‘The Mission’ by Rita Ann Higgins

The Mission

I think of the last time we met
on the prom in Galway.
A sunny day in May
you looked cool in those shades.
You looked taller somehow.
We talked for ages.
You told me about plans
for your mother’s sixtieth.
I felt lucky to have such a nephew.
Shades or no shades.

You hid your distress well, John.
None of it was evident that sunny day.
The day of good nephews.
A month later you went to Beachy Head.
WTF John.

I think of you
leaving your bundle
on top of Beachy Head.
Your belt coiled around your watch
your wallet with a photo of your daughter
your fire fighter’s ID card
your blood donor card
your bus ticket from Brighton.
Losers weepers.

Margaret, your Irish twin,
was on a holiday she didn’t want to go on.
She had been worried sick,
she had us all demented
saying you were going to do it.
Twins know things, Irish twins know more.
I was at a wedding in June
when some friends of yours called me outside.
‘It’s about John Diviney,’
and something about Beachy Head.

Later we went to the priest
he came down to Castle Park
to tell your mother.
She thought we were there to show her the wedding style.
I wouldn’t mind, John
but I had hired a dress for the wedding.
It was a deep blue.
It sailed when I walked.
Your mother was in a daze.
‘I dreamed of him on Thursday night,’ she said.
‘He went in and out of every room.
Himself and Shannon were laughing.’

We went to Eastbourne to bring you home.
Your mother to collect a son,
Margaret to collect a brother,
Caroline and Majella to collect a cousin.
Me to collect a nephew.
Five women on a mission.

Your mother couldn’t sleep,
she was smoking out the hotel window.
She saw the undertaker
collect your best suit from reception at six am.

Despite all the sadness
we had laughed a lot on the way over.
The girls nearly missing the flight
because they had to get food.
We laughed too at nothing at all.
Declan, another cousin of yours turned up
and chauffeured us around Eastbourne
and later to Heathrow.
Loosers weepers.

You had a photo in your wallet
of your daughter Katie.
I have a photo in my study
of the day we bumped into you
in King’s Cross, you and Katie.
Ye were going to some match or other.
What are the chances?
We were over to surprise Heather
on her thirtieth.

What are the chances of bumping into you now, John?
We weren’t laughing when we saw you in that coffin.
Your Irish twin ran outside and puked.
Your mother whispered things in your ear.
We started the prayers
it was a mumbo jumbo litany
We couldn’t remember how anything finished.
Hail Mary full of grace the lord is with thee…

On the way back
there was a bad storm.
We were at the airport for five hours.
Your mother kept going back out for a smoke.
Each time she went out we worried
that she’d never get back in.

You were in the hold,
in your new suit
your designer shirt
your best shoes.
We forgot your socks.
Losers weepers.

We arrived at Shannon
in the early hours.
The Divineys were there en masse.
So was Keith and Aidan.
We followed the hearse,
a night cortège.
‘At least we have him back,’
your mother said,
more than once.

After the funeral mass
your friends from the fire station
hoisted your coffin onto the fire brigade.
The army were there too.
It was a show stopper.
I never told you this, John
but I love a man in uniform.

I think of you
leaving your bundle
on top of Beachy Head.
Your belt coiled
around your watch
your wallet with a photo of Katie
your fire fighter’s ID card
your blood donor card
your bus ticket from Brighton.
Loosers weepers.

‘It’s about John Diviney,’
the coroner’s office said.
‘Some young people found his things.
His belt a loop around them.’
He flew without wings
off Beachy Head.
He landed at the bottom
his back against the wall
his eyes looking out to sea.

The Mission is © Rita Ann Higgins

Poet Rita Ann Higgins(1)Rita Ann Higgins was born in Galway. She has published ten collections of poetry, her most recent being Ireland is Changing Mother, (Bloodaxe 2011), a memoir in prose and poetry Hurting God (Salmon 2010). She is the author of six stage plays and one screen play. She has been awarded numerous prizes and awards, among others an honorary professorship. She is a member of Aosdána.
 
Rita Ann Higgins’s readings are legendary. Raucous, anarchic, witty and sympathetic, her poems chronicle the lives of the Irish dispossessed in ways that are both provocative and heart-warming. Her next collection Tongulish is due out in April 2016 from Bloodaxe.
‘The Mission’ by Rita Ann Higgins

‘modern art’ and other poems by Anamaría Crowe Serrano

the stress clinic

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

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

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

❧
at ulica Freta, 16 – before radium or polonium

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

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

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

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

(originally published in Can-Can #2)

❧



modern art

you’re slung 
   rigid
against the wall

boxed in the past

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

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

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

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


❧

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

Anamaria Crowe Serrano-by RK at 7T

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

‘modern art’ and other poems by Anamaría Crowe Serrano

‘Nocturne for Voices One and Two’ by Christine Murray

Nocturne for Voices One and Two

 
Voice 1
 
Sea pummels shore, wind and reed knock trees.
Winter trees’ wooded music is not green sapped
 
‘under the Greenwood tree.’
 
But yet, yet but,
and alone,
the moon is all ?
 
Voice 2
 
Moon is not all,
while the restive sea and you separate. Separated.
 
Silence,
quiet.
 
Quiet,
peace !
 
Voice 1
 
And sleep now ?
 
For,
The bird skims dark waters
The bird skims silver streams.
 
Stream encroaches on the bay,
Stream sieves the sand.
 
Voice 2
 
And sleep now ?
 
In silence
or peaceably.
 
The moon is all,
it lights a trail.
 
Voice 1
 
It is with the voice of longing that you speak,
Close your eyes that mock the moon.
 
Close your eyes that tremble on the reed,
Close your eyes that discern the wing.
 
Not distance,
not distance from.
 
Voice 2
Separated,
separating.
 
V1 /V2
 
We do not in our bodies meet.
 
Voice 2
The moon is all, it is an emptiness.
 
The moon is all,
The moon is all.
 
Voice 1
 
And sleep, and dream with ?
Or a wisp of memory to wake a nothing from cold sun,
 
What now, sleep ?
Nor grieve.
 
Voice 2

Quiet !
 
The soul whispers reed (…)
 
Soul troubles the wing
Soul gathers in the dewy
morning, and the heart it ties to.
 
Quiet !
 

Nocturne For Voices One and Two is © Christine Murray (Published in Outburst 15)

Outburst 15 Preamble by Dr. Arthur Broomfield.

.
The age of the triumph of the lowest common denominator is upon us, it seems from the RTE short list of Ireland’s best poetry of the past hundred years, and the so predictable winning choice, Seamus Heaney’s potato peeling sonnet from the ‘Clearances’ series in The Haw Lantern . The majority of the ten named poems indulge the national predisposition to wallow in the sentimental and the anti-intellectual, Derek Mahon’s ‘A Disused Shed in County Wexford’ being the notable exception, though this, we fear, will be misread by a people who shy from poetry that challenges the cerebral. Yeats’ ‘ Easter 1916’ a pre-Beckett poem that in its irreducible essence addresses the relationship of language to perception is included, we fear, as a sop to the vulgar Nationalist agenda that has long sought to hijack the outstanding work for ideological purposes. Eavan Boland, for too long side-lined by a Southern, guilt driven urge to doff the cap to the Northern Ireland block, has written poems that confront the lazy inclination to sentimentalize, but ‘Quarantine’ is not one of them. With a few exceptions the shortlist sits firmly into the death and potatoes tradition and struggles to escape the tired vocabulary of Catholic ritual and the bleeding heart victim. The list, of course, will be lauded by those with vested interests. It’s a bad day for poetry. The few who encourage innovation, those who struggle against the influence of the Heaney sycophants, has been dealt another cruel body blow.

                                                                                                                                                                       

Christine Murray
Christine Murray

Christine Murray   is a Dublin-born poet. Her chapbook, Three Red Things was published by Smithereens Press, Dublin (June 2013). A collection Cycles was published by Lapwing Press (2013). A dark tale The Blind  (Poetry) was published by Oneiros Books (2013). She  a book-length poem was published by Oneiros Books (2014). Signature a chapbook was published by Bone Orchard Press (2014).
Creative Commons License
Nocturne For Voice One and Two by Christine Murray is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License.
Based on a work at https://poethead.wordpress.com.

‘Nocturne for Voices One and Two’ by Christine Murray

Slán Muireann Ní Bhrolcháin

41572208_large
It was with great sadness that I learnt of the death of Dr. Muireann Ní Bhrolcháin, Senior Lecturer of Early Irish (Sean-Ghaeilge), at the Centre for Irish Cultural Heritage at Maynooth University. Obituaries and remembrances are too formal a way to encapsulate the energies of the person who has passed away. What we may say about her on paper; on her authorship, her survivors, and her activities, pale in comparison to the ball of energy that she was. Muireann had a huge and warmly generous physical presence despite her tiny size. She was quite literally a ball of energy.
 
I first met Muireann Ní Bhrolcháin at the Four Courts, as one did during the campaigns that dominated the Celtic Tiger era. Protestors would be in and out of courts fighting on issues related to the complete destruction of any and all heritage laws by the Fianna Fáil Party who came up with new planning bills even as they tore down and scrapped institutions that were charged with the preservation of our natural and built heritage. News media would jostle to get near the government ministers who thought up new and ingenious ways to fast-track planning laws and ramming their tastelessness into property bubbles, bad housing, dublin satellites, and the ephemera of trash that can only be described as garbage politics. People like Muireann were almost criminalised for objecting to the fact that in the 13 years of political dominance by Fianna Fáil and it’s motley collection of political props, not one of them actually bothered to bring in a single heritage preservation bill. The media never asked why there were no heritage bills, they were busy selling houses for the government.
 
Muireann asked the awkward questions like why Dúchas was abolished by Martin Cullen TD, Why Bertie Ahern was so intent on a leadership that passed endless fast-track and Strategic Infrastructure Bills, and why successive Environment Ministers could not pass The Aarhus Convention into Irish law, they still haven’t. Why above all were we demolishing (‘Preservation by Record’) unique sites at Tara (39 sites were demolished) in the Gabhra Valley to allow for the M3 Toll Road. Decentralisation of protections like the OPW, and the defunding of existent preservation programmes were policies that ensured cheap housing and good profit to companies like the NRA (who also managed to take on the majority of archaeology programmes nationally) The media not alone did not trace these issues but they deliberately ignored or obfuscated them within a sugary silence that disallowed anything negative or challenging to emerge that might effect the status quo. There was no joining of dots, just a lot of quangoes and silence in the Tiger Era.
 
Despite this juggernaut of profiteering and short-termism, Muireann for the most part kept her temper and went into the courts, or she stood out on the Hill Of Tara in all weathers, or she waved orders into the faces of the Gardaí. She never cried in front of me but she witnessed a scarring and vicious tragedy that seems to encapsulate the appalling recklessness and greed of the Tiger Era. It was a devastation that was fuelled by greed and lack of education: bulldoze everything and make some cheap tract housing , extend the Dublin suburbs into Meath and while we are at it make a tidy little profit from unhooking all laws that preserve our unique heritage. Gombeenism is not the word for it.
 
Muireann’s gentler side emerged when she involved herself in cultural events like the Feis Teamhair where poets like Peter Fallon, Seamus Heaney, Paul Muldoon, Susan McKeown and more came yearly to Tara to raise cultural voice and to sing their protest. It was probably at Feis Teamhair that I last saw her turn back toward someone who grabbed her arm and asked her a question or greeted her warmly.
 
We make public poets, great men and women who are imprisoned in the media glare. We want them to represent all that is good in Ireland, and we consign the irritating questioners to the margins. Muireann was an irritating questioner, a restless and enthusiastic spirit, a friend and colleague of great poets, she defended and embraced our literary and poetic heritage with all her health and drive.
 
She has not lived as long as those she opposed, but her name is inscribed in the history of Tara, a visual sign that people will battle great odds to illuminate truths that politicians and their wordless and grey supporters ignore. Dr. Muireann Ní Bhrolcháin has died a respected and feisty woman, unlike the liars she challenged daily and I will miss her big heart.
 
Tara Abú
 
Rest in Peace Muireann x
 
Christine Murray (published at The Bogman’s Cannon )
Slán Muireann Ní Bhrolcháin

‘Sea Scarf’ and other poems by Victoria Mosley

Shiny shine

 
Milk on the turn
midnight history muffles
owl’s cry: narcissus pulsing
through dull earth to release
birthday colour.
 
I’ve become muted: afraid
of the shine shine glitter
hidden here as time
brushes messages
on parched skin.
 
Pacing corridor
always waiting for
sun – skim star-burn
impatient of humdrum
yearning magnificence.
 
Milk on the turn
garden hovers to unfurl
blossom of spring: new joy
pulsates at the click click clunk
of the white sea gate.
 

Sea scarf

 
Sea a black scarf
wrapped around the harbour
it’s cold tonight, so cold
the wind is taut
& moon hangs silent
huge immobile willing.
 
Sea sends whispers
of how it should be
sailors ghosts ride high
their songs mixed with
mermaids breath
the slink of seal at rest.
 
Sea calls to me
I’m immune caught up
beach sweeps a canvas
of wind ,water ,longing
connection to every other,
footsteps follow I turn
 
sea is a black scarf
enfolding me.
 

Mute route

 
Deaf with night’s hollow whispers
silk shawl cast aside
bare flesh masking muslin pillow
love untying caution’s ribbon
 
as we let it slide
like young girl’s curls
masking asking faces.
 
You rest in oblivion
stroking candied women
delicate filigree phantoms
breathless in their brilliance
 
while I try to tame the tiger
hush the rush of sweetness
turn aside from logical explanations
 
see you as you want me to,
 
a summer sorbet
fresh with sun kissed satisfaction
that crisp wisp of magnificence
tipped to fly away:
 
& I plug these riptide words
the cries that raise me from my sleep
why’s and how’s dulled with ice cold wine
follow your unmapped route
 
to a mute and foreign destination
where nothing is given away
but time.
 

Walk with me (for my Dad)

 
Walk with me again
over sunlight speckled streams
through the tart nettles & the
sharp tooth brambles to the
smooth green sward of an upland field
where the sheep scatter crazily at our feet
& the cuckoo spits her tuneless song.
 
Walk with me once more
arm in arm through the breathless hordes
of the rush hour crowd,
to turn aside at an open bar, rest in silence
while the traffic roars & the ferryboat plies
her starlight trail, across the harbour.
 
Sit & hold my hand
round an open fire, just to tell me
how you are & why you’ve been
so far away when you promised me
you’d be here to stay. Why you left
in that awful rush with those bustling nurses
the sweat of the incense, the rich red mass.
 
Walk with me again
along our small curved shore
with the fishermen mending nets
the harvest moon blazing
turning to solitude, for there is only ”I”
& the essence of ”you”.
 
These poems are © Victoria Mosley

  • ICA standing (1)Victoria Mosley is a poet novelist and spoken word artist. She has four published poetry collections and nine published novels. She has run events and club nights in London and beyond, from the Groucho Club to the ICA, Austin Texas to Indonesia, from Jazz nights and Charity Events to new bands. She has worked for the British Council in Surabaya and in Canada, has produced and presented her own radio shows. She has worked as Artist in Residence in the Film and Media Studies Department at the School of Oriental and African Studies London University, and in the Astro Physics department of Imperial College where she taught her own courses on Creative Writing and Performance and wrote an MA option. She is presently concentrating on writing novels. She has written nine novels in the What if series now available on Kindle. Her debut novel, published by Quartet in 2011 Moonfisher is set in Second World War torn France and present day London, and is a story of the Maquis and the Special Operations Agency which sent British Spies into occupied France. (Published by Quartet on D day 2011) is available on Amazon.
    .
    Poems from her new collection Out of Context are published in small press magazines, in anthologies, by Forward Press and in online magazines such as Ronin Red Ceiling and http://www.thewolfpoetry.org. Poems are published internationally online from Australia to America she has a poetry following in fifty three countries and she also writes online articles. She has just completed a Heritage Lottery Funded project in Kent.
  • victoriamosley.com
  • Amazon Author Page
  •  www.thewolfpoetry.org.
  • All At Sea (Amazon)
  • Ultramarine (Amazon)
‘Sea Scarf’ and other poems by Victoria Mosley

‘Self Portrait as She Wolf’ and other poems by Breda Wall Ryan

Self Portrait as She Wolf

 
You sheer away from the warm,
many-tailed beast,
spurn the communal dream.
 
Beyond the shelter of pine and fir
you lope across open ground
where cold scalds your lungs,
 
feel a soft-nosed bullet’s kiss,
lick the salt wound clean,
almost drown in a starry bog,
 
but break through its dark mirror,
meet your reflection
in a boutique window on a city street
 
among mannequins in ersatz furs,
the last of your kind,
or the first.
 
Only look back once,
for a silhouette, a hungry scent.
There is still time to re-trace your spoor,
 
answer the tribal howl. Your throat opens
on one long, swooped syllable,
almost a word.
 

The Dream of the Fisherman’s Wife

 
(Katsushika Hokusai. The Dream of the Fisherman’s Wife, woodcut c.1820.)
 
In the dark my fisherman shapes
me, his girl-diver, to his wants,
tastes his dream-geisha,
inked teeth in her reddened moue,
face nightingale-shit bright,
 
hair a lacquered bowl, camellia-oiled.
I slip from his shingle-hard grip,
sink in the dark undersea with octopi.
I dream Hokusai dreaming me,
a frisson as his paper-thin blade pares
 
deep into woodblock, each of us
picturing jet hair undone,
strands fish-oil glazed root to tip,
a reef-knotted waist-long cascade.
Two days have passed since I bathed;
 
my breasts are sweat-pearled,
ripe with aromas of fruit de mer,
My tentacled one unfurls, his touch
exquisite as the brush of electric eels,
his glossy fingerings on my nape
 
supple as young pine shoots.
The artist’s chisel probes
again and again, sliver by fine sliver
till at last I am dreamed
heartwood, printed in India ink.
 
He hand-tints my skin
while I dream his mouth-filling tongue,
my dream of a thousand years
in colours fleet as this floating world
no fisherman comes near.
 

