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“Love: After Neruda’s Sonnet XXXIII” by Ingrid Casey

Love: After Neruda’s Sonnet XXXIII

 
Florica walks behind Inspector, to home where she’s not
at-home. Children’s eyes and begonias meet
her here, on this threshold, waiting
for her to give them chocolate, water.
 
Her crushed velvet skirts have followed
his silver through tracts, across karst; Carpathia, Kiev,
Berlin. Now here, to eternal damp and clouded
summers and loved masonry.
 
He sees the amber of the sun
in her kitchen eyes at day’s end; she’s
a building that flies without buttress.
 
He lets her make coffee and listens
to her laugh peal in time to the
boiling water, bells in unison.
 

Erasmus

 
Anwar and Pierre flew to the
university town on this damp
island at the edge of Europe two
months ago. Zarabe and gros blanc,
they are a marbled unit, lines blurred.
She is too cold, he rubs life back into
her but she’s not singing any more
Creole love songs because the fruit
here is so shit, she says. She watches
droplets of condensation on the window
with an intent that is also a portent. He
goes out to the chilly garden to play with
that damn cat and it’s too-beautiful owner.
 

Single Mother

 
Is a poem I read, once, about a
girl hitting her head, in the dark. But
more than the discomfort of sharing
rooms, is the discomfiture that’s got a
rind of dis-ease. Empty rooms; silence,
and you left the back door open on an
August night. Further into the forest now,
than a teen mom with one cute accessory,
there is a gaggle to protect. And, of course,
yourself. Alone with no tribe, in the dark.
 

Mandible

 
Draw this beak, this jaw. It can
susurrate, masticate, oscillate, fellate, well
assist with at least. It forms a well-rounded
chin, which you stick out when petulant or
guarded or inquisitive. Never slack, except
for on one side, the left, which betrays your
emotion. Gristle inside, temporomandibular
tantrum. Too much talking, moil in sleep,
lopsided feelings. You need to speak, write,
execute what is inside, balance the blue
throat chakra. When you walk past trees it
relaxes; tightens in the car, under the duress
of traffic and all the spineclimbing aggravations
the stress, the grubwork of teeth, of gears. Lying
on sand can wrap this Hermes-in-the-bones
around on itself. Also hot stones, aromas and
the hands of others sliding along the lines of
para-sympathetic systems, slackening, the
opposite of nervous. Once, a criminal caressed
it, gently and unexpectedly. Out shot colours
from your crown, six or seven weeks. Limning
your outlines, a shaman from the wrong side but
all was yellow then, a clear river. Cock your head
now, cup it in your own hand, remember to choose
to rest. Bird, be free. Sing, speak, sleep.
 

A Belgian town

 
Skirts the diamond capital, but almost all here go without
work. A man is released. Approaches the media, lace windows
will bleed long after the media scrum. My brothers were acting
normally, he says. Mother is devastated, we are peaceful people.
 
He burns, shame flaming, pin-pricking down to the
moons at his fingertips. Another time, it’s the emerald
place, wartime. Teenage son and two comrades, caught.
A bomb on a bike, propped at the wall of a garda station.
 
A detective on his way to work flings the
danger into the river. Hard labour, refusing
to recognize the State. Imaginable tragedy.
 
Avoided at the eleventh hour. An Irish city
during the Emergency. An almost-man, imprisoned
with Thomas Aquinas, repentant, alive.
 
Love: After Neruda’s Sonnet XXXIII” and other poems are © Ingrid Casey

Ingrid Casey is a poet, teacher, artist and mother based in Kildare. She has had work published in The Moth Magazine, Banshee Lit, Southword journal. She has poem forthcoming in Kerrie O’Brien’s Looking at the Stars anthology, which will be raising funds for Dublin’s Simon Community. She has poems shortlisted for Hennessy New Irish Writing.

 

 

“Morning in the Garden” in Şiirden 37

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My thanks to Müesser Yeniay who is editor of Şiirden Magazine (of Poetry) and who translated Morning in the Garden” for issue 37 of the magazine. The poem first appeared in ANU 48 (Editor, Amos Grieg).

You can read some of Müesser Yeniay’s work at the following links, Three Poems, Phoenix and other poems, and Kafes (The Cage) and other poems. For me, poetry  can be about cross-cultural pollination (translation) and it can occur at very simple levels, without the trumpets and big budgets. Ekphrasis need not be limited to the image, nor need it be static. The issue is always quite simply about the poet’s response to the poetry of another. I am very grateful to Müesser for her translation of my work.

