
I do not remember her face,
I was very small when my father
carried me off to my grandmother’s house
far,
far away.
 
My grandmother did not like
the one who had brought me into the world,
with every prayer she would demand that God
would punish her.
 
She would say, hers is the blood of the devil.
she would say, she abandoned you
for the cats to eat you up.
 
Eighteen months old … that’s very young
for a child
to have to defend himself.
 

Clément and Romain

Children of Florence
Age 12 and 9

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

Chloë

Daughter of Suzanne
Age: 11

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

VI

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

There are Women

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

Maram Al-Masri

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

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


“Barefoot Souls” was translated by Theo Dorgan

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

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

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

 

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

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

Arena Interview on Barefoot Souls by Maram al-Masri

 

“Water Memory” and other poems by Jackie Gorman

Water Memory

 
The bottom untouched by sunlight,
heart shrinking down
as though the future isn’t real.
Nothing to hold on to.
Musty smell of the lake,
fish and forgotten hooks.
Boats on the horizon.
Just the water before thought.
My hook snagged in the want of this world.
A silent urge to be like water,
flowing yet strong enough to hold a ship.
I draw a fish in my notebook.
 

The Hare

 
Barney stopped the mower and looked down.
Full-grown, it was twitching in its soft fur.
I twitched when he mumbled “kinder to kill it.”
 
With a mossy stone, he crushed it.
Its liquid eyes and long ears
stayed with me for weeks.
 
I dreamt of it dancing in the callow,
when the moon was out.
Threading the faint light
between dusk and dawn,
thresholds of transition.
 
Barney limped,
next time I saw him
climb out of the tractor.
 

The Hedgehog

 
My father lifted him up on a spade
and put him down in the back field.
Years later,
I watched my mother looking out the window.
From where she stood,
she watched him scurrying away.
I remembered his tired eyes and shedding spines.
He looked back at her,
as though he knew she was following him
with her wide innocent eyes.
 

The Stag

 
Near Cloonark, I step out of my skin and follow him through the trees.
Tawny antlers rising above the grass, like church spires in a town.
Spell of velvet coat, soft wet muzzle and deep brown eyes.
I know I’d go anywhere with him, following the hazy scent of memory.
I’m drinking pure silence as he crosses the stream.
 
He is doing what he must do to survive,
stripping the bark off ash and birch trees.
He may take something that doesn’t belong to him,
kale or winter wheat, potatoes or rye.
Or perhaps what I want, another chance, another life.
 
He shows me how to wait without waiting,
to be careless of nothing and to see what I see.
Digging up the soil with his cloven hooves.
The translation of something felt,
the expanse between love and not touching.
The dark deep silence, where we dream ourselves human.
 
My life reflected in his eyes, until I see I am him,
watching him slink towards my slough,
assuming its empty folds and creases.
I found a skin like this before and hastily cast it aside ;
a thin membrane of an old reality.
I should have treated it with kindness and not disdain.
 
I walk out of the woods and the clearing gleams.
Water and words, the trail I leave behind.
He’s breathing behind me, shallow and fast.
My breath whispers like a remembered undertow ;
“here, see me as I am, dark venison flesh, warm and solid.”
 

Water Memory and other poems is © Jackie Gorman

IMG_2805Jackie Gorman is from Westmeath. Her work has featured in Bare Hands, Wordlegs, The Honest Ulsterman and later this year, her work will feature in Poetry Ireland Review, The Sentinel Literary Quarterly and Obsessed by Pipework. She has been highly commended in the Patrick Kavanagh Award and the Goldsmith Poetry Competition. She was a prize winner in the 2015 Golden Pen Poetry Competition and her work has appeared in creative writing collections, edited by Noel Monahan, Alan McMonagle and Rita Ann Higgins.

“Killruddery” by Helen Harrison

Beneath the elders
Where bumble bees
Lose themselves
In flowering thyme;

I lie down in dew-soaked ease.

And dog-rose is the scent
That makes my spirits rise
In the kingdom of the low –
Flying bird.

I take comfort on the mossy soil;

Last years leaves sweet;
Damp In the wing-tipped breeze,
To ease my mind and soothe
My brow;

In dappled light my speckled thoughts take flight…

And the worm-seeking thrushes
Make a rustling sound
Where life goes on
Underground –

Beneath the earthy mound.

