‘The First Rule’ and other poems by Susan Millar DuMars

Reclamation

 
The blood has stopped
and with it the need
to suckle lesser creatures.
My breasts are pale, cool
proud
and mine.
 
The blood has stopped
and with it the need
to shield smaller souls
inside me.
My womb calm.
Not weeping.
And it’s my womb.
 
I’m learning the pleasure
of empty.
The weight of one.
Nothing on my back
but a breeze
getting colder.
 
The blood has stopped
and with it the need
to grow anything
but older.
 

The First Rule

 
Will I show you what to do
with a naked woman?
 
You can
lie on top of her
feel her yield
taste her salt
ride her undulations
know her to be ocean
almost drown
 
leave her
the wind again her breath
the tide again her muscles
the rocks again her bones.
 
This is a naked woman.
Rain fed
pulsing soft.
 
Respect, sailor,
is the first rule of the sea.
 

Baby Makes Me Watch

 
His features a pattern of cracks in a mirror.
My eyes give up my own reflection
to trace, retrace the hairline breaks.
 
I’m on my back and the door is a cloud.
I try but I can’t reach it.
 
Baby says I’m his shining comet
and I have all his faith.
Baby says I force him
to tell secrets he’d rather forget.
Baby makes me watch.
The door’s a cloud – I’m cold.
Baby makes sure I know
this is all my fault.
 
Baby, you have to let me go.
 
Baby makes me watch.
 

Night Woods

after Ted Hughes
 
My path was direct
through the bones of the murdered,
the maimed; I nest among remains.
 
Meditation, prayer are no use here.
All my questions go unanswered
except by the blip of blood-fear, the scream
 
of collared kill, carried above trees
by the hawk. And it laughs as it dives,
laughs, for the pleasure of swooping,
 
the pleasure of choosing,
the heat that escapes as it pierces the creature.
For the meat. This is its nature.
 
I, the hawk’s witness. This is my nature.
 
The First Rule & other poems are © Susan Millar DuMars

Susan Millar DuMars has published four poetry collections with Salmon Poetry, the most recent of which, Bone Fire, appeared in April, 2016. 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.

Ism Writers
Madame Matisse is shown her portrait, 1913 and other poems
Sunflower

“it is not a burning” by C. Murray

 

it is not a burning,

it is a slow star
            (or stars)
caught in a branch,
(of blue / of ice-blue).

it is only sulphur singe,
(yellow / sulphuric street-light)

eye-caught /
                           eye-waver

a hollow-song
a wind-song,

her double-reed-trembles.

it is not a burning is © Chris Murray   (From ‘Bind’)

 

 

 

it is not a burning was first published in the Penny Dreadful Magazine (August 2017)

Patterns of Sensation – the bodies of dolls by Salma Caller

Silk Velvet Purse Doll

Tiny invisible stitches hold rivets that hold rivulets
Of silk ending in the darkness
Where dreaming continues
The sleeping and dreaming of her invisible body

Silk Velvet Purse Doll

 

A mille-feuille
A body of a thousand layers
A thousand gauze tissues
A thousand substances
Concealing a darkened chamber
Entombing
A heavy velvet pouch
Profligate sensual reclining body feeling inwardly
Reaching caressing touching exploring the textures of the inside of a dark and empty space
Where nothing is also everything
A costly ornate body of sensation
Silk velvet skin silk thread silk tassel nerve endings
Silent silken hair spreading
A dense and tactile embroidery surrounds her slits tips lips edges and borders
Wires closely over-sewn create
Her ribs
Brushing stroking heating and burnishing
Made a body that is close textured lustrous gleaming and smooth
Intricate and laborious twisting and twirling of twines
Tiny invisible stitches hold rivets that hold rivulets
                       Of silk ending in the darkness
                       Where dreaming continues
                       The sleeping and dreaming of her invisible body
That dreaming heavy velvet body
Held in the darkness by a skin of sound
Pearl fastenings fasten her breast
                                                    Silk velvet velvet silk
Threads pulled tightly holding her in holding her inwards
Net gauze tissue
Lace wire mesh
Feathers
Locks of glossy hair
Fine shimmering strands of metal thread
Seeds metal beads sequins
A weaving of delicate traps that subdue mesmerise and enclose
Hiding her in intricacy and leading to labyrinths of the eternal

Chinking of bells
Clicking of shells

 

 

Tiny invisible stitches hold rivets that hold rivulets
Of silk ending in the darkness
Where dreaming continues
The sleeping and dreaming of her invisible body

 

Where nothing is also everything
A costly ornate body of sensation

 

Seeds metal beads sequins
A weaving of delicate traps that subdue mesmerise and enclose
Hiding her in intricacy

The Shell Bell Shaking Doll

 
(Aluminium silver wax fur hair beads glass twine carved wooden body musk leather lace shells bells)

She was a multi-purpose object
And made a variety of textural sounds
Chinking of bells
Clicking of shells
The dull thud of organs suspended within a hollow
Their deep and heavy percussion
Reverberating
Tasselling around her
Prickling
Metallic fragments
Sound out from pale bells
And whitish shells
A chalky body
Carved and curved
Arching over
Her painfully embroidered beaded fabric heart
Lungs of lace rustling
Under a dome
Her shells and her bells
Rang out in another realm
Skeins of silvered twine
Slivers of shivering glass
Pelts of soft fur that cannot warm her
Hand strokes of paint are
Memories of a gentle touch
An aura of sound and movement
Are shaking out of her still

She was a multi-purpose object
And made a variety of textural sounds

Chinking of bells
Clicking of shells

The dull thud of organs suspended within a hollow

The Unravelling Glassfire Doll

Her painfully embroidered beaded fabric heart
Lungs of lace rustling
Under a dome
Her shells and her bells
Rang out in another realm
Skeins of silvered twine
Slivers of shivering glass

 

Myriad

 

Myriad of the hollows
With an eye in every cell
Splitting and spitting
Seeds and jewels
Saint of the hollows
Myriad of the Sorrows
The vessel of the body curves about a sacred hollow of emptiness
Out of which a carved voice unfolds
 
That dark pod concealed with a shimmering Membrane
 
Infinitely embracing each pip
 
Myriad Miriam Maryam Madonna of the Pomegranate
Resurrection of shadows.

Net gauze tissue
Lace wire mesh
Feathers
Locks of glossy hair
Fine shimmering strands of metal thread

About Patterns of Sensation – the bodies of dolls

This series of works on paper by artist Salma Ahmad Caller, explores the notion of the female body as an idea that is constructed, made like a folk doll’s body, from materials both real and imagined. The folk doll or fashion model is patterned and marked by how a society thinks about femininity. Each material used to make ‘her’ carries it’s own set of cultural notions, sensations and associations. ‘She’ is often ornamented with patterned textiles, jewels, silk, velvet, embroidery, pearls, shells, tassels, bells, or associated with flowers, fruits and fertility, or with lace, nets, knots and webs, creating textures that carve ‘her’ body into zones of social and sexual importance.

Forces of cultural and social expectations mark and carve our bodies but also the things we touch and feel are etched onto us, mapping zones and patterns of our experiences, our traumas and losses, our sensuality and feeling.
Bringing the biological and the ornamental together to subvert the usual imagery of the female body, Salma uses decorative and ornamental forms, arabesques, whiplash and sinuous lines, and curvilinear shapes in her work, as a language of the biological sensational body, to try and capture the body we feel not the body we think we see.

The shape of the bodies of the ‘dolls’ in this series is based on the paisley tear drop shape or Boteh. An ‘Eastern’ ornamental form that has travelled and transformed across time. It has complex origins in many cultures, mainly from Iran, Azerbaijan and India and now has many connotations, of colonial trade, and a feminised and orientalised idea about ornament. Yet it had a previous changing life of meaning across cultures, symbolising or embodying concepts of eternity, life, of humility, of being bent under the weight of conquest, a fruit, a seed, a pine, a flower, a tear, that were not reserved for the feminine only.

These works on paper have been made using graphite, Indian Ink, collage, watercolour, acrylic and gold pigment.

The Infinite Body Of Sensation; visual poetry by Salma Caller

‘Stormriver’ and other poems by Myra Vennard

NIGHT TREE

 
Along the river bank
street lights are lighting
 
the darkening waters glow
the sun is low
 
the mountain crouches low
in shadow
 
light drops from light
dark creeps back to night …
 
my mind struggles with a paradox –
gleams from a self-source
 
and light
falling from a star
 
love is racked – there
is no owning in the soul
 
the void is an agitation
fixed habit of a consciousness
 
unwilling to go into the terror
of going into light of naked night
 
my tree reaches up winter bare
its star is not yet born.
 

GOING OUT

 
Sea fog curls
around the cliff face
 
the island has no contour
still – and I
 
I am weeping
amid a conflict
 
the wish for forgetfulness
yet fear of clinging sorrow
 
intangible dreams are real
a beatitude in the memory
 
at dawn – an echo
unfathomable – secret
 
I dream of the dead
as having no subjectivity
 
all are one – knowing
no aims nor necessities
 
their focus is on One
sublime infinity
 
if imperfect love must die
for perfect love to live
 
when he opens up his eye
will my eye have distance?

*
he waits outside my door
to share my cup
 
behind a mask in a theatre of stone
time is instilling essence.
 

BELOVED

 
I waken before dawn
to full moonlight
 
and ships anchored in the bay
my mind still on a street
 
where he turns away – I am
afraid of thoughts multiple
 
the street lamp in cavities –
in pools of dark …
 
I will go wistful
I will go where the river whispers
 
with trees through branches
to where a moon-ring still trembles
 
*
 
in tentative morning sunlight
after night-storm
 
waves – cold – fall
and run molten gold on sand …
 
do not think to dispel love
from a turbulent heart
 
love has heat
enough for distillation.
 

STORMRIVER

 
A week of black water
out at sea
 
a month of magic almost
gone to the air
 
the river keeps away – just
stones navigate
 
the flood – when poetry
cannot speak
 
it drowns in the mind
and swoons in the flow
 

*
 
rain has fallen – I walk
against the wind
 
against a rainbow flame
kissing an ocean – against
 
a straying sun picking
defining the town …
 
he has no home here
nor there beyond the island
 
he touches dusk
his breath is in shadow
 
his voice is full of tremor
I hear
 
his aching heartbeat
shake against the wind

*
 
he lights a candle
before he puts on the mask
 
he carries a burden on his back
he lays it on the altar
 
in the oratory
he puts on a robe
 
drawing back the curtain
he sleep-walks into my mind
 
he presses my head
until it hurts – the bread
 
is in his hands
his declaration my question
 
behind the mask
has he a changing face?
 
The supremacy of a pointing spire
does not close the distance
 
to a sky-god in the brain
nor appease a hurting spirit
 
abandoned to theatres of stone
and the dark cloisters of a consciousness.
 
*
 
this morning
there is a light over the sea
 
the island appears impervious
holding close
 
to dark contours – still
there is tension
 
in the small wood
crumbs of rock
 
fall
from brooding cliffs….
 
at dusk
across the cavern floor
 
dark – splintered
with glass – nails – wood
 
the huge door
creaks and groans
 
in winter wind’s moan
rocking black
 
the memory of accident
stirring midnight dreams
 
outside – the evening star
is silence – risen
 
*
 
words mean nothing
they are not what he is
 
they are a fetish
visible – separate – fettered …
 
music is his glance
from the mountain
 
it holds harmony
in the retina
 
unable to break free
from the moment – this
 
this is
all he will say
 
*
 
suddenly a white mist
steals the island
 
cliffs rise
their juts fade in sequence

I take words
out into space
 
further on
at a bend in the road
 
Malevola grips
my senses
 
there is a sickness
in my mind
 
even the sea is quiet
no gull cries
 
there is a terrible lack
of flowering
 
here his eye is dark
its glance will tell me nothing
 
*
 
I cannot make him
what I imagine
 
the wall is high
he is not – not here
 
in this mind
in this first death – this
 
long – long standing
train of consciousness
 
he sleeps
until I have never been.
 

SEPTEMBER

 
The dawn is cold
the road is empty
 
the lamp
is not yet extinguished
 
grass has light
grounded white dusk
 
not wintered – drowsed
taking colour
 
re-making colour
pushing back
 
shadows onto a white wall
something transposed
 
shifted – doubled
unedged – out
 
beyond
the lamp’s intensity …
 
*
 
a fuchsia morning warms the road
for the white moth
 
for the rabbit
watching my movement
 
creatures mistrust my step
even a breakfast of berries has its price …
 
the man behind me says he has peace
his eye is full of April
 
a low sun shows something double –
shadows – by a wall defined.
 

FALLING

 
Look up – treetops
are meeting in the morning sky
 
there is a terrible sad
beat in the sea
 
love has no mind
only this –
 
light will own the waters
it will rise
 
before the overhang
darkens the surface
 
light will bend down
under the bridge
 
taking the river-rush
running crystal
 
down – down
over rock and stone
 
to own the sea
and meet the incoming flux.
 

Stormriver and other poems are © Myra Vennard, thanks to Moyra Donaldson for sending them to Poethead.

Myra Vennard was born in Belfast and is now retired to Ballycastle, Co Antrim, where she has ancestral roots. Widowed in 1979, she worked in Belfast for several years as a secretary before returning to higher education in the 1990’s as a mature student, graduating at the University of Ulster with Honours BA in English and an MA in Anglo-Irish Literature with a dissertation on the poetic vision of Samuel Beckett. As a postgraduate she attended the Irish School of Ecumenics, Trinity College Dublin, gaining a diploma in Ecumenics.
.
Myra Vennard’s two previous poetry books are Easter Saturday (2009) and Blind Angel (2013), both published by Lagan Press. In 2010 she won the Belfast Telegraph’s Woman of the Year in the Arts Award.

Sample of Five Poems from ‘Transmissions’ by Elaine Cosgrove

ENDLESS

 
We become adult
on roads, on lines,
on grids, on greens,
on grey spaces —
you cannot zoom in.

We become older
with the city as seer,
decibels the scale
from stepping dawn
to engine rattling dusk,

to clinking night
and walk-back light.
Chiaroscuro lives
in metered hope.

We become in spite
of what happens, and
we are here, still here
becoming with care,
and listening ears.

We become no matter
the distortion that hopes
to confuse our hearts,
and break them.

We become electric.
On and off beings flowing
again and again,
endless in this sudden
glittering world of interruptions.
 

SURFING AT STREEDAGH STRAND

 
Site of a Spanish Armada wreckage
 
During sea-salt of winter surf, remembrance
of lineage acts like zinc on the blood that swells
from a creviced nick beside my thumbnail.

Streedagh Strand pulls out her linen towel
and I become warm dough on the sea floor
when their bodies appear blood-strewn bits on grain.

Five hundred wiped-out sailors beat, robbed and stripped
ashore by local savages hungry for wealthy bones
and soaked goods falling like crumbs from their dying.

A good savage attending only to castles and mountains
De Cuellar said of O’Ruairc who gave the Spaniards
fresh-cut reeds to sleep on, rye bread to eat

in the Breffni mountains where they hid.
My soft hands roughen to withstand whip of board,
cold knife in December tide earthing me straight to the skin.
 
Originally published in Issue 3 of The Penny Dreadful

BOG DISCO

 
It should have been the old bloomeries of love
during the slow-set: disco lights like Morse Code baubles
roaming our sequins, skirts and shirts
but some smart aleck two plastic, parish seats away from me
belches and says: “Boom. It’s the erection section.”
So I make tracks swift, double-door into a true breather of a night.
The Plough, dazzling points floating in the sky.
 

HANDWRAPPING

 
Eventually, you learn to wrap the cloth your own way.
First by imitation—online videos by peers, Master’s
and partner’s real-life instructions. What feels assured
is what you come to make yourself
. The snugger the wrap

to experience, the stronger the hand’s form, just before the strike.

 
HOME
from the festival

 	      z
            z
          z
He is Z beside me
a rise and fall 
of ribcage.
 
He is too humble,
too loyal to be 
assigned E-U-S.
 
Nonetheless, 
he is my god
in this scenario.
 
He does not stir 
to my arrival,
which I am a bruised 
peach about—
all acquired ego,
from the poets.
 
I am home, love,
ready to graft 
my way out 
of the talk-shop. 
 
I want to jab his side
with my finger, 
and command 
an alt universe 
for us, 
 
'Rise and fall 
to the woman 
of your dreaming.' 
 
Instead, he smells 
like a brewery 
and I fen, 
a half-naked sliver
                         s
                       s
                     s
	           s
of tiredness, 
touch-screening 
white light keys 
of Notepad, 
as it extends 
and shines upon 
his face and arms, 
my face too — 
 
a flickering 
         tap tap 
hold down 
        transform
letter
         suggest 
         autocomplete
flicker 
          tap 
flicker 
          tap
return
          tap 
return  
          tap
return 
          hold
          flicker
lightning 
connect 
socket
          charge
wake up	       scoop up 
my body	        become 
my peering 	point

Sample of Five Poems from ‘Transmissions‘,  Elaine Cosgrove’s forthcoming debut poetry collection. Publication Autumn 2017, Dedalus Press, Ireland.

Elaine Cosgrove was born in Sligo, Ireland in 1985. Her work has been published in The Stinging Fly Magazine, The Penny Dreadful, The Bohemyth, and New Binary Press. Elaine was selected for the 2017 Fifty Best New British & Irish Poets Anthology (Eyewear Publishing), and longlisted for the 2016 London Magazine Poetry Prize. Transmissions, her debut collection of poetry will be published by Dedalus Press Autumn 2017.

“Pink is a Sister Sick” and other poems by Seanín Hughes

Pink Is A Sister Sick

with sweetness. Bright;
blinds beautiful men, robs
them of their enamel, but

they never protest.

Fat lashes fan those
flushed cheeks, like

blood blushing milk,

bones so high and hollow
beneath. Pink licks the dark,
but refuses to wear it.
I went panning for
black diamonds in her hair
in our girlhood, and found

nothing but dirty pebbles

and rust for treasure; I
couldn’t love her. She’s
a predator with doll parts,
a perfect Pinocchio gone
rogue and hungry

for boyprey.

I’ve got a perverted
prayer that in time, she’ll
dissolve into herself;
melt at midday,
nothing more
than a

discarded boiled sweet.

Equilibrium

I’m strutting stratospheric,
embellished and splendid
in my NHS wedding dress.

My mother was here before me,
her father before her, his uncle
before that — lucky, lucky me

— our platinum gilted heirloom hops generations and genders,
our gene pool a puddle of madness

thickened with blood and tear-streaked shrieking saliva.
I’m in my unsilent season,

souped up and bursting,
far too sexy
to sedate. This is my circus

and I am the airborne acrobat
defying my earthly anchors
until they come for me,

saturnine.

Anthem

New York’s summer breath
climbs heavy through the window
and the restless worm wrestles
through apple rot.

Narcissus’ trumpets
wither in astonished atrophy,
recoiling into the earth
as the amnion ruptures,

a parting of seas in the
holiest of churches –

between
the wide open legs
of an obedient woman
,

held to ransom by
blanched agony, lips
anaemic, lily white.

Skull shards shift tectonic
and give passage
to the crowning;

the searing stretch of emergence,
the ripping of the mantle,
the sting of the slap –

and it breathes.

The bed sheets are soiled
with immigrant blood
the colour of November poppies,

and writhing in it,
the jaundiced newborn skin
of an epoch in waiting:

a God complex
with baby sized fists
clutching nuclear warheads.

Going Dutch

I cut my teeth on you;
let enamel tear
through the warm pink tissue
of adolescence.

I bared my legs, but
bent them inward,
dressed them in angles
in case you found them
too soft, too fleshy.
You didn’t (they weren’t).

I kept my hair down
so subtle shadows fell
where cheekbones might be,
stolen symmetry, in case
you realised I wasn’t
pretty enough. You didn’t (I was).

We’d play pool –
I never won (I never cared) –
and eat chips on the way home;
you paid your way and
I paid mine, and I never needed
to wear my coat (I did), until

that one night when
you didn’t walk me home,
the night I fell asleep and
you cut your teeth on me,
the ones you lied through (you did),
and I paid in full.

I’d Be Queen of Myself (if I weren’t anti-monarchy)

She said
I seemed brighter and
I was that day,
that week,
but my brightness
had a lid on it
because I couldn’t let it
spill –
unless I was alone

and then

I could sing
and sing
and grin
at the windows
and the cutlery
and laugh at the shape
of the front door
all angular and rigid
and trapped by lines
– not like me –

I was bright that day,
that week,
in cahoots with the sun
(she told me so
and she’s a puppeteer) and I’m
dancing jigs
in the frozen aisle and
I’d be the Queen
of myself (if I wasn’t
anti-monarchy).

