“St Christina’s Gut” and other poems (series) by Clare McCotter

Saint Teresa’s Heart

 
Claiming it a charism too diamond for the dark
they hung her heart out to dry in a glass globe.
Scraped and chafed with a life story

the walls of its chambers reverberate still.
A girl calling out to another, scratches
gold swallows and nival lilies on woodwork

none can unravel. A mystic with inquisitorial
breath brimming the nape of her neck
etches on stone: he has no body but my own

immaculate and shining in fields of barley
this flesh has flown. A nun crossing
night’s cedar soul, writes on an acre of snow:

O my sisters this I left, leaving only entrails
filled with stars and garnets. An old woman
contemplating a wide geranium sky

pencils in its margins: morning has come
all is light and all are inexorably pierced
peregrine and moons circling earth’s fine tilth.
 
Saint Teresa’s Heart published Abridged 0-39 (March 2015), p. 12.
(Revised since publication)
 

Saint Christina’s Gut

 
Of all the trees my favourite
this sea green turning silver pine
roosting me among the stars
the strength of its scent
sapping the stench
of their flesh and their gold.

Hunched on the top branch
I am a sparrowhawk
female of the species
larger by far than any male.
Today I have fed well
on the prey he could not take.

I, my own cartographer
up here with my book of maps
comping high contours
in charcoal chords.
Under this cape my dewy breasts
swollen with lapis lazuli.

Out at the end of a birch twig
I am an ortolan bunting
my song winding
its way past the sun
a thousand pin pricks of light
bursting from seeds in my craw.

No holy anorexic I gorge
on the tufted heads of thistles
in the lavender fields
in fields of millet
vittles needed navigating night
on my long journey south.

High among incensed rafters
I am a pigeon sunk on the hoops
of my nacreous skirts.
This scavenged gut
a neap tide warm and lapping
the edges of magenta feet.

Saint Christina’s Gut published Abridged 0-37 (July 2014), p. 44.

Saint Joan’s Mirror

 
Pouring over her
like amethysts and water
the voices
tell how she glowed
white and gold
walking with night’s dead
in doublet and hose.

Whispering we know
breast buds bruise
plaits hiss, mirrors sicken
they slip away
in snowdrifting petals
leaving her luminous
in the garden of almonds.

She will put the Dauphin
on the throne
rise the fleur-de-lys
over Orleans
and in male attire still be
their astral child
inviolable in the last pond of sky.
 
Saint Joan’s Mirror published Crannóg 41 (Spring 2016), p. 51.
 

Mary Magdalene’s Foot

 
Pilgrims kiss
the window in this silver shoe
seeking a blessing or cure
from flesh once witched
by the beauty
of a road travelled
with Mary of Bethany and Salomé.

A wanderer then
casting my sandals off before entering
the fields of the forest
the footprint
left beside morning’s stone
a weathered intaglio
washed with wild hyssop and water.

And washing others
on the shores of the black harp sea
I was the starry diviner
the myrrh bearer
in eastern light
my insouciant sapphire heart
freer than any in Samaria or Judea.

Some stormy season
this small window will shatter
returning me
to the holy ground
my fingertips swimming out
to the pines and hawks
my sole firm on the dark mineral earth.

Mary Magdalene’s Foot published A New Ulster 39 (Dec 2015), pp. 15/6.
(Revised substantially since publication)

Julian’s Eyes

 
All shall be well and all shall be well and all manner of things shall be well
Julian of Norwich

She did not drink dark cups from the sores
of the dying, feed the destitute
or found an order. Bernini did not trace

the arc her spine, sculpt her sigh or tease out
the sweetness of her fiery entrails.
In a stormy seaport she saw, that is all.

The remaining years in an anchorite’s cell
spent sounding the depth of her vision
till touching the loveliness of its nacreous floor

she wrote: do not accuse yourself of sin
behovely, it lanterns the stones of your wrath
and of this be sure wrath has no breath

but your own. The father no entity only place
where winds stir the high green grain
and a mare swims across a lake’s sunstone face.

Julian’s Eyes published The Galway Review (January 29 2016).
(Revised since publication)
 

Mechthild’s Tongue

 
Lord, you are my lover, my longing, my flowing stream, my sun, and I am your reflection
Mechthild of Magdeburg

Though they think
the bright wick burning in my dark cave
unfit to proclaim the word

still will I speak
because for you, Lord
I have wept in the school of the night

with you tasted mint
and wild sorrel in the mouths of stones.
I have touched rock

drank wine and wild honey
gulped jasper from the face of the sun.
And other than the bird

divining blue, the fish
breathing aquamarine, I cannot be.
My name written

always outside their book
a Beguine sans rule or vow, cursing
the cathedral clergy

who withholding holy office
withheld little
the night a wounded deer moaned

beside the spring
that is myself and kneeling there to drink
drank molten light.