Killruddery is © Helen Harrison

hhHelen Harrison was raised on the Wirral, seven miles from Liverpool, by Irish parents, and has lived most of her adult life in Co Monaghan, Ireland, where she is married with a grown-up daughter. She has had poems published in A New Ulster, North West Words, Mad Swirl, The Galway Review, The Bray Journal, and the Poethead blog. Her first collection of poetry The Last Fire was published during 2015 by Lapwing. Helen has been guest reader read at venues in Ireland including O’Bheal Poetry Readings in Cork, and The White House Readings in Limerick.
 

Links if required:

 

“Bow Down” at York Literary Review

cropped-Purification-watercolor-and-black-carbon-pigment-on-cotton-paper-2014

Bow Down

 
A harrowed tree
nest-ruined
tangled leaf.
 
Its bough down,
bow down
 
A-flowering-tree
 (still it flowers)
 
Submarine blue is
where dawn occurs
 (South/South-east of here)
 
Dawn’s light box runs
from north blue
to south warm
 
The point between
is lit-not-lit,
(nor) seamed
  a bas-relief.
 
Bow Down is from A Hierarchy of Halls and was first published in York Literary Review, Issue #1 2016
 

York Literary Review

“Pair Bond” and other poems by Barbara Smith

Gwion’s Birthday

 
Today I bought your birthday presents:
what you wanted and what I wanted
for you: new clothes and an Xbox game.
Back across the stretch of thirteen years
I reach for the time you nearly didn’t make it
past your first: listless, sleeping on the sofa,
an infection deep within your bronchioles,
a third visit to the doctor for a letter
to admit you, a sweating wait outside the room
while they tried to insert a cannulae – twice –
and put in a drip before your isolation
on the fifth floor with a window-whistling view
of the graveyard and our home beyond. It was
two days before your hands reached up to mine.
 
The Angels’ Share (Doghouse Books, 2012)

Achieving the Lotus Gait

 
In winter, the uphill path to Madame Xing’s
is treacherous. I watch for loose
stones among the grey brown gravel
 
and the birds are almost silent
as each step quarries me,
wincing on wooden pattens.
 
Madame unravels yards of stinking cotton
from my feet and her thorough thumbs
knead them from numbness,
 
She honours my feet with warmed water
loosening shedding skin,
trims each bruised nail to the quick.
 
She rebinds each foot in cotton lengths
soaked in herbs and animal blood.
A neat figure-of-eight turns
 
over instep, gathers toes, under foot
and round the heel, each pass tighter
than the last. And then my thoughts
 
cringe homewards, as I totter out under
a brittle moon; my own weight
crushing each foot into the correct shape.
 
Shortlisted Basil Bunting Poetry Competition, 2009
The Angels’ Share (Doghouse Books, 2012)
 

Pair Bond

dedicated to Dolly Parton
 
The talk in the bar lulls a half-time fill:
as I knife scrape the head from another pint,
he hovers, pocket-foothering his change.
 
Steadying for the ask, he addresses
my full frontals, my baby buggy bumpers,
my Brad Pitts, my boulders, my billabongs,
 
my squashy cushions, my soft-focus bristols,
my motherly bosoms, my matronly bulk,
my Mickey and Minnie, my Monica
 
Lewinskis, my Isaac Newtons,
my snow tyres, my speed bumps, my Tweedle Twins,
my milk-makers, my Mobutus, my num-nums,
 
my Pia Zadoras, my Pointer Sisters,
my honkers, my hooters, my hubcaps, my hummers,
my Eartha Kitts, my Eisenhowers,
 
my Gods milk bottles, my Picasso cubes,
my chesticles, my cha-chas, my coconuts,
my dairy pillows, my devil’s dumplings,
 
my objectified orbs, my über-boobs,
my one-parts Lara, my two-parts globe,
my skywards pips, my lift and separate,
 
my airbags, my feeders, my mammy glands,
my Bob and Ray, my big bouncing Buddhas,
my sweater stretchers, my sweet potatoes,
 
my rosaceous rotors, my trusty rivets,
my melliferous melons, my mau-maus,
my tarty, my taut, my pert palookas,
 
my jahoobies, my kicking kawangas,
my agravic gobstoppers, my immodest maids,
my Scooby Snacks, my squished-in shlobes,
 
my cupcakes, my soda breads, my bloomin’ baps,
my brilliant bangers, my brash bazookas,
my windscreen wipers, my Winnebagos,
 
my wopbopaloubop, wopbopalous,
my yahoos, my yazoos and yipping yin-yangs,
my paps, my pips, my pommes-de-terres,
 
my pushed-up, plunged-down, paraded balcony,
my slow reveal, my instant appeal,
my décolletage, my fool’s mirage,
 
and I watch him pay up, steady up and leave.
 