“Disarticulation” and other poems by Clare McCotter

Selfie With Thelma

after Thelma and Louise
 
In the Southwest desert
shedding turquoise on an old man’s palm
she trades time
for a beat up Stetson hat.
Only a day or two
since she posed with rose red lips
black sun glasses
and Audrey Hepburn headscarf
marking the start of their journey
with the big Polaroid held at arm’s length.
 
A snapshot of two smiling faces
left lying on the backseat
of a convertible
loaded down with all the stuff
they thought they needed
pencilling in borders
shoring up boundaries
soon smudged with ochre earth
lost in the dust from a stampede of stars.
 
Everything looks different now
doused with dirt they are part of place
gunning the engine
before flooring it for the canyon cliff.
Out here at Dead Horse Point
there are no shallow graves
wooden markers or name plates
only a thunderbird
still whipping up storms
suspended in a high solitary leap of faith.
 

Disarticulation

in memory of E M
 
For them the grave gave no rest.
Solely a spot to have and hold
not visit on stormy nights
with avellana and white lupin.
Their beloved kept above
the inscrutable depths.
Each light riddled skeleton
dispersed near and far
along slender paths
in groves of mountain thorn
among the forest’s earth stars.
Scattered bone shrines
leaving the departed free to wander
across space and place and time.
 
Out there in the raven Mesolithic
would they have buried you
with ochre and antler
deer teeth, flint and amber?
Far from settlement
on an island low in brackish water
would they have fanned flames
to seal the grave’s scarlet lips?
 
Back in our un-velveted sixties
dying the wrong death
your own was dug in liminal land.
Striking distance
of font and altar and magenta
gold and indigo glass
the tract where they lowered you
our dangerous dead.
 
But soon unearthed bones
will gleam in a blue Bedouin moon.
Humerus ulna radius
set on the valley’s wind scoured floor.
Femur fibula tibia
high on dry northern chalk.
Mandible and skull
without blessing stone or feather
here above bog and pine
and old ghost trains.
Alone where the watch bitch walks.
 

Whittling

 
From boyhood he had an eye for wood
reading sycamore and sitka spruce against the grain
he knew where to dip his hands into the shallows
scooping out rainbow trout and salmon.
It was all about patience, he said
kings of the orient and stars and lambs and shepherds
coaxed to surface with small short strokes.
Knife more buff than blade
guiding stag out of oak that wanted to be deer.
 
Disappeared on august sixteenth nineteen eighty one
his was a long wake
push and pull motion paring flesh to bone
laid out in half bog half quarry three miles from home.
Twenty nine years of Sunday searches
brought her a graveside
to shadow with time and worry whittled skin.
Thin as each and every syllable they chip in granite –
it wasn’t authorised by the leadership.
 

Shergar’s Groom Wonders

 
What friends would think
if they knew
history is filtered
through the eye
of a horse
other times would have buried
in a bridle of brass
with grave goods at his muzzle.
 
Shergar’s groom wonders
if those rebels
would have emptied a Mauser
into the river running down his face
or turned him loose
on mountain or meadow
slapping his rump
just for the hell of seeing him run.
 
Shergar’s groom wonders
if his bright boy
expected car-lined afternoons
bookies shouting odds
a jockey punching air
being led up that rickety ramp
night a soul-shaped thing
was glimpsed in frosted breath.
 
Shergar’s groom wonders
if Equus could really be attuned
to the rhythms
of the human heart
his dark pulsings
the last
the horse heard
no other could have gotten so near.
 
Shergar’s groom wonders
to this day where his bones lie
knowing they thought
him the perfect hostage
free from blood
they thought wrong
the horse
more brother than his father’s son.
 
And he would have been made lovely
for the earth.
 

“Disarticulation” and other poems are © Clare McCotter
unnamedClare McCotter’s haiku, tanka and haibun have been published in many parts of the world. She won the IHS Dóchas Ireland Haiku Award 2010 and 2011. In 2013 she won The British Tanka Award. She also judged the British Haiku Award 2011 and 2012. She has published numerous peer-reviewed articles on Belfast born Beatrice Grimshaw’s travel writing and fiction. Her poetry has appeared in Abridged, Boyne Berries, The Cannon’s Mouth, Crannóg, Cyphers, Decanto, Envoi, The Galway Review, The Honest Ulsterman, Iota, Irish Feminist Review, The Leaf Book Anthology 2008, The Linnet’s Wings, The Moth Magazine, A New Ulster, The Poetry Bus (forthcoming), Poetry24, Reflexion, Revival, The SHOp, The Stony Thursday Book and The Stinging Fly. Black Horse Running, her first collection of haiku, tanka and haibun, was published in 2012. Home is Kilrea, County Derry.

