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Miriam Calleja

“Pomegranate heart” and other poems by Miriam Calleja

Four million years of eyes

Heady honeysuckle sweat
Skin ripe fruit

Lips floating
Scents

Four millions years
Of eyes

(first published in Pomegranate Heart by Edebooks)

Pomegranate heart

She counts the seeds
Of my pomegranate heart
The same, always the same
No matter how many times she counts.
Her fingers are stained
And though she may wash and scrub
There I will be
In her skin, lodged in places
Where she cannot wash me out

(first published in Pomegranate Heart by Edebooks)

A new kind of courage

You give me a new kind of courage
you’ve seen me crawl out of my own skin
frustrated beyond words
shaking my fists and my beliefs
at a world that
just
won’t
understand

because, who am I?
and who are you?
and what is it we are doing collectively that
would matter at all?

you’ve seen me rise out of the destruction
of my own dreams
bright-eyed
brushing every bloody tear off my face
in the way only long, hot showers and music can

you’ve seen me run and crash
and change direction
breathless, jaw-clenched, eyes circles that don’t
stop
believing

you’ve seen me consistent and committed
to the grave
I started to dig
in my own creation of a beautiful garden
and then smile with conviction
as I covered it up and swore to you
it will never happen again
and I believed it

and we both know
that I am a fool.

 

Without end

Translation by the author of ‘Bla tarf’ – a poem originally written in Maltese

A fire without edges
I’d cuddle up inside of it
but without hesitation
it gets away

melts between my fingers

darkness without edges
I cannot figure it out
it falls to the ground spreading out
it cannot be picked up

darkness without ends
I’ve forgotten where I’ve put it
I cannot understand how it opens

darkness of memories
of another world
you’ve already forgotten about me in the dark

I’m going to find the darkness
I’m worried that I’ll never find you in the dark
it’s dark as I finally get home to settle in for the night
I’m full of joy for you

I open the windows to let some light in
but instead, I let in the dark

 

October

Translation by the author of ‘Ottubru’ – a poem originally written in Maltese

I’ve left the saltiness behind
the scents of the sun
the ground still warm beneath bare feet

I let the months drag on
then at the end, in the last few hours,
I melted them in sweet ambrosia

(I wish you’d told me
you’d help me turn a new leaf
it’s as though we’ve started over)

 

Pomegranate heart and other poems are © Miriam Calleja

Miriam CallejaMiriam Calleja is a bilingual author from Malta. Her poetry collections, Pomegranate Heart (EDE Books, 2015) and Inside Skin (EDE Books, 2016), have been described as ‘fresh’, ‘intimate’, and ‘sensual’. In 2015 she was shortlisted for a literary excellence award for her poem Burying the Dark, which has been published in an anthology by Magic Oxygen in the UK. She dedicates her time facilitating creative writing workshops, writing for performances or publications and devouring words. She has read at events in Malta, London, and New York. In 2017 she was recognised by the Network of Young Women Leaders as a leading female artist in Malta. She moonlights as a pharmacist, loves the sea, cats, and coffee, and would like to travel as much as her poetry does.

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“Damascus” and other poems by Rebecca Ruth Gould

Yerevan in Winter

As we hewed words from the stone tower,
the planets completed their orbit.
Ice cracked & froze.

Our glass walls gazed on the circus below.
Cars sailed through smog.
Buses creaked their way to work.

As we sat secluded in our icy fortress,
the firmaments lit the horizons
that translated our union into words.

I watched you stare into the abyss.
I watched the passage of
the lives we could have lived.

I watched our fates diverge,
& our shadows merge.
I watched the images

from our quarry twist & turn,
then melt like snowflakes
in the crisp morning snow.

 

Isfahan

When we recited poetry in Isfahan,
the Bridge of Thirty-Three Arcs
stretched to embrace the firmament.

The songs you brought to life
were meteorites, detonating
in the sockets of our eyes.

If time had been reversed,
the poet’s tomb would have
been our pilgrimage.

Water would have flowed
from the Ziyandeh’s shores,
& every point on the bridge

would have echoed
the sky’s demand
for release from the earth.

But time had no time—
& eternity no purpose—
for our meandering.

So I took the book
you left for me,
without saying goodbye.

 

Damascus

There is no straight man in the world
said starry eyed Rima, as we returned
from the Damascus book fair where,
for the hundredth time, I fell in love.

No straight man in the world—
only cheaters, pimps, addicts, & bores.
Rima passed her days on the rooftop
watching the world unfurl,

watching her rivals fall in love.
She once had a man more beautiful
than herself, she said.
She didn’t want children.

She wanted just a touch, a hand,
to grant release from
her celestial observatory,
to aim arrows at her stars.

Damascus in the month of Ramadan
is an affliction that multiplies hourly
the hunger inside, the longing to be touched,
until prayer brings roof banging at dawn.

I thought I had bested Rima’s forecasts.
Until the plane landed. I tried
to remember the name of the book fair man
whose smile had stolen my heart.

His syllables merged with others’ words.
His nomadic soul hitched onto Rima’s stars.

 

Marrakesh

The neon eyes of black
Moroccan cats light
the dusky souk where
two strangers chat.

The strangers pass
in heated conversation
using this land as a map
for exploring their futures

& their pasts. Marrakesh:
a frame that questions why
one would live
with a body more fragile

than the sultan’s ruined tombs,
with memories that oppress
more than patterned arabesques,
with questions God cannot address.

Cats travel alone.
They do not feel the pull
that turns our coffees
into hours, or the hunger

that keeps us walking forward,
feasting on our wounds.
They do not know why
we interrupt each other.

Least of all do they understand
why we stare at the neon signs
in their eyes & then
at each other. Bemused, intent,

friends headed in opposite directions,
shaking each others’ hands,
moving at different paces,
steadily, to the same end.

 

A Pagan in Islamic Egypt

Like two woman’s breasts, Giza’s pyramids rise
above these scorching sands. I tighten my belt
& bow to the unknown god, remembering my
companions in the south, where the sun does not set.

Though they call me pagan, I’m just hedging
my bets, playing like Pascal,
looking out for the long term, bidding
for immortality before the wager is called.

Dear river god, please stop swelling
the Nile as if there were no tomorrow.
Stop demanding the sacred cow.
The revelation has come. Sacrifices are done.

God has won. The Crusades are over.
Allah rules Jerusalem.
Universities churn out doctorates on every subject
known since the Prophet’s Hijra.

Time moves slower than the caravans.
My skin is roughened by the sand
that sheltered me as I awaited revelation,
& forgot to prostrate before the pyramids.

The pilgrim who, on his way to Mecca,
heeds not the wonders he passes
on his journey across the desert,
finds no paradise at the end of his road.

 

Damascus and other poems are © Rebecca Ruth Gould

Author’s Note

Damascus, Isfahan and Yerevan were originally published in Empty Mirror. Also Helen: A Literary Magazine originally published A Pagan in Islamic Egypt, and Milestones published Marrakesh.

Rebecca Ruth Gould’s poems and translations have appeared in Nimrod, Kenyon Review, Tin House, The Hudson Review, Salt Hill, and The Atlantic Review. She translates from Persian, Russian, and Georgian, and has translated books such as After Tomorrow the Days Disappear: Ghazals and Other Poems of Hasan Sijzi of Delhi (Northwestern University Press, 2016) and The Death of Bagrat Zakharych and other Stories by Vazha-Pshavela (Paper & Ink, 2019). Her poem Grocery Shopping was a finalist for the Luminaire Award for Best Poetry in 2017, and she is a Pushcart Prize nominee.

Another Good Friday by Maria McManus

Maria McManus on the murder of Lyra McKee

mariamcmanus

I hardly know where or how to begin. I feel waves of grief for the family and partner of Lyra McKee  and for all of us, after her murder. Here we are, twenty-one Good Fridays after our peace agreement and we wake to the news of another life lost. Lyra McKee,  was doing her job as a journalist and was shot dead by Republican terrorists in Derry. Some coward in the night stepped out of the shadows with a gun and shot. She is dead.

My generation inherited The Troubles, but we have failed to finish them, to deal with them so definitively that we can instead focus, fully and constructively, on creating a life-affirming future. The future will happen anyway; it will come as time comes, second by second.  So what now? How will we make it better?

I wrote  this poem for TURF, a dance theatre piece I…

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“After a deadly aerial engagement, a cup of tea” by Shadab Zeest Hashmi

Past the news of war, you sleep in a litter of cacophony
knowing the dead will forever bind their miasma to your hair

knot their shrouds to every hook in the house,
hem the sound of sirens to your head

Between tonight’s brocade sky, inked textile of tomorrow,
and tomorrow, there will be an hour of war, creeping like a reptile

across the fields where two countries grow rice with their backs
to each other and fly kites this time of the year to welcome spring

The sort of night an emperor could create from the shudder of mortality
a marble mausoleum to house his love after death— moonbeams

sewing the lips of loss, light swirling through filigrees, carved tulips and fruit buds,
turning time to flesh — it is early spring, you too feel a tingle in your fingertips,

tremble a moment like a Shalimar cypress, but the masonry of your body
is recalled when warplanes approach, when all around you are loved ones

asleep, and what the newscasters will later call aerial engagement
has been the chase all along— the flute song in your dream chased

by steam engines, swooped up by MiG-21s, chased by surface-to-air missiles
The air as sharp, the trees as majestic this side of the border, the pilot

of the downed plane asks hysterically which country he is in. Which way
should he run? As a prisoner of war, he is recorded saying, between sips

of tea, the officers of the Pakistani Army are thorough gentlemen.
He is nervous. The cup he holds is Raj-white, with a pale green bough,

vaguely Mughal in its vegetal flourish. The temperature in Islamabad is 11 degrees
Celsius, in Delhi it is 16. Yellow trumpet daffodils are blooming. It is early spring.

 
After a deadly aerial engagement, a cup of tea is © Shadab Zeest Hashmi


 

Read more here: A Glass of Tea, a View of the Atlas by Shadab Zeest Hashmi

 

Shadab Zeest Hashmi is the author of poetry collections Kohl, Chalk and Baker of Tarifa. Her latest work, Ghazal Cosmopolitan has been praised by poet Marilyn Hacker as “a marvelous interweaving of poetry, scholarship, literary criticism and memoir.” Winner of the San Diego Book Award for poetry, the Nazim Hikmet Prize and multiple Pushcart nominations. Zeest Hashmi’s poetry has been translated into Spanish and Urdu, and has appeared in anthologies and journals worldwide, most recently in Prairie Schooner, World Literature Today, Mudlark, Vallum, POEM, The Adirondack Review, Spillway, Wasafiri, Asymptote and McSweeney’s latest anthology In the Shape of a Human Body I am Visiting the Earth. She has taught in the MFA program at San Diego State University as a writer-in-residence and her work has been included in the Language Arts curriculum for grades 7-12 (Asian American and Pacific Islander women poets) as well as college courses in Creative Writing and the Humanities.

Ellen Chia

“Cloud Forest” and other poems by Ellen Chia

Cloud Forest

On montane roofs,
Veil-thin sojourners
Serpentine through green
Flightless birds —
Myriad crowns perching
One-legged, spreading
Multi-tiered wings
Plush with plumes now
Dripping fresh
With the gilded bath.

In the plumage larders,
The green birds set to
Spin their sugary fares,
While at it,
Gazillions of their
Tiny lungs
Are humming the
Three billion-year-old gift;
Coursing far and wide
Through life’s tributaries,
Even of those
Who wish to silence
The gift
With their acute myopia.

 

Current

The Asian openbill stork alights
Amid the wheeling terns,
Then drifts along
On the hyacinth raft –
The raft by now
A seasoned drifter;
Growing organically
And by fortuitous mergers
On this placid
Cloud-mottled river.

That makes three drifters
On this course of the river
Giving ourselves over to
The current of the moment –
My thought self
Long embarked with the stork
On the raft.

 

The Balcony Wall

The alliance, one of an
Indefatigable nature
Forged between
Time and Weathering
Has rendered its coat
What was once a gleaming
Eggshell white into
A variegated sooty black.

Cracked peels
Like cartographers shape
Tattered maps
Of its worst battered regions –
Laying bare
Raw cemented pasts to
The potted ferns;
Their frondy tips tracing,
Seeking sense
The genesis of these elements
Now breathing.

