Song To Sequana (Burgundy, 100 BC) and other poems by Tim Miller

SONG TO NEHALENNIA (NETHERLANDS, AD 200)

 
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

⊕ Bone Antler Stone (Museum Pieces) by Tim Miller
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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.

“Fabric” and other poems by Kate O’Shea

Fabric

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

 

High-flier

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

Deer

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

Fabric and other poems are © Kate O’Shea

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“The Infinite Body of Sensation”; Visual poetry by Salma Caller

Sound is a shell

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
infinitebody-02

Pearls

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
infinitebody-01-1

Nets entangling objects

Bones of birds
The insides of shells
infinitebody-05
infinitebody-04-1infinitebody-03

Black Lace

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

infinitebody-06

Lying in a dark net of black stuffs

Needles like obsidian beaks
Braiding sound into
A florid calligraphy of sensations
infinitebody-07

Rose

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

salmacallerSalma 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.

‘I wanted to tell you, but there was no time’ and other poems by Csilla Toldy

Kitchen

 
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
 

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

‘Cry Oceans’ by Mary Cecil

Cry Oceans

 
Cry oceans and weep the seas
Where waves flow over
The endless motions of life
The swimming perfection that flees
 
The Armageddon of destruction
By all means possible
The mechanisation of death
The beginning of the end
 
For whales and tuna to consume
The mercury to garnish
The insatiable greed to fill
The merciless plunderers
 
To crush and pulp for cattle
The wanton waste of the world
That flies in the face of God
And wilts in the sun
 
The lonely song of the whale
That echoes in silent reproach
The albatross that soars
Over oceans of emptiness
 
The flowering coral that dies
Blooming in acid
The hymn of death
Beneath blue heaven
 
© Mary Cecil, Rathlin Island
 
Written in protest to the mechanisation of fishing with super trawlers

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 .

Mary Cecil’s Rathlin Island poems