‘burnt offerings’ and other poems by Anne Casey

burnt offerings

swilling cinders
of eucalypt forests burning up
and down the coast
tinged with hints of fear
singed possum hairs lifting into
clear blue air
an earthquake in Italy shakes me awake
a mother crying somewhere
volcanic embers cycling into
smoke of broken promises
women’s choices smouldering
charred remains of exiles’ lives
democracy doused with lies
and set on fire
headless horsemen prancing in the coals
blackened souls stirring
soot from scorched relics
ashes to ashes

and my mother in a box too small
to hold her all
laid in a field with all the others
when she could have flown
with the four winds
so I could taste again
the sharp tang of her loss
married to the rest

lately everything tastes of ash

(First published in apt literary journal on 3 July 2017, with sincere thanks to Editor-in-Chief, Clarissa Halston.)

 

where the lost things go

we sat upon a golden bow
my little bird and i
indivisibly apart
we dived into the sky
and to the purple-hearted dark
an ocean we did cry
for all the lost things
gathered there
in rooms beyond the eye
the aie, the I, the eye

(First published in where the lost things go (Salmon Poetry 2017), with eternal gratitude to Jessie Lendennie, Publisher and tireless campaigner for women poets.)

 

Between ebb and flow

Mist rolls off moss-green hills
Where wind-wild ponies thunder
Manes flying as they chase
Their seaward brothers
Locked in eternal contest
On this deserted grey mile

Past the little stone churchyard
Long-forgotten graves spilling
Stones onto the sodden bog
A soft snore from behind
My two angels sleeping
Thirteen thousand miles

From all they have ever known
Running our own race
To make the best
Of spaces like this
A rainbow rises along the horizon
And I recognise her

Come for my mother
Locked in her own
Immortal struggle
The sister returned
So I know it won’t
Be long now

And I cry a little at
The unbearable beauty
Of these diastoles
When we are all
Suspended
Here in a heartbeat

Between heaven and earth

(First published in where the lost things go (Salmon Poetry 2017), with eternal gratitude to Jessie Lendennie, Publisher and tireless campaigner for women poets.)

 

Metaphoric rise

A brief history of incidents surrounding the emergence of POTUS#45

i. rousting

hot wind howls through a hollow log
tawny tumbleweed trundles
over downtrodden plains

ii. ravening

on a sunlit lawn
a plump slug streaks forward
eyes on stalks

iii. a new religion

branches bowed with bloated fruit
nod to the gilded idol
dark clouds fall in behind

iv. aftermath

a squat lizard basks
on a sickle-hacked trail
black legs flail from his lips

v. in the bay

beacon dimmed and tablet fractured
the lady endures
her robes about her feet

vi. paradox lost

a fiery sunrise
heralds stormy days to come
ice shifts at the poles

(First published in The Irish Times newspaper on 20 January 2017, with sincere thanks to Martin Doyle, Books Editor. Subsequently published in where the lost things go (Salmon Poetry, 2017), with eternal gratitude to Jessie Lendennie, Publisher and tireless campaigner for women poets.)

 

In memoriam II: The draper

“The town is dead
Nothing but the wind
Howling down Main Street
And a calf bawling
Outside The Fiddlers”

My mother’s words, not mine
In a letter, kept in a drawer
These long years
She had a way with words
My mother

That’s why they came
The faithful of her following
Leaning in to her over the counter
For an encouraging word
Or the promise of a novena

Long before we had
Local radio
Our town had my mother
Harbinger of the death notices
And the funeral arrangements

Bestower of colloquial wisdom
Bearer of news on all things
Great and small
Who was home
And who hadn’t come

Who had got the Civil Service job
And by what bit of pull
The Councillor’s niece
Smug in her new navy suit
Oblivious to the circulating countersuit

“Would you ever think of coming home?”
Her words would catch me
Unawares
Lips poised at the edge
Of a steaming mug

Igniting a spitfire
Of resentment each time
Then draping me for days
I’d wear it like a horsehair shirt
All the way back

Until the sunshine and the hustle
Had worn it threadbare
This extra bit of baggage
In every emigrant’s case
Their mother’s broken heart

I never thought to ask her
“Would you want me to…?
So I could look out at the rain
Circumnavigating the empty street
And shiver at the wind
Whipping in under the door…?”

I don’t miss that question now
On my annual pilgrimage ‘home’
My father never asks it
Like me, I know he feels it
Hanging in the air
Alongside her absence

I miss my mother
And her way with words

(First published in The Irish Times newspaper on 31 January 2016, with heartfelt thanks to Ciara Kenny, Editor, Irish Abroad. Subsequently published in where the lost things go (Salmon Poetry 2017), with eternal gratitude to Jessie Lendennie, Publisher and tireless campaigner for women poets.)

burnt offerings and other poems are © Anne Casey

Anne Casey’s poetry has appeared internationally in newspapers, magazines, journals, books, broadcasts, podcasts, recordings and a major art exhibition. Salmon Poetry published her debut collection, where the lost things go in 2017. She won the Glen Phillips Novice Writer Award in 2017 and has been shortlisted for prizes including Cuirt International Poetry Prize, Eyewear Books Poetry Prize and Bedford International Writing Competition, among others. Originally from west Clare, now living in Sydney, Anne is Co-Editor of Other Terrain and Backstory literary journals (Swinburne University, Melbourne).

 

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