But I’ll settle
for this power,
this rising gift,
this momentary lapse
when the numbing fog
clears and life is
so vivid,
and it’s right
under my nose,
the promise of it,
and I forget

that it can’t last

– it won’t last –

until it slips
through the membrane
of my skin and I watch
it leave, I watch

the lights dim, I watch
the numbing fog
and the way it trundles
in again, bearing
the weight
of things
I
can’t
carry.

Pink is a Sister Sick & other poems are © Seanín Hughes

Nebulae & Salt at Dodging The Rain

Diphylleia

Daughter, please       hold my hand. There is rain coming; look — a congregation of heavy promise
waits above our heads
to bathe us.                     It gives God
to our ordinary air. Aren’t you
beautiful? I have a gift for you. Please,
hold my hand; k ep me in your tender palm. Parts of me are fading — your name, your sister flowers.
Did        have sons? Oh. Why must
I be                                dismantled
s slowly? I’m afraid. Please                          hold my hand.     I’m s rry.
Aren’t you         beautiful?
I have a gift for you; diphylleia — the rain makes a s-skeleton             most gentle from its petals, translucent when touched by falling skies in Japan. See how its colours                   weep
— see that crown of clarity, the petals
in                                  their party dress, clear as
Cind rella’s glass slipper. Ar n’t you
b autiful?
Pl ase, dau ter,
hold my hand. Parts of me            fading. A ‘t you beautiful?  There’ll b         ain
for flow rs today. I named you
after a
fl wer,       crowned you        mine. Please
I m
be utif l.

hold my hand?

Seanín Hughes is an emerging poet and writer from Cookstown, Northern Ireland, where she lives with her partner and four children.
Despite writing for most of her life, Seanín only began to share her work in late 2016 after penning a number of poems for her children. Prior to this, she hadn’t written in a number of years following the diagnosis of her daughter Aoife with a rare disease in 2010.
Early 2017 brought a return to writing in Seanín’s spare time and since then, she has completed an ever-increasing volume of new poetry. Drawing from her varied life experiences, Seanín is attracted to challenging themes and seeks to explore issues including mental health, trauma, death and the sense of feeling at odds with oneself and the world.
.

“The Bellmouth” and other poems by Gráinne Tobin

Internal Exile

 
It was all too much. He took to his bed,
and stayed there for ten years,
begetting, however, several more children.
She carried trays up and down the stairs
and he lay hidden, staring out to sea.
At night he watched the lighthouse
winking through his shuttered window.
All the money was gone. It didn’t matter.
They picked a living from their children’s labour
at this salty edge of earth, where
there was always fishing, chickens,
a smallholding of sorts, some barter.
 
What got him up and dressed at last was this.
One afternoon from under his eiderdown
he gazed beyond the glass panes, as the waves
framed by floral curtains, silently rose,
and gulped his two sons in their boat –
corpses never found, skiff washed ashore in pieces,
the coastal searches just as futile
as that warm sanctuary where the need
to witness woke him in the end.
 
From The Nervous Flyer’s Companion
 

Happy Days in Sunny Newcastle

 
The air’s washed now,
last night’s sad leavings
swept up and away.
Van drivers park outside the bakery
with fried eggs held in breakfast soda farls.
 
Arcades of slot machines
lie berthed between streams
that slip downhill to a tideline flagged with pebbles,
faded wood, wrecked loot, rubber gloves, broken glass
abraded to droplets by the tumbling waves.
 
The daily walker on his coatless course
between youth and age,
observing wading birds and children’s games.
 
Up for a trip, out for a drive,
dandering down the promenade.
 
Loudhailer hymns, crusaders’ tracts
warn of strange temptations
offered to ice-cream lickers, candy-floss lovers.
 
In the chip-shops’ wake the street
opens to the sea
which is the reason for everything,
shingle bank,
shops and houses,
foundations sunk in marsh,
confined by a shadowed arm
where mountains lift out of the water,
growing darkness like moss
over the forest where the young
roost with beer and campfires.
 
Heron pacing the harbour at twilight
stiff-collared in clerical grey,
squinting at coloured lights
edging the bay.
 
Far out, the lighthouse signalling,
Good – night
chil – dren.
 
From The Nervous Flyer’s Companion
 

What Did You Say?

 
Asda, Downpatrick
 
While the till extrudes my coiled receipt
I’m making small talk for the checkout man
penned in his hatch by the conveyor belt.
 
Getting busy now? is all I’m asking,
but he responds The building is sinking
into the marshes
as if the two of us

 
are conspirators with codes and passwords,
exchanging news of dangers met or planned.
He smiles, he nods, he shrugs, he sweeps
 
a hand towards the dipping car-park
in a gesture from an opera’s revelation,
to the orange barriers and repair signs
 
shoring up the ground of all our commerce
against stirrings of the earth in peaty reed-beds.
Under the paving, the beach. Under the tarmac, the bog.
 

Counting Children

 
The little boy is counting in clear-voiced German
eucalyptus cones that drop, pock pock,
on the café tables by the coach trip basilica,
as up and down the half-mile staircase
to the hilltop chapel with its cold-drink stall and cats,
every child that passed was counting,
in the languages of Europe,
how many steps.
 
An idle afternoon is stored, recessive,
a hundred aromatic seed-bells saved in a bag.
Picking the crayfish off his plate for a puppet,
speaking its words, snapping its claws for his dad,
he lays down love in his bones like calcium.
 
From Banjaxed
 

The Bellmouth

 
Silent Valley Reservoir, Kilkeel
 
Come on, we’ll take a spin up to the valley,
cross the sentry’s palm with silver
at red gates in Water Commission walls,
admire mown lawns and plaques on benches,
tread new tarmac to the bellmouth –
time a spillaway that swallows all.
 
Here, around the whirlpool of partition,
when engineering was godliness,
and the doctrine of the city was the purity of its water,
they walled the heather slopes with granite blocks,
trimmed the plughole of the reservoir
in Protestant-looking burnt-blue brick,
smoothed to the curve of a brass-band horn,
a vortex fed by reeling mountain streams.
 
Granite, laid on puddled clay
by giants whose folk-tale graves lie deep
in stony fields, who drank their tea
from sooty cans, ate their cold hard porridge sliced,
worked the hills for a boss with a voice like rifle fire.
I smell blood, one said, stopped halfway
in the overflow tunnel when the hooter
sounded a fatal fall. Stone men
who wore starched shirts to dances
in the recreation hall, watched Chaplin
at the valley picture house, grown men
who’d give a push-up to schoolgirls
climbing the Mourne Wall in polished shoes,
dropping down to leave the mountain roughness
to walk the road to Mass in Attical –
 
girls of twelve who fastened wood-shavings
as ringlets in their hair,
whose uncle, one quiet Sunday,
lowered them from the derrick
down the hole half-dug for the dam,
standing in a metal bucket, up to their necks,
to look out on a hundred feet of dark,
at grit and water leaking between cast-iron plates
that lined the trench and held the walls apart –
 
living with Bignian in front of them and Pov-rty behind,
spelt out in scree on the slope of Pig Mountain.
 

 

A Deconsecrated Furniture Showroom

 
Fultons Fine Furnishings

The glass hall’s empty except for a sellotaped notice
to show the pilgrim to the upstairs cafe,
where a waitress tells me
the place was shut down months ago,
and we say the words to each other –
receivership, jobs, recession,
antiphon, call and response.

The restaurant will continue to trade
in spite of the recklessness of their banking partners
and their agents.

The Private Dining Room’s a locked royal chapel,
and the nave a funnel of celestial light
within the shadowy void
as the escalator carries you upwards,
a ladder of souls,
to vacant room-sets, side-chapels,
frescoes, marble and parquet altars
sealed off with swags of tape.
Shaded lanterns burn on their chains
as in Toledo of the captives

and the faithful still meet for conversation,
broccoli bake and apple tart,
in their breaks from the industrial estate,
retail park, car dealership, warehouses,
hospital wards across the roundabout.

The Bell Mouth & other poems are © Grainne Tobin
 

Gráinne Tobin grew up in Armagh and lives in Newcastle, Co Down with her husband. She taught for many years, in further and adult education and in Shimna Integrated College. She is interested in keeping poetry open to its audience, including people without long years of schooling.
Her books are Banjaxed and The Nervous Flyer’s Companion (Summer Palace Press) and a third collection is due soon from Arlen House. She was a founder-member of the Word of Mouth Poetry Collective, which met monthly for 25 years in the Linen Hall Library in Belfast, and she contributed to Word of Mouth (Blackstaff Press) which was translated into Russian, and to the Russian-English parallel text anthology of members’ translations from five St Petersburg women poets, When the Neva Rushes Backwards (Lagan Press).
Some of her poems are available in online archives, the Arts Council of Northern Ireland’s Troubles Archive and the Poetry Ireland archive. Some have been exhibited in the Pitt Rivers Museum, Oxford, the Old Museum Arts Centre, Belfast and Derry’s Central Library. One was made into a sculpture and is on permanent display in Down Arts Centre, Downpatrick.
She has had poems in anthologies – The Stony Thursday Book, Aesthetica Creative Writing, Washing Windows, On the Grass When I Arrive, Something About Home – in magazines such as Abridged, Poetry Ireland, The Dickens, Mslexia, Irish Feminist Review, Boyne Berries, Skylight 47, Crannog, Banshee, Acumen, North West Words, Ulla’s Nib, Fortnight, the South Bank Magazine, and also online, in Four X Four and on a website for psychotherapists. She has won the Down Arts, Mourne Observer and Segora poetry prizes and has been listed in competitions.

Excerpts from ‘microliths’ by Paul Celan

from ‘Microliths’

 

161

Re­membering
also pre­membering, pre­thinking and storing of what could be

Yeats: I certainly owe more to that poet than to Fr. surreal.

Strange. In front of a candle
Now I tried to render visible the grain of sand (Buber, Chass. — //Nibelungens[on]g) that had to have been sunk into me too at some time.
Mother, candles, sabbath
But the poem lead me out of this idea, across to a new level with this idea

162

162.1 ­

It is part of poetry’s essential features that it releases the poet, its crown witness and confidant, from their shared knowledge once it has taken on form.  (If it were different, there would barely be a poet who could take on the responsibility of having written more than one poem.)

162.2

—Poetry as event
Event = truth (“unhiddenness,” worked, fought for unhiddeness)
Poetry as risk
Creation = /power­activity /Gewalt­tätigkeit (Heidegger)
Truth ≠ accuracy (­i­: consistency)

–in each first word of a poem the whole of  language gathers itself —
–handiwork: hand / think through connections
such as “hand and heart”
handiwork — heartwork

Beginning: “Poetry as handiwork”? The handmade crafting of  poetry?

About ‘Microliths’at Jacket2 Magazine
About ‘Microliths’ at Poetry Foundation.

I would like to thank Pierre Joris for his translation of Microliths. These translations are © Pierre Joris 



Once

Once
I heard him
he was washing the world,
unseen, nightlong, real.

One and infinite,
annihilated,
ied.

Light was. Salvation.

From  Fathomsuns and Benighted  by Paul Celan (translated by Ian Fairley for Carcanet Books) (1991) 



Paul Celan related texts by Pierre Joris

   Threadsuns by Paul Celan translated by Pierre Joris

 

The Meridian

Final Version—Drafts—Materials  (2011) PAUL CELAN EDITED BY BERNHARD BÖSCHENSTEIN AND HEINO SCHMULL TRANSLATED BY PIERRE JORIS SERIES: MERIDIAN: CROSSING AESTHETICS

.


 

Breathturn into Timestead: The Collected Later Poetry: A Bilingual Edition (German Edition) (German) Hardcover – December 2, 2014

.


 

Further Reading on Paul Celan

Pierre Joris websites and articles

Celan/ Heidegger: Translation at the mountain of death; on translating “Todtnauberg” by Pierre Joris
On the Translation of Later Poems by Paul Celan by Pierre Joris (Harriet/ Poetry Foundation & blog)
Paul Celan and the Meaning of Language; An Interview with Pierre Joris (Interview; Doug Valentine, Flahpoint Mag)
Celan the aphorist (Nomadics Blog, Pierre Joris) Original article at Jacket2 Magazine
On Poethead: Once, Irish & (Todesfuge translated by John Felstiner).

.

A Celebration of Irish Women Poets on Bloomsday 2017

“Canal Walk Home” by Gillian Hamill

 
What is it
About the power
of the water
To heal hurts
 
Three lads sit on the boardwalk
They hardly look like delicate sorts.
And yet they gaze out
Contemplate
The rushing rippling mottles of the
Undulating lake
Can soothe souls.
 
Car lights are reflected in
Striking streaks, always dappling
Buzzy thrill of
Modern pyrotechnics
In the most basic of
Science laws.
 
Edged by banking sycamore leaves
I took one and put it in my pocket
To describe it better.
The smell of its earthy salt and bark
Present.
And the bare elegance
Of stripped black branches
Spearing themselves into the night air
Soldered into the genesis
Of life
And yes they are
Wild quiet.
 
A little further on
There’s a piece of street art says
Only the river runs free
And maybe that’s the attraction
Of this portal into liberty.
 
And then to gaze down the row
Through Camden Street from Portobello
The multi-potted chimney tops
Sophisticated lego bricks
Pricked by the Edwardian arc
Of ornate street lights.
 
The red car lights more dense
The further in you go
Speeding up into
A crescendo
Of urban adrenalin
As if in a movie
And the cameras were moving in
Drawing you in
Crackle.
 
Crackle
Quick, quick slow
Travelling
Boom
in.
 
For all your talk
Of dalliances with the dark
Don’t you know that they are
One and the same.
 
The splendour of the curvature of the
veins in a leaf’s skin
Echoed with variations
Of trickled threads of gold.
Are as a naked woman’s
Crystallised spine
Waiting for your touch
Nymph and nature
They are one and the same.
 
But purity
Glorying in freedom
In liberated breeze
There is no need for
Shame.
 
“Canal Walk Home” is © Gillian Hamill

Originally from the village of Eglinton in Derry, Gillian Hamill has lived in Dublin for the past 12 years (intermingled with stints in Galway, Waterford and Nice). She has a BA in English Studies from Trinity College, Dublin and a MA in Journalism from NUI Galway. She is currently the editor of trade publication, ShelfLife magazine and has acted in a number of theatre productions. Gillian started writing poetry in late 2014.
 
⊗ Gillian’s Website

 


 

“The Welcome” by Freda Laughton

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

“The Welcome” is © Freda Laughton

Freda Laughton was born in Bristol in 1907 and moved to Co. Down after her marriage. She published one collection of poetry, A Transitory House (1945) but little else is known about her life and work. She may have lived in Dublin for sometime, as her poem The Welcome details the textures of Dublin City and its suburbs, and suggests she knows the city by heart. Her date of death is unknown. Freda Laughton’s poems were submitted by Emma Penney, a graduate of the Oscar Wilde Centre, Trinity College Dublin. Her thesis, Now I am a Tower of Darkness: A Critical History of Poetry by Women in Ireland, challenges the critical reception of Eavan Boland and the restrictive criteria, developed in the 1970’s, under which poetry by women in Ireland has been assessed. She considers the subversive nature of women’s poetry written between 1921 and 1950, and calls into question the critical assumption that Eavan Boland represents “the first serious attempt in Ireland to make a body of poems that arise out of the contemporary female consciousness”. In Object Lessons, Boland concluded that there were no women poets before her who communicated “an expressed poetic life” in their work. Emma’s thesis reveals how this view has permeated the critical landscape of women’s poetry, facilitating an absurd privation of the history of poetry by women in Ireland and simplifying it in the process.

Interview with Emma Penney
Dear Freda, Your Poems are being discussed on Jacket2 Magazine

 


 

“Nurture” by Liz Quirke

 
In the nine months I didn’t nourish you,
I made notes, I studied the seasons
for ingredients to encourage your growth.
Scraps of paper, post-its hidden
in case anyone would view my thoughts,
pity my trivia of leaves and berries.
 
A mom yet not a mother,
a woman yet not a woman.
My preparation took place in private,
not in maternity wards or hospital corridors,
but in the hallways of my mind
where I could put up pictures, time lines,
fill cork boards with plans.
 
As the folic acid built your brain stem
I collated ideas to stimulate it further,
mapped journeys for us,
paths we could walk together,
a staggered relay to start
when your other mother
passed your tiny form to me.
 
And I could see myself holding your hand,
using my limbs to scaffold the structure
your mother put so beautifully in place.
I am your mom without the biology of mothering.
All I have for you is my heart, my brain, my lists of things,
all but those nine months when I was waiting.
 
(first published in New Irish Writing in The Irish Times)

“Nurture” is © Liz Quirke

Originally from Tralee, Co. Kerry, Liz Quirke lives in Spiddal, Co Galway with her wife and daughters. Her poetry has appeared in various publications, including New Irish Writing in the The Irish Times, Southword, Crannóg, The Stony Thursday Book and Eyewear Publishing’s The Best New British and Irish Poets 2016. She was the winner of the 2015 Poems for Patience competition and in the last few years has been shortlisted for the Cúirt New Writing Prize and a Hennessy Literary Award. Her debut collection Biology of Mothering will be published by Salmon Poetry in Spring 2018.
 
https://bogmanscannon.com/2016/04/02/fall-at-33-weeks-by-liz-quirke/

 


 

“Detail” by Rachel Coventry

 
The world is full stretched,
and sick with possibility.
You find yourself in a gallery
ill with heat and standing.
Waiting for some man
to play his ridiculous hand.
So bored of art, but then
forced into wakefulness
by the feet of Diego Velazquez’
Cristo Crucificado. All suffering
now upon you and you
bear it because you have to.
 
First published in the Stony Thursday Book

“Detail” is © Rachel Coventry

Rachel Coventry’s poetry has appeared in many journals including Poetry Ireland Review, The SHop, Cyphers, The Honest Ulsterman and The Stony Thursday Book. She was selected for the Poetry Ireland Introductions Series in 2014. In 2016 she won the Galway University Hospitals Arts Trust Annual Poetry Competition and was short-listed for the Patrick Kavanagh Poetry Award. She is currently writing a PhD on Heidegger’s poetics at NUIG. Her debut collection is forthcoming from Salmon Poetry.

“Going Dutch” by Seanín Hughes

 
I cut my teeth on you;
let enamel tear
through the warm pink tissue
of adolescence.
 
I bared my legs, but
bent them inward,
dressed them in angles
in case you found them
too soft, too fleshy.
You didn’t (they weren’t).
 
I kept my hair down
so subtle shadows fell
where cheekbones might be,
stolen symmetry, in case
you realised I wasn’t
pretty enough. You didn’t (I was).
 
We’d play pool –
I never won (I never cared) –
and eat chips on the way home;
you paid your way and
I paid mine, and I never needed
to wear my coat (I did), until
 
that one night when
you didn’t walk me home,
the night I fell asleep and
you cut your teeth on me,
the ones you lied through (you did),
and I paid in full.
 

“Going Dutch” is © Seanín Hughes

Seanín Hughes is an emerging poet and writer from Cookstown, Northern Ireland, where she lives with her partner and four children. Despite writing for most of her life, Seanín only began to share her work in late 2016 after penning a number of poems for her children. Prior to this, she hadn’t written in a number of years following the diagnosis of her daughter Aoife with a rare disease. Drawing from her varied life experiences, Seanín is attracted to challenging themes and seeks to explore issues including mental health, trauma, death and the sense of feeling at odds with oneself and the world.

“Hypothesis” by Clodagh Beresford Dunne

 
So the editor wants to know why
people are killing
themselves. I’ll tell you why –
because they are part of a revolution
they know nothing
about. Not a revolution with guns
and knives but one in its strictest
physical sense, the revolution
of the geoid, the planet earth.
We might share it with billions
but these days
we are each on our own
as it sits, upturned on its axis
slowly revolving, shaking off the detritus
until one by one
we cling to the surface
or free-fall into oblivion.
And so we concoct bizarre ways
to dodge our turn –
we are drawn to the oceans to hide
but drown in their deep waters,
we strive to weigh ourselves to the ground,
injecting ourselves like batteries
with liquid lithium.
To defy gravity
we anchor our ankles to balls and chains
or feel the ephemeral
ecstasy of letting
blood from our veins.
While some tie ropes around their necks
as they take their turn,
ready to hang
from the world, like a tarot card I once saw.
 
