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Poems from “Strange Country” by Kimberly Campanello

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3These poems were first published by Tears in The Fence and are © Kimberly Campanello
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Kimberly Campanello was born in Elkhart, Indiana. She now lives in Dublin and London. She was the featured poet in the Summer 2010 issue of The Stinging Fly, and her pamphlet Spinning Cities was published by Wurm Press in 2011 . Her poems have appeared in magazines in the US, UK, and Ireland, including  nthposition , Burning Bush IIAbridged , and The Irish Left Review . Her books are Consent published by Doire Press, and Strange Country Published by Penny Dreadful (2015) ZimZalla will publish MOTHERBABYHOME, a book of conceptual poetry in 2016.

 

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Strange Country can be bought from Penny Dreadful Publications
Sanctus by Kimberly Campanello
We Protect The Weak by Kimberly Campanello

Poems from “Off Duty” by Katie Donovan

Wedding

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

Operation

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

Off Duty

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

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

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

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

 
Entering The Mare and other Poems by Katie Donovan

‘Moving Like Anemones’ and other poems by Lorna Shaugnessy

Crystal

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

Río Tinto

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

Moving Like Anemones

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

Dogged

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

The Watched Phone

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

Pain has a shaved head

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

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

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

Unfinished Business

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

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

At Sea

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

Groundhog Day

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

South Wall

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

The World Reduced to Sound

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

Consolation

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

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

International Poetry Competition: The Vision of 1916 Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow.

bannerReclaim the Vision of 1916 – a Citizens’ Initiative

International Poetry Competition 2016

THEME: The Vision of 1916: Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow

Inspired by the strong connections between poetry and the Easter Rising – often known as the “Poets’ Revolution” – we are proud to announce that our International Poetry Competition 2016 is now open for submissions. Many of the Rising’s leaders were accomplished poets, including Pádraic Pearse, Joseph Mary Plunkett, James Connolly – and the eminent Thomas MacDonagh. Also acclaimed for his talents as a teacher, playwright, Irish language scholar, and literary theorist, it is in MacDonagh’s honour that we have chosen for the competition’s first prize the Robert Ballagh-designed Thomas MacDonagh Medal (along with a cash award of €1,000).

In its aftermath, the Rising motivated a generation of poets of national and international renown – including George Russell (AE), Francis Ledwidge, Padraic Colum, James Stephens, Sean O’Casey, Eva Gore-Booth and William Butler Yeats – to reflect upon its ideals, events, men and women, and consequences. Alongside these can be placed a succession of Irish language poets that includes Liam S Gógan, Máirtín Ó Direáin, Seán Ó Ríordáin, Máire Mhac an tSaoi, Eoghan Ó Tuairisc and Seán Ó Tuama.

Likewise, we are now inviting the present generations of writers of poetry, young and older, established and emerging, to reflect upon the competition’s theme and submit up to three entries for our judges’ consideration.

The competition is open to persons over the age of sixteen years living on the island of Ireland or abroad.

Entries may be in English, Irish, or any of the languages in common use in Ireland today (with either English or Irish translations).

JUDGES
Catherine Ann Cullen, Louis de Paor and Ciaran Carty. Professor Michael Cronin will act as the competition’s Languages’ Advisor.

PRIZES
First: Thomas MacDonagh Medal, plus €1,000
Second: €500
Third: €250

ENTRY FEES
€10 for first poem
€5 for second poem
€5 for third poem

TO ENTER
See: http://www.reclaim1916.ie/international-poetry-competition/

CLOSING DATE
29 February 2016

Athshlánaigh an Fís de 1916 – Tionscnamh Saoránach

Comórtas Filíochta Idirnáisiúnta 2016

TÉAMA: an Fís de 1916: Inné, Inniú agus Amárach

Táimid thar a bheith bródúil chun cur in iúl daoibh go bhfuil ár gcomórtas filíochta idirnáisiúnta 2016 ar oscailt anois ag glacadh le n-iarratais. Faigheann an comórtas seo ionspráid ón eolas go bhfuil nasc láidir idir an filíocht agus Éirí Amach na Cásca – “Réabhlóid na bhFilí”. Bhí roinnt maith de ceannairí an Éirí Amach ina bhfilí – Pádraig Mac Piarais, Seosamh Máire Pluincéid, Séamus Ó Conghaile – agus an t-uasal Tomás Mac Donnchadha. Bhí clú agus cáil ar Mac Donnchadha toisc a n-iarrachtaí mar mhúinteoir, drámadóir, scoláire Ghaeilge, agus teoiricí litríochta. Mar gheall ar seo, agus in onóir de Mhac Donnchadha, roghnaíomar Bonn Tomás Mac Donnchadha, deartha ag Robert Ballagh, mar an 1ú duais sa chomórtas (chomh maith le duais airgid €1000).

Spreag an Éirí Amach é féin glúin de filí go bhfuil clú agus cáil orthu sa tír seo agus níos faide i gcéin chun athmhachnamh a dhéanamh ar idéil, imeachtaí, fir agus mná, agus iarmhairtí – le George Russell (AE), Francis Ledwidge, Padraic Colum, James Stephens, Sean O’Casey, Eva Gore-Booth agus William Butler Yeats ina measc. Is féidir a rá, freisin, go suíonn filí Ghaeilge cosúil le Liam S Gógan, Máirtín Ó Direáin, Seán Ó Ríordáin, Máire Mhac an tSaoi, Eoghan Ó Tuairisc agus Seán Ó Tuama taobh le taobh leis na filí luaite thuas.

Mar sin, táimid ag tabhairt cuireadh do filí de gach aois agus máistreacht chun athmhachnamh a dhéanamh ar théama an comórtas agus suas go dtí trí dáin a chur isteach don comórtas seo.

Tá an comórtas oscailte go dtí gach duine in Éirinn nó thar lear atá níos sine ná sé bliana déag d’aois.

Is féidir iarratais a bheith I nGaeilge, Béarla nó teanga ar bith atá in úsáid go rialta in Éirinn inniú (le n-aistriú go dtí Béarla nó Gaeilge).

Breithimh

Catherine Ann Cullen, Louis de Paor agus Ciaran Carty. Beidh an tOllamh Michael Cronin mar Comhairleoir Teangacha don comórtas.

Duaiseanna

1ú áit: Bonn Mac Donnchadha, agus €1000
2ú: €500
3ú: €250

Iarratais:

Féach: http://www.reclaim1916.ie/international-poetry-competition

Data deiridh:

29ú Feabhra 2016

‘Chasing Tails’ and other poems by Layla Hehir

Beware of the Hey Man

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

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

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

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

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

Sharon

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

To groups of women in restaurants

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

Chasing Tails

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

Rosanna, Queen of the World

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

“Chasing Tails” and Other Poems is © Layla Hehir

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

‘Pillars’ and other poems by Alice Kinsella

Sea walk.

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

Tea Leaves

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

After the storm

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

The Stranger.

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

Pillars

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

Making Pies

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

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

‘Three Red Things’ by Christine Murray

Three Red Things

the three red things are:

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

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

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

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

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

form crystallises

assumes its
almost shape,

within the silica of
this holding-skin,

beneath crystal swipe
and tungsten-lunge

into the exact point
and drain,

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

A Stone Dress

 

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

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

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

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

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

blue,

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

 

still,
      a lone bird night-sings and a

 

Tremor Of Rain

 

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

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

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

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

‘Settlement’ and other poems by Lizz Murphy

$600

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

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

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

Through a Child’s Eyes

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

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

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

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

The Morrigan

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

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

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

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

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

© Lizz Murphy
— previously published Abridged: Torquemada
 

Settlement

 

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

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

Myth Breaker

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

It was that country of not knowing
that they colonized
 

Blackbird

 
Bushlark hands
empty swirl and rinse
fresh-baked terracotta

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

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

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

The unsewn moments
of this warm
loose-mouthed afternoon

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

That melodic intruder
its precise tangerine beak
scissoring at the sky

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

Sweetmeat hatchlings
the tear of earth
the choir of keening magpies

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

‘View’ by Helen Harrison

View

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

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

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

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

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

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

View is © Helen Harrison

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

 

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

The Last Fire and other poems by Helen Harrison

‘Essence’ by Kate Dempsey

Essence

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

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

The Space Between
Emerging Writer

‘Proposal To Erect Monuments’ by Kevin Higgins

 

Proposal To Erect Monuments

 
In memory of poet, Frank Yammergob:
a twenty foot likeness entrenched in bronze;
the bits of old burger he kept in his
beard left in for authenticity.

Fastened to the dome of city hall
giving his enemies the finger. Exact
replicas atop every public building he paid
not a cent towards.

One laying permanent claim
to the disabled parking space
he liked nothing more than
to nick. Others

outside offices, factories, schools
in which he never
worked a day in what might
loosely be called his life.

The damage, a fraction of what
his parade of ex-girlfriends cost
the state in psychotherapist’s fees. Not
to speak of government grants to bury

those who shot themselves having read
his thoughts on the necessity of rhyme
in the comments section of
the Connaught Trybewn website. In life,

his one reader was a retired vice-principal
who went about the place wearing most of a sheep;
and told women he sat beside on buses
the way Yammergob’s verses

so perfectly scan calls to mind for him
days when a teacher was free to bring
the strap down on the heaving
buttocks of young girls.

Before political correctness gone bonkers.
When, from every lamp-post, down our street
hung a paedophile.

The words at the base of each effigy,
In His Memory, remind
though, technically, he still breathes,
die he eventually must.

Proposal To Erect Monuments is © KEVIN HIGGINS

  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).

Higgins’ 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.”

‘Snowbird’ and other poems by Jessamine O’Connor

Snowbird

after Mary Noonan’s house
 
If I had known, I would have said goodbye years before.
 
Not at the artificial grass graveside
or the airtight TV room where you all sat like stuffed animals,
but at your table, over the paintbrushes,
 
or on the coral strand, between sandwiches,
between swims, where I wallowed in the shallows
and admired your distant bobbing head trawling the horizon,
 
long before the vaporous woman seeped into you,
every year swelling, squeezing more and more out,
until there was only an occasional glint, or a short sharp smile.
 
There, up the powdery path, against your redbrick wall,
when you unclipped and lifted me from your daughter’s bike
and held me high over your face, naming me Snowbird.
 
It should have been then. If I had known, it would have been then.
 

To The Oxford University Press

  regarding the updated Junior Dictionary
 
You’ve taken the world around us away,
surrendered it all for a virtual world.
 
A dictionary teaching children that trees,
birds, and a whole fieldful of grass
are not really real.
 
Illustrating, by elimination,
that nature has no value and is not worth keeping,
 
what matters now is Chatroom,
Blog and Celebrity,
and what would a child do with a Conker anyway?
 
A Buttercup can’t tell you anything
about the lactic tastes of an iPod,
and no one climbs Beech trees
or gathers Hazel nuts these days
 
  or so you must hope
 
because you’ve hidden the words
where children can’t find them.
 
So when they go searching for an Acorn
or Bluebell, or Newt,
they’ll discover that those things don’t exist any more;
 
their inheritance
is Cut-and-Paste,
Block-Graph and Voicemail.
 
You inform them that a Blackberry is not sweet with juice,
but hard,
and demanding,
and needs to be bought.
 

Three Monkeys on the Road to Rossport

 
Purples wander into the water,
slow waves of heather,
cocoa streams of turf
ripple from the land
down to Broadhaven bay,
and travel long enough
there’s nothing else to see,
but a blackbird egg sky
speckled with reeling wings,
and the dryblood brown earth
pulsing with plants
and all the things that scuttle,
build, eat, mate and die –
but the first monkey sees nothing
through the gleam in his eye.
 
