“The Last Childbearing Years” by Lindsey Bellosa

The Last Childbearing Years

 

Deliciously, all that we might have been,
all that we were— fire, tears,
wit, taste, martyred ambition—
stirs like the memory of refused adultery
the drained and flagging bosom of our middle years.
–Adrienne Rich, “Snapshots of a Daughter-in-Law”

 
1.
 
The green leaves: so young against the sun.
How our bodies betray themselves; spine
of white pine, all its vertebrae clinging
to the last of the day’s light—
what insects have fed on it? What birds
housed their young… it being an instrument
and now, not, and now: what? We call it
dignity, what the young fear in their lushness
but the fear once swallowed can’t be swallowed again.
It isn’t the age that tortures; it is the anticipation of the age…
the sons who will forget us, not being forgotten;
the purpose that ruins us and not its loss.
What is empty is not there. Does the past mock
like a calling bird? Do lost opportunities rattle
like phantom limbs? Or what is never tasted,
never remembered? Houses that weren’t built,
children who weren’t born and something, something
else… the scent almost perceptible; the sky always
hanging just out of reach.
 
2.
 
They tell me you won’t remember this time
I am weaving around you like daisies. That our walks
by the stream are only burblings; that my work is you
but it can’t be recognized or rewarded as work,
its meaning uncertain— but it must be done
and certainly not in the wrong way.
 
Dusting the whatnots: waste of a mind;
wasted body becoming an abandoned nest,
a field gnarled and burly with weeds:
eventually past fallow; past use
 
having been granted only that tenderest of privileges
which withers, then rots. I watch my body make a cage of itself:
sag and bulge with importance that is not its own,
leaving behind the shell that is me, and the me—
being for someone else, when it is not wanted or needed…
what does it mean? What is it to itself and how does it stand
in the mirror without its usual measurements?
 
3.
 
Don’t stand at the foot of the bed.
Preserve the allure: don’t see the flower
bulge and pulsate; expand like the moon
which swallows the world, only for another
to emerge. Don’t see how everything comes from this place:
smallest doorway, passage between unbeing and being,
portal. If you see this work, see how the body
is not what it seems: how flesh rips like silk—
not an oil painting, not a porn movie or needlework, not anything
cultivated to the delicate preferences of the eye. Only how power
gushes in laps of grey and blood ; the sheer will of the body
to stretch itself, to reach. How the body houses a sea, all life
teeming in a moment. Only a woman can do this. Only we call them
beautiful. Only we call them frail.
 
4.
 
Ornamental, which adorns, which complements
as though we ourselves are not real, as though we only reflect
what is real… because we unfold, because we reveal,
because our bodies are the flowers which weather,
emerging each spring in spite of elements or desire.
We bear what is necessary— beauty being secondary,
beauty being cultivated, prized, heralded. But the blossom
is not the center; coiled roots reach what is essential,
what sustains. Harvested, we bloom again.
Unwanted, we bloom until that season has past.
Spent, what is sewn from us continues the world.
 
The Last Childbearing Years is © Lindsey Bellosa

6pi9hQn6_400x400Lindsey Bellosa lives in Syracuse, NY. She has an MA in Writing from the National University of Ireland, Galway and has poems published in both Irish and American journals: most recently The Comstock Review, The Galway Review, Poethead, Flutter Poetry Journal, Emerge Literary Journal and The Cortland Review. Her first full length collection was recently longlisted for the Melita Hume Poetry Prize.
 
“Birth Partner” and other poems by Lindsey Bellosa
“The Last Childbearing Years” by Lindsey Bellosa

“Phoenix” and other poems by Müesser Yeniay

The House of God

 
We landed
from the house of God
to the island of heart

we came into being

we are at the house of earth
bodies are celestial
 

Phoenix

Poeta pirata est

I should be a phoenix
to the peaks
of my imagination

I should see the tips of my horizon
and introduce myself to it

never I wish
anything remains hidden
from me

since I came here
to see the front and behind
both of dreams
and reality

Woman

The wind
is 
blowing
that 
sweeps 
                  the sand 
                  around 
                  words

Everybody
is 
calling 
                   God!

