Lady, here are offering for all those whose business has to do with ships the ones from here to Albion & back and the prow you always lean upon; Lady, here are offerings for all those whose business is with the worked earth the ones with and herbs and flowers and all the fruits piled upon your lap; Lady, here are offerings for all those who have ceased with commerce and died our sons in the sea and our fathers in the ground and the Dark World’s dog always as your side; Lady, here are fresh loaves from all those that have desired your altar and temple and shrine the ones who follow your miles to the water theirs and our mothers the long background of you.
LOOKING FOR NERTHUS (AD 100)
for Jenny The priest senses a new weight in the wagon and it’s driven by boat to the mainland and wheeled with rejoicing from place to place: the pulling cows are feted and a new festival for the goddess is founded, food and thanks for the draped wagon, and all weapons of war hidden from her presence. When she’s had her fill of adoration she’s returned to her island and her lake where she’s washed among familiar confines of grove and temple and shore, where she’s bathed along with wagon and hangings and wheels: the image of a woman washed with lake water and carried like the chariot does the sun, or like the buried wagons do the dead, bronze sun and horse and wheels: not the first woman drawn so and not the last goddess, someone preceding her perhaps, only the wheels and the wagon and the woman remembered, pulled by this or that animal, woman of some or other name, this or that grove or lake, this or that land or island all for her, a mystery, since the slaves who bathed her are drowned in the lake for their knowing but necessary touch, for the dire but brilliant revelation that with everything they give, the gods are hard.
SONG TO SEQUANA (BURGUNDY, 100 BC)
Source of the Seine, shrine and woman of the spring sanctuary to water’s sudden appearance doorway to underground and old elsewhere place to abide and feel close to the dead close to some culmination of the landscape —elsewhere a grove, elsewhere a rock, elsewhere a single venerable tree, and here a spring— draped lady in your boat, diadem on your head, I bring a bronze body for my brother I bring a wooden leg for my neighbor I bring a stone head for my own ailment so that by such illustrations you might make the bodies of your pilgrims whole again.
SONG TO SULIS (BATH, 100 BC)
Before the Romans arrived there was only the water, warm, coming up from the ground, goddess of the deepest earth as well as eye of the sun, copious mother needing no buildings or mosaics but only pious bodies, maybe a thrown offering, bits of bronze or just some words at the water’s edge or immersed, reassurance during war or relief at plenitude, pilgrims all from a long way stunned to be on this same ground as their great distant mother and her hands of warm water. ⊗ Cuween Chambered Cairn & other poems by Tim Miller
Tim Miller’s most recent book is the long narrative poem, To the House of the Sun (S4N Books). His novel Bearing the Names of Many is forthcoming from Pelekinesis, and he also write about poetry, history and religion at http://www.wordandsilence.com.
Italians hunt song birds, gawping silence, decaying rope from where a small girl hung in the rubber hoop of an old tractor tyre a lifetime ago, no limits on adventure growing up to carry the fire not knowing about box files, computer monitors the prescribed texts and reading lists that deformed desire replaced it with a constabulary of deception despite all this she did not dwindle into a wife and mother the spindle of life is cruel it twists and turns – one makes the other. The brushwood burns, watchmen flock together and camp in the open.
The Night Watchman
Love is not real estate expansive as flood plains intimate like silt destructive and constructive it is not for those who role play or get lost in the night led astray by bright lights and flesh turrets maidens with drawn out hair beefy knights. Love is insomnia of the soul and you are always watching it is more satisfying than breathing a little call that a life? to watch over, to be there, to suck out the poison to break down delusions delicate as spiderwebs surf the tsunami cradle the fragile skull like a Fabergé egg. Nursery rhymes house more truth than any ideology. Humpty Dumpty’s great fall makes martyrs of us all. Let us be grateful for the gargantuan effort it takes to stay awake
The Last Rose
a ball of cells vacuumed in the first trimester scarabs and virgins bore children alone became religious symbols
the maternal ball is horse manure an oval-face on the wane blue babies and young beetles emerge
housewives and whores are lower on the food chain the messy trade of sexual fluids wets our lips traitors speak about roses, love and birth as if we own this earth
after Brueghel’s Icarus
plop a small figure in the distance a pair of feathers
the farmer continued to plough the angler taken by a scheme somehow did not register the boy the shepherd counted sheep as the sun fell in the sky ship rapt in glorious masts drew the eye
a small figure in the distance a pair of feathers plop
Shattered ranunculus flowers petals like teeth from a dream the garden is not real wind prowls round a research station in Antarctica the sky is a hologram I don’t give a damn downing cup after cup of coffee complex as an orchid the death of insects one long-drawn funeral I tend flowerbeds dreaming of a mother Alice stands stock-still amongst butterflies moths with laughably long tongues probe eyes, velvet antlers
Sound is a shell An ear Curves of sound Vibrating and condensing air Echoes in a curved space An ocean in the shell of sound
Things that stand in for other things
The Witches Pouches
Bags of velvet black Nets entangling objects Bones of birds The insides of shells Spells Pearls Things that stand in for other things
Nets entangling objects
Bones of birds The insides of shells
Turn this talk into a tale A small dark textured cloth Shadows with shades of velvet Borders and edges tactile Spaces glittering and ornate An elaborate intertwining language Of touching A complex dance of bodies Claustrophobic close Obscure ornate organs Lying in a dark net of black stuffs Needles like obsidian beaks Braiding sound into A florid calligraphy of sensations Rose Point Point de Neige Gros Point Punto in aria
Lying in a dark net of black stuffs
Needles like obsidian beaks Braiding sound into A florid calligraphy of sensations
Rose coloured lips swirling around a dark spot Tasting a baroque sound Inspired by graffiti in Barcelona On a corrugated shutter Inside a temple Incense in the darkness leads you To the glint of the gold cloth The curl of the baroque frame and deep blue gaze
A florid calligraphy of sensations
Salma Ahmad Caller is an artist and a hybrid of cultures and faiths. She is drawn to hybrid and ornamental forms, and to how the body expresses itself in the mind to create an embodied ‘image’. UK based, she was born in Iraq to an Egyptian father and a British mother and grew up in Nigeria and Saudi Arabia. With a background in art history and theory, medicine and pharmacology, and several years teaching cross-cultural ways of seeing via non-Western artefacts at Pitt Rivers Museum in Oxford, she now works as an independent artist and teacher.