 

The Island

Enter a southerly wind,
A whiff of saltiness
And from the recesses
A stealthy seepage …
Then wave
After wave,

Recollections lap up
Against the shore
Of the room –
Now an island skirting
With long-tail boats
And wooden stilt houses
Perch on pebbly beaches

Where a hog resident
Forages with impunity
Right into its hills
Overlooking routes
Promising sightings of
Pink dolphins (I remember
our host prostrating to give
thanks at the Naga Goddess
shrine after the sighting of
a pod deemed auspicious by
locals).

I bask in my island room –
Relishing the sea salt
On my cupid’s bow,
Giving myself
Over to the lulling
Rustling of coconut palms
When a flower crab
Scuttles from my gaze
Into the shadowy depths…
Do excuse me,

I must get going,
There are nooks yet
To explore:
The wind is like
A postman bringing
Summons of dues.

 

A Bangkokian’s Consolation

An April morning,
A pewter-grey
Volvo 240 sedan
Lingers in the shade
Of a Golden Shower tree
Now at the zenith
Of its bloom.

There’s still time
Before igniting
The infernal
Tarmac regime;
Enduring to and fro
The crawly
Lengthy hours
Of fumes and jams
Alongside the
Metal herd –
Huddled in the
Urban cauldron
Simmering
Rage and anxieties.

Yes, these are moments
To be solitary still,
For the windscreen
To indulge in
The tree’s silhouette;
To drink in the
Sprawling sinuous branches
Where floral clusters
Droop like ponderous grapes,

Where their petals now
Dust the roof and bonnet
Like gilded butterflies
Frozen in time.


 

Cloud Forest” and other poems are © Ellen Chia

Ellen ChiaEllen Chia enjoys going on solitary walks in woodlands and along beaches where Nature’s treasure trove impels her to document her findings and impressions using the language of poetry. Her works have been published and are forthcoming in The Ekphrastic Review, NatureWriting, The Honest Ulsterman, Zingara Poetry Review and The Tiger Moth Review.

Image: Ellen Chia & ‘Giken’

“Thin Places” and other poems by Eithne Lannon

Thin Places 

The wild meadow weave, the strand, 
         places of late summer, autumn,
 
a stone skimming water, suspended 
        in air, its slow motion glide punctuated 

by the drop, touch, rise of a ghostly presence,
          this wary hesitation between water 

and stone, mysterious as the rift between 
     music notes in air, unsettling the familiar light 

which shudders again with tiny rainbow bubbles 
   holding air-drops in. And then the final slide over 

gravity’s edge, into polished bottomless depths, 
        beyond the belly-aching threshold⎯

dropping, ever dropping, into the quiet 
     whispering, the unspeakable tenderness.

Binn Éadair

I have waited through the long winter grey
for the slow clean curve of spring,

the sun a warm breath on my neck,
its lips glossed with a damp breeze.

Far below, the murmurings of wind and water
weave a familiar braid of intimacy,

the whole of the blue sky is stretched wide,
light falls on us, a lovers’ blanket spread on sand.

This moment is already time’s fugitive;
sweet rain pooled in a dockweed’s leafy

pocket, the soft unwrapping of downy buds,
moss gathered in a hollowed bowl of earth—

like a container that holds and pours,
we are filled and emptied.

To be lifted then into the loose
hem of the breeze, cast out

over the spooling cliff, to drop
like a bird, free-fall into the wind.

 

Earth Music

I will lead you by the hand to the hushed hum
of the gentle oak, an evening breeze sounding

shivers into leaves, quiet turbulence in the air
and the gravity of sound settling on mossed stone.

I hear its tongue-lick in ivy the way a bat hears
the silhouette of trees, or a whale the shape of its home,

touching the skin like sound braille, tiny neck hairs
startled to its presence; earth music in the trees

and in the stony wind, atoms of light trembling in tiny
dust particles where body-bones separate, flesh disappears.

Between heart-pulse and light’s shadow-touch,
I will lead you to the quiet abundance of silence,

the wide emptying of voiceless things; earth’s pulse,
seamless and somewhere beyond absence.

 

Translation

Early evening, the sea all silk and copper-clad,
russet seams threading air, holding nothing
 
but lingering light. Poised on the glazed edge
of the estuary, a heron; stem-like and spectral, folded
 
into the soft grey petals of his shadow. Overhead,
dark-bellied geese fly in low wavering lines,
 
flock to the beginning of memories they don’t recall
from a place they reclaim without guidance—
 
here, clouds are porous with light, lisping vowels
and tongue-flickers lapping twilight—while westward,
 
through the woods, a wash of starlings erupts
from the trees, sweeping murmurations,
 
the chorus of bodies dips and dissolves, rises
into dust formations. Now the heron loosens
 
unwieldy wings, lifts like vapour,
like stillness taking flight.
 
It’s hard not to believe in this; birdsound and birdshape,
two seagulls wing-surfing the ragged cliff-spine,
 
entirely consistent, faithfully articulate—
what we don’t have words for may still exist.
 
In the cool breath of evening, tidal swamp-sands
swell over stones, shadows slide out of things.
 
Motionless again, the heron
is zen master,
 
a hanging bell holding through the dusk
of the estuary,
 
the slow unravelling of this moment
every other moment fits inside.

Moon

Take the river’s curl, the ocean’s wave, 
      the never-ending trees, the sway of a meadow,
        the roll of the sun, the scattered stepping stars.

And take last month’s silver bud of moon
    now come full to the sky, her mouth is wide and open,
      white lips brimming with a soft wet light,

month by month, she gives her widening
    emptiness to the earth, holds the planet in her orbit,
       washes ocean after ocean over sand: 

I stretch out my arms and reach for her,
    hold hands with her rhythm, climb into her open
      wound, my blood is lapping at her perpetual pull,

I sleep in the mantle of her tidal pulse, slip
   the ring of her light onto my finger. At the last hour
     of fullness, I wade inside her alluvial silt,

feel desire awash in my gut. Lost inside
    her wholeness, carved into her darkening spine,
      I am swallowed into goddess light.

Thin Places and other poems are © Eithne Lannon

Eithne Lannon is a native of Dublin. Her poems have been included in various publications such as The North, Skylight 47, The Ogham Stone, The Lea-Green Down Anthology and Boyne Berries. On-line in Ireland, the UK, US and Canada, she has work published on Headstuff, Artis Natura, Sheila-na-Gig, Barehands and Punch Drunk Press among others.

Her work has been listed in various competitions such as the Bray Literary Festival, the Dermot Healy competition and Galway University Hospital Poems for Patience. She was winner in 2018 of the Ballyroan Poetry Day Competition and Runner-up in Against the Grain this year. Her work was also Highly Commended in the Blue Nib Winter/Spring Chapbook 2018 and commended in the Jonathan Swift Awards.

 

Eithne’s first poetry collection Earth Music will be published with Turas Press in April 2019.

‘a song to rest the tired dead’ and other poems by Raine Geoghegan, MA

Romanichals in the 1950’s(i)

covels packed
chavies scrubbed clean
me rackley’s bal washed with panni
the grai grizhomed holled

(ii)

opre and gel on
dikk the next atchin tan
a fellow chal pookers
kushti bokt

 

Romani words: Romanichals – English Romanies; Covels – belongings; Chavies – children; rackley’s – girls; Grai – horses; Grizhomed – groomed; Holled – fed.

Opre – arise/forward; Dikk – look for; Atchin tan – stopping place; Chal – Travelling man;
Pookers – calls out; Kushti bok – good luck

 

Somewhere in Apple Water country

Me Mum’s cookin’ sushi stew.
Me Dad’s chinning the koshtie’s.
I’m practisin’ handwritin’ with a fine pencil.
I’m lookin’ forward to sendin’ a proper letter
to me cousin Louie, she’s a didikai and goes
to school in London. Me dad calls it royal town
and say’s ‘e wouldn’t go there, not if yer paid ‘im.
She ‘as to wear a uniform, red and gold, but she
can’t wear ‘er gold ‘oops, it’s against the rules.
If I ever went to school, me dad would ‘ave murder
if anyone touched me ‘oops or me ears.

Apple Water Country – An old Romani word for Herefordshire.
Romani words: sushi – rabbit; Chinning the koshtie’s – making pegs; Didikai – non Romany.

 

A Memory of the Hop Fields

She is in the front garden
bending low, picking bluebells,
wearing her old red apron,
with the Spanish dancer on the front.

She stands up, rubbing her lower back,
her mind shaping a memory.
The hop fields,
her mother lean, strong,

picking the hops as quick as a squirrel.
Her bal in plaits, tied on top of her head.
Her gold hoops pulling her ears down.
Ruddy cheeks, dry cracked lips.

Her father pulling poles,
sweating, smiling,
his gold tooth for all to see.

At the end of a long day
she would stand on top of an apple crate,
comb his hair, kiss his neck tasting of salt.

He would pick her up,
Swing her high, low and say,
   ‘You’re the prettiest little chi there ever was.’

Romani words: Bal, hair. Chi, daughter/child.

 

Koring Chiriclo ii – a triolet

Jel on, me dad would say.
Pack up yer covels, we’ll be on our way.
Take our time, get to Frome’s Hill by May.
Jel on, me dad would say.
The cuckoo’s callin’, untie the grai,
Up onto the vardo. It’s a kushti day.
Jel on, me dad would say.
Pack up yer covels. We’ll be on our way.

Romani words: Koring Chiriclo – the cuckoo; Jel on – move on;
Covels – belongings: Grai – horses; Vardo – wagon; Kushti – lovely.

 

‘a song to rest the tired dead’

im of Celia Lane
it is dusk
she has come to wash the body
a table is set by the bed
a bowl of lavender water
clean muslin cloths
a white towel
  ‘too young for death’
she thinks as she removes all the clothing
and jewellery from the body of her niece
she notices stretch marks on the thighs
how the breasts have dropped
from feeding the chavies
    ‘forty years ago, just been borned
sucking at her Daya’s breast.’
taking a cloth
she dips it in water
squeezes it hard in her hand
sets about her task
malts stand by the door way
aunts, daughters, sisters and the daya
singing in low soft voices
a song to rest the dead

she speaks quietly
to her loved one as she gently cleans
lifting one arm up then the other
holding it
placing it down carefully
as if it was made of glass

the others won’t move too close
it is mokkadi to do so

this woman who washes the dead
now holds both feet
letting them rest for a while
blessing them for all the miles
they have trod the earth

she dresses her niece in the finest of clothes
combs her dark tangled hair
places the gold chain and earrings in the palm
of the right hand
puts the wedding ring back on
the third finger of the left hand
    ‘such small fingers’
bending forward, kisses them
   ‘you are ready now my gel, sov well’

Romani words: Chavies – children; Daya – mother; Malts – women; Mokkadi – unclean;
Sov – sleep.

 

O Lillai Gillie

(Angloromani)
Prey o lillai, prey o lillai
Gillyava a gillie
Prey o chick, prey o charos
Gillyava a gillie

Prey a panni, prey o panni
Gillyava a gillie
Shoon me vas’ tacha
Gillyava a gillie

Prey o raddi, prey o raddi
Gillyava a gillie
Chumos for me pen
Gillyava a gillie

Prey o lillai, prey o lillai
Gillyava a gillie
Prey o chick, prey o charos
Gilyava a gillie.

Gillyava a gillie, gillyava a gillie
Shoon me vas tatcha,
Gillyava a gillie.

 

The Summer Song

In the summer, in the summer
I will sing a song, a song
Of the earth, of the heavens
I will sing a song

On the river, on the river
I will sing a song
Listen, my beloved
I will sing a song

In the night, in the night
I will sing a song, a song
Kisses for my love
I will sing a song

In the summer, in the summer
I will sing a song, a song
Of the earth, of the heavens
I will sing a song

I will sing a song, a song
Listen my beloved,
I will sing a song.


