“Prostrate” and other poems by Mary O’Connell

The First Cut is…

for Ifrah Ahmed
A fat red sun comes up above the trees.
Ngozi claps her hands, today’s the day
her gran will bring her to Shangazi,
her mother’s aunt.”You must be brave”, they tell
the eight-year-old, who loves to hop and skip
along the dirt-tracks where the lizards play.
They walk for miles, but she discovers tunda;
mangoes and papayas in gran’s cotton bag—
a special treat for this her special day.
gran’s hand tightens as she walks into the house.
The windows are all darkened and a fan
on the ceiling makes a whirring sound.
Then she sees a bed with shiny instruments
and pushes into gran to hide her face.
The old one sits into a wing-backed chair,
cradles Ngozi in her arms and speaks:
“It won’t take long, my love, just look away.”
A touch of steel, and then a scalding pain.
“Now you’ll be ready for your wedding day.”
she hears them shout, as they raise and place her
on the bed, lying on one side, both legs tied.
Tears burn her cheeks, her throat feels sore and dry.
She shivers in the heat and feels betrayed,
invaded by a mutilating blade.

Amaryllis Belladonna

Something rising from the earth invades my life,
flaunts shamelessly in my place of refuge.
For weeks it lay folded in its verdant sheath,
then slowly pushed out its raw obscenity.
Interlocking petals mimicked loudspeakers
that blazed out without warning,
a ‘triffid’ broadcasting calamity.
It stares me down, daring me to look
into its crimson gullet, falling into black.
Yellow stamen at its lip protrude
to mock me with a snide gap-toothed leer.
Why should a gifted pot-plant snarl my peace?
Could the seeds go back to adolescence
coming upon the secret bloom of blood?


The Muezzin’s cry
calls you out of sleep,
you wear a cloth
that cancels all your curves,
walk to the Mosque to find
your place behind the latticed screen,
supplicate heaven
to send no more distress,
the belts of gelignite
that rock the square,
the Prophet’s message twisted in the sand.
fragmented symbols rising in the sand.
Prostrate and other poems is © Mary O’Connell

Mary O’Connell has had poems published in Southword , Best of Irish Poetry 2008, and the Café Review, (Portland ME). She taught languages and English and now lives in Cork city. She also had some success reciting her work in Strokestown and Derry. She has been fortunate to have been mentored by Paddy Galvin and Greg O’Donoghue in a workshop at the Munster Literature Centre, and often writes about nature and classical mythology, as well as taking an ironic look at public figures and events. A regular at O Bhéal, she has twice been asked to read for visiting American students.

“Consumed” and other poems by Gillian Hamill


So still
It had to
Come to the fore

I could feel
The tears drop
And drip down
On to my leg
Fully-formed droplets
I could count rain

In the still
Stilled mind forge chatter
The sadness had nowhere to go
But out.

Canal Walk Home

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
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
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

Quick, quick slow

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


My soul is saddening.
And crying out to the wolves.

Take me away. No answer.
Take me away. Louder
Take me away. Hysterical.

But while geographically there were many places she could have gone to.
In reality there was no place left to go.

His flinty eyes of malice recognised this.
And licking his lips. Charged.
Through sinew and synapse chomped.
No morsel left to be spat out.

Only her emptiness lingered
He could not wrap his jaws around
What did not exist.

That seething chasm of nothingness
Every second, every minute, every hour, every day.
Swallowing all hope in its midst
And mainlining the remaining smulch into veins of her ill-begotten offspring.

Why, the wolves of course.
Ravenous little critters.

Engorged breasts of black milk
Mewling malevolence howled.
But madre macerated could not answer with a kiss.
Consumed by her own despair.

The Last Day

Of entrails.
Gluttonous fat deals
Dripping hot sumptuous on molten train rails.
Mangy dog heels
To whine on his recline on a bed of nails
Hammered by slippery electric eels
And now pedal fast boy on your wheels
See glorious concrete hardened by steels
Wash, wash, wash, but grit you shit under your fingernails
Why, this is what you wanted as the bell peals.
Zap-ting, zap-ting, ting-ting-ting-ting go your microwave meals.
Greasing up your desperate bid to burn on among writers of great tales
But selfie, self loathing, self loving mastery, your progress is as slow as a snail’s
And soon, the filmy transcribe of time, your dignity steals
They say that love heals
But I don’t give a damn, I just want all the feelz.
Sewed into a corner by the bloodied strands – trails of entrails
The mighty man kneels

Before God
And Prays.