I am 
taking 
myself 
from 
inside
and
putting
it
out 
                   with 
                   my 
                  hands.

I am 
the place 
where 
human-being 
is 
                     less 
God 
is 
                    more.



Phoenix and other poems are © Müesser Yeniay

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

  1. Three Poems by Müesser Yeniay
  2. An Index of Women Poets
“Phoenix” and other poems by Müesser Yeniay

A Celebration of Irish Women Poets on Bloomsday 2015

PEARLS AT BLACKFRIARS
 
For his Winter’s Tale,
Master Shakespeare calls
for a covered stage
with the scent of candle-grease
and orange-peel heavy on the air.
 
There must be torches
to give movement to shadows
and life to the statue;
and for Hermione’s face –
tincture of pearl, crushed.
 
With this bowl of dust
we’ll lacquer her age,
encase her in memory
so only a movement of the mind
might release her,
 
might absolve
her husband’s transgression,
as the jealous moon
flings her light
against Blackfriars slates.
 
Pearls At Blackfriars is © Jessica Traynor
Jessica TraynorJessica Traynor is from Dublin. Her first collection, Liffey Swim, was published by Dedalus Press in 2014. Poems have appeared or are forthcoming in Poetry Ireland Review, The Raving Beauties Anthology (Bloodaxe), Other Countries: Contemporary Poets Rewiring History, If Ever You Go (2014 Dublin One City One Book), The Irish Times, Peloton (Templar Poetry), New Planet Cabaret (New Island Books), The Pickled Body, Burning Bush II, Southword, The SHOp, Wordlegs, The Moth, Poetry 24, The Stinging Fly, and New Irish Writing among others. She is the 2014 recipient of the Ireland Chair of Poetry Bursary. She was named Hennessy New Irish Writer of the Year in 2013 and was highly commended at the 2013 Patrick Kavanagh Award. She won the 2011 Single Poem Competition at Listowel Writer’s Week. She received a Literature Bursary from Dublin City Council in 2010 and in was part of the 2009 Poetry Ireland Introduction Series.
 
Jessica works as Literary Reader for the Abbey Theatre and teaches creative writing courses through Big Smoke Writing Factory and the Irish Writers Centre. She also works as a freelance dramaturg.
Ode

‘More happy love! more happy, happy love!
Forever warm and still to be enjoy’d…’
—JOHN KEATS, Ode on a Grecian Urn

 
You lie across my thighs as I write,
my bone-warming hot water bottle,
pure latex, guaranteed to delight the most
discriminating women, mottle their thighs
as they lie deep in their beds, pretending
this rubber sack of warm water
could never replace their lover.
 
The women of Ireland drive with you
across their laps, hand-knit covers
helping to keep you warm. More love,
the patterns passed down from
mothers and grandmothers, still enjoyed.
They knit covers for each new bottle,
battle the cold, inside and out.
 
Every woman remembers her first.
I was twelve, three hours after landing
in Ireland, in Granny’s front bedroom.
You are the best invention after
hot water on tap, and when old age hits
and you warm through rheumatism—
not period pains—I hope to bits
I will have more to hug than my hottle
(Granny’s word for hot water bottle).
 
Ode is © Celeste Augé

skylight launch kevinosheaCeleste Augé is the author of Skip Diving (Salmon Poetry, 2014), The Essential Guide to Flight (Salmon Poetry, 2009) and the collection of short stories Fireproof and Other Stories (Doire Press, 2012).
 
The World Literature Review said that “Celeste Augé’s poems are commendable for their care, deep thought, and intellectual ambition”, while the Anna Livia Review said that “Fireproof” is a remarkably strong debut into the world of short stories and will begin to build what is undoubtedly going to be a strong readership for the author”.
 
