“The Bellmouth” and other poems by Gráinne Tobin

Internal Exile

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

Happy Days in Sunny Newcastle

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

What Did You Say?

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

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

Counting Children

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

The Bellmouth

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

 

A Deconsecrated Furniture Showroom

 
Fultons Fine Furnishings

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

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

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

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

The Bell Mouth & other poems are © Grainne Tobin
 

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

A Celebration of Irish Women Poets on Bloomsday 2017

“Canal Walk Home” by Gillian Hamill

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

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

 


 

“The Welcome” by Freda Laughton

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

“The Welcome” is © Freda Laughton

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

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

 


 

“Nurture” by Liz Quirke

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

“Nurture” is © Liz Quirke

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

 


 

“Detail” by Rachel Coventry

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

“Detail” is © Rachel Coventry

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

“Going Dutch” by Seanín Hughes

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

“Going Dutch” is © Seanín Hughes

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

“Hypothesis” by Clodagh Beresford Dunne

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

“Hypothesis” is © Clodagh Beresford Dunne

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

 


“Alice and her Stilettoes” by Lorraine Carey

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

“Alice and her stilettoes” is © Lorraine Carey

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

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

The Transfiguration of the Word

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

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

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

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

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

And the sea will no longer be immortal.

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

Lovers

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

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

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

Translated by Gabor G. Gyukics

Androgen

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Isadora Duncan Dancing

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

The beauty
of the rite shone; whirling.

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

language.

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

and

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

the dancer and the dance apart…

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

Poison

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

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

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

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

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

But what am I to do without?

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

I’m not a city

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

“Brother” and other poems by Clodagh Beresford Dunne

Brother

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

 

Plenary Indulgence

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

Hypothesis

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

                                                                                                                                                                    First published in The Stinging Fly

Seven Sugar Cubes

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


                                                       first published in The Irish Times

 

You Have Become the Hand Rub of an Olympian

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

                                                                         (The Pickled Body)

 
brother and other poems are © Clodagh Beresford Dunne

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

“Detail” and other poems by Rachel Coventry

Detail

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

Dispute

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

Beat

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

What did I do to deserve you?

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

As you sleep

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

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