The Light Dancing” and “Lizzie” by Catherine Conlon

The Light Dancing

When I close the door
my father’s coat slow-dances
against the dark wood.
It is old, this coat,
marked by many winters,
labours of a lifetime done.

I imagine him in the front yard
screening sand for the new extension,
coat collar upturned against the breeze,
a cigarette ashing towards his lip.
There’s a light in his eyes
when I stop during play
to prattle and hear him say
“you’re the best woman in the house”

Now coming from the Big Field,
the day’s farming done,
his great hands in deep pockets.
Dark shoulders that bear a darkness coming,
the last of the light
dancing on his wet boots.

(first published in Ropes 2015. Issue 23)

Lizzie

I had a child’s view of her,
black stockinged legs
without shape of calf or ankle
at my grandmother’s hearth,
the fire shining in her laced-up shoes.
Balls of wool from an old shopping bag,
and her tongue like the clappers
as she looped and purled.
Her needles took up the light,
flew like red spokes
in the garment cradling her lap.

She measured me
in the breadth of her childless arms
and grew me a shawl the colour of flame.
Its touch to kindle her memory
to set old fires dancing.

(first published in Skylight 47. Issue 5 )

The Light Dancing” and “Lizzie” are © Catherine Conlon

Catherine Conlon lives in Celbridge, Co. Kildare. She has been shortlisted for the RTE P.J. O’Connor Radio Drama Awards and has had two stage plays performed. Her short stories have been published in Stories for the Ear and Boyne Berries. Her poems have appeared in Poetry Ireland Review, The Irish Times, Books Ireland, The Cuirt Journal, Ropes, Skylight 47 and in various anthologies and newspapers.

“Colour” and Other Poems by Paul Casey

Colour

for T.S.Eliot and after fourteen poets

The purple stole away from the skins of plums
Everywhere we turned became a maze of colour
I protect you with an indigo coloured whisper
You curve the ends of my black and white day
Coffee brown, is mole, dying leaves, dry earth
But smell led me here, the smell of yellow
The blue, white and red stripes of exotic confusion
Moving over the green gravel of a formal grave

I wet my lips and a blackbird flies out of my mouth
Faces in the front row, silvered in screenlight, focus
I thought everyone knew what was meant by sugar-paper blue
Tyrian dyes and flax and peacock plumes
Gold and yellow where the clouds crack and break away
Anemone-blue mountains outlined against the pearl-grey morning

Colour was first published in Live Encounters

Fishapod out of Watercolour

The Spring sea arrives
in flailing sage,
clutches lime-white soles
with the early hunger of sand.

Seeping, air-bound,
caught on the cusp
of an inner eclipse
I turn to olive water.

Nothing can be at rest
beneath this marble ichor
moon of all things opaque
and aquamarine.

In stone-pale, heaving waves
tik-taa-lik struggle
to reach the shore
– to shift an ageing jade spell

for the sea to cast wide
her turquoise daydreams
helpless crashing raging

at the thirsty white sun,
the untempered one
as ocean sighs find all

that crawl from her murky womb
to stand and gaze uncertain
at ice slowly gleaming teal

or a fern vapour of dream.

– first published in home more or less (Salmon Poetry, 2012)

An Béal Corcra

Delightful aftertaste
this river
of kingly colour
Ocular delight
this stream
of purpoesy
vein-aortic mix
of spirit liquid

as even
evolved vampires
overdose
on blends
of rich-thick
contradiction,
of unravelled
breaths expired

even as
seasoned muses
pilgrim-seasoned muses
each leave a trail
of purple dripping
from tongue and teeth
a new harvest
of mystery

and even as
starved poets sip
the mountain manna
purple poem wine,
dream-drunk poets
pulse-deafened
descend purply
their seasoned lips

– first published in the chapbook It’s Not all Bad (Heaventree Press, 2009)

Blue Roses

for Rosie

And then there are uncertain nights
when she blushes a sudden lavender
as I first remember, or darkens to a violet sleep.
Sometimes, she shimmers from the tranquil deep
of a burgundy world, dreaming and I
witness her water to a pale coral dawn

I’ve seen her shine as light as pear
tethered still and clear by the anchors
of warm mid-morning daydreams,
turn sepal green as if petal less
or glow amber as the fallen leaves
from a bouquet of autumn operas.
And on each blue moon, without fail
fold into the calm of origami white.