Woman of the Atlantic Seaboard

 
You might meet her anywhere on the coast:
at Moher she is Rosmari, she walks the high cliffs
away from the busses and tour guides,
her face turned towards the west, sea in her hair;
or at Renvyle where a white carved stone
remembers the unbaptised, as Maighdean Mara,
she keeps vigil where the sea stole
their bones from the shore.
 
Call her Atlantia, she who waits in the lee
of the sea wall at Vigo for the boats to come in.
She looks deep into fishermen’s eyes,
as if eyes can give back what they’ve seen,
a waterlogged husband, brother’s shin bone,
a son’s lobster-trap ribcage to carry home
in a pocket of her yellow oilskin.
Enough for a burial.
 
She is Marinella on Cabo Espichel, Morwenna
in. Among wild women who comb
blueberry barrens in she is Maris,
her fingers long as the sea’s ninth wave,
stained from plucking sharp fruit in sea fog.
Find her on shore where ponies
ride out the surf. Take her home,
give her the stranger’s place at the hearth:
 
she won’t stay. Inland, she adds salt to her bath,
boils potatoes in seawater down to a salt crust.
Feed her dilisk and Carrigeen moss; she can’t help
but return to the waves, to kelp and ozone.
She is Muirghein, born of the sea, the sea
salts her blood. Or call her Thalassa, mother
of Kelpies, Selkies, fin-flippered sea-mammals,
neoprene-skinned fish-hunters, creatures of the tide.
 
All lost to her. the seafarer’s daughter,
sister, mother, wife; on a widow’s walk in ,
scanning the horizon for a floater or a boat.
Meet her on the brink of the ocean, alone, winter
seas in her eyes. Call her by any of her names:
she will turn from you, to the blue nor’wester,
shake brined beads from her hair. She will wait
for her drownlings forever, standing in the salt rain.
 
(from Céide Fields)
 

The Inkling

To the last Neolithic farm woman of Céide Fields
 
That first time it breathed a sigh on your neck,
why did you brush it aside?
You should have taken it into your head.
 
There was still time to build it a shrine,
offer crowberry prayers and top-of-the-milk.
White breath hung over the cattle-pens.
 
You carried on felling and burning,
spread baskets of kelp and sand on the land.
The inkling shivered your spine.
 
Did it come from the ocean?
It lurked in the mizzle, blackened the haws,
wormed down to your worrybone.
 
Years have gone by. The cradles lie empty.
Summer is wetter than winter. Rain
drenches the land. It quenches the sky.
 
Your sleán breaks the earth’s skin,
you drive the blade deep with your foot.
Bogwater wells from the wound.
 
Grass lies down in the fields and drowns,
cattle bawl their hunger pains.
There is only one child in the house.
 
You can’t shake the inkling,
it niggles, raises the back of your hair,
sly and fat as a tick.
 
Barley decays in the ground.
The cow is near dry. You must choose
between calf and child.
 
It is out of your hands.
 

The Snow Woman

 
She was a blow-in then,
the snow a wordless paper sheet,
her footprints the first blunt penstrokes
with everything still to write:
spring planting, barley sheaves,
a bitter crop of stones and chaneys
at the turn of the year.
Windblown crows dropped in
through holes punched in the sky,
gossiped year after year.
She wrote children,
they built the scarecrow in the field.
 
Now she’s a native,
the graveyard peopled with some of her own:
a greyed husband planted these two years,
a girl half-grown,
the rest of her children flown
a thousand miles as the crow
flies from the snow-blind fields,
silent hills shoulder her close,
crows call her name from tall trees.
She has carried the scarecrow into the house.
 

Self Portrait as a She Wolf‘ and other poems published here are © Breda Wall Ryan

Breda-852 (Colour) (1)Breda Wall Ryan grew up on a farm in Co Waterford and now lives in Co. Wicklow. She has a B.A. in English and Spanish from UCC; a Post-graduate Diploma in Teaching English as a Foreign Language, and an M.Phil. in Creative Writing (Distinction) from Trinity College, Dublin. Her awarded fiction has appeared in The Stinging Fly, The Faber Book of Best New Irish Short Stories 2006-7 and The New Hennessy Book of Irish Fiction. Her poems have been published widely in journals in Ireland and internationally, including Skylight 47, Ink Sweat and Tears, Deep Water Literary Journal, And Other Poems, Fish Anthology, Mslexia, The Ofi Press, Orbis, Magma and The Rialto. Her first collection, In a Hare’s Eye, was published by Doire Press in 2015. A Pushcart and Forward nominee, she has won several prizes, most recently the Gregory O’Donoghue International Poetry Prize, 2015.
‘Self Portrait as She Wolf’ and other poems by Breda Wall Ryan

‘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.
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www.doireannnighriofa.com & DoireannNiG
‘Cleaving a Puzzle-Tree’ and other poems by Doireann Ní Ghríofa

AND AGAMEMNON DEAD : An Anthology of Early Twenty First Century Irish Poetry

Christine E. Murray:

Thanks to Michael J Whelan for this post on ‘And Agamemnon Dead: An Anthology of Early Twenty First Century Irish Poetry’ 

Originally posted on Michael J. Whelan - Writer:

And Agamemnon Dead An Anthology of Early Twenty First Century Irish Poetry Edited by Peter O'Neill & Walter Ruhlmann And Agamemnon Dead
An Anthology of Early Twenty First Century Irish Poetry
Edited by Peter O’Neill & Walter Ruhlmann

Hi everyone, I’m really happy to announce that a brand new anthology of contemporary Irish poetry has been published today (St Patrick’s Day) in Paris and I am also delighted to say that I have five poems included in the collection alongside a number of exciting and interesting new voices coming out of Ireland in the these early years of the 21st Century.

And Agamemnon Dead An Anthology of Early Twenty First Century Irish Poetry, Edited by Peter O’Neill & Walter Ruhlmann is published by Muavaise Graine (Paris 2015) –

see https://www.facebook.com/mgversion2datura

and among its 187 pages you will find poetry from

Michael McAloran — Amos Greig — Dylan Brennan — Christine Murray — Arthur Broomfield — Peter O’ Neill — Rosita Sweetman — Michael J. Whelan — Anamaría Crowe Serrano —…

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AND AGAMEMNON DEAD : An Anthology of Early Twenty First Century Irish Poetry

Let’s Hear Irish Poets Speak; the need for a poetry audiobank in Ireland

Christine E. Murray:

The fact that a new generation of emergent writers must await vehicles like Poetry Ireland Introductions to find an audience stinks of a paternalistic approach to poetic works that sees a few dominant poets stand between the reader and the work, as if it were radioactive. The poetry audience is not remedial and they like to go searching, hence from Ireland they will go to where accessibility is respected, to UBUWEB, to PENNSound, to Jacket2, to The Electronic Poetry Center.

Originally posted on The Bogman's Cannon:

The Electronic Poetry Center (U.S) was founded in 1995. UBUWEB was founded by Kenneth Goldsmith in 1996, it is an audio archive housing avant-garde works including visual, concrete and sound poetry, UBU also holds film files. PENNSound was founded in 2003. To date, not one Irish University has made a step towards providing accessible poetry archives in Ireland. Poetry Ireland has not gone an inch toward increasing accessibility to Irish audio poetry. Why is this ?

Whatever way we choose to look at this situation, we can see that despite the tourist push on arts here, we are one to two generations behind best practice in the area of accessibility to audio poetry. Instead we have a focus on pushing a few poets, mainly to the American market, and beneath the colossus-like feet of the Yeats, the Muldoons, the Heaneys, and the presidential poets, the green shoots are strangled and…

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Let’s Hear Irish Poets Speak; the need for a poetry audiobank in Ireland

‘Demeter Does Not Remember’ and other poems by Mary Madec

Tumble

 
I land in you unexpectedly,
down and something silky like new grass
scattering
and it is soft and I fit perfectly
like in memory foam
and maybe it is a memory
and it is silky like a caress, your fingers
stroking me
and new, I have never come here before
and green somehow like soft summer
warming me
down deeper than I have ever known
and maybe you heard the whimper
as I gave myself to
the comfort of you concave
as a moon but not cold or blue
and I gave myself as a child
extends her little arms wide
and trusting on the world
the edge between inside and outside
blurred like tears blur
eyes that still see
and your arms wrap around me and I am satisfied.
 

Hades to Persephone

 
Your hand is so close it could touch mine
but you pull it away in time
tracing the boundary
 
any closer and I step
into your shadow
you into mine
 
and rather than disrupt
affection’s awkward reach
we play at catch the plural pronoun,
 
go round and round each
of our language islands,
eddies of meaning in the delta.
 
This vertigo of words
could throw us into each other’s arms,
leave us confused
 
about how to distribute
endings on verbs,
as their tense, their mood come to light.
 

Demeter Does Not Remember

 
Persephone, her shadowed daughter
in the portico, peeping through the cracked wall.
Or what she said to keep her away.
 
Or what she gave her to dam her legs
when blood flowed,
red into the underworld.
 
Demeter cannot remember her first smile or teeth,
the words she made.
Persephone would have liked to know.
 
Now, a woman, she looks into the still lake of her dreams,
filled by the purlings of the Styx.
What does she see?
 
She walks away heartbroken
from the quivering reflection.
Cries out, ‘Demeter is not me.’
 

Soon It Will Be Winter

 
And Demeter does not know what she hates most
about the change-her straw hair, her broken nails,
a shrivelling up inside, no blood rain,
insomnia as she tosses her tired head this way and that.
She thinks of Persephone, the daughter she fed
and is jealous of those pert little breasts,
those eyes, reminding her of another bed
where she was desirable as a wife.
She can feel her hardening arteries, her sagging eyes
stretched to crows’ feet as she smiles.
There is no sap inside her anymore, a greyness
rising up through her thighs.
 
Persephone is wet with smiles
her soft legs parting for Hades.
 

Demeter: Coming of Age

 
As I bathe alone, I wonder
what would be a good outcome.
 
This time I let my head
below the level of the water
 
and my hair spreads out
like thong weed in the sea.
 
My middle-aged body lops
and the water makes
 
tides around my hips
and breasts.
 
My legs with their varicose veins
the legacy of maternity
I embrace
 
I let it all hang out.
It makes no difference now
that this man or that
 
loved this body
rested on it like summer sun
on grass
 
Just as the grass barely notices
the creatures who crawl on the earth
 
just as the earth itself is indifferent
to movements on its surface
 
waits for boiling magma
to rise up to its thin skin.
 
It will take something like this
to shift the tectonic plates
reunite the old continents.
 

Forecast

 
You turn me around and change the frame.
You’re sorry and winded.
 
There’s some awkward readjustment of limbs,
like trees that find their branches
when the wind dies down.
 
We go back the way we came, the cloud breaking up
as it comes in from the sea.
 
Everything from this angle looks different,
you take out your thermometer,
barometer, wind vane:
 
The outlook is good, you say:
Cumulonimbus calvus, your favourite,
 
a sky filled with narrative,
great big faces puffed,
playfully portentous.
 
You say they will be tipped
with red and gold at sunset.
 
© Mary Madec

74755Mary Madec was born and raised in Mayo. She studied at NUI, Galway (B.A., M.A., H.Dip Ed.) and at the University of Pennsylvania from which she received a doctorate in Linguistics in 2002. She has published widely (Crannóg, West 47, The Cuirt Annual, Poetry Ireland Review, the SHOp, The Sunday Tribune, Southword, Iota, Nth Position, Natural Bridge and The Stand Orbis, The Fox Chase Review,The Recorder among others. Her first collection, In Other Words, appeared with Salmon Poetry in 2010 ; her second collection, Demeter Does Not Remember also with Salmon Poetry at the end of 2014. She has received several awards and prizes most notably the Hennessy XO Prize for Emerging Poetry in 2008. She co-founded a community writing project and she teaches a residential course at Kylemore Abbey every summer. She works for Villanova University in Ireland.
‘Demeter Does Not Remember’ and other poems by Mary Madec

Dear Freda Laughton, Your Poems are being discussed at Jacket2 Magazine

Dear Freda Laughton, Your Poems are being discussed at Jacket2 Magazine:

Walt Hunter writes for Jacket2 on Dave Lordan’s interview with Emma Penney about the modernist poet Freda Laughton. Freda Laughton was born in Bristol in 1907 and moved to Co. Down after her marriage. She published one collection of poetry, A Transitory House, in 1945 but little else is known about her life and work. She may have lived in Dublin for sometime, as her poem The Welcome details the textures of Dublin City and its suburbs, and suggests she knows the city by heart. Her date of death is unknown.There are some Freda Laughton poems published on Poethead here

The most interesting thing I read during a weekend of convalescence, under a March sun that seemed surprised at its own intensity, was this interview with Emma Penney on the website The Bogman’s Cannon about an Irish modernist poet, Freda Laughton. Although Laughton was born in 1907, I feature the interview and her poems here because critical genealogies of twentieth-century Irish poetry are in the process of expanding dramatically. Laughton provides an alternative provenance and inspiration for some of today’s writers and their concerns or interventions—as Penney points out:

The lack of critical interest in Laughton reflects the selective vision of literary traditions which often exclude poets who do not fit with the contemporary moment or who may trouble the formation of new movements. Irish critics during the 70’s and 80’s held Eavan Boland to be the first writer to express what “poetic being” was for a woman; the first to express the domestic; motherhood; the first to map Dublin city as a woman. Laughton expresses all of these experiences in her work decades before Boland.

You can read the full article here Now I am a tower of darkness | Jacket2.

FireShot Capture - Now I am a tower of dark_ - http___jacket2.org_commentary_now-i-am-tower-darkness
Dear Freda Laughton, Your Poems are being discussed at Jacket2 Magazine

‘Birth Partner’ and other poems by Lindsey Bellosa

Becoming a Woman

 
The first time: my underwear,
stained and crumpled, squashed
into our bathroom cupboard and I am paged
to the nurses’ office at school where the nurse
asks in hushed tone if something has happened—
we have watched the videos and been shown
the diagrams, and my mother has called the school,
having found my underwear, asked: voice
full of pride and worry…so I nod as though
I know something the other girls don’t,
that the boys snicker at: still small; squeaking—
and I am so tall and so soft : already in a bra,
sprouting hair; already not a child but still
wanting to be a child, and something so tender
is lost and bleeding in me. Now, there is a secret
I am keeping but I can’t tell what it is—
something to be careful of; something
to be concealed and I am given plastic razors
and perfumes and pads and I am afraid, afraid, afraid
like a child in the dark, not knowing of what.
 

Conception

 
First there is a lush, quiet sky: sea
filled with anticipation. Then something
is released, and time grows fingers.
 
The moon cycles, triggering our cycles
and the cycles of fish, feeding; turtles
emerging to shore
 
egg-laden; heavy as moonlight.
 
Life is mostly waiting: on possibilities,
on hope. There are chances—
shadows that never become.
 
But this is not hope; this is the one,
definite thing, the only thing
that reaches and it is inside of me—
 
sea hovering around the start
of unseen stirrings.
 

Birth Partner

 
I saw what was your world
spin away from you in moments.
It was replaced by a body.
 
The body was yours but also not yours.
It had its own limbs, its own cries
and also your limbs and cries.
 
I saw how the sea opened its mysteries—
slipped gleam of grey curve.
I saw your dreams emerge.
 
When you woke up, you were crying
and laughing. Death had tumbled you;
finally you knew pain.
 
You clasped your new life in your arms,
seeing love for the first time. You murmured:
It was you. It’s you.
 

Motherhood

 
The wild landscape of love,
moon-soaked and ragged plain.
All the edges too clear; animals
ruthless. The barren moon rules,
bald in its light, which illuminates
writhing Earth: swill of fertility,
pain and want. A squall, a mass
of tails: spinning and spinning. Now,
the heart fixes like a hook to a cry.
It is plaintive and true. Nothing
was ever so clear. Like stars
on a winter night, piercing
the uncovered universe black
and white. This is life.
This is how time keeps itself.
 

The Tree of Time

 
(based on Maria Rizzo’s painting of the same title)
 
Time grows in branches,
one moment very like the other:
 
Second son, I have been here before.
This is a dark time; your cries are waves
 
colliding with my dreams. Reality
is twisting into something new,
 
and my life is changing color….
The view of the night sky boxed,
 
like a window. But your eyes
are stars, constant—
 
shining, bright yellow,
at corners of my nights
 
as I wake to feed you:
obsessed with numbers—
 
the ounces you drink, weight.
My face is clouded moonlight:
 
less than slivering light. Little son,
shadows are waves on water.
 

This is a magical time.
We will put down new roots,
 
but not now. Not here. Now the sea
races like a heart, your hand
 
presses my face, in sleep.
Now nights are like days,
 
and every day is a ladder rung
reaching to a brand-new life.
 

Portrait

 
The eyes: hooded sky
the rest of the face hangs from—
little crescent moon.
 
Now you cast them to me:
ask your questions, make pleas,
defy with your white scowl.
 
Your lips are mine, drooping
roses; the pink shape of wonder
and the slope of your cheeks, mine,
 
but whitewashed of flaws; white
and pink, translucent as light
and thin-skinned as an egg.
 
Blue trails beneath the surface,
lines of a map, where eyelashes
linger: catching, giving depth.
 
Every day you grow arms and legs
and more looks, like light—
from me but not mine.
 
Like my mother in an old video—
I see me as I see you in me. She sees herself;
in the mirror, sees her mother.
 
The fourteen-year-old me in the video:
wiggling, excited for something I didn’t know
yet: bursting from my pink swimsuit—
 
My mother knew. Lips stitched into a line:
eyes on the horizon, as mine are now.
The past comes in like the tide—
 
and our faces swallow themselves.
We shrug in and out of them
like a borrowed sweater;
 
like the two imprints, potter’s
thumb slips just under your eyes:
up go the pupils,
 
up knit the eyebrows—
always up and away.
This is the way love travels.
 
© Lindsey Bellosa

 lindseyLindsey Bellosa lives in Syracuse, NY.  She has an MA in Writing from the National University of Ireland, Galway and has poems published in both Irish and American journals: most recently The Comstock Review, The Galway Review, IthacaLit, Crannog, Emerge Literary Journal and The Cortland Review.  Her first chapbook, The Hunger, was  published with Willet Press in 2014.