With hot chilli in my eyes I read between the lines, a coded message of noises: A child’s scream sheathed in wind blasts, gashes through the cracks. The mandalay porcelain clock, riveting, ticks between my shoulder blades. I carry my life like a snail. The fridge sighs, a boiler roars into motion, it broils the oil of the seas and heats – my place, the kitchen at dawn. Clouds scrub the stratosphere with desert sand; a mad dog, stuck in fear, just shrills. The river at the bottom of our glen, shushing its song, cushions our senses. In my body’s kitchen the heart spins unrelenting. Organs send impulses talking to each other. “Thanks for the parcel, we enjoyed the food.” The universe of enzymes awakens, matter is transformed, vibrations vocalise. My body is gauze, from Gaza, letting through the particles of light – staunch at covering the wounds, so absorbent. Beyond its wonders I remember last night’s cosmic dance at this table, our conversation about intelligence and order and that we are bacteria in God’s body. First appeared in Red Roots-Orange Sky, Lapwing Publications, Belfast edited by Dennis Greig
Danube – Duel
Is that a boat or a coffin bobbing up and down on the river framed by the intricate lace of the parliament? The country taught me hate the tightness of place, sometimes echoed when the gales gather and attack this island. No escape, lie low, let the winds blow overhead, wait, even if you are sitting on a hot spring even if you fume vitriol. Remembering the river’s bank ragged lines of men and women, shot after they were told to slip off their shoes. Boney bare trees reach up into the sky grab the pain – hanging on pulling it down, draw it deep into the soil. The Danube splits the land. From the crack incredible amounts of fresh water, hot and clear bubble up with the smell of rotten eggs. Healing waters – they say – good for the bones and joints, the ailments that plague the core of the nation. The Jews that never got buried float away into the sky – in the spas soaking people play chess in sulphuric silence. First appeared on Poetry24 edited by Martin Hodges
I wanted to tell you, but there was no time
In my dream I had to take the key to your flat and leave it there It was very hard to do I had to balance on steep rocks and loosened iron hoops In my thoughts I tousled your hair and something lifted me up A force – and my stomach jumped into my throat. I was laughing, for this was what I wanted. Then it was over – (some new dream, new convolutions began about a girl who dived into the awesome blue of the sea – Cassandra – I was glad that she left me alone Like a sunset, her blonde locks sunk into the sea) I was thinking about symbols on my way to you near the southern railways And my stomach was in my throat. Arriving, I felt the usual little pain, you said I was beautiful and I believed you. There was no doubt about it – I could love You as it was good for me. We were standing at the glass panels In front of us the space I did not tousle your hair, there was no embrace, although desired I left, I was in a street again and a force lifted me up – the one that was leaving dragged me with itself. I was a weak woman then, tiny and the struggle with my own power Seemed ridiculous. I let it fall into the void. First appeared in A New Ulster edited by Amos Greig
Broken – Winged
The first time I heard your voice on the line defensively bored, I thought my pleading rendered me powerless. But surprising: It was the key to your poor, broken heart. I admired the splinters: Twisted sky, land, barbed wire manifold reflected, Medusa eyes flash, piercing the sadness, but whirls of winds carry us to new heights. I believed in me being your healer – making you whole a possibility. Wanted to be the cohesive matter, Superwoman with the magical torch, blind to your pain’s artful prosperity – to the cage of guilt and cunning reproach. First appeared in Red Roots-Orange Sky, Lapwing Publications, Belfast edited by Dennis Greig
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
Mary Cecil is the mother of large family and Grandmother to eleven. The widow of Rathlin Island’s famous campaigner, diver, author (Harsh winds of Rathlin) Thomas Cecil. Lover of Rathlin Island, Northern Ireland’s only inhabited island. Mary enjoys community development and current events. She has been writing poetry for several years. Enjoys writing a variety of poems, spiritual, war, romantic, protest and nature. Keen to compose more poems based on Rathlin Island’s myths & legends. She worked in owning and managing tourist facilities both on and off Rathlin Island. Public Appointment as Lay Member, The Appropriate Authority, Criminal Legal Aid Board .