 

 

 

a song to rest the tired dead’ and other poems are © Raine Geoghegan, MA

Author’s note

Please note that the following poems are published in Apple Water: Povel Panni,
‘Romanichals in the 1950’s’,Somewhere in Apple Water Country’ andA Memory of the Hop Fields’.
‘a song to rest the tired dead’ was published in Here Comes Everyone in the Ritual (online edition, August 2018)
‘A Memory of the Hop Fields’ was published in Words from the Wild  (Summer Edition, 2018) editors, Louise Taylor & Amanda Ostusion
‘Somewhere in Apple Water Country’ was published in Bonnie’s Crew (May 2018) editor Kate Garret.
‘Koring chiriclo (ii)’ was published in Under the Radar (Summer Edition, 2018)

 

Raine Geoghegan, MA lives in West Sussex. She is half Romany with Welsh and Irish ancestry. Her poems and short prose have been widely published and her debut pamphlet, Apple Water – Povel Panni published by Hedgehog Press was launched in December 2018 and previewed at the Ledbury Poetry Festival in July 2018. Her poetry has been featured in a documentary film about hop picking ‘Stories from the Hop Yards.’ She is a Pushcart Prize and Forward Prize nominee. Other publications include, Under the Radar; Poetry Ireland Review; The Curlew; The Clearing and The Travellers’ times, amongst others

“Considering Their Pale Faces” and other poems by Erin Wilson

Seed

tōgarashi / omoikonasaji / mono no tane
the red pepper / I do not belittle / seedlings
~ Bashō

I keep a chestnut
in the breast pocket of my secondhand leather jacket.
When I picked it I thought of (I don’t know why) my mother.

The last time my first husband and I made love
I knew my womb, because of my mind, was tipped at such an angle
that no seed would germinate  there.

This is also a true story.
Our children and I collected acorns to use for a project we had not yet imagined.
They exploded into weevil larvae all over the floor.

 

A Letter to My Ex Concerning Houseleeks

I retrieve the hens and chicks,
reminiscent of farms,
from my sister’s yard

and press them to the dirt
in the small half-circle
we dig in our own yard

and then leave them there
to grow and separate

 

The Mother

The last bladder is emptied,
the last gleek shot into the sink,
the last struggling out of and into,
the last — somewhat grooming,
the last sandwich flogged to its plastic compartment,
the last backpack retrieved from the floor,
the last gangly stumbling,
the last repeated good day utterance, love you, etc.,
the last kicking of the front door.

The mother is alone.
The house stands still for a moment
in its terrible shock of silence.
Then shakes off its cold blanket.
The mother leans into herself like tilted kindling,
a neanderthal, or philosopher returned to her cave.
She begins to make the fire.
It doesn’t matter what she makes the fire with.
The mother burns.

Considering Their Pale Faces

Fact: the manageable size of the baby paradise rose, with pinkish-lavender 1 - 1 1/2" blooms, offers
a small garden big potential.

Experiential: we planted a few along the border of the garden we created with the edge of a shovel
outside the kitchen window, when we bought the family home.

Fact: even miniature roses are susceptible to the same plagues as their larger cousins.

Experiential: while you children toddled about, slipping happily in leaf rot, then swung on the tire
swing, or later, hammered in the tree fort, I leaned toward the tiny leaves and scraped fat rose slugs
into a tin can, or sometimes brazenly squashed them with a thumb nail.

Fact: for years the paradise rose struggled, and eventually, I left your father.

Considering Their Pale Faces and other poems are © Erin Wilson

Erin Wilson has contributed poems to The Adirondack Review, San Pedro River Review, Split Rock Review, and Minola Review, with work forthcoming from The American Journal of Poetry, Juked and Kestrel. She lives and writes in a small town in northern Ontario, Canada.

“affairs of the unsettled” and other poems by Olly Lenihan

The Robin

 
You show me your robin
bright little bird
you are gentle with him
 
He trusts you, dear,
eats from your hand
not scared in the slightest
 
Not as he should be
not as I was
you were not gentle with me

 

G.R.C.C. (Galway Rape Crisis Centre)

 
Through winding streets, I’d never seen before
it didn’t feel like Galway at all
more like a cardboard cut-out town
 
When I arrived it was silent, empty
a maze of corridors
identical flowery waiting rooms
 
A calm space, dangerous nonetheless
I felt like if I fell asleep in one of those rooms
they’d never find me again
 
I believe now that ghosts roamed those halls
shells of those they’ve hurt
white with nausea, I was one of them
 
Coming home, I caught snowflakes on my tongue
pulled my stolen coat tight against the wind
I felt so far from home. Still do–
 
I can’t tell what I am today
whether I’m closer to me than I’ve ever been
or whether I’m a stranger, caught on thinning ice

 

affairs of the unsettled

 
forehead to forehead while i write poetry inside my head
you take it upon yourself to do the thing that i most dread
 
caught in my throat, hands formed in ice but carried on to flame
just tell me love, how would it be if i were to do the same
 
don’t use that word, can’t help but flinch every time i hear its ring
but love for me has always been this blessed, holy thing
 
i’m going mad equating things to angels tonight
but you looked like a marble statue lying there in the light
 
don’t want to spend my whole life trotting after you in vain
lovelord, Moonstruck, besotted, bereft, it’s driving me insane
 
another love, another loss, i’m used to this by now
or at least i would be, if only i knew how.

 

making do (collected haikus)

 
oh so bittersweet
to feel calm before a storm
that never arrives
 
i trip; out it spills
so unwieldy a feeling
rising to the top
 
possibilities
words unspoken, pain untold
my ragged exhales

your heart beats so loud
like wild horses in my ear
time passes so slow
 
it’s something starcrossed
this feeling, or is it just
bent on disaster?
 
just for you, i’d try
to pull a happy ending
from this disused brain
 


Relapse

you are walking the twenty-five minutes home with a push forward, push forward to your step, and you are furious but you don’t know why, and your lips are chapped but slippery with spit, and it’s there in your hand, in a plastic bag with handles sweaty and digging into your palm, and god above do you wish it weren’t.

because you’re going home to an empty house and just on the end of your phone there’s a girlfriend and a best friend and someone who’s somewhere in between, but they can’t see you now, and he is thirty metres away but you cannot do that to him, not now.

on the bottle is some kind of fucking bird or dragon, and you stare at it and wonder what it’s got against you to make you this way, and you pour it into a cartoon mug, full and slopping over the top, and you swig, and it rattles against your teeth, and you’re close to tears, and you know why.

and now you’re swimming in this haze, and that buzzing bites into your ears, and things are not normal but it feels okay somehow, it’s all in real time and it’s a relief, it’s a relief, it’s a relief.

it’s two hours later and you are screaming, screaming, ripping out your throat at nothing, you are ringing his doorbell and he sees, sees it’s you and does not answer, and you are lying outside prostrate on the ground waiting for him to be there because there is no one else left in this town for you.

now you are seeping, sinking deep into the screen, a friend helps but it doesn’t help and you’ve called four times but he is nothing but a voicemail and you don’t know where he’s gone, where inside himself or inside another, and it pushes you towards the edge.

calmer, calmer now, you sip from your bottle, the drink all gone, you turn wine into water and you pray that he will forgive you for tonight’s fuck-up—do not judge me for what i have been, good god, but sharpen your knife and cut me free.

two thirty and here it is, you communicate with the angels, you offer yourself up to her and she accepts with grace, rocking you into your gentle sleep and sending you off with bullrush dreams, and you are free.

you wake, and each side of your body wakes too with a jolt of pain, and you regret it all, how you fucked up yesterday’s casual calm to try and satiate the roaring in your ears, you are lying there, wishing you could forget it all and sleep forever, but it’s morning now, and you have to get up.

affairs of the unsettled and other poems are © Olly Lenihan.

Olly Lenihan is a twenty-year-old poet who is originally from Dingle in the south-west of Ireland. Their writing career began during a disastrous attempt at living in Galway, and they’ve been penning angst ever since. Their poetry encapsulates the dreadful clichéd romanticism of being in love in one’s early twenties, along with themes of mental illness, sexuality and loss. They are currently in their first year of IT Sligo’s Writing and Literature course, and are also working on their first novel.
 
They can be found on Twitter at https://twitter.com/ragsies

 

“Birth Mother” and Other Poems by Srilata Krishnan (K.Srilata)

Birth Mother

We are standing in front of the mirror,
my daughter and I,
brushing our hair and being vain
when I think of the doctor’s question:
“What was her birth cry like?”
I don’t know and never will.
She is fine, or will be, I know.
But looking in the mirror and into her almond eyes,
I wonder what she is like – her birth mother –
if she too, was once, afraid of words
and of the fluttering of pigeons,
if she has nicely formed arches on her feet
and whether or not her eyebrows make a bow
for good luck,
if she is small and slender-waisted,
if she is anything like my daughter,
or was.
Strange, but I don’t wonder at all about the father.

I tug at her pony.
“Amma, let’s go”, she urges into a mirror
that is slowly
swallowing
her birth mother.

Our eyes meet in that eye of a little god
and she smiles
the sort of smile that is like mine.

 

What Penelope Said to Ulysses on His Return

And so you ask what I have been doing with myself
these past twenty years,
whether I have missed you and how much,
and how I have fared, all told.
That first one year I hurt all over,
your absence leached into my bones,
and dimmed the sun that insisted on rising each morning.
When they brought Telemachus to me, I turned away,
refusing to take him in my arms.
How could I when he looked so much like you?
The ache in my bones,
the dimming of the sun,
my turning away from Telemachus –
these are easy to conjure up,
but not so the rest.

Soon my fingers became birds
I sent off
to look for words
I can weave into this poem
I am writing even as we speak.
But I am growing less and less hopeful,
and the words I weave by day,
I unweave by night,
for I find they won’t do.

Twenty years of missing you, Ulysses,
and the words for that are still in hiding,
an entire forest of them,
out there somewhere,
beyond the flight of birds.

 

All the Usual Arguments

Gloveless, she incinerates them,
only to have them return at night,
feel her cheek with their phantom fingers,
wrap long umbilical cords around her waist,
snuggle against her breasts.

There are all the usual arguments of course.
Someone’s got to do it.
It’s the only work she knows.
It puts food on the table after all.

Never mind that its carnage she feels
on her tongue
when she sits down with her children
to eat.

 

This Road, This One

You are a thousand years old now,
older than all the photographs of yourself
that exist in this world.
Already you reek
of the sickly odour of death.
Your grandchildren can’t bear your embrace.
The good people want you to rest in peace.
They wish you well in your other journey.
They claim nothing else matters in the end.
They seem sure of it.
There’s no reason to be difficult, they say.
But you want this road, this one, to go on.
You want to follow the turn,
be surprised by it,
bequeath one more photograph of yourself
to ether
that no one will know what to do with,
write one more line
no one will ever read.


Birth Mother and Other Poems are © Srilata Krishnan (K.Srilata)

A poet and fiction writer, K. Srilata (Srilata Krishnan) is a Professor of English at IIT Madras. Her poetry collections include Bookmarking the Oasis, Writing Octopus, Arriving Shortly and Seablue Child. Forthcoming, from Poetrywala, Mumbai is a collection titled The Unmistakable Presence of Absent Humans. Her novel Table for Four was long listed in 2009 for the Man Asian literary prize. Srilata is the co-editor of the anthologies The Rapids of a Great River: The Penguin Book of Tamil Poetry, Short Fiction from South India (OUP) and All the Worlds Between: A Collaborative Poetry Project Between India and Ireland (Yoda), and the editor of an anthology of women’s writing from the Self-Respect movement titled The Other Half of the Coconut: Women Writing Self-Respect History (Zubaan). She is the translator of R.Vatsala’s Tamil novel Once there was a girl (Vattathul).

‘Fire relies on the leaves of gum trees’ and other poems by Dominique Hecq

Poethead

Hushed

 
Light pours down
the unrelenting sky
to earth ribbed and ridged
with the tough stroke
of Drysdale’s brush

I track down words
for hues and shades in books
envy the skill of artist-explorers
who forged new ways of seeing

The cries of crows fall

Through blues onto rusty ochres
pulsing with raven dust

This place stills my tongue


Pulse

 
1
 
Somewhere in this night lives
a light
that turns in the open
throat of time.

 2
 
When the sky waits for rain
birds squat in silence
and longing is but
one great sweeping movement that makes the earth quake.