The Angels’ Share (2012, Doghouse) also frequently performed with The Poetry Divas.
Published in Catechism: Poems for Pussy Riot, 2012.
 

Summiting

 
You must know the end to be convinced
that you can win the end, cool and quiet:
the solemn dome, fine and firm above all
its chasms of ice, its towers and crags,
this thing that all your desire points up to.
Here experience distils the muscle ache
and crystal skies into a bleary memory
of how you gained the top in so many days.
The conquered enemy is but ourselves.
Success means nothing here. Kingdoms of rock,
air, snow, and ice, we hold for just the time
it takes to survey in a slow circle,
soberly astonished by our struggle
to master mountains with our own flesh.
 
Mallory Sonnets, The Angels’ Share, 2012. Doghouse books.
Southword Issue 18, 2010.
 

 

barbara-smithBarbara Smith lives in County Louth, Ireland. She holds an MA in Creative Writing from Queen’s University, Belfast. Her achievements include being shortlisted for the UK Smith/Doorstop Poetry Pamphlet competition 2009, a prize-winner at Scotland’s 2009 Wigtown Poetry Competition, and recipient of the Annie Deeny 2009/10 bursary awarded by the Tyrone Guthrie Centre for Artists and Writers, Ireland. Her first collection, Kairos, was published by Doghouse Books in 2007 and a second followed in 2012, The Angels’ Share. She is a frequent reader with the Poetry Divas, a collective that read at festivals such as Electric Picnic.

“Eve Labouring for 37 Hours; the yes poem” at Levure Littéraire 12

ring

Eve labouring for 37 hours; the yes poem

 
Great
Monumental
Eve in pain.
 
Will bring
Forth a Cain /
Abel
Cannibal.
 
Exhausted stretch
rather/rather/rather
rather/rather/rather
dilate/ than die/ yes.
 
So just. Sous justice.
En vertu de la justice,
pour :
 
(‘In sorrow you shall bring forth children’)
 
Face. Yes. Present. Yes. Hands.
Yes. His image,
Who conjured it?
 
Mouth of dry twigs
The/sticks/stones
Bones/buttons
 
a knee-piece/skulls.
 
There are piles of skulls
pushing through my grimacing cunt,
 
All the pretty things,
stones/bones/buttons
a knee-piece/ skulls
 
Sous justice.
 
Merci !
 

The Burning Tree

 
Mineral planes impinge
surface embed glares red,
 
deep red.
A scarlet arrow
burns out on my white tile,
and cools.
 
The Burning-
Years’ round brings Rothko light
– Tree.
 
Glass stained is a bloody
transparency.
 
Sun brings up the silica
right to its surfaces,
where they may glitter
their red sparks.
 

Willow

 
Willow’s wooded music is hollow,
dead, or veiled.
She awaits yellow spring.
 
Willow is first to don it.
 
A tree,
plain and ordinary.
 
“Eve Labouring for 37 Hours; the yes poem” at Levure Littéraire 12 & other poems are © C. Murray

I am very grateful to Carmen-Francesca Banciu for publishing my group of poems at Levure Litteraire 12.
 

Image by Leonard Baskin

Image by Leonard Baskin

From the editorial: The Camps of Resistance and Fields of Consciousness, is the theme of this issue. A wide field! A multifaceted theme that addresses many aspects of our time. When we chose this theme, we did not yet realize that the future contributions would be so inspired by the present and focus on specific aspects, such as (e)migration, exile, escape.The drama of flight, losing one´s home and a country – but even the ambivalent feelings toward the refugees- are the main aspects that have emerged from our topic. Many of our writers have dealt with the theme in an artistic, essayistic, philosophical form.

Impressive contributions resulted. Among others, even interdisciplinary projects were created, such as the cooperation between the Irish-American writer Emer Martin and the Indian-American artist Moitreyee Chowdhury, a joint video art, poetry and painting contribution. Or the contributions from Gesine Palmer, Sabine Haupt, Peter O’Neill – just to name a few out of the abundance of outstanding contributions.

Some contributions deal with the fear of the ever-increasing amount of war zones and therewith the consequences. Among others, the war zones heavily influenced by religion that endanger humanity by forcing them to act in violence, protest or to flee. The fear of new wars, violence–and terrorism. Implicit questions are asked about the consequences of war and poverty that result from the mass migration. The fear of the established political systems and lifestyles collapsing. The fear of cultures, religions and interests colliding and clashing. But also the aftereffects of ecological exploitation and natural disasters.