Consumed and other poems are Gilliam 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

“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.

“The Surrealist ” by Csilla Toldy

The Surrealist

– honouring Leonora Carrington –
A young lady,
treated as merchandise.
Society made no sense
for Leonora, and her best friend
the hyena.
She fell in love
with a surrealist painting
and sought out its creator
to take him, too, on a free fall.
Life was real in France,
married to their work of art,
(and his wife)
till the Gestapo took over the city
and Max was arrested –
Leonora broke down, now fully.
She fled to Spain,
But not from family and pain.
(After being sanctioned to electroshock
therapy for three years),
She ran
from the care of an Irish nun
to the Mexican embassy in Lisbon,
where united with Max and their entourage:
his wife, his new lover and saviour,
her own saviour ambassador, stand-in-husband –
they held wake – over the corpse of Love.
Travelling together on the same boat,
towards New York,
in two distinctly different directions,
she found herself in a weird future,
alive and sane, in the company
of livid creatures.
The Surrealist
– honouring Leonora Carrington – is © Csilla Toldy


Photo by Alistair Livingstone
Photo by Alistair Livingstone

Csilla Toldy was born in Budapest. After a long odyssey in Europe she entered the UK with a writer’s visa to work on films and ended up living in Northern Ireland in 1998. Her prose appeared in Southword, Black Mountain Review and anthology, Fortnight, The Incubator Journal, Strictly Writing and Cutalongstory. Her poetry was published online and in print literary magazines, such as Snakeskin and Poetry24, Savitri, Lagan Online, Headstuff, Visible Verse, A New Ulster and in two chapbooks published by Lapwing Belfast: Red Roots – Orange Sky and The Emigrant Woman’s Tale.

Csilla makes videopoems, available on her website: www.csillatoldy.co.uk & https://soundcloud.com/ctoldy

“Doris Lessing said I was a child of violence” and other poems by Linda Chown

Too many moons


for Jack Gilbert who went further

Too many moons in his poems, he said they said.
Too much sky. But what if he had lived on islands
under the sun with fishermen. What if he had heard
silence sounding in the water. What if there were no words.
What if to him a southern moon stared
At infinity in that night light
And held the chaos of lovers.

how to say what


Words are the clothes thoughts wear.
Samuel Beckett

To say nothing the same.
In the space. To repeat nothing, And everything.
Put it there over the moon with the heart outside.
When you. And it’s all read/red. Granny Smith is gone.
Took a kind of a powder. If I only were in a dark
of my own making. Making out fireflies touch things sticky.
Do tell how to say what: do Prague lights shine spatial
hollows in Slavic moonlight when nothing says
anything any more. More than more. Two is not one.again.
Grasshoppers have thin legs and I want to go home. For Christmas
in a dark of my own making without silent night. To say nothing
the same. When you. If I were only in a dark of my own. Making.


To Say Thinking

It was at first as though no one.
It was as though there was no hearing
at the table where no one listened.
It was as though her sound
was too quiet.
All her speaking tactile in that bed
shining like that white lamb on the wall.
All the talking behind the sky moments.
To have a say beyond the clutter of talk.
Far behind the anonymous stars in their spin she reached.
She had to learn all without teaching
something of her own,
a language to say it in. A wild mind
where everything mattered: stars and lambs and silhouettes.
She was by herself in that thin bed wheezing
and taking it all in.”Deep,” Wyman said you were.
Deep. Maybe one of those grown-in-the-wild miracles in a jungle
fluent in her own making.