Usually my rose is a full flaming-red
cardinal weekend in a time made
only of roses. Is a wild flowering
rambler, a climber, a rosebush of scarlet
matadors, urging the shy and tormented
to dance in the showers of abundant daily joy.

If on certain days I could breathe
for her, roses of only breath,
they would each live as blessed
as a momentary labour of thorn-less blood
a singly purposed mist of quartz,
two thousand tender dozens per day
all shed before her footsteps and dewed,
tinted finely, with the scent of blue roses.

– first published in The Stony Thursday Book and then in home more or less (Salmon Poetry, 2012)

In the Shade

ash green lakes
aquamarine memory
beryl tears
cambium skin
celadon mist
chartreuse touch
clover-sprung harp
copper green temper
coral turquoise tongue
emerald green heart
fern green sleep
forest green winter
grass green bed
gravel-green lullabies
grey-green wink
hawthorn essence
hazel green gaze
island green iris
jade green mouth
lime green aura
marble green poitín lips
midnight shade of green
mint green sight
moss green sex
myrtle green palms
olive green age
opal green seas
pea green ire
peacock-green visions
pine green bones
reed green waters
sage green fires
sap green toes
seaweed green thighs
spring green dawn
Tara green rain
tea green calm
teal sorrow-pools
thyme green dusk
viridian storms

– first published in home more or less (Salmon Poetry, 2012)

.

Colour & other poems are © Paul Casey

Pic: Shane Vaughan

Image: Shane Vaughan (2016)

Paul Casey was born in Cork, Ireland in 1968. His poetry collections are home more or less (Cliffs of Moher, Salmon Poetry, 2012); and Virtual Tides (Salmon Poetry, 2015). His chapbook of longer poems is It’s Not all Bad (Coventry, Heaventree Press, 2009)

In October 2010 his poetry-film The Lammas Hireling, after the poem by Ian Duhig, premièred at the Zebra poetry-film festival in Berlin and has been screened at StanZa in Edinburgh and Sadho in New Delhi.

He grew up in various stages between Ireland, Zambia and South Africa, working mostly in film, multimedia and teaching. He lectured screen writing at the Nelson Mandela University, where he convened the greater Port Elizabeth Poetry Competition in three languages and four age groups.

He is the founder and organiser of the Ó Bhéal reading series in Cork, where he lives. (Source: Irish Writers Online)

.

Audio and Film Poetry by Paul Casey:

“Love & its Edges” and other poems by Anna Walsh

is it

is it ok that i am lying on my bed
not having any useful
or funny thoughts
is it ok that i do this
is it ok that i am lying on my bed
unshowered
and not replying to anyone
is it ok that i do this
for no grand gesture but just
because
i can be lazy sometimes
is it ok that
when i don’t have to work
or go, or eat
i like that i don’t have to
is that ok
to just waste
some time blinking
 

in times of overwhelming panic

 
it’s sometimes too overwhelming
and sad
to be alive
in the world
and to know
that being alive is overwhelming
and sad
either way
you have to sit down
and be quiet
and think,
fuck, i’m so lucky
i love the people that i love
i’m not a total prick
and i can sleep when i need to
 

love & its edges

 
i have decided to start practising
assertiveness, and
telling people how frustrated it makes me
when they don’t wash their plates or
when they make me feel bad about myself.
i don’t know what hurts me more
grinding my teeth almost constantly
or you when i start to say no
 

ugly

 
i am so bored of
trying,
trying to be
good, trying to be good
at trying
 
why does success have to be measured against something else?
 
i am trying
not to be the messy girl, the
person who needs people so
nakedly
they cannot be around her
for more than an evening
 
i hate realising things
it is like
that moment of
disconcert, when you
squint at your screen in the sun
to check the time
you see your face
and then you can’t see anything else
 
Love & its Edges and other poems is © Anna Walsh

unnamedAnna Walsh is from Mullingar, and holds an MA in Creative Writing. She has been published in the Bohemyth, Belleville Park Pages, and Headstuff. She co-runs The Gremlin.
 