“The Middle of April” by Fióna Bolger

The Middle of April

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

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

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

Excerpts from ‘The Muddy Banks’ by Michael S. Begnal

Uptown

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

Uptown

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

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


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

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

Contacts for Michael S. Begnal:

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

Kitchen

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

Danube – Duel

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

I wanted to tell you, but there was no time

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

Broken – Winged

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

Photo by Alistair Livingstone

Photo by Alistair Livingstone

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

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

metamorphosis

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

 

the pacific

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

jeju church

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

 

눈 = snow & eye

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


sonnet from a derelict house

 

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

fish lady

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

A Good Question: Anna Akhmatova (1960)

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

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

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

Unrecorded

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

Weave your joy

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

trembling dreams

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

We did not choose the sea

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

Longing

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

Come

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

Round the rock

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

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

“Satellite” and other poems by Roisin Kelly

To a Writer

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

The Morning After

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

Unforgiven

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

Satellite

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

Laundry

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

Christmas, Cork City

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

Picture © Linda Ibbotson

Picture © Linda Ibbotson

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

Four voices confront the absence of women in Irish poetry

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

Dorothea Herbert

 

Canto 1 of Dante’s Inferno, a transversion by Peter O’Neill

Canto 1 of Dante’s Inferno

 
In middle-age I found myself
in an obscure wood,
for the straight road had long since been lost.
 
Christ, how hard it is for me now
to even contemplate how harsh and savage
a place it was, without renewing my old fears!
 
It is a place so bitter that death might come as a relief;
But to speak of the good
I will tell of the other things too that I found.
 
I don’t know how I can begin to describe how I entered,
having been so drugged in a kind of sleep
that I had long since abandoned the straight way.
 
But, when I reached the foot of the hill,
there where the valley ends,
and where my heart had been seized with such anguish,
 
I looked up, and I saw its shoulders
dressed in the rays of the planet
which directs us all to where we need to go.
 
Then the fear was a little quieted,
which had endured well into the night
in the lake of my heart.
 
And like someone trying to find his breath
on the bank after surfacing from the depths,
looking back over the perilous waters;
 
So my soul, still reeling,
looked back at the pass,
which had never before let anyone through alive.
 
Then, after I had rested my weary body,
I looked up once again on the deserted hill,
my left foot treading heavily behind me.
 
Almost as soon as I had started
a stealthy and light moving leopard appeared,
his fur covered by those distinctive spots.
 
It did not depart on seeing me,
but instead impeded my movements, blocking my way.
So I had to beat a retreat, over and over again.
 
It was early in the morning,
the sun was rising with the stars still out,
a sight which still evokes the divine
 
and that almost mythic time before the big bang;
so I no longer feared the beast as much,
with all it signs of debilitating luxury,
 
from that hour onto the sweet season.
But, not so much that I didn’t fear
the lion, which next appeared.
 
He approached me, coming towards me
with his head held high. He had a hungry look,
so much so that the very air about him seemed affected.
 
Next a she-wolf with all its ravenousness,
seeming to eat into its own need,
and the cause of much misery for so many on earth.
 
So much heaviness and fear did I feel,
at the sight of her, that I seemed to lose all hope
of ever reaching the summit.
 
And so, like one just on the brink,
yet time catches up causing them to lose heart,
so who in all thoughts weep, and becomes even more wretched.
 
So she made me, this restless wolf,
who kept approaching me, little by little,
forcing me back to where the sun sinks,
 
and while I descended to a very low place,
it was then that my eyes were offered the sight of one
who, as if originating from a great silence, appeared hoarse to me!
 
When I saw him in that great wilderness
I cried out, ‘ O for Pity’s sake, HELP ME!
Whatever you might be; shade or certain man!’
 
And he responded: ‘ Not man, but man once
was I. My parents were from Lombardy,
Mantuans both by birth.
 
I was born sub Julio, though it was late,
and so I also saw Rome during the good Augustus’ reign;
a time of both false and dying gods.
 
A poet was I, telling principally of that man who was
known as Aeneas, and who came from Troy,
from where the great Iliad come to us.
 
But why do you turn your back so?
Why don’t you climb that mountain
which is the reason and cause for all possible joy?
 
‘Are you really the same Virgil who created
that fountain of discourse which flows out like a river?’
I asked, with sudden shame upon hearing my own words.
 