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‘Birth Partner’ and other poems by Lindsey Bellosa

Freda Laughton and the Critical History of Women’s Poetry: an Interview with Emma Penney

Christine E. Murray:

You can read a sample of Laughton’s work here.

Originally posted on The Bogman's Cannon:

Who is Freda Laughton, and what trail has led you to her?

There are very few ‘facts’ about Laughton. She was born in Bristol in 1907, moved to Co. Down early in her life and married. Her first and only collection of poetry, A Transitory House, was published in 1945 and she was a regular contributor to The Bell magazine. Despite this, there is no available death record for Laughton.

This lack of critical interest in Laughton reflects the selective vision of literary traditions which often exclude poets who do not fit with the contemporary moment or who may trouble the formation of new movements. Irish critics during the 70’s and 80’s held Eavan Boland to be the first writer to express what ‘poetic being’ was for a woman; the first to express the domestic; motherhood; the first to map Dublin city as a woman. Laughton expresses all of…

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Freda Laughton and the Critical History of Women’s Poetry: an Interview with Emma Penney

Poems from ‘Her Father’s Daughter’ by Nessa O’Mahony

Waiting Room

 
The rules for survival:
don’t catch an eye
on the first day,
look away
if their blank grief
grazes over you.
 
If still here the next,
permit a faint smile,
a nod to a fellow traveller.
But keep your space,
don’t approach
unless invited
and only then
with care.
 
Avoid those
with a story to tell,
a need to eat you alive
as they rave
about hands squeezed,
the twitch of a closed eye.
 
You can’t spare
a shred, a prayer;
it’s dog eat dog here.
The odds are too high,
if somebody has to die,
let the noose swing
elsewhere.
 

Deserted Village, Achill Island

 
in memory of my father
 
A gap between showers,
blue filtering half-light,
so we take our chances
on the slopes of Slievemore.
 
Those who’d called it home
knew about impermanence,
the reach of bog,
the gaping sockets of roofs.
 
Hap-hazarding lazy beds,
slip-slides of water
pouring down
the side of the mountain,
we settle for the track,
the safety of shale and quartz.
 
Sun wets white shards,
crystal lures us
as the track forks
to where a burnt-out digger
acts sentinel over oil slicks;
wind chimes music:
a plastic bottle
trapped by bog-lethe.
 
The quarry opens out,
slag-heaps improbably white,
as if someone had cleared snow
into neat piles,
or had scattered detergent
like there was no need tomorrow,
no white sheets to be spread out,
no single rose bud to be left
beside a hospital bed.
 

Notes for an exhibit

 
Spotfin Porcupine Fish, Cuba 1991,
D.J. O’Mahony, MI31.1992
 
It catches the eye:
half globe, half water-mine,
outrage suspended
in display case 781 Vertebrata Pisces
on the first floor landing.
 
When threatened, it doubles in size,
swallows air and water, bristles spines,
sends neurotoxins till each tip sizzles
with venom more potent than cyanide.
 
Still netted all the same,
(there is no armour against fate)
transformed to artefact,
presented in great state
to one who’d done some service.
 
What else need we know?
That it spent a year
atop a china cabinet,
caught dust, snagged cloth?
That it was the extra guest
at many a family party?
That, seeing it encased,
a grandson made an excited phone-call?
 
A six-inch black-type card
acknowledges the donor
of whom little is known;
his dates are found elsewhere.
 

Madam Butterfly at Beaumaris

 
Tonight I observe the old rituals,
run a warm bath, descend,
soak, sponge, massage each limb,
let the heat enter me.
After, I’m gentle when I rub myself down,
anoint with oil of cocoa butter,
finger-tip smooth cream in elbow folds,
around each breast, caress
the waist sloping to buttock rise.
I go to the window seat,
kimono loose-wrapped, hair unpinned.
All is readiness; Callas sings,
a red buoy light flashes my intentions to the Straits.
I wait for tomorrow
when you said you’d come.
 

Doorways

 
Your first shot,
me framed in the door
of my grandmother’s house
in Garbally.
 
Our first stay,
and it feels strange when
I’m trusted with the key,
with instructions
on how to keep the fire lit.
 
You mention
Granny’s house
and it sounds alien
on your lips;
she was dead years
before I met you.
 
But she always predicted
the old sock would find
the old shoe
 
eventually.
 

Role reversal

 
after Eavan Boland
 
There will come a time, mother,
when the transformed spring opens up
and the charioteer holds out a hand;
he might have my father’s face, might not;
his gestures might be gentle or rough
as he eases you into a space made ready
and shows you the pomegranate.
And you will take the seed and eat,
willingly perhaps, not caring
that every bargain has its cost,
or will your hand be stayed
by the sun’s ray on your face?
I will not have time to catch up,
to forestall the nine long days,
the nine long nights of wandering.
And I’ll have no deal to strike;
no backward glance, no waiting
for the seasons to turn back to me.
 
These poems are © Nessa O’Mahony from Her Father’s Daughter  (Salmon Poetry)
 
untitled

NessaNessa O’Mahony was born in Dublin and lives in Rathfarnham where she works as a freelance teacher and writer. She won the National Women’s Poetry Competition in 1997 and was shortlisted for the Patrick Kavanagh Prize and Hennessy Literature Awards. She was awarded an Arts Council of Ireland literature bursary in 2004 and 2011. She has published four books of poetry – Bar Talk, appeared (1999), Trapping a Ghost (2005) and In Sight of Home (2009). Her Father’s Daughter was published by Salmon in September 2014. She completed a PhD in Creative Writing in 2006 and teaches creative writing for the Open University. She is a regular course facilitator at the Irish Writers Centre in Dublin.
Poems from ‘Her Father’s Daughter’ by Nessa O’Mahony

‘Warning Shots’ and other poems by Geraldine Mitchell

Warning Shots

 
When you live on the edge
of an ocean, you cannot pretend
you did not see it coming.
 
The leaves are still, birds
chatter, the sea is a sheet
of steel. But out west
 
where last night the sun
left a sky illumined
like stained glass
 
dirt heaps up,
someone else’s dustpan
emptied on your doorstep
 
and a magpie
rattling gunfire
at first light.
 
First published in Cyphers and subsequently in Of Birds and Bones

 

Flotilla

‘Heaven Scent’ Magnolia
 
They tack in, full rig, under cover of darkness,
dock before dawn in cement-paved ports
 
at wharves of picket fence. The voyage
has been long through winter’s bald estates,
 
gusting grit and dust have shred their sails
to votive rags, bound now to every leafless branch.
 
Waxen petals blood-tinged white
glow like manna at first light.
 

First published in Abridged and subsequently in Of Birds and Bones
 

Left Luggage

 
This morning I woke with seawater
in my mouth. My eyes felt rinsed,
like after crying, my veins were
scoured, my limbs wrung out.
I was beached on a fogbound bed.
Adrift. Missing the aquatics.
 
Nothing is lost, just out of reach.
Everything that ever was, is –
somewhere – if only we can
get there, find the key, remember
the encrypted PIN, be brave enough
to jump. Know how to swim.
 
If only our feet have not been bound
at birth, our wings trimmed back
like wicks to suit our mothers, or
cobbled to a gooey mess by fathers,
confusing the discrete powers of
son and sun, deluded and controlling.
 
As long as no-one changed the locks
along the way and didn’t tell us, or
dropped the keys or, worse still, built
a breeze block wall – a suicide bunker –
performing hara-kiri on our dreams. Left
bag and baggage rotting on the floor.
 
This morning I was reminded
by a taste of salt that we do not waste
those supine hours spent sprawled
unconscious in an oarless bed;
that we are all at sea, our time well spent
diving, back and back, to unpick locks, find home.
 
First published in The Stinging Fly and subsequently in World Without Maps
 

Le Jardinier Vallier

after Cézanne
 
There is an ease slips through the body
after work well done. The heart
minds its own business, leaves alone
the slack repose of limb and bone.
 
On summer days we’d find him there,
still as a lizard by the orchard wall,
hat over his eyes, his hands asleep
on his thighs. The chair
was never moved. C’est la chaise
de Monsieur Vallier, we were told.
 
As if this explained everything—
the silence of his deer-like tread,
his loping gait. The way he came
and went unseen. How the garden
sang with light and shade.
 

First published in Small Lives (Poddle Publications) and subsequently in Of Birds and Bones

 

The Suitcase of Bees

 
She brought it with her everywhere,
its silver, dimpled surface effervescent
with the whirr of wings within. In public
she would spread her skirt’s thick folds
to mute the angry drone, paint a smile
across her face, hope no-one would notice.
 
Once inside her own four walls
the vibrations grew so shrill
she held her head and hummed.
The ambulance crew was gentle
as they led her owl-eyed through the gates,
bees still rustling taffeta in her head.
 
The case was silent, a ruse
in sly collusion with the doctor
who swore she was an expert,
knew all there was to know
of stings and swarms, their stridency,
how to outface the queen.
 
They built a wooden beehive,
surrounded it with lemon balm, sweet basil, mint.
And now, except for mild tinnitus, she is calm.
 
A version first published in The Interpreter’s House; subsequently in World Without Maps

Geraldine MitchellDublin-born Geraldine Mitchell lives on the Co. Mayo coast, overlooking Clare Island. She won the Patrick Kavanagh Award in 2008 and has since published two collections of poems, World Without Maps (Arlen House, 2011) and Of Birds and Bones (Arlen House, 2014). She is also the author of two novels for young people and the biography of Muriel Gahan, Deeds Not Words.
‘Warning Shots’ and other poems by Geraldine Mitchell

Christine Murray’s ‘Brightest Jewel’ at Poetry and Being

Originally posted on Poetry & Being: Tom D'Evelyn's Blog:

This poem by Christine Murray is more than a text. I have been wanting to say something about it; today, having spent some time with Sinead Morrissey’s “Yard Poem” from the acclaimed Parallax (2013), I have a focus. “Yard Poem” is a very well-written, indeed sumptuous poem, a gorgeous outrageously conceived and executed text. “The Brightest Jewel” is something different. They are both poems but Murray’s poem somehow exists off the page. It creates its own spaces within spaces.

The note at the bottom of the text (which includes a second version of the poem which I won’t discuss at this time) refers to a place and an occasion: The National Botanic Gardens share the both River Tolka and a perimeter wall with Glasnevin Cemetery, wherein a plot known as ‘The Angels Plot’, a possible resting place for my infant brother, although there are no records.

Between the river and…

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Christine Murray’s ‘Brightest Jewel’ at Poetry and Being

Mary Cecil’s Rathlin Island poems

Adagio for Strings

 
My heart that soared and climbed
To other realms of fantasy
That longs to find the answers
To everything
 
To dream those endless dreams
To drift in waves of oceans
Of oneness complete
And really know
 
In pools of beautiful thought
Transport my soul
Where heaven will be
And let me be
 
© Mary Cecil
 

The Golden Hare

 
Where wild flowers cling
And heather sweetly grows
The magic hare reclines
With fur of glowing gold
 
His spirit of quiet magnificence
In lands of legends born
Where unicorns are dreamt of
And fairies sport in human form
 
To catch a fleeting glimpse
Against the burning sky
A moment in a lifetime
A flash of mystery goes by
 
Where came his golden sheen
That gift from other realms
To add a glowing wonder
Hidden in the ferns
 
So swift he flees
With graceful lops he leaps
Transporting us to mystical lands
To dream of when we sleep
 
© Mary Cecil
Rathlin Island
.

 

Written for Master Daire James Mc Faul of Rathlin Island

 
so wild the seas that flow,
Around his island home
Gently slept a baby,
Waiting to be born
 
Dreaming in his world,
Where perfection waits to be
A Raghery boy is made,
To cross the wildest sea
 
Generations of hardy men,
Created in his bones
A harmony of oceans,
With men from island homes
 
So sleep and dream your days,
The tides will wait for you
To carry you ever onwards,
Towards your faithful crew
 
And you will lay your anchor,
As generations before
Where your footsteps lead you,
Beside the beckoning shore
 
8th December 2014
© Mary Cecil
 

Mystic Days

 
I see you, a shadow in my mind,
Like a half remembered dream,
Drifting in the periphery
Of my consciousness
 
I glimpse you in the sunlight,
Like a song floating in the air
That cannot be captured,
Yet so sweetly enraptures me
 
My mind hesitates,
To escape the illusion of you
Your un-summoned presence,
That embraces my heart
 
Until again you vanish,
Like petals in the wind
The turbulence in your wake,
Tearing the tranquillity of my reverie
 
Yet stay my sweet
In my loving longings,
That we again can be,
In our world together
 
© Mary Cecil
.

profile for poetry picMary Cecil is the mother of large family and Grandmother to eleven. The widow of Rathlin Island’s famous campaigner, diver, author (Harsh winds of Rathlin) Thomas Cecil. Lover of Rathlin Island, Northern Ireland’s only inhabited island. Mary enjoys community development and current events. She has  been writing poetry for several years. Enjoys writing a variety of poems, spiritual, war, romantic, protest and nature. Keen to compose more poems based on Rathlin Island’s myths & legends. She worked in owning andmanaging tourist facilities both on and off Rathlin Island. Public Appointment as Lay Member, The Appropriate Authority, Criminal Legal Aid Board .
Mary Cecil’s Rathlin Island poems

‘Red Hen’ and other poems by Shirley McClure

Maternity

 
I want to have poems
by Caesarean section
wearing my Infallible lip gloss
 
and counting on my designer
obstetrician.
I will keep my bump discreet,
 
drink litres of San Pellegrino,
strive to avoid striae gravidarum,
laser them later if it comes to it.
 
I want to live a normal life
despite the media,
and when it’s time,
 
my lines will glide out raring
to open their lungs and wail
as true as any natural birth.
 
Published in Clifden Anthology 35, 2013

 

Red Hen

 
We know nothing
about hens, yet find ourselves
in charge of half a dozen.
 
The odd girl out –
you call her Mrs.One – loses
her footing in the mud.
 
You carry her
into the hen-house
with piano player hands.
 
Still there the next day,
she has turned her blunt
red beak to the wall.
 
We talk to neighbours
about red mites, infections,
wonder if she’s egg-bound.
 
We fill her bowl
with cabbage-leaves,
stroke her tight wings.
 
Her sisters cry out,
foul her water,
shit on her plumage.
 
We are told you’d get
a new hen for the price
of the vet. For the first time
 
I want to crack a bird’s neck.
Instead we hand her back,
ailing but alive.
 
Weeks later you find me
in quick tears
for the red hen;
 
you brush the rust
of my feathers, fill up
my hopper with oyster shells.
 
Published in Orbis, 2014
 

Yoga class

 
I skipped my yoga class
because the man was due
to fix the curtain rail.
 
Upstairs, he poised in heavy boots
on the edge of my bed,
but not before prudently
peeling back the elegant blue
Brown Thomas duvet.
 
Beneath him I stood
at optimal angle to flaunt
my cleavage, to hand him screws.
 
Smoothly he inserted the rawl plug,
then with slightly quicker breath
he drove it deep
into my freshly painted, trembling
Orchid White walls.
 
Threading the hoops unto the pole
we lifted it together,
our fingers touching
as he tenderly
completed the work.
 
Later we did yoga together
dreamt up new asanas
and held them, and each other
until light began slinking through
my brand new curtains.
 
From Who’s Counting?

 

Text Sex

 
 
Text messaging,
the first hot Sunday in May-
he: I hope you’re doing something
wild. I’m
busy with lambing.
She: Sun-bathing
out the back,
does that count as wild?
He: That depends
on how naked you are…
 
She pictures him delivering,
arm-deep
in placenta,
imagining her nakeder, fuller,
redder than she really is, outside
on a blue rug holding
a silver mobile phone.
 
She turns over, pale still,
unhooks her bra;
they joke about his sad life
chatting to sheep
phone dating,
dreaming of nakedness
in Edenbrook Heights.
 
If she were less prudent,
She’d ask him over now,
shower him, sponge each finger carefully,
massage his neck and armpits
with apricot soap;
but it’s not like that with them,
his wedding band has left a mark
that no lamb’s blood can cover.
She dresses, texts goodbye
and phones
the take-away.
 
From Who’s Counting?

ShirleyPhotoBoyle12_smallLiving in Bray, Co. Wicklow, Shirley McClure won Cork Literary Review’s Manuscript Competition 2009 and Listowel Writers’ Week Originals Poetry Competition 2014. Her collection, Who’s Counting? is available from Bradshaw Books or via http://www.thepoetryvein.com/. She facilitates creative writing courses and workshops.
‘Red Hen’ and other poems by Shirley McClure

‘Encounters with a Hare’ and other poems by Aoife Reilly

Encounters with a Hare

 
A fighter with grace and fertility
magical helper in the unexpected
moment of my early morning
backyard smoke and scribbles.
 
I know it means something when we meet.
I wonder about your tunnel vision
if you see me, seeing you,
what you’re a sign of.
 
Will it rain, what’s the right action?
before I consult the cards you vanish
quick as a breath
over the stream and into the willow
leaving my destiny up to me.
 
Second coffee on the second day
we meet again
somehow I’m meddling in your world
but in the split second of
my mindless thoughts, your steady grace
our rhythms mingle
 
In the meadowsweetened hedgerow
I could be Alice or Artemis
and you the trickster
reminding me I’m sometimes more,
sometimes less than you
 
Whatever the sign
animal medicine startles me
into stretching time and gratitude
this everlasting game of hide and seek.
 

Grianstad

 
Swirls of starlings
absail between sun and moon
hurl themselves into a dance
through ghosts of trees
they go where they need to go.
winter shrouds
 
Long nights slide in
embers empty the land
dying woods wait for the earth to turn
 
In the betwixt and between
I am a still frame in the granite glow
and leaves are twisted silver songs
 
Stars gasp, turf smoke curls
Crisscrossing the place where love was exhausted
and blankets way down in the moment before light
 
Ready now, I follow the starlings and birth another year.
 

January Bliss

 
The women bathe
on diamond silver stone
no want for summer dream
or winter thought to dash
the hope of a splintered ash
gently nursing frozen water.
 