First published in The Stinging Fly

“Hypothesis” is © Clodagh Beresford Dunne

Clodagh Beresford Dunne was born in Dublin and raised in the harbour town of Dungarvan Co. Waterford, in a local newspaper family. She holds degrees in English and in Law and qualified as a solicitor, in 2001. During her university and training years she was an international debater and public speaker, representing Ireland on three occasions, at the World Universities Debating Championships. Her poems have appeared in publications including The Stinging Fly, The Irish Times, Southword, The Moth, Spontaneity and Pittsburgh Poetry Review. She was the recipient of the Arts Council of Ireland Emerging Writer Award Bursary (2016) and a number of Literature awards and residencies from Waterford City and County Arts Office. In April, 2016 she delivered a series of readings, interviews and lectures, in Carlow University and Robert Morris University, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, as part of Culture Ireland’s International Programme. In February, 2017, as part of the AWP Conference and Book Fair in Washington, DC, she participated in a reading and discussion panel: “A World of Their Own” (five female poets in cross-cultural conversation) with US poets, Jan Beatty and Tess Barry, Irish poet, Eleanor Hooker, and Lebanese poet, Zeina Hashem Beck. She is a founding member, coordinator and curator of the Dungarvan and West Waterford Writers’ Group. She lives in Dungarvan with her husband and four young children.

 


“Alice and her Stilettoes” by Lorraine Carey

 
We always walked faster
past her little house on the brae.
Every so often she’d scuttle out and
snare us, clutching a plastic bag with
the highest heels, scuffed
and peeling, ready for the cobbler’s vice.
 
Her elfin face powdered,
her fuchsia mouth pursed,
the stain snaked onto her snaggled teeth,
crept over her lips.
She lay in wait,
behind net curtains that twitched.
Her ears hitched to the sound
of the school bus, stalling,
as we stepped off at Charlie Brown’s,
stinking of fags.
 
Once John got three pairs
of spine benders, for repair,
so she had a choice,
for Mass on Sunday.
 

“Alice and her stilettoes” is © Lorraine Carey

Lorraine Carey from Donegal, now lives in Co.Kerry. Her work has been published / is forthcoming in the following journals; The Honest Ulsterman, A New Ulster, Proletarian, Stanzas Limerick, Quail Bell, The Galway Review, Vine Leaves, Poetry Breakfast, Olentangy Review and Live Encounters. Her first collection of poetry will be published this summer.
 

“I’m not a city” and other poems by Kinga Fabó

The Transfiguration of the Word

Open, the sea appeared asleep.
Carrying its waves.
A pulse under the muted winter scene.
Throwing a smile on the beach.

A nun-spot on the hot little body.
A color on the broken glass.
A gesture that was once closed.
Lovely as the sea stood up.
Throwing a smile on the beach.

I wanted to remain an object.
But, no, immortality is not mine.
I am too strong to defend myself.
Waiting for punishment.

This and the same happened together.
Silently, I sat in the glass.
Only the spot wandered on the naked scene.
Sounds did not continue.

Only an omitted gesture.
Happiness like an unmoving dancer.
Beatings on naked, bony back.

And the sea will no longer be immortal.

Translated by Zsuzsanna Ozsváth and Martha Satz
‘The Transfiguration of the word ‘ was first published in Osiris, 1992, Fall issue

Lovers

You are free, said the stranger.
Before I arrived there.
Costume. I had a costume on though.
I was curious: what his reaction might be?

He closed his other eyes.
I’ll send an ego instead of you.
Getting softer, I feel it, he feels it too. Hardly moves.
he chokes himself inside me.
Now I must live with another dead man.

It’s not even hopeless.
Not vicious.
Serves the absence.
Delivers the unnecessary.

Translated by Gabor G. Gyukics

Androgen

The bees are tough, hard to break virgins.
Virgins, but different from us humans.
They have no ego. Hermaphrodites. Like the moon.

Butterflies. Phallic souls.
Soul phalluses in female bodies.
The daughter, daughters of the moon

allured me but only until
I figured them out.
As lovers.

I got tired of my ego.
And theirs too.
I’m bored of their services.

It wedges an obstacle between us. Neither
in nor out. In vain
I keep trying. I can break through

mine somehow.
But his? How?
Selfish, inspiring; but for what?

Is he like this by nature,
subservient, dependent?
On me? That’s dispiriting.

He doesn’t even suspect, that I depend on him.
I am the stronger, the unprotected.
Tough as a woman, austere.

Delicate as a man, fragile, gentle.
What would I like? I want him to
wrestle me gently to the floor,

penetrate me violently, savagely.
So I can become empty and neutral.
Impersonal, primarily a woman.

Translated by Gabor G. Gyukics; Androgen was first published in Deep Water Literary Journal 2017 February

Isadora Duncan Dancing

Like sculpture at first. Then, as if the sun rose in her, long
gesture.
A small smile; then very much so.

The beauty
of the rite shone; whirling.

She whirled and whirled,
flaming.
Only the body spoke. The body carried her

language.

Her dance a spell
swirling the air, a spiral she was

and

her shawl, the half circle around her,
the curve of the sea-shore and
girl,

the dancer and the dance apart…

Transcreated by Cathy Strisik and Veronica Golos based on Katalin N. Ullrich’s translation.
Isadora Duncan Dancing was first published in Taos Journal of Poetry and Art, 10 Sept 2014

Poison

I don’t know what it is but very ill-
intended. Surely a woman must belong to it.
And something like a laughter.

I am rotating the city on me,
rotating my beauty. That’s that!
Many keys, small keyholes whirling.

Gazes cannot be all in vain. And the answer?
Merely a jeer.
The vase hugs and kills me, can’t breathe.

Now my features – even with the best intentions –
cannot be called beautiful.
And her? The girl? Her trendy perfume

is Poison. For me a real poison indeed.
And the vase?
It hugs and kills me.

But what am I to do without?

Translated by Kinga Fabó
Poison is included in her bilingual Indonesian-English poetry book, Racun/Poison (2015) Jakarta, Indonesia 

I’m not a city

I’m not a city: I have neither light, nor
window display. I look good.
I feel good. You didn’t
invite me though. How
did I get here?

You’d do anything for me; right?
Let’s do it! An attack.
A simple toy-
wife? I dress, dress, dress
myself.

The dressing remains.
I operate, because I’m operated.
All I can do is operate.
(I don’t mean anything to anyone.)
What is missing then?

Yet both are men separately.
Ongoing magic. Broad topsyturviness.
Slow, merciless.
A new one is coming: almost perfect.
I swallow it.

I swallow him too.
He is too precious to
waste himself such ways.
I’d choose him: if he knew,
that I’d choose him.

But he doesn’t. My dearest is lunatic.
In vain he is full: He is useless
without the Moon, he can’t change,
he won’t change,
the way the steel bullets spin: drifting,

the blue is drifting.
He tolerates violence on himself, I was afraid
he’d pull himself together and
asks for violence.
I watched myself

born anew with indifference:
(if I melt him!)
stubborn, dense, yowls. They worked on him well.
Right now he is in transition.
He is a lake: looking for its shore.

Translated by Gabor G. Gyukics
‘I’m not a city’ &‘Lovers’ were published in Numéro Cinq July 2016

I’m not a city& other poems are © Kinga Fabó

Kinga Fabó is a Hungarian poet. Her latest book, a bilingual Indonesian-English poetry collection Racun/Poison was published in 2015 in Jakarta, Indonesia. Fabó’s poetry has been published in various international literary journals and poetry magazines including Osiris, Ink Sweat & Tears, The Screech Owl, The Original Van Gogh’s Ear, Numéro Cinq, Deep Water Literary Journal, Fixpoetry, lyrikline.org and elsewhere as well as in anthologies like The Significant Anthology, Women in War, The Colours of Refuge, Poetry Against Racism, World Poetry Yearbook 2015, and others.

Two of her poems have been translated into English by George Szirtes and are forthcoming in Modern Poetry in Translation Spring Issue with an introduction by Szirtes. Some of her individual poems have been translated into 17 languages altogether: Albanian, Arabic, Bulgarian, English, Esperanto, French, Galego, German, Greek, Indonesian, Italian, Persian, Romanian, Serbian, Slovenian, Spanish, Tamil.One of her poems (The Ears) has among others six different Indonesian translations by six different authors.

Earlier in her career Fabó was also a linguist dealing with theoretical issues, and an essayist, too, interested in topics from the periphery, from the verge. She has also written an essay on Sylvia Plath. Fabó has just become Poetry Editor at Diaphanous, an American e-journal for literary and visual art that will be launched soon. In everything she’s done, Fabó has always been between the verges, on the verge, in the extreme. She lives in Budapest, Hungary.

 

“Brother” and other poems by Clodagh Beresford Dunne

Brother

Don’t look at the rosemary on the fridge
shelf – it will remind you of the lamb
you cooked yesterday and how you
laughed at the notion of posting
next Sunday’s roast Down Under.
 
Don’t think that staring at a television
screen will fill the void. The Sydney
cricket match on the afternoon sports
bulletin will emulate the scorch
of your dancing coal fire.
 
Don’t step outside to breathe the frosty air,
you might foolishly look up to the sky
and see the ethereal trail of a jumbo jet
oblivious that it and every emigrant ship
has carried fragments of others.
 
Don’t look at your young son stretched
out, colouring his pages with crayons
– it will only remind you of your brother,
six years your junior, of how you walked
the school route with him, his small hand in yours.
 
            Brother was published in the Southword Literary Journal

 

Plenary Indulgence

Abrakedabra! and a plume of white smoke
Habemus Papam We have a Pope!
 
Through crimson curtains he emerges.
Immaculate.
Cassock and cape like fresh snow.
The conclave gushes behind
all blood red and sanguine.
They are umbilical
 
Connecting me to my grandmother
who polished her front step
with a tin of Cardinal Red
reciting her thirty-day-prayer
in rhythm with the bristles of her brush –
her incantation
a crucifix of indentation –
up and down, side to side, going nowhere.
The end result gleamed but was slippery
like dripping.
 
Do you know the Pope wears red shoes ?
I do – for the blood of the martyrs
or maybe for their Ferragamo tag.
Do you know he wears a fisherman’s ring?
I do – for St. Peter who cast
his net into the sea
or maybe to dress his hand
with gold and diamonds.
Do you know he gives out a Plenary
Indulgences on special occasions?
I do.
 
And then the pope raised his hand
and drew the world to his palm
and to my surprise, for a moment, I remained there.
 
                                                                                                                                                                           First published in Poetry 24.

Hypothesis

So the editor wants to know why
people are killing
themselves. I’ll tell you why –
because they are part of a revolution
they know nothing
about. Not a revolution with guns
and knives but one in its strictest
physical sense, the revolution
of the geoid, the planet earth.
We might share it with billions
but these days
we are each on our own
as it sits, upturned on its axis
slowly revolving, shaking off the detritus
until one by one
we cling to the surface
or free-fall into oblivion.
And so we concoct bizarre ways
to dodge our turn –
we are drawn to the oceans to hide
but drown in their deep waters,
we strive to weigh ourselves to the ground,
injecting ourselves like batteries
with liquid lithium.
To defy gravity
we anchor our ankles to balls and chains
or feel the ephemeral
ecstasy of letting
blood from our veins.
While some tie ropes around their necks
as they take their turn,
ready to hang
from the world, like a tarot card I once saw.

                                                                                                                                                                    First published in The Stinging Fly

Seven Sugar Cubes

   On 10th April, 1901, in Massachusetts, Dr. Duncan MacDougall set out to prove that the 
   human soul had mass and was measurable. His findings concluded that the soul weighed
   21 grams.
 
When your mother phones to tell you that your father has died 
ten thousand miles away, visiting your emigrant brother, 
in a different hemisphere, in a different season, 
do you wonder if your father’s soul will be forever left in summer? 
 
Do you grapple 
with the journey home of the body of a man you have known
since you were a body in your mother’s body? 
 
Does the news melt into you and cool to the image 
of his remains in a Tasmanian Blackwood coffin, in the body of a crate
in the body of a plane? Or do you place the telephone receiver back on its cradle, 
take your car keys, drive the winter miles to your father’s field, where you know 
his horses will run to the rattle, like dice, of seven sugar cubes.


                                                       first published in The Irish Times

 

You Have Become the Hand Rub of an Olympian

 
When your ashes return
in a small wooden box,
a brass plaque on top,
there is no cord
 
or record of attachment
to anything or anyone.
Somewhere a uterus
is evacuating itself – 
 
a mass of patient vessels,
surrendering and collapsing
bereft of implantation,
their futile existence spent.
 
If we were to walk
every inch of the earth
or soar to a distant planet
we’d be utterly sure
 
of one thing now – 
we’d find nothing
of you except these ashes –
not your cadaver
 
or the bony frame 
of your being,
not the protrusion
of your dental arcs.
 
You’ve been reduced
to chalky powder
like the hand rub
of some Olympian
 
preparing to bar-cling.
If this box should open,
one accidental sneeze
might spell the resurgence
 
of your skin cells, hair
follicles, a glutinous eye
or a femur bone. Rewinding,
back-tracking,
 
you’ve been redacted
to the nothingness of an atmosphere.

                                                                         (The Pickled Body)

 
brother and other poems are © Clodagh Beresford Dunne

Clodagh Beresford Dunne was born in Dublin and raised in the harbour town of Dungarvan Co. Waterford, in a local newspaper family. She holds degrees in English and in Law and qualified as a solicitor, in 2001. During her university and training years she was an international debater and public speaker, representing Ireland on three occasions, at the World Universities Debating Championships. Her poems have appeared in publications including The Stinging Fly, The Irish Times, Southword, The Moth, Spontaneity and Pittsburgh Poetry Review. She was the recipient of the Arts Council of Ireland Emerging Writer Award Bursary (2016) and a number of Literature awards and residencies from Waterford City and County Arts Office. In April, 2016 she delivered a series of readings, interviews and lectures, in Carlow University and Robert Morris University, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, as part of Culture Ireland’s International Programme. In February, 2017, as part of the AWP Conference and Book Fair in Washington, DC, she participated in a reading and discussion panel: “A World of Their Own” (five female poets in cross-cultural conversation) with US poets, Jan Beatty and Tess Barry, Irish poet, Eleanor Hooker, and Lebanese poet, Zeina Hashem Beck. She is a founding member, coordinator and curator of the Dungarvan and West Waterford Writers’ Group. She lives in Dungarvan with her husband and four young children.

“Detail” and other poems by Rachel Coventry

Detail

 
The world is full stretched,
and sick with possibility.
You find yourself in a gallery
ill with heat and standing.
Waiting for some man
to play his ridiculous hand.
So bored of art, but then
forced into wakefulness
by the feet of Diego Velazquez’
Cristo Crucificado. All suffering
now upon you and you
bear it because you have to.
 
First published in the Stony Thursday Book
 

Dispute

 
Latterly, my mother’s silent complaint,
the mute argument of her life
 
articulated itself inside her body
each unspoken tirade
 
eventually rendered in flesh
scratched into synapse
 
a foot plants itself on the stair, refuses
to move till she swears, come on
 
you fucker, drags it sulking
up one but then the other
 
stops and on it goes
the claim and counter claim
 
of an insidious dispute
that leads nowhere
 
First Published in the Honest Ulsterman
 

Beat

 
Systole
 
I am still haunting at the old addresses
oblivious to cosmetic improvements,
wandering pre-gentrified Stoke Newington
lost in a maze of grey council estates
still transfixed by reverberations
of tower blocks that have not yet
shivered to the ground
but still sweep acid house,
a lonely beam over
Hackney’s waste ground.
 
Diastole
 
Burning like the earth
at the Burmese border
the fans all noise no effect
Thai women, still as Buddhas,
me, western, huffing and bloated
wrestling with Christ on the floor,
really grasping at straws,
weaving pale meanings from gecko calls.
Maybe take succor in a different boy?
Some savage memory blazes momentarily
burns me clean. Give in finally. Breathe
 
First published The Poet’s Quest for God Anthology
 

What did I do to deserve you?

 
We exist so the universe
can experience loneliness
 
you may think if everything
is one, it will be content,
there will be no suffering
 
but you are wrong
if there is just one thing
there can be only be longing
with nothing to long for
 
so here we are, splinters
in the dark, no other purpose
but to break each other’s hearts.
 
First published in Poetry Ireland Review
 

As you sleep

 
I watch the flickering rhythm of skin
the pulse of the carotid artery
wonder and fear at its delicacy
and in reversal only lovers achieve
you are flesh and I am dream.
 
First published in Banshee

Rachel Coventry’s poetry has appeared in many journals including Poetry Ireland Review, The SHop, Cyphers, The Honest Ulsterman and The Stony Thursday Book. She was selected for the Poetry Ireland Introductions Series in 2014. In 2016 she won the Galway University Hospitals Arts Trust Annual Poetry Competition and was short-listed for the Patrick Kavanagh Poetry Award. She is currently writing a PhD on Heidegger’s poetics at NUIG. Her debut collection is forthcoming from Salmon Poetry.

The Spring 2017 issue of Compose Journal is live

Our Spring 2017 issue features an interview with Margo Orlando Littell and an excerpt from her debut novel, Each Vagabond by Name;  poetry by Laura Donnelly, Brian Simoneau, Chris Murray, Tanya Fadem, Sergio A. Ortiz, John Grey, Lita Kurth, and Gail DiMaggio; creative nonfiction by Noriko Nakada, Marion Agnew, Kevin Bray, Telaina Eriksen, Jim Krosschell, and Wendy Fontaine; fiction by Andrew Boden, Darci Schummer, Liesl Nunns, Laura Citino, and Beth Sherman; and artwork by Ana Prundaru, Fabrice Poussin, and Brian Michael Barbeito.

See more at: http://composejournal.com/issues/spring-2017/#sthash.hmFQpFvl.dpuf
 
Thanks to Suzannah Windsor and Andres Rojas for including two poems from my book (work in progress)  at this link

“Prostrate” and other poems by Mary O’Connell

The First Cut is…

for Ifrah Ahmed
 
A fat red sun comes up above the trees.
Ngozi claps her hands, today’s the day
her gran will bring her to Shangazi,
her mother’s aunt.”You must be brave”, they tell
the eight-year-old, who loves to hop and skip
along the dirt-tracks where the lizards play.
 
They walk for miles, but she discovers tunda;
mangoes and papayas in gran’s cotton bag—
a special treat for this her special day.
gran’s hand tightens as she walks into the house.
The windows are all darkened and a fan
on the ceiling makes a whirring sound.
 
Then she sees a bed with shiny instruments
and pushes into gran to hide her face.
The old one sits into a wing-backed chair,
cradles Ngozi in her arms and speaks:
“It won’t take long, my love, just look away.”
A touch of steel, and then a scalding pain.
 
“Now you’ll be ready for your wedding day.”
she hears them shout, as they raise and place her
on the bed, lying on one side, both legs tied.
Tears burn her cheeks, her throat feels sore and dry.
She shivers in the heat and feels betrayed,
invaded by a mutilating blade.
 

Amaryllis Belladonna

 
Something rising from the earth invades my life,
flaunts shamelessly in my place of refuge.
For weeks it lay folded in its verdant sheath,
then slowly pushed out its raw obscenity.
Interlocking petals mimicked loudspeakers
that blazed out without warning,
a ‘triffid’ broadcasting calamity.
 
It stares me down, daring me to look
into its crimson gullet, falling into black.
Yellow stamen at its lip protrude
to mock me with a snide gap-toothed leer.
Why should a gifted pot-plant snarl my peace?
Could the seeds go back to adolescence
coming upon the secret bloom of blood?
 

Prostrate

 
The Muezzin’s cry
calls you out of sleep,
 
you wear a cloth
that cancels all your curves,
 
walk to the Mosque to find
your place behind the latticed screen,
 
supplicate heaven
to send no more distress,
 
the belts of gelignite
that rock the square,
 
the Prophet’s message twisted in the sand.
fragmented symbols rising in the sand.
 
Prostrate and other poems is © Mary O’Connell

Mary O’Connell has had poems published in Southword , Best of Irish Poetry 2008, and the Café Review, (Portland ME). She taught languages and English and now lives in Cork city. She also had some success reciting her work in Strokestown and Derry. She has been fortunate to have been mentored by Paddy Galvin and Greg O’Donoghue in a workshop at the Munster Literature Centre, and often writes about nature and classical mythology, as well as taking an ironic look at public figures and events. A regular at O Bhéal, she has twice been asked to read for visiting American students.

“Consumed” and other poems by Gillian Hamill

Clarity

 
So still
It had to
Come to the fore

I could feel
The tears drop
And drip down
On to my leg
Fully-formed droplets
I could count rain

In the still
Stilled mind forge chatter
The sadness had nowhere to go
But out.

Canal Walk Home

What is it
About the power
of the water
To heal hurts

Three lads sit on the boardwalk
They hardly look like delicate sorts.
And yet they gaze out
Contemplate
The rushing rippling mottles of the
Undulating lake
Can soothe souls.

Car lights are reflected in
Striking streaks, always dappling
Buzzy thrill of
Modern pyrotechnics
In the most basic of
Science laws.

Edged by banking sycamore leaves
I took one and put it in my pocket
To describe it better.
The smell of its earthy salt and bark
Present.
And the bare elegance
Of stripped black branches
Spearing themselves into the night air
Soldered into the genesis
Of life
And yes they are
Wild quiet.