Ever since Rinny found the words to speak public,
they rolled out of her faster than she could ever say them to know.
Her voice seemed to sound a ways,
low like crickets in a run of drifting.
Ever since, she forgot how to speak
word by word. Out-speech became an eruption, a geyser
to burst surfaces. Not to think to say,
But to say thinking. To light the lamb.
To shine herself. Out-speech was a close seam
Without basting. A fitting tight in a crystal fog

Writing in Place

It’s about weighing things,
It’s about equals,
like to like, peach to peach,
swimming out loud in the ocean
and floating even in the tides

It’s about writing in place
like fitting right into your skin,
heart speech in morning sleep,
writing word for word on the air.

It’s like exactly.
Blue cats in the clouds.
It’s like nothing extra
the orange white under the rind there,
that long-clean sweet and fresh,
or Samuel Beckett unwording
the world playing his flute magical.

It’s about holding some rhythm
in a groove, sharps folding into flat
at last Etta James and life is all in the song
like Leslie Howard dancing his elegant face
and Humphrey Bogart gliding through his silhouettes.

It’s about writing in place,
here where here is,
this balance, ripe sweet corn cobbing,
wild geese gandering
This sheer sun light
when somehow
you can be as never before
standing out still with yourself
writing in your place
beyond all the words and kissing the sky.

Shore-Lines in the Sand

Why would I want to write about flat fields
And bright color, to suggest limits and consequence
Why would I want to make pictures
As though I were an artist copying the wind
As though things could be anything
As though there could be shore lines in the sand

As though Camus could ever live without light
As though Cezanne would not paint his canvas thicker and thicker
As though birds lead photographable lives on their perches
Bobbing up on demand to entertain white-faced children
When, backstage, birds beak their worlds bloody
Batter and rush the air in hypnotic trance.

Life is no transparent stillness
with the hollow grace of imaginary holiday.
The forces of flat tussle with the agitations of circumstance.

I want my poems to touch that surge,
that place where blood first moves into sleep,
where heart spears memory as it gropes into time.
I want the crash of titans, life in the round,
to be in the brunt of it,
inside the thunder before the storms,
I want to sustain the bang in the beginning.
Hot headed and sure fired,
poems spin far from flat fields,
to hover inside time and knowing
with the blinding precision of dreams.

In Spain

in Spain, then, police crowd
us and we grow smaller as
night smoke packs us in pieces of old innocence-
an unfamiliar fear greases
our childhood with fascist sparks and guns,
power’s black hats that shine darkly.

Doris Lessing said I was a child of violence

Doris Lessing said I was a child
of violence but I wear peace under
my arms are gentle and Burl Ives is
singing foggy dew too. Does violence begin
when you hear of tied ropes & peeling skin
& do our blood cells clamber for violence
are they doomed for ever after?
somehow soft skin sings a melody with itself
and Hiroshima Dachau Dresden
Buchenwald Flossenberg Belzac
I play the marimba with sweet memories are made of this.

“my heart speaks before my words
stand out in the crowd
of windows and open mouths
my heart is my communist
my lone wolf my bride.”

Linda Chown, Ph.D The University of Washington, Comparative Literature. Dissertation based in part on interviews conducted with Spanish writer Carmen Martín Gaite, (“Narrative Authority and Homeostasis in the Fiction of Carmen Martín Gaite and Doris Lessing.”) MA/MFA  from San Francisco State University. Linda is a poet, professor, and critic. She lived for eighteen years in Andalucía. She has published three poetry collections, Buildings and Ways, All the Way Up the Sky, and Inside In. Poems in Foothill Quarterly, Quixote, Intro 3, Dark Horse, Magdalene Syndrome Gazette, Women Spirit, Grand Valley Review.

She worked five years with San Francisco Poetry Center, extensive workshopping and friendships with Stan Rice, Robert Creeley, Galway Kinnell, Mark Linenthal, Frances Jaffer, Kathleen Fraser, Shirley Kaufman, Francis Hosman, and others. Lunches with poets such as Allen Ginsburg, James Wright, Gary Snyder, Amiri Baraka, Robert Duncan, Kenneth Rexroth, Lawrence Ferlinghetti, Mark Strand, Madeleine Gleason, Robert Bly, Diane Wakowski, Denise Levertov and Michael McClure.