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
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
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
Tasselling around her
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 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
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

“The Devil, Oblique Angles and Polka Dots” by Sue Cosgrave

The Devil, Oblique Angles and Polka Dots

For Grandmother

Your host shimmers
beyond the margin of this page
as my fingers tap-tap you from the dead.
It takes you a while to snap into focus.
You remind me
of a day when I was eight,
                      or ten, at most,
the day I got lost in the woods.
How I blubbered and wailed for you!
When you finally found me—
a snot and hiccup spewing fountain
– not pretty.
“What took you so long?”
It was strange how you appeared, seemingly out of nowhere;
haloed in spring beyond the green fog of young birches,
your sudden presence, not reassuring – not at first –
“why did you leave me?” I cried
all the while, you, unruffled, reproached me: “Shame on you. A big girl crying
like a baby. And for no reason at all. Don’t you know that God
is watching over you, Detushka?’
Aha! This is where I should invoke the DEVIL.
Yet, there is no need,
for he’s here, already, lurking.
in the detail, wearing

your best navy polka dot dress – what else –
the one you were buried in.
The one you had kept shrouded, when alive,
in a film of translucent tissue.
How well I recall the day:
me, six years old and agog
for the morbid. For hadn’t you whispered to me:
“I’ll tell you a secret – something you should know
for when I’m dead.”
Of course I was disappointed! A DRESS? IS THAT ALL? Polka dots!
What the devil! I should have / could have exclaimed, but sure,
at that age I didn’t know any better.
But no, it is you, not the devil I see hovering just there,
where my eye does not dare
appearing to me as you did that day in the woods:
light streaming over your left shoulder, oblique, aimless—
the light, of course,
not the shoulder, for the shoulder, even lopsided,
knew where it was heading.
Heaven was always your destination,
              as I knew only too well.
And I knew, equally well, there was no place for me
astride a puffy cloud my nose buried in your soft breast
gleaning comfort from your old woman smell.
My place was in the woods. Kneeling on a bed
of prickly pine needles.
Of course I hated that icon of yours;
that dead-eyed, flat-faced Madonna
and her miniature child simpering at me in his nakedness
when all I wanted to do was sleep
while you, awake at the crack of dawn, genuflecting
to them,
praying all the while:
I hasten to Thee,
O Master, Lover of mankind, and by Thy loving-kindness I strive
to do Thy work

… and oh, how you worked!
digging the permafrost. Building His canal,
the one that went nowhere.


and I pray to Thee: Help me, O God, at all times
Did he ever!
But, perhaps He did, at that.
What is it they say about God and burdens? He did help,
after a fashion:
by the time I was born, your once dainty feet,
He had magic-ed to the size of a man’s,
and your delicate hands to that of shovels.
and deliver me, O God, from every worldly evil thing
and every impulse of the Devil       OHO, HERE WE COME

Yes, I fed him tasty morsels to do my bidding – unknowingly –
I believe.
I made him promises,
offered him rewards,
without knowing I was doing any such thing. Like the time I cut
my Barbie’s hair for him
(he liked her shorn of course, her eyes, hence, more visibly dead).
You see; the Devil was honest that way. And a good teacher too:
no more worship for me at the altar of Barbie! That’s why
when your icon fell off its perch
So what if it was my rubber ball that hit the shelf where the icon rested,
Madonna and Child no longer serene above the ever-burning flame?
even the Devil needs a helping hand.

The Devil, Oblique Angles and Polka Dots is © Sue Cosgrave
Sue Cosgrave was born in Russia and spent her formative years in the United States, in Iraq and in Finland. After travelling extensively in Asia and the Americas, she worked in various parts of Africa before settling in Ireland. Her work, drawing on many cultural traditions, appeared in the Cork Literary Review, The Five Word Anthology, Can Can, Abridged, The Bone Orchard and The Irish Examiner among others. She featured as a guest reader at various events both in Ireland and the UK. Sue has a Masters in Creative Writing from Lancaster University and is currently working on a trilogy set in Iraq as well as a poetry and a short story collection. In 2016 she was finalist for the Wisehouse International Poetry Award

“Sunflower” by Susan Millar DuMars


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

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

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

“Magic Bullet” and other poems by Rus Khomutoff



for Andre Breton
Nostalgic sentiments and new wave nocturnes
intersecting in a normal chaos of life
an hourglass of neglected affinities
idols of saturated phenomena
night of filth, night of flowers
the aporia of revelation

Magic Bullet

(for Tristan Tzara)
 Smell of death
smell of life of embrace
a medicine of moments
semiquavers and sundial conductors
of the postspectacle
deposits of legitimacy left behind
sortilege of the divine decree
words in blood like flowers

Grand Hotel Abyss

 Selenophilia of our being
the obscuring of the queen
vexed in your hollow divine
incipience of the notable nonesuch
like fragrant paperwhites in the
corner of the transcendental frame
pleasure ground of annulled pretext
in hysterically real daymares
everyday extraordinary
grand hotel abyss

Masque of the minutes

for Adam Lovasz
 Masque of the minutes
like a red psychotonic cry
agnosia of the just interloper
scarlet bellowing of the deep end
excisions on vacuous origins
temporal flight of the elemental route


 A sense of timelessness surrounds her
mistress of malfunction
platinum god afterbirth
countdown to zero
inferior rhyme over the threshold
redux and progression
Magic Bullet and other poems are © Rus Khomutoff.

dsc07827My name is Rus Khomutoff and I am a neo surrealist poet in Brooklyn, NY. My poetry has appeared in Erbacce, Uut Poetry and Burning House Press.Last year I published an ebook called Immaculate Days. I am also on twitter:

“The Suitcase” and other poems by Breda Spaight

Her Cross

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

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

The Suitcase

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


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

That Man

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

Safe Period

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

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

Final Cut

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

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