A little further on
There’s a piece of street art says
Only the river runs free
And maybe that’s the attraction
Of this portal into liberty.

And then to gaze down the row
Through Camden Street from Portobello
The multi-potted chimney tops
Sophisticated lego bricks
Pricked by the Edwardian arc
Of ornate street lights.

The red car lights more dense
The further in you go
Speeding up into
A crescendo
Of urban adrenalin
As if in a movie
And the cameras were moving in
Drawing you in
Crackle.

Crackle
Quick, quick slow
Travelling
Boom
in.

For all your talk
Of dalliances with the dark
Don’t you know that they are
One and the same.

The splendour of the curvature of the
veins in a leaf’s skin
Echoed with variations
Of trickled threads of gold.
Are as a naked woman’s
Crystallised spine
Waiting for your touch
Nymph and nature
They are one and the same.

But purity
Glorying in freedom
In liberated breeze
There is no need for
Shame.

Consumed

My soul is saddening.
Keening.
And crying out to the wolves.

Take me away. No answer.
Take me away. Louder
Take me away. Hysterical.

But while geographically there were many places she could have gone to.
In reality there was no place left to go.

His flinty eyes of malice recognised this.
And licking his lips. Charged.
Devoured.
Through sinew and synapse chomped.
No morsel left to be spat out.

Only her emptiness lingered
He could not wrap his jaws around
What did not exist.

That seething chasm of nothingness
Expanding
Every second, every minute, every hour, every day.
Swallowing all hope in its midst
And mainlining the remaining smulch into veins of her ill-begotten offspring.

Why, the wolves of course.
Ravenous little critters.

Engorged breasts of black milk
Mewling malevolence howled.
But madre macerated could not answer with a kiss.
Consumed by her own despair.
Literally.

The Last Day

 
Trails
Of entrails.
Gluttonous fat deals
Dripping hot sumptuous on molten train rails.
Mangy dog heels
To whine on his recline on a bed of nails
Hammered by slippery electric eels
And now pedal fast boy on your wheels
See glorious concrete hardened by steels
Wash, wash, wash, but grit you shit under your fingernails
Why, this is what you wanted as the bell peals.
Zap-ting, zap-ting, ting-ting-ting-ting go your microwave meals.
Greasing up your desperate bid to burn on among writers of great tales
But selfie, self loathing, self loving mastery, your progress is as slow as a snail’s
And soon, the filmy transcribe of time, your dignity steals
They say that love heals
But I don’t give a damn, I just want all the feelz.
Sewed into a corner by the bloodied strands – trails of entrails
The mighty man kneels

Before God
And Prays.

Consumed and other poems are Gilliam Hamill.

Originally from the village of Eglinton in Derry, Gillian Hamill has lived in Dublin for the past 12 years (intermingled with stints in Galway, Waterford and Nice). She has a BA in English Studies from Trinity College, Dublin and a MA in Journalism from NUI Galway. She is currently the editor of trade publication, ShelfLife magazine and has acted in a number of theatre productions. Gillian started writing poetry in late 2014.
 ⊗ Gillian’s Website

Song To Sequana (Burgundy, 100 BC) and other poems by Tim Miller

SONG TO NEHALENNIA (NETHERLANDS, AD 200)

 
Lady, here are offering for all those
whose business has to do with ships
the ones from here to Albion & back
and the prow you always lean upon;
 
Lady, here are offerings for all those
whose business is with the worked earth
the ones with and herbs and flowers
and all the fruits piled upon your lap;
 
Lady, here are offerings for all those
who have ceased with commerce and died
our sons in the sea and our fathers in the ground
and the Dark World’s dog always as your side;
 
Lady, here are fresh loaves from all those
that have desired your altar and temple and shrine
the ones who follow your miles to the water
theirs and our mothers the long background of you.
 

LOOKING FOR NERTHUS (AD 100)

for Jenny
 
The priest senses a new weight in the wagon
and it’s driven by boat to the mainland
and wheeled with rejoicing from place to place:
 
the pulling cows are feted and a new
festival for the goddess is founded,
food and thanks for the draped wagon, and all
 
weapons of war hidden from her presence.
When she’s had her fill of adoration
she’s returned to her island and her lake
 
where she’s washed among familiar confines
of grove and temple and shore, where she’s bathed
along with wagon and hangings and wheels:
 
the image of a woman washed with lake
water and carried like the chariot
does the sun, or like the buried wagons
 
do the dead, bronze sun and horse and wheels:
not the first woman drawn so and not the
last goddess, someone preceding her perhaps,
 
only the wheels and the wagon and the
woman remembered, pulled by this or that
animal, woman of some or other name,
 
this or that grove or lake, this or that land
or island all for her, a mystery,
since the slaves who bathed her are drowned in the lake
 
for their knowing but necessary touch,
for the dire but brilliant revelation
that with everything they give, the gods are hard.
 

SONG TO SEQUANA (BURGUNDY, 100 BC)

 
Source of the Seine, shrine and woman of the spring
sanctuary to water’s sudden appearance
doorway to underground and old elsewhere
place to abide and feel close to the dead
close to some culmination of the landscape
—elsewhere a grove, elsewhere a rock, elsewhere
a single venerable tree, and here a spring—
draped lady in your boat, diadem on your head,
I bring a bronze body for my brother
I bring a wooden leg for my neighbor
I bring a stone head for my own ailment
so that by such illustrations you might
make the bodies of your pilgrims whole again.
 

SONG TO SULIS (BATH, 100 BC)

 
Before the Romans arrived
there was only the water,
warm, coming up from the ground,
goddess of the deepest earth
as well as eye of the sun,
copious mother needing
no buildings or mosaics
but only pious bodies,
maybe a thrown offering,
bits of bronze or just some words
at the water’s edge or immersed,
reassurance during war
or relief at plenitude,
pilgrims all from a long way
stunned to be on this same ground
as their great distant mother
and her hands of warm water.
 
 ⊗ Cuween Chambered Cairn & other poems by Tim Miller

⊕ Bone Antler Stone (Museum Pieces) by Tim Miller
r

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

“Alethiometer” and other poems by Eleanor Hooker

Alethiometer

for John & Fedelma Tierney
 
I have one marble only, glass-curled greens and blue.
It’s kept inside a golden globe with turquoise studs,
I swing it from a chain: my dowsing stone, my truth-seer.
Once it knocked against an ancient head, cracked it so its walnut core
Leaked sepia images of a being lived inside another time, another age,
Before the image replaced the real and the real was more than shadow.
 
Outside the cave I glassed the play of light and shadow,
And when my only marble fell from its golden globe onto a blue
Tiled ocean floor, I swam after. The ancient head, wise with age,
Told me he had too lost his, recalled the studs
Inside the coloured orb, their curled blues, their seedy core
His own two eyes: Learian days that left him sightless and a seer.
 
My ancient friend dismissed the lies of a mummer seer
Whose falsest claim is that to love someone is to dispossess him of his shadow,
To wipe out every trace of him. Is this not indeed a murderous future? Our core
Belief that we are sworn to good and not extremes is not illusory. Those blue-
Eyed boys in ivory towers profess there is no truth, no self, nothings real; the studs
That breed such suasive tales are only there to fill the storybooks of our age.
 
Along the furrows of my brow I found a little pebble, it seemed an age
Since I had lost my marble. This purple stone weighed but a fraction of a seer.
It rattles in the golden globe, its hollow ring dislodging all the turquoise studs.
In the desert of the real, we watched the sun expand and then contract my shadow.
The ancient head has none. Though he is dead, we still talk. When the moon is blue
And the sky is starry nights, we harvest all the fruits of happy thoughts and core
 
Them for their seeds. “Is all of speech deception, all meaning at its core
Inherently unsound?” I asked the wise old head. He’d reached an age,
He said, and no longer feared such things, was satisfied there were no blue-
Prints or master schemes, simple truths apply—it does not take a seer
To tell you that the darkest hour is just before the dawn. All of us are shadow-
Dancing but mustn’t let the darkness intercept the light. The mettle studs
 
He riveted to the heart of my resolve are turquoise studs
In reinforced solutions. I’ve made up two new moulds, hollowed out their core
For curled glass in colours of the universe, whose negatives in shadow
Graphs are images of beings lived inside another time, another age,
Before I was madder than unreason and he mapped inscape as a seer
And gladness had another view, before betrayal choked intentions blue.
 
Talk on this blue-green sphere sets the lens within our glass-eye studs,
Through which the seer sees us stumble through the worth of words, in that core
Bewitchment of every age that cannot tell the real from dancing shadow.
 
First published in WOW! Anthology 2011, and subsequently in The Shadow Owner’s Companion (2012)

Escape Route

 
You fix our ladder in the scorched earth,
watch as the crows crowd round us,
I hear their cautionary caw-caws, but cover
your ears against their thin black sermons.
 
And so we climb. Me. Then you.
 
Runged, we stroke each bird,
‘sedate and clerical’ –
one bestows a molted quill feather,
colour-run like oil-marked silk.
 
Is it an omen? You ask. Should we go back?
I don’t answer; I’m too busy holding up the sky.
 

New Year’s Eve / Old Year’s Day

 
We are the survivors
who wait by the barricade
for the slow countdown.
Some of our dead slip through,
stand beside us, unsteady, unclothed, low –
we cannot take them with us.
 
The cry goes up for cheer,
smile, they demand, be merry.
Fireworks tear the stars
from the moon, pock the night
with dissimulated Armageddon,
the awed throng pitches forward.
 
If not in groups then kinfolk
keep in hailing distance,
their calls, inmost, distinctive,
provisional. My Dad sees me first.
He’s changed; parchment against bone,
eyes gone the colour of vertigo.
 
I am a smashed pane
that lets the rained downpour in,
in to vacant tenure.
As the countdown begins
there’s a clamour for the barricade,
and this is where we’re obliged to live on.
 
“Escape Route” and “New Year’s Eve / Old Year’s Day” are © Eleanor Hooker

Eleanor Hooker in an Irish poet. Her second collection, A Tug of Blue (Dedalus Press) was published October 2016. In 2013 her debut, A Shadow Owner’s Companion was shortlisted for the Strong/Shine Award for Best First Irish collection from 2012. Her poems have been published in literary journals internationally including: Poetry, Poetry Ireland Review, PN Review, Agenda and The Dark Mountain Project (forthcoming). Her poems have been nominated for a Pushcart and Forward Prize.

She is featured poet in the winter 2017 New Hibernia Review, University of St. Thomas, Minnesota. She won the 2016 UK Bare Fiction Flash Fiction competition. Eleanor holds an MPhil (Distinction) in Creative Writing from Trinity College Dublin, an MA in Cultural History (Hons) University of Northumbria, a BA (Hons 1st), Open University. She is Programme Curator for Dromineer Literary Festival.

She is helm and Press Officer for Lough Derg RNLI Lifeboat. She began her career as a nurse and midwife.

Eleanor’s website.

“Nightmare” and “The Fall” by Eleanor Hooker (Poethead)

“Sunflower” by Susan Millar DuMars

Sunflower

In Memory of the 796 infants and children who died at the Tuam Mother and Baby Home.

 
I dream a face as rounded as a girl’s
and then the petals bright like sunlit hair –
I dream a sunflower unafraid to touch
my shadowed skin, the nourishment of air.
 
Bury all the children underground
far from harm, sheltered by the dirt.
Stunted seeds, tucked in muck-dark beds.
Safe from you, safe from me, safe from hurt.
 
© Susan Millar DuMars

untitledSusan Millar DuMars has published three poetry collections with Salmon Poetry, the most recent of which, Bone Fire, appeared in April, 2016. 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.

“Pomegranate” and other poems by Kim Myeong-sun translated by Sean Jido Ahn

Pomegranate

In autumn, even a tree sheds jewels on the street.
A deeply buried heart may be fetching like this.
Around this time,
A bird shall pilot the life of a fragrant tree,
Crossing the river with a seed in its beak,
Passing the field of silvergrass on a mountain.
My shallow roots,
Which were swayed by no more than rain and wind,
Have you ever borne a piece of ruby hot as blood?
Without a jewel to pass on to a bird or a wind,
I pass in front of a pomegranate tree.
Whether I love or hate,
Life merely flows.
Toward where is life—an initiation ceremony—leading to?
The heart too red to believe in an afterlife,
The heart pecked by the bird!

A Will

Joseon*, when I part from you,
Whether you knock me down by a creek
Or yank my blood in the field,
Abuse me more, even my dead corpse.
If this is still not enough,
Then abuse her as much as you can
When someone like me is born henceforth.
Then we, who despise each other, will be parted forever.
Oh, you ferocious place, you ferocious place.

*Joseon (1392-1897) was a dynasty in Korea that preceded the Korean Empire (1897-1910). Even after the fall of the dynasty, its name was frequently used to refer to Korean peninsula.

Battle

There was an old soldier
Who plowed a field with his weapon
For he was injured all over from long battles
And thus hated fighting in battles.

But the furrows were unyielding
And the landlord was vicious,
So there was no harvest
Even after sowing and weeding.

So, one day, the old soldier,
Was paralyzed in sleep like a shooting rifle,
Stifled by heavy thoughts.

Oh, how strange—this soldier,
While sleeping after dumping his weapon,
Died with bruises all over his body
As if he fought in his dream.

People turned their heads.
There are battles whether you are awake or asleep,
So being alive and dead must be the same.
Saying so, each of them tensed both arms.

In the Glass Coffin

Today, I withstood agony again,
Because my life is still lingering,
Trapped in scarcely visible sorrow.
If my body is trapped
Like the life of a dinky, dinky thing,
What is with all this sorrow, this pain?
Like the bygone prince,
Who had loved the forbidden woman,
I believed I would live if I danced in the glass coffin;
I heard I would live with joy
Even in this dim sorrow,
If I worked, studied, and loved.
And so I have lived in this untrustworthy world.
Now, what shall I do with this suffocating feeling
That is burgeoning in this scarcely visible sorrow?
Stupid I! Stupid I!

Pomegranate & other poems are © Kim Myeong-sun, these translations are © Sean Jido Ahn

2016102000105_0Kim Myeong-sun was born in 1896 in Pyongyang, Korea. She debuted in 1917 when her short story A Girl in Doubt appeared in Youth [Chungchun]. In 1919, while she was studying abroad in Tokyo, she joined Korea’s first literary circle Creation [Changjo], which is reputed as the harbinger of modern Korean literary style. She published her first book of poems The Fruit of Life in 1925, which is also the first book of poems published by a Korean woman. Kim was known as quinti-lingual, and she introduced works of Edgar Allan Poe and Charles Baudelaire to Korean readers for the first time.

Along with a literary movement, Kim was also a central figure in feminism movement of her time. She argued that the world would achieve peace rather than war if women could play a major role in sociopolitics. Moreover, she openly supported free love, and her practice of free love subjected Kim to severe criticism. The fact she was a date rape victim and a daughter of a courtesan hardened the criticism, even among the writers who were close to her. After she fled to Tokyo in 1939, her mental health exacerbated due to extreme financial hardship, failed relationship, and ongoing criticism, and Kim spent rest of her life in Aoyama psychiatric hospital in Tokyo. While her year of death is known to be 1951, this date is not officially verified.

A note about the translator

Sean Jido Ahn is a literature student and a translator residing in Massachusetts, USA. His main focus is Korean to English translation, and he has translated a documentary, interviews, journal articles, and literary pieces. Currently, he runs a poetry translation blog AhnTranslation  and plans to publish the first edition of a literary translation quarterly for Korean literature in fall 2017.

“Foraois Bháistí” agus dánta eile le Doireann Ní Ghríofa

Foraois Bháistí

 
I mbreacsholas na maidine, leagaim uaim an scuab
nuair a aimsím radharc nach bhfacthas cheana
 
ag dealramh ar an mballa: fuinneog úr snoite as solas,
líonta le duilleog-dhamhsa. Múnlaíonn géaga crainn
 
lasmuigh na gathanna gréine d’fhonn cruthanna dubha
a chur ag damhsa ar an mballa fúthu, an duilliúr ina chlúmh
 
tiubh glas, an solas ag síothlú is ag rince tríothu.
Fuinneog dhearmadta ar dhomhain eile atá ann, áit agus am
 
caillte i gcroí na Brasaíle, áit a shamhlaím fear ag breathnú
ar urlár na foraoise, ar an mbreacscáth ann, faoi dhraíocht
 
ag imeartas scáile, dearmad déanta aige ar an léarscáil,
ar an bpár atá ag claochlú ina lámh: bánaithe anois,
 
gan rian pinn air níos mó, gan ach bearna tobann
ag leá amach roimhe. Airíonn sé coiscéim
 
agus breathnaíonn sé siar thar a ghualainn,
mar a bhreathnaímse thar mo ghualainn anois,
 
ach ní fheiceann ceachtar againn éinne.
Níl éinne ann.
 

Rainforest

 
In morning’s piebald light. I set aside my duster
on finding a view I’ve never noticed before
 
surfacing on the wall, a new window, sunlight-snipped,
filled with shadow-twist and leaf-flit. Branches shape
 
the sunlight from outside, sculpting dark forms
and setting them dancing on the wall, green-furred with foliage,
 
light swaying and simmering through. I watch it become
a window to some other world, a time and place forgotten,
 
lost in a Brazilian forest, where I imagine a man stands, gazing
at the forest floor, at the reflected speckle-shadow, enthralled
 
by the play of shade he sees there, and he is forgetting his map,
the parchment that is swiftly transforming in his hand, emptying
 
itself now, until no trace of a pen remains and a sudden void
stretches before him. He hears a footstep and his breath quickens,
 
a gasp, a fast-glance back over his shoulder,
as I glance over my shoulder now, too,
 
but neither of us see anyone.
No one is there.
 

(Don Té a Deir nach bhfuil Gá le Bronntanas i mBliana)

 
Tosaím i gcroí na Samhna. Cíoraim gach seilf,
gach siopa, gach suíomh idirlíon. Caithim laethanta
fada ag cuardach fuinneoga na cathrach ach fós,
ní thagaim ar an bhféirín cuí.
 
Tagann agus imíonn na seachtainí. Táim ar tí
éirí as, in ísle brí, go dtí go ndúisíonn glór na gaoithe
i lár na hoíche mé, freagra na faidhbe aici.
Tabharfaidh mé boladh na báistí duit, a chroí.
 
Meán oíche. Siúlaim síos staighre ar bharraicíní
chun múnlán oighir a leagan ar leac fuinneoige.
Oíche beo le báisteach atá romham,
díle bháistí á scaoileadh sa ghairdín.
 
Amach liom, cosnochta faoin mbáisteach.
Bailíonn braonta na hoíche isteach sa phlaisteach,
seomraí beaga bána ag borradh le huiscí suaite
na spéire tite, dromchla gach ciúb ar crith le scáil
 
na scamall tharstu, agus ina measc, blúirí den spéir
réaltbhreac. Ritheann creatha fuachta tríom agus fillim
ar an tigh, rian coise fliucha fágtha i mo dhiaidh.
Sa reoiteoir, iompóidh an bháisteach ghafa ina hoighear.
 
Cruafaidh scáileanna réalta ann, claochlú ciúin, fuar.
B’fhéidir nach n-inseoidh mé an scéal seo duit riamh.
I ngan fhios duit, ar iarnóin Nollag, b’fhéidir
go líonfaidh mé gloine leis an oighear ar do shon,
 
féirín uaim, cuimhneachán d’oíche nach bhfaca tú,
nuair a d’éalaíos uait, chun braonta agus réalta
a bhailiú duit. I ngloine, sínfidh mé féirín dúbailte
chugat – boladh na báistí agus luas a titime araon.
 
Scaoilfidh mé braon ar bhraon le titim tríot,
báisteach na hoíche ag stealladh ionat, á slogadh
scornach go bolg, titim réaltbhreac tobann.
Bronntanas.
 

(For One who Says that No Gift is Needed this Year)

 
I begin in November, and search every shelf,
every shop, every website. So many afternoons,
spent peering through windows, and still
I can’t find a gift for you.
 
Weeks come, weeks go, and I become glum,
I begin to think that I’ll have to give up. But tonight,
the wind’s voice wakes me and her answer is clear.
I will capture the smell of rain for you, my dear.
 
At midnight, I tiptoe downstairs
to place a plastic tray on the windowsill
and find the night alive with rain,
a flood-fall spinning in the garden.
 
Barefoot, the rain lurching around me, I watch
drops rush into the plastic cubes until all
the small white rooms brim with storm-waters;
between surface reflections of cloud,
 
slivers of a vast dark speckled with stars.
Shivering, I turn back home, drizzling damp
footprints after me. In the freezer,
this captured rain will turn to ice.
 