Swishing grass trickles,
the road hums,
spun under the wheels
of their speeding car.
Overhead gliding gulls
start a chain of alarm,
vixens screaming,
grunts and whistles,
then fish flicksilver,
rushing west
mouthing their dread –
but the second monkey hears nothing
only the echo
 rich   rich   rich
ricocheting in his head.
 
The third monkey is quiet,
he’s holding the wheel,
steering them
into the postcard
perfect peninsula,
wondering if he can shake on this deal
to steal the land,
spew up the sea
and rape the ground,
for nothing
more than fleeting greed.
Can he sign up to bleed this place,
feed on mangled fox’s dens,
breathe the buried field mice,
bird’s nests and burrows?
 
He feels the familiar
panic prickle,
wonders how he would live
after this,
how will he be able
to be alone and barefoot,
and answer the accusations
that creep up in the dark –
but the third monkey keeps driving,
says nothing,
and digs a hole
for the wild thoughts
deep
down
inside.
 

Asimo – On Prime Time TV

 
Asimo, performing to adoring sighs, like a communal child.
You carried out a tray of drinks, trod down steps,
and ran -actually ran.
 
You danced with the guest, soulless,
but everyone agreed you outdid her with your mechanical moves,
programmed to seem servile, dancing on screen,
 
running across the stage while the audience oohs,
delighted, letting themselves play the proud parents,
the presenter even called you He.
 
What I see is how fast you can run,
and how those hands are so easily swapped for guns, or needles,
or spray, or voltage –how long are you going to stay four-foot-three?
 
Your dance is the decoy, the wooden horse.
They cheer and let you in, suppose you will be their pet
and dance all day carrying trays.
 
Of course they say you’ll do the jobs we don’t want.
As if a million-dollar-man like you will ever be wasted cleaning loos,
or down an aluminium mine,
 
or picking over smouldering plastic
to find pieces of re-useable metal
like our children do.
 
Your act is faultless, your cracks invisible.
I watch and feel low level dread, a crawling tension not just in my head
but tangling round my stomach and chest,
 
and you’re hiding something we can’t see yet,
all these antics for our amusement, like we’re fed up of humans
who can do what you do but so much better,
 
even my toddler dances better than you,
because she hears, and feels, and is moved by music,
and it’s not a programmed response but a rush in her ears.
 
I hate it but I ring with fear – emotions I have, you wouldn’t know –
I also have imagination; like I find you, shut down in a box maybe,
and smash you with some heavy thing left nearby accidentally,
 
or clip you and pull out your wires with pliers which I’ve had the foresight to bring,
or just drive straight into you, goose-stepping down the street,
in the future when you don’t dance anymore.
 
I can feel these things, my pet, and an awful lot more.
What is it you do again, when you’re not playing the puppet,
distracting everyone on prime-time TV?
 

Ten So Far This Morning

-Gaza, November 2012-

Last night I closed the paper
on the pictures,
then sprang for the remote
to make the children disappear,
to stop them being lowered, so fast,
into rectangles
cut from clay.

Ten so far this morning

 
Now it’s numbers I’m trying not to hear,
wiping the table for breakfast,
seeing again
and again
the white bundles,
sped along in the strong arms
of numb-faced men.
 
Ten so far this morning
 
I let the porridge glue,
and start forcing tiny trousers
onto reluctant legs,
living, pink, thrashing legs,
snapping –
why cant you just behave?-
as they go scampering away.
 
Ten so far this morning
 
Boys crouched under shields
made of their own front doors,
hiding from the sky
behind doors just like mine
still flapping
with letterboxes,
the childhood in their eyes.
 
Ten so far this morning
 
I get back to the table and wipe,
lean into it, wiping, lean on it,
a terror of vomiting,
the walls moving,
cupboards circling,
swaddling me,
and I’m choking on clay.
 
Ten so far this morning
 
I need to breathe,
I need to want to breathe,
to want to be, here,
where for all my retching sorrow
I can only spare one small drop,
that falls, reflects,
and is quickly wiped away.
 
Snowbird and other poems is © Jessamine O’Connor.

Jessamine O Connor lives in south Sligo, and comes from Dublin. Her chapbooks Hellsteeth and A Skyful of Kites, are available from www.jessamineoconnor.com.

Facilitator of the weekly Wrong Side of the Tracks Writers, she is also director of performance poetry/art/music ensemble The Hermit Collective.  She was this year’s judge for the New Roscommon Writing Award, and has given readings, poetry and ‘zine workshops, and a beginners creative writing course for the Roscommon Women’s Network.

Winner of the iYeats and Francis Ledwidge awards; Short-listed: Hennessy Literary; Over The Edge New Writer; Red Line Book Festival; Dead Good Poetry; and Bradshaw Books Manuscript competitions; Long-listed: Dermot Healy; Desmond O Grady competitions and more.

A recipient of an artist’s bursary from Roscommon County Council in 2013 to publish her first chapbook, her second was printed on the proceeds. Both are favourably reviewed in Sabotage Reviews.

Publications: Agenda; Tridae (in translation to Spanish); Poetry NZ; Skylight47, Crannog, Ropes, The Stinging Fly, Abridged, New Irish Writing, North West Words; Stony Thursday Book, anthology Balancing Act, The First Cut, Shot Glass Journal, The Galway Review; and book Yeats150.

Jessamine’s Website

‘Cry Oceans’ by Mary Cecil

Cry Oceans

 
Cry oceans and weep the seas
Where waves flow over
The endless motions of life
The swimming perfection that flees
 
The Armageddon of destruction
By all means possible
The mechanisation of death
The beginning of the end
 
For whales and tuna to consume
The mercury to garnish
The insatiable greed to fill
The merciless plunderers
 
To crush and pulp for cattle
The wanton waste of the world
That flies in the face of God
And wilts in the sun
 
The lonely song of the whale
That echoes in silent reproach
The albatross that soars
Over oceans of emptiness
 
The flowering coral that dies
Blooming in acid
The hymn of death
Beneath blue heaven
 
© Mary Cecil, Rathlin Island
 
Written in protest to the mechanisation of fishing with super trawlers

Mary 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 and managing 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

‘The Whetter of the Knife’ and other poems by Judith Mok

Beethoven in New York

Fur Elise

This night is on me like a blank sheet
I have to write
Of people playing my music that
Fills the subway with my submerged sounds
As if I am a whale vibrating through the thick of times
Communicating that my name is: Beethoven
A man of music in a storm of voices
A choir, an army of American instruments
People playing my music, people judging me
How I rode this crushing wave of emotions

I wake up to chaos and constellations in my head
Thinking: I will have to tell her
I heard this choir supporting some statement about me
Thinking: it’s one breath of mine against three of hers
That’s what our rhythm seems to be

I hear this couple talking
Two voices modulating into one
Softly speaking specters of promises

I spy on her asleep
Sensing a child in her with too many dreams
To chose from, her jaws clenched
To keep them inside till they rot
While she dies slowly in her sleep.

Casual chords coming from open car windows
Signaling to me that these are New York symphonies
And also: that Elise is still here with me
That I must write for her.

Her eyes closed in the half-light
A film of cold sweat on her pale skin
Her neck exposed to my murderous mind
And me slicing through her sighs
While all I feel is music, my music melting
In the smothering air we breathe, one against three.

She came to me. Her mouth
Full of crunched up words
A meaningless alphabet to her tune
She turns her slender body away
So I can wipe it dry and write,
Write on her bony back, as on a blackboard
Feeling the whipping flame on my eyes
When I see too much of her
And want to write, my love, my love
But instead I write two notes  –ta –ta
A diminished second , and from there: on.

This I will hear until I go deaf
And then it will last

Two notes dancing in a ripped up dawn
I,s adly take to my formal clothes, a composer again
My mind still playing with the thought of her body
Gasping -ta-ta- while I brush my hair
Reacquire my intense stare
Her glow on me in the mirror
It is her planet I live on
Nothing belongs to me but, music

I bring broken notebooks.
Winging my way down to the New York subway

The entrance is like a gargoyle upside-down
I dive into its steam-spouting mouth
My pores oozing fear
I walked this score
I see, I can hear
The mini masters who play my music have sorted me out
While they keep talking and talking on about Elise and: me
And are hammering out her tune –ta-ta

I am inside the whale, in my ears, in my heart
Wanting to fight against the pulse –ta -ta
But its here, played on a steel drum
Beet- Beethoven on a pot, a drum looking like
A caved in reproduction of our gutted earth,
A rivulet of my music, my feelings scored .
This tender tone: for Elise
Ta –ta- ta-ta-ta from there: onwards
And they say I have aspergers syndrome.

The Whetter of the Knife

No shame would ever redden his days.
He could have shown the eager, entirely,
how much he enjoyed his circus and its tricks.
He should have made spectators pay to watch the things he did to me,
turning me into this acrobat of pain.
But he prefered to keep me in a bullwark for his silence,
this pschyco’s place where he tortured me.
This is how we do things in my country,
he said, a proud and fervent nationalist,
causing distress of a broader spectrum ,
seen through the narrow end of his binoculors,
It made me suffer the cutting shards of a kaleidoscopic feast.

And then, a horrid kiss. Not so, on my lips.
With it, he burned the earth under my feet,
the songs in my soul, the touch of real.

Where it soaked the ground I wished for his blood to feed my gardens,
their putrid stench through my opened windows and music,
camelias, gardenias a tango tune, ragged.
And still : I loved.
I loved his screaming wounds, his sunken sores licked with my pickled tongue.
Help me.

Make or Break

They are standing in a Dublin vegetable shop;
Castanea Dentata, chestnuts said she,
Fauchon, remembering Paris, Marrons Glaces:
The faded butterfly wings of the wrapping paper
The box,half- open, like a promising, sweet smile
Her fingers reaching out for what her tongue would like: love.

We Irish, said he, play Conkers.

Blood or “le sang des autres”

The shots ricocheting against the flanks of the mountains so early in the morning that my sleepy subconscious has not even registered the chiming bells yet, yet…
We are in Sarajevo, suddenly. Le jour de chasse est arrive, o glory, the Hunt, la Casa, funny how the same word for hunt in Spanish means matrimony and hunt, a coincidence? Oh. I am supposed to organize a concert programme for next season in the lovely Roman Church, surrounded by shady trees. I am supposed to eat a rabbit tonight and the man told me two days ago with a macho smile on his ancient face “ je vais le tuer, I’m gonna kill it. Am I still hungry? For rabbit? Shall I suck the raw head raw? Oh. How sad his eyes were, the old boar, sanglier, in his stinky little hut. The man had caught him as a baby and wanted to fatten him up. He did and then he loved his fat boar and kept it as a pet. Speaking of matrimony: do we like to fatten each other up and keep each other as sad pets? Oh. I talked to the traumatized wild animal, unbearable in his smell and even more in the way it looked at me, was I at least bringing it some food for solace ? This morning they’re shooting the furtive beasts that I saw yesterday on the path, running around with shifty movements, the eagle circling with its eyes on a snake. I couldn’t see, the stillness of the view and nature intact, the Pyrenees with wolves and bears, not far, the blue sea not far, humans were far, very far away, except for. Oh. Now I can imagine what it is like to hear shots in the morning and become completely unnerved by it, even though they are meant for the beasts, not me. What’s the difference in the afternoon I saw them hanging from the hooks in the Salle des fetes, the hall of feasts. The blast of blood and wild odours was out in the streets, the dogs had blood on their teeth and in their fur, drenched, and the men had aprons, hiding their male satisfaction by rubbing long killer knives clean on their bellies.
I had to think of the concentration camps, I had to, who was hung on hooks again? Blood is blood and mine surged and I threw up under the Southern Sun with the taste of raw meat in my mouth. Oh

Today

after Leo Tolstoy

Within the mystery of dawn a field feeds me a thought, to name all of them in different languages when they move, drenched in dew: marcassins, javali , wild boars, everzwijn….shifting as a pack swiftly to the wisps of scent from apple to nut tree. It could be, somehow, a choreography. What a fool I have been till today not to see, not to hear what there was to be. In the land of the Troubadour I write a landscape in the morning. Up the mountain dogs follow me where I follow ancient footprints. I know the alphabet, but they know it all, these dogs’ soft snouts, loud talk, barks. And back I go to a village where cats bask in my warm shadow to purr. What a fool I have been till today not to see, not to hear what there was to be had. In the afternoon we speak, other to others, while we work to harvest. The earth hums along, fat on its offerings: chestnuts, grapes, olives, quinces stain our hands. Much more is waiting in these woods mushrooms spread under trees that stand to grow on for centuries. People come together, a basket full of pickings on their arm. The early autumn darkness blotting out their whispers, nothing but a smothered gasp when a white deer struts by, making for history. During breaks we eat the home-made cakes sitting on the fairy ground: the dream of ferns and poisonous snakes, the myth of the mind takes shape. An eagle waits for me, for no one at his regular spot. He rises up and suddenly there are three. When I look up they form a pattern I can’t decipher.They honour my eyes.