‘All honour and light to other poets, yet loving
study, and great love, had me searching
through your volumes…
 
You are my Master, my author.
You alone are to be credited with the
beautiful style, which has brought me great honour and fame.
 
But, do you see this beast which has been forcing me back?
Please help me, great sage,
for she makes the very blood in my veins tremble.’
 
‘Ah, you must take another road,’
he replied, when he saw my tears,
‘If you want to escape from this savage place.
 
For this beast which makes you cry out
will never let you pass by this way,
such is its force that it would murder you in the end.
 
She has such an evil and malignant nature,
so that when her greed and desire are momentarily
appeased, her fierce appetites are once again renewed.
 
Many are the animals which she further mates with,
and many more, no doubt, will come. Until, finally
the grey hound will come and put an end to her.
 
This hound doesn’t feed on anything else found upon the earth
but love, wisdom and virtue;
her estate being built on human emotions.
 
It alone can be the salvation of the humble Italy
for whom the virgin Camilla died,
Euryatus, Turmus and Nisus, among others…
 
Only it can chase this ravenous beast out of every town,
until it has been sent back to hell,
where envy alone spawned it.
 
So, I think it best that you should
follow me, I will be your guide,
taking you far from here to an eternal place
 
where you will hear desperate shrieking,
coming from the ancient spirits in pain,
and who always cry out, at their second death.
 
And you will see also those happy to be in the flames
because they believe that hope will still come,
whenever it is the moment to be, to those beatified.
 
And then, in your own time you will rise up,
a soul more worthy than I,
and with her I shall leave you, taking my leave.
 
For the Emperor who so reigns, where I will take you,
was unknown to me, my mere birth being an act of rebellion.
So that he doesn’t wish for my kind to be even seen in his city.
 
In every place there he reigns, and he alone.
There in his city he sits on his high throne,
And happy are they who are chosen.’
 
And I said to him: ‘ Poet, I beg you.
In the name of the God whom you did not know,
so that I may flee this evil, and worse.
 
That you might take me to where you spoke of,
so that I may see the gates of Saint Peter,
and all who are assembled there.’
 
And than he moved, and I followed him.
 
This transversion is © Peter O’Neill

And Agamemnon Dead An Anthology of Early Twenty First Century Irish Poetry Edited by Peter O'Neill & Walter RuhlmannPeter O’ Neill (1967) was born in Cork where he grew up before moving to live in France in the nineties. He returned to Dublin in 1998, where he has been living ever since. He is the author of five collections of poetry, most notably the Dublin Trilogy: The Dark Pool (mgv2>publishing, France, 2015), Dublin Gothic (Kilmog Press, New Zealand, 2015) and The Enemy, Transversions from Charles Baudelaire (Lapwing Press, Northern Ireland, 2015). In his review of The Dark Pool, the critically acclaimed American poet David Rigsbee wrote: Peter O’ Neill is a poet who works the mythical city of Modernism in ways we do not often see enough.’ (A New Ulster )

He holds a degree in Philosophy and a Masters in Comparative Literature, both awarded by Dublin City University. In 2015 he edited And Agamemnon Dead, An Anthology of Early Twenty First Century Irish Poetry with Walter Ruhlmann for mgv2>publishing, and mg 81 Transverser. He also organised Donkey Shots; Skerries First International Avant Garde Poetry Fest in May, this year. He is currently hosting The Gladstone Readings once a month in his home town of Skerries.    

Janus- His Mistress Responds and other poems by Peter O’Neill from Dublin Gothic (Kilmog Press, 2015)
“The Elm Tree” by Peter O’Neill
“The Elm of the Aeneid” and “Spadework” by Peter O’Neill.

Poems from “Off Duty” by Katie Donovan

Wedding

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

Operation

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

Off Duty

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

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

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

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

 
Entering The Mare and other Poems by Katie Donovan

“Pillars” and other poems by Alice Kinsella

Sea walk.

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

Tea Leaves

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

After the storm

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

The Stranger.

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

Pillars

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

Making Pies

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

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

Honour the women of Irish Theatre

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

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

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

From : Sign the Petition

Image from Olwen Fouéré’s website.

“Inishturk” and other poems by Alvy Carragher

Confession

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

Inishturk

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

The carpenter’s daughter

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

It’s easier if you pick a moment

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

Inishturk and other poems is © Alvy Carragher.