Stars will harden and take hold in a transformation
both silent and cold. Maybe I won’t tell you.
Maybe on a Christmas afternoon, I’ll just
fill your glass with these ice cubes, a silent gift
 
from me to you, souvenir of a night you never knew,
when I crept out to catch rain and stars and parcel them
in ice for you. When I hand you a glass it’ll be a twin present –
both the scent of rain, and the velocity of a fall.
 
The drops will plunge again, a night-rain
moving inside you, gullet
to gut, a sudden, star-dappled plummet.
A gift.
 
Foraois Bháistí agus dánta eile le Doireann Ní Ghríofa & english translations by the poet
 

Faoi Ghlas 

Tá sí faoi ghlas ann          fós, sa teach          tréigthe, 
cé go bhfuil          aigéin idir í          agus an teach 
	a d’fhág sí          ina diaidh. 

I mbrat uaine          a cuid cniotála,          samhlaíonn sí 
	sraitheanna, ciseal glasa          péinte 
ag scamhadh ón mballa          sa teach inar chaith sí — 

	— inar chas sí          eochair, blianta
ó shin,          an teach atá          fós ag fanacht uirthi, 
	ag amharc          amach thar an bhfarraige mhór. 

Tá an eochair ar shlabhra          aici, crochta óna muineál 
	agus filleann sí          ann, scaití,          nuair 
a mhothaíonn sí          cloíte.          Lámh léi 

ar eochair an tslabhra, dúnann sí         a súile agus samhlaíonn 
	sí an teach úd          cois cladaigh, an dath céanna 
lena cuid olla cniotála, na ballaí          gorm-ghlas, 

teach          tógtha ón uisce,          teach tógtha          as uisce 
	agus an radharc          ann: 
citeal ag crónán,          gal scaipthe,          scaoilte 

ó fhuinneog an pharlúis, na toir          i mbladhm, 
	tinte ag scaipeadh          ar an aiteann 
agus éan ceoil a máthair ag portaireacht          ina chliabhán, 

ach cuireann na smaointe sin ceangal          ar a cliabhrach 
	agus filleann sí arís          ar a seomra néata, ar lá néata 
eile           sa teach 

altranais,          teanga na mbanaltraí dearmadta          aici, 
	seachas please agus please agus please, 
tá sí cinnte de          nach          dtuigeann siad          cumha

	ná tonnta ná glas. Timpeall a muiníl, 
ualach          an eochair          do doras a shamhlaíonn          sí 
faoi ghlas fós, ach          ní aontaíonn an eochair          sin 

leis an nglas níos mó     tá an chomhla dá hinsí     i ngan fhios di 
	an tinteán líonta          le brosna          préacháin 
fós, fáisceann sí an chniotáil          chuig a croí 

ansin baineann sí dá dealgáin          í, á roiseadh go mall arís, 
arís, na línte scaoilte          ina ceann          agus ina gceann 
	snáth roiste:          gorm-ghlas gorm-ghlas gorm-ghlas

gorm-ghlas gorm-ghlas gorm-ghlas          amhail cuilithíní 
	cois cladaigh      nó roiseanna farraige móire.      Sracann sí 
go dtí go bhfuil sí          féin          faoi 

ghlas         le snáth         á chlúdach         ó mhuineál go hucht. 
	Ansin,      ceanglaíonn sí      snaidhm úr, snaidhm      docht, 
ardaíonn sí na dealgáin          agus tosaíonn sí          arís.


	Under Lock and Green

She is locked there 	still, in the empty 	house, 	
despite 	   	 the ocean between her	and this house, 
	the one	she left 		behind her.

In the green sweep 	of her knitting	 she imagines
	layers, green layers			of paint
a wall peeling 		in the house where she spent –

– where she turned 		a key, years
	ago, before, 	the house that is 	still waiting for her
gazing 			over a vast ocean.

She wears the key on a chain 	that hangs at her throat
	and she returns 		there, sometimes, 	when 
she feels 	weak.		With one hand

over that chained key, she closes 	her eyes and daydreams
	that house 	by the beach, the same colour
as her wool, the walls 		blue-green, 

a house		from water, a house 	of water
	and the view 	there:
a fretting kettle, 	its steam loose, 		leaving

through the parlour window, where the furze is 		aflame,
	fires swelling 		through the gorse,
and her mother’s songbird chirping 		in its cage,

but thoughts like these bind 	her chest too tightly
	so she lets go, and returns  	to this neat little room, this neat little day
another		in this home

this home for the elderly	where she forgot the nurses’ words years ago
	except please 	and please 		and please, and she’s certain
that they		understand neither cumha 		

	nor tonnta 	nor the glas		at her throat,
the weight of a key	   for a door 	she imagines	
	still locked, but 		the key won’t slot 

into her remembered lock	the door has fallen from its hinges	in her absence 
	the hearth fills			with the kindling 	of crows
still, she nestles her knitting 	in near her heart

then lifts it from the needles, 		unravels it slowly again,
again, the lines released		one		by one
	unravelled, the thread:		blue-green blue-green blue-green 

blue-green blue-green blue-green 		like little ripples 
	scribbling on the shore 		or immense ripping oceans. She tears
until 		she is		under

lock and green again, 	with wool 	covering her	neck and chest.
	Then, 	a breath, and then,		she ties		a new knot,
lifts the needles 			and begins 		again.

Doireann Ní Ghríofa is a bilingual writer working both in Irish and English. Among her awards are the Rooney Prize for Irish Literature, the Michael Hartnett Prize, and the Ireland Chair of Poetry bursary. She frequently participates in cross-disciplinary collaborations, fusing poetry with film, dance, music, and visual art. Doireann’s writing has appeared widely, including in The Irish Times, The Irish Examiner, The Stinging Fly, and Poetry, and has been translated into many languages, most recently to French, Greek, Dutch, Macedonian, Gujarati, and English. Recent or forthcoming commissions include work for The Poetry Society (UK), RTÉ Radio 1, Cork City Council & Libraries, The Arts Council/Crash Ensemble, and UCC. Her most recent book is Oighear (Coiscéim, 2017)

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faoi-ghlas-le-doireann-ni-ghriofa-1

“Rosa” and other poems by Bernadette Gallagher

Hanging #2

(Things Fall Apart)

For JL

As I relax in Inchydoney
reading ‘Things Fall Apart’
by Chinua Achebe

you encounter a real life
hanging and with no time
to think you scale the tree
and save a man’s life.

Twenty four hours later
I could do nothing to save
Okonkwo, only read to the
end of his story.

First published by HeadStuff.org
as Poem of the Week on 11 November 2015; Editor – Alvy Carragher;

Audio recording by the poet

Shades

(After ‘To Any Dead Officer’ by Siegfried Sassoon)

In memoriam: J.J.J.

Well, how are things in Heaven?
Better than 1916 when you were born?
Humans fighting humans.

Are there quarrels amongst the shades?
Does he who shouts
loudest get heard?

Have you met Robert Tressell
whose book sustained you?
He, who died a pauper, yet unpublished.

How many others have you met
who died unsung or poor?
How are Rembrandt and El Greco?

And how fares William Blake who was
buried in an unmarked grave?
Have you heard the music of Vivaldi or Mozart?

Do those who died poor, genius or not,
walk beside those wealthy, intelligent or not?

Oh, if only the ways of Heaven, Hell and
Purgatory were applied here, what a comedy
it would make.

First published in ‘Boyne Berries 1916’ special edition literary journal commemorating the centenary of the 1916 Rising published by Boyne Writers Group in Spring 2016;
Editor: Orla Fay; [ISNN: 1649-9271]

Video recording of the poet reading Shades at the launch of Boyne Berries 1916 in Trim, Co. Meath in March 2016 – https://drive.google.com/file/d/0B0WlfOxmvrkyLUZUMU5OZzdGbUE/view

Young Urchins

In memoriam Aylan (Alan) Kurdi

We walked on the beach, heads down,
to find the white heart shapes of the
Sea Potato, light as a feather, delicate,
empty of life, small holes in a precise
pattern visible now that the soft
spines to fend off predators
are no longer needed.

These young urchins washed
up from their sand homes
and thrown onto the beach
already dead.

First published in Issue #3 Picaroon Poetry, July 2016; Editor: Kate Garrett
https://www.yumpu.com/en/document/view/55749481/picaroon-poetry-issue-3-july-2016

The poet reading Young Urchins as part of the invited Ó Bhéal Closed Mic event during the Cork Winter Warmer Poetry Festival, November 2016 https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=z8sb-iF951Q

Rosa

Do not prune the roses said Vita Sackville-West,
strung together let them grow to four feet at best.
Dig the hole deep and fill with rotted waste
filtered by worms to our taste.
Flowers, white, red and colours
in between decorate our food.

The rose metamorphosed in Istanbul
bringing squares of pale pink tossed
in ice to tempt my love
until death cuts off
a branch dropping
a single white
flower
below.

Do not prune the roses said Vita Sackville-West.

First published in Boyne Berries 20: Autumn 2016, Editor: Orla Fay; Published by Boyne Writers Group [ISSN: 1649-9271]

Seeds

After Derek Mahon’s translation of the poem ‘L’ignorant’ by French poet Philippe Jaccottet.

My hair shows a hint of grey.
Clouded lens, they call it cataract.
Skin a little wrinkled.

Garden of weeds, mint, parsley, sage, oregano.
Seeds in my brain sprout into
song, poetry, dance and a little gentleness.

Surrounded by computers talking in bits.
Still learning, still working, still digging
as day turns into night and autumn into winter.

A swing returns to my garden
after many years, taunting me:
What has changed?

First published by Stanzas in Stanzas – Ekphrasia August Chapbook MMXVI;
Editor: Shane Vaughan

Video recording of the author reading Seeds at the launch of the Ekphrasia Chapbook in August 2016 in Limerick – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mxugA4iXJ8k&feature=youtu.be
 

Father to Daughter

For Rafiq Kathwari

Do you realise there is a war
going on? I didn’t.

Used to being stopped
at security checkpoints
Strabane – Aughnacloy

Sounds of war do not
stifle a 22 year old.

An Arab friend gently plucks
stray hairs from my face
working thread with fingers.

High fashion – hand made
from Burda patterns – covered
for Mosque with Abaya.

Five women dressed in black
on our way to Gaylani Mosque.

A letter goes astray to Tehran
but finds me safe on Haifa Street
Baghdad.

“Rosa” and other poems are © Bernadette Gallagher.

Bernadette Gallagher, one of eight children, was born by the seaside in Donegal in 1959 and now lives on a hillside in County Cork. At 22 years of age she accepted an offer of a job in Baghdad where she lived and worked for 2 years. Ever since she has had a special affinity with the people of the Middle East. While working full time Bernadette studied for a B.Sc. in Information Technology and an M.Sc. in Internet Systems and continues to work full time now as a project manager.

Bernadette Gallagher has been writing a personal journal for many years and her poetry has been published in print in Boyne Berries, Ropes 2016 and Stanzas, and online at HeadStuff.org, Picaroon Poetry and The Incubator Journal.

On most Monday evenings Bernadette reads at the Open Mic during the Ó Bhéal Weekly Poetry event in Cork.
Bernadette Gallagher’s blog.

“Market Prayer” and other poems by Annemarie Ní Churreáin

Laundry

 
Here in the Indian foothills,
I share a house with a man from Greece
 
who speaks no English perfectly,
disappears for days on a motorbike,
 
leaves his laundry on the low make-shift line,
grieving an absent sun.
 
Side by side they hang: his shirt, my summer dress
as if they know each other well
 
and when he returns, smelling of engine oil,
monsoon, rolled brown cigarettes,
 
we have no formal language,
to share our separate joy.
 
Drip-drip on the balcony,
a queer, white pool gathers below.
 
He holds at a sleeve, looks to sky.
I open my palm for signs of rain.
 

Market Prayer

 
It is the scent of hanging fruit
more than roots pulled
from lines of parallel dirt
that lingers
after all that has happened.
I touch a pyramid of lemons
and everything is new again.
I pick one, and close my hand around it
as if to test these immutable seeds
glowing in my darkness.
For what, I do not know.
Pomona of Orchards, please:
like the finder of a planet
seeing for the first time
an otherness, I am afraid
the life I dream exists.
 

Protest

 
One cut and the hair worn since childhood
fell upon the floor
dead soft.
 
A spear-thistle;
her new, bald skull
refused order.
 
She belonged to heather
and in tail-streams
cupping frogs,
 
delighting
in the small, green pulse of life
between palms,
 
not here:
at the dark centre of reunions, separations,
starved of air.
 
This was a protest of love, against love
demanding
sun, rain, wilderness.
 
From a finger, she slid a band
placed it underfoot,
pressed down
 
until the stone
made the sound of a gold chestnut
cracking open.
 

The Scandal

 
The villagers did not unite
in outrage
but instead, they set about their days as usual,
posting letters, buying fruit, forming queues in the bank after lunchtime.
 
They said little
but within that little lay much;
little was a gated field in which something extraordinary was buried.
 
They held to their inner selves
resilient
in emergencies of projected light.
 
And yet,
over time, there happened a slow retreat from joyousness;
a packing away of the Emperor’s new clothes, for good.
 
Only the giant oaks
would live to remember imagination.
 

End of Girlhood

 
The first time
a tree called me by name,
I was thirteen and only spoke a weave of ordinary tongues.
 
It started with a leaf and next,
a mist came down from the hills, beating a lone skin drum,
looking for me.
 
Scarlet pimpernels dropped hints
that could not be ignored:
no red is innocent.
 
Badger trails called me aside for a word.
Come underground, they said,
see what we are made of.
 
Market Prayer and other poems are © Annemarie Ni Churreáin

Annemarie Ní Churreáin is a poet and writer from Donegal, Ireland. She has been awarded literary fellowships from Akademie Schloss Solitude (Germany), Jack Kerouac House (Orlando) and Hawthornden Castle (Scotland). In 2016, Annemarie was the recipient of a Next Generation Artists Award from the Arts Council of Ireland. In Autumn 2017, Annemarie’s debut collection ‘BLOODROOT’ is being launched by Doire Press, Galway. For more information, click here.

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“The Suitcase” and other poems by Breda Spaight

Her Cross

 
When I drink, it is always 1967.
The dog lies still on the frozen grass, white blades bowed
under blinking crystals; the chain
from its neck to the conifer muddied and knotted
like a root from which it draws life.
I remember it as a pup, like all the pups
my father ever brought home when drunk,
the milky smell of its vigorous body, fonts of sorrow
in sloe-black irises.
What do we have here? What is this?
He produces the pup from his inside coat pocket
carefully as a birth, his face at its most wounded:
he could cry, vomit, or even laugh, the pup held high
like a boyhood memory beyond his reach
yet as close as yesterday,
alcohol collapsing time like time in a fairy tale.
I am tired of my father; we’re all tired of him –
a continuous season of storm upon storm,
calm only the calm of the eye.
And so the pup ends up tied to a tree, savage;
the half-moon it inhabits no larger than ours, grass worn
down like chewed fingernails, the verge jagged
as the amber outline of piss stains
on the bed-wetter’s sheets.
To give my father his due, he never slaughters a dog
that hasn’t first bitten him. He stands with a pitchfork at the edge
of Rex-Prince-Spot’s sphere of mud,
goading – a flagellant coveting his own blood,
scourging his sin, craving a cure
stronger than drink to kill
another tomorrow;
our mother’s mouth red as a cut, Christ, not in front of . . .!
Lassie
blares all around us in the kitchen.

 
Runner up in the iYeats International Poetry Competition (2016).
 

The Suitcase

 
By now, I’m a collector of secrets.
I seek mute corners,
sift dream from the half-remembered,
meaning from the half-known –
staccato night whispers in the kitchen,
the long silence. Bone-white elbow tip, all that’s seen of my father’s
arm under my mother’s skirt in the orchard that sunny day, her toes
clenching grass, the shudder in her voice, nettle-sting shock
ripping between my legs.
I move silently against the scent of their bedroom,
against white light soaked from sheets
stretched skin-tight, the black suitcase
beneath the bed; the lining, blood-red as blood, dotted with dot-size,
white stars, carnival in scale,
my mother’s old dresses – blues, greens, pinks, black & white stripes, vital
shades in a magician’s trick.
I covet them,
as though knowing the burn of a man’s hand
on a body that looms in me, one I recognise in slim, belted shapes
I drag from her raw self, a girl who flirted, jived,
her dress the flared bloom of a foxglove, her core signalling its want for
me in her womb,
not knowing that in giving me life, I will seize everything
from her
time after time.
 
Winner of the Boyle Arts Festival Poetry Competition 2016
 

Bacon

 
I still see her fold in half, one leg ballerina-
raised for balance as she bows into the wooden
barrel for next day’s flitch of bacon.
 
My brother wears his cowboy suit – black hat,
leatherette waistcoat with fringes across
the chest; his gun holster buckle the Lone Star.
 
Meat steeps in a bowl of water overnight.
Salt liquefies, spume rises and floats while
she sleeps in a house of thunder, moths’ furred
 
bodies pattering the whore-red glow of
the sacred heart lamp on the kitchen
window, The Virginian’s gun under his pillow.
 
She slices bacon with her loneliness, the air
marbled various auras of sad – dawn, midnight,
August, the long years of her love like
 
starlight’s colossal dying, John Wayne
at the kitchen door, I’m the sheriff ‘round here.
Hands in the air, an’ nobody gets hurt.
 
First published in Communion 2015 (Aus)
 

That Man

 
Mental asylum – my first big words, motherese
for sad man and my mother drinking
tea at the front wall, on summer Tuesdays.
 
Her voice cords with his, words sung
in each other’s face, spun out film noir
mumbles, something late-night, Ingrid Bergman;
sudden silence like the abrupt black
of a blank television screen on a couple kissing,
frisson between her and Father
amid the kitchen smell of second-day stew,
squandered flesh.
 
On those heat hazed afternoons, chestnut horses
in Madden’s furlong field tongue each other’s
withers, neck, flank,
 
tail-swish, swish,
wind among pampas, swish,
across steppe –
 
two mugs in the sink,
teardrop tea stains.
 
First published in Orbis 2015
 

Safe Period

 
After her third child, X marks the forbidden
days, and my mother sleeps in my bed, sour
in her heat,
summer Sunday odour of seaside, odd nights
when she’s suddenly
beside me, gasping,
hiding underwear beneath the pillow
after wiping herself, rosaries murmuring
through damp fingers in birdsong dawn,
prayer and seed coursing
to her very womb, the Our Father,
Hail Mary mumbled to the inner chant –
I hope I’ve escaped,
this time.

Days when the house is a chorus
to her strain; doors bang, pots clatter:
she loathes her nature,
not sex, but holding him, his whispered doubts
pleasure to her heart, a fault before Christ
the redeemer, the child a curse, mishaps buried like pups
in dung heaps.
They avoid each other
in the evenings, the Please and Thank you
of strangers, air crackling, the ferocity of
unspent sex worrying every cell, bodies
hunched over chairs, his voice leading hers in the Rosary,
all of us clustered,
as though the last people on a wreck,
the round haunches of them both,
the flesh of her
rippling like any animal that runs.
 
First published in Banshee 2016
 

Final Cut

 
The clash of shovel against stone
carries from the haggard through the open
kitchen window, where my mother and I
watch television. Alone,
we take the men’s seats
beside the cream and black range, scent
of baked bread seeps from the oven.
 
Alone, we are women. She, forty-five,
seven months gone, and I, menstruating,
a Leaving Cert student, the first of my kind
from bog-ignorant Ireland.
 
The Mary Tyler Moore Show is on. With her career,
apartment, and, apparently, no man,
she is sheer pornography –
arousing rebellion and regret between us,
the fault line that of last comely maiden
and first material girl.
 
I’ve not slit a hen’s neck, my legs flecked
with hot blood, a rite eclipsed when I stepped
onto the free school bus, unembellished by my mother’s world –
bar the memory of her knife-hand
pulling the faithful cut,
a violinist drawing the final note.
 
First published in Skylight 47 2015
 

bredas-photo-010Breda Spaight is a poet and novelist from Ireland. Her poems are published widely in Ireland and abroad, including The SHOp, Burning Bush 2, Banshee, Orbis, Envoi, Atticus Review (US), Communion (AUS),The Ofi Press, and others. She is the 2016 winner of the Boyle Arts Festival Poetry Competition, and runner up in the iYeats International Poetry Prize.

“Fabric” and other poems by Kate O’Shea

Fabric

Italians hunt song birds, gawping silence,
decaying rope from where a small girl hung
in the rubber hoop of an old tractor tyre
a lifetime ago, no limits on adventure
growing up to carry the fire
not knowing about box files,
computer monitors
the prescribed texts and reading lists
that deformed desire
replaced it with a constabulary of deception
despite all this she did not dwindle
into a wife and mother
the spindle of life is cruel
it twists and turns –
one makes the other.
The brushwood burns,
watchmen flock together
and camp in the open.