3
 
The clock stands still in the heat, and I
fear the mimicry of clichés—
like a comma usurping all
punctuation.
 

4
 
No, I don’t believe
in the silence
drying up
on your lips.

 
5
 
I dream the wish that…

View original post 987 more words

The North, Issue 61 (January 2019)

Into the Light Blown Dark: Working with Freda Laughton’s ‘Now I am a Tower of Darkness’

 

Now I am a Tower of Darkness

 
As a child I knew
How, beyond the lamp’s circuit,
Lay the shadow of the shadow
Of this darkness,
 
Waiting with an arctic kiss
In the well of the staircase,
Ready to drape the bed with visions
No eyelids can vanquish.
 
 Now I am a Tower of Darkness by Freda Laughton from A Transitory House (Jonathan Cape, 1945).
 

Freda Laughton produced one book of poetry, A Transitory House (Jonathan Cape, 1945). At the time of the book’s publication, Freda Laughton would have been 38 years old. Laughton’s chosen sphere was the female intimate, and within this context she was an expressionist of some ability. Her work presaged that of Eavan Boland and of Nuala Ni Dhomhnaill. There is a certain fragility and darkness in Laughton’s expression which imbues it with shadow. Her art was masterful, not least in the poem In a Transitory Beauty,
 
Maternal the shell
Cradling the embryo bird,
A transitory house,
Fashioned for brief security,
Of purposeful fragility,
A beauty built to be broken.
 
In a Transitory Beauty by Freda Laughton, from A Transitory House (Jonathan Cape, 1945).
 

There is a surviving photograph of Freda Laughton, it shows the poet in three-quarter profile, she has applied fresh lipstick for the camera’s gaze, she looks content and somewhat wry. We begin to see the confident poet who had found her muse, collated a collection and was an essayist and reviewer for The Bell Magazine. These are some of the facts of her professional life that we know. Poetry is a revelatory act of participation in the world, yet unfortunately for us, Freda Laughton’s work was let slip from view. I deeply regret that I was not exposed to her work in college, or as part of my later reading and studies.

 
Read more at The North, Issue 61
Freda Laughton’s poetry on this site

The North, Issue 61 was guest-edited by Nessa O’Mahony and Jane Clarke.

|The Girl in The Photograph| and other poems by Shreya Barua

|The Girl in The Photograph|

 
I’ll take you by the hand
and show you what it’s like
to sit under neon signs
when the city goes to sleep
and you’ll have known
a little bit more
about what magic looks like
I’ll take you by the lips
and show you what it’s like
to taste the snowflakes
I caught on my tongue
and you might get to know
a lot bit more
about what dreams feel like
I’ll take you to places
you’ll forget to remember
I’ll show you things
your eyes won’t believe
until you start to wonder
if I am real;
if any of it is

So, I’ll let go of your hand
one final time
break away from your lips
one last time
wrap all the magic and dreams
around your little finger
and go back to being
the girl in the photograph


|Syria’s Daughter|

 
I am Syria’s daughter.
I will soon be just as forgotten as my name is.

And when they come for me
rummaging through heaps of concrete,
sifting through blood and bones
looking for bodies
to add to their death toll,
tell them I tried.
Tell them I tried to live.

Tell them
That I tried to breathe the poison that swirls across my country like a midsummer’s breeze
That I tried to match my heartbeat to the gunfires on the street so that I wouldn’t bite my lip
too hard out of fear
That I tried to sleep but my ears rang from the haunted screams that echoed all the way
from Damascus to Aleppo
That I tried to find a piece of land to bury my brother, his pale mouth still lined with blood
he’d been coughing for hours, but they had their guns ready for anything that moved
That I tried to shed tears when my father died in my arms but I couldn’t because my eyes
were as parched as my throat
That I tried.

Tell them I tried.
Tell them I tried to live while they slashed open my land till the cracks brimmed over
with the blood of my people.
Tell them they won.

I was Syria’s daughter.
Tell them that they can now have my mother.


|Victim’s Curse|

 
Last night
I found a girl murdered on the streets
and while her body grew cold
against the slush laden concrete
They wondered
if death had finally caught up,
having been beckoned time and again
by the dozen healed slits across her wrist
They checked
for signs of struggle
leaving room for doubt
that if she didn’t fight back
she was probably asking for it
They took
samples of her blood,
checking for drugs
because one less junkie off the streets
was no harm done
They rummaged
through her phone
looking for signs of provocation
since one shouldn’t make enemies
if they can’t afford to
They examined
the knife jutting out of her abdomen,
blood curdled around it
making sure that it wasn’t in fact her
who had somehow found a way
to twist it through her insides

Last night
I found a girl murdered on the streets
and it was sad
that I felt happy
about her not being alive
to witness that she was robbed of her life
in a world
where the tag of a victim
came with a price to be paid
and where dying
just wasn’t enough


|Serenading Through A Broken Heart|

 
I know now what people mean when they say that they can feel their heart breaking

I know because I am breaking yours
and I can see the anguish with which
your pupils dilate when you look at me.
You unflinchingly carry the conversation on
but your voice breaks precisely eight times
in the past minute.
I try to inch my hand closer to yours
and your fingers shrink away
sensing my touch
which isn’t welcome anymore.
Your lips quiver ever so slightly
and I can hear the accusing words
that you try to hold back.
You look unchanged and unaffected
but the blood in your cheeks that
I have grown so fond of,
has slowly started to drain away.
You look away
and fixate your eyes at nothing at all,
letting your dry cappuccino grow cold
and with it,
your heart

I know now what people mean when they say that they can feel their heart breaking,
because the entire time that I thought I was breaking yours, I was sucking the life
out of mine


|My Type|

 
He said he knew my type.

He said, I was the spoilt kind
and if I slit my wrists
they would bleed out alcohol
four pints of Jameson, three of Miller Light
and ten shots of Calle 23
staining the skimpy dresses
and short skirts that I wear
to attract countless lusting eyes
in bars or the corners of dimly lit streets
where I much rather stick my tongue
down the throat of a beautiful redhead
who later finds herself in my bed
while I find myself in a white man’s arms
telling him made up stories
about the ink that I’ve used
to turn my body into an exhibit
fluttering my eyes, showing off my piercings,
teasing and taunting,
and spreading the smell of tobacco
splashed across my breath
into the many salivating mouths
that I’m too distracted to keep count
before heading back only to find
those captivating curls of red gone
and mourning her absence over
a perfectly rolled Malana
losing myself in smoke
and silhouettes of other conquests
that I allowed to get away

He said he knew my type.
He couldn’t be more wrong.
He couldn’t be more right.

|The Girl In The Photograph| and other poems are © Shreya Barua

Shreya Barua is a recent Trinity postgraduate. She moved halfway across the world, from Delhi to Dublin to be able to indulge in the two things that have her heart: literature and travel. When she is not too busy daydreaming, one can find her hiking on the Wicklow mountains or sipping a glass of red by the grand canal.

“English Breakfast Love Song” and other poems by Rhiannon Grant

English Breakfast Love Song

 
I am longing to pour out
my soul to you in words
which show my creativity
and let off my head of steam
but my soul is not so liquid
it comes out in funny lumps
uneven like old-fashioned sugar
ready to make sure your tea
is always too sweet and
never sweet enough.

Unengaged Concepts

 
Your thin God –
onmithis, omnithat—
is nothing beside
the wildness
of Goddess.
 
Love and suffering
may have reasons
but are not rational.
 
You say we can know
about ‘chastity’
without living it.
 
Really?
 
Outside a seminar
in a thick press of people
could you look the right way
maintain your dress just so
be chaste in soul
in ways you cannot describe?
 
You can use the word
‘God’ in a sentence.
 
So far, so good.
 
Do not presume to know
what my God is like:
how flowers dance for Her
how Thou is there in silence
how His sentences would make
no sense to you.
 
Goddess might not even be that
after all.
 

Explorations

 
yearning
to fly, to grow
boldly into darkness
to freedom
 
journeys begin
with a single seed
but flights
fight trees
 
kingfisher distains
the city and the plane.
 
in freedom
and darkness
can we fly?
 

This Year

 
we have rebuilt
in our gathering
an anywhere temple
 
we spill ourselves
practising our faith
with a smile
 
giving small acts
(and large) in service
a ready sacrifice
 
we have come up
to see our faces
through God’s eyes
 

Career Counselling

 
Cheer up, you said.
There’ll be something, you said.
 
Not much, I said.
I am looking, I said.
 
Have hope, you said.
There are good jobs, you said.
 
Oh yeah? I said
Not for me, I said.
 
Oh yes, you said.
One is for you, you said.
 
I’ve tried, I said.
There’s tills and shelves and desks and files and typing and smiling and boredom and dying.
It’s fine, I said.
I haven’t a choice, I said.
 
You sighed, I said.
 
Nothing, you said.
 

Illusion

 
I remember you
untouched.
 
In all the weeks
we were together
one kiss, a hug or two,
no more.
 
Then I broke
too loud too honest
too clear too pained
and you left
untouched.
 
English Breakfast Love Song and other poems are © Rhiannon Grant

Rhiannon Grant lives, writes, and teaches in Birmingham, UK. Her writing engages with questions about religion, philosophy, how we understand the world, and how we communicate with one another. Most of her published work so far has been in academic journals, but she has a book on Quaker theology forthcoming and some poems recently appeared in the magazine A New Ulster.

‘sunday DARTS and my phone’s dead’ and other poems by Alicia Byrne Keane


sassy ghost

sometimes I’m startled by how
perfectly my boots land when I take them off
in poses too outrageous to plan
like a dandy has strode into the room
and is posturing,
invisible,
in my boots

i can’t draw shoes it makes me restless

(the art room of my school
with its swelling cabin roof
like an overturned ship,
the teacher played the bon iver album
with skinny love on it on repeat all the time
the song makes me sleepy and cold)

 
i can’t draw shoes, when i try they look like puddles or ghosts
everything about them less certain on inspection
the soles worn in places so the line will look uneven on the page

(the fear that no-one would know
you were accurately capturing the wobbly bits)

 

When we came out that morning everything was covered in ice

We talked about so much stuff that I can’t remember
Any of it really, just that I was nervous in a good way

And that we slept surrounded by paintings
You’d done on the backs of cornflake packets

 

sunday DARTS and my phone’s dead

sunday darts away from me
into a corner, becomes
an imagined dampness

like when you can’t tell whether
clothes on the line are still wet
or just really cold

I was meant to ring you tonight,
but I’m sitting in various places.

 


A guy says


people at the platform are wearing
green woolly hats in a great number
and it still takes me a while 
to cop that there’s a match on


	the conversation behind me: a guy says Ssssssssupermacs 
	because he’s waiting for his friend to finish their sentence
	some people talk slower when they’re trying to interrupt you

	
THE TRAIN HAS NO MIND, 
another guy says jarringly


(I think: eradicate all ringtones that sound like
variations on the old-fashioned telephone bell)

	
	the train has no mind. 
	the display has said 2 minutes for 10 minutes
	so I step beyond the line and crane my neck
				don’t jump! a guy says
				as a joke,


I look 
at the space behind him.

 

sunday DARTS and my phone’s dead and other poems are © Alicia Byrne Keane

Alicia Byrne Keane is a spoken word artist and poet from Dublin, Ireland. She has performed at festivals such as Body & Soul, Electric Picnic, Castlepalooza and F Festival. Her poetry has been published in magazines such as Bare Hands, Headstuff, and Impossible Archetype, among others. She is a long-time performer at poetry events around Dublin such as Lemme Talk and Come Rhyme With Me, and was more recently involved in the Science Gallery’s INTIMACY exhibition. She is currently a PhD candidate at Trinity College Dublin researching translated literature and placelessness, more specifically in the case of authors who self-translate. Her work explores the absurdity that arises from losses in translation, even when interacting in one’s native language. She is interested in the effect of unexpected sincerity afforded by short, snapshot-like poems.

Poems from ‘Available Light’ by Maria McManus

from ‘Émigrés’

 

3.
 
What is going on in your heart?
 
Prisoners of war live here
 
Throw off your gaudy vestments,
spring’s best and brightest fig
and let me see you naked
and then, more naked still —
 
Put your heart
in my hearts cavity.
Slip it in.