What a fool I have been till today not to be able to read what was written. To spell reality.

At night I spy on the dark.When lightning hits I see some natural time, the speed of the bat is the speed of the falling stars caught in the claws of our artificial wishes. Not like the owl who claws his prey in mid-air displaying its own blitzkrieg.

What a human fool I have been, not to be able, but for today, to feel: Love.

Parents

In the woods I knew them with my eyes ,
when light broke through a rip in memory’s curtain.
I saw the two of them , walking hand in hand with autumn .
Death had kept them untouched, recognizable.

The wind composed hymns of air in the clattering trees
as I opened my arms for an impenetrable welcome,
and stood alone, wondering how long breath can last .

The Whetter of the Knife and other poems are © Judith Mok

Judith Mok was born in Bergen in the Netherlands. She has published two novels with Meulenhoff. She has published three books of poetry in Dutch. She moved to Dublin and published a novel Gael with Telegram London and a book of poetry Gods of Babel with Salmon Press. She has written widely including for radio and Newspapers, which have appeared in the Sunday Miscellany books edited by Marie Heaney. Her short stories have been short listed twice for the Francis Mc Manus award and her first novel The innocents at the Circus for the Prix de l’Academie Francaise. Her work has appeared in Anthologies and nationally and internationally in numerous literary Dutch, Irish, French, British and American magazines. Her translated erotic poems by Verlaine and Rimbaud appeared in the book Obscene Poems by Verlaine and Rimbaud with Vasalucci. Her next book The State of Dark will appear in 2017. Judith who is a lyrical soprano has travelled the world for years as a soloist and a vocal coach teaching master classes.

‘The Women of 1916’ by Rita Ann Higgins

The Women of 1916

 
‘the state recognises that by her life within the home’
article 41.2.1. The Irish Constitution

 
Years before the offending article
was even conjured up by De Valera
and the very Reverend John Charles McQuaid
with the help of a pack of Jesuits –
the plan was set in train
to banish these biddies
back to their kitchen sinks.
 
The banishing tool of choice
was the airbrush.
The women of 1916
did not sit back
and wait in the wings of history
with tricolor dribblers to mop
the runny eggs
from the chins of the rebels.
These unmanageables,
were there from the start.
They could knit
a thirty two county Ireland
in plain and purl,
with their eyes closed
and never drop a stitch,
while rearing seven sons
and as many daughters.
The rifles they held
were not for showing
but for using.
The handgun could nestle on a hip
or be tucked into a petticoat.
Webley, Colt, Smith and Wesson.
Winnie (with the Webley) Carney
was one of the last people out of the GPO,
revelvor in one hand, typewriter in the other.
 
I write it out in a verse-
Lily O’ Brennan, Constance Markievicz,
Helena Moloney, Ellen’Nellie’ Gifford
May Moore , Rosie Hackett, Dr. Kathleen Lynn
Margaret Skinnider, Rose McNamara
Nell Ryan, Lizzie Mulhall, Kathleen’ Kitty’ Fleming…
 
Whenever green dresses are worn,
some tricolor dribblers spill scorn.
 
The Women of 1916 is © Rita Ann Higgins and was first broadcast on Arena (RTÉ)

 

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 poetryHurting 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

Honour the women of Irish Theatre

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

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

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

From : Sign the Petition

Image from Olwen Fouéré’s website.

‘Inishturk’ and other poems by Alvy Carragher

Confession

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

Inishturk

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

The carpenter’s daughter

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

It’s easier if you pick a moment

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

Inishturk and other poems is © Alvy Carragher.

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

‘Tread Softly’ and other poems by Michael J Whelan

DELIVERANCE

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

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

GRAPES OF WRATH

 

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

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

© Michael J. Whelan

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

 

BROKEN SPADE

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

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

© Michael J. Whelan

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

PARADOX OF THE PEACEKEEPER IN THE HOLY LAND

I am forever walking upon the shore
betwixt the sand and the foam.
The high tide will erase my footprints,
and the wind will blow away the foam,
but the sea and the shore will remain forever

Kahlil Gibran

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

© Michael J. Whelan

Published in A New Ulster, issue 32, May 2015

RENDEVOUS

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

© Michael J. Whelan

TREAD SOFTLY

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

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

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

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

© Michael J. Whelan

Published in Three Monkeys, online magazine, Feb 2013

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

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

‘The Halved Stone’, a word image

The Halved Stone

Sheared,

It’s round hump
Suggests a brother,

Saw driven to perfect
It’s egg, but

An ancient sand crack
Sounds.

Unsound, tower cannot
Upbuild its walls,

It would ring wrongly,
enough to disturb a nest.

Word Image © Chris Murray

 
 

‘Nadelah’ and other poems by Geraldine O’Kane

Hitting to Hurt

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

Nadelah

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

The Living Room

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

Playtime

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

Presence

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

Doorman at ‘Invisible Illness’

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

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

Tree Tunnel

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

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

‘The Talking Cure’ and other poems by Angela Carr

The Tiger’s Tail

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

Occupied

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

Junkie

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

The Talking Cure

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

CAT Scan

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

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

 

Let’s Hear Irish Poets Speak; the need for more poetry audiobanks in Ireland

Since this plea was published at The Bogman’s Cannon, I have been notified that one Irish University has been creating a collection of audio poetry. This was brought to my attention via comments under the original posting. Please check out the Seamus Heaney Centre Digital Archive & The Queen’s University, Belfast, Archives.

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, 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. Ireland is one to two generations behind best practice in the area of accessibility to audio poetry. We 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 lacking in sunlight. I try very hard to understand why the academic and poetic establishment have such a narrow and untrusting vision of contemporary poetry, and I cannot conclude but that it represents a ‘business’ approach to the arts. A conservative fear of being ‘found out’ for this lack has promoted a culture of safety, a critique grounded in a narrowly defined ideology that has destroyed at least a generation of young writers. Some poetry audio does exist via the Seamus Heaney Centre, or maybe hidden in the pages of the Irish National Broadcaster’s site. Even then they can be found scattered about the corridors of Youtube. This thinly scraped and scrappy approach to poetry audio illumines a lacklustre approach to the art which is just short of disrespect. 

Poetry readers and writers are poorly served by critics who do not understand form, managers who do not understand process, and overweening established poets who feel that they must stand between the reader and the work. The reader of poetry is distrusted, is considered immature in their encounter with the poem! There is a contemporary poetry and it is thriving but it lacks good infrastructure Vis experimental spaces for emergent writers and the provision of audio spaces where we (the reader) can find poets like O’Driscoll or Ní Dhomhnaill speaking of their work and their interest in the process of creation. 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 Irish poetry audience is not remedial and they like to go searching, hence they will go to where accessibility is respected; to UBUWEB, to PENNSound, to Jacket2, or to The Electronic Poetry Center. I suppose that the difference between these places and the half-assed Irish approach to providing good accessible infrastructure and experimental workspaces to Irish poets, is that the nous necessary to set up spaces wherein poetry can grow and develop its audience is driven by the poets themselves who understand how to bring on the next generation rather than suppressing them! As an example of poorly thought out approaches to writerly encouragement, Poetry Ireland deleted its 12 year old forum in 2013, taking with it a space where poets did peer reviews and experimented with form. There was no portability to the archives, and the remaining poets had to go in and copy everything to archive it elsewhere.

Here are some ideas regarding accessibility and archive that might interest working poets.

  1. An audio archive need not be complex. It involves the use of mp3 uploads, there are multiple types, like Soundcloud, Audioboom, and etc. The PENNsound Index is very simple but it allows wonderful access to lectures and readings. cf.  PENNsound Authors.
  2. Podcasts can be created using OS tech like Drupal, this example was sent by Mark Conroy.
  3. Instead of sending everything to private concerns like broadcasters, would it not be better to institute an archive where uploads that originate with broadcasters can go and be entirely and properly attributed to their source?
  4. There is a need for experimental poetry spaces, both written and audio, to be provided, as there is a need for a drop-in place like Kelly’s Writer’s House for talks and readings. Maybe what we need to see as readers and writers of poetry is passion for the form by those who purport to manage it.

There is a singular lack of cohesive thought given to platforming a generation of writers. There is a shabby merry-go-round approach to platforming the same 6-7 poets as representative of Irish poetry internationally, it is embarrassing. The looming gap in how we present poetry here, especially to our disregard for women poets is wrong, really wrong. Half of the poets we push have been dead years. Recently on St. Patrick’s Day the same bunch of poets were pushed out to represent Irish writing. In my opinion people will just stop listening as ossification sets in. The guardians of poetry do a generation of poets a disservice with their ego-trips and their lack of support to young poets, as my grandmother said fur coat, no knickers; we are all shop front, a tawdry mess. 

‘Knitting a Father from Nettles’ and other poems by Annette Skade

Medici Girl

 
Beauty adorns virtue, my Father says.
To save the family, and me, from the shame
of my disfigurement, he orders a corridor
to stretch from here to Santa Annunziata.
I beg forgiveness from the Holy Mother
at a hidden chink beside the altar.
Her perfect face is turned from me,
I am to reflect upon her piety.
 
My bedchamber floor maps out the world.
Every day I pace its length and breadth,
dip toes in oceans, trace the course of rivers,
trample the towers of the powerful,
reach the very edge, the land of monsters,
half-made things, strange and magical.
I slide down the wall, squat in this place,
feel light from the high window on my face.
 

The Garden of the Fugitives

 
These castings from the space
where flesh and bone used to be,
the moment fixed in gypsum.
Head tilts back, eyes roll, mouth loosens.
The mould presses replay
of the same death throe, sends one
to London, another to New York.
No grave goods, no funeral.
Lost at sea, the remains
must fetch up to grant a burial.
The ones left behind scout and pray
for anything to wash on shore,
hope ebbing with each acrid tide.
Years back, his body at the pier-
still himself- he held the spark for hours.
I wasn’t there when it left him,
came back to find a shell.
In less than a day his skin a husk,
to cover what had once been radiant.
Here is a zero, an indent in black sand,
ablaze with presence. I pour
handfuls of lava dust
on this never-living kernel,
put words on the frozen tongue,
in place of a coin for Charon.
 