Nothing frayed or betrayed
my raven ally somersaulting over Burren
between valleys, a slice of stream
and fern cushioned wishes
 
No longing
but for the tree to find
the whoosh through western winds
and starling murmur,
offering rest to each fox mother.
 
All forgiven
in the new year’s gasp.
a splint of heaven
and a prayer to the ground,
reach in the cracks,
spirit found.
 

Camino

 
Ghost leaved poplars flicker
lighten my step
their jigsaw bark seeps with story
connective tissues and my muscles remember
 
In walking I shed old stories
I don’t even have to try
every beat I drop in a little more
bits fall to the road
gold wheat horizon and blood red poppies
bob the answers
 
Old demons raise up to test me
see if I’m willing to say goodbye
to the furrowed brows and wrinkled thoughts
time to sing out the sad lines
 
I imagine
what this place was like before us
if it was always rich and strange
would the sky still be sliced
with swallows and pinches of light
 
Evening settles into a blustery stretch of fire
a swirl of me and fifty mountains
the feeling of the beginning
the deliciousness of the moment
before the path owns you
 

I Want

 
That smile
not the jaw clenching “grand”
give me the real you
with a freezing Atlantic dive of pleasure
 
I’m not looking for that golden ticket to heaven
I want the cake, chocolate heavy
I want the sugar to stick to my lips
to drag me to my senses and like swans
we’ll fly the hell out of here to the free place
beyond “thanks” and “good”
 
Give me fresh south westerlies,
five knots rising slowly
from my head to Malin head
from the base of my spine
to the edge
to the circus tigress, cage less
to the elephants bigger than the room
 
I want the dirt under my nails
to slide through slippery brown puddles
and mossy tumbling limestone
tripping me up til I remember myself
I want the tightrope joy of a fall
between docks and nettles
 
Give me that imperfect circle
the kink you can’t straighten out.
 
All poems are © Aoife Reilly

aoife reillyAoife Reilly is living in County Galway and is originally from County Laois. She is a teacher and psychotherapist. She has been attending poetry workshops with Kevin Higgins at the Galway Art Centre since September 2013 and has read at open mike of the Over The Edge Series at Galway City Library.
‘Encounters with a Hare’ and other poems by Aoife Reilly

‘Sufferance’ and other poems by Rebecca Foust

Prayer for my New Daughter

 
with lines by Audre Lorde and William Butler Yeats
 

A soul in chrysalis, in first agonized molt,
must choose: LADIES, or MENS.
For some—for you—these rooms are fraught,
an open field where lines are drawn: think of
the White-Only signs. Or Serrano’s Piss Christ
and Duchamp’s Fountain, pitted with acid
and icepicks, de-faced. As for restrooms called
“Bathrooms with Urinals,” no, his words
will never dismantle the master’s house.
For an hour I have walked and prayed,
musing on icepicks, how they’re made
to fit a blind hand; how kept so well honed.
You are soft as sown grass and fierce as cut glass.
You pack your new purse with lipstick, and mace.
 
First published in North American Review, Fall 2014.
 
[Note: written after an attack on transgender college students attempting to use a restroom with a sign that said “Bathroom with Unrinals”]
 

Sufferance

 
1,123 reported killings of trans people worldwide within the last five years.—Examiner.com
 
Transgender, as in counterfeit, as in someone appearing
or attempting to be a member
 
of the other gender, as in equated with transsexual
or cross-dresser or pervert
 

as in a term used by ugly girls as a defense mechanism
against prettier girls
. As in

 
the only solution lies in psychology or religion or,
until 1960, an icepick lobotomy
 
done without drugs. Sufferance means passive permission
from lack of interference
,

 
as in tolerance of something intolerable, the teen set on fire
at the back of the bus, the way the world
 
daily scathes you, my fear for your safety a daily sufferance,
as in endurance, as in [archaic] misery,
 
as in Middle English or Latin equivalent of suffer, akin
in its way to suffrage,
 
the right to vote. As in vote for, support—child, I am trying
to support you in this—
 
as in Ecclesiastical, a prayer, an intercessory prayer or petition.
Intercessory, come between.
 
Intercede, yes—my body—between yours and theirs.
 
First published in the Bellingham Review 2015 (Finalist, 49th Parallel Award)
 
Blame
 
the olive tree that dropped its great gout
of dark fruit onto asphalt for the swerve
and spinout etched in fresh virgin press;
blame the natural law that made helpless
bodies attract and collide then come to rest
in the acacia-treed canyon. The driver sat
behind the wheel, his side not pierced,
not yet. Yes, he was drunk, but only
with joy for the lovely, lithe boy
now fused with the car, shrinkwrapped
in leather and steel, and veiled
in the webbed windshield; the boy
who sang backup Gospel like a bruised angel
and was the hope of his whole Bronx block.
Blame the last bright note that opened
his throat and sank into pollen and dust.
 
First published in The Seattle Review, 2010.
 

Gratitude for an Autistic Son

 
He speaks, and when we speak, he understands.
Not like my friend’s boy, who tap-taps the board
behind his bed, sucking on both his hands.
 
Who taps the wood with his forehead, in a kind
of mandarin code. A light’s gone underground:
no speech, but he can gesture and understand
 
—better off than the steel-cribbed child, blind
even to pain, left at the Home. Whose eyes are wide
and blue. Who also began by sucking his hands,
 
then his teeth came in. What’s left of his hands
are mittened in gauze and bound to his side—
our son speaks. He talks, we talk. He understands.
 
And this is the crux: he talks; we understand
when he hungers or thirsts, is sad or scared.
He’s not left in his shit, we put food in his hands.
 
He’s not wild pinned in a trap, chained
to his own spine, gnawing the only way out.
He speaks. He holds a pen. He understands.
He has all of all of his fingers. On both of his hands.
 
First published in North American Review, 2013, Second place for the James Hearst Poetry Prize
 

Only

 
O Heart, this happened, or it did not.
In a room with green walls,
 
my son was born. The cord was torn
too soon, so his head
 
was cut off to save his heart. He lived
for a long time.
 
For a long time there was no breath or cry.
When finally he spoke,
 
he spoke the wide, whorled leaves of corn.
He spoke the crickets
 
in clusters beneath the sheaves, he sang
the soil in. He sang the wind
 
in the dune and hush of ebb tide. Some say
he died. Some say he died.
 
First published in The Hudson Review, Summer 2013.

Rebecca Foust
Rebecca Foust’s most recent book, Paradise Drive, won the 2015 Press 53 Award for Poetry. Foust was the 2014 Dartmouth Poet in Residence and is the recipient of fellowships from the Frost Place and the MacDowell Colony. New poems are in the Hudson Review, Massachusetts Review, Mid-American Review, North American Review, Omniverse, and other journals, and an essay that won the 2014 Constance Rooke Creative Nonfiction Award is forthcoming in the Malahat Review.
 
Rebecca Foust Website
‘Sufferance’ and other poems by Rebecca Foust

Eamon Ceannt Park; a Cycle

Eamon Ceannt Park; a cycle

 
I.
 
Ingress.
 
Her boot leathers are wet, grass greened.
 
Things have gone aground at the grove,
only the fairy-ring stands in her circle
of spectral gowns,
 
her parasols all caught up in a breeze of light.
  
Wood clattery heels sound
against the stones at the gate,
against a cluster of coppered leaves;
 
their outsoundings, a filigree.
 
II.
 
Inscription.
 
The park is scattered as after a storm.
The destruction is knave-wrought

 
A crescent moon is inscribed into the soil
by the small grove,
a willow weeps by its exit.
 
And the sky is close as goose down.
 
Brent geese screel and beat overhead,
someone has sprayed yellow paint on his memorial stone.
 
III.

 
There is a man in the stone.
 
The dew is playing fire at her feet,
wetting her legs.
 
A legion of rooks guard his stone.
 
IV.

 
Stasis.

.
The route through the groves is frozen today;
even the treetops are caught in ash.
 
There is no mistaking this scene for a balletic stasis.
It’s stick-strewn.
 
A cold sun rises above the minarets
at park’s edge.
And the sound of bells emanates from behind somewhere .
 
She is glad to leave,
glad to kick the ice from her feet against the stones.
 
V.
 
The Queen’s Rook.
 
And what if she entered that garden wearing her last veil?
The others being ripped by fierce wind and claw.
 
The willows lash her face
driving her into ecstatic groves.
 
The only thing seeming alive in this desolate place
Is the Queen’s Rook.
 
He stalks above her veiled head,
his call drowning in his throat.
 
She heard a name.
 
VI.
 
Egress.
 
She looks back to the stone
From thence to the furrowed hill,
It is of ordinary green.
A rook is atop the gate.
 
She no longer sees the far away
lit by careening crows.
 
The path is different by day.
 
Coda

It is dark beneath the tree.

And,

The rising sun has not yet caught
the edge of the stone.

And,

A clutter of dry debris, a black feather
is housed there.

And,

She would sing him if only he let her.

And,

“Intreat me not to leave thee
Nor to return from following after thee
For whither thou goes I will go ..”

she leaves.

‘Eamon Ceannt Park; a cycle’ by Christine Murray was first published at Bone Orchard Poetry Ezine and collected then in Cycles (Lapwing Press, 2013)

 

Eamon Ceannt Park; a Cycle

‘Reverse Emigration’ and other poems by Alice Lyons

Reverse Emigration

 
When I boarded the plane, everyone looked like Uncle Tom
ruddy, some were empurpled
grey hair or auburn in terrier thatches
pale blue of eye
a smidgen of resignation:
the tribe.
I thought We are driving to the interior
I thought, holy god
the airline upholstery
was Kavanagh, Ní Dhomhnaill and Heaney
handwriting. I thought
holy shit, this is the maw.
The maw.
 

The Boom and After the Boom

 
The Shannon when it washes
the shoreline in the wake
of a cruiser slurs
exactly like the Polish
language you hear in LIDL
on Friday evenings, seven p.m.
payday. That’s what
Gerry says.

The river surface offers
space to the song:
hammer taps of Latvians
and Poles nailing planks
of a deck. The place
between water and sky
holding sound. It is underloved
and an amphitheater.

Latvians and Lithuanians
are nailing planks
of grooved decking.
It will be a nice feature
of that riverside property.
! Their tap-tapping
underscores the distance
between this side and that.

Winter gales have made swift work
of the billboard proclaiming
42 LUXURY BUNGALOWS ONLY TWO
REMAINING Crumpled up
on the roadside now
two-by-four legs akimbo
a circus-horse curtsy
or steeplechase mishap.
 

Developers

 
Greed got in the way. We built a fake estate.
Levinas said to see ourselves we need each other yet
doorbells, rows of them, glow in the night village
a string of lit invitations no elbow has leaned into
(both arms embracing messages). Unanswered
the doors are rotting from the bottom up.
It’s another perplexing pothole in our road, loves.
Hard core from the quarry might make it level,
hard core and cunning speculation into matters
concerning love and doubt, concerning want and plenty.
O the places where pavement runs out and ragwort
springs up, where Lindenwood ends but doesn’t abut
anywhere neatly, a petered-out plot of Tayto tumbleweeds,
binbags, rebar, roof slates, offcuts,
guttering, drain grilles, doodads, infill, gravel !
A not-as-yet nice establishment, possessing potential
where we have no authorised voice but are oddly fitted out
for the pain it takes to build bit by bit.
When the last contractions brought us to the brink
of our new predicament, we became developers.
 

Geyser

 
You e-mailed your whole desktop, which is typical
  the blue of it Scrovegni chapel blue
a smile I’ve never seen before it is aware of smiling
reveals itself to the camera in the computer.
Squared-off angels, no they are JPEGs, hover
over a faux Polaroid you switched to sepia mode
so I wouldn’t look like a geyser
a river of years to reach such tender self-regard
for a moment you are unencumbered
by the monster critical eye (you meant geezer)
scissored hair blunt and sister-like and merciful
your entire kitchen liquid in the glossy Frigidaire.
 
It puts me in mind of Fra Angelico, those tricky frescoes
(I seem to translate everything to quattrocento time)
Christ in a blindfold, eyes like poached eggs gazing
down and inward, the gathered regal robes
the marble throne all white and pouring up, yes
like a geyser pouring up while Roman soldiers
unencumbered by their bodies beat and spit and mock.
I have always loved those arrested gestures
the mute green rectangle beautiful as your computer
in Philadelphia where Safari’s compass points
permanently Northeast and the Finder icon smiles
twice and benevolently straight on and in profile.
 
from Poetry Ireland Review 100 (ed. Paul Muldoon)
 
Note:  Versions of ‘The Boom & After the Boom’, ‘Developers’ and ‘Reverse Emigration’ first appeared in Poetry (Chicago), December 2011. A Poetry Foundation Podcast The Woman Who Quit featuring work by Alice Lyons.

Alice_Lyons_sepiaAlice Lyons was born in Paterson, New Jersey and has lived in the West of Ireland for fifteen years. Her poems have appeared in publications such as Tygodnik Powszcheny (Kraków) and POETRY (Chicago), as public installations in Staircase Poems at The Dock in Carrick-on-Shannon and as poetry films in cinema and gallery screenings worldwide.

She is the recipient of the Patrick Kavanagh Award for Poetry, the Ireland Chair of Poetry Bursary, an Academy of American Poets Award and multiple bursaries in literature and film from An Chomhairle Ealoine/The Arts Council. Her poetry film, The Polish Language, co-directed with Orla Mc Hardy, has screened in competition in over 30 film festivals worldwide and garnered numerous awards including an IFTA nomination. Her new poetry film, Developers, premiered at Oslopoesie, Norway in 2013. She has lectured in English and Fine Art at Boston University, Maine College of Art, the Galway-Mayo Institute of Technology and Queen’s University, Belfast. She holds a Ph.D. from the Seamus Heaney Centre for Poetry, Queen’s University, Belfast. She is currently curator of Poetry Now, Dun Laoghaire.

 

Alice Lyons

Curator Poetry Now 2015

Mountains to Sea Book Festival

Dun Laoghaire, County Dublin
IRELAND

Curator | The Dock
Carrick-on-Shannon, County Leitrim
IRELAND
‘Reverse Emigration’ and other poems by Alice Lyons

‘Evensong’ and other poems by Cherry Smyth

Evensong

 
The way evening comes in
(or on or down)
brings the word closer
than it’s ever been:
the blue levelling deeper,
evening to a fade
that seems to make the colour
brighter, the best possible
way to age. I keep watching
its beauty as if I could learn it,
shaking a month’s dust from
a carpet out of the top window,
my face paused in the cold air,
joining indigo,
the lidless city,
invulnerable,
the universe heard.
 

Where it Led You

(for John Maggio)
 
You say the wind in the trees brought it.
Your grandmother’s house nested by woods,
a cabin more like, with an outside toilet
and the smell of fallen apples masking it.
It isn’t the rotting, sweet thickness but where
it leads you: into the woods, where small
creeping shadows called to city boys who
could play lost, jungle commandoes.
 
You followed your brother into a clearing.
There lay something you knew but didn’t,
something that should move but couldn’t
– a heap of smattered fur, even before the flies
knew, a litter of puppies, the texture tangy
in your mouth, a fruit bruise, the pelts asking
to be petted, the bloodholes where the pellets
entered. Around you circled the knowledge of BB
guns, the deadly capable forest boys and the rustling
that shocked a new silence into you both.
 
When you say you want more space in the
maze of your paintings, I hear whimpering
in the trees, the pop-pop-pop of boyhood, see
a mound of warm heads. You will paint a path
out of the woods, making room for each and
every one, in fathering light. Your world is
kinder, figuring the dense, bewildering mass,
the face-down side of the bright apple.
 

Anniversary Poem

 
Dark barely lifts from
the rooftops, winter casting
its poorly washed sheet down.
January, the time of year I am least,
I stop on the stairs, refocus on
plum branches where green
nodes are clustering,
unwinding the clock of sap.
 
One year on, her warmer
hand taking mine has made me
almost immune – here’s the
very second, the hill of snow,
our sex-bright skin that graphs
a cycle beyond the usual lustrum;
look at her fingers fanning out
the count from her thumb;
hear the click of the abacus,
promising something foolproof
in calling love a number.
 
Evensong, Where It Led You and Anniversary Poem are © Cherry Smyth

Cherry on beachCherry Smyth is an Irish writer, living in London. Her first two poetry collections, When the Lights Go Up, 2001 and One Wanted Thing, 2006 were published by Lagan Press. The Irish Times wrote of this collection: ‘Here is clarity and realism, couched in language that is accessible and inventive. The title poem carries all Smyth’s hallmarks: precision, linguistic inventiveness and joy.’ Cherry’s work was selected for Best of Irish Poetry, 2008, Southword Editions and The Watchful Heart: A New Generation of Irish Poets, Salmon Press, 2009. Her third collection Test, Orange, 2012, was published by Pindrop Press and her debut novel, Hold Still, Holland Park Press, appeared in 2013. She also writes for visual art magazines including Art Monthly. She is currently a Royal Literary Fellow.

Poetry by Cherry Smyth
Water, Shine On Sarah Lucas, and other Cherry Smyth poems on Soundcloud

‘Evensong’ and other poems by Cherry Smyth

‘Silt Whisper’ and other poems by Ailbhe Darcy

Silt Whisper

 
That summer one-eyed jacks were wild:
we learned new rules, left tea to brew.
 
Smoke stilled air. Leaves lay unturned.
Unemployment was another high.
 
I had been a storm in a polystyrene cup,
seeking scald, steam, instance, but now
 
we drew up lists; mapped out desire lines; skipped
interviews to collect blooms; paused before flight.
 
The only record of that time the silt of prophecy,
the memory of weight in our cupped hands.
 
For a short while we held the one breath:
I could never set it down.
 
Silt Whisper appears in Imaginary Menagerie(Bloodaxe, 2011) and has been the Guardian poem of the week.
 

Poles

 
When the Poles came to the National Gallery
I lowed at a painting by this Edward Okún,
and what I was thinking was that was me below
your drop-gemmed black coat all winter, wind
around us beating like wings, chests pressed together.
I had put down roots right there in the street
and told you this now is home and you
said now we can go anywhere. I hear now
 
that they’re finished building Dublin up
the side of a mountain, the Poles have hied
home and put up signs: No Irish;
and no one blames them. A slow flight;
the old crone creeping; the cupped flower;
his wife looking at him and not around her.
 