Celeste’s poetry has been shortlisted for a Hennessy Award and she received a Literature Bursary from the Arts Council of Ireland to write Skip Diving. In 2011, she won the Cúirt New Writing Prize for fiction. She lives in Connemara, in the West of Ireland.
BOG FAIRIES
 
The heather like
Pork belly cracked
Underneath my feet-
 
The horizon like
Nougat, melted
Its pastel line at the heath edge
Blue fading to white light.
 
We stacked rows of little
Houses for bog fairies –
Wet mulchy sods
Evaporating under our small palms.
 
Crucifixions of dry brittle crosses
Forming the skeleton-
My narrow ankles parallel to them.
 
Coarse and tough like the marrow of the soul,
Like the skeletons crucified under the peat.
 
The turf will come good
My father said
When the wind blows to dry it.
 
We dragged ten-ten-twenty bags
With the sulphury waft of cat piss,
Along a track dotted with deep black bogholes,
Then over a silver door, like a snail’s
Oily trail leaving a map for the moon,
And for bog fairies to dance in the mushy earth-
For us all to glisten in this late summer.
 
And behind the door
Once upon some time
Old women sat in black shawls
Bedding down Irregulars and putting kettles
On to boil for the labouring girls.
 
But I was gone.
 
I was gone at ten in my mind’s eye.
I was dragging Comrades from the Somme
I was pulling Concords in line with Swedish giants
I was skating on the lake in Central Park
I was crouched in the green at Sam’s Cross
I was touring Rubber-Soul at Hollywood Bowl
I was marching on Washington with John Lewis
I was in the Chelsea Hotel with Robert Mapplethorpe,
He was squatting on my lap with his lens,
Swearing to Janis Joplin I could find her a shift,
Nothing is impossible when you blow like that girlfriend.
I sang Come As You are in Aberdeen with union converse,
Blue eye liner and mouse holes in my Connemara jumper.
 
I was anyone but me
I was anywhere but here
I was gone
 
We rushed to hurry before the summer light would fade
Because animals needed to be washed and fed
 
And turf needed to be stacked
And all the talk of our youth
Would be said
In whispers and secrets, or written on postage stamps
 
Because light was the ruler as it was closing in around us,
Beating us, like the dark on the workmen
Deep in the channel tunnel that night.

The black light killed the purple heather
Yet I danced on the crackle in the dust
I crackled on the dust in the heather
My dance on the heather turned to dust.
 
Bog Fairies is © Elaine Feeney.

 
photoElaine Feeney is considered a leading part of political contemporary Irish writers. She was educated in University College Galway, University College Cork and University of Limerick. Feeney has published three collections of poetry Indiscipline (2007), Where’s Katie? (2010, Salmon) and The Radio was Gospel (2013, Salmon) Her work has been published widely in literary magazines and anthologies. She is currently working on a novel.
 
“Elaine Feeney is the freshest, most engaging and certainly the most provocative female poet to come out of Ireland in the last decade. Her poem ” Mass”, is both gloriously funny, bitter-sweet in the astuteness of its observations and a brilliant, sly window into the Irish female Catholic experience. Her use of irony is delicious. Her comments on the human condition, which run throughout her lines, are in the tradition of Dean Swift and she rightfully takes her place alongside Eavan Boland and Nuala Ni Dhomhnaill as a very, very important Irish voice.” Fionnuala Flanagan, California 2013 (Praise for The Radio was Gospel, 2013, Salmon)The Radio was Gospel, 2013, Salmon)
 
“A choice collection of poetry, one not to be overlooked, 5 Stars” Midwest Book Review, USA, (Praise for Where’s Katie? 2010, Salmon Poetry).
 
Elaine Feeney saying Mass
THE MISSION
 
I think of the last time we met
on the prom in Galway.
A sunny day in May
you looked cool in those shades.
You looked taller somehow.
We talked for ages.
You told me about plans
for your mother’s sixtieth.
I felt lucky to have such a nephew.
Shades or no shades.
 
