‘Sequence after Celan’ by Gillian Prew

Sequence after Celan

1

Spring: trees flying up to their birds 

where the sun is the seeds are freed
their small sound a wound
like death watercoloured and open
           each foliated lung with its breathing understory
                the climb of springtime into the loud light
sky filled with dove-coloured words

2

the climbed evening
is thick with lung-scrub

a nocturne of oxygen     of spring sillage    the raising of the dead and their flowers
the night deer with hooves of heather    the precision of an owl in *rooted darkness
                              in the tangled bramble
                              a knot of blood

3

water needles
stitch up the split
shadow-he fights his way
deeper down, free 

rain wholly itself
a breathing torrent
hitting the half-lit
a million microdazzles     a mouse
    mud-buried 
    a blinking scut
the fluency of a softer death
a spring nothingness
    a heart-smoke

4

in the air, there your root remains, there, in the air 

                up
the sky bitten open
the sun exhumed
        clouds bud and bloom
        with roots of rain


5

All things,
even the heaviest, were
fledged, nothing,
held back.

weeds like wicks ending
             long-edged 
weighted by a bursting yellow
re-bloom and climb
    a white tufted voile
like breath solidifying
    the hung lungs letting go
everything uprooted

*

after

The green gardens are gone. What is left is a grief-bulb. 
It has no smell or sound, just a dormant red. 
So is the air with its salt and silence. 
So is the hunter with his glacial ethics.

Sequence after Celan is © Gillian Prew

Born Stirling, Scotland in 1966, Gillian Prew studied Philosophy at the University of Glasgow from 1984 to 1988. Her chapbook, Disconnections, can be purchased from erbacce-press (2011) and another chapbook, In the Broken Things, published by Virgogray Press (2011). Her collection, Throats Full of Graves, has been published in 2013 by Lapwing Publications. A further collection, A Wound’s Sound, was released from Oneiros Books in April 2014.

Her latest chapbook, Three Colours Grief, was published by erbacce-press in June 2016. She is online at https://gprew.wordpress.com/

She has been twice short-listed for the erbacce-prize and twice nominated for a Pushcart Prize.

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

Reclamation

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

The First Rule

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

Baby Makes Me Watch

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

Night Woods

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

Susan Millar DuMars has published four poetry collections with Salmon Poetry, the most recent of which, Bone Fire, appeared in April, 2016. She also published a book of short stories, Lights in the Distance, with Doire Press in 2010. Her work has appeared in publications in the US and Europe and in several anthologies, including The Best of Irish Poetry 2010. She has read from her work in the US, Europe and Australia. Born in Philadelphia, Susan lives in Galway, Ireland, where she and her husband Kevin Higgins have coordinated the Over the Edge readings series since 2003. She is the editor of the 2013 anthology Over the Edge: The First Ten Years.

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

“it is not a burning” by C. Murray

 

it is not a burning,

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

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

eye-caught /
                           eye-waver

a hollow-song
a wind-song,

her double-reed-trembles.

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

 

 

 

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

Patterns of Sensation – the bodies of dolls by Salma Caller

Silk Velvet Purse Doll

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

Silk Velvet Purse Doll

 

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

Chinking of bells
Clicking of shells

 

 

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

 

Where nothing is also everything
A costly ornate body of sensation

 

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

The Shell Bell Shaking Doll

 

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

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

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

Chinking of bells
Clicking of shells

The dull thud of organs suspended within a hollow

The Unravelling Glassfire Doll

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

 

Myriad

 

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

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

About Patterns of Sensation – the bodies of dolls

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

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

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

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

The Infinite Body Of Sensation; visual poetry by Salma Caller

‘Stormriver’ and other poems by Myra Vennard

NIGHT TREE

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

GOING OUT

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

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

BELOVED

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

STORMRIVER

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

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

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

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

SEPTEMBER

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

FALLING

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

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

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