Poles was originally published in Salamander and appears in Imaginary Menagerie (Bloodaxe, 2011.)
 

Panopticon

 
“Only don’t, I beseech you, generalise too much in these sympathies and tendernesses – remember that every life is a special problem which is not yours but another’s, and content yourself with the terrible algebra of your own”
– Henry James, in a letter to a friend.

 
We are up to our pits in Sunday papers
when my father says that things never used to happen
when he was growing up. He means
the black crawly crawly Darfur fly, man
on a leash, girl with burns, crumpled machinery
at Inishowen; and he means Matthew,
who died last night at last of madness.
My father and I at the eye of the panopticon,
two of Prometheus’ descendants, bound
at the centre of a shrinking globe. Sometimes
he used to turn the television off, newspapers
would grow angular holes
where bloodshed had been. Now it’s I
want to fold cranes of the papers for him,
build bonfires of TV sets.
It circles us, the noise, all the same. When people ran
from the falling towers, they stopped
to buy cameras, stood
with their backs to the towers to watch
the cards fall over and over
on shop window screens. No wonder
that you with your too much of gentleness
wanted out, and we did not stop you.
Your friends expect to weigh forever
what we could have given
against what we could not change.
What kind of algebra would it take?
Matthew, love, I carry myself with care on Mondays.
I lie to hairdressers. I walk. I carry a notebook
to write down feelings
in case I need them again. I pretend
to be someone else at traffic lights. I stay clear
of mirrors, newspapers sometimes. I live
as best I can. I do the awful maths.
 
Panopticon was originally published in The Cortland Review and appears in Imaginary Menagerie (Bloodaxe, 2011.)
 

After my son was born

 
Grit shone on the surfaces
of my bedazzled eyes.
 
Flesh pooled about me,
so that it was difficult to run.
 
Disease squeaked an entrance
at the corners of window frames,
the gap beneath the door, my
shut mouth.
 
There was noise.
 
I wished you all dead.
 
After my son was born,
my mother came to me
and was gentle.
 
After my son was born was originally published on wordlegs.com.
 

Shift

 
They shipped Donegal workers into Dundrum
in 2001. I worked in the Dundrum House all summer,
lumping sods of peaty scurf from there to here.
 
Those lads ordered with a nod or lifted star
of dark-skinned feelers, not a nay, not an aye.
“They must talk among themselves, they
 
must,” a Cantonese colleague of mine
hissed as we swiped the ashtrays to wipe.
We vied between us to be the first to kiss
 
one of those black Northern men. I got
closest when, once, a man stood and took
a too-heavy tray from my arms and moved
 
ahead of me to the bar. He leaned in
to empty his hod to the barman, turned
and let drop his chin to raise a remark.
 
What emerged then was a bubble as large
as a brick, slick with aurora borealis,
viscous and globular, spinning slowly forth
 
over the tables of drinkers, the Norners
in their nighted corner, blinking cigarette machines,
locals blinking at that unidentified word.
 
Local was originally published in Connotations.
 

Service Not Included

 
Who’s to thank for the buckets of lavender thrown open beside us,
for the foam-clouds on twin cappuccinos,
for the carved boxes that hold sugar,
for the child telling reams about superheroes,
for the darkening sky of the waiter,
at a café in the shopping centre
when you cannot speak for your tears?
Hospital coffee was never so kindly, so quick to make believe.
On the morning I wed, you and I
came here to the shopping centre
and scented women pared our nails in a scented room.
Who’s to thank for their cool hands
working away in our memories? Here, your hands
are out of my reach. You must have thought it but,
when my son was born howling and writhing
and thrust to my skin, how your own son left the room
and the snap they left you to hold of him. Your hands
are smaller than mine, and neat.
How they told you the hospital name and you thought
that dun square of Monopoly board,
made your way there by a route you’d score
into your palms by the end; saved change
for the car park; packed a Thermos, perhaps.
Now families glide about the shopping centre
in neons fresh from invention, eyes shiny with gratitude,
music tasteful and tender.
You must have thought, when my son has made strange,
raged at being made come asunder,
of all the times you had to leave the hospital
and drive home to your daughters.
Of all the skin we need to touch and are not touched,
of all the starving to the touch, the familiar injustices.
Spread coins thick across the tables,
go about the shopping centre,
praise the coffee, the kindness of the escalator, haircuts,
the beautiful, the beautiful, the familiar,
the comfortable weather. Who’s to thank? Who’s to
praise for your hands, who sits up there in head office
taking our minds off the past waiting rooms and coffee docks?
 
Service Not Included was originally published in Eire-Ireland.

Image by Matt Bean
Image by Matt Bean

Ailbhe Darcy was born in Dublin in 1981 and grew up there. Her first full-length collection, Imaginary Menagerie, was published by Bloodaxe Books in 2011 and shortlisted for a Strong Award. A poem from the collection was chosen by the Guardian newspaper as their “poem of the week.” Selections of work appear in a chapbook, A Fictional Dress (2010) and in the anthologies Identity Parade, Voice Recognition and If Ever You Go.
 
Ailbhe has published scholarly work on the poet Dorothy Molloy in Contemporary Women’s Writing and regularly reviews new poetry for The Dublin Review of Books, The Stinging Fly and The Burning Bush 2. In 2014 she took part in “Yes, But Are We Enemies?”, a reading tour of Ireland and London, presenting experimental writing in collaboration with Patrick Coyle, S.J. Fowler and Sam Riviere. With S.J. Fowler, she is working on a book-length project entitled Subcritical Tests. She lives in Germany.

‘Silt Whisper’ and other poems by Ailbhe Darcy

‘The Price’ and Other Poems by Jane Clarke

 

Every life

 
She fills the days with movement, cuts back
on coffee and wine, eats blueberries, red peppers,
broccoli, kale, writes down the words she won’t
let herself say, like arid, fallow, barren, ache.
 
The man on the radio says every life is laced
with loss, that’s what makes us whole. She reads
a book about Buddhism to learn how not to
want, adds to the list of places it’s best to stay
 
away from; supermarkets, coffee shops, beaches,
hospitals, parks. She pretends the temperature charts
haven’t taken the pleasure away, stops herself
thinking of names, Oisín, Molly, Sinead,
 
won’t let herself hope when she’s a few days late,
lists her consolations and tries to avoid the questions,
like how did this happen to them, what was it they did
or didn’t do, how will they know when it’s time to stop.
 
by Jane Clarke

First published in Mslexia, 2012

Against the flow

 
One day you knew you must turn,
begin to swim against the current,
 
leave the estuary waters, brackish
with sediment, head upstream
 
through riffles and deeps,
millraces that churn in spate,
 
over sheets of granite, across weirs,
into rapids that thunder-pound,
 
squeeze between boulders,
to the upper reaches of the river,
 
those waters of blanket-bog brown,
where you’d find a place in gravel and silt
 
to hollow a dip,
to spawn a life of your own.
 
by Jane Clarke

First published in Ambit, 2013
 

The Price

 
You could fit my father’s farm
into two of my husband’s fields,
that’s why I left, a girl of eighteen,
for the arms of an old man.
 
Four counties south of the shore
where my mother heaved armfuls
of kelp and carrageen into a creel,
I folded my life into his,
 
bore him four girls and a boy.
I scrubbed his floors, kneaded his bread,
carried water from his well.
In his wordless way, he was kind
 
but what price two ponies for a trap,
rooms lit by gas, books on shelves?
 
by Jane Clarke

 
First published in Ambit, 2013
 

The Suitcase

 
As a child I didn’t understand
that despair was a neighbour
of love and if you were lucky
it stayed beyond the garden gate,
just visiting from time to time
to borrow sugar, test faith.
 
As a child I didn’t understand
that when my mother showed me
the nightie, toothbrush, nylons,
miniature bible and summer dress
she kept packed in the suitcase
under their bed, it was herself
 
she was telling, I can go, if I want to.
Sometimes I checked
had she emptied it yet, sometimes
I wanted to shout, go if you’re going,
why wait? I didn’t understand
it was the suitcase that helped her to stay.
 
by Jane Clarke

First published in Poetry Wales, 2013
 

On the Boat

 
On the boat we were mostly virgins,
we talked about who we were going to be –
waitresses, seamstresses, nurses,
we didn’t talk about why we had to leave.
 
We talked about where we were going to be,
the wooden frame house with a picket fence,
but we didn’t talk about why we had to leave
as we touched the lockets around our necks.
 
The wooden frame house with a picket fence
led to talk of lost villages, lost streets
as we touched the lockets around our necks.
We didn’t foresee tenements that grew thick as trees
 
when we talked of lost villages, lost streets
and the diligent men we were going to marry.
We didn’t foresee tenements that grew thick as trees,
the suitcase of memories we would have to carry
 
to the diligent men we were going to marry
when we were waitresses, seamstresses, nurses
nor the suitcase of memories we would have to carry
from the boat, where we were mostly virgins.
 
by Jane Clarke
 
First published in the Irish Times, 22nd November, 2014

Jane ClarkeOriginally from a farm in Roscommon, Jane Clarke now lives in Co. Wicklow. She holds a BA in English and Philosophy from Trinity College, Dublin and an MPhil in Writing from the University of South Wales. She has a background in psychoanalytic psychotherapy and combines writing with her work as a management consultant in not-for-profit organisations. Her poems are widely published in journals, newspapers and anthologies, including The Irish Times, The Irish Independent, The Rialto, The North, Poetry Wales, Mslexia, Agenda, Ambit, Abridged, The Interpreter’s House, Envoi, The Stinging Fly, Cyphers, The Shop, Crannog and The Stony Thursday Book; Tokens for the Foundlings Anthology, ed. Tony Curtis (Seren Books, 2012), Anthology for a River, ed. Teri Murray (River Shannon Protection Alliance, 2012), The Fish Anthology, ed. Clem Cairns and Jula Walton (Fish Publishing, 2012) Listowel Writers’ Week Winners Anthology, (Writers’ Week Listowel, 2007 & 2014), The Roscommon Anthology, ed. Michael & John O’Dea (Roscommon Literary Heritage Group, 2013), International Baccalaureate Theory of Knowledge Course Companion, (Oxford University Press, 2013), A Telmetale Bloomnibus, ed. Clodagh Moynan (Irish Writers’ Centre, 2013), The Hippocrates Prize Anthology, (The Hippocrates Press, 2013), Leaving Certificate Higher Level English Course Papers, (Educate.ie, 2014); She received the Listowel Writer’s Week Poetry Collection Prize in 2014 and has won a number of other prizes including Trocaire/Poetry Ireland Competition (2014), Poems for Patience (2013), iYeats (2010), Listowel Writers Week (2007). Runner-up in the Poetry Ireland/Trocaire Competition (2013) and the Listowel Writers Week Poetry Collection Competition (2013), she was also shortlisted for the Patrick Kavanagh Poetry Competition 2013, the Hennessy New Irish Writing Literary Awards 2013 & 2014, the Hippocrates Prize (2013), Mslexia Poetry Competition (2012), Fish Poetry Prize (2009 & 2012). In 2009 she was selected for the Poetry Ireland Introductions Series and was awarded an arts bursary by Wicklow County Council. Her first collection will be published by Bloodaxe Books in 2015.

 

‘The Price’ and Other Poems by Jane Clarke

Recours au Poème; Poésies & Mondes Poétiques

Originally posted on Poethead:

My thanks to Matthieu Baumier, editor at Recours au Poème , and to Elizabeth Brunazzi, who published and translated four poems from my collection, Cycles (Lapwing Publications, 2013).
 
I am adding here Elizabeth’s translation of i and the village (after Marc Chagall)

moi et le Village

 
(d’après Marc Chagall)
 
Version française, Elizabeth Brunazzi
 
La rosée découle en jade une lune aux trois quarts
L’Amour O l’amour! Ta fleur arrachée embaume
 
De son parfarm ma main, bientôt
bientôt me rappelant une certaine musique-
 
Mon destin a toujours été de quitter le lieu
où la lune dansait avec la subtile Neptune!
 
Tout se dissout-
sauf le souvenir de ton visage,
ton rire en pleine rue et ta danse pour la lune!
 
Tes bagues de jade et ta fleur sont mes bijoux,
nuançant toutes choses d’une teinte de vert, de pourpre, d’un…

View original 169 more words

Recours au Poème; Poésies & Mondes Poétiques

Un-Sight/ Un-Sound (delirium X.)

Christine E. Murray:

An excerpted section from Un-Sight/Un-Sound is available on my Open Salon Blog

Originally posted on gnOme:

front coverM. Un-Sight/ Un-Sound (delirium X.). ISBN-13: 978-0692334799. ISBN-10: 0692334793. gnOme. 2014. 130 pp.

un-sight un-sound/ yet/ in vacuum of doubt’s expel/ clamouring for beyond flesh what meat as if/ yet forage no/ not a/ eye crushed within fist of none/ echoing chamber of nothing/ never dispelled

Un-Sight/ Un-Sound (delirium X.) is a prose-poetic work in three sequences: “delirium X,” “Meat Sequence (after Francis Bacon),” and “Ghost-Limb Tongue.” In the first, quotations from various authors (Bataille, Beckett, Luca, Popa et al.) are used as springboards for surreal imagistic fragmentation. The second section, inspired by Deleuze’s Francis Bacon, deals with the subject of flesh/ meat and explores the concept of the human object divulged of identity/ place, stripped of ego, and viewed from an externus. The third section addresses the conflict between sense and the real and concludes with a collection of aphorisms written with regard to words becoming a bankrupt form of…

View original 35 more words

Un-Sight/ Un-Sound (delirium X.)

There will always be singing; an appreciation of Doris Lessing

 

Author and Poet Doris Lessing
Author and Poet Doris Lessing (1919-2013)

Fable

When I look back I seem to remember singing.
Yet it was always silent in that long warm room.

Impenetrable, those walls , we thought,
Dark with ancient shields. The light
Shone on the head of a girl or young limbs
Spread carelessly. And the low voices
Rose in the silence and were lost as in water.

Fable is © Doris Lessing (1919-2013)

Nobel Laureate Doris Lessing (1919-2013) was  a novelist, poet, and sci-fi writer. This appreciation of Doris Lessing was first published on the Women Writers, Women’s Books Site  in 2013 with thanks to Anora McGaha, and to Barbara Bos who live edited the piece at the time of writing. Thanks to Olivia Guest at Jonathan Clowes Ltd who has allowed me carry Poems by Doris Lessing here at Poethead.


When a person of great age dies, there are many responses about the richness of their life and how we have been blessed by their presence for so long in our world. Yet for me there was and is profound sorrow at the loss to us of Doris Lessing Nobel Laureate, author, philosopher and poet. I do not delude myself that my sorrow is one of intimate connection to her, a whole generation of women writers have that connection to her voice.

My connection to Doris Lessing’s writing began in my twenties when I first read The Golden Notebook, I read almost all her work after that. I am unsure of where the gut tear occurred with my reaction to her work, but here was a writer who did things that I admired. It was difficult to locate her effect on me, but I knew it and recognised it as important to my writing.

Living in Dublin city, I often retreat to a small house in Mayo, where my now deceased friend, Michael McMullin, a philosopher and jungian, had retained a library. His Doris Lessings were collected on the top shelf of his library, alongside some images of Chartres Cathedral, and his Yeats collection. Like Lessing he had attained a great age and had a voracious thirst for knowledge, he was born in Ceylon in 1916.

Michael’s assidious collecting of Doris Lessing was winsome, and he often referred to her. His nomadism had taken him from Ceylon, to Cambridge, to escape from Hitler’s invasion of Paris, to Finland, to Canada, and at the end his life, a hillside In the North-West of Ireland. I did not meet Doris Lessing, but I had met in Michael that intellectual and questing spirit that seems to inflame the diasporist writer. It can only be described as a great and humble presence, their being present to everyone who he/she encounters all the time.

Doris Lessing’s death brought back my own recent loss with a punch. I saw the rumours of her death emerging from early Sunday morning and waited to hear if it were true. My decision to go ahead and link the Lessing poems was an urgent need to show people that there was more to her output, although it is sadly unavailable.

Two years ago while re-reading Lessing in the Mayo library awaiting a death, the Lessing poetry began to make me a bit more than curious. On returning to the city, I thought to do some searches of her writing, as I was aware that she like Ted Hughes, had elements of Sufism in her writing. I was aware that she had written poetry but couldn’t find much. The place to look for the mythological, esoteric, and philosophical mind of the writer is in their poetic output. Poetry is the revelatory act of participation in the world.

Doris Lessing had written a small collection Fourteen Poems in 1959, published by The Scorpion Press, and she had contributed to the Inpopa Anthology (2002). Her poetry isn’t available online. The Scorpion Press Archive is housed at the McFarlin Library (Special Collections) at the University of Tulsa.

Alison Greenlee, Librarian at the McFarlin Special Collections Library located for me a copy of the book in my Alma Mater, University College Dublin. I made an appointment to go in as soon as I could and transcribed a selection of the poems for myself. The next step was to contact Jonathan Clowes Ltd, who are Doris Lessing’s agents.

Olivia Guest at Jonathan Clowes Ltd, Doris Lessing’s Literary Agents, worked on my behalf to bring Doris Lessing’s poetry back online. We corresponded initially by letter and I procured a temporary 12 month licence to add Lessing to my index of women poets. I wanted her to be recognised for her entire body of work and not alone the novels. After the initial permissions to carry the Lessing poetry were given, the first letter went awol and had to be re-issued, I put them up and shared them regularly across multiple social media platforms including FB, Twitter, Salon.

I wrote about the poems on Open Salon. There were 3,000 hits on the poetry over the two blogs. People contacted me to say that they wanted to read the books, that they had no idea that she was a poet, and that they were heartened to see a woman poet of great age appearing on their computer screens, as there is often a problem with having older women visible in the media.

The following year, I sent Olivia Guest a synopsis of the reaction to Doris Lessing’s poetry and we agreed to extend the licence for another 12 months. She was surprised that the reaction to lessing’s poetry had been so widespread and curious. I sent her screenshots of the data and emails regarding the works.