You hid your distress well, John.
None of it was evident that sunny day.
The day of good nephews.
A month later you went to Beachy Head.
WTF John.
 
I think of you
leaving your bundle
on top of Beachy Head.
Your belt coiled around your watch
your wallet with a photo of your daughter
your fire fighter’s ID card
your blood donor card
your bus ticket from Brighton.
Losers weepers.
 
Margaret, your Irish twin,
was on a holiday she didn’t want to go on.
She had been worried sick,
she had us all demented
saying you were going to do it.
Twins know things, Irish twins know more.
I was at a wedding in June
when some friends of yours called me outside.
‘It’s about John Diviney,’
and something about Beachy Head.
 
Later we went to the priest
he came down to Castle Park
to tell your mother.
She thought we were there to show her the wedding style.
I wouldn’t mind, John
but I had hired a dress for the wedding.
It was a deep blue.
It sailed when I walked.
Your mother was in a daze.
‘I dreamed of him on Thursday night,’ she said.
‘He went in and out of every room.
Himself and Shannon were laughing.’
 
We went to Eastbourne to bring you home.
Your mother to collect a son,
Margaret to collect a brother,
Caroline and Majella to collect a cousin.
Me to collect a nephew.
Five women on a mission.
 
Your mother couldn’t sleep,
she was smoking out the hotel window.
She saw the undertaker
collect your best suit from reception at six am.
 
Despite all the sadness
we had laughed a lot on the way over.
The girls nearly missing the flight
because they had to get food.
We laughed too at nothing at all.
Declan, another cousin of yours turned up
and chauffeured us around Eastbourne
and later to Heathrow.
Losers weepers.
 
You had a photo in your wallet
of your daughter Katie.
I have a photo in my study
of the day we bumped into you
in King’s Cross, you and Katie.
Ye were going to some match or other.
What are the chances?
We were over to surprise Heather
on her thirtieth.
 
What are the chances of bumping into you now, John?
We weren’t laughing when we saw you in that coffin.
Your Irish twin ran outside and puked.
Your mother whispered things in your ear.
We started the prayers
it was a mumbo jumbo litany
We couldn’t remember how anything finished.
Hail Mary full of grace the lord is with thee…
 
On the way back
there was a bad storm.
We were at the airport for five hours.
Your mother kept going back out for a smoke.
Each time she went out we worried
that she’d never get back in.
 
You were in the hold,
in your new suit
your designer shirt
your best shoes.
We forgot your socks.
Losers weepers.
 
We arrived at Shannon
in the early hours.
The Divineys were there en masse.
So was Keith and Aidan.
We followed the hearse,
a night cortège.
‘At least we have him back,’
your mother said,
more than once.
 
After the funeral mass
your friends from the fire station
hoisted your coffin onto the fire brigade.
The army were there too.
It was a show stopper.
I never told you this, John
but I love a man in uniform.
 
I think of you
leaving your bundle
on top of Beachy Head.
Your belt coiled
around your watch
your wallet with a photo of Katie
your fire fighter’s ID card
your blood donor card
your bus ticket from Brighton.
Losers weepers.
 
‘It’s about John Diviney,’
the coroner’s office said.
‘Some young people found his things.
His belt a loop around them.’
He flew without wings
off Beachy Head.
He landed at the bottom
his back against the wall
his eyes looking out to sea.
 
The Mission is © Rita Ann Higgins

Poet Rita Ann Higgins(1)Rita Ann Higgins was born in Galway. She has published ten collections of poetry, her most recent being Ireland is Changing Mother, (Bloodaxe 2011), a memoir in prose and poetry Hurting God (Salmon 2010). She is the author of six stage plays and one screen play. She has been awarded numerous prizes and awards, among others an honorary professorship. She is a member of Aosdána.

Rita Ann Higgins’s readings are legendary. Raucous, anarchic, witty and sympathetic, her poems chronicle the lives of the Irish dispossessed in ways that are both provocative and heart-warming. Her next collection Tongulish is due out in April 2016 from Bloodaxe.