 
Bring your worry beads if needs be.
It’s not too late
to shred all documents
of denunciation.

 
5.
 
Now we must
hunt by ear and
put our trust
 
in gossiping swallows,
the hooded crows, the herring gulls,

 
the wryneck’s potent drum.
 

7.

Between silences
take notice
of the imago
of your stolen self.

Sold back
but at what price?

 

10.

Collect wishbones,
place them in charnel houses,
quarter the ground
to make sure and certain
none are missing –
these things bring a plan to grief.

 

11.

The song-birds are drowning,
the sea is now a cemetery.

The song-birds are drowning,
the sea is now a cemetery

 

14.

Life’s comforts
are honeycombed
and treacherous,

and moths
appear to drink your tears
while you are sleeping

 

from ‘The House That Stood For Happiness’

 

3.

This nest offers its mouth
to the sky. Blades of grass
imprinting against the limits,
fresh as linen.The house
that stood for happiness was lost –
but the heart beats on
for that which curves
and holds,

returning its call,
its sound.

 

4.

Where there is light,
I want this place –
between heaven and earth,
a high place for dreaming,
a marriage of moss and down
cupped just out of reach,
given form from my breast,
pressed out with my body,
a dress to fit, breathed into.

I made good
these un-helpable
palpitations—I put them to work,
searching out the place that knows
the choreography of forest-love,
where the world and its hostilities
are muffled, suffocating, far away –
beyond the trees’ cordoning
I have found a place

to sing.


Émigrés and other poems are © Maria McManus (from Available Light, published Arlen House, 2018)

Maria McManus will be launching Available Light along with The Work of a Winter by Maureen BoyleLove, the Magician by Medbh McGuckianFeather and Bone by Ruth Carr, and The Uses of Silk by Gráinne Tobin,  Each of us (our chronic alphabets) by Natasha Cuddington.

Arlen House Dublin launch details at Eventbrite

Maria McManus lives in Belfast. She is the author of Available Light (Arlen House, 2018), We are Bone (2013), The Cello Suites (2009) and Reading the Dog (2006) (Lagan Press), she has collaborated extensively with others to put literature into public spaces. She is artistic director and curator of Poetry Jukebox and an active organiser and founder member of  Fired! Irish Poets.

‘A Glass of Tea, a View of the Atlas’ by Shadab Zeest Hashmi

Trade

An assortment of crooked 
and straight arrows
for the crest of a bulbul 
or a handful of sesame

Uncut turquoise
for juices of scorpions and glow worms
                                             A dozen poisons 
for an embroidered collar/
                                             a pinch of saffron/
                                             abalone knob

Spotted eggs for knotted shoes 
Peacock feathers for beet sugar

                                              How much fur 
                                         will buy cloves for my toothache?
                                      How many sprigs of mint/
                                          radishes to restring your rabab? 

The market is spinning 
between us 
                                        How much of us has been stolen
                                           by the ghosts of aromas?

When night comes 
there is spinach again
for the promise of quail 
Your dream of cake
feeds on wild berries

                                            You kiss my cold shoulder
I comb 
out the market from your hair

A Glass of Tea, a View of the Atlas

You give me Fez honey on Fennel cakes

in a ceramic saucer because you
say, to eat from this bitter clay (glazed and
caressed with geometric precision), will
draw me into the shapeless sob of the
future. You read invasion’s epistle even
in the smoothness of ebony— ashes
of ancestor acacia on your lashes—
I raise my tea glass to level with your
eyes, the snowy Atlas scintillates behind
you— cream on your dish of weeping clay.

 

Untying the knot of ker-chiefed bread in a cedar grove

she would shudder, your mother, child of exiled
Andalus, memory embossed with two kinds of
histories— one flitting like a citron
butterfly, the other wrapped in linen,
knotted, turned to cinder over a cedar
flame— tongue of the grand inquisitor
leaping from Spain to Morocco, night-sweats,
door-chains, the informants and their fistfuls
of gold, the choke-hold of banned prayers.
Tender, the bread sponges the lava of fear.

 

Only the footed teapot’s shadow

on the wall dismantles its truth, its rigid
stance and military-medal-silver
muted in the bounty of the skylight
flecked with pheasant foot-stains from nightly rain.
Its handle forms the shape of a perfect
heart, if there is such a thing, and between
breath of Konya and bloodbath of empire,
furs of sable, mink and squirrel, and the
soft grasp of a baby around the planet’s future,
there are names for the divine in every tongue.

 


Serendipity

“Straight from the tea gardens to the teapot”

Slogan from the island of Sita, thieved goddess
who takes her tea cold in America-of-the-
ice-blue-eyes, new trail of old jewels. Not my grandmother’s
time yet, the rupee coin in India bears an empress
looking away, facing West. On the reverse,
under a wreath, the coin says: East India Company
As in, coffers/coffins, divide/conquer. Neck to
navel, garlands of tea bags exhale the sweet manure
of Ceylon around Sir. Thomas Lipton, delicate-dark fingers
ghost across lifelong tea terraces, burial grounds of language

 

“You can buy estates here for a song,” Lipton’s agent says

Fungus consumes the coffee crop in Ceylon
before sellers and drinkers do, and like a kiss
snuffing a flame or a diamond in the ashes of a dead
lover, it seals Lipton’s fortune: Georgetown Semi-Weekly
Times says the Scottish grocer and tea Mogul Sir Lipton
(“the largest landowner in Ceylon and one of the wealthiest
tea merchants in the world”) is looking to
invest a sum of half a million in South Carolina—
A day for the rain raga, Serendip showers silver
dollars, pounding the earth with the reign of tea

 

Under the Tea Table, Watching CNN

Euphoric, gold-maned lion with tea (or assault
weapon?) in its raised paw, “Ceylon,” the box is
called, and sits next to a tin of condensed milk, scalloped
petunia teacups. The sweets from Alif Laila
are not real but are in phantasmagoric excess:
Syrup of Qandhaar lacing quince of Nishapur,
apples of Syria, Tus apricots, dates
of Kirmaan, Nawahand pears— I’m rocked
by the dream of a fruit-scented boat, eyes shut to
the television screen, quaking with grenades

 

Poisons of the Golden and Silver Screen

Splash of arsenic in the eye, the great
art of hooding and unhooding on screen:
naming me ‘enemy’ in the cartoon,
the four o’clock news, feature film, the late-
night talk show with the spotlight-artist of
my absurdity, star-novelist who
maps my crooked mind, catches me mid-dream
in my plum-palace of crime, catwalks, the
seven discarded veils of Salome— douses the lectern
in the slow, deep, tweed-colored toxins.

 

Fairy of Pearls and Poisons

I scratch out the horned demon on the cover
of my Urdu Dastaan and draw a fairy out of
his fangs. Not much to look at, and smaller than
the hero’s shield (the size of a peppercorn), she
saves his life with her piercing rain raga that ricochets
against the ruby-filled mountains of the dev, winning
the hero his freedom plus a trove of foreign gems:
turquoise of Nishapur, carnelian of Yemen,
garnets of Balkh. And local pearls. She will fight the famous
poisons for him: scorpion, centipede, glow worm — all, but vanity.

 

The Wise Sons of Serendip refuse premature power

refuse kneeling attendants and silk bolsters, each handing
back the crown to their father, the King, whose painstaking
work of raising princes is complete. I’m turning
pages from golden palanquins to the parched mountain
passes: parable narrated by Khusrao’s Princess
of the Black Pavilion, daughter of India, who teaches
the hero the uselessness of might against true power—
Not cleverness but forbearance saves the sons of Serendip—
Opaque watercolor ink and gold on paper, the princes hand back
my faith in a land of stolen languages, of rulers looking away.

 


Serendip Notes

  • Serendip is the Persian name of Ceylon or Sri Lanka.
  • The British East India Company’s exploitative trade policies enabled it to seize control of a large part of the Indian subcontinent. Ceylon became part of the British empire in 1815.
  • 1754; Horace Walpole coined “serendipity” for the faculty distinguishing the heroes of The Three Princes of Serendip, a tale that appears in a famous Persian poem by Amir Khusrao.
  • 1890: Thomas Lipton visited Ceylon and purchased tea gardens with Tamil workers from India. Lipton sold packaged tea throughout Europe and the USA beginning in 1890.

 

The River  [PDF] by  Shadab Zeest Hashmi

A Glass of Tea, a View of the Atlas’ and other poems are © Shadab Zeest Hashmi 

Shadab Zeest Hashmi is the author of poetry collections Kohl, Chalk and Baker of Tarifa. Her latest work, Ghazal Cosmopolitan has been praised by poet Marilyn Hacker as “a marvelous interweaving of poetry, scholarship, literary criticism and memoir.” Winner of the San Diego Book Award for poetry, the Nazim Hikmet Prize and multiple Pushcart nominations. Zeest Hashmi’s poetry has been translated into Spanish and Urdu, and has appeared in anthologies and journals worldwide, most recently in Prairie Schooner, World Literature Today, Mudlark, Vallum, POEM, The Adirondack Review, Spillway, Wasafiri, Asymptote and McSweeney’s latest anthology In the Shape of a Human Body I am Visiting the Earth. She has taught in the MFA program at San Diego State University as a writer-in-residence and her work has been included in the Language Arts curriculum for grades 7-12 (Asian American and Pacific Islander women poets) as well as college courses in Creative Writing and the Humanities.

‘Mangoes are a night food’ and other poems by Finnuala Simpson

Linen

A candied calligraphy of colours, I said
that I would change the sheets later.
And I said also that I could handle it but I could not, and will I fry for that?
I may, but only if you return.

The stink of sheep hangs on me like wisdom.
You leave in a blur and your bag is heavy with spices,
I hope I do not let you back again.
It depends on my resolve, and on whether the seasons let me float.

I’ll take myself running for the friction of denial,
cross my legs under the tables of the library.
I’ll spin yarns and wear black and eat fruit in the evenings,
till I’m taller and more thoughtful than I have been before.

And I’ll try harder, too.
Kindness is like witchcraft, it must be brewed and stirred,
mulled over in secret with the herb scent of the night.
If it threatens to drown you, you must set yourself on fire.

Do you think of me? Or am I a stop-gap to you?
I marveled at you on the phone when you were talking like a man,
Not laughing or stroking like you laugh and stroke at me.
Talking figures like your car was a woman,
You said fuck it we will fix the white van instead
For by the time the summer comes you will be traveling.

I changed my sheets and they were smeared
sprinkled with both blood and mould.
But washed away now, and quietly, while you are asleep and going south.

 

Warren

God’s the opposite of sentient,
God’s gotta lot on their plate right now
You hate phone calls but you rang rang rang rang rang rang
Kinda like the knock knock don’t stop of the old stories about Jesus and the hearts.

I sit in a pub like the underground volts of mole town with glistening mirrors and brown
And think: and think: and think :
What if I AM us
What if we ARE me

Amen. That boy gets bloody sleepy-eyed and ties you down with internet rope to have the best time,
you can still be held by the every-man compass of inner direction and salt.

Lake licking
I’d be down for some
front door seconds

I love overhand
and crying boys
and absolute disgraces
and civil war tales make me puke
because we are you and I am us and they are
watching
Jesus Christ and the cherubim all interconnected with stones and pencils and lust

 

Frown Upon Me

When winter falls out I cheer up
Semi-automatic pistol you grip and
It’s like
Put that down honey I’m
Just in league with the bears you know
Don’t be afraid
Just because I am socialist without understanding politics
Just because I say this is how I FEEL out loud loud
And you don’t do anything out loud loud
You say: I am bad at words
You won’t kiss me goodbye in the street
You’re a removable boy access unacceptable
When the moon looms
When your blood is flat
When you are sober
~ Biggest mood: you not letting go of my hand drunk

 

Mangoes are a night food

I unfurl a peach strip of self denial,
curling tendrils like the mannerisms that
wind me in a high spiral,
each time I sleep I see extensions of my worst trade-offs
and subtle lingering traces of worn out faces and fading tastes.

I see the way your limbs are positioned, they are unsure of
holding company with the air (and really baby I feel that)
yellow soft flesh without a skin and a concrete world he sings
that you stand in hallways thinking about the positioning
of your feet, and the happiness of our lives
was only coming.