Knitting a Father from Nettles

 
Scrape years of dirt
off the date, rip nettles
from the headstone.
Gather armfuls.
Pay no heed
to swollen knuckles,
red welts at the wrist.
 
Wrap stem after stem
around the needle,
fibrous strands of story,
shreds
of faded photos,
in – over –
under.
 
Stay silent.
Not one word
to pass your lips.
Echo his ghost,
rarest of visitors,
the slow shake of head
at the bottom of the bed.
 
Bind the waist
with a knitting belt
to pass a needle through.
Knit one–handed;
nursing the baby,
stirring the pan,
stacking the shopping.
 
Shake out the finished thing
to settle on the space
around a father:
a winding sheet
for a dinge
in the mattress.
Begin again.
 
Knitting a Father from Nettles and other poems are © Annette Skade

thorston-merz-colourAnnette Skade is an award-winning poet, and teacher, living and writing on the Beara peninsula on Ireland’s south-west coast. Her first collection Thimblerig was published following her receipt of the Cork Review Literary Manuscript prize in 2012.

She has a degree in Ancient Greek and Philosophy from Liverpool University and she has just completed an MA in Poetry Studies from Dublin City University, where she read everything from Anne Carson to the York Mystery Plays, Elizabeth Bishop to Maurice Scully.

Her poems have recently appeared in the SHOp poetry magazine, Abridged and the Cork Literary Review .

‘Someone Wants Lovecraft’s Head’ by Christine Murray

Someone wants to fillet Lovecraft and serve him up,
someone wants his head on a platter, a weird trophy.
 
It makes me want to read him again, like I did Dante
when Gherush92 found him unsuited to the academy
they wished passages excised, it sounded very painful.
 
Post-literacy is complex, writers no longer read but they
manage to seed adequate trifling books, empty things
that are cut off from history, stuff that wouldn’t rise a
hair on a mouse.
 
They cannot stand offence, hair-triggers are embedded in
every single text, it’ll be trigger-warnings next. Art must be
vague. It must reject the psychogeography of the artist and
empty itself of all meaning to suit the post literate non-reader.
 
They’ll pastel the woods, dock the leaves, blotting the dark
out. Soon there’ll be no interior maps, just the inane mufflings
of some coked-out artist bought by Hollywood seeking a stage
for their tired crap. Someone will have to bring Lovecraft back.
 
The new academy is post-literate, easy to offence, they tried
to swing Dante from the same root, the same diseased tree
of political propriety. Their stamp is a sliding shoe shuffle,
their platform, an easy media with time on their hands, the
 
bored crowd fattened on psychopathy and too manic to move.
Someone takes offence at Lovecraftian lore, makes me want
to read him again. To hood myself and go to those nameless
places where genetic aberration and weird alien-fucking are
 
the norm, where mottled and dusty books wait in dank houses
and the church of despair is a slimey cathedral. To read about 
YibbTstll, Olkoth, The Nameless City. To read about the endless
rot of the endless night, his dank woods.
 
They eviscerated Plath, twisting her words out of their meaning.
Whitman is too gay for school. While Houellebecq’s dark ranting
has people panting for some arbitrary justice. All their songs rejected,
 
ignored. Imagination is dark, always will be. The poet suicides
who take up their places in the anti-Parthenon; their cold grip, the
bird claw in your shoulder are taloned antis; anti-humour, anti-light,
anti-semite (maybe).
 
Far better indeed to stick it all in some briefcase, your tired theories,
than to look, really look, at what they created from loathing, from fear.
Those dark depression raptors, those death birds, yet someone is 
trying to kill Lovecraft, and have his head on their simple stoneware.
 
Someone thinks hate kills hate.
 
Someone wants Lovecraft’s Head is © C. Murray, first published in And Agamemnon Dead, an alternative collection of Irish poetry (2015).
 Lovecraft_Against_the_World,_Against_Life

‘Lifelike’ and other poems by Jennifer Matthews

Family Portraits

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

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

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

ok

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

Lifelike

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

Scent of a Woman (Echolalia)

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

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

‘Bind’ by Chris Murray

Bind

 
if there are birds here
then they are of stone
 
draught of birds / flesh bone wing
claw in grass,
 
rilled etch gathers to her nets
dust and fire / tree-step (again)
 
bird claw impinge and lift.
 
surely light would retain in
silica’s cast or flaw ?
 

bind again
 
it gathers outside the perimeter
not wanton gargoyle nor eagle
it is  of-one-piece       seamed
 
migratory pattern of
 
umber dawns rolling a black frenzy
down condensed corridors
 
bind I and bind again were first published in Deep Water Literary Journal (August 2015)


Thanks to Tom and Eve O’Reilly at Deep Water Literary Journal for publishing ‘bind’. The new DWLJ is online now and it is well worth a visit. I am adding here a link to Tom D’Evelyn’s blog. Tom wrote about the ideas in ‘bind’. I am, and have been very grateful to Tom who has written so graciously about my work for sometime now. Poets require readers who react to and understand the work, especially when the work is inherently about teasing out the image. ‘Bind’ is from a book in progress that is divided into four main sections, Boundaries, Babel, Wintering, and Park and Corridor. It is a winter book.
 

‘The Dream Clock’ and other visual poetry by Susan Connolly

Towards the Light  (1)_1

Winter Solstice at Dowth, 3pm (1)_1
One Hundred and Six Days (2)_1
One Hundred and Six Days (2)_2
FireShot Capture -  - https___dochub
Susan Connolly (2)Susan Connolly’s first collection of poetry For the Stranger was published by the Dedalus Press in 1993. She was awarded the Patrick and Katherine Kavanagh Fellowship in Poetry in 2001. Her second collection Forest Music was published by Shearsman Books in 2009. Shearsman published her chapbook The Sun-Artist: a book of pattern poems in 2013. She lives in Drogheda, Co. Louth.FireShot Capture - The Sun-Artist cover_ - https___docs.google.com_document_d_1

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

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

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

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

“Summer Haiku” by Maeve O’Sullivan

 

summer haiku

 
 

choppy Irish Sea
failing to dislodge
this red starfish
 
 
 
 
poppy bed:
the unopened ones
as lovely as the blooms

 
 
 
 
a garden full of sunflowers swaying tall
 
 
 muddy summer frogpond    no splash
 
 
 
 

 
 
reject samsara ?
this wild summer river
this wild path
 
 
 
 
these stone walls
hemming him in too-
cinnabar caterpillar
 
 
 
 
cloudy afternoon…
my sweet pea flowers
becoming peas
 
 

A Train Hurtles West

 
 
morning downpour-
we have both dreamt
about our mothers
 
 
 
 
lingering
in my small bathroom…
mum’s perfume
 
 
 
 
Auld Lang Syne
in the background-
I sign her DNR request
 
 
 
 
 
 
 mother dying       a train hurtles west
 
 
 
 
death cert. incomplete   granny’s maiden name
 
 
 
 

All through the Night:
this out of tune version
strangely moving

 
 
 
 

cloudy morning…
her solar-powered plastic flower
sways hesitantly

untitledMaeve O’Sullivan works as a media lecturer in the further education sector in Dublin. Her poems and haiku have been widely published and anthologised since the mid-1990s, and she is a former poetry winner at Listowel Writer’s Week. Initial Response, her debut collection of haiku poetry, also from Alba Publishing, was launched in 2011, and was well-received by readers and critics alike. Maeve is a founder member of Haiku Ireland and the Hibernian Poetry Workshop. She also performs at festivals and literary events with the spoken word group The Poetry Divas. Her poem Leaving Vigo was recently nominated for a Forward Prize for a Single Poem by the Limerick-based journal Revival.

“The Last Childbearing Years” by Lindsey Bellosa

The Last Childbearing Years

Deliciously, all that we might have been,
all that we were— fire, tears,
wit, taste, martyred ambition—
stirs like the memory of refused adultery
the drained and flagging bosom of our middle years.
–Adrienne Rich, “Snapshots of a Daughter-in-Law”

 
1.
 
The green leaves: so young against the sun.
How our bodies betray themselves; spine
of white pine, all its vertebrae clinging
to the last of the day’s light—
what insects have fed on it? What birds
housed their young… it being an instrument
and now, not, and now: what? We call it
dignity, what the young fear in their lushness
but the fear once swallowed can’t be swallowed again.
It isn’t the age that tortures; it is the anticipation of the age…
the sons who will forget us, not being forgotten;
the purpose that ruins us and not its loss.
What is empty is not there. Does the past mock
like a calling bird? Do lost opportunities rattle
like phantom limbs? Or what is never tasted,
never remembered? Houses that weren’t built,
children who weren’t born and something, something
else… the scent almost perceptible; the sky always
hanging just out of reach.
 
2.
 
They tell me you won’t remember this time
I am weaving around you like daisies. That our walks
by the stream are only burblings; that my work is you
but it can’t be recognized or rewarded as work,
its meaning uncertain— but it must be done
and certainly not in the wrong way.
 
Dusting the whatnots: waste of a mind;
wasted body becoming an abandoned nest,
a field gnarled and burly with weeds:
eventually past fallow; past use
 
having been granted only that tenderest of privileges
which withers, then rots. I watch my body make a cage of itself:
sag and bulge with importance that is not its own,
leaving behind the shell that is me, and the me—
being for someone else, when it is not wanted or needed…
what does it mean? What is it to itself and how does it stand
in the mirror without its usual measurements?
 
3.
 
Don’t stand at the foot of the bed.
Preserve the allure: don’t see the flower
bulge and pulsate; expand like the moon
which swallows the world, only for another
to emerge. Don’t see how everything comes from this place:
smallest doorway, passage between unbeing and being,
portal. If you see this work, see how the body
is not what it seems: how flesh rips like silk—
not an oil painting, not a porn movie or needlework, not anything
cultivated to the delicate preferences of the eye. Only how power
gushes in laps of grey and blood ; the sheer will of the body
to stretch itself, to reach. How the body houses a sea, all life
teeming in a moment. Only a woman can do this. Only we call them
beautiful. Only we call them frail.
 
4.
 
Ornamental, which adorns, which complements
as though we ourselves are not real, as though we only reflect
what is real… because we unfold, because we reveal,
because our bodies are the flowers which weather,
emerging each spring in spite of elements or desire.
We bear what is necessary— beauty being secondary,
beauty being cultivated, prized, heralded. But the blossom
is not the center; coiled roots reach what is essential,
what sustains. Harvested, we bloom again.
Unwanted, we bloom until that season has past.
Spent, what is sewn from us continues the world.
 
The Last Childbearing Years is © Lindsey Bellosa

6pi9hQn6_400x400Lindsey 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, Poethead, Flutter Poetry Journal, Emerge Literary Journal and The Cortland Review. Her first full length collection was recently longlisted for the Melita Hume Poetry Prize.
 
“Birth Partner” and other poems by Lindsey Bellosa

“Phoenix” and other poems by Müesser Yeniay

The House of God

 
We landed
from the house of God
to the island of heart

we came into being

we are at the house of earth
bodies are celestial
 

Phoenix

Poeta pirata est

I should be a phoenix
to the peaks
of my imagination

I should see the tips of my horizon
and introduce myself to it

never I wish
anything remains hidden
from me

since I came here
to see the front and behind
both of dreams
and reality

Woman

The wind
is 
blowing
that 
sweeps 
                  the sand 
                  around 
                  words

Everybody
is 
calling 
                   God!

I am 
taking 
myself 
from 
inside
and
putting
it
out 
                   with 
                   my 
                  hands.

I am 
the place 
where 
human-being 
is 
                     less 
God 
is 
                    more.