Mastectomy

You get given
certain things in twos -

                                love-birds, book-ends,
                                matching china tea mugs -

and even though 
on any given morning

                                it is all you even think of
                                to hook one fine china

top designer
duck-blue tea-mug

                                from your dry beech
                                draining rack

to boil and pour and stir
and watch Darjeeling towers spiral;

                                there are still the days
                                when there is company for breakfast,

and on these fine mornings
let me tell you

                                 it is good to know
                                 that there are two

extra special, same but different
unchipped breakfast blue mugs

                                made to grace
your table.




From Who's Counting?

© Shirley McClure
Living in Bray, Co. Wicklow, Shirley McClure won Cork Literary Review’s Manuscript Competition 2009 and Listowel Writers’ Week Originals Poetry Competition 2014. Her collection, Who’s Counting? is available from Bradshaw Books or via http://www.thepoetryvein.com/. She facilitates creative writing courses and workshops.
(from Céide Fields)



Becoming the Ancestor at Downpatrick Head


As in prehistory a woman
            climbed down these wave-fretted
                        cliffs and stretched to rest
                                    on this shore,

so lay your cheek
            on this time-worn stone
                        and, looking north
                                    along longitude 9

to where the blue wind’s knife
            splits sea from sky,
                        follow its trajectory
                                    from that birthing point

to your curious eye;
            so learn, as she may have done,
                        how this earth curves,
                                    and time.

© Breda Wall Ryan
Breda-852 (Colour) (1)Breda Wall Ryan grew up on a farm in Co Waterford and now lives in Co. Wicklow. She has a B.A. in English and Spanish from UCC; a Post-graduate Diploma in Teaching English as a Foreign Language, and an M.Phil. in Creative Writing (Distinction) from Trinity College, Dublin. Her awarded fiction has appeared in The Stinging Fly, The Faber Book of Best New Irish Short Stories 2006-7 and The New Hennessy Book of Irish Fiction. Her poems have been published widely in journals in Ireland and internationally, including Skylight 47, Ink Sweat and Tears, Deep Water Literary Journal, And Other Poems, Fish Anthology, Mslexia, The Ofi Press, Orbis, Magma and The Rialto. Her first collection, In a Hare’s Eye, was published by Doire Press in 2015. A Pushcart and Forward nominee, she has won several prizes, most recently the Gregory O’Donoghue International Poetry Prize, 2015.
 
A Celebration of Irish Women Poets on Bloomsday 2015

‘The Somnambulist Who Stood Still’ by Kate O’Shea

The Somnambulist Who Stood Still

 

1.

Odorous

 
Don’t warble.
She smells you for her own.
His scarf is a garrotte, her on all fours.
Hors d’oeuvre. Opens no doors.
Whores. Don’t warble.
She is not what she seems.
She is real, mean; eats dwarves,
oscillates on fat fingers,
odorous dreamer,
osseous tail – a small pencil from
a bookie shop that wriggled down
the back of the couch –
that is how he wrote poetry,
that is how he got in trouble,
we say they are witches,
no one believes, no one believes, no one believes.
She tells him he smells like cabbage.
He smells like her Daddy.
 

2.

Lady Gaga

 
She is twisting hay,
going on about the caul, her helmeted head,
preternatural, making up stories.
An heirloom on paper. Making out with sailors,
but she is drowning in wine and brine.
Pretty unnatural if you axe me.
Goodluck to her. Sleeveen.
We ain’t too chummy with batshit crazy.
Amen to that. Cross yerself.
Her eyes are stains, the dark bitumen
of Asia Minor.
Bich-oo, bich-oo.
Pitchfork men with scabby eyeholes
hurl themselves like golliers
for a peck on the cheek.
But we know she is pure evil.
We know she ain’t meek,
yielding as seasons.
She is a long dark winter.
A blizzard.
A fruitcake with marzipan.
Her landscape the birth membrane
of strangeness. Weird.
Geared for a fight.
It ain’t right for a woman to attack.
All life collapses in her, stretched
taut like wires between pylons,
a zigging and a zagging some catchy
acoustic, a voice like no voice
I remember, percolating like cha
left on too long. Wired.
A spasmodic eruption of history
and hormones. She is stubborn
as an ass; fast on her feet.
Self-taught in a hedge school
that went on too long in her twisted
dimension of our country.
She is bitchin’ the bitumen out of roads,
and maps, her face the texture
of chopped liver. What lies underneath?
Internal organs hanging from her sleeves.
 