I do indeed know the strangest of manifestations,
I do certainly keep company with the eeriest of loves.
Boys can surely contract themselves into small spaces,
the gaps in my brain are of the overly hospitable young.

I held onto him in our old bed and tightly traced
the profile graced with the ability that I gave him
his eyes were closed to look more firmly at the wall
he knew my heart was at his back
he may have held my hand but he did not.
I let love drop from my ears my eyes my tear ducts
(Love
Is forever I think)
I held him and said, I wish you well I wish you well I wish you
you hurt me so much
I wish you well I wish you well I wish you everything you can get nobly
I love you
Even as I fall for a better boy
I love you
He took my love in mime
Stayed curled-up, inaccessible and pure
In the dream my sister woke me with her heart at my back
She never touched me
I never touched him
I think that real love is forever
Mango is a night food.

 

No Chill Kids

I’m sweeping
cold callers collect thoughts and manic and deathly
are you grossed out by sad?
I’m the icky girl no chill just spooky abandon to the rhythmic pulse
gymnastics of feeling floods
like crying toilets drunk
maybe we’ll get cool again I’ll put weed on the balcony
I need a lamp to grow me a glo-up
baked
half streaming
live rot

Well I take photos of lights to hold them in my wet hand cracks
Before
After
Told her there were two of me that’s a lie there are a million and one
me things
Shakespeare was a matching addict holy hell that quill quick quick good god
give me some Adderall
but I’d only focus on the wrong thing

Drunk dial
Low capped smile
I’d get off at the next stop but he’s gonna miss it
while mentally I put myself down the stairs bang bang
The street slush don’t stop us
Every fucking night I get shot at in my dreams I’m not joking
Last night it was my grandfather
There’s fingers and there’s whingers but I barely kiss gingers
Someone threaded their headphones through their jumper strings
What a strange little hullabaloo
I could do better if I were you
Because I’m a neat-freak never-speak who clean eats
I’ll go far

Mad girls and sad girls might be onto something
I’m crying holla holla wake up at the stars looking down on this shit attack
Honestly get me out asap
I’ll sail space smooth and I won’t look back
But my bones are hollow they don’t ever crack

I see faces places and wastes but I am the one standing on a hill and
Pencey Prep is real as all hell
that is, not very, dubiously transient and flickering like the flame of
a secret place that never cleans itself so sleep me now

 

Mangoes are a night food and other poems are © Finnuala Simpson

Finnuala Simpson is a twenty-year-old english and history student based in West Cork. In her free time she likes to write, cook, and walk as close to the sea as she can get.

‘A Meeting With Myself’ and other poems by Wasekera C. Banda

Vulnerability

Raise the fallen, walk over them.
Fear the consequences of a kind action,
undermine the impact of a bad deed.
Maybe there’s more to life, maybe there isn’t.
Fight the oppressor, break the chains.
Remain slaves?
These haunting memories,
these hopeless days,
These hopeful dreams.
Light a candle, say a prayer.
Doubt!
Close the door, cry in silence,
wear a mask.
Laugh!
These scattered pieces-
break me up, then make me whole.
I have no power over my thoughts.

Greatness

Like a pride of lions
I am fierce.
The past,
The present and the future,
I represent them all.
Outstanding,
I grace the world with awe.
Great storm,
I remain remarkable
In a broken world
I remain whole.
I am superiority,
I am a woman.

PRIDE

Walking with our shoulders straight
and heads held high
Our ambitions reach the skies
they throw stones at us
but we build ourselves up
with a belief so strong,
We could grow wings, fly.

We grace the world with awe,
hard rocks melt.
Roaring like lions,
we are heard and felt.

We break the chains of mediocrity.
We amaze them in every country
and in every city.
We have much more, we don’t need pity.
Shoulders straight,
heads held high,
we can’t break, we have our pride.

A Meeting with myself

We’ve met before.
I wouldn’t miss that voice in a million years.
It’s been a long road,
Oh, what a burden for you to bear!
I apologise for my absence,
I shouldn’t have left you to face the storm alone
I hope you understand;
how could I love you when you were broken?
But, Sister that pain you hold on to will suffocate you.
you need to let it go.
You can’t blame them anymore,
I pity you for letting them in,
I despise you for loving them,
I am sorry they hurt you,
but honey you need to heal.
Forgive yourself and learn to love those who put you down.
By forgive, I mean make peace with your soul.
Heal yourself.
More than anything, I wish to see you smile again.

Drifting

I get lost,
Am too proud to ask, so I lose my way.
I get sad too, it’s hard to tell from this smile I maintain.
I have dreams, a little too big, maybe, to come true, but I keep dreaming.
Hopelessness makes a fool of you, stay sane and keep fighting.
I mm grateful for the little things, I count my blessings before I break down.
I get lost in these tears. Pieces of my soul I will never get back.

A Meeting With Myself and other poems are © Wasekera C. Banda

Wasekera C. Banda is a twenty three year old Psychology student at City College in Dublin, Originally from Malawi, she has lived in Ireland for three years and was the 2016 winner of the Irish Times Africa Day Writing Competition. Wasekera enjoys writing and reading poetry, she is inspired by the Late Maya Angelou.

‘Hinnerup’ and other poems by Jess Mc Kinney

  *dint

It Began as most things do                              moist things do
everything everything       berry stained mouth
beer stickied floor & blood bloom undies
you ‘don’t mind’             and sure
                             I could probably get into you 
.
                             I only ever feel the bubbles on impact

                            during I’m somewhere else
                       the sun was a hot coal in the sky 
    seeing another one like you                 he came just before	       I                 
              decided a bit too late that I didn’t want what he
  asphyxiated thinking about sourcing justifications for those who insist      swear 
                          that my saliva isn’t a contagion
                          for those who are unknowing

  because kissing me will give you cancer 
  then you’ll never be the invisible thing you imagined running alongside the
  car          
                                               
and In Dreams                 my hair falls in chunks to a cheering audience
              I grow old & genderless for money
 nightly I wake feverish          trapped in the tight fist of your affection 
         drowning between cool bathroom tiles & Christmas cake sponge

but I won’t keep us downstairs            knitting and gritting at the base
                 begrudging closed doors & far off earing
              while I’m far off reliving tepid buoy lights
                    & what you wanted me to hear
  so I turn my mouth into a repurposed palette for the new                      you
   walking the length of it with sparse sentiments blowing 
					           you              but retaining no heat

       because unfortunately only others can administer the calming
              needed for the curdled bulb of my brain
      between me + heaven: 	           a place where I can smoke
    so I left you holding the cuff of your jumper 	    		     waiting 

                                   & bracing for the blow
AMY: spelled the right way

Frisbeeing your father’s slicked records into the ocean foam
not ‘boomeranging’ as you had once said
not coming back, not this time
but stuck in flux and spinning
reflective disks, CDs scratched and hanging
in the treehouse from which you will fall next year
on a wet November night when you weren’t old enough
trying to smoke a cigarette you stole
that’s why you fell, they said you weren’t old enough

Half our friendship was spent visiting each other in hospital
sparkling butterfly clips offered up on plastic sheets
conniving, bartering for my silence
I’m not supposed to tell anyone it happens
but it was hard to be alone after each cosmic collision
between tempered concussions and snapped clavicles
between fighting parents and shared rooms
so we continue, hushed and daring together, I pinky promise

Primary school passes, as it does, in a flurry
a few fearsome sparks and over, all of a sudden
as if all our memories already belonged to someone else
as if we didn’t need the fumbling trouble to become wisened
hardened, our most emblazoned fights mellowed
our passions come cartoonish like cheap plastic cheese slices
I can’t forget how you’d ring landlines all around town
to find me, 8pm and desperate before bed, to apologize

And when the time came to finally confront you
we were 16 and alone in the middle of a field at night
I’d crawled away from the boyfriend I got to match yours
from the tsunamis of cider, from the gendered expectation
but it was impossible still to make you understand
probably between my being drunk and crawling
so you say it never happened as you help me up
and then I just can’t stand you

 

turning vodka into wine

*hushed* it’s not just
not just the tropic tonic_____ now
it‘s heavier glassier receptacles
that are emptied quicker

quickly quenching the wild fire
the candle burning at both ends
wilting there now_____by the oven
before bare feet & childish eyes

sonic mother, please provide the cover
and resuscitate my ignorance
hand over cries, humming under covers
could I have been anything_____but a lover?

steady the line between us_____ just & unjust
a lot thinner when you’re stumbling
I’d do anything to be older
old enough to help you up

 

cortado

when well-meaning people align with me
align their lives with mine
it seems that they quit trying to become
or achieve themselves for a time
in a dastardly sense which can only descend
descend to ashes on communion
quickly quenching my reckless romance
romancing which necessitates an end
and so I approach you with an openness
forward an eager and honest grasp
but with well-meaning hands instead I rouse
rouse the ashes already put to bed
tidied away when setting aside the past
covertly hushing the used and the dead
so my digits recoil with the disenchanted
dragging back reverberated perspectives
the intoxicating promise of new loves
desires staining my plain epidermis
with electric potential that will not adhere
when I explain that I’m trying to be good
I don’t want to be problematic at all
honestly not at all and I never did
but that’s the woe of commitment and honesty
a small drop of milk to offset the acidity
I just wanted to love and be loved once and truly
not violently over and over as it has been
a great many loves each more fantastic than the last
the salubrious possibilities adjacent my reaching
my salivating hands reaching towards you
pulling you into the room and into my life
promising you a great many things
leaning beyond you to shield my eyes
but yearning to stay put please
hands reaching to never stop holding yours
I don’t want to disappoint another one
I will not disappoint you anymore

 

Hinnerup

sewing after so long
i wonder if there exists a song
a glass of water warmed in the sun
for each age she’s ever been
all the taps here run scalding
following the dregs of wine
flowing from hot water factories
tell me about her lover
stagnant on the periphery
who lived three towns away
making it harder to soak
she would travel hours to him
the wilting orchids
every other weekend
softening on the windowsill
found sanctuary with his family
reaching up into the day
young and in love
delicate and deliberate
i’d like to know how she felt
like grandmother’s thin fingers
on the birthday that I learned to hate
shaking but capable
the night i faked to get away

Jess Mc Kinney is a queer feminist poet, essayist and English Studies graduate of UCD. Originally from Inishowen, Co. Donegal, she is now living and working in Dublin city, Ireland. Her writing is informed by themes such as sexuality, memory, nature, relationships, gender, mental health and independence. Often visually inspired, she seeks to marry pictorial elements alongside written word. Her work has been previously published in A New Ulster, Impossible Archetype, HeadStuff, In Place, Hunt & Gather, Three fates, and several other local zines.

‘At the door’ and other poems by Eva Griffin

Are you feeling this?

My desire is holding you in its mouth
shaking like a dog toy
amputated to fit my mould.
Regularly, I confuse excitement for affection
in a slow, crowded elevator
where a whisper of white buttoned shirts
is the scream of a night sky in my head,
close as a shoulder brush.

Something to work with

For the work, he says.
Square panels of it
lighting up my screen:
tarp-painted abstractions
punctuated by self-capturing,
sun-faced with grey crown
but not old.
Never old.
A father’s age perhaps.
Yet, I open the message;
orange brimming notification
tells me that he’s thinking
of my shivering in bed
on the other side of the island.
Says that he’ll be good
if he gets the chance.
Good for me.
Good for his ego.
Small slip of a thing waiting
for a night visit, the hot
shower of another body
sliding under covers.
Strong tattooed grasp
on waist; leathered, but
not old.
Light breath in my ear
catches hair like a summer
breeze in his stubble.
As if we’re not in October.
As if we’ll ever be here again.
He whispers, for the work.
It’s all this is.
I am for the work.

Candle

Eyes into the fire he tells me
that he sees it,
the next painting:
chrome yellow,
petals on the floor like ash
by our feet,
heads drooping close
like ours could
be
if I hadn’t left my heart
in the dregs of a pint
soaked through, too wet to carry.
I hold it, cold glass
little sanctuary while my legs burn
bright against the flame shadow.
He notices
I keep stretching it away,
a short press against
the slick stone and back
in again to see the orange
flicker on white,
to feel the pain of stolen heat
and I wonder
will my thin calf be the painting;
warmer in his eyes,
burning under the weight of him,
untouched.