Anna Walsh at The HU
The Gremlin homepage

“Bookmarking The Oasis” and other poems by K. Srilata

Things I didn’t know I loved

(after Nazim Hikmet)

I didn’t know I loved windows so much
but I do – enough to wrestle
someone to the ground over them,
so light can, once again, flood my eyes.

I didn’t know I loved bare feet so much,
or walking away on them to wherever point,
my heart slung over my shoulder
like a sheep-skin bag.

I didn’t know I loved small islands of quiet
in the middle of the day,
but I do – they feel like old friends.

I didn’t know I loved the idea
of night descending like a tired bird
or birds flying in and out of rooms and poems
but I do.

I didn’t know I loved so many things.
Only now that I have read Hikmet,
am I setting them free,
one by one.

from Bookmarking the Oasis(Poetrywala, 2015)

Looking for Light, Sunbirds

I wish I could show you, when you are lonely or in darkness, the astonishing light of your own being.
(Hafiz of Shiraz)

Looking for light,
sunbirds hop
on hopeful, spindly legs.
I am no different.
The same distaste of darkness,
and, at dusk, the same torment
of light fading.

Often, the only light to be had,
is desperate and feeble,
too deep to access,
my body, a manhole from which
I must rescue that one sweet ray

or remain, forever, bereft.

from Bookmarking the Oasis (Poetrywala, 2015)

Bookmarking the Oasis

I
That spring, I started placing
my poems into printed pages
.

Bookmarks of dream-hope,
they grow into slender, green leaves,
their pores closed,
place-holding,
in readiness for summer afternoons,
the promise of an oasis within.

II
The trees are coming into leaf
Like something almost being said
,

inking itself green
in leaf-vein
and human heart.

III

I have been working for years
on a four line poem
about the life of a leaf;
I think it might come out right this winter.

Winter
and the only leaves to be found
are the ones
hibernating
inside books of poetry.

IV

In the fall, the black bear
carries leaves into the darkness
.

I follow
                     the trail
To the centre.

Note: The lines/phrases in italics are drawn from David Morley, Songs of Papusza (Section I), (Philip Larkin, The Trees (Section II), Derek Mahon, The Mayo Tao (Section III), and Mary Oliver, Some Questions You Might Ask (Section IV).

from Bookmarking the Oasis (Poetrywala, 2015)

What I Would Like is to be a Victorian Man of Letters

What I would like is to be a Victorian man of letters
and retire to my study when seized by that particular need
to be solitary and aloof.
I have dreamt of this for years.
Female and non-Victorian though I am, I can see it all.
It is crystal clear, and oh! so delicious:
that desk – neat, rectangular, coffee brown,
its drawers deep and seductive,
holding secret things from another age,
a moleskin notebook,
a cup of tea,
a swivel chair with a pipe somewhere at hand
and a bookcase – except with my kind of books,
lots of Jane Austen and some Emily Dickinson for those long cold nights.

No adolescent daughters abandoning dresses in contemptuous heaps,
no grubby sons, their dirty socks hidden like bombs under books,
no spouses, no mothers, nor mothers-in-law with urgent and important thoughts.

On crazy days crowded with adolescent daughters and grubby sons, spouses, mothers and mothers-in-law,
I dream short-burst dreams of that study, some of them so vivid they make me weep between chores.

Deadweight

I carry her around with me everywhere.
There’s no escape. It is as simple as that.
Her weight’s on my lap when I sit.
My live, rotting Siamese twin,
You are the one who looks out of my eyes each morning.
When the day is folded and put away, it is your eyes I reach for
so I can dream in them.

Do you remember?
It was your eyes I was using when we saw that female monkey,
dragging along her still-born infant.
Which one of them was the dead one?
“Such love, I am told, is common, in the monkey world,” you said, too quickly.

Such love.
Such love.
It hung in the air between us,
heavier than a rock,
more dangerous than a loaded gun.