3.

Death by delirium

 
Stand and deliver! Lily girls a favourite of Sir Galahad.
Galahad a hard on for the Holy Grail
made old ladies, and trolls, spin in revolving doors.
I will die disinhibited and incontinent, he said,
after three bottles of Malbec chugged by the neck.
Find a cure for the bore, fighting bad benzos
to the death, replacing the letters in alphabet soup
with antipsychotics. Galahad thought.
Who are these immobilized men who appear to be dead?
The monitors tell me otherwise. Yet nought to be got
from one French kiss – the stiffs – the tongue is taken,
if I am not mistaken; the tongue is lolling;
over the fire, on the sofa. I will have to take a leak,
fill my belly with bubble and squeak,
as I hurtle towards death – dash; collide; clatter.
The flat affect cannot knock a man in 3D,
armed with Haloperidol and intestinal prosody.
 

4.

The num num num num num num num poem.

 
Ooooooooh I so pretty; clitty, titties all for you,
again & again, now the scented scimitar snoozes
in basin hands, a schooner: scissors-legs scoff
the bedrock. Protruding outcrop, again & again.
Scherzo, no scherzo; my highbrow, highlight,
highland fling; knees, knees, yes please,
feet and ears, hears, and here, full of the seed,
the seed, the seed, the seed, the seed:
num, num, num, num, num, num, num.
The glories of the world stuck in me.
 
first published in Outburst Magazine, 2013.
 

5.

Bubble Butt Jew

 
Write me a storytelling, drop me in the action,
contrary rag and bone does a me-and-Mrs-Jones
but it’s tantrums all the way.
No heartbeat, sweets on Bleaker St.,
sanitised, pink and fluffy,
blue stocking to the cleft of her nether chin.
Not by the airs of her chinny-chin-chin.
Where to begin when the game is up and over?
A mechanical hare on a dog track,
now where’s the fun in that?
The bloodthirsty, bloodcurdling scream
like a child’s night terrors.
Amazed the narrator survived thus far:
Let the wind and the rain bring your father back again,
stay away from the window bogey man.
A man groans in a ditch, it was she.
Witch.
Greyhounds tuck into stale bread and cold tea.
Goodie.
The ignominy; when we must rebut our nature –
to tear the hare limb from limb
is not a whimsy; to do what comes natural,
to do, to be, that is the story.
The tension between desire and action,
blood sports and p.c.
Contrary rag and bones is one-eighth Polack Jew,
a survivor of pogroms, before the great famine
made ye all hungrier in mood, and food.
Fat-arsed, thick, lumbering Irish,
dragging that repressed burden
of starvation and privates, making furrows,
verse and ploughing, meowing.
Much like the Negro slaves sang spirituals,
the Irish sang ballads, and danced roughly
into a mass grave, blind drunk and calculated.
Would you like to be buried with my people?
The world’s worst chat-up line,
me-and-Mrs-Jones-we-got-a-thing-going-on.
Contrary rag and bones the hero of this after world.
Holy Toledo, and Knock, Jerusalem.
All these things mattered like primitive magic.
These things unsaid.
 