Mechtild’s Tongue published The Galway Review (January 29 2016).
(Revised since publication)
 

Our Lady of Częstochowa

 
Not one to meet on a dodgy side street
Częstochowa is a hard looking case
round the block more times
than she cares to recall
some claim her canvas a tabletop
painted by Luke the Evangelist.
Carried in a blanket
over wintered fields and lakes
to a village shrine.
Placed there to guide and guard
every man woman child
golden grains and heavy horses
their dancing flocks of white strokes.

Not ones for faffing around
the Hussites hit the ground running
shedding icon blood to sap self
laying low sanctum and soul.
With two deep scars
gullying face eye to jaw
slashing swordsmen
thought her well and truly done for.
Fooled by mossy breasts
and robes of iris fleur-de-lys
they could never have guessed
how well the bitch on the shelf
could handle herself.
Czarny Matka The Black Madonna
Queen of the Heavens
Mother of Earth, Star of the Sea
Hodegetria She Who Shows the Way.

Her right hand pointing at her son.
His straight back at her.
 
Our Lady of Częstochowa published The SHOp 46 & 47 (Autumn 2014)
p. 46.

Clare McCotter

Clare McCotter’s haiku, tanka and haibun have been published in many parts of the world. She won the IHS Dóchas Ireland Haiku Award 2010 and 2011. In 2013 she won The British Tanka Award. She also judged the British Haiku Award 2011 and 2012. She has published numerous peer-reviewed articles on Belfast born Beatrice Grimshaw’s travel writing and fiction. Her poetry has appeared in Abridged, Boyne Berries, The Cannon’s Mouth, Crannóg, Cyphers, Decanto, Envoi, The Galway Review, The Honest Ulsterman, Iota, Irish Feminist Review, The Leaf Book Anthology 2008, The Linnet’s Wings, The Moth Magazine, A New Ulster, Panning For Poems, The Poetry Bus (forthcoming), Poetry24, Reflexion, Revival, The SHOp, The Stinging Fly, and The Stony Thursday Book. Black Horse Running, her first collection of haiku, tanka and haibun, was published in 2012. Home is Kilrea, County Derry.

Disarticulation and other poems by Clare McCotter

“Magic Bullet” and other poems by Rus Khomutoff

 

Untitled

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
 

Hygge

 
 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:

From “Parvit of Agelast” and other poems by Máighréad Medbh

 

From Parvit of Agelast

(Verse Fantasy, to be published by Arlen House in 2016. The poems below are aspects of the ‘real’ world.)

‘Your face is ridiculous: O. . . . . leeeeee ugly 🙂 ❤ / thanks, sure i know !’ :L’ – Ciara Pugsley, ask.fm

net
whn th little lite shinin frm abve doesnt
n younguns mad fr luv r spected 2 b home
thumbs go drum on magic pads n open windows
so they travel in thr dreambots huntin souls
they go weft upon th crystal warp unshuttled 
hookin up witout a plan 2 build a planet
trances risin tru th base n snare of ask n tell
wot u c is wot u feel n wot u feels rite
tho snot a total giggle when th trolls r out
—no1 knows th cause like with any freakin demic—
bitch please u aint jesus wots wit all the posin
howd u like my cock up ur ass, u cross-eyed ho

som1 feelin tiny in the sprawlin fabric
hauls back in2 her drum for a re-birth much 2 brite
bodys blinded so her double takes it weepin
2 th woods 
		to be an hero 
				wit a reel 
						hank 
							o rope


 

‘…the body of Wafa became shrapnel that eliminated despair and aroused hope.’ – Adel Sadew

 

The Key to Paradise

You will be snatched back from the place of no landmark,
where you wander, scapegoat, under the frozen hot eye,
blister-backed, hairy, and crunching backward to beast.

You will regain the unrivalled kingdom of your source,
your beauty will be unsurpassed, and you will sit
on the right knee of a virtuous king, all-powerful but
for his abject love of you. There will be bright-plumed birds
and four undying springs of milk, honey, oil and wine.

Your lover will adore you under the great tree, and there
will never be a touch without the perfect ecstatic end
that leaves you weak and wed to the grass you collapse on.
There will be no argument and never pain. Balm will drip
from every leaf in this catchment of considerate sun.

Best of all, you will be thought wise, not inessential.
So gird your waist with red rockets and blow your littler self
to the garden of infinite fecundity. Do it. In one starry bang.