Phoenix and other poems are © Müesser Yeniay

MÜESSER YENİAY was born in İzmir, 1984; she graduated from Ege University, with a degree in English Language and Literature. She took her M.A on Turkish Literature at Bilkent University. She has won several prizes in Turkey including Yunus Emre (2006), Homeros Attila İlhan (2007), Ali Riza Ertan (2009), Enver Gökçe (2013) poetry prizes. She was also nominated for a Pushcart Prize by Muse Pie Press in USA.
Her first book Darkness Also Falls Ground was published in 2009 and her second book I Founded My Home in the Mountains a collection of translation from world poetry. Her second poetry book I Drew the Sky Again was published in 2011. She has translated the poems of Persian poet Behruz Kia as Requiem to Tulips. She has translated the Selected Poems of Gerard Augustin together with Eray Canberk, Başak Aydınalp, Metin Cengiz (2011). She has also translated  the Personal Anthology of Michel Cassir together with Eray Canberk and Metin Cengiz (2011). Lately, she has published a Contemporary Spanish Anthology with Metin Cengiz and Jaime B. Rosa. She also translated the poetry of Israeli poet Ronny Someck (2014) and Hungarian poet Attila F. Balazs (2015). She has published a book on modern Turkish Avant-garde poetry The Other Consciousness: Surrealism and The Second New (2013). Her latest poetry book Before Me There Were Deserts was published in 2014 in İstanbul. Her poems were published in Hungarian by AB-Art Press by the name A Rozsaszedes Szertartasa (2015).
Her poems have appeared in the following magazines abroad: Actualitatea Literară (Romania), The Voices Project, The Bakery, Sentinel Poetry, Yellow Medicine Review, Shot Glass Journal, Poesy, Shampoo, Los Angeles Review of Books, Apalachee Review (USA&England); Kritya, Shaikshik Dakhal (India); Casa Della Poesia, Libere Luci, I poeti di Europe in Versi e il lago di Como (Italy); Poeticanet, Poiein (Greece); Revue Ayna, Souffle, L’oiseau de feu du Garlaban (France); Al Doha (Qatar); Tema (Croatia); Dargah (Persia).
The Anthologies her poetry appeared: With Our Eyes Wide Open; Aspiring to Inspire, 2014 Women Writers Anthology; 2014 Poetry Anthology- Words of Fire and Ice (USA) Poesia Contemporanea de la Republica de Turquie (Spain); Voix Vives de Mediterranee en Mediterranee, Anthologie Sete 2013 ve Poetique Insurrection 2015 (France); One Yet Many- The Cadence of Diversity ve ayrıca Shaikshik Dakhal (India); Come Cerchi Sull’acqua (Italy).
Her poems have been translated into Vietnamese, Hungarian, Croatian, English, Persian, French, Serbian, Arabic, Hebrew, Italian, Greek, Hindi, Spanish and Romanian. Her book in Hungarian was published in 2015 by AB-Art Publishing by the name “A Rozsaszedes Szertartasa” She has participated in the poetry festivals like Sarajevo International Poetry Festival, September 2010 (Bosnia-Herzegovina); Nisan International Poetry Festival, May 2011 (Israel); Belgrad International Poetry Festival, September 2012 (Serbia); Voix Vives International Poetry Festival (Sete), July 2013 (France); Kritya International Poetry Festival, September 2013 (India), Galati/Antares International Poetry Festival, June 2014 (Romania), Medellin International Poetry Festival, July 2014 (Colombia); 2nd Asia Pacific Poetry Festival 2015 (Vietnam).
Müesser is the editor of the literature magazine Şiirden (of Poetry). She is currently pursuing a Ph.D. in Turkish literature at Bilkent University, Ankara, and is also a member of PEN and the Writers Syndicate of Turkey.

  1. Three Poems by Müesser Yeniay
  2. An Index of Women Poets

‘Leda Revised’ and other poems by Celeste Augé

Ode

More happy love! more happy, happy love!
Forever warm and still to be enjoy’d…’

—JOHN KEATS, Ode on a Grecian Urn
 
You lie across my thighs as I write,
my bone-warming hot water bottle,
pure latex, guaranteed to delight the most
discriminating women, mottle their thighs
as they lie deep in their beds, pretending
this rubber sack of warm water
could never replace their lover.
 
The women of Ireland drive with you
across their laps, hand-knit covers
helping to keep you warm. More love,
the patterns passed down from
mothers and grandmothers, still enjoyed.
They knit covers for each new bottle,
battle the cold, inside and out.
 
Every woman remembers her first.
I was twelve, three hours after landing
in Ireland, in Granny’s front bedroom.
You are the best invention after
hot water on tap, and when old age hits
and you warm through rheumatism—
not period pains—I hope to bits
I will have more to hug than my hottle
(Granny’s word for hot water bottle).
 

Women Improve With the Years

 
after Yeats
 
I am worn out with diets—
those rain-worn, concrete goddesses
among the skinny streets.
All winter long I look at magazines
and try out each new fad
I find in each new book.
Pretending: I am a future beauty, too.
But I’m pleased with myself,
to have the power of all four limbs,
eyes that can read the headlines, a body
that has grown a baby, loved on a whim.
Women improve with the years;
I switch on the light, don’t mind
who sees my stretch marks. If we meet
at my burning age, watch out! I grow
ludic in the rain—a diet-worn, fleshy
goddess at play among the shops.
 

Leda Revised

 
There’re worse things than being fucked by a swan.
Try going in—a young woman, full of life—
to give birth to your firstborn—that perfect
fleshy egg. Sim-fizz-ee-otomy. I’ve learnt how to say it,
properly. A slice here, a slice there, my pelvis opens up.
The next day a young nurse teaches me to walk.
Instead of nursing my crying baby I had to learn
to walk again. A big egg, they said, much later. Too big.
Our Lady of Lourdes was worried that if they did one
they’d end up doing ten C-sections on me.
As if my husband wouldn’t keep his hands off me—
and not a condom allowed within these holy shores.
They must have pictured me pregnant for decades.
Like I could let him near me again. Pain too strong
to let me hold my baby, even. Waddling everywhere.
Fuckin Zeus. Him and his big shoulders.
 

Always Sligo Rovers

 
for Shea and Sam
 
The ancestors at Garavogue Villas
don’t care that we can’t pay the rent.
Their stone circle is still here, disguised
as a roundabout. Lichen covers the stones.
In the middle, the Blessed Virgin Mary—
in an all-white strip—protects the ancestors,
prays over them, right on the spot
where their bones used to lie.
Their 5,000-year-old tomb is gone.
Parked cars hide the touchline
where we used to play kerbs. Sometimes,
late at night, I pass Whitewash Mary,
always praying, always quiet,
that half smile playing around her lips,
her curves dimly lit by streetlights—
lone mother of the night—and I want
to kick the stray football to her, shout:
‘Get up to it, Mary, nod it back!’
 
At the Showgrounds, the mountains surround us,
ancestors everywhere—on Knocknarea,
Keelogboy, the Ballygawley Hills, Ben Bulben.
The sky is thick with ancestors—
there isn’t too far you can go in this town
without someone knowing what you’re up to.
Bohs are in with a chance but we’ve got Joseph Ndo
who brings a kind of stillness to every
pass of the ball, as though he’s surrounded
by a different type of air, the ancestors at his feet.
And sometimes when it’s a good night
in the Showgrounds and no one
has cursed the result, that same kind
of force field hovers right around the grounds,
around the signs for Tohers and Jako,
energy conjured up by the ancestors—
who else could it be?—watching over us.
 
A minute’s silence for the ancestors, for their protection,
everyone up on their feet, a minute’s silence for any help
the ancestors might give tonight, the night when
Rovers line out against Bohs, the night when Uncle S
brings his newly-fatherless nephew to see his first match
in the Showgrounds, when Googe brings his future wife
to see what she’s letting herself in for, when
Seamus brings his young son to the only place on earth
where he will be allowed to swear loudly
at each lost tackle, wrong penalty,
missed chance, the ancestors watching over them,
that blessed moment before the whistle blows,
a moment’s silence, please,

and we remember

our pasts, our people returned to us for tonight—
as though their spirits could come back to earth,
touch down right there on the pitch.
 

Friday

 
Today is Friday and I’m out of metaphors—
the wind howling though the trees outside
is just the wind that knocks down the wheelie bin
which is just a bin blown over that scatters
egg cartons, yoghurt pots and plastic bottles
over the gravel stones outside my house
that are simply stones (though a lot of them)
and my house is a house, rectangular,
white, four walls and a roof, nothing more.
This pen I hold writes only words—
blue words. As in the colour blue.
 
Somewhere else a five-year-old boy picks up
a fragment of a cluster bomb (where it might
be windy, too)—they aren’t metaphors either
(neither the boy nor the bomb).
My own son is with my neighbour,
(somewhere out there in a black Ford)
both of them flesh and bone, representing
themselves (their best and their worst selves).
I sit here and I mean nothing more than
woman sitting on a couch on a Friday afternoon
writing and waiting.
 

Gym Poem #1

 
Tracksuit
 
My muscles and tendons stitch along my bones
like a comfortable tracksuit that knows the shape of me,
my life, the limited shapes of the work I do.
 
These poems from Skip Diving (Salmon Poetry, 2014) are © Celeste Augé

Celeste Augé is the author of Skip Diving (Salmon Poetry, 2014), The Essential Guide to Flight (Salmon Poetry, 2009) and the collection of short stories Fireproof and Other Stories (Doire Press, 2012).

The World Literature Review said that “Celeste Augé’s poems are commendable for their care, deep thought, and intellectual ambition”, while the Anna Livia Review said that “Fireproof is a remarkably strong debut into the world of short stories and will begin to build what is undoubtedly going to be a strong readership for the author”.

Celeste’s poetry has been shortlisted for a Hennessy Award and she received a Literature Bursary from the Arts Council of Ireland to write Skip Diving. In 2011, she won the Cúirt New Writing Prize for fiction. She lives in Connemara, in the West of Ireland.

‘The Somnambulist Who Stood Still’ by Kate O’Shea

The Somnambulist Who Stood Still

 

1.

Odorous

 
Don’t warble.
She smells you for her own.
His scarf is a garrotte, her on all fours.
Hors d’oeuvre. Opens no doors.
Whores. Don’t warble.
She is not what she seems.
She is real, mean; eats dwarves,
oscillates on fat fingers,
odorous dreamer,
osseous tail – a small pencil from
a bookie shop that wriggled down
the back of the couch –
that is how he wrote poetry,
that is how he got in trouble,
we say they are witches,
no one believes, no one believes, no one believes.
She tells him he smells like cabbage.
He smells like her Daddy.
 

2.

Lady Gaga

 
She is twisting hay,
going on about the caul, her helmeted head,
preternatural, making up stories.
An heirloom on paper. Making out with sailors,
but she is drowning in wine and brine.
Pretty unnatural if you axe me.
Goodluck to her. Sleeveen.
We ain’t too chummy with batshit crazy.
Amen to that. Cross yerself.
Her eyes are stains, the dark bitumen
of Asia Minor.
Bich-oo, bich-oo.
Pitchfork men with scabby eyeholes
hurl themselves like golliers
for a peck on the cheek.
But we know she is pure evil.
We know she ain’t meek,
yielding as seasons.
She is a long dark winter.
A blizzard.
A fruitcake with marzipan.
Her landscape the birth membrane
of strangeness. Weird.
Geared for a fight.
It ain’t right for a woman to attack.
All life collapses in her, stretched
taut like wires between pylons,
a zigging and a zagging some catchy
acoustic, a voice like no voice
I remember, percolating like cha
left on too long. Wired.
A spasmodic eruption of history
and hormones. She is stubborn
as an ass; fast on her feet.
Self-taught in a hedge school
that went on too long in her twisted
dimension of our country.
She is bitchin’ the bitumen out of roads,
and maps, her face the texture
of chopped liver. What lies underneath?
Internal organs hanging from her sleeves.
 