The Somnambulist Who Stood Still is © Kate O’Shea

Kate O’Shea lives in Dublin. Her chapbook Crackpoet is available on Amazon. She was short listed for the Cork Literary Review Poetry Manuscript Competition and the Patrick Kavanagh Award twice. She is widely published in journals abroad. Her latest publications were in The Seranac Review, Orbis, Cyphers, Outburst, and Prole. Most recently she has been nominated for a Pushcart Prize in America.

Eight new poems will be published later this year in three anthologies.

‘The Somnambulist Who Stood Still’ by Kate O’Shea

‘Lilacs From the Field of Mars’ and other poems by Maureen Boyle

Darshan

 
(Hindi: the pleasure of looking)
 
In my favourite of your Indian stories
you are working in your room in the garden ashram:
the air is heavy with mangoes and dung
the cows in the gowshala sing
the saffron cloths of the swami flap like prayer flags on the line.
 
You are working on the Gita intent and peaceful
but suddenly you look up and there is the cook,
Santakumar, with his extended family smiling at your door
and when you ask what you can do for them
he says, “No, no – just Darshan Mr Malki, just Darshan.”
 
And now, on many nights when you are asleep before me
I lie and look and think, “Just Darshan, just Darshan Malachi.”
 
First published in ‘Incertus’ 2007.
 

Invoking St Ciarán of Saigher

 
When the blackbirds begin to build their nest against your house
we take it as a good sign – an omen of continuance, of the birds
knowing it as a gentle place, trusting its rafters, burrowing
into the soft hydrangea, coming right into the luctual house,
the house of the dead. They swoop in – the rich open sough
a sound bigger than themselves, comic with beards of grass,
busy with the build. But at your month’s mind, the birds are frantic
through the night and in the morning the perfect nest is overturned,
one small fledgling left by the sparrowhawk upon the ground
and the bewildered mother bird still flying in with worms, unable
to break her instinctive act. I lift the scalding and feel again the cold
of death as I had on your cheek in the bright mornings of that May week
when I stole downstairs to be with you alone. Now I wish I had the power
of the Midlands Saint, whose prayer alone could bring back the birds,
could put the breath back into men when it had gone.
 
First published in ‘Festschrift for Ciaran Carson’ 2008
 

Put Out the Light

 
in Memoriam Robert Mc Crea, 1907 – 1990
 
The entrails of a salmon flower in the sink
in the picture I have of you
teaching me to gut fish.
 
You have lifted it from the river
at the foot of our house
the Mourne filled with Sperrin water
 
and now its insides stream
like river weed running in the current –
something of the river brought home.
 
You handle it tenderly, call it “she”,
a hen, and are saddened when you find the roe
that will not have a chance to spawn.
 
Another time, the weather in the window different,
you show me how to clean out a hen bird,
a turkey, that will hang in the cold ‘til Christmas.
 
This lesson is serious. You say, “You must take out the lights”…
the lungs that hide in the dark of the turkey’s vaulted belly.
“Put out the lights and then put out the lights”.
 
On ordinary days you mush up Mother’s Pride
to feed Rhode Island Reds, the smell of wet bread
filling the scullery for hens that scare my mother.
 
Those days, you had finished with the Mill
and the blizzard of the scutching room that gave you Monday fever.
How cruel that the weekend seemed to mend you, only to begin again.
 
Proust’s father gave it another name, byssinosis,
from the fine linen you were dying to produce
but would never wear.
 
At weekends you would make a rosary of the village lanes
up High Seein, spitting into hedges with the other men,
knowing the name of every plant it landed on.
 
First published in ‘Incertus’ 2007.
 

Lilacs from the Field of Mars

 

Bringing armfuls of lilacs from the Field of Mars
blushing girls hide them under cotton skirts,
stiffening petticoats like the dancers’ horsehair net
bought by the shimmering bolt they have seen carried
to the costumier’s in the neighbouring street. Once in place
they must brave the babushkas who sit in the dusky corridors
of the old theatre knitting, darning the dancer’s shoes
holding the block in the satin where blood has soaked into cloth.
The hidden flowers rustle as they walk and when inside
are pulled out in a wash of Spring scent to be handed
carefully over the balcony and down to the blind box
where they will wait until the last beat of his pas-de-deux
and then fall in a lilac shower – flowers warmed
by the thighs of girls as offerings for the young god.
 