 


 

Sleep is the only escape I have. When I don’t dare think, I dare to dream.’ – Jaycee Dugard

Pine

Each autumn, in Lake Tahoe, El Dorado county, CA,
the kokanee salmon turn from silver-blue to vermilion.
After spawning they die and their carcasses are meat for mink,

that some unabused women sport as symbols of perhaps love.
The kokanee is not a native, arrived in 1944, so a mere child
compared to the happy-birthday lake two million years old.

Jaycee’s eleven were a tiny tint to that time spread,
and the moment when her fingertips touched the pine cone—
print to Fibonacci imprint, whorl to spiral—a netsuke eye.

That darkened in the backyard in the small shed where sleep
was the best activity and a gnarled man made her pine and desire
the woody grenade that was the last thing she had touched before.

A pine can last a thousand years, an eye much less; Jaycee eighteen
in the pulp of a small brain, twisted in and round, not knowing
what would sprout when a forest fire melted the resin
and out fell, in hazardous liberation, winged seeds.

From: Imbolg

(Unpublished Collection)

Your Grace

You are alone in what they would call a new life. What they don’t know is that for you
nothing is old. A morning is always a question, as if you were a web living each day in a
different cell of itself, seeking.

Seeking maybe nothing, but in that mode, hiatus behind and before. It has seemed true
to take a sable cloth to the slate of fact and not only wipe but cover, occlusion of
the frame removing the form entirely.

Entirely it might seem, but like minerals that leave a trace in water, small events make change.
Tonight you have remembered a Columbian dress you bought on impulse at a Fairtrade sale,
undyed, handwoven.

Woven into your consciousness now like most of your clothes, but you wore this slinky to a
wedding and people remarked. For the first time you thought your body taut and that of the normal,
not a flop. You flaunted.

Flaunting was your wont in a sub-chador sort of way. Exclusivity was the bait, the prospect of
private vice. But you see in the mirror tonight a shape that could turn heads. There’s a Grecian
curve at the base of your back.

Back to where you sat huddled in a lone hut by a struggling fire, watching the small yellow flame
fight the red. You had crammed a bush into each windy gap of the hedge. Beyond, how could you know
several had gathered to your grace.

Grace was a false thing, you said, being rustic. But many thought you walked like a careless queen.
They took the switch in your hand for a sceptre, wielded fiercely against the meek, shaken at
the indifferent.

Indifferently endowed, you thought you were, and hardly cared, except for the faint sense
of an untried trail. It occurs to your image now that you could have kept your own counsel,
sat straight-backed and been petal-showered.

Showering in what was given, you might have made some plans, not waited for a suitor to tear
at the bushes and tell you your mind.

 

climacteric in the extreme

 

the room darkens. foetal faces draw
	spotlights from the dense matrix. she kneels.
not a whimper but centrifugal quake and strain.
	ovular potentials huddle in lines for stringing
	crowded and frozen onto a tight choke.
she hugs her shoulders, surrogate, unconsoled,
	and a creature leaps out, trailing chains,
	snarls and spits, goes surfing the tidal walls.
he will not come again to her bucking bounty,
	her bawdy talk, her raucous primitive yells;
	she will not be the bright-haired goddess of the barstool, 
	fabled and revered in ten parched villages.
hail of the ripped legend falls in blades,
a thing of flesh flames in the mouth of the monster 
and she recalls a hard prophesy told in the spring grass.
	lincolns rev on the melting brick
	informants crouch in a lonely copse and beg for mercy
	in the torture room the air sparks and yellows
	black seeps into old pictures
	and the girl with the lank dead hair creeps blindly from the screen.
she probes her body and finds a silent blowhole.
	her fingers return a thousand red messages
	that pool and brindle in the cradle of her palms.
if she screams she doesn’t know, but colours
	curry the weather pumpkin, desert and vulva, 
	lunatic yellow, bum-in-the-gutter green.
she crashes, glass and glint flinging themselves too, 
	watches her eyes picked to the veined bone.
	girl, crook and goblet smithered on the lizard-
	dark floor.

 

history

(from ‘the second of april’)

I walk.	
Where is home except in repeated kisses of foot and ground.
I am having affairs.
	With, for one, the bonded pavement, complicit as a slice of river.
I glide on ice,
	step lightly on the unreflecting glass panel of a foyer floor.
Nakedness is rare.
	I don’t tell how I used to take off my shoes and mesh my toes with sand.
But even that was a skim.
	I slyly stepped on a rock and, recalcitrant, took off.
I pause at running water
	and watch its inscrutable fingers take sun to rock in a work of art,
then abandon it, dissatisfied.
	Among a tree I