3.

Death by delirium

 
Stand and deliver! Lily girls a favourite of Sir Galahad.
Galahad a hard on for the Holy Grail
made old ladies, and trolls, spin in revolving doors.
I will die disinhibited and incontinent, he said,
after three bottles of Malbec chugged by the neck.
Find a cure for the bore, fighting bad benzos
to the death, replacing the letters in alphabet soup
with antipsychotics. Galahad thought.
Who are these immobilized men who appear to be dead?
The monitors tell me otherwise. Yet nought to be got
from one French kiss – the stiffs – the tongue is taken,
if I am not mistaken; the tongue is lolling;
over the fire, on the sofa. I will have to take a leak,
fill my belly with bubble and squeak,
as I hurtle towards death – dash; collide; clatter.
The flat affect cannot knock a man in 3D,
armed with Haloperidol and intestinal prosody.
 

4.

The num num num num num num num poem.

 
Ooooooooh I so pretty; clitty, titties all for you,
again & again, now the scented scimitar snoozes
in basin hands, a schooner: scissors-legs scoff
the bedrock. Protruding outcrop, again & again.
Scherzo, no scherzo; my highbrow, highlight,
highland fling; knees, knees, yes please,
feet and ears, hears, and here, full of the seed,
the seed, the seed, the seed, the seed:
num, num, num, num, num, num, num.
The glories of the world stuck in me.
 
first published in Outburst Magazine, 2013.
 

5.

Bubble Butt Jew

 
Write me a storytelling, drop me in the action,
contrary rag and bone does a me-and-Mrs-Jones
but it’s tantrums all the way.
No heartbeat, sweets on Bleaker St.,
sanitised, pink and fluffy,
blue stocking to the cleft of her nether chin.
Not by the airs of her chinny-chin-chin.
Where to begin when the game is up and over?
A mechanical hare on a dog track,
now where’s the fun in that?
The bloodthirsty, bloodcurdling scream
like a child’s night terrors.
Amazed the narrator survived thus far:
Let the wind and the rain bring your father back again,
stay away from the window bogey man.
A man groans in a ditch, it was she.
Witch.
Greyhounds tuck into stale bread and cold tea.
Goodie.
The ignominy; when we must rebut our nature –
to tear the hare limb from limb
is not a whimsy; to do what comes natural,
to do, to be, that is the story.
The tension between desire and action,
blood sports and p.c.
Contrary rag and bones is one-eighth Polack Jew,
a survivor of pogroms, before the great famine
made ye all hungrier in mood, and food.
Fat-arsed, thick, lumbering Irish,
dragging that repressed burden
of starvation and privates, making furrows,
verse and ploughing, meowing.
Much like the Negro slaves sang spirituals,
the Irish sang ballads, and danced roughly
into a mass grave, blind drunk and calculated.
Would you like to be buried with my people?
The world’s worst chat-up line,
me-and-Mrs-Jones-we-got-a-thing-going-on.
Contrary rag and bones the hero of this after world.
Holy Toledo, and Knock, Jerusalem.
All these things mattered like primitive magic.
These things unsaid.
 
The Somnambulist Who Stood Still is © Kate O’Shea

Kate O’Shea lives in Dublin. Her chapbook Crackpoet is available on Amazon. She was short listed for the Cork Literary Review Poetry Manuscript Competition and the Patrick Kavanagh Award twice. She is widely published in journals abroad. Her latest publications were in The Seranac Review, Orbis, Cyphers, Outburst, and Prole. Most recently she has been nominated for a Pushcart Prize in America.

Eight new poems will be published later this year in three anthologies.

‘Lilacs From the Field of Mars’ and other poems by Maureen Boyle

Darshan

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

Invoking St Ciarán of Saigher

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

Put Out the Light

 
in Memoriam Robert Mc Crea, 1907 – 1990
 
The entrails of a salmon flower in the sink
in the picture I have of you
teaching me to gut fish.
 
You have lifted it from the river
at the foot of our house
the Mourne filled with Sperrin water
 
and now its insides stream
like river weed running in the current –
something of the river brought home.
 
You handle it tenderly, call it “she”,
a hen, and are saddened when you find the roe
that will not have a chance to spawn.
 
Another time, the weather in the window different,
you show me how to clean out a hen bird,
a turkey, that will hang in the cold ‘til Christmas.
 
This lesson is serious. You say, “You must take out the lights”…
the lungs that hide in the dark of the turkey’s vaulted belly.
“Put out the lights and then put out the lights”.
 
On ordinary days you mush up Mother’s Pride
to feed Rhode Island Reds, the smell of wet bread
filling the scullery for hens that scare my mother.
 
Those days, you had finished with the Mill
and the blizzard of the scutching room that gave you Monday fever.
How cruel that the weekend seemed to mend you, only to begin again.
 
Proust’s father gave it another name, byssinosis,
from the fine linen you were dying to produce
but would never wear.
 
At weekends you would make a rosary of the village lanes
up High Seein, spitting into hedges with the other men,
knowing the name of every plant it landed on.
 
First published in ‘Incertus’ 2007.
 

Lilacs from the Field of Mars

 

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

Weather Vane

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

Psalmody

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

First published in Poetry Ireland Review in 2007.

Audio Poetry by Maureen Boyle

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

‘Sylvia Plath You are Dead’ and other poems by Elaine Feeney

Charles Bukowski is my Dad

 
He stands with me in the
best-dressed-lady-line,
holding open my pearl lace
umbrella to the
ravaging Galway rain.
 
He calls me up on
blue Mondays and gives me
whiskey on bold Fridays.
 
He fills up my father-space
He fills up my mind-space
He fills up my hot-water bottle
 
His advice fills up my cheer
and revives my rotted liver,
 
but that’s a small price to pay
because Bukowski’s my Dad.
 
He’s my feather pillow
and my guitar string.
 
He’s my soccer coach and sex therapist
 
He paints my nails
pepperminty green and sings
 
raindrops keep falling on my head
on wicked trips to the racetrack.
But that’s a small price to
because Bukowski’s my dad.
 

Biteens

 
Little biteens of people, pieces all over the raven pavements and sprayed on the cracked gutters, bits of them strewn on the carpeted lanes, and propped against wheeley bins like the carcasses of bored butlers, bits of them.
 
Biteens of people, shards of anoraks and faded canvas shopping bags, sloven splinters of their teeth, angles of jawlines where jaws used to sit, pieces of people, god help them, dead to rush hour, dead.
 
Silver wisps of greasy dandruffy dead hair.
 
Dead waiting at the bus stop dead waiting at the counter top dead waiting at the social shop dead waiting at the hospital drop dead waiting at the morgue spot.
 
Putting biteens of sharred shoulders to the wind,
their half bodies and eaten bones.
 
The blush-blown look of the cretins, blown out of our way down alleys in corpo houses on free bus spins on acid on nebulisers on tea on glue and sugar on lithium on valium on sadnesss and sorrow on beauty on faith.
 
Biteens of people, pieces of them, imagine it.
 
Light a candle or two.
 
For their mass cards and petitions, for their shopping bags for our lady and their prescriptions, for their mothers for their missing sons and for their saints.
 

Bog Fairies

 
The heather like
Pork belly cracked
Underneath my feet-
 
The horizon like
Nougat, melted
Its pastel line at the heath edge
Blue fading to white light.
 
We stacked rows of little
Houses for bog fairies –
Wet mulchy sods
Evaporating under our small palms.
 
Crucifixions of dry brittle crosses
Forming the skeleton-
My narrow ankles parallel to them.
 
Coarse and tough like the marrow of the soul,
Like the skeletons crucified under the peat.
 
The turf will come good
My father said
When the wind blows to dry it.
 
We dragged ten-ten-twenty bags
With the sulphury waft of cat piss,
Along a track dotted with deep black bogholes,
Then over a silver door, like a snail’s
Oily trail leaving a map for the moon,
And for bog fairies to dance in the mushy earth-
For us all to glisten in this late summer.
 
And behind the door
Once upon some time
Old women sat in black shawls
Bedding down Irregulars and putting kettles
On to boil for the labouring girls.
 
But I was gone.
 
I was gone at ten in my mind’s eye.
I was dragging Comrades from the Somme
I was pulling Concords in line with Swedish giants
I was skating on the lake in Central Park
I was crouched in the green at Sam’s Cross
I was touring Rubber-Soul at Hollywood Bowl
I was marching on Washington with John Lewis
I was in the Chelsea Hotel with Robert Mapplethorpe,
He was squatting on my lap with his lens,
Swearing to Janis Joplin I could find her a shift,
Nothing is impossible when you blow like that girlfriend.
I sang Come As You are in Aberdeen with union converse,
Blue eye liner and mouse holes in my Connemara jumper.
 
I was anyone but me
I was anywhere but here
I was gone
 
We rushed to hurry before the summer light would fade
Because animals needed to be washed and fed
 
And turf needed to be stacked
And all the talk of our youth
Would be said
In whispers and secrets, or written on postage stamps
 
Because light was the ruler as it was closing in around us,
Beating us, like the dark on the workmen
Deep in the channel tunnel that night.
 
The black light killed the purple heather
Yet I danced on the crackle in the dust
I crackled on the dust in the heather
My dance on the heather turned to dust.

 

 

Pity the Mothers

 
Pity the mothers
who weathered their skin
to raise their sons to die.
 
Pity the routine,
the daily stretching table
ferociously making meet ends.
 
Pity the mothers who told
sons the world was tough and wild-
 
To have them sold out in the early hours
of mornings’ immutable stage
fresh and stung.
 
Brave the world
They should have said
Brave its bold beauty
Brave the world my brave sons
And be beautiful
Because fear is a choking kite string in a storm.
 
Fear is a punctuating dictator
 
Fear will drive you half insane
and there’s no spirit in half a cup of anything.
 
Fear will wake your sleep and damn your
first born nerves.
 
There is no fertility in fear
no function, no performance.
 
Be a kite
Be yellow
Be bold
Be mad
 
Don’t step at the edge of it
all and send your body half-way
forward to the sea-froth.
 
For there you will find the headwinds.
 
Pity the bags, shoes, boots,
hurls mothers left
by the door.
 
The endless soups and syrups
The forever effort
The long lasting kisses they left on young jaws
 
To send them to the world fearful
And then feared.
To send them to the world with pity
And then pitied.
 
Pity the mothers
with their strong
elbows worn from effort.
 
Struggling against headwinds-
 
sanding the grain
in the wrong direction.
 
Pity the mothers
Who weathered their skin
just to raise sons to die.
 

Sylvia Plath You Are Dead

 
Sylvia Plath you are dead.
Your tanned legs are dead.
 
Your smile is dead, and
Massachusetts will mourn her
 
Girl on lemonady days
on sunshiny days
 
She will mourn her on dark days
when screaming girls go mad
 
In maternity wards
and scream in domestic wards,
 
And cry handfuls of slathery salty water
in kitchens over ironing boards.
 
Sylvia Plath you are dead,
and girls try rubbing out stretched marks
 
on their olive silver skin, until they
bleed. Their tiny babies cry in the halls
 
until windows framed with candy
colours, fog over their minds, their aprons, their skirts
 
their college ways, where there were no lessons on
crying. Silvery Plath the moon howls at them
 
taunted by strong winds, out the garden paths
gusts blow heads off the ivy shoulders,
 
but heather keeps her low profile
her head down, smiling.
 