The Night Watchman

Love is not real estate
expansive as flood plains
intimate like silt
destructive and constructive
it is not for those who role play
or get lost in the night
led astray by bright lights
and flesh turrets
maidens with drawn out hair
beefy knights.
Love is insomnia of the soul
and you are always watching
it is more satisfying
than breathing a little
call that a life?
to watch over, to be there,
to suck out the poison
to break down delusions
delicate as spiderwebs
surf the tsunami
cradle the fragile skull
like a Fabergé egg.
Nursery rhymes house more truth
than any ideology.
Humpty Dumpty’s great fall
makes martyrs of us all.
Let us be grateful
for the gargantuan effort
it takes to stay awake

The Last Rose

a ball of cells vacuumed
in the first trimester
scarabs and virgins
bore children alone
became religious symbols

the maternal ball is horse manure
an oval-face on the wane
blue babies and young beetles
emerge

housewives and whores
are lower on the food chain
the messy trade of sexual fluids
wets our lips
traitors speak about
roses, love and birth
as if we own this earth

 

High-flier

after Brueghel’s Icarus

plop
a small figure in the distance
a pair of feathers

the farmer continued to plough
the angler taken by a scheme
somehow did not register the boy
the shepherd counted sheep
as the sun fell in the sky
ship rapt in glorious masts
drew the eye

a small figure in the distance
a pair of feathers
plop

Deer

Shattered ranunculus flowers
petals like teeth from a dream
the garden is not real
wind prowls round
a research station in Antarctica
the sky is a hologram
I don’t give a damn
downing cup after cup of coffee
complex as an orchid
the death of insects
one long-drawn funeral
I tend flowerbeds
dreaming of a mother
Alice stands stock-still
amongst butterflies
moths with laughably
long tongues probe
eyes, velvet antlers

Fabric and other poems are © Kate O’Shea

/unnamed

I. Am. Straight. Are you ? & other poems by Lisa Lowther.

Dedicated to the many people all over the world that cannot live liberally & authentically for reasons of culture or other. May you find a path that frees you to be true to your beautiful intrinsic self, whatever that may be.

Closet

Ivory Solid Wooden Door –
unbreakable
Shining Gold Handle
protected by two
one on either side
admittance – speaks quietly
the other will decide
as you attempt to open
not just anyone is welcome

White Backless Gowns
on shining skin
Chiffon, Encrusted Diamonds
heels that can match any
Elegant Masquerade Masks
green eyes of foreign waters
pearls, bright & round as the moon
reflected
only to the celebrant

By Invitation – The Other
Vintage Lace
some roses too
For Your Entrance –
not an exit of mine, this time
do close the door on leaving
the two shall rest awhile

A little like my own

Even I did not feel invited into this poem

I. Am. Straight.

Are you ?

Contemplation of what life once was & could have been
momentarily fills my heart with sadness
I could have chosen that path
the superficial comfort of what society states is my success
I now would be dead
a funeral
that I alone would have attended
privately & inside of me
a society that conditioned the belief amongst many
that my ‘type’ would only have a marriage to a ‘He’
that very poison choking the core beauty of some other ‘females’
Thankfully, that wasn’t me

I too could have taken that pride…. in a husband
a free ticket to shield my secret
My.
Secret.
To bury –
present us both as a society success
but Girlfriend, Fiance & Wife
I understand you
Without a judgmental nor a critical weight
for you & I are both the same
We are straight
‘Ssh’traight

A path interrupted by authentic desire
many a beautiful night
sharing a wild & deep embrace
of soft satin skin
& bright white lace
between the sheets with a natural beauty
to wake with the sun filling a room
illuminating the exquisite reality
for the torture of acceptance
to cut the presence of it, her & the sun
as easy as a knife would cut a single green blade of grass
& that torture ?
for simply being ‘Ssh’traight

‘Ssh’ traight
‘Ssh’traight
‘Straight’! – Presumed by many
always followed by
“Who is the lucky man?”
to scream inside
but I am in the sun with ‘her’
where I am alive & feel more like me
not dead to ‘Him’ or worst again
Dead to me
Dead to me
Dead to me!

The morning passes
with the fading sun
let go of my grasp
look deep in her eyes
share a warm kiss
this always suggested our departure
‘Ssh’traight reflection in the mirror
take a breath
rouge lipstick I paint
mascara to darken my lashes
on opening that door
remember to lift my head
clicking my heels into the engulfment of society again

until the next time
I am straight
Are you?

Here

So you’ve left ?
sorrowful mess
alone in mind of how & what
weeping heart
no matter what
full –
yet void of why

So you’ve left
& my heart to love again –
impossible
to what it was
& IS
is rare
is rare

So you’ve left
maybe, once again
for I knew you, before we met
‘a first uniting?,’ the lady asked
to reply ‘No’
simply

Our eyes had met
with a familiar gaze
time stood I’m sure
moved by smiles
to the beauty of ‘Hello’ again
softly.

So you’ve left
from that hello
& in between –
the love
the years
& everything
to this goodbye?
Good bye?!
So you’ve left
well, so you say! –
I see you smiling
in the hallway
to catch a moment of me smiling back
& realise
it’s just

So you’ve left
to hear your song
I tilt my head to hear some more
to recognise myself
with company –
a  sudden silence

So you’ve left
to see you sitting in the sun
& reach toward you
with falling tears
an empty chair

So you’ve left
while your arms hold me
an intersilient cold air
no words spoken
just traffic passing by

So you’ve left.
then tell me
how I hear you call my name?
pause & listen
to hear just the night

So you’ve left
then why visit
when I’m sleeping
& rise to see you smile in bed
to turn
to nothingness,
again

So you’ve left
yet, I see you
look deep in my eyes
With much light &
feel your hand
mind mine

So you’ve left ?
why is it
You’re still here
still here
here.

(LL 2011)

The Wake

Ticking clock
between the silence
 the intermittent noise
TicK – TocK – TicK – TocK
cracked ceiling
splitting view of complete darkness
1 hundred beautiful memories
visit

Moonlit windows
white sheets of warmth
TicK -TocK – TicK – TocK
Remembrance
of patchouli
a beautiful haunting
Still

Vacant presence
to a time of us
TicK – TocK – TicK – TocK
now dead
without attending
buried by us both
separately –
An empty wake

TicK – TocK – TicK- TocK
All the while
Awake

I. Am. Straight.
Are you ? & other poems are © Lisa Lowther

Lisa Lowther lives in Cork City. She is a mother to one daughter. She has written poetry intermittently and increasingly over the years, previously not submitting any of her work. She has a passion for reciting poetry as well as reading. She holds a Business qualification & has previously worked in the University College of Cork for a number of years as well as other companies within the Business sector. She subsequently trained in sexual health and was involved in the promoting of sex education on various topics including sexuality awareness. This is Lisa’s first published work. She is presently dedicating time to her love of writing poetry and she is working on her first collection.

“The Wind of the World” & other poems by Müesser Yeniay


The Wind of the World

           For my grandmother

you are under the earth
I am on the earth

with your body that is tired of carrying
the wind of this world

-a stone in the middle of my heart
has been rolling without stop-

I don't know where you have gone
the only thing which is clear is that 
                            you are not here

The Phenomenology of Writing

Now you are 
        an empty page 
                   inviting

writing 
          –maybe-
                because of lust

just not ready
-your call is on my mind for quite a while-

call me call me
the flow of ink

            is a remedy
for my wounds


Illness

You hit me
like you were punching the wall

woman
isn't your cave
in which whenever you like
you can lie down

you can't climb over her
like a squirrel.

not of his nectar
but of his pee
he lets inside

he loves 
like he shakes a tree

manhood
is a serious illness




Rajm

Outside is night
inside is separation

this must be the last day
of the world 
          -I think of him-

love ends (…)

the heart 
remains as a woman who was stoned to death
in the middle of reality

my heart is the biggest
stone that God threw 
at me
'The Wind Of The World' & other poems are © Müesser Yeniay,
 translated into english by Müesser Yeniay
muesserMÜESSER 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.

“Trompe L’Oeil” and other poems by Patricia Walsh

Trompe L’Oeil

Tidied away, fast disappeared,
what’s lost in the house isn’t lost.
In a mid-sentence, blasting myths and fairytales
I avoid the radiance of your eye.

Hidden phallic symbols litter the test
crunchy fallen leaves subdue the table
reference books stand-offish, yet useful
the clock, used to stares, reigns supreme.

What escaped thought becomes you?
What line unwritten begs attention?
The trompe l’oeil of art crumbles
a piece of fiction no longer necessary.

It would do well to save ink and rest,
watch Love/Hate till my eyeballs dissolve,
or the TV licence man catches me. Anyway
smartphones, smart bombs pave the way.

Eyeball to eyeball, keeping in check
a double decker bus is crashing into me,
foolproof suicide, if you stand next to me,
always having money to keep me sweet.

Stuck in the village. You’re lost, after all.
Winding through people, an avoidance strategy,
cold calling my fantasies, standing aloof
no eye contact can remedy this.

Citrus Refresh

Bruised flesh, eaten by spinsters’ cries
calling for regional order.
Sated for now, tomorrow might never arrive.

No one spies without a purpose
fearing for their own safety, paramount
twitching the lens to a heart’s craving.

The scented candle reverberates with intent
for one’s own good, uncomfortable as it is
being beaten or insulted is still normal.

Choosing select friends for me,
the more mature, the better, despite age.
Sinking apples instead of sweets is approved.

Identical dress, though hips not developed
the smallest size bra fits to a tee
knowledge of a curricular activity is key.

Associating with local heroes
falls flat, due to a lack of interest
I am not part of this charade, as ever.

Waiting for this mess to subside,
my own freedom answering to itself
scandal contained in pint glasses and pizza.

Not caring for silent soldiers, speed bumps as such
fattening lectures from betters all the time
scented with envy, cries from another pillow.

Skin on Skin

It rubs me up the wrong way,
this intermittent friction, hard graft
producing nothing, save hard-won tears.

Woken up by solid cold extension,
I slowly realise things could be better,
divorcing circumstance from comfortable creatures.

I am not amused, or inspired
to catch a structure of yours in my arms
embracing a lifestyle already broken.

Outlining separation procedures close to hand
never realising this could be the end
waking up to hubris, fashion condemned.

Bloody finale, a pregnant conclusion
signs away your status, folding a future
declarations of convenience finish the task.

You lie down, beyond reproach, not seen again
until the Armageddon proves you right,
living in pockets too rich to bother you.

They croon in time to your desecration
anal therapy, skin on skin not above their station
serving them right, suburban whores.

Open Wound

A cooked nerve, gaping at nothing
in particular, festers at will.
Suppurates on demand, a carving of a foot
a thorny lesson in kitten heels.

Bespoke man-shoes don’t avoid the issue,
mashed with sticking plaster for some hours
blood, on occasion, washes out the gunk
a moist challenge in another’s footwear.

Dancing in time to excruciating pain,
I can only offer up so much misery
at a time, suffering has its limits
caught in the heel, pouring out its filth.

It will pass, I know. Avoiding gangrene is good,
blood poisoning is the only comfort I know,
respecting my privacy over all other causes
not yelping at will, suffering under umbrage.

Using my head for something, besides bright fantasy,
pick off the scabs on its final journey,
some satisfaction on its ultimate trip
a limit to endurance, a finite walk.

Fine Feathers Do Not Make Fine Birds

By foul means or otherwise, I stake my claim
on a grandmother’s cast-offs
clearing slides, fastening hair, prettified.

Not so much rebellion as assertion
a desired scenario always in my head,
a disco for one person, but where’s the joy in that?

Is my eyeshadow too obvious?
Does this hair cream scream usage?
Or is this lipstick too red for your liking?

Puberty drags its heels, so do I,
take up the slack with cosmetics to go
pound shop treats accumulated on the sly.

My friends can’t figure me out.
Innocence eroding away, but not quite,
doll-faced presentations still ringing true.

Invisible curfews taken as read
cut and dried regulations rest weary heads
a maturity missed, a freedom curtailed.

Trompe L’Oeil and other poems are © Patricia Walsh, Patricia Walsh image © Linda Ibbotson

Image © Linda Ibbotson
Image Linda Ibbotson

Patricia Walsh was born in Mourneabbey, Co Cork, Ireland. She was educated in University College Cork, graduating with an MA in Archaeology in 2000. Previously she has published one collection of poetry, titled Continuity Errors (Lapwing Press, 2010) Her poetry is published in The Fractured Nuance; Revival Magazine; Ink Sweat and Tears; Drunk Monkeys; Hesterglock Press; Linnet’s Wing, Narrator International, and The Evening Echo, a local Cork newspaper with a wide circulation. She was the featured artist for June 2015 in the Rain Party Disaster Journal. In addition, She has also published a novel, titled The Quest for Lost Eire, in 2014.

“The Infinite Body of Sensation”; Visual poetry by Salma Caller

Sound is a shell

Sound is a shell
An ear
Curves of sound
Vibrating and condensing air
Echoes in a curved space
An ocean in the shell of sound

infinitebody-02

Pearls

Things that stand in for other things

The Witches Pouches

Bags of velvet black
Nets entangling objects
Bones of birds
The insides of shells
Spells
Pearls
Things that stand in for other things

infinitebody-01-1

Nets entangling objects

Bones of birds
The insides of shells

infinitebody-05
infinitebody-04-1infinitebody-03

Black Lace

Turn this talk into a tale
A small dark textured cloth
Shadows with shades of velvet
Borders and edges tactile
Spaces glittering and ornate
An elaborate intertwining language
Of touching
A complex dance of bodies
Claustrophobic close
Obscure ornate organs
Lying in a dark net of black stuffs
Needles like obsidian beaks
Braiding sound into
A florid calligraphy of sensations
Rose Point
Point de Neige
Gros Point
Punto in aria

infinitebody-06

Lying in a dark net of black stuffs

Needles like obsidian beaks
Braiding sound into
A florid calligraphy of sensations

infinitebody-07

Rose

Rose coloured lips swirling around a dark spot
Tasting a baroque sound
Inspired by graffiti in Barcelona
On a corrugated shutter
Inside a temple
Incense in the darkness leads you
To the glint of the gold cloth
The curl of the baroque frame and deep blue gaze

A florid calligraphy of sensations

salmacallerSalma Ahmad Caller is an artist and a hybrid of cultures and faiths. She is drawn to hybrid and ornamental forms, and to how the body expresses itself in the mind to create an embodied ‘image’. UK based, she was born in Iraq to an Egyptian father and a British mother and grew up in Nigeria and Saudi Arabia. With a background in art history and theory, medicine and pharmacology, and several years teaching cross-cultural ways of seeing via non-Western artefacts at Pitt Rivers Museum in Oxford, she now works as an independent artist and teacher.

“And her yellow music caught in the throat of birds” by C Murray

Poethead

And her Yellow Music caught in the Throat of Birds

 
I waited a minute on the wind
on your roof, outside.
 
She had been awaiting me in the middle of the day
having come warm over those seas to find me,
 
High over the little streams and the lakes
she came
 
and she playing,
and she jumping,
crying and talking in my ear.
 
She had carried her warm music over those streams
and over the frail blue flowers that grow on the lakeside.
 
And you were sleeping soundly.
I left you, I left the city for a little time.
 
I left the noise of the city, to wait on
the little breeze to bring me news.
 
And her yellow music caught in the throat of birds,
agus a ceol buí a thógail i scornach na h’éanaithe.
 
© C Murray  
“and…

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“Woman’s Song” and other poems by Gülten Akın

Poems from What Have You Carried Over?: Poems of 42 Days and Other Works by Gülten Akın, translated by Saliha Paker and Mel Kenne

 

Spring

Oh, no one’s got the time
to stop’n think about fine things

With broad brush-strokes they move along
Sketching homes kids graves onto the world
Some are obviously lost when a rhyme starts up
With one look they shut it all out
And the rhyme enters the night, as fine things do

Some pus in your breasts, some fish, some tears
Sea sea sea you turn into a giant
Evenings your fog creeps up the river-mouths
Raids our hazel-nuts
What to do with their blackening buds
We beg our children: go hungry for a while
We beg the tycoons
Please, one less “Hotel,” one secret marriage less to sketch
Please one less bank, a plea
From us to you and from you to those abroad

We send our wives out to get a manicure, to say
—sir, if you please—
We send our children out to beg
We’re off on our way, our beds entrusted to God
Motorized gypsies of the summer

Oh, no one’s got the time
to stop’n think about fine things

To return to the stream where we first bathed, our fathers’ homes
Passion for the earth, for what it’s being here
We plug our ears: money money money
We pull out the plugs: fight fight squabble
Someone may inquire: quarrel but why
An ever-grinding axe for our neighbor, a fist for our wife
Why the quarrel—we have no idea.

Then in our small town, that prison
We place our eraser before our eyes
With a shove we widen our days
We make room to give thought to our wives
To think about the bloom of the violet passing without us

Even if no one’s got the time
To stop’n think about fine things
Even if the little schoolteachers
Multiply their holidays
And in the name of whatever we hold sacred
Weave blindfolds for our eyes
What’s stored up and sketched will in time
Break into blossom as spring flowers

From across the stream over yonder
Some will whistle, we’ll sound it back.

Translated by Saliha Paker and Mel Kenne

Summer

It’s back the summer I love
With ants and flies we’ve crept along the earth
With red mullets, bluefish, leafy lettuce and olives
Way past fog-ridden April, depressing rains
Blue on the Black Sea, for kids to rejoice
For poets to rejoice, it’s back the summer I love

We’re in nineteen sixty-eight. We’ve seen the Forties and Fifties
We lived through the Sixties, with political statements
Committed crimes. May fifth at five p.m. in Kızılay
And all of us come from work elsewhere
To Ankara, the revolution’s base

In the Forties we were seven. A draftee’s hitch three years
They bragged about keeping us out of the War, they still do
When you’re seven the rule is to go to school hungry
Beside wheat that rots, beside furs and diamonds
To go to school hungry. Maybe only a simit, an orange for lunch

To be skinny, ugly, ashamed of footwear
—having their long-lasting effects—
Tooth disease, disease of the hair
Trembling hands, sudden heart tremors
Scared of being shamed, ashamed
No candy, no ball, no dolls
For days weeping, notebook, pencil, book,
—the lasting effects when loneliness strikes—
They bragged the War’s far away from us
—The War’s far from us, thanks to our cleverness
Then let’s have just one more villa, one more fur coat, one more trip to
                                                                                                               Europe
Well-nourished, white as white peals of laughter in black automobiles
Sometimes a bunch of parsley, a basket of eggs
In return for a salary of fifty lira and ninety kuruş a soldier’s ration
Black black black
Ankara

War outside, as a New Rome is built
An Old Rome demolished
A world where wolves lounge about with songs on their lips
Dogs in a long spring heat
Blood, fire, endless starving, rotting Europe
With its trusts, banks and stock exchanges
At their keenest in virtue and bravery and treachery

Year nineteen fifty. It was back the summer I love
I believe we weren’t even seventeen yet, in our old age
Not even seventeen, I believe, still back in our childhood
Who stirred up everything, with what right, for what
How had we multiplied so quickly
In love, in shame, in indifference, in grudge
In forgiveness, in forgiveness that ruins that clouds

The months of May are beautiful, with their brave
Stoneworkers who pierce holes to let the stream flow
With folk singers, swearing fishermen
Gravediggers, girls gathering snails,
Chatty, smiling women, wool spinners
Those struck by epidemics, sharp market sellers
But above all with their revolutionaries, oh those revolutionaries
Who, mistake after mistake become ever more unmistaken
The May months are beautiful.

For the sake of cancer ladies and gentleman dance all night long
In return for receipts, pity is bestowed on the blind and the poor
In black headlines, “An incomparable, invaluable person”
For businessmen with no work to be done.

Summer I love is here for clothes in mothballs
For moldy pickles, rotting jams
For stinking awareness-raisers glued to their chairs
—Oh the remedy you claim to be that’s not true remedy.
.
Summer I love is here with its minstrels and bards
Troubled ones, pencil-browed ones, lousy-haired ones
Nylon-stockinged women, scabby-horsed men
Summer is back to Anatolia
To Anatolia
Oh the remedy you claim to be that’s not true remedy.
You sit where you are, don’t move
Like a socialist Jesus once in a while drop by
Stand aside, so you can take the center when the time’s ripe
May comes down to Anatolia from its own springs
May comes down to Anatolia from its own mountains
The summer I love it’s back

Translated by Saliha Paker and Mel Kenne

Woman’s Song

It’s time to leave, the day of banishment’s upon us,
Exile is here again,
I’ve packed the books and dressed the kids,
Let’s make for the snows of Dranaz.

Wherever we go, the people are poor as mice.
Every spring and summer far from home
We return to our native place but know
Neither our place of exile nor our roots.
We picked a crocus in the Ardahan uplands,
A narcissus at Sinop,
The yellow rose at Van,
The orange fragrance came from Kumluca.
We confused home and exile,
Exiles like us were never known before.