This year of 2013, I again contacted Olivia and reminded her that my licence to carry the poetry was about due to end and that it gave me great sorrow to take the poems off my index, people were always looking for them, they accounted for a lot of searches for women writers, alongside Dorothy L. Sayers and Nelly Sachs.

last week I received an email that made me sadder. Doris Lessing had little confidence in her poetry and her agents were happy to allow me keep them indefinitely because they did not see the possibility of a re-issue.

This is the email that Olivia Guest sent me recently,

Dear Christine

We’d be delighted for you to host the poems for longer especially if you’re getting such good reactions. Doris Lessing was never very keen on her poetry and didn’t think it was any good so I doubt we will see a re-issue but at least this way, they are available in an alternative form.

Many thanks and best wishes

Olivia

The Megaliths Series, by Ann Madden (Irish Artist)
The Megaliths Series, by Ann Madden (Irish Artist)

I wondered then if Doris Lessing knew over these years that I had the poems and that they had caused such a reaction on the Poethead ? I still do not know if she did. Last week I announced on Poethead that I would be retaining the poems for sometime, and that I had received the above letter, blogged it in absolute delight, because it is a small but profound part of her writing jigsaw and it allows us to call her a poet.

To a mind like Lessing’s, death is a transformation and not an ending. Yesterday, after I decided to honour her writing and look again at the story of the poems, I closed up my blog for the day and took a walk with my daughter. When I got home, I saw that there were upward of a thousand hits on the Lessing letters, articles, posts and poems.

Today there is a similar amount building up. People want to know that questing intellect and they are searching. If I could say one thing to Doris Lessing, it would be that her poetry is the source and cause of joy and many, many people feel her loss in this world.

RIP Doris May Lessing (1919-2013)

 

Note: November 2014: Since the time of writing this piece in 2013, the stats for the Lessings posts have changed.

  • Open Salon, An Appreciation of Doris Lessing- 2360 views
  • Poethead Posts On Doris Lessing  – 2184 Views , 1319 Views, and 4673 views

MeControlXXLUserTileChristine Murray is a City and Guilds qualified stone-cutter. Her poetry is published in a variety of print and online publications. Her poem for three voices, Lament, was performed at the Béal Festival in 2012. Her Chapbook Three Red Things was published by Smithereens Press in June 2013. A collection Cycles was published by Lapwing Press in September 2013. A dark tale The Blind (Poetry) was published by Oneiros Books in  October 2013. Since time of writing this appreciation She (Oneiros Books) and Signature (Bone Orchard Press) were published in 2014.

 

 

 

There will always be singing; an appreciation of Doris Lessing

I Was Swallowed by a Harry Clarke Window and Other Poems by Niamh Boyce

I was swallowed by a Harry Clark window.

 
All that flesh. So exquisitely etched.
Decked in magenta, Prussian, cobalt, lemon
even the halos are mandarin. And, oh
so sweet are those cool palms that peek
from viridian pashminas to pray and bless.
 
I’m on the side altar, reverent, gazing
mouth open, keeping clear of the sacristy
(old habits die hardest) when
the scalding tangerine of Saint John’s robe
pours down my throat. Burnt, I douse my
 
tongue in a panel of inky night. Graze stars,
how they bite! And bite, and bite…
 
Fully digested, I stretch
on a glass horizon that peaks like a breast.
Oh, all here is holy, and all here is sex.
 
I Was Swallowed By A Harry Clarke Window was published by New Irish Writing Magazine

 

Frida Kahlo

 
Eyes me from the blue wall of my semi d
in bare necked upbraiding majesty.
 
How luscious is my pain, she exclaims
and I, can produce it, for you, again and again and again.
 
Prefer me bleeding in the red dress
or the yellow one? Like a bone for a token?
 
Just love the way I left absolutely nothing
unspoken? My torment glued to tin votives
 
for eternity. My pudenda pushing its way
through a bouquet of bad memories.
 
Pray gringo, pray for me.
Pick me clean but pray for me.
 
Frida Kahlo was published in The Poetry Bus

 

The First Time She Painted Me

 
She done me in my blue dress
She done me in my pale blue dress
and the wall about the door sang blue too
 
like the breast of a beautiful bird – soar, soar
then I saw the light, the light pour in
thought of church, candles, the Virgin
 
Mary with a snake underfoot
I saw her smile and move that foot
let the serpent wind round her ankle
 
till she swooned and dropped the infant
he shattered without a sound.
Oh Mary, said I, what’ll you do now?
 
Woman, keep your hair on, says the virgin
there’s plenty more where he came from.
 
The First Time She Painted Me is previously unpublished
 

Auld Lang’s

 
Play us an old tune Harvey!
Get on with you Cecil!
 
Why are all these people in my dream?
Have I died and gone to the BBC?
Is this what god meant by purgatory?
Cut glass accents splintering under hoof?
Ties tight enough to strangle Adams fruit?
 
And there’s the sweet lord
lifting a Daz white shirt
like a flasher in the park
as dry lips get to grips
with cigars off which
teeny tiny ladies
plunge, flashing
regions nether
and sausage gut
suspenders.
 
Guts, I’ll have yours for garters
says uncle Toff, as he sucks his teeth
with a short shnup
like a rubber glove
coming off.
 
And all the men grow pink cheeked and sprout wings,
tiny things, that wouldn’t carry a budgie across a kitchen,
but they rise and rise and their bellies hang sky high,
there must be a dozen or so of them,
overblown milk fed men,
their navels like punctures ready to happen,
and drown us all,
drown us all who waltz
across the parquet floor
paired and in time, mouthing Auld Lang’s Syne
 
as the piano woman doubles
to set herself against the clock, and the count
(of ten, nine, eight…) down, towards midnight
 
and I look again and see she’s not bent,
that her spine curves with intent
under the daisy dashed taffeta
hailing down her back,
 
five, four, three,
the fat men go cerise,
and two, and one,
and the year
bursts open.
 
Auld Langs was published in The Poetry Bus
 

Petronella

 
Sleepless under hotel sheets I summon
the sleeping child pose of my sleeping child
the wild raspberries on the saucer beside him
 
that tired mother this morning, her twins
sucking slim wedges of melon, those two
tanned magpies who speared all the fruit.
 
Then Alice’s maid, who preys on my dreams
climbs in, with herb fingers and hot breath
clutching a sack cloth dyed red, whispering
 
whoever needed a scapegoat as much
as Alice? Four greedy husbands hoping
for the deeds? Step-children planting seeds?
 
I drift off under thin sheets, sensing poetry
in these walk on parts, the after charge
of a passing heavy goods vehicle
my heart that will someday stop beating.
 
Note: Petronella was the maid of Alice Kyteler and was burnt as a witch in 1324.
 
Petronella was published in The Moth Magazine
 

Night

  
Blue-black fur skims every part of me that moves
and I move quickly, from mother bed to a maze
of paths, glazed with scattered crumbs of glass.
A creature whose voice I can’t hear, whose face
 
I can’t see, is teaching me to read with my feet.
This is a time, not to think. Travelling deep
is tough. It’s always winter. No. Love isn’t enough
in the tinker palace of memory. Bird women squawk
 
overhead, a carnival of forgotten babble.
Baubles swing from their claws, clear spheres
pregnant with sea, moon and sky. They swoop.
Their eyes are yellow with history. Look back!
  
Who knew there were so many of us? I see beasts
unfettered freaks. Feathered, furred and taking
corners until undergrowth gives way to cliff face.
Blinding sapphire waves break, plunge us
  
one by one into an amniotic ice blue sea
where we settle to an alert rest. If
you look now, I’m still. Except for a fishy
under-lid flicker. Sleeping. Not
  
bottom of the ocean, breathing water.
Permeable. Suckling the rushes of some
early second. When a secret runs past
my fingertips, I listen.
 

Night was published in Southword Literary Journal

Niamh Boyce
Niamh Boyce

Niamh Boyce’s novel The Herbalist (Penguin Ireland) won 2013 Newcomer of the Year at the Irish Book Awards. She won Hennessy XO Writer of the Year for her poem Kitty in 2012 and her unpublished poetry collection, The Beast Is Dead, was highly recommended in the 2013 Patrick Kavanagh Poetry Award.

I Was Swallowed by a Harry Clarke Window and Other Poems by Niamh Boyce

Entering The Mare and other poems by Katie Donovan

 

Entering the Mare

 
(The inauguration of an Irish chieftain, as observed by Gerald of Wales in the 12th century)
 
She stamps and shivers,
her white coat vainly shrugging,
as the would-be chieftain
plunges in, burying deep
his puny, acrid man’s seed,
between her fragrant haunches.
 
The Goddess lives
in her fine rearing head,
the pink stretch of her lips,
the wide, white-haired nostrils.
Her hoof
might have crippled him,
her tail
whipped out his arrogant eyes.
Instead she jerks clumsily,
trying to escape
the smell of his hand.
 
Later he swims
in the soup of her flesh,
sucking on her bones,
chewing the delicate morsels
of her hewn body.
 
He has entered the Goddess,
slain and swallowed her,
and now bathes in her waters –
a greedy, hairy, foetus.
 
Rising from her remains
in a surge of steam –
her stolen momentum –
he feels a singing
gallop through his veins:
a whinnying, mane-flung grace
rippling down his spine.
 
Riding off on the wings
of the divine Epona,
he lets loose his dogs
to growl over her skeletal remnants,
the bloody pickings
in the bottom of his ceremonial bath.
 
from Entering The Mare (Bloodaxe,1997)
 

CONFLUENCE

 
Beneath the amber hood
of the street lamp,
beside the black gates
of the somnolent park,
we are eyed by fanlights,
flanked by motionless cars.
 
In this blind Georgian lane
you lean in
to claim a kiss.
 
I offer you my goodnight lips,
staying like a shut purse
in your embrace,
wary after years
of opening too fast
my burns still hurt and proud.
 
Yet the sweetness of your mouth,
and your tongue — a luscious,
sinuous sea-creature –
is a feast I cannot resist;
 
nor can I pull back
from the strength in your arms
as you draw me close,
loosening your coat
to fold me
in your cinnamon heat.
 
Here it is, timeless,
a scene on a street:
 
a man and a woman
tongued and grooved
into one.
 

Rootling

 
Little wrestler,
you snort, snuffle
and lunge;
latching on
like a cat
snatching and worrying
her prey.
Once attached,
you drag on me
like a cigarette,
puffing between sucks,
nose pressed close,
somehow catching
your wheezy breath.
Between rounds,
in your white wrap
you arch your back
for a rub,
like I’m your coach,
readying you
for newfound strength
in the ring.
Your fists flail,
fingers hooking
my nursing bra,
your feet curl and kick,
toes a feast
of tiny action.
There is nothing romantic
in this vital ritual,
yet I crane over you,
a loose sack,
liquid with the loss
of your form,
with the tears of labour
and lolling hormones
making me gush
along with my womb,
still churning out afterbirth.
So when
you dandle my nipple
with a gummy smile,
I tell myself
your grin’s for me,
even if you’ve got
that look
of a seasoned souse
on his most
delicious tipple.
 
Katie Donovan 2002

All poems published here are from Rootling: New and Selected Poems published by Bloodaxe (2010). Entering the Mare originally appeared in 1997, in a collection called Entering the Mare. Confluence comes from Day of the Dead, a collection from 2002.
 

Katie Donovan Image is © Mark Granier
Katie Donovan Image is © Mark Granier

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. She is currently working on a novel for children.
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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”.
 
  from Katie Donovan’s website

 

Entering The Mare and other poems by Katie Donovan

It Was For This by Kevin Higgins

It Was For This

 
  That Queen Maeve prepared for battle
by angrily shaving her armpits with a razor
  improvised from north Fermanagh shale.
For this W.B. Yeats took all that
  experimental Viagra, and waited for
the consequences to grow. For this
  Archbishop McQuaid
rolled naked through fields of Lavender.
  For this Maude Gonne let slip
from her womb a future
  Minister for External Affairs,
while loudly denying
  the Holocaust in Irish.
For this Oliver J. Flanagan warned us:
  “where the bees are there is the honey,
and where the Jews are there is the money”
  For this latter day Druids moved
to Ballyvaughan or west Cork,
  and began accepting payment by PayPal.
For this Fiachra of the fashionable whiskers
  took his herbal tincture and sat
letting silence surround him
  for the twenty four hours
his homeopath recommended. For this
  genuine girls all over Ireland
are waiting for your call
  after you stop shouting
at the terrible news. For this
  you paid the phone bill though it left
your bank account burnt
  as a cottage visited once too often
by the black and tans. For this
  on wild Atlantic nights –
the lines down and the cattle crying
  in the fields, you keep trying
to get through – though you’re pretty sure
  some of those girls aren’t genuinely
girls. For this Eoin O’Duffy
  put all his bulls in the one field
and dreamed of one day
  holding in this hand
Heinrich Himmler’s mickey. For this
  Sean O’Casey broke the window
to let the winter in
  and wrote letters backing
the Hitler-Stalin pact. For this
  Dr Maureen Gaffney of Trinity College
went on the radio every Saturday
  to express concern about poverty,
and people phoned in to agree.
  For this the people of Roscommon drank
from their toilets, and threw up
  thankful prayers to the monks
at Glenstal Abbey. For this
  you voted to keep the black babies out
a sensible policy for a cleaner
Glenamaddy, Hacketstown, Portlaoise…

For this the bus driver didn’t stop just now
  when he saw you waving.
 
All that history
 so you can stumble up the steps,
sweat gushing from your armpits, late
  for that crucial interview; or arrive
at the hospital ten minutes after
 they’ve switched off the respirator
and folded the sheet white
  over your father’s face.
It was all for this.
 
© KEVIN HIGGINS

Kevin author photo December 2013 (1)Kevin Higgins is co-organiser of Over The Edge literary events in Galway City. He has published four collections of poems: Kevin’s most recent collection of poetry, The Ghost In The Lobby, was launched at this year’s Cúirt Festival by Mick Wallace TD. His poems also features in the anthology Identity Parade – New British and Irish Poets (Bloodaxe, 2010) and one of his poems is included in the anthology The Hundred Years’ War: modern war poems (Ed Neil Astley, Bloodaxe May 2014). His poetry was recently the subject of a paper titled ‘The Case of Kevin Higgins: Or The Present State of Irish Poetic Satire’ given by David Wheatley at a symposium on satire at the University of Aberdeen; David Wheatley’s paper can be read in full here http://georgiasam.blogspot.ie/2014/05/the-case-of-kevin-higgins-or-present.html . Mentioning The War, a collection of his essays and reviews, was published by Salmon in April, 2012. Kevin’s blog is http://mentioningthewar.blogspot.ie/ . and has been described by Dave Lordan as “one of the funniest around” who has also called Kevin “Ireland’s sharpest satirist.”

.

  • Kevin Higgins will be taking part in the Lingo Festival this coming Saturday.
It Was For This by Kevin Higgins

‘Now I am a Tower of Darkness’ and Other Poems by Freda Laughton

Now I am a Tower of Darkness

 
As a Child I knew
How, beyond the lamp’s circuit,
Lay the shadow of the shadow
Of this darkness,
 
Waiting with an arctic kiss
In the well of the staircase,
Ready to drape the bed with visions
No eyelids can vanquish.
 
Now I am a tower of darkness,
Whose windows, opening inward,
Stare down upon tidal thoughts.
And in this responsive bell,
 
Hollowed by the silence of the eyes,
The mind swings its clapper.
And life resolves into relationships
Of cadence and dissonance.
 

The Woman with Child

 
How I am held within a tranquil shell,
As if I too were close within a womb,
I too enfolded as I fold the child
 
As the tight bud enwraps the pleated leaf,
The blossom furled like an enfolded fan,
So life enfolds me as I fold my flower.
 
As water lies within a lovely bowl,
I lie within my life, and life again
Lies folded fast within my living cell.
 
The apple waxes at the blossom’s root,
And like the moon I mellow to the round
Full circle of my being, till I too
 
Am ripe with living and my fruit is grown.
Then break the shell of life. We shall be born,
My child and I, together, to the sun.
 

The Welcome

 
Awaits no solar quadriga,
But a musty cab,
Whose wheels revolving spiders scare
Pigeons from plump pavanes among the cobbles.
 
Past the green and yellow grins
Of bold advertisements
On the walls of the Temple of Arrivals and Departures,
(Due homage to the puffing goddesses
 
Stout, butting with iron bosoms),
We drive, and watch
The geometry of the Dublin houses
Circle and square themselves; march orderly;
 
Past the waterfalls of lace dripping
Elegantly in tall windows;
Under a sun oblique above the streets’
Ravines; and past the river,
 
Like the slippery eel of Time,
Eluding us; eight miles clopping
Behind the horses rump to where
The mouth of Dublin gulps at the sea.
 
And there beside the harbour
And the Castle,
And the yellow rocks and the black-beaked gulls,
The piebald oyster-catchers, limpets, lobster-pots,
 
There is a house with a child in it,
Two cats like ebony
(Or liquorice); and a kitten with a face
Like a black pansy, a bunch of fronded paws;
 
And a dog brighter than a chestnut, –
A house with a bed
Like an emperor’s in it, –
It is late. Let us pay the cabman and go in.
 

Now I Am A Tower of Darkness, The Welcome, and The Woman With Child are © Freda Laughton.
.
Freda Laughton was born in Bristol in 1907 and moved to Co. Down after her marriage. She published one collection of poetry, A Transitory House, in 1945 but little else is known about her life and work. She may have lived in Dublin for sometime, as her poem The Welcome details the textures of Dublin City and its suburbs, and suggests she knows the city by heart. Her date of death is unknown.

Freda Laughton’s poems were submitted by Emma Penney, a graduate of the Oscar Wilde Centre, Trinity College Dublin. Her thesis, Now I am a Tower of Darkness: A Critical History of Poetry by Women in Ireland, 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..

‘Now I am a Tower of Darkness’ and Other Poems by Freda Laughton

‘Sin-Eater’ and other poems by Jessica Traynor

An Education in Silence

 
for the women of the Stanhope Street Magdalene Laundry
 
This morning, light spilled into the courtyard
as if God had opened a window.
The light is quiet and can’t be herded
from dormitory beds to morning mass –
it shines where it wants,
blushing the stained glass windows,
washing the priest’s words.
 