Mass

 
Mass will be said for no more bad language and gambling and wanking that the Athenry boys are doing, down the back of the castle, down the back of the couch, all the punching and hitting and groaning, moaning at the Turlough boys, the Clarinbridge boys, the boys from Killimordaly, down the back of the Presentation grounds.
 
There will be mass when you lose at the Galway Races
 and for the saving of your soul if you take the boat to Cheltenham.
 
There will be a mass for when the horse runs, and when the horse dies, and for the bookies who win and the punters who win,
 
and the bookies who lose and the punters who lose.
 
There will be mass for hare coursing and flask-filling.
 
There will be mass for your Inter Cert and your twenty-first,
 
There will be a filling-out-your-CAO-form mass.
 
Mass will be held in the morning before the exams, mass will be held in the evening for your bath.
 
There’ll be a special mass on Saturday afternoon for your Granny. There will be a mass for your Granny’s boils and aches and black lungs and ulcers and spots and diabetes and psychosis.
 
There’ll be a mass for the anointing of the bollix of the bull above in the field near the closh over the railway bridge.
 
Mass will be held before the College’s Junior B Hurling Final, it will be held for the Connaught Cup Junior A Regional Final in wizardry and sarcasm.
 
Mass will be held on top of the reek for the arrogant and meek, and the bishop will arrive by eurocopter. There will be a mass to get him up in one piece and back in one piece.
 
Masses will be held in the outhouse.
 
Mass will be held for the safe arrival of new lambs and the birthing of ass foals.
 
Mass will be held in your uncle’s sitting room but his neighbours will be envious and later stage a finer mass.
 
There will be a mass to find you a husband, and a few masses to pray he stays.
 
There will be a good intentions mass. Your intentions if they’re good will come true. Mass will be held for your weddings and wakes and when you wake up.
 
Mass will be held for the Muslim conversion.
 
Mass will be held for George Bush.
 
Mass will be held for the war on terror.
 
Mass will be held for black babies and yellow babies and the yellowy black babies.
 
Mass will not be held for red babies. They have upset Pope John Paul.
 
Mass will be held for your brother when he gets the meningitis from picking his nose. Mass will be held for your cousins when they stop going to mass.
 
Mass will be held for the harvest and the sun and the moon and a frost and a snow
 and for a healthy spring and red autumn, for a good wind and no wind, and for a good shower and a dry spell, and for the silage and the hay and the grass and the turf.
 
There will be a saving-of-the-turf day. There will be a saving-of-the-hay day. There will
be a saving-my-soul day.
 
There will a mass for the fishing fishermen.
 
There will be multiple masses for Mary around August when she did all the appearing.
 
There will be a good mass when the statue cries rusty tears. There will be a good mass and a great collection.
 
Mass will be held for the cloud people.
 
Mass will be held for apparitions and anniversaries and weddings and baptisms.
 
Mass will be held to church your sinned body after giving birth, there will be mass to wash your unclean feet.
 
Mass will be held for all your decisions so you don’t have to blame yourself.
 
There will be mass for the poor dead Clares.
There will be mass for the Black Protestants if Paisley allows it. Mass will be held for the De Valera’s and the Croke Park goers.
 
There will be a mass for the conversion of the Jews (and their collection).
 
There will be a mass for the communion class, there will be a mass for the no-name club non-drinkers. There will be a giving-up-smoking-the-Christian-way mass.
 
There will be a mass for the Christian Angels, only Christian ones.
 
There will be no mass for your freedom, but the air will be pea sweet and the sky will clear.
 
Mass will not be held for the souls of your gay sons.
 
Mass will not be held for victims, for cynics, anti-clerics, the song-and-dance makers, the antagonising atheists, the upsetting-the-apple-cart persons.
 
There will be no women’s mass.
 
There will be no mass solely by women for women. Your daughters will not hold mass.
There are strict rules for the masses.
 
The above poems are © Elaine Feeney and have been published by The Stinging Fly, Once Upon Reflection, and The Radio was Gospel (Salmon Poetry 2013)

photoElaine Feeney is considered a leading part of political contemporary Irish writers. She was educated in University College Galway, University College Cork and University of Limerick. Feeney has published three collections of poetry Indiscipline (2007), Where’s Katie? (2010, Salmon) and The Radio was Gospel (2013, Salmon) Her work has been published widely in literary magazines and anthologies. She is currently working on a novel.
 
“Elaine Feeney is the freshest, most engaging and certainly the most provocative female poet to come out of Ireland in the last decade. Her poem ” Mass”, is both gloriously funny, bitter-sweet in the astuteness of its observations and a brilliant, sly window into the Irish female Catholic experience. Her use of irony is delicious. Her comments on the human condition, which run throughout her lines, are in the tradition of Dean Swift and she rightfully takes her place alongside Eavan Boland and Nuala Ni Dhomhnaill as a very, very important Irish voice.” Fionnuala Flanagan, California 2013 (Praise for The Radio was Gospel, 2013, Salmon)
 
“A choice collection of poetry, one not to be overlooked, 5 Stars” Midwest Book Review, USA, (Praise for Where’s Katie? 2010, Salmon Poetry).
 
Elaine Feeney saying Mass

‘Popping Candy’ and other poems by Sarah O’Connor

Poemín

 
This poem
Will be
Exquisitely short
 
And
 
Dinkily dedicated
To you.
 

Popularity, Personified

 
Smugness was her scarf,
Inked pinkly, cerisely,
She stroked it smugly.
Smugness was her scarf.
 
Idleness was her chignon,
Gleaming, burnished, shiny
She fondled it idly.
Idleness was her chignon.
 
Cuteness was her weapon,
Trigger fingered, ready,
She cocked it cutely.
Cuteness was her weapon.
 
Blandness was her boyfriend,
Broad-shouldered, dreamy,
She loved blandly.
Blandness was her boyfriend.
 

For Heaney

 
The sorrow’s mine and yours.
It’s all of ours. We shake our heads.
Now, when we want words,
We will rifle and riffle
Through pages printed.
We will thumb-skim his volumes.
We will become accustomed,
And forget to mourn, as we do today,
For his bits of the world welded to
Bits of the meaning of the world.
With those new silvered weldings,
Hand-soldered together by him,
Scudding from him to us.
We will miss his missiles of insight.
 

Tír na nÓg

 
I saw Tír na nÓg
For the first time
Yesterday.
 
From the car, while driving
On the M8, before Thurles.
 
All the plants,
All the trees faced it,
Pulled to it.
 
I felt the pull myself.
The draw.
 
And the island?
A mossy green copse,
Saturated in spring green.
 
On this bright day,
A wisp of mist hung
 
There. Around.
The rounded island
Otherworldly.
 
Ah, the longing.
The longing for it lingers.
 

Offering

 
I would bring you white roses
And mysterious irises
And open sunflowers
If they would let me
 
I would bring you sweet port wine
And hoppy beers
And tiny dry Champagne bubbles
If they would let me
 
I would bring you blissful heat
And cooling showers
And misty hovering bridge fog
If they would let me
 
I would bring you woven blankets
And intriguing ceramics
And all the treasures of this New World
If they would let me
 
But they won’t let me
And I just can’t choose
The best offering for you
So my lines will have to suffice.
 
Please let my lines suffice.
 

Popping Candy

 
Your company is
Like popping candy
Fizzing in my head.
 
Your company is
Like deft acupuncture
Painlessly needling me.
 
You say something
So unexpectedly funny
That I almost snort.
 
How long does
Popping candy last?
Does anyone know?
 
Popping Candy and other poems published here are © Sarah O’Connor.

IMG_4751Sarah O’Connor is originally from Tipperary. She studied in UCC and Boston College, and she now lives in Dublin. She previously worked in publishing and now works in politics. She is 34. She is working on her first novel and on a collection of poetry. She has been published by Wordlegs and The Weary Blues.
 
Sarah O’Connor blogs at The Ghost Station & tweets at @theghoststation.

‘Blackbird’ and other poems by Imogen Forster

Testudo

 
A bone-hard carapace,
a shell cast on a hot shore,
emptied by the labour
of leaving the nurturing
sea, scraping broad ribbons
up the sand’s glassy slope .
 
Gasping, digging a damp hole,
she lays round, sticky eggs,
a hundred leathery balls.
Then spent, noon-dried,
she dies, picked clean
by quick scavengers.
 
Her hatchlings flail
and scuttle towards
the sea, led by the
gazing moon, their plates
small patterned
purses, hardened
in the rich sea-soup
into a vaulted chamber
built to the blueprints
of this old architecture.
 
Published in Visual Verse
 

Blackbird

 
The blackbird sits, a smudge
in the prickly hedge, stooped,
wings and tail all downward.
 
I want to touch him, to feel
the quick, warm shape
in a cage of bare branches.
 
What does a bird fluffed
against the cold see
in his crouched stillness?
 
If I could grasp him by
his ashy back, hold his whole
breathing body in my hand
 
what would the soft bones
tell me, the barbed primaries
and the mite-infested down?
 
The bird stirs, and now
shows a bead, a pinhead eye,
a beak ripening to yellow.
 
Then the sudden thrust
out of the damp bush,
the perfect trajectory.
 
This was his first lesson,
the enactment of his ease.
 
Submitted to The Rialto Poetry competition, February 2015
 

Dancer, after Yinka Shonibare, ‘Girl Ballerina’

 
I am tailored, buttoned, piped,
the colonist’s clothes a tight fit
round my slim child’s waist.
Net and frills, my costume’s
a good girl’s best party dress.
But am I a welcome guest
or a blackface clown?
Headless, I say nothing.
I am a dancer’s body
in a pair of cotton shoes.
 
I am a sister to Marie, the wax
and bronze work of M Degas,
shiny, moulded on a frame
of pipes and paintbrushes.
Called monkey, Aztec,
a medical specimen,
the flower of depravity.
I am ten, to her fourteen, and so,
you could say, innocent.
 
My neat bodice of East India
Batiks is the bright stuff
of conquest, traded from
Batavia to Benin and now
spread across south London stalls.
My Brixton market wardrobe,
my new flags, my hopeful anthems.
 
Hands behind my back,
my finger resting on the trigger.
 
Submitted to Faber New Poets competition, January 2015

WP_20150116_19_52_26_ProImogen Forster is a freelance translator, mainly of art history, from French, Italian, Spanish and Catalan. She translated one of the French volumes for the new edition of Vincent van Gogh’s Letters published by the Van Gogh Museum, Amsterdam, in 2009. She has published poems on-line, and in a number of magazines.

intv. Kimberly Campanello at the Prague Micro Festival

 unnamed
AN INTERVIEW WITH KIMBERLY CAMPANELLO BY CHRISTINA SCHNEEKLOTH SJØGAARD

 

Kimberly Campanello was born in Elkhart, Indiana, and she now lives in Dublin and London. She has an MFA in Creative Writing, an MA in Gender Studies and she recently got a PhD in Creative Writing. She has written a pamphlet called Spinning Cities, which was published in 2011 by Wurm Press. She later wrote her first full-length poetry collection called Consent in 2013, published by Doire Press, and in 2015 her new collection of conceptual poetry MOTHERBABYHOME will be published by zimZalla. Also in 2015, Strange Country, her full-length poetry collection on the sheela-na-gig stone carvings will be published by The Dreadful Press. Campanello’s work is influenced by investigation of the society in Ireland from a multi-angled feministic viewpoint. Her poems are often of a highly political nature, and she seems to search for justice in an unjust society.

 

Questions:

First of all, you have lived in different places in the United States, and now you live in Dublin and are often visiting London. Could you describe how the changing communities you have been a part of have influenced your writing, if so?