Bookmarking The Oasis” and other poems is copyright K. Srilata

국제K.SrilataA Professor of English at IIT Madras, K.Srilata has four collections of poems: Bookmarking the Oasis, Writing Octopus, Arriving Shortly and Seablue Child. Her novel, Table for Four, long listed for the Man Asian literary prize, was published by Penguin, India. She co-edited the anthology Rapids of a Great River: The Penguin Book of Tamil Poetry (Penguin/Viking), Short Fiction from South India (OUP) and The Other Half of the Coconut: Women Writing Self-Respect History (Zubaan). Her short fiction and poetry have been featured in The BloodAxe Anthology of Indian Poets, The Harper Collins Book of English Poetry by Indians, and Wasafiri. Srilata was a writer-in-residence at the University of Stirling, at Sangam house and at the Yeonhui Art Space in Seoul. She is currently co-convening a trans-national poetry initiative.

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

Carvansarai of Night

Tonight
here should be
dance of words

-in the carvansarai of your glory-

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

and full with the existence of my dream.

 

Kafes (The Cage)

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

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

-an ant is eating another-

 They call it a proverb 
                    as they pound on the country

 

Menstruation

                  Postfeminismus

Silence becomes word
drop by drop

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

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

it has a trace

my womenhood
my Achilles toe

my dog that barks every month

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

The online edition of Blackjack.
Revisita – Itaca
 

“Morning in the Garden” by C. Murray

O heart !
 
My tree is full of small birds,
red flowers.
 
I am below the level of the bee,
the wingbeat of the wren.
 
A new robin dapples through his
never-ending blue, green.
 
My tree flowers
                  beat red like hearts
in warm rings.
 
Morning in the Garden is © C. Murray
Published in ANU 48 & Şiirden (Turkey) (2016)

Poems from “Barefoot Souls” by Maram al-Masri

Sara

Daughter of Sana
Age 9

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

FAÂdi

Son of Sonia
Age: 7

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

Salma

Son of Leila
Age: 12

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

Samir

Son of Magda
Age: 13

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

Clément and Romain

Children of Florence
Age 12 and 9

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

Chloë

Daughter of Suzanne
Age: 11

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

VI

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

There are Women

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

Maram Al-Masri

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

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


“Barefoot Souls” was translated by Theo Dorgan

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

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

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

 

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

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

Arena Interview on Barefoot Souls by Maram al-Masri

 

“Bow Down” at York Literary Review

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

Bow Down

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

York Literary Review

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

ring

Eve labouring for 37 hours; the yes poem

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

The Burning Tree

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

Willow

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

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

Image by Leonard Baskin

Image by Leonard Baskin

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

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

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

“The Middle of April” by Fióna Bolger

The Middle of April

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

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

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

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

Uptown

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

Uptown

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

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


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

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

Contacts for Michael S. Begnal:

A Good Question: Anna Akhmatova (1960)

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

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

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

Unrecorded

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

Weave your joy

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

trembling dreams

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

We did not choose the sea

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

Longing

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

Come

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

Round the rock

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

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

“Satellite” and other poems by Roisin Kelly

To a Writer

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

The Morning After

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

Unforgiven

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

Satellite

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

Laundry

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

Christmas, Cork City

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

Picture © Linda Ibbotson

Picture © Linda Ibbotson

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

An Excerpt from “Delicate” at MarsPoetica (HiRISE), Single Poems

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Delicate

A sea snail, most precious egg, as if
It had touched the ruby feather of a
Bluebird. A most precious thing,
Bird-egg-shattered, dust in my pores.
 

This excerpt from “Delicate” is © Christine-Elizabeth Murray.

When we widen the lens, the bigger picture can be divorced from the reality that we think we may have momentarily grasped. The above poem is an excerpt from “Delicate” which is being submitted to an Irish Journal at the present time. I expect I will publish the poem in its entire at some later point. BUT here the poem is performing an imagistic collaborative function and I am very grateful to Ari who notified me of the #BeautifulMars and #MarsPoetica project via the Poethead Contact form. I hope to have more news on #MarsPoetica for readers and contributors to the blog soon !
About HiRISE (HIGH RESOLUTION IMAGING SCIENCE EXPERIMENT): The HiRISE camera onboard the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter is the most powerful one of its kind ever sent to another planet. Its high resolution allows us to see Mars like never before, and helps other missions choose a safe spot to land for future exploration.

NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, a division of the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena, Calif., manages the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter for NASA’s Science Mission Directorate, Washington. Lockheed Martin Space Systems is the prime contractor for the project and built the spacecraft. The HiRISE camera was built by Ball Aerospace & Technologies Corp. and is operated by the University of Arizona.