Leftovers

A jug of milk in the fridge
is what he left me;
half of his own litre
brought from town.
For the tea, we imagine, but
standing in the kitchen
brewing it strong
he feels more like ground coffee;
ember smell of him
from lighting the fire,
rough-handed from work.
Outside, rusted mountains
crease along the skyline
like his eyes, laughing now;
almost disappearing but so full,
I want to believe, of me,
and the clouds of Kerry
in that moment
they look like cream.

At the door

Now, watch as I hang in the air
tempting as a sunset
and just as long.
Storms are not inclined to wait;
better to spill my secret wilderness
as I leave this love,
sucking light out of your blue.

At the door and other poems are © Eva Griffin.

Eva Griffin is a poet living in Dublin and a UCD graduate. Her work has been published or is forthcoming in Tales From the Forest, All the Sins, ImageOut Write, Three Fates, The Ogham Stone, HeadStuff, and New Binary Press.

‘Sugar’ and other poems by Müesser Yeniay

Love

I have another body
outside 
               of me

they call it
love

[but this is pain]

if I had carried you in my body
only then I would have felt your existence 
                                       this much

State

My heart melts 
when I think of you

the eyes aren’t satisfied with seeing
neither are the lips with kissing

it is with you
that the eyes feel hungry

it is with you
that the ears have appetite

in this state 
of madness
               -always-

I find myself

[my love
my doctor]

Arub

Darling
so that you stay in me
                 so that you stay
                    
I take you in

I’d like you 
to be my body

               [without you miserable
               without you unfortunate

               with you complete
               with you prosperous

               your humble servant]


*Arub means in Arabic “Woman who loves her man

Sugar

Half of my body is earth
half of it is blood

half of my body is in the hands of a man
half of it is in fire

the soul
is crashing on the walls of the body

[only when you come, it calms down
my soul embellisher, my daylight]

in my mouth are pebbles
I become light as I empty them

I am as such I came from the nothingness 
deep in myself

I have a tongue
-if it knew, it would explain-

I am sugar melting in water
  my water is invisible

Sugar and other poems written and translated by 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.

 

Making ‘Den of Sibyl Wren’ by Salma Ahmad Caller

 

Notes on Salma Ahmad Caller’s process for the making of ‘Den of Sibyl Wren’.

  

The Den of Sibyl Wren is my response to A Hierarchy of Halls (forthcoming, Smithereens Press, 2018) by Christine Murray. It is my response to words Chris wrote about how she feels about this poem, and what she sees in her mind’s eye.
  
Details of the image ‘Den of Sibyl Wren’ by Salma Ahmad Caller 
Materials: Watercolour, Indian ink, collage, graphite and gold pigment on Fabriano acid free paper 57cm x 76.3cm
 
 

My process involves an intense working back and forth with words and images in my imagination. I write a lot as part of my creative process as an artist, and these writings help me create and develop the visual image. The so-called ‘visual’ image is to me embodied, materialised, haptic and tactile. So the ‘image’ in poetry and metaphorical writing is almost the same as the visual image in art, to me. So there is not a huge gap between text and image. Not in my mind in any case. The flat 2 D image is neither flat nor 2 D – but rather it is a complex and multi-dimensional terrain of emotion, sensation and concept, just as is the written word, especially in poetry.

So it felt very natural to respond to Chris Murray’s very imagistic poetry, which I already love so much.

In preparing to make work in response to A Hierarchy of Halls, I spent time reading and re-reading the poems and reading and re-reading Chris’s little notes she had sent to me via Twitter. And so the The Den of Sibyl Wren emerged. My notes on my own thoughts and responses to reading A Hierarchy of Halls and to what Chris told me about her notion of a Sibyl that represented the wren and its qualities:

  • The smallness and greatness of Sibyl Wren, her green den of spaces that we cannot see and her flight paths carved out in the sky. Tiny but potent and majestic in her domain.
  • A shamanistic female bird being interpreting or bringing the mysteries of the other worldly to us.
  • A materialisation of the invisible.
  • A feminine nature of delicacy, strength and bravery. A guardian.
  • An oracle seeing into the unknown and leading the reader bravely forwards through pain and difficulty.
  • A garden world of tiny potent things.
  • A sky above that is carved into great structures and pathways by nature that we cannot see.
  • A fecundity and joyfulness. Spring, summer.
  • A soaring upwards towards mystery.
  • Invisibility of worlds around us and within us.
  • The dandelion clock telling of another time besides the time we know.
  • A bird shrine under a shadowy tree to the dead bird in Chris’s poem.
  • A tiny female presence sitting and moving in an underworld of unseen unspoken spaces.


Twitter Notes

What Chris Murray said in a series of little Twitter notes to me: “the chapbook is called ‘a hierarchy of halls’ and is about small things, flight, wrens, and huge dreamlike structures are implied, my sibyls and messengers are birdlike creatures/ the little chapbook is called ‘a hierarchy of halls’ and is about a wren’s flight through my garden, am obsessed with bird workings, i didn’t, see a sibyl specifically in bodies, but the first image on the poethead page has a little putti and she is small. this is how my head works: I see the wren as a type of sibyl , small messenger and female. the sibyl should represent the wren ! a type of oracle who leads one into the book


Salma Caller’s process and approach to the Smithereens Press published chapbook ‘A Hierarchy of Halls’


Salma 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.

The Infinite Body of Sensation; visual poetry by Salma Caller
Patterns of Sensation, the Bodies of Dolls, by Salma Caller
Website.


 

 

All images & images associated with ‘The Den of Sibyl wren’ and ‘A Hierarchy of Halls’ are © Salma Ahmad Caller

 

‘Invisible Insane’ and other poems by Afric McGlinchey

Traces

 
You can’t decide, you keep glancing
between two lines of thought
the whole length of the tree-hung street;
and you recognise someone saying your name,
and you go right up to the moment,
right up to the third person within you,
but they’re a different shape
in some essential way,
and you re-read your traces,
like a tree, stroking
its silver leaves against the wind
a tree in the cold,
a tree its own breath.
 
First published in Tears in the Fence (Ed. David Caddy)
 

On the Road to Westport

 
I’m trying to shift
focus to the brain, but my heart’s driven
all the blood to my gut, which is churning.
Didn’t know that I’d lost it, till I found
myself halfway to Westport, following you,
a BLT in my lap, cappuccino
in the console, cats’ eyes leering. On the stereo,
Oblivion.
You knew all about the racing start
of the heart, then the skidding halt at the trespass.
I race onward, into the dark,
letting my terror be for the bends I’m going round.
It feels like some sort of countdown.
Eleven years ago, I thought about the lesson
I’d learnt from you. Had it at the start
of the journey, alongside this pot
of gladioli, flashing their bravado.
Sit tight, I tell them. We’re taking off.
You knew all about hitting the road
in a rage. The time you rocked
up at our student digs, surprising me and the lads–
and you didn’t bat an eye when you found
I was sharing a room with one. The fellas
adored you, the way you flirted, sitting on the counter
top, impressing them with your rugby know-how.
Praising Robbie for his cooking.
Four long days of liberation,
swimming in the sea
with a boogie board, margaritas
on the roof. Then, you tucked
tail for home. Ah, mum.
I only know that it’s Westport I’m going to,
because I passed the signs three weeks ago.
How long have I been on auto?
See the shovel in the footwell? It’s to honour
a runaway rebel. I’m going to plant
these brazen beings on your grave.
Then follow through.
 
 

Invisible insane

  ‘It was always the other way round’
– Margaret Atwood
 
Not merging
with your reflection in a shop window,
or your shadow up against a wall,
or three-legged jaywalking
across the city’s
huddled roundabouts –
but no matter where,
there’s no getting you out
of my mind.
After all, our planet’s just a snowglobe
for the angels.
Are you google earthing me?
Is that you I can hear,
between bells, faintly?
 
(‘Invisible insane’ is Google Translate’s Japanese version of the English proverb: ‘out of sight, out of mind.’)
 

Storm, passing

 
All kinds of things are happening to me.
Skin’s becoming scaly, forehead a terrain of anthills,
and my feet are stiffening as though belonging to a corpse!
Hair’s falling out of course. And there’s my vision.
I try to read, but words swirl
in little whirlwinds on the page;
even when they’re behaving, I feel
I’m gazing at some complicated log of random numbers.
Enough of this I say aloud, take to the beach –
perhaps it’s distance my eyes are seeking.
 
But there I find fish tumbling from the sky,
myself face up in a clump of seaweed
foamy wavelets eddying about me.
Almost blinding,
the light is different from what I’m used to.
and I wonder if I’m dreaming,
back in the southern hemisphere,
if this sinking will have a rising too.
The next cat out the bag’s
a girl, fifteen or so,
 
standing, mouth ajar,
saying nothing.
A mackerel on my belly, flapping.
I see her stare,
want to reach a hand, see if I can touch her
but suddenly she’s not there, and I come to,
still lying in damp sand like a heavy log.
There’s nothing for it but to roll over,
watch the water gouge a groove
where my body’s been.
 
Back home, I make a cup of tea.
The kettle boils. I lift a green mug from a hook
pour, and squeeze a lemon in.
So far, so good. I wash pots and plates, utensils.
Stare out at laundry, ponder.
The light is dimming and a rush of heat comes over me.
A massive bank of thunderclouds controls the sky.
I put on headphones, turn up the volume,
dance until my body feels fifteen. Rain pounds against the window.
I close the blinds, keep dancing.
 
(First published in the Italian journal, Inkroci. Ed. Sara Sagroti)
 

In an instant of refraction and shadow

 
A plane floats overhead,
lethargically as feathers.
Egyptian cotton billows.
A train somewhere whistles.
You aren’t happy, he tells me,
until you consider yourself
happy.
 
The afternoon light is falling
in a diagonal the length of the floor.
An arrowed line
of black gun powder.
I follow it, feel him
brace for it, my familiar cry…
and then I’m migrating, I’m gone
and there’s only grief here.
 
(First published in Poetry Ireland Review, ed. Eavan Boland.)
 

Imprint

 
i
 
it overwhelms me, an instant of ocean,
delayed grief for the lost years
 
ii
 
i dream you back into existence
i dream you back into
i dream you back
I dream you
I dream
 
iii
 
i follow you to an unknowable past, mama
each detail of the journey becoming a magnified ignorance
it’s taken this long to find that a solitary walk can result in a headful of light;
returning, i step into my footprints, a kind of retrieval…
cradled in a closed palm, the ring of plaited light
 
iv
 
i write until my fingers bleed, i write out my sorrow,
i write into the terror of forgetting
 
v
 
listening to leaves settle, like the drift of a gown on ceramic tiles,
telling you: i think of you, sometimes,
and the sky is infinite, maybe.
 
First published in Southword (ed. Leanne O’Sullivan)


Afric McGlinchey is a multi-award winning West Cork poet, freelance book editor, reviewer and workshop facilitator. She has published two collections, The lucky star of hidden things (Salmon, 2012) and Ghost of the Fisher Cat (Salmon, 2016), the former of which was also translated into Italian by Lorenzo Mari and published by L’Arcolaio. McGlinchey’s work has been widely anthologized and translated, and recent poems have been published in The Stinging Fly, Otra Iglesia Es Imposible, The Same, New Contrast, Numéro Cinq, Poetry Ireland Review, Incroci, The Rochford Street Journal and Prelude. In 2016 McGlinchey was commissioned to write a poem for the Breast Check Clinic in Cork and also for the Irish Composers Collective, whose interpretations were performed at the Architectural Archive in Dublin. Her work has been broadcast on RTE’s Poetry Programme, Arena, Live FM and on The Poetry Jukebox in Belfast. McGlinchey has been awarded an Arts Council bursary to research her next project, a prose-poetry auto-fictional account of a peripatetic upbringing.
 
Invisible Insane and other poems are © Afric McGlinchey
 

Website: www.africmcglinchey.com
Ghost of the Fisher Cat
: http://www.salmonpoetry.com/details.php?ID=380&a=221

 


‘Tracing Rivers’ and other poems by Ilyana Kuhling

Ambiguous Loss

She is a mortician.