My mother doesn’t write.
It’s been three years. My hands
crack from the heat of the sheets
as we feed them through the mangle.
The high windows admit one square
of light, on the word repent
and I am silent like the sunlight.
 
An Education In Silence is © Jessica Traynor
 

Sin-Eater

 
He blows on his hands to warm them;
it looks like some ritual, some totem.
 
Between us, nothing but certainty –
the death-sound in the old woman’s throat –
 
and uncertainty – the priest’s whereabouts.
Our whispers summon only a flutter in her eyelids.
 
Someone had mentioned the man down the road
who lives alone, who gives some kind of absolution,
 
so here we find ourselves with this stout man
in a muddied fleece, who breathes on his hands
 
and places them on the woman’s shoulders.
Tears come first, spilling from her eyes;
 
those milky shallows that have mirrored us all evening
clear for a moment as he bows his face to hers.
 
He doesn’t look at her tears, allows her gaze to travel
to the ceiling above her bed. Only we invade her privacy.
 
He says nothing. Not one prayer or word of comfort.
We give him a fifty, and wonder.
 
Some begin to mutter; one man asks what he did.
He tells us that at that late stage she had no voice left,
 
so he took her sins upon himself,
allowing her to pity him for all he carried.
 
Sin-Eater is © Jessica Traynor
 

Letters from Mount Fuji

 
From the top of Mount Fujiyama I send you letters,
written on square pages, then folded
 
in as many different patterns as a snowflake.
I drop them onto thin air; watch them fall into the world.
 
Open one. In it is a picture from your childhood.
You can look at it, but it melts in your hand
 
like the question I ask you, caught on a breeze,
and your answer, taken by the river to the flat sea.
 
Even through this constant, year-devouring snow,
I will always send you letters.
 
Letters From Mount Fuji is © Jessica Traynor
 

Pearls at Blackfriars

 
For his Winter’s Tale,
Master Shakespeare calls
for a covered stage
with the scent of candle-grease
and orange-peel heavy on the air.
 
There must be torches
to give movement to shadows
and life to the statue;
and for Hermione’s face –
tincture of pearl, crushed.
 
With this bowl of dust
we’ll lacquer her age,
encase her in memory
so only a movement of the mind
might release her,
 
might absolve
her husband’s transgression,
as the jealous moon
flings her light
against Blackfriars slates.
 
Pearls At Blackfriars is © Jessica Traynor

Jessica TraynorJessica Traynor is from Dublin. Her first collection, Liffey Swim, was published by Dedalus Press in 2014. Poems have appeared or are forthcoming in Poetry Ireland Review, The Raving Beauties Anthology (Bloodaxe), Other Countries: Contemporary Poets Rewiring History, If Ever You Go (2014 Dublin One City One Book), The Irish Times, Peloton (Templar Poetry), New Planet Cabaret (New Island Books), The Pickled Body, Burning Bush II, Southword, The SHOp, Wordlegs, The Moth, Poetry 24, The Stinging Fly, and New Irish Writing among others.
 
She is the 2014 recipient of the Ireland Chair of Poetry Bursary. She was named Hennessy New Irish Writer of the Year in 2013 and was highly commended at the 2013 Patrick Kavanagh Award. She won the 2011 Single Poem Competition at Listowel Writer’s Week. She received a Literature Bursary from Dublin City Council in 2010 and in was part of the 2009 Poetry Ireland Introduction Series.
 .
Jessica works as Literary Reader for the Abbey Theatre and teaches creative writing courses through Big Smoke Writing Factory and the Irish Writers Centre. She also works as a freelance dramaturg.
 .
‘Sin-Eater’ and other poems by Jessica Traynor

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.

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

Bees and The Authorities by Dave Lordan

Solinus, on the authority of Camden,
incontrovertibly declares that there are no bees in Ireland.
Keating impugns both Camden and Solinus
stating Such is the quantity of bees,
that they are found not only in hives,
but even in the trunks of trees, and in holes in the ground.
 
Modomnoc the beekeeper, who was with St David in Wales,
was followed to Ireland by an adoring swarm of bees.
 
Writing in the 8th century, Bede the so-called Venerable
opines Hibernia … et salubritate ac serenitate aerum
… Diues lactis ac mellis insula …
Or, so Google tells us,

Ireland has a fine climate, and is a land rich in milk and honey.
 
In 1920 Benedictine Brother Adam hybridized the Buckfast Bee.
According to The Economist in 1996 Brother Adam was
unsurpassed as a breeder of bees. He talked to them,
he stroked them. He brought to the hives a calmness that,
according to who saw him work, the sensitive bees responded to
.

 
The Buckfast Bee – Brother Adam’s supreme though far
from only achievement as a breeder – is super-productive,
extremely fecund, resistant to disease and disinclined to swarm.
However, it cannot perform miracles.
 
Good St Bega could. She fled Ireland for Northumbria,
away from enforced marriage to a Norwegian Prince.
There she founded the still-extant Cumbrian coastal village
of St Bees, pop 1,717 according to the census of 2001.
 
Sometime after, although not too long after, 850AD, St Bega,
to gain the land on which to build her priory
from the goading Lord Egremont, made it snow
three inches deep on Midsummer’s Day. Yes, she made
it snow three inches deep on Midsummer’s Day,
dispossessing Lord Egremont, as well as, presumably,
seriously upsetting the bees as a consequence.
 
Bees and the Authorities is © Dave Lordan, from Lost Tribe Of The Wicklow Mountains
 

About Lost Tribe of the Wicklow Mountains

untitled‘It may be said, in truth, that he changed his manner almost for every work that he executed’, Vasari said of Di Cosimo, and in Lost Tribe of the Wicklow Mountains Dave Lordan’s poems embrace a wide range of formal and vocal possibilities. Internationally renowned as one of the most inventive and provocative of Ireland’s contemporary performance poets, Lordan reinforces that position in this new collection. There are also poems here that demand a quieter hearing, however, including a long and powerful elegy for Denis Boothman and an urgent meditation on the scourge of suicide in Irish society. The anger that often characterized the poems of Lordan’s first two collections is transformed in Lost Tribe of the Wicklow Mountains into profound explorations and expressions of loss, love and hope – ‘music as a possible sanctity’.

Lost Tribe of the Wicklow Mountains is Dave Lordan’s 3rd collection of poetry and will be published shortly by Salmon Poetry.

Bees and The Authorities by Dave Lordan

Poetry: Bilbao by Frances Holloway

Bilbao

 
Here we go merrily
playing coffin games again
the dead will out
Have you seen the glass furnaces of Bilbao?
How pretty in the sky at night
those hypnotising spumes of purple green and blue
but oh how putrid her river
 
How many times have we buried her now?
and each times she acquiesces
the guest of honour at a pleasant gathering
The sisters always present and apparently in league
inventing new party games
making speeches
and all the cleaning up to be done after
 
With those sunken Spanish eyes still-lidded
she watches over her own funeral
and all the grief that should accompany
these occasions
these goings on
has been dispatched to some other place
and all the love I feel for her takes a different face
 
Bilbao, queen of the industrial age
subsided into decadence and crime
El Ayuntamiento is trying
but do the dead
ever really walk again?
 
She should have been queen of a much nicer family
our lives might have resolved splendidly then
around the solid centre of her private world
her inner churnings and grumblings
might have taught us how to live with ourselves
how to overthrow tyrants
and make a good Christmas cake
 
But we sided with the tyrants
and mass produced our toxic thought forms
Now I have to keep burying her night after night.
 
Bilbao is © Frances Holloway

frances holloway

Poetry: Bilbao by Frances Holloway

Three Women (After Sylvia Plath) by C. Murray

‘The woman was assessed by a panel of three experts, It was agreed that she had suicidal thoughts and a decision was made to terminate the pregnancy by caesarean section. It is believed that the woman wanted to have an abortion and began a hunger strike. The Health Service Executive sought an order from the High Court to allow it to hydrate her by giving fluids.This order was granted. From, RTÉ

The woman had a caesarean  section at 25-26 weeks pregnancy (a delay of 17+ weeks). She had applied for an abortion under the 2013 Protection of Life During Pregnancy Bill at 8 weeks pregnancy.

This is a beginning text which I hope to develop. Three women voice their experience of Irish Maternity Care. Voice 3 is based in the voice of a woman who arrived in Ireland pregnant with the child of her rapist, the link to this case is above.

Voice 3:
Red flowers tumble their heads
in the after-rain.
 
I have never seen so much rain.
 
Sun baptises their petals
catches their red against silver,
 
I dream of red flowers.
I desire the reddest flowers,
 
I smell red flowers,
I could eat those flowers.
I desire sweet flowers.
  
I did not want him. I did not want him. I did not want him. I did not want him. He brutalised me. He left. I am sick. I have been sick for a long time. Weeks of sickness.
 
My mother would sing me a lullaby, cool my head. I ask for a basin. Vomit on the floor before they ring the bell. I did not want him. I did not want him. There is no air in this room. I cannot breathe.
 
They bring the sweet oxygen and apply something white onto me, something to help me sleep. I sleep. I reel with the dizziness of how empty I am. I can caress the ridge that shows me where it was, where he was. I am holy. It is gone now and I am sweet.
 
Red flowers tumble their heads
in the after-rain.
 
I have never seen so much rain.
 
Sun baptises their petals
catches their red against silver,

‘Three Women’ After Sylvia Plath by Chris Murray by Christine Murray

Three Women (After Sylvia Plath) by C. Murray

This Is The Point Where Colour Comes in by C. Murray

#1

gold-bodied a beetle dives
into muck and dirt, a silica
 
of glitter on his porch,
his wing.
 
there is no evidence of his home now
it is vanished,
 
small soil tabernacle
he carried in the sun.

#2

 
this is the point where colour comes in
 
a slap of blue/ the wooden baker’s palette
hits glittering concrete
 
city of silica, its bedrock trembles a bit
 
glossy/ the blackbird’s sunbath/his beak
goldened almost/ yellow.
 
From The Silences is © C. Murray

This Is The Point Where Colour Comes In was initially published at Bone Orchard Poetry, from a MSS series called The Silences
This Is The Point Where Colour Comes in by C. Murray

Sequences — (After Francis Bacon) by Michael McAloran

Sequences — (After Francis Bacon)

 
2…meat unto collapse/ stead lapse/ the lung’s abort in headless barrage the head is/ traces the/ meat’s sarcophagus is the light surrounding/ the forms that bind the subject-object/being in this from onset’s claim/ the stripping down of/ in gradual of irreversible/ meat does not climb it cannot/ it/ blind limit of/ in/ in conflict there its sense fed to the/ nausea all in the face of/ the sunken eye divulged of meat/ the meat that is the figure’s construct/ gallowing from bone/ opulent the sickness-pity for/from unsung/ carved out of/movement through nothing the flesh/ clamouring/ cascading yet inward and then yet none/ the laughter of the meat is silent/ the its’ cajole/ meat’s blood spills out of vacuum presence/ meat is not void the head is void in conflict there the meat devoid of/ un-sound…

 
3…the piss/ cum/ shit of celebratory nothing/ the ruptured meat weeps from the skin’s bind/ bound upon as if it/ or/ in that/ celebratory excavations before the foot of none/ meat’s saving graces in ejaculative/ voidal/ or the introspect of needle/ cunt penetrate/ rectal/ the mutilation of/ meat is the worst possible beginning-ending/ it/ other than/ the head lopped off sings to the solar anus of the eye’s mind percept/ though of or or/ not from the give or the taking from of flesh/ is it/ the head is bone the body boned yet/ unto the sky there is no end it perceives the flesh null and void/ yet in the meat of the percept/ even the fault of which applies/ the whole is not correct merely because it is of the exist/ it does not burn unless it is set to/ light…
 

4…object of/ scar tissue silences/ yet/ meat stings of the echo-wound/ the bound devour of in/ meat has forgotten/ the head as object desires the other it/ all stripped/ sung from the broken amulets of memory’s shades of silent wasteland/ yet the meat/ still scarred/ collapses under the weight of/ consumption/ because it be/ it can yet be other/ it cannot be other than without choice/ the meat sings blood and sense yet it does not sing of final/ meat is arbitrary/ it sings in pleasure yet it does not sing aloft/ but in the expulsion of desire/ in which none is known/ terms wishes granted it/ dragging out the carcass of it into the light flaying the spectral knowledge/ the meat suffers/ it is a rabid dog in the midst of silence/ seeking to be annihilate/ yet…

 

5…fleshed on in-step/ bled from/ what is it/ this/ in this is felt yet no/ not of/ in animus of collective taste/ the bleed of asking yet/ bound to/ the face’s demolition/ the smearing of/ hence it lacking identic/ special all as if reverberating sound in cylindrical/ yet meat’s taste is of the flesh it/ sombre ash in the guts/ in the defecate of that already final/ as for the mock bind of sex the interchange and shift of parameter/ meat still yet entwined in the tint of desire’s persistent edge/ all spun together between the animal and the/ obscenely bound to the nothing that is/ if/ where from yet in grip of marrow beneath the flesh’s desertion in/ else never truly penetrating/ the cock lacking the hyenic bone will/ legs splayed/ a cunt exposed/ a rectum/ skinned the purpose of in the thrust of meat and the beckoning void/ of it…

 

6…the escape from flesh/ momentarily through flesh the loss of being in/ subtle cataract of none/ escapade of/ the blood coming to the eyes the cum coming to the fore/ blind-sighted/ then/ yes or no/ base flesh and the blood-red passage through night/ in machinate of/over again as if to/ yet never the escape from/ not conscious deliverance nor conscious bite/ having bitten the wick between anguish and desire/ chased by the none of exigency and lack/ of final edge and of/ red raw yet no/ of the blood no unless asked of/ the flayed will reduced to ashen/ scar a long the indent of emblem bitten dredge/ the frenzy of/…/all the while the meat slowly erased/ in definite stead/ the sense of final and over and again/ until/ bled out from circus tint of blood/ bone lack…
 
Sequences — (After Francis Bacon) is © Michael McAloran

mick1Image is © Michael McAloran
Michael Mc Aloran was Belfast born, (1976). His work has appeared in various zines and magazines, including ditch, Gobbet Magazine, Ygdrasil, Establishment, Unlikely Stories, Stride Magazine, Underground Books, InterPoetry, etc. He has authored a number of chapbooks, including The Gathered Bones, (Calliope Nerve Media), Final Fragments, (Calliope Nerve Media) & Unto Naught, (Erbacce-Press). A full length collection of poems, Attributes, was published by Desperanto in 2011. Lapwing Publications, (Ireland), released a collection of his poems, The Non Herein in 2012. The Knives, Forks & Spoons Press, (U.K), also released an ekphrastic book of text/ art, Machinations & Oneiros Books released In Damage Seasons and All Stepped/ Undone in 2013. A further collection Of Dead Silences, was published by Lapwing Publications. His most recent publications are The Zero Eye and Of the Nothing Of (Oneiros Books). He is  the editor/ creator of Bone Orchard Zine and he edits for Oneiros Books.

 

Sequences — (After Francis Bacon) by Michael McAloran

‘The House of Altogether Nothing’ & Other poems by Jan Sand

The House of Altogether Nothing

The countryside in which it stands
Is broken with large jagged rocks.
Its trees are dark, from northern lands,
Whose branches scratch the sky; boney bough knocks
One against the other. Cold winds finger through
Odd strands of captured human hair,
Torn newspaper strips look as if they grew
Amongst the leaves to bleakly declare
Of violence and despair. Black groves smell
Of damp decay. They display white fungoid growth
Through which black insects grope, explore a shell
Deserted by a snail that caps its glowing trail. One is loathe
To venture near this place of threats
But winding through dead leaves, broken rubble
Is the path where stumble those, full of regrets,
Replete with fears, burdened with trouble,
Pass to reach the house. Its peaks and walls
Assault the sky like a cataclysmic scream,
Intertwined grotesqueries that captures and enthralls
Those destined to drop into its dream.
The weary travelers approach in single file, one by one,
Trudge to the door which swings open wide.
They know their journey’s almost done.
They tremulously step inside.
Halfway down the long bare hall
Their head is seen to wobble, shake.
Comes now a groan, a gasp. Then the fall.
It thumps and rolls. The arms quake
And drop as well. The torso tumbles,
Then the legs topple like loose lumber.
The parts now chute in sliding jumbles
Through a hole in the floor. Nothing left to encumber
The next traveler. The house re-opens its front door.
The upper stories flicker, luminesce.
Moonlight glistens. Something rises to soar
From out a square chimney – glaucus, incandesce
To dissipate like spectral steam.
Something wakens from a dream.

The House of Altogether Nothing is © Jan Sand

These images are © Jan Sand jan1Death

Rains

There are rains that drag fog skirts
Across the country-side in stealthy hiss,
That, gently, in determination
Dampens down the grass with sodden kiss
Of sky to earth as caring as a mother
Calms her resting child.
There are rains of panicked horses’ hooves
That illuminate their stampede
With angry lightning flashing on black roofs
While trees sway and shudder in dismay
And water demons pound on window panes.
But some rains come and merely sit
And drum in steady patient siege,
Work soft hammers on the dents and wrinkles of the day
Smoothing anger and distress to flat peace,
Tempt shy dreams to peek from hidden thoughts
And welcome in safe surrender to sleep’s release

Rains is © Jan Sand

2 Am

The early black
Is still unstirred
By yawning morning.
The ceiling fills
With predatory thoughts,
Like quiet children
Come to play
Their silent games,
Poking sticks into
Dark passages
Of forgotten memories;
Memories like frightened mice
That scurry off in panic.
The sadly moaning bell
Sixty years ago on a lonely buoy
Shrugging its shoulders
In a choppy sea.
A special purple
Strangely found on both
An apron and a stub of clay
In kindergarten.
The round eyed stare
Frozen to my mother’s face
As cancer pain
Prodded her to certain death.
A pet white rat curled in snooze

On my pillow by my cheek.
The falling crescent moon
Smiles in my window
Like my long gone mother
Soothing me
Back to the peace of sleep.