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

“blurring” and other poems by Kerrie O’ Brien

Bamboo Grove, Kyoto

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

Aftermath

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

Inherent

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

Blurring

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

Incense

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

Core

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

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

‘Tread Softly’ and other poems by Michael J Whelan

DELIVERANCE

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

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

GRAPES OF WRATH

 

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

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

© Michael J. Whelan

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

 

BROKEN SPADE

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

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

© Michael J. Whelan

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

RENDEVOUS

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

© Michael J. Whelan

TREAD SOFTLY

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

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

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

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

© Michael J. Whelan

Published in Three Monkeys, online magazine, Feb 2013

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

© Michael J. Whelan

Published in A New Ulster, issue 32, May 2015

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

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

“Nadelah” and other poems by Geraldine O’Kane

Hitting to Hurt

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

Nadelah

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

The Living Room

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

Playtime

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

Presence

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

Doorman at ‘Invisible Illness’

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

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

Tree Tunnel

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

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

‘The Talking Cure’ and other poems by Angela Carr

The Tiger’s Tail

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

Occupied

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

Junkie

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

The Talking Cure

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

CAT Scan

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

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

 

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

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

For Máire Holmes

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

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

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

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

Dies Solis…

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

Such are the scientific facts behind revelation.

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

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

Janus- His Mistress Responds

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

And Agamemnon Dead

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

‘Punishment’ and other poems by Mary Kennelly

Punishment

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

Treasure Trove

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

Prince Charming

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

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

“Lifelike” and other poems by Jennifer Matthews

Family Portraits

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

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

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

ok

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

Lifelike

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

Scent of a Woman (Echolalia)

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

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

 

“Mulcair” and other poems by Amanda Bell

The beauty of the game

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

Dark Days

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

for the moon to wax.

(first published by the Burning Bush 2)
 

Troglodytes

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

The Darkness

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

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

(first published by The Stinging Fly)

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

“Delta” and other poems by Stephanie Conn

Wie is de vrouw on de overkant?

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

Delta

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

The Metronome

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

Marina Tsvetayeva

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

The Portrait of his First Wife

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

Maria Alexandrovna

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

Blinking in the Dark

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

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

Looking at how the media presented the Oxford Professor of Poetry Election for VIDA !

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

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

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

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

Cleaving a Puzzle-Tree

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

Frozen Food

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

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

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

Museum

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

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

“Madame Matisse Is Shown Her Portrait, 1913” & other poems by Susan Millar DuMars

Dreams for Breakfast

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

Learning to Swim

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

Madame Matisse Is Shown Her Portrait, 1913

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

Sunday Morning, Lorient

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

Hampshire College Halloween 
 

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

                                                and no one got nailed to anything.

– Susan Millar DuMars

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

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

“Something for Sunday Morning” by Maria McManus

Something for Sunday morning

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

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

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

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

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

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

You choose.

II

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

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

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

III

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

IV

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

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

V

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

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

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

VI

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

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

VII

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

VIII

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

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

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

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

IX

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

X

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

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

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

XI

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

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

You might.

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

Then maybe, just maybe,
We could dance instead.

Something for Sunday Morning is © Maria McManus

Maria McManus

Maria McManus

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

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

Three Poems by Müesser Yeniay

Flower Village

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

Between My Body and the World

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

Now Do not Tell Me of Men!

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

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

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

‘Haft Seen’ and other poetry by Shakila Azizzada

Once Upon A Time

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

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

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

View from Afar

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

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

Haft Seen

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


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

from The Poetry Translation Centre

.

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

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

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

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

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

.

Ceathrúintí Mháire Ní Ógáin

I

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

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

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

II

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

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

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

III

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

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

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

IV

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

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

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

V

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

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

VI

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

VII

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

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

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

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

Mary Hogan’s quatrains

I

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

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

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

II

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

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

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

III

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

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

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

IV

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

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

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

V

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

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

VI

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

VII

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

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

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

Translation by James Gleasure.

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


A fhir dar fhulaingeas…

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

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

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

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

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

Man for whom I endured…

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

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

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

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

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

Translated by Biddy Jenkinson.

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

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

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

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

FREIGHT

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

FOGLAND

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

Mary O' Donnellbachmann

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

VERILY

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

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

NIGHT FLIGHT

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

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

Poemhunter for Ingeborg Bachmann

Mary O' Donnell

Mary O’ Donnell

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

◾Mary O’Donnell

“Sanctus” by Kimberly Campanello

Sanctus

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

I.

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

II.

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

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

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

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


 

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

Pic by Brian Kavanagh

‘Dawning on the Square’ by C Murray

Dawning on the Square

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

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