You see
she doesn’t move.
No eyes open, only
ragged breath. Flushed cheeks.
Silence.

She has prepared the body
nearly a century.
Not yet embalmed
but ready.

The lipstick is a light rose,
it makes white face
seem ghostly

And glasses perch on a nose
like mine
if lids were to open
they still wouldn’t see

She is her own mortician.

I have come to the funeral
every saturday
I have said goodbye

And kissed her
lightly

I have watched
the process
of becoming a corpse

almost

Fixed Vortex

Feeble fingers have collapsed into themselves
her fist, like an infant’s
lies limp in her lap

As if made of marble
the grip won’t relax
unyielding

“What is it that you
are holding on to?”

I take her thumb
try to unfurl the claw, the nails
digging into her palm
Stigmata

she must
be searching for some sensation
some sting of pain
something

“Hello”

I am watching two blue planets
to see if they
notice the sound

if gravity can pull them,
alter the orbit,
and turn them toward me

“Do you know who I am?”

they are empty planets
they don’t move

she is here
and not here

stuck
in the fixed vortex
of this
in between

Ingrained

We took you to mass today
I can’t remember
the last time you spoke

it could have been a year ago

and yet,
the words of the rosary are on your lips
a softest kiss

you can’t forget

Multitudes

I am looking at you now,
piece by piece
to reconstruct the you
you were

I strip away
the hair, white wisps
the skin, paper-thin, translucent
the muscle, the fat,
the soft

Right down to the bone
your bones
containing multitudes
of a lifetime
and my father’s
and mine

I piece you back together
carve the muscles that would
hold me tight in your arms,
the fat that made your
embrace so warm
the skin, toughened with time
the hair as thick as mine.

I am looking at you now
and you are looking at me too.
Somewhere
in those eyes of deepest blue
I think you recognize me,
And I, you

Tracing Rivers

Your frailness
the veins, thin filaments
visible
just under the surface

I trace with light touch
three rivers
as if faintest pressure
might stop the flow

Did you know
some cacti
survive years
without water?

Have adapted
to rainlessness
still bloom

But you?

It has been years.

Would anything
be better
easier
than this?

Even drought.

Athrú / Change

Tá an seanteach seo
ag titim.

Siúlaim istigh, ar chosa éadroma
lámha sínte
chun clocha a ghabháil

Níl ach deannach fágtha
anseo.

 

This old house
is falling down.

Palms outstretched
to catch the stones.

Only dust
is left.


Ilyana Kuhling is an Irish-Canadian poet based in Limerick, and a lover of all things spoken word. This year, she won the British Psychological Society’s 2017 poetry competition and her poem Multitudes was published in the August 2017 issue of The Psychologist. Ilyana’s poetry has also been published in Silver Apples, Artis Natura and Dodging the Rain, and she was featured in the Poetry Day Ireland 2017 Mix-Tape, curated by Lagan Online and Poetry NI. Her favourite poets include Sylvia Plath and Elizabeth Bishop, and she firmly believes that a good cup of tea can solve almost anything.

‘Fugue’ and other poems by Chelsea Dingman

British Columbia Pastoral

 
September: almost snow.
White sheets across
the sky, the fields. How strange
 
the frost, feral over desert
hills. Sage brush
caught in the cattle’s
 
teeth. The river cuts
a swath where I am
trying to tell you about grass
 
that presses up through
the ground without urging.
About merciless suns
 
taking our eyes. You shield
your mouth as I speak.
The wars I won’t admit
 
like dying daisies, their corpses
linting the grass. In summer,
we swam in the Thompson
 
River. In feral heat. Baptized
new again. The kites
of our bodies cutting
 
a swath through green
water. But as water rises
in spring, it will take you
 
with it. With thawed glaciers
& snow. With bones
we can’t make smaller
 
once grown. Dead trees
claw at rocks on the river-
bottom, swollen belly
 
of a child rising up
like a balloon
in the April sun.
 
(Originally published in Sugar House Review)
 

Accident Report: After the Baby Dies at Birth

 
First, I asked for
mercy, when mercy
was a small sliver
of light. My bones
softened by the body
leaving them. You asked
questions, green
tea in hand. Some
lemon. A cleanse
of sorts, as I refused
your prayers. The sky,
faithless, darkening
again. You wanted
to know what’s next,
when we would try
again, what every doctor
had to say. I was
an empty stall
in a gas station
bathroom. I said, never.
But now I say
now, let’s try now,
before I lose
my nerve. But you
don’t want to touch me
yet. You eye my body
like a broken trough
looking for any sign
of seepage. I drink
from the mug. You move
away, the way the wounded
animal moves before
it tucks tail & runs. Every
good-bye is unnecessary
after holding something
as it dies. I want to feel full
again, I say. The door, open
as a mouth. You raise
your hand over my body
& ask, where does it
hurt? But I can’t say,
everywhere. I can’t
say, it hurts everywhere
I’m touched. I can’t
say, touch me every
-where. Please.
 
(Originally published in Bennington Review)
 

Fugue

 
“When Plath’s journals, with their claims of abuse, began to be published, many critics pointed out these claims as not only false but also proof that Plath was paranoid, crazy.”
-Emily Van Duyne
 
There is a river, & in its mouth, the holocaust
night I gave birth to a broken mirror,
 
the shard that stuck in a man’s neck.
He pulled it out & that was the beginning
 
of blood. The nightmares. Being chased
through a small ghost
 
town, windows shut & boarded, only shadows
to command: break or break me.
 
I had a god, once. Somewhere, I think
I’ll know how to be full & limber
 
& not the husk that held the crowning
dark. Not the woman, unbelieved.
 
He hit me. The night the baby died,
I was tired of the blank stars dying quietly
 
years from here. I should’ve braced myself—
his fists like arrowheads. The glass
 
river, leaking bodies. I’ll fucking kill you.
Even now, I close my eyes & hear water.
 
There is no baby. There never was.
 
forthcoming in Pleaides
 

Traveling Through Tennessee in January

 
Again, I drive through dead forests
longing to flower. I think of nothing.
Not you. Not our children with their mouths
hanging half-open like shutters
over the windows, the summer
Rita followed Katrina into the Gulf
& taught us what women are capable of.
Frost on the ground, the morning after
Rita left, when it had been ninety degrees
a day before. The remains of the poor
creatures that couldn’t withstand the cold,
curled on white-tipped grasses. Fields
& hills pass outside the car’s windows, late
afternoon. Houses riven from each other
by land. Not water. Not here, north
of where I left you. The fields, lit from inside
as the sun slides behind hills. I try to remember
your voice. Low, like dusk. It didn’t mean anything,
you said. But I know that you can’t feel
anything & I can’t feel anything
less. At the interchange of I-75 North
& I-24, I drive further into the night
from where I left you. From
where you were standing
when a voice on the radio cautioned us
against a new woman blazing
in from the east, a bloody heart
tucked between her teeth.
 
Originally published in Arcadia


Hunger [or the last of the daughter-hymns] 

(n) a feeling of discomfort or weakness caused by lack of food, coupled with the desire to eat—


as I talk to wind winnowing my ribs into wind
   chimes. I swallow small coins from the counters,
wanting change my body can keep. I stand

   on the street corner in the rain & coax water
into my mouth like a woman who doesn’t know
   the fullness of the sea. My mother worked

three jobs to feed our family. Now, I horde
   toilet paper & paper towels in spare closets
with cans of soup & creamed corn. The wind

   hollows the oaks. Their bones don’t know
what it is to break, but I am a hollow
  instrument, a sacred text. Daughter [less].


(v) have a strong desire or craving for


a body inside my body—
a child, a man. 

Fields, full. The sun,
aflame. Fear like a shot

-gun, an aborted flight
plan, people jumping

from buildings. But 
my daughter, I draw back

down. The one I lost. 
The ones I have left

to lose. Like snow—
the bodies that are ours

for a season. For less.


(v) to feel or suffer through lack of food


        the weak sunrise

in my daughter’s new

      silence. My skin, a loose 

sheet. Her clavicle, hip

        -bone, head. My cervix, 

thinned. Her body, an offering. A prayer

I whisper as I tear

			new maps in a lucid dream

where I live alone

	& she folds herself into a crane

			to hang from the ceiling

of someone else’s womb. 

Originally published in Sycamore Review
Near Narajiv Selo 

-Hunger, cold, and ethnic oppression forced Ukrainian and Jewish people to look for refuge in faraway lands
(1919-1939, when Eastern Galicia belonged to Poland) - Roman Zakhariy


A dark road. Stars like paper 
    lanterns. Long grasses unthread in thousands 

           of flickering fingers. Poppies’ 

mouths buttoned black, as wind 
      shrifts crimson 

petals from stems, from fields torn by tractor tires, from a barn below 
       the hill. My stomach, where I left things 
       unliving,
                 pierced by little more than night 

       air. Like shackled light, the moon is
       outlawed in the pines. I unholster 
the sky: 
        at dawn, cattle cry in the clearing 

as I dig up 
      rutabaga, cabbage to wrap the rice. Water claws through 
      dirt. Claw hammers

for hands, I carve our breaths
into trees. Our breaths, like silver buildings. As I slowly empty
            the earth, sky

          buries night. Night 
  that smells of gunpowder and grease. Night 
         that leaves nothing 
more 
         than a handful of stars, twined 
    in the pines’ 
rime. Nothing more
			than a river
		where no one has drowned.
Originally published in Southern Humanities Review

Chelsea Dingman’s first book, Thaw, was chosen by Allison Joseph to win the National Poetry Series (University of Georgia Press, 2017). In 2016-17, she also won The Southeast Review’s Gearhart Poetry Prize, The Sycamore Review’s Wabash Prize, and Water-stone Review’s Jane Kenyon Poetry Prize. Her work can be found in Ninth Letter, The Colorado Review, Mid-American Review, Cincinnati Review, and Gulf Coast, among others. Visit her website. 

“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)

“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)

.

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

SCA/OPES – by Nicole Peyrafitte

SCA/OPES

 

Tidepools
Westwing
Lake Palourde

 

 

 

 

 

image14

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

image09

 

image04
image01 image07

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

‘Through the blossom-gate’ C. Murray

Through the blossom-gate,

 
and quite before the acid leaf unfurls into its meaning—

we are subjected to the play of light,
working on our necessity to speak out

into a flowering. It is not yet warm —
already, the sun is playing at dragging up

and displaying those unwanted words,
elucidatory and garish in their babblement.

It is almost necessary to cut them at their source,
that well-spring is a tree-wounded-gash,

the birds disagree in their illuminatory chatter,
as they may.

Through the blossom-gate is © Christine Murray, first published in Southword Journal (Munster Literature Centre).  Through the blossom-gate was published in my first collection of poetry, Cycles. (Lapwing Publications, Belfast)

“Sanctus” by Kimberly Campanello

Sanctus

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

I.

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

II.

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

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

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

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


 

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

Pic by Brian Kavanagh

“Child’s Celestial Chime” by Deirdre Gallagher

Child’s Celestial Chime

Buttery chiffon taffeta folds
of an early evening
Hedge rustling sways
to softening breeze
Dalliant twitterings nestle
into hummingbird tillage.

Amidst the lazy din,
a pristine crystal chime –
Unfettered, it’s inflection
pierced through the clouds.

This ascension
Reaching the supreme octave –
Vibrations of purity rang out.

Labours of Love

Palms upward
cupped in symmetry
An open book
of forgotten scripture

Etched into frail translucent papery flesh
and gnarled knuckles
Lines and scars trace a stoic history
Discarded chronicles of toil, forbearance, silent sacrifice
The forsaken testament
of unsung heroines.

By the graft of
these now
rendered distorted
arthritic joints
were carved
Labours of love.

Child’s Celestial Chime” and another poem are @ Deirdre Gallagher

Deirdre Gallagher is a graduate of NUI Galway. She speaks three languages and enjoys travelling. She hopes to stir, uplift and summon emotions to the surface with her words. Her work has been published in A New Ulster. She has taught abroad for a period and currently teaches in Ireland. Herself and her husband reside in the beautiful Irish countryside. Ar scáth a chéile a mhaireann na daoine.

Acceptance and other poems by Deirdre Gallagher