 

Living in different places has certainly influenced my work. Even when I lived in the US I was constantly moving – from Indiana to Alabama to Florida (west coast) to Ohio to Florida (east coast, very different from the west!). The differences among these locations prepared me for living in other countries. There is a tendency to think any given country or place is monolithic and predetermined – we have a sort of place-holder definition in our minds for what a location is. Only when we are there, and, I would argue, there in a very open way, do we note massive differences among people, interactions, expectations, politics, even within a square mile. A friend of mine, Dylan Griffith, who is also from the Midwest in the US and who is now a filmmaker in Los Angeles refers to the idea that as Midwesterners we are extremely flexible and adaptable because we have no distinct culture ourselves. We can easily live anywhere. They call our part of the US ‘flyover country’, and many Europeans and East or West coast Americans perceive us that way. However, to truly understand the American psyche, if there is such a thing, you’d have to understand its immense variation, which includes those lands and people you might normally ‘fly over’.

 

Which authors inspire you?

 

I’ve been influenced by the work of Etheridge Knight, H.D. and Susan Howe, all extremely different poets in terms of their approach, but all equally resonant for me. All three are ‘American’ poets approaching their work in different modes but with a similar core. Howe refers to her belief ‘in the sacramental nature of poetry’, which I think also applies to Knight and H.D., and which ultimately underpins my own work.

 

Much of your work has a sense of roughness about it, like when you write: “The number elevens on the necks/of hungry children. Tendons pushing/flesh at the base of the head. They record/the odds. One to one. A fifty-fifty/chance of making it out alive” in the poem “All Saint’s Day”. Why does this radical raw poetry interest you?.

 

I wouldn’t say it interests me as much as it seems necessary at the time of writing to create a certain imagery. Some of my poems do have a more familiarly lyric poetic approach: imagery and figurative language are emitted from a distinct poetic speaker. And my particular style of imagery does sometimes head into the rough, as you put it. However, other work definitely does not. Sometimes the imagery is deliberately muted in contrast to the subject, or sometimes the poem comes out of found text, sound poetry, visual poetry. I’m a magpie poet and refuse allegiances to schools (beyond the fact that I do feel more modernist than postmodernist). This belies the influences I’ve outlined above. I can use devastating imagery and a direct voice like Etheridge Knight. I can work on a vatic level like H.D. to create poems that feel like translations of recently discovered ancient texts, but which in fact are created from found text. I can manipulate and excavate an archive visually, like Susan Howe.

 

Actually, Irish language poet Aifric Mac Aodha recently translated a poem of mine into Irish for a large-scale project I’m working on (www.sacrumprofanumproject.com). This poem was created from a large archive of texts on the sheela-na-gigs, which I amassed over two years. When it’s translated into Irish, the poem sounds ancient. But this ancientness has a strange texture as it’s in modern Irish and some of the contemporary sensibilities in the English text have come across, of course. This process of translation after excavation can have a truly unexpected effect.

 

Do you consider your found poems to be ‘conceptual’? What is your opinion on conceptual poetry?

 

In the case of the found sheela-na-gig poems in Strange Country, I don’t see them as conceptual, rather I see them as re-assembled fragments resulting from the excavation of an archive. This excavation strives toward discovering and displaying something essential about the sheela-na-gigs that was previously hidden or submerged. I suppose the process I’ve just described is in itself a concept, but I don’t think that the concept is the driver here. The poem itself emerges from the text, as if from stone being carved

 

On the other hand, my book with zimZalla is conceptual, and concept is its driver. It will memorialise the 796 babies and children who died at the Bon Secours Mother and Baby Home in Tuam, Ireland. I will create a 796-page record-book as there are death records, but no burial records for these children, so no one knows where they are buried. The mother and baby homes operated in Ireland even as late as the second half of the 20th century. Women who became pregnant out of wedlock were sent there. Their children were often adopted by Irish or foreign families in what is reminiscent of a business transaction brokered by the church. In addition to this trauma, the conditions in these homes were horrific, which led to high rates of infant and child mortality, and a huge amount of suffering for the women. There are accounts of women in labour not being given pain relief by the church-run medical teams because they were meant to appease for their sexual sin. More on that story can be found here. So again, I use whatever tools or modes feel necessary.

 

Your poetry seems to draw on the unpoetic to a high degree, what is it about the unpoetic that fascinates you?

 

I’m not sure what is meant by poetic in the 21st century. I think that arguably the notion of the poetic as ‘beautiful’ never actually existed, or if so, only very briefly and not even consistently in the work of those poets who might have espoused it for a little while. Blood-and-guts battles, degradation, injustice, suffering – these tropes have occurred in poetry since the very beginning.

In addition to the question above, I have noticed the fairly frequent use of the word “cunt” in your poetry – what meaning does this word have to you, as a feminist? Do you see this word as a dirty word at all?
 

In the contexts in which I use it, it is, variously: a provocation, a pun, a cast-off remark, a spell, a descriptor. It is like any word a poet might use, but perhaps with more genealogy.

 

Is there anything, a feeling, a stance, that you especially want to awaken in your readers? Most of your work provides a critique of the society and human behaviour by means of a certain amount of irony; do you find irony more powerful than other tools of critique?

 

Irony does seem to be used in my poems in a critical mode as you say, one that’s most often meant to reveal some catastrophic failure in the dominant logic (or a lack of logic altogether). This happens in my poem ‘Birthing Stone’ through the juxtaposition of Doubting Thomas insisting on touching Jesus’s wounds with the Irish medical team insisting on checking for a foetal heartbeat before granting Savita Halapannavar a termination, a delay that resulted in her death. Jesus’s wounds are sometimes portrayed like a vulva or cervix in medieval paintings to evoke the idea that his suffering and death gave birth to the ‘new world’ of eternal life. Pretty ironic in this context.

 

I’m not sure irony is more powerful than other tools of critique, or whether poetry can sustain and systematically critique in the same ways political or philosophical writing can (or whether it should try to). Irony in my work is a kind of last-ditch effort that certainly won’t win anyone over on a rational basis. None of it is rational, certainly not a person dying for no reason. It follows poetic, figurative logic, rather than the logic you can bring into Parliament or even a political blog post. This can awaken something, I suppose, in some readers? I don’t know.

 

Your way of reading your poems is very characteristic and at some moments even reminiscent of sound poetry, where does this technique come from? Has there been any inspiration by sound poetry?

I’ve always been intent on the sound of poetry, on poets reading their work and on the reading or reciting of a poem as something quite specific. It’s a quasi-performance, and yet the poet should be out of the way of the poem. There is the phenomenon of the poet who doesn’t read their work very well, or of the poet who inflects all poems with that dramatic ‘poet voice’. An article has even been written on this recently: http://www.cityartsonline.com/articles/stop-using-poet-voice. What I’m aspiring to when I read most of my work is what is naturally in the poem as I composed it. This is why I often have problems with actors reading poems because they have little regard for things like linebreaks and rhythm embedded in the text.

 

When I was in high school, my friends and I made recordings of ourselves reading poems by Whitman, Rimbaud, Rilke, Celan and Ginsberg. We did a complete recording of Leaves of Grass on a cassette tape. Sometimes I would play records at the same time and distort or disrupt the poetry. This made sense at the time, but I’m not sure where I was getting the ideas. This was in the 1990’s, before the internet was such a vast resource, so I was piecing together an understanding of art, literature and music from an old-fashioned thing called a library card catalogue, as well as an amazing second-hand bookstore called The Bookstack in downtown Elkhart, Indiana, and whatever records and books various people in my family happened to have. My friends and I also jumped on the South Shore train to Chicago where I saw video installation for the first time at the Museum of Contemporary Art. I was not exposed to sound poetry per se until university where everything just opened up and it got so much easier to access everything both in libraries and digitally. I also trained as a musician. So I suppose all this culminates in how I read today.

 

Finally, are you looking forward to “Prague Microfestival” and could you perhaps reveal a little about what the audience can look forward to from your performance?

I’m very excited about the Prague Microfestival and grateful that Olga Pek invited me. I will be performing on the Sound Poetry evening. I will use my translation of the Hymn to Kali (an ancient tantric text written in Sanskrit). It’s quite a refined, H.D.-esque translation. It’s not sound poetry at all. The purpose of the performance will be to digest, degrade, distort and abjectify this translation all the way to the point of pure sound and then back to its original language, which is a very particular language indeed in the context of sound as the mantras themselves are meant to be actual vibrational presences of the gods/spiritual beings.

I will be performing with composer and guitarist Benjamin Dwyer. The guitar itself will also go through this same process. We will create a graphic aleatoric (semi-improvisational) musical score with text that we will use in the performance and which will be projected behind us.

The Prague MicroFestival (PMF) came about in an effort to resuscitate the Prague International Poetry Festival, which took place in 2004, a major undertaking on the scale of the Prague Writers’ Festival, with over 40 writers participating from over 20 countries (including Charles Bernstein, Andrej Soznovsky, Tomaz Salamun, Drew Milne, Jaroslav Rudis, Sudeep Sen, Anselm Hollo). Unlike the annual Writers’ Festival, the Prague International Poetry Festival was integrated into the local culture, with events in established local reading venues, with the aim of fostering dialogue among writers and audience members. PMF’s history dates back to April 2009, when a group of Australian poets (Pam Brown, Phil Hammial, Jill Jones, Mike Farrell) and Irish poets (Trevor Joyce, Maurice Scully) visited Prague thanks to funding from the Australia Council and Ireland’s Department of Foreign Affairs. Along with UK poet Kevin Noland and a group of local Czech and English-language writers, this combined week-long visit became the first MicroFestival. During the three years since that time, PMF has evolved into a major event on Prague literary scene and the only non-commercial literary festival of its size. Since 2011, PMF has entered into a partnership with the Czech poetry magazine Psí Víno and the publisher Petr Štengl, who has released the first anthology of Czech translations originated with the festival, Polibek s rozvodnou (2012).

The purpose of the PMF is to provide a forum for poetic exchange, an alternative to the existing Festival circuit which caters to primarily establishment writers with the inclusion of token Czech authors, and is commercially orientated. The PMF is run by artists, volunteers and students; all events are fully bilingual (English/Czech). The focus of PMF is threefold: to present writing that is innovative/experimental; writing that moves across genres and media (visual culture, music, film) and writing that could be broadly defined as “translocal”, that is, writing outside the confines of nationalism, pursuing a broadly cosmopolitan agenda. It aims to introduce new innovative approaches into the Czech milieu, as well as put Prague on the map of experimental world literature, show Prague as a re-emerging genuinely cosmopolitan centre, whose citizens from all backgrounds and nationalities are contributing to a vital and unique literary culture.

The PMF target audience is anyone with an interest in new writing, in experiment. This year the festival is being co-hosted by the magazines VLAK (in English) and Psí Víno (CZ), and will take place at Student Club Celetná, Celetná 20.

Contact: praguemicrofestival@gmail.com
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/PrazskyMicrofestival

‘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.

‘modern art’ and other poems by Anamaría Crowe Serrano

the stress clinic

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

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

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


at ulica Freta, 16 – before radium or polonium

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

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

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

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

(originally published in Can-Can #2)




modern art

you’re slung 
    rigid
against the wall

boxed in the past

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

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

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

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





Taipei


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

‘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
bird skims dark waters
bird skims silver streams.
 
Streams encroach 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   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.

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 )

‘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)

‘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.

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

Cleaving a Puzzle-Tree

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

Frozen Food

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

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

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

Museum

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

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

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

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

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

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.

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…

View original post 710 more words

‘This Is The Point Where Colour Comes in’ by Christine 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

‘Dawning on the Square’ by C Murray

Dawning on the Square

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

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