Submit to MarsPoetica

Four voices confront the absence of women in Irish poetry

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

Dorothea Herbert

 

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

Canto 1 of Dante’s Inferno

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

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

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

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

Poems from “Strange Country” by Kimberly Campanello

1
2
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

‘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

“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.

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)

RENDEVOUS

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

© Michael J. Whelan

TREAD SOFTLY

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

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

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

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

© Michael J. Whelan

Published in Three Monkeys, online magazine, Feb 2013

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

© Michael J. Whelan

Published in A New Ulster, issue 32, May 2015

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

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

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. 

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

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

For Máire Holmes

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

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

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

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

Dies Solis…

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

Such are the scientific facts behind revelation.

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

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

Janus- His Mistress Responds

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

And Agamemnon Dead

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Made of Nothing’s Lucid Play? Christine Murray’s Tree-Step

The Poem Between -- Essays by Tom D'Evelyn

EDIT 1

“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 ?

by Christine Murray

from Deep Water Literary Journal 2015, Issue 2

This small poem — “bind” by Christine Murray — carries the jolt of discovery in its small body. It resists the imagination, as Wallace Stevens would expect: but only to that fine degree that aids discovery.

I’d say this poem has “the shape” of discovery. It has the inner form and concision of an archaic anonymous “fragment” from Homeric times: it brings us close to the origins of the craft of poetry. It opens with a note of critical mindfulness that recalls a pre-Socratic thinker against the mythical poets:…

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“Delta” and other poems by Stephanie Conn

Wie is de vrouw on de overkant?

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

Delta

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

The Metronome

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

Marina Tsvetayeva

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

The Portrait of his First Wife

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

Maria Alexandrovna

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

Blinking in the Dark

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

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

“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

‘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

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

Cleaving a Puzzle-Tree

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

Frozen Food

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

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

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

Museum

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

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

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

Dreams for Breakfast

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

Learning to Swim

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

Madame Matisse Is Shown Her Portrait, 1913

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

Sunday Morning, Lorient

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

Hampshire College Halloween 
 

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

                                                and no one got nailed to anything.
 

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

“Something for Sunday Morning” by Maria McManus

Something for Sunday morning

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

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

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

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

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

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

You choose.

II

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

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

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

III

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

IV

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

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

V

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

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

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

VI

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

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

VII

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

VIII

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

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

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

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

IX

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

X

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

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

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

XI

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

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

You might.

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

Then maybe, just maybe,
We could dance instead.

Something for Sunday Morning is © Maria McManus

Maria McManus

Maria McManus

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

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

Three Poems by Müesser Yeniay

Flower Village

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

Between My Body and the World

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

Now Do not Tell Me of Men!

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

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

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

‘Haft Seen’ and other poetry by Shakila Azizzada

Once Upon A Time

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

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

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

View from Afar

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

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

Haft Seen

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


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

from The Poetry Translation Centre

.

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

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

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

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

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

.

Ceathrúintí Mháire Ní Ógáin

I

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

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

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

II

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

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

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

III

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

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

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

IV

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

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

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

V

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

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

VI

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

VII

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

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

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

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

Mary Hogan’s quatrains

I

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

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

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

II

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

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

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

III

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

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

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

IV

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

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

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

V

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

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

VI

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

VII

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

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

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

Translation by James Gleasure.

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


A fhir dar fhulaingeas…

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

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

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

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

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

Man for whom I endured…

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

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

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

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

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

Translated by Biddy Jenkinson.

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

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

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

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

FREIGHT

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

FOGLAND

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

Mary O' Donnellbachmann

 

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

VERILY

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

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

NIGHT FLIGHT

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

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

Poemhunter for Ingeborg Bachmann

Mary O' Donnell

Mary O’ Donnell

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

◾Mary O’Donnell

“Sanctus” by Kimberly Campanello

Sanctus

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

I.

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

II.

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

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

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

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


 

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

Pic by Brian Kavanagh

‘Dawning on the Square’ by C Murray

Dawning on the Square

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

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

“Mallards” by C. Murray

Mallards

This is the crossroads, this is where it is.

Black cat has killed a male chaffinch.
There are rusty feathers all over, feather blown

they roll down the steps                            |they indicate a way|

your freedom,

                            robin heralds it,
                            someone has put up bunting
                                                                even, and

you are caught on that first step of your descent
in a pause of red,
of white.

 “Mallards” is © C. Murray & it was first published in ANU 48