First published in ‘The Honest Ulsterman’ 2014.
 

Weather Vane

Your love, Lord reaches to heaven
your truth to the skies.

Psalmody

I am on the roof this breezy day,
in the sixth month of my pregnancy,
picking off the moss and lichen and tossing them
in soft bouquets to the ground.

Above me are the chimneys –
their stacks the colour of sand
and round the tops, circles of hearts
opening… to the sky.

I am a billowing blown crow
in my dark work clothes
and this is punishment for vanity.
For finding my face in a bucket of blue

Sister brought me up the back stairs.
The slates I clean are greens and shell-greys
that turn dark ink-blue in rain.
Today is a weather-breeder

the nuns say, presaging a storm,
so I am here to clean the way
and the rain will wash the loosened moss
in green runnels when it comes.

I am as high as the monkey puzzle,
Its open branches wide smiles
at the level of my eye, arms outstretched –
as if they’d catch me.

Down below is the road I will walk
my baby across to give him away
he, in a big dicky-up pram,
me, all dressed. Every Monday

the nuns take me to the parlour
to write a card telling everyone
who needs to know: that I am well,
that the sea is wild, that I am working hard,

that I miss them, when all the while:
I’m sitting at an oak table –
the smell of polish heavy in the air,
the grandmother clock ticking nearby,

dry spider plants on the windowsills
and a sad-eyed Mary hanging her head
in the corner. They take a lot of trouble
with the cards. The gardener runs them

up to Portrush and posts them there
so that the stamp’s right,so that the postman
can tell everyone I’m grand
and it’s not just my parents’ word on it.

I talk to my baby up here.
We’re not supposed to but the wind
takes the words away.
They say Our Lady had no pain

in either the making or getting of God
and she was allowed to keep him.
I’d have liked mine to have an angel for a father –
he’d have been light on me.

I mind my Granny saying
that when the midwife helping Mary
put her hand in to touch
it withered away.

Who’ll help me when the time comes?
It’ll be one of them and I think I’d love
to have that power to wither their hands.
My hands are cold; the first raindrops splashing

on the slate. The red bricks of the walls burn
in the dying sun’s colour and the birds have gone,
taking the little offerings of moss and lichen.
They’ll line their nests with them.

First published in Poetry Ireland Review in 2007.

Audio Poetry by Maureen Boyle

Maureen Boyle on Youtube
From the Fishouse
Maureen-25 (1)Maureen Boyle grew up in Sion Mills, County Tyrone and now lives in Belfast. She was awarded a UNESCO medal for poetry in 1979 when she was 18. She was runner-up in the Patrick Kavanagh Poetry Prize in 2004. In 2007 she was awarded the Ireland Chair of Poetry Prize and the Strokestown International Poetry Prize. She has been the recipient of various awards from the Arts Council of Northern Ireland – most recently an Artist’s Career Enhancement Award in 2011. In 2013 she won the Fish Short Memoir Prize and was shortlisted for the Fish Poetry Prize. She was a finalist in the Mslexia single poem competition in 2013 for a long memoir poem ‘Incunabula’ which was published in Germany this year. Her poem ‘Amelia’ was a BBCNI commission to mark the renovation of the Crown Bar in Belfast and was used in an art installation at the City Hall, Belfast in 2014, as part of the University of the Air Festival, marking 50 years of the Open University. Her poems have been published in The Honest Ulsterman, From the Fishhouse, Fortnight; The Yellow Nib; Poetry Ireland Review; Mslexia; and Incertus. She teaches in St Dominic’s Grammar School in Belfast and with the Open University. She lives in Belfast with her husband, the writer, Malachi O’Doherty.
‘Lilacs From the Field of Mars’ and other poems by Maureen Boyle