It’s time to leave, the day of banishment’s upon us,
In your absence the shoots you set will grow,
Shake in the wind and shelter from the sun.
It’s nature’s law the crops will ripen,
The infant find its tongue and fragile form,
The mist will vanish from Isfendiyar’s top.

Greetings from us to those who’ve gone before,
Greetings to friends and kin, to those who suffer,
Greetings to those who endure,
My pity is for the helpless, don’t look at my tears.

It’s time to leave, the day of banishment is here.
Don’t ask where is our country and our native land.

Translated by Ruth Christie

Song of a Dweller in a High-Rise Block

They piled the houses high,
in front long balconies.
Far below was water
far below were trees

They piled the houses high,
a thousand stairs to climb.
The outlook a far cry
and friendships further still.

They piled the houses high
in glass and concrete drowned.
In our wisdom we forgot
the earth that was remote
and those who stayed earthbound.

Translated by Ruth Christie

Elegy for the Right Arm of Musa Akbaba
from Lower Cinbolat*

How can I say it, can’t get my words right
I struck off my own arm, let go of it
They’ve pulled my land from under my feet
This cruelty against us, this is death

This one field fed us and clothed us
What is this law, who writes it, who makes it up?
It’s a cruelty unknown to the vulture and wolf
My words run short, run out, this is death

Syria’s mountains are smoke-veiled, oh my oh me,
What’s known as Ceylanpınar is closed to us
Our kids can’t race gazelles down to the stream
Let the cranes be the warning to our songs
The lords of Urfa are furious

How shall I say it, who’s the cause, who’s to blame
Never in my life has my fury been
So edgy, as sharp as the blade of a knife
One thing I know, my hand committed the crime
No power is left to me but my own life
What I let fall was mine, my own arm

*“100 acres of land belonging to Musa Akbaba from the village of Cinbolat in the borough of Nusretbey, Urfa, was divided, confiscated and given back to its former owner under the Land and Agriculture Reform Law. Musa Akbaba flew into a fury in the middle of his field and, using a machine for sowing, chopped off his right arm, which he blamed for voting for (…).” From the newspaper Cumhuriyet, 16th December, 1987.

Translated by Saliha Paker and Mel Kenne

Gardens and Vines

It was still the green almond time, we hadn’t yet faded
you two little girls would come up
one with big blue-eyed comical looks
the other, quiet, passive

blue pretended to be the world
a breeze of Ulvi Uraz from places of no return
a joy that couldn’t fit
into my big-sisterly shell
in the music room fugitive moments
at the window knee-high grass
the back yard

from those days to these
what have you carried over
what have I?

of course in those days too
a few things happened
but Afghan towns
weren’t yet a legend
Iraqi children, their mothers…
Iraq in ashes, Iraq in ruins
the Middle East a world wound

As if day no longer exists now
the sky skips over it
nights fall fall into dreams
on the globe some place
a black stain that grows perpetually.
The stain harsh, hurting the onlooker
The one who sees the lesions
Which is why the media
created blindness first of all

from those days to these
what have you carried over
what have I?

Up against the Ziverbey mansion
a house, Istanbul
between roses and screams
I must’ve been blind, blinded I was then
Outside the sun shone past us

Once the hot frame cools down
it turns really cold
the mouth is shut fast
the eye is no longer an eye

from those days to these
what have you carried over
what have I?

At last the desert dust
Also rained on us
The seas withdrew, the rivers turned yellow
The earth lay to rot

what have you carried over
what have I?

An elderly poet points out root sources
church music, the little boy with the siren voice
wild violets, the Aleppo vines
poplars, olive trees, the wind
the gypsy girl picking wild chicory
The eagle owl
The water having to pass between heavy stones
While all these still exist here…

gülten is all I’m left with, a rose
if ever planted, stranger to any garden

Translated by Saliha Paker and Mel Kenne

from Poems of 42 Days

1.

The tyrant’s night is one with the night of the wronged one
And a longer night awaits the one whose verdict is tyranny
Agony’s cry, screams, imprecations
Can pass through the needle’s eye
Feel their way through the killer, the executioner
To arrive finally at the doorway, the reason, the why.

2.

The Aftermath

Tall, purple flowers bloomed in the little park at the center of the square. A bed full of purple flowers. Could this be a coincidence? That doesn’t seem possible. If you asked the gardener who had kept them in seed, he’d say, “They were meant to be red, yellow, and white. I don’t know how they all turned out to be purple.”
He should know—if he’s seen us there, watched us on winter days. As he’s been put in charge of that impressive district, he should be a good gardener. If he’s a good gardener, then he should know why his flowers had taken on that alien color.
Purple. Seeps in from sorrow. From human agony. Drains into earth with our bodies’ electricity. What else to expect but purple flowers?
We were mothers. We returned from visits, from the prison where our sons and daughters were kept. Before, we used to scatter away, but during these days of hunger it never crossed our minds to do that. We stayed together. Walked all the length of the streets. Crammed into buses. On our way to reach the authorities in stately buildings. We sought relief in petitions, in more petitions and countless stamps.
It was cold. Most of us wore flimsy clothes, old, thin-soled shoes which soaked up the wet. We were here every day, sitting in that little round park.
They chased us from the doors. Scolded and pushed us away. Sometimes we fought them back. Shouted in anger. But we couldn’t put up with that for long, we couldn’t hold on. We went back to the little round park. Parks are for the public. Who could be angry with us, sitting there quietly? Did we sit there quietly? Yes. The most we could do was whisper to one other. What can we do, what should we do? But storms raged in our bodies. Our silence filled the world with siren-shrieks and screams. What does it matter if it’s five or ten people shouting? The ones that really matter are the quiet ones. Ask the silent one what after-shocks rock her body, what cataclysms it releases into air and earth. We used to watch how people behaved towards us. There’d be respectful silence on the streets and on the bus. Those on duty would suddenly appear confused and listless, ready to get up and quit work any moment.
The earth—the earth we trod on, the earth that blessed us with the mud, the puddles, the wet and the cold—received our pain, our anger.
We sat in that park for days. We stood and waited. On the earth where the purple flowers bloomed. If the gardener happened to see us, he could explain why the blossoms were purple instead of yellow, red and white, and why they stood so upright and tall.

3.

The Yard

A scream completed the yard
Without it a part would’ve been missing
Congealing into long icicles
The scream froze solid

The scream froze solid
Drawing deep blue pictures over us
Where d’ you get that scream from mother
Thought the guard, from the sirens,
Perhaps from the seagulls
But where’s the sea? There has to be one
Since above there’s the cold, blue-curdled sky
And below,
Underneath, beside, all through us
The yard.

The yard within which one day in seven
We were drawn together and scattered apart
And that became a living part of us.

The yard
With its huts and wiry barbs
And a guard’s pink scowl
On those other six days how could
The slate-colored roof have ever held
The silence preceding
An earthquake

It could never be whole without that scream
With its rifles pointed at us
Its noisy mechanical sounds
The scream came to make it so
It was a black-bodied wreath drifting about the yard
Its woven flowers of curse
Growing
So big
As it paused before each mother
It could only be deemed a mountain
So now
How do we mothers
Still fit in that yard?

4.

The Yard

The scream stretched out longer and longer. Circled the yard. Wrapped up the rooftops and chimneys. Made its sure way through stone or iron. Reached into the sky. Chased off the cranes. Faded the blue. Touched the scrawny force-fed trees and uninviting flowers, dove into the distant pool and bounced out again. Hit the sentinels’ huts. Rattled the stacked rifles. His strings jerked suddenly, the sergeant sprang into action, called his men to attention, gave them orders. Rifles in hand they marched forward. In the inner yard stood the woman. The scream continued.
Holding her by the arms, they half walked, half dragged her away. The scream turned to imprecations. Sustained its pitch.” You …gots, you’ve killed my son, You a.. ….kers, now kill me too.”
The scream had gathered momentum. It carried on even as the woman became quiet. They took her into an annex with a low roof, where she collapsed on the ground. They eyed each other while holding her arms. Should they pick her up or let her lie there? Should they stand her on her feet or allow her to sit? This was an unknown situation, something befalling the officials for the first time. This silent crowd, they who could only weep and let their tears trickle into their hearts, had been commanded officially for years. Official advice, official shouts, and the official reprimands flung at them was all they got. Occasional rough play was only one order of business among others.
The incredible had happened. From that quiet, helpless, skinny woman’s scream had leapt and left her utterly empty. She marveled at how she’d freed the scream that had been keeping her alive and on her feet. Should she remain lying as she was, get up, or sit down?
“What are you screaming about, woman?” the man in charge would have asked had he been there on time and been standing beside her. By the time he came running in, the woman was already curled up in a ball on the floor.
His anger faded. For a moment he considered helping her up and giving her a seat. Just as his voice was about to escape from his throat and say “She’s just a mother,” the official in him crushed it.
“Hurry up and write a report, this woman has insulted us!”
“Yes, sir.”
Who knows what place the woman—crossing mountains, ridges, and waterways—had set out from to see her son. For five minutes. Only that long. “How’re you, all right?” “I’m all right, and you?” “I’m all right.” “How’re father and sister?” “All well.” “D’you want me to get you anything?”
Only a foolish writer would add more words here. It’s clear to everyone her time would be up by now. Up without casting a last glance, up without catching a smile or final gesture.
No matter. The mother comes anyway. A three-day journey. Across mountains and rivers. Piling with others out of puffing trains or buses at stations. Piling into crammed vehicles like just another bundle. Appearing at the doorway that leads to her son.
Although visitations had been banned, for some reason a few were still allowed. Rumor had it that many a building in the towns and villages had been burnt to ashes by those being held. They were chained, beaten, attacked by dogs. Kicked. Their testicles stomped on, crushed. The mother had heard bits of this while she waited for her name to be called out. She waited but her son’s name wasn’t among those banned from visitation. She felt a secret joy, then shame. She looked around at the women with faces blurred by agony. She again felt ashamed, her joy evaporated. She felt uneasy being one of the privileged who were admitted. She felt upset with
her son. “Why had he been set apart? How will these mothers look at me now?”
“Just let me see him,” she said to herself, “just let me go in and see him.”
She entered and saw that her son could hardly stand. His head was bandaged, he could barely be understood.
“See, mother, this is how I am, now go away, I can’t stand up any longer.”
She got it at once. The onus of being set apart was not on the shoulders of her son. It was they, they, they, who had set some apart to display them. Maybe to intimidate, maybe for some other reason.
For awhile she looked about in confusion and then walked out and down the stairs. Once outside, she saw the other mothers. The stacked rifles. The dogs. It was then that the scream forced its way out of her heart, her lungs, her throat. Exploded from her mouth. Not stopping, ever. It wasn’t she who was screaming but the scream itself.
The mothers in the prison yard weren’t prepared yet to gather up the scream and find a place for it. Moving about them, the scream went berserk, slipped into bags of clean laundry, brushed headscarves and hair, both hennaed and gray, and chafed against poorly shod feet.
“Oh, who knows how her son is?” thought the mothers. “And what about the girls, are they also…?
Those banned from visitation looked all done in. A knife couldn’t pry any words out of them. How were their children doing? Two mothers fainted right off. They were picked up and stretched out on the benches. Most of the others were quietly weeping.
The scream invaded their tears and dried them up. Awakened those who had fainted. Snagged collars and shook people up. Broke in on the officials. Howled out the barking dogs.
Silence.
For its own sake the report was written. And, for the sake of it, signed.
“Can you sign?” they asked the mother.
“Yes,” she said.
“Then sign here.”
She did. She was once more herself. “My son’s had it, he’s all burnt out. Go ahead, kill me too, what do I care anymore.”
“Take her upstairs, boy.”
She was escorted upstairs. As she mounted the steps, herself again, she thought of what she would say. She expected some cannonball to be fired at her thunderously. Reprimands and humiliation.
As she opened the door, went in, and stood surrounded by men with rifles, someone shouted out her name while waving the report.
“Why did you scream like that? Why did you swear, why did you have to speak such words?”
“I saw my son in there, in that state,… you’ve crushed my baby to bits, what else could I do? What more do I have to fear? What’s left but my life, take that too, for my salvation.
Looking thoughtful and upset, not likely now to submit to the official in him, the official laid the report on his desk.
“Bring her son, let them sit down face to face. Let her see her son’s not dead, let her see these people have seven lives. Nothing ever really happens to them.”
“May the wind drive those words away from your mouth.”
They brought in her son and offered them chairs. Holding the hands of her son, she kissed and caressed his face.
“So,” thought the mother, “it was best to let that scream go, and not hold it down.” She smiled.
The scream had done its job. For now. Quietly it flew off and claimed a corner near the far end of the eave. Where it hung on.

It can be seen by anyone who looks there.

akin-whatGülten Akın (1933 – 2015)

Gülten Akın was born in Yozgat in 1933. She studied law at Ankara University and worked as a lawyer and teacher for many years in various parts of Anatolia where she traveled with her husband and children. One of the pioneers of 20th century Turkish literature, her early poems were more informed by personal ideas and experiences, while her more mature work focused on social issues. In her poetry she strived for simplicity and a desire to be understood by the ordinary reader. She won many awards for her work, and her final book of poems, Beni Sorarsan, was published in 2013.

 

 

Dowsing/ RABDOMANTICA – by Daniela Raimondi

Dowsing/ RABDOMANTICA & other poems is © Daniela Raimondi, the english translations are © Anamaría Crowe Serrano

DOWSING

 
Mother pregnant with rain.
Mother of virgin sounds,
with music in your marrow
and the chirping of a bird in your mouth.
Mother sewing and unsewing the waters and the tides
holding between your teeth the source of all rivers,
the alphabet that gushes on the tongues of poets
and leaves damp traces,
the imprint of a lamb wet from birth.
Mother of the dark-dark
Mother of the black-black night.
Moved by a primitive thirst,
the same need to flee from light
that pushes the hare deep into the scrub.
Touch me with your clear fingers
oil my lips with your blind love.
Like a heavenly valley where only light falls.
Your blue within another blue,
the intense azure breath of your sky.
 

RABDOMANTICA

 
Madre pregna di pioggia.
Madre di suoni vergini,
con un midollo di musica
e sulla bocca il gorgheggio di un uccello.
Madre che cuci e scuci le acque e le maree
che tieni stretta ai denti l’origine dei fiumi,
l’alfabeto che sgorga sulla lingua dei poeti
e lascia tracce umide,
l’impronta di un agnello bagnato dal suo parto.
Madre del buio-buio
Madre del nero-nero della notte.
Ti muove una sete primitiva,
la stessa fuga dalla luce
che spinge la lepre nel fitto della macchia.
Toccami con le tue dita chiare
ungimi le labbra di un amore cieco.
Come una conca celeste e senza ombra.
Blu dentro un altro blu,
azzurrissimo respiro del tuo cielo.
 

LOT’S WIFE

 
“But Lot’s wife
looked back and was turned into a pillar of salt.”
Genesis 19, 26
 
Tonight I’ve set my horses free.
I fed the blind dogs
then came through the mountains to find you.
I walked barefoot,
with flaming sunflowers in my arms.
 
I can no longer be what you wanted.
I’m just a body closed tight,
the sum of a thousand daily failures.
But how am I to survive the winter
or keep ignoring the brightness of your face.
Now I’m left with the absurd pride of losers:
stopping time with a hand gesture,
proudly challenging his fury at never bending me
to his will or ever reading my heart.
 
Death doesn’t bother me.
It’s just a subtle change in the air,
a breath that trembles over the earth
and disappears without the faintest sound.
Being deserted is what frightens me.
Your abandonment is what hurts the most
while your gaze burns
and turns me to salt.
 
Tell me:
did you hear me scream while my blood turned to stone?
Did you find enough rage in me to feed your heart?
How could my eyes meet yours and not tremble
how could I stare at the sky and not be destroyed.
And despite everything
I was still clinging to your hands
those horrible hands of yours, so big and empty.
 
There’ll be time now to forget.
A time without limits, like childhood.
And then I’ll remain still among the sheaves of wheat,
with this useless pride shining in my eyes,
with the ivy tightening round my wrists, and my hips.
 

LA MOGLIE DI LOT

 
“Ora la moglie di Lot
Guardò indietro e divenne una statua di sale.”
[Genesi 19, 26]
 
Stanotte ho liberato i miei cavalli.
Ho dato cibo ai cani ciechi
poi sono venuta fra i monti per cercarti.
Ho camminato scalza,
stringevo fra le braccia girasoli accesi.
 
Non so più essere come tu volevi.
Sono soltanto un corpo chiuso,
la somma di mille fallimenti quotidiani.
Ma come sopravvivere l’inverno
o ignorare ancora la luce del tuo volto.
Ora mi resta la fierezza assurda dei perdenti:
fermare il tempo con il gesto di una mano,
sfidare a testa alta la furia di chi non sa piegarmi
né ha mai saputo leggermi nel cuore.
 
La morte, sai, non mi spaventa.
Non è che un mutamento impercettibile nell’aria,
un respiro che trema sulla terra
ma poi si acquieta, senza il minimo rumore.
È l’abbandono che mi fa paura.
È il tuo abbandono quello che fa più male
mentre il tuo sguardo brucia
e mi trasforma in sale.
 
Dimmi:
sentisti le mie grida mentre il sangue si faceva pietra?
Trovasti in me la rabbia per nutrire il cuore?
Come incontrare i tuoi occhi e non tremare
come fissare il cielo e non esserne distrutta.
E nonostante tutto
ancora mi tendevo alle tue mani
quelle tue mani grandi, orrendamente vuote.
 
Ci sarà tempo adesso per dimenticare.
Un tempo senza limiti, come nell’infanzia.
E poi restare immobile fra le spighe di grano,
con questo orgoglio inutile a brillarmi dentro agli occhi,
con l’edera a stringere i miei polsi, ed i miei fianchi.
 

TRADESCANTIA VIRIDIS

 
The kitchen is a sanctuary in disarray.
There are relics of enamel in the sink,
copper lids hanging on the walls.
 
(Can you make poetry
talking about kitchen roll toppled on the table,
or wine stains that tarnish the edge?)
 
Take a piece of chalk
draw the perfect outline of a circle.
Belong to winter
and be its gift,
surrender to its white fringes.
 
She’s the type who forgets money and her keys,
who leaves things unresolved.
She believes in the watery sound of childhood.
Something inside her never learned to relax.
A piece of white chalk and she redraws the circle.
Removes the empty space she’s hiding
in her cage of bones.
 
She’s gone down to the street.
Buried six shadows in the field.
A voice called from the top of a crane,
from a vanilla sky without the flavour.
 
There was some greenery in the pots.
The voice called somewhere far away,
from a red box hanging in mid air.
Sometimes a voice is the simple formula
for a breath that tunes your lips,
warms your fingers.
Sometimes a voice draws perfect curves,
even on the slimmest of hips.
 

TRADESCANDIA VIRIDIS

 
La cucina è un santuario in disordine.
Ci sono reliquie di smalto nel lavello,
coperchi di rame appesi alle pareti.
 
(Si può fare poesia
parlando del rotolo di carta rovesciato sul tavolo,
o delle macchie di vino che macchiano il bordo?)
 
Prendere un gesso
tracciare il profilo perfetto di un cerchio.
Appartenere all’inverno
e dell’inverno essere dono,
concessi al suo margine bianco.
 
Lei è di quelle chi si scordano i soldi e le chiavi,
che lascia i quesiti irrisolti.
Crede nel suono infantile dell’acqua.
Dentro ha qualcosa che non sa riposare.
Un gesso bianco e ridisegna il cerchio.
Sconfigge lo spazio vuoto
che tiene nascosto in una gabbia d’ossa.
 
È scesa per strada.
Ha sepolto sei ombre nel campo.
Una voce chiamava da in cima a una gru,
da un cielo color di vaniglia ma senza il sapore.
 
C’era un poco di verde nei vasi.
La voce chiamava da un punto lontano,
da una scatola rossa appesa nel niente.
 
A volte una voce è la formula semplice
di un respiro che affina le labbra,
che ti scalda le dita.
A volte una voce disegna curve perfette,
persino sui fianchi più magri.
 

DECEMBER

 
Put the coloured baubles in the box.
And the little bells, the Christmas lights
in sheets of tissue paper.
Now look at the light on the lake:
swans cutting the silence,
leaving the imprint of evening on water.
 
There’s a hidden place in the darkness of flesh.
A space with no nerves that presses on the bones.
But it’s time to burn the old clothes,
to call the night standing still at your door
and then say – there it is, look.
(Your eyes like coins in the dark.)
 
I’ll choose an auspicious sky:
the curve of stars between Ursa Major
and the hill where the hares live.
It’ll be a simple gesture like
combing knots out of hair,
the slight act of untying a shoelace.
 