2 am is © Jan Sand

jan2Jan Sand is originally a New Yorker. Currently a resident of Helsinki, Finland. Having read and enjoyed his poetry at Open Salon, I requested some work for Poethead.

Bio: I am a former industrial designer formerly a New Yorker, now retired and living in Helsinki, Finland. I have been writing poetry for several decades but am more or less unpublished except at a couple of web sites run by acquaintances met on the web. I know no other poets but take up my time with graphics and poetry and innovative cooking and baking and learning Finnish and relating to the wild animals in my area.

 

 

 

 

‘The House of Altogether Nothing’ & Other poems by Jan Sand

‘The Irish in Britain’ by Sarah Clancy

The Irish in Britain

 
Had I lived I would be fifteen now
scrawling your name on my copy-book
as some listless teacher droned,
we made our own spells our own rules
you and I painted circle ‘A’s
on canvas bags with Tippex,
and later in my bedroom I would make
you sniff it so we could channel
some imagined high and discuss
all the things that anarchism isn’t
those were the only times
you ever came close to barefaced
to some great reveal.
 
We sang Billy Bragg songs
and grasped at something bigger,
something we hoped we could fit in
I held your hand while we marched
against apartheid as if it hadn’t
anything to do with us, but the sixth years
called you faggot and gave you
a lack-lustre kicking even their own hearts
weren’t in it still and all something
in you sickened and we were lost
to ignorance and ecstasy
and the worst you had to offer to yourself
we were lost to poppers,
to the summers in London
you spent sucking off bricklayers:
desultorily fucking.
 
You came home at the dark end
of your glue and aerosol dream
with a starry plough tattoo, as if some
or other republic waited here for you
had I lived I’d be forty now
but comrade you were never
coming with me –
more’s the pity.
 
The Irish in Britain is © Sarah Clancy

downloadSarah Clancy has been shortlisted for several poetry prizes including the Listowel Collection of Poetry Competition and the Patrick Kavanagh Award. Her first book of poetry,Stacey and the Mechanical Bull, was published by Lapwing Press Belfast in December 2010 and a further selection of her work was published in June 2011 by Doire Press. Her poems have been published in Revival Poetry Journal, The Stony Thursday Book, The Poetry Bus, Irish Left Review and in translation in Cuadrivio Magazine (Mexico). She was the runner up in the North Beach Nights Grand Slam Series 2010 and was the winner of the Cúirt International Festival of Literature Grand Slam 2011. She has read her work widely at events such as Cúirt and as a featured reader at the Over the Edge reading series in Galway, the Temple House Festival, Testify, Electric Picnic, Ó Bheal and at the Irish Writers’ Centre, she was an invited guest at the 2011 Vilenica Festival of Literature in Slovenia and in Spring 2012 her poem “I Crept Out” received second prize in the Ballymaloe International Poetry Competition.Sarah Clancy’s Collection Thanks For Nothing, Hippies was published April 2012 by Salmon Poetry.

‘The Irish in Britain’ by Sarah Clancy

Poetry: A Poetry Series at Deep Water Literary Journal

what is beneath ?

 
a scrap of satin – some wood
 
and what is beneath the wood ?
 
dirt, the earth,
it is cold
 
is it alive ?
 
it contains the stir of flowers
it contains the whispering grass
 
and above it all ?

.
some turf
the blue sky
 
what are you listening to ?
 
my dark blood
the heart plays a tattoo
beneath this pale linen
this wool-stuff
 
and ?
 
it listens for the stir of flowers
it hears the grass whisper.
 
What Is Beneath ?’  is © C. Murray

Poetry: A Poetry Series at Deep Water Literary Journal

Letter: Filming On Skellig Michael

My letter to the Editor regarding how we treat heritage in Ireland, published July 30 2014.

Sir, – It is now more than 10 years since Martin Cullen TD abolished Dúchas, the Heritage Service. Our national and built monuments are not adequately protected. When I questioned the OPW decision to allow filming on Skellig Michael, a general response was “it’s about jobs”. In the deep recession of the ’80s the OPW partnered with private agencies and owners to train young people in heritage protection and craft skills (stonework, wood-carving and preservation). These were jobs and skills geared toward protecting and conserving our heritage.
 
In the 10 years since the abolition of Dúchas, 39 sites in Tara were demolished to facilitate the M3 toll road. There are robberies of stunning stonework and the job of Dúchas has been divided between the Department of the Environment and the OPW.
 
Heritage is not adequately protected. We are not training the young in conservation techniques and we have no statutory agency for protecting our natural and built heritage. There are jobs in protecting our fragile heritage infrastructure in the long-term: people require skills training.
 
The Hollywood machine is a temporary thing. Where is the long view on jobs, on awareness and on stewardship in Ireland?
 
It is the job of the Minister to propose a far-sighted agenda for the work of the divided heritage agency, and yet I have seen no comment or response to the OPW decision on Skellig from her office. We are used to disgraceful decisions affecting our environment in Ireland. Why should we be surprised now? – Yours, etc,
 
CHRISTINE MURRAY,
untitled
  1. A letter by C. Murray
  2. Filming of Scenes For Star Wars Movie begins on Skellig Michael
Letter: Filming On Skellig Michael

‘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.’

‘Something for Sunday Morning’ by Maria McManus

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.
Three Poems by Müesser Yeniay

‘The Goose Tree’ by Moyra Donaldson

The Goose Tree

 
‘There are likewise here many birds called barnacles,
which nature produces in a wonderful manner, out of
her ordinary course.’
-Topographia Hibernia,
Gerald of Wales

 
There are certain trees
whereon shells grow,
white-coloured,
tending to russet.
 
Each shell contains
a little living creature;
like the first line
of a poem, a thing
 
like a lace of silk
delicately woven,
one end of which
is fastened to the shell,
 
and which at the other
feeds into the belly
of a rude mass,
that in time comes
 
to the shape and form
of a bird. When the bird
is perfectly grown,
the shell begins to gape.
 
First lace, then legs,
then all comes forth
until the goose hangs
only by the beak.
 
A short space after,
at full maturity,
it falls into the sea,
where it gathers feathers.
 
Those that fall
onto the land perish
and become nothing.
A blank page.

The Goose Tree is © Moyra Donaldson, from The Goose Tree (Liberties Press, 2014)


download (2)
Moyra Donaldson
The Goose Tree
Liberties Press 2014
 
54 pages.Cover design by Karen Vaughan

download (3)Moyra Donaldson was born and brought up in Co Down and has been described as one of the country’s most distinctive and accomplished writers. She has published four previous collections, Snakeskin Stilettos (1998), Beneath The Ice (2001),The Horse’s Nest (2006) and Miracle Fruit (2010). Her poetry has won a number of awards, including the Allingham Award, the National Women’s Poetry Competition and the Cuirt New Writing Award. She has received four awards from the Arts Council NI, most recently, the Artist Career Enhancement Award.
.
(from Liberties Press)

‘The Goose Tree’ by Moyra Donaldson

Review: A Wound’s Sound by Gillian Prew

front-200x300
A Wound’s Sound
by Gillian Prew
62 pages
Published by Oneiros Books in 2014

Cover Art by Matt Sesow


This poem

This poem has blood in its ears/
it is being hauled up by a hook/
it is losing consciousness
   

This Poem is by Gillian Prew

Gillian Prew’s recent publication A Wound’s Sound (Oneiros Books, 2014) is described thus, 

The ambient howl-sound pervades everything. The gutted beasts are everywhere – billions raised and slaughtered for food globally each year. A Wound’s Sound is an attempt to distill and voice their pain and their silence.

The above being true, the book in itself is an elegiac affirmation of the beauty and terror of nature from a perspective offering itself as the animal voice of worship and of pain. That the animal is slaughtered at the hand of man guides Prew’s expression and advises the thematic flow of A Wound’s Sound. Within and beyond her desire to expose inhumane cruelty Prew’s subtle expressiveness cannot but affirm her own life and presence as a poet,

 

Sun Trap

World, damned hieroglyph,
your skin is not mine nor
do your fuchsias bend like bells for me.
it is hot today. I meet the sun alone-
more intimate than being born.
Too hot for human reason, yet
ants bear colossi round my feet.

Sun Trap is © Gillian Prew

Here, then is the tension at the heart of A Wound’s Sound: Man’s inhumanity to animals is expressed and projected through the poetic voice of a woman poet. The issue of projection and awareness of the pain of the other, in this case the pain of the animal raised for slaughter, is difficult to achieve as one can never be sure that the subjective is not impinging upon the creative process. The poet must then put herself into the centre of the book, as the voice of the wounded animal and as revelator of inhumane cruelty. Achieving this balance is probably a very difficult thing to do as it necessitates centering oneself at the heart of the action, both identifying with human cruelty at a personal level, while at once rejecting it within the self and elegiasing small loss.

One needs to be a poet of skill, organisation and experience to approach the themes that I have set out above here to retain enough neutrality to allow the poem to develop its expression so that the reader is not swamped in the subjective viewpoint of the poet. Prew succeeds in achieving an elegiac tone to the whole book without subverting the reader’s interest by producing short imagistic pieces alongside slightly longer and more thematically developed poems,

from Elegy

Nothing sounds but sky/nothing
to touch but folds of wind
and the rain doubled from sadness
tumbling itself down.

    Deep/
  deep
the loss it bends/
it sees

  the trees
sucking up and spitting out
stripping the water to a drop/

a wet whisper/ a hole.

From Elegy by Gillian Prew

As here are wounded animals that have found themselves in the wrong place and time. Thus, an element of chance plays into Prew’s narrative,

No God

I was born into the wrong fields. They stuttered
with ever-goldening, the black pulse of growth,
and I played right into their forest skirts
full of bluebells and night time. my house was
 smoke and separation.

from No God by Gillian Prew

 

A Wound’s Sound is in the main a book of short and micro-poems, some of which are gathered into groupings like “restlessly, driven by leaves ” (after Rilke) and Fragments from Noticing. These micro-poems are intense natural distillations imbued with unique colour and pared to the bone of the image,

The soaring cold barks at windows like a kept-out dog
whines through the small spaces/slows the old.

Jackdaws and magpies land on the treetops.
The branches flap/they wave.
An old man looks up in his flat cap/
his mouth a shut wound.

from” restlessly, driven by leaves”

Gillian Prew is a poetic craftswoman, her tight imagery and structuring allow her to encapsulate her symbols in perfect neat aphorisms that concentrate the reader’s mind wholly on the idea that she wishes to create. Prew’s colouring is limpidly gray, often suddenly dashed with colour like the rowanberry stain as blood symbolic.

Prew’s colour use is evocative and symbolic throughout A Wound’s Sound. The gimlet eye of the soaring bird suddenly dashes and alters the reader’s perspective. This use of device and altered perspective make her landscape planes appear wavering and fragile in many places. She handles her craft with great acuity and professionalism, and whilst the major themes of A Wound’s Sound could be maudlin, an assuredness of personal style allows the poet enough canvas to turn the universal themes of slaughter and death into the sweetly elegiac – a song of affirmation, or witness.

Review: A Wound’s Sound by Gillian Prew

Cut-Up: The Subtle Flavouring of Fish at Colony.ie

the subtle flavouring of fish

 
tesserae of names
dull mustard
fiery gold flames
 
organics of mushroom tea
gaudy/ Gaudi/ lace/ paste
St Audrey/ rust/ blood/ lace
yes, tawdry lace
 
….I can use that.
 
round and round
the mulberry bush
oranges/ bees/ fish/
 
old chain letter/ old
poems stuck together/
spermed-together/
cum-came/ come on!
 
books unaltering of anything/
but the subtle flavouring of fish –
 
dom/dominatrix/domestic goddess/
cook-stuff/ cock-stuff //really // cock-stuff/
 
who knows
what goes
on where/ the/
rosey- poesie/
poetry muses/ lie ?
 
butterfly-netted the
bee-priestess/poetess
 
black veiled/ butterfly-swoop
unguarded/ungirded/
girdled//corsetted//cosseted/
 
our bee-keepers are impotent
poetess/priestess jiggle your
tits /make soup/ and I thought
 
I need more meat than this to feed my brain:
 
words of madness /of bloodletting/
vein of salts/salts in the blood-wounds/
of those who… (know)
 
lady take my hand/
let us go to the bare
birthing room/ the death-room/
 
the room of whispers/screams/ some agony of death is here/
clean kitchens /jeyes fluid/orange savlon/wounds/salted/stitched.
 
cif //blood// eggs/ spare me the details of the subtle flavouring of fish – please

 
the subtle flavouring of fish (a lifestyle poem) is © C. Murray and can be read at Colony.ie V2 /The Trans Issue

About Colony

I Iike to imagine that the grassroots, extra-institutional arts scene in Ireland, and hopefully elsewhere, shares at least some of the characteristics of The Pub. The will and the ability to ground our self-expression in our own burning desires. The will and the ability to make ourselves known in forms which do not have to be pre-approved by bureaucrats, or have a set place awaiting them upon the dead shelves of the marketplace. The knowledge underlying all our acts and provocations that it is all only a howl in the end, all just fun to be shared around without getting too precious about it. The strong urge not to allow ourselves to become bored or boring, no matter what the consequences for our ‘careers’ might be.
.
Welcome on behalf of all our 8 volunteer editors to Colony 2, the Trans Issue. Come on in and get twisted. Who knows what you will have turned into by the time you come out the other end, finding yourself on Colony’s edge. We hope you enjoy leaping over it. It’s your turn next.

Cut-Up: The Subtle Flavouring of Fish at Colony.ie

Sequence: ‘Now’s Dark’ at Bone Orchard Poetry

#1
 
now’s dark is a clever
adjustment of the iris
to the notlight,
 
now’s dark is an anguish
of silhouette hidden in
tree’s whispering reed
 
now’s dark is a white
chair beneath a tree
moon-illumined and
somehow wrongly set
 
there..

 #2
 
now’s dark is a heap of mottled
silver black
 
ashen in its not-ight, it could be a
pile of ash,
 
it’s the silver of silica dotted with
miniscule impurities, sunless.  

#3
 
now’s dark the pearl,
mother-of-pearl interior
  
imagined in its streaks
of opalescent, it doesn’t
 
reflect anything on its surfaces
beneath the black skin of its
 
bone button, or chain, its
dullness is an indictment
of light’s absence, its cycles.
 Poems from ‘Now’s Dark’ by C. Murray be read at Bone Orchard Poetry and are © C. Murray

bop
Sequence: ‘Now’s Dark’ at Bone Orchard Poetry

Serenade, Any Man to Any Woman by Edith Sitwell

This transcription is my own , from Facade, by Edith Sitwell and may have (my) mistakes.

Serenade, Any Man to Any Woman.

by Edith Sitwell.
 
Dark angel who art clear and straight
as canon shining in the air,
your blackness doth invade my mind
and thunderous as the armoured wind
that rained on Europe is your hair,
And so I love you till I die
(unfaithful I, the canon’s mate)
Forgive my love of such brief span,
But fickle is the flesh of man,
and death’s cold puts the passion out.
 
I’ll woo you with a serenade –
The wolfish howls the starving made,
And lies shall be your canopy
To shield you from the freezing sky.
 
Yet when I clasp you in my arms –
who are my sleep, the zero hour
that clothes instead of flesh my heart,
you in my heaven have no part,
for you my mirage broken in flower,
 
can never see what dead men know !
Then die with me and be my love :
The grave shall be your shady grove
and in your pleasaunce rivers flow
(to ripen this new paradise)
from a more universal flood
than Noah knew: But yours is blood,
 
Yet still you will imperfect me
that in my heart the death’s chill grows,
a rainbow shining in the night,
born of my tears … your lips, the bright
summer-old folly of the rose.
 
Serenade by Edith Sitwell

  • My reading of Serenade, Any Man To Any Woman is here
Edith Sitwell, Poet.

Manuscript

“For more detailed information about each movement’s surviving manuscripts, see that movement’s page, which can be accessed from the index. The bulk of the Façade manuscripts are held in these two collections:

Frederick R. Koch Collection. Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library, Yale University. Manuscript FRKF 638a. Manuscript, photocopy, and printed scores of various movements. Some manuscripts are autograph, some in the hand of Constant Lambert. 145 pages.

Harry Ransom Humanities Research Center, University of Texas at Austin. Music Collection, among the papers of Edith Sitwell. Including manuscripts of various numbers.

Serenade, Any Man to Any Woman by Edith Sitwell

‘The Haircut’ by Kevin Higgins

The Haircut

 
I had it imported
from Ancient Egypt, installed
upon my skull
by JobBridge slaves
grateful to be allowed touch
a scalp as potentially
valuable as mine.
 
I can smell opportunity
at a thousand yards,
and in the blink of a synthetic
eyelash, I’m off sniffing its
however questionable arse.
I’m Hillary Rodham Clinton
without the young idealist
in bad glasses phase.
 
I use Twitter
as a place to practice graciousness,
and would sacrifice
my favourite granddad
to the flames,
and enthusiastically throttle
both of yours,
for the chance to have the Renga
I wrote last week translated into Welsh.
 
I’m small but very well made,
apart from my hunchback soul,
which I keep under lock
and key in a music box
given me by my auntie,
about whom
the less said the better
 
KEVIN HIGGINS

kevin-author-photo-december-2013-1Kevin Higgins is co-organiser of Over The Edge literary events in Galway City. He has published four collections of poems: Kevin’s most recent collection of poetry, The Ghost In The Lobby, was launched at this year’s Cúirt Festival by Mick Wallace TD. His poems also features in the anthology Identity Parade – New British and Irish Poets (Bloodaxe, 2010) and one of his poems is included in the anthology The Hundred Years’ War: modern war poems (Ed Neil Astley, Bloodaxe May 2014). His poetry was recently the subject of a paper titled ‘The Case of Kevin Higgins: Or The Present State of Irish Poetic Satire’ given by David Wheatley at a symposium on satire at the University of Aberdeen; David Wheatley’s paper can be read in full here . Mentioning The War, a collection of his essays and reviews, was published by Salmon in April, 2012. Kevin’s blog is http://mentioningthewar.blogspot.ie/ . and has been described by Dave Lordan as “one of the funniest around” who has also called Kevin “Ireland’s sharpest satirist.”
‘The Haircut’ by Kevin Higgins