Remember that a woman’s patience
has the fragrance of whiteness.
It gathers pain and stores it in the dark,
in large water jars.
 

DICEMBRE

 
Metti le sfere colorate nella scatola.
E i campanelli, le luci di Natale
in fogli di carta velina.
Ora guarda la luce sul lago:
i cigni tagliare il silenzio,
lasciare sull’acqua il segno della sera.
 
C’è un posto nascosto nel buio della carne.
Uno spazio senza nervi che preme sulle ossa.
Ma è tempo di bruciare i vestiti vecchi,
chiamare la notte ferme sulla tua porta
e poi dirti – è là, guarda.
(I tuoi occhi come monete nel buio).
 
Sceglierò un cielo fortunato:
la curva di stelle tra l’Orsa Maggiore
e la collina delle lepri.
Sarà un gesto semplice come
lo snodare i capelli,
l’atto leggero di slacciarsi una scarpa.
 
Ricorda che la pazienza della donne
ha il profumo del bianco.
Raccoglie il dolore e lo conserva nel buio,
in grandi vasi d’acqua.
 
Dowsing/ RABDOMANTICA & other poems is © Daniela Raimondi, english translations are © Anamaría Crowe Serrano

daniela-che-legge-inannaDaniela Raimondi was born in Italy and since 1980 has lived in England where she obtained a Masters in Spanish and Latin American Studies from King’s College, University of London. She is the recipient of numerous prizes for poetry and prose. Her work has been published in literary journals both in Italy and abroad and she has also adjudicated in poetry competitions. In 2012, she was the Italian representative at the Poetry Tournament in Maribor, Slovenia, where she was awarded the Public Prize. Publications include seven poetry collections in Italian, one of which won the Mario Luzi prize. An anthology of her poems in English was published by Gradiva Publications (Stony Brook University, New York, 2013) with translations by Anamaría Crowe Serrano. Her first novel, L’ultimo canto d’amore, was one of the ten recipients of the Lo Scrittore prize. It came first at the San Domenichino national prize and has since been published by Gruppo Editoriale Mauri Spagnoli (2015).
 


 

momiAnamaría Crowe Serrano is an Irish poet and translator of Spanish and Italian to English. As well as having been anthologised and published widely in journals in Ireland and abroad, publications include onwords and upwords (Shearsman, 2016), one columbus leap (corrupt press, 2011), Femispheres (Shearsman, 2008), and Paso Doble (Empirìa, 2006), written with Italian poet Annamaria Ferramosca. She also wrote poems for the art catalogue Mirabile Dictu (blurb, 2011), with work by artist Jordi Forniés.

 A new collection, KALEIDOgraph, written with Greek poet Nina Karacosta, is forthcoming from corrupt press. In recent years, she has been involved in several collaborations with other poets, including the Upstart project in Dublin,  and Steven Fowler’s “Yes, But Are We Enemies?” project.

 

Further Reading

 

SCA/OPES – by Nicole Peyrafitte

SCA/OPES

 

Tidepools
Westwing
Lake Palourde

 

 

 

 

 

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Tide Pools

Encinitas, California, October 2013

 

Re-visiting Encinitas California &
measuring the past: 

“how to measure such distances
how to count such measures” sz PJ

 

in step with Pacific ocean
memories’ ebb & flow
tide-pools of hardy organisms
cast reflection
but what measure measures the past?
remains? newbies?
Anthopleura elegantissima?
I too stretch
& clone myself
wear a shrapnel
shell camouflage
practice both sexual
& asexual reproduction
temporarily attached to
immersed objects

Pollicipes polymerus?
our peduncle is plump
short edible
attached to a rock
beaten by the waves
coping with flux & reflux
anemones, goose barnacles
pelagic witnesses
symbiotic walk
on provisory bottom
where
onlookers mirror
life of constant changes
shared illusion with
sardines & mackerel
the alternate rhythmic condition
back & fro movement
decline & renewal 

a mighty fear
a sounded fear
a good fear
in a rare intertidal zone
mussels prey on barnacle larvae

Revoir Encinitas, Californie 
& mesurer le passé:

“comment mesurer de telles distances
 comment compter de telles mesures” dit PJ

 

dans la foulée du Pacifique
ebbe et jusant des mémoires
flaques résiduelles d’organismes hardis
jètent une réflexion
quelle mesure mesure le passé?
les restes? le neuf?
Anthopleura elegantissima?
moi aussi je m’étire
& me clone
porte un camouflage
d’éclats de coquillages
je pratique les reproductions
sexuées & non-sexuées
attachée temporairement
aux objets immergés

Pollicipes polymerus?
notre pédoncule est charnu
court comestible
fixé à un rocher
battu par les vagues
surmonte flux et reflux
anémones pouces-pied
témoins pélagiques
marche symbiotique
sur fond provisoire
où les
spectateurs reflètent
les changements constants
une illusion partagée avec
sardines & maquereaux
une condition rythmique alternée
avec mouvement avant arrière
déclin & renouveauune

peur puissante
une peur raisonnée
une bonne peur
dans l’estran rare
les moules se gorgent de leur larves

West Wing

In Flight To Seattle, Washington, March 2014
no-borders

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nicole_peyrafitteNicole Peyrafitte is a pluridisciplinary artist born and raised in the Gascony part of the Pyrenees & residing in Brooklyn, N.Y with her husband poet, essayist, translator Pierre Joris. Her texts, voice-work, paintings, videos, films, translations & cooking are displayed in a range of multi lingual & multi-faceted performances. Peyrafitte’s work is informed & characterized by a daily practice — a quest for life in art and art in life between two continents & four languages. 

Latest publication: Bi-Valve: Vulvic Space/Vulvic Knowledge, 17 paintings, 17 multilingual texts, 1 recipe & 1 CD (Stockport Flats, 2013). Forthcoming: Land0Scape (bi-langual texts), éditions Plaine Page, France. Her translations work includes, Nicole Brossard, Yoko Otomo, Gary Hill, Marcela Delpastre, Bernat Manciet.

                                        Images and words are © Nicole Peyrafitte


More info on publications & more: www.nicolepeyrafitte.com

“Doris Lessing said I was a child of violence” and other poems by Linda Chown

Too many moons

 

for Jack Gilbert who went further

Too many moons in his poems, he said they said.
Too much sky. But what if he had lived on islands
under the sun with fishermen. What if he had heard
silence sounding in the water. What if there were no words.
What if to him a southern moon stared
At infinity in that night light
And held the chaos of lovers.

how to say what

 

Words are the clothes thoughts wear.
Samuel Beckett

To say nothing the same.
In the space. To repeat nothing, And everything.
Put it there over the moon with the heart outside.
When you. And it’s all read/red. Granny Smith is gone.
Took a kind of a powder. If I only were in a dark
of my own making. Making out fireflies touch things sticky.
Do tell how to say what: do Prague lights shine spatial
hollows in Slavic moonlight when nothing says
anything any more. More than more. Two is not one.again.
Grasshoppers have thin legs and I want to go home. For Christmas
in a dark of my own making without silent night. To say nothing
the same. When you. If I were only in a dark of my own. Making.

 

To Say Thinking

 
It was at first as though no one.
It was as though there was no hearing
at the table where no one listened.
It was as though her sound
was too quiet.
All her speaking tactile in that bed
shining like that white lamb on the wall.
All the talking behind the sky moments.
To have a say beyond the clutter of talk.
Far behind the anonymous stars in their spin she reached.
She had to learn all without teaching
something of her own,
a language to say it in. A wild mind
where everything mattered: stars and lambs and silhouettes.
She was by herself in that thin bed wheezing
and taking it all in.”Deep,” Wyman said you were.
Deep. Maybe one of those grown-in-the-wild miracles in a jungle
fluent in her own making.

Ever since Rinny found the words to speak public,
they rolled out of her faster than she could ever say them to know.
Her voice seemed to sound a ways,
low like crickets in a run of drifting.
Ever since, she forgot how to speak
word by word. Out-speech became an eruption, a geyser
to burst surfaces. Not to think to say,
But to say thinking. To light the lamb.
To shine herself. Out-speech was a close seam
Without basting. A fitting tight in a crystal fog

Writing in Place

It’s about weighing things,
It’s about equals,
like to like, peach to peach,
swimming out loud in the ocean
and floating even in the tides

It’s about writing in place
like fitting right into your skin,
heart speech in morning sleep,
writing word for word on the air.

It’s like exactly.
Blue cats in the clouds.
It’s like nothing extra
the orange white under the rind there,
that long-clean sweet and fresh,
or Samuel Beckett unwording
the world playing his flute magical.

It’s about holding some rhythm
in a groove, sharps folding into flat
at last Etta James and life is all in the song
like Leslie Howard dancing his elegant face
and Humphrey Bogart gliding through his silhouettes.

It’s about writing in place,
here where here is,
this balance, ripe sweet corn cobbing,
wild geese gandering
This sheer sun light
when somehow
you can be as never before
standing out still with yourself
writing in your place
beyond all the words and kissing the sky.
 

Shore-Lines in the Sand

 
Why would I want to write about flat fields
And bright color, to suggest limits and consequence
Why would I want to make pictures
As though I were an artist copying the wind
As though things could be anything
As though there could be shore lines in the sand

As though Camus could ever live without light
As though Cezanne would not paint his canvas thicker and thicker
As though birds lead photographable lives on their perches
Bobbing up on demand to entertain white-faced children
When, backstage, birds beak their worlds bloody
Batter and rush the air in hypnotic trance.

Life is no transparent stillness
with the hollow grace of imaginary holiday.
The forces of flat tussle with the agitations of circumstance.

I want my poems to touch that surge,
that place where blood first moves into sleep,
where heart spears memory as it gropes into time.
I want the crash of titans, life in the round,
to be in the brunt of it,
inside the thunder before the storms,
I want to sustain the bang in the beginning.
Hot headed and sure fired,
poems spin far from flat fields,
to hover inside time and knowing
with the blinding precision of dreams.

In Spain

 
when
 
in Spain, then, police crowd
us and we grow smaller as
night smoke packs us in pieces of old innocence-
an unfamiliar fear greases
our childhood with fascist sparks and guns,
power’s black hats that shine darkly.

Doris Lessing said I was a child of violence

Doris Lessing said I was a child
of violence but I wear peace under
my arms are gentle and Burl Ives is
singing foggy dew too. Does violence begin
when you hear of tied ropes & peeling skin
& do our blood cells clamber for violence
are they doomed for ever after?
somehow soft skin sings a melody with itself
and Hiroshima Dachau Dresden
Buchenwald Flossenberg Belzac
I play the marimba with sweet memories are made of this.

“my heart speaks before my words
stand out in the crowd
of windows and open mouths
my heart is my communist
my lone wolf my bride.”

Linda Chown, Ph.D The University of Washington, Comparative Literature. Dissertation based in part on interviews conducted with Spanish writer Carmen Martín Gaite, (“Narrative Authority and Homeostasis in the Fiction of Carmen Martín Gaite and Doris Lessing.”) MA/MFA  from San Francisco State University. Linda is a poet, professor, and critic. She lived for eighteen years in Andalucía. She has published three poetry collections, Buildings and Ways, All the Way Up the Sky, and Inside In. Poems in Foothill Quarterly, Quixote, Intro 3, Dark Horse, Magdalene Syndrome Gazette, Women Spirit, Grand Valley Review.

She worked five years with San Francisco Poetry Center, extensive workshopping and friendships with Stan Rice, Robert Creeley, Galway Kinnell, Mark Linenthal, Frances Jaffer, Kathleen Fraser, Shirley Kaufman, Francis Hosman, and others. Lunches with poets such as Allen Ginsburg, James Wright, Gary Snyder, Amiri Baraka, Robert Duncan, Kenneth Rexroth, Lawrence Ferlinghetti, Mark Strand, Madeleine Gleason, Robert Bly, Diane Wakowski, Denise Levertov and Michael McClure.

“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.

“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.

Alexander Cigale’s translation of Anna Akhmatova’s “Requiem”on Project Muse

 

Alexander Cigale has retranslated Anna Akhmatova’sRequiem” for Project Muse. I have been following the translation process for a while and I thought to add links here for readers of Akhmatova, including Cigale’s translations of Anna Akhmatova’s Minatures and a link to “Epilogue” from Requiem, Via Moving Poems

EDIT: Alex Cigale has shared a link to his entire translation of Anna Akhmatova’s “Requiem” (Hopkins Review) for those readers who do not have a subscription to Project Muse.

From The Prologue (Requiem)

This isn’t me, someone else suffers.
I couldn’t survive that. And what happened,
May it be covered in coarse black cloth,
Let them carry away the streetlights …
        Night.

from Prologue (Requiem) by Anna Akhmatova translated by Alexander Cigale
 


Akhmatova_1914

Anna Andreyevna Gorenko better known by the pen name Anna Akhmatova was a Russian modernist poet, one of the most acclaimed writers in the Russian canon.
 
Akhmatova’s work ranges from short lyric poems to intricately structured cycles, such as Requiem (1935–40), her tragic masterpiece about the Stalinist terror. Her style, characterised by its economy and emotional restraint, was strikingly original and distinctive to her contemporaries. The strong and clear leading female voice struck a new chord in Russian poetry. Her writing can be said to fall into two periods – the early work (1912–25) and her later work (from around 1936 until her death), divided by a decade of reduced literary output. Her work was condemned and censored by Stalinist authorities and she is notable for choosing not to emigrate, and remaining in Russia, acting as witness to the events around her. Her perennial themes include meditations on time and memory, and the difficulties of living and writing in the shadow of Stalinism.

(Source: Wiki : Site accessed on 02/08/2016 at Anna Akhmatova
 

Links to Alexander Cigale’s translations of Anna Akhmatova

“Nurture” and other poems by Liz Quirke

Nurture

 
In the nine months I didn’t nourish you,
I made notes, I studied the seasons
for ingredients to encourage your growth.
Scraps of paper, post-its hidden
in case anyone would view my thoughts,
pity my trivia of leaves and berries.
 
A mom yet not a mother,
a woman yet not a woman.
My preparation took place in private,
not in maternity wards or hospital corridors,
but in the hallways of my mind
where I could put up pictures, time lines,
fill cork boards with plans.
 
As the folic acid built your brain stem
I collated ideas to stimulate it further,
mapped journeys for us,
paths we could walk together,
a staggered relay to start
when your other mother
passed your tiny form to me.
 
And I could see myself holding your hand,
using my limbs to scaffold the structure
your mother put so beautifully in place.
I am your mom without the biology of mothering.
All I have for you is my heart, my brain, my lists of things,
all but those nine months when I was waiting.
 
(first published in New Irish Writing in The Irish Times)
 

Juno

 
I gave you a warrior name.
Brazen, audacious,
a statement of intent.
 
After the third scan,
I set out across the world’s mythologies
to uncover the name to herald you.
 
I found you in the pages
of an old hardback,
barely two inches in a row of columns.
 
Sensible, poised,
waiting for me to arrive and collect you
at the obvious conclusion,
assured that this is where you had always been.
 
For weeks after our first meeting
you kept me company.
 
Your name fell in ink from my pen
until that sturdy bulk of letters
came as familiar as my own.
 
The shape of you rolled around my mouth
like a boiled sweet,
pushing taste to unreachable corners,
forcing my buds awake until I had a full sense of you.
 
Your vowels whispered through my lips,
soft as the steam after a kettle click.
 
And when you arrived, emergent, slow to pink,
but quickly, so quickly,
your name gushed out of my mouth
like your first breath,
 
triumphant,
your first victory,
your battle cry.
 
(first published in New Irish Writing in The Irish Times)
 

Ashes

 
When I die, bring me to the lake
and pour me in. Don’t scatter.
I want my toes to mingle
with the clay at the bottom.
I will become part of the sediment,
constant and forgotten.
 
Fish will nibble on my innards
and transport me to tables
all around Boluisce,
as a reminder to torchlight
poachers that they can never know
exactly what they’re eating.
 
My hair will sway among the rushes,
caressing the soggy shore.
My shoulders will fall into holes
left by bedraggled cattle
trying to water themselves.
 
My heart, I want you to lob
into the middle of the lake
like a stone wrapped in a love letter,
where a salmon will find it
and make it its own.
 
All this, love, so when you sit
in the damp, my hair will
brush your hand and my heart
will graze your hook.
and the wind will carry
my mouth saying
catch me, I’m yours.”
 
(first published in The Galway Review, Vol 1)
 

Rite

 
There will be a changing of the guard,
if such ceremony will be allowed,
A dusting down of dampers to
purge all lamps and lights.
Shops will mourn from their facades,
black-ribboned in the old way.
Passers-by will nod and scuttle
to spurn the mists of death.
Great coats will be sponged as they were before,
and shoes spit-shone to a pitch-like gleam.
The footfall slap will ring out around the streets.
Wedding services kept for cakes
will peek from muslin blankets
to sour-crust dry triangles,
while whiskey flows like speech.
Clocks will chime only grief notes,
humming deep into the silence.
Eyelid mirrors will reflect the dark beneath.
Running along on idle tracks,
children will be shunned
from the adult world
palming flowers in the breeze
to mimic final kisses not received.
 
(first published in The Stony Thursday Book 11)
 

Salvage

 
New rooms I will build from you, bones and all.
The laboured rungs of your spine will stack neatly,
beautiful furniture. Angled strength
siphoned through your forearms,
trust wrought from the ballast lines of your limbs.
 
You are the structure I crave, but I have little
to give to this construction,
no materials or design.
The dimensions must come from you,
your shape and clever eye.
 
I will unpack my flimsy particles for assessment.
Spread me out, inventory what remains.
If you see fit, assemble my unruined elements,
joints, anything you can salvage.
Wrap tight, firm till I set and can stand alone.
 
These rooms will be a composite of us both.
You, the shape, register of craft.
My fingertips will press your intercostal
muscles to cornice definition,
push your art to show itself.
 
Debris thickens your knuckle bends
and fist-curled territories,
but this is our arrangement,
where my tiles slot into our mosaic
and you are the setting clay that holds.
 
Once done with your reclamation,
survey the scree, hold the smallest parts together,
dust my skin with cement-rough hands.
Through the heat of your palms
I will come back,
 
resembling what I was before,
but better because of you.
 
(first published in The Ofi Press)
 

Boluisce

 
I root my fingers, burying them back and down.
A twist into black, acidic soil,
deeper than anything man-made.
 
I push to the graves of the lake families,
generations who lived and died by the water.
 
I pay my respects in the only way I know,
by kneeling in the sodden earth
and sinking parts of me towards parts of them.
 
I do what no record does and remember their passing,
their assimilation back to the land.
 
I want them to teach me how to inhabit this place,
to reanimate and diffuse their knowledge into my urban bones,
our times merging under a canopy of living skin.
 
(first published in An Áit Eile)
 

Nurture and other poems are © Liz Quirke

Liz_Quirke_greyscaleOriginally from Tralee, Co. Kerry, Liz Quirke lives in Spiddal, Co Galway with her wife and daughters. Her poetry has appeared in various publications, including New Irish Writing in the The Irish Times, Southword, Crannóg, The Stony Thursday Book and Eyewear Publishing’s The Best New British and Irish Poets 2016. She was the winner of the 2015 Poems for Patience competition and in the last few years has been shortlisted for the Cúirt New Writing Prize and a Hennessy Literary Award. Her debut collection Biology of Mothering will be published by Salmon Poetry in Spring 2018.

 

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

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

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


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

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

The online edition of Blackjack.
Revisita – Itaca
 

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

 

From Parvit of Agelast

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

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

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

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


 

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

 

The Key to Paradise

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

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

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

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

 


 

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

Pine

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

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

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

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

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

From: Imbolg

(Unpublished Collection)

Your Grace

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

climacteric in the extreme

 

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

 

history

(from ‘the second of april’)

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

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

 

www.maighreadmedbh.ie

PDF version of this work

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

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

‘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.
.
Anne Tannam’s website

‘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 a bird nightsings and a 

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.

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. 

“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

The State of Poetry Criticism – July 2017 Update

Dave Poems.

Disclosure: Many thanks to Órla Ní Mhuirí for her advice regarding the ethical questions involved in publishing the data collected here. Thanks to the Association of Internet Researchers for their extremely useful resources, to Muireann Crowley for edits, and to Charles Whalley for advice about data and spreadsheets.

Report: This is a relatively brief update to the data I presented two months ago. As before, this is a purely statistical study, solely of poetry criticism. The data’s limitations, outlined in the previous article, still apply.

In the interests of transparency, I am making the raw data from which these numbers are drawn public. You can view the dataset here, please feel free to share the link.

Some preliminary notes: The names of reviewers have been anonymised. The goal of this project is to illuminate editorial practices, and providing a list of critics’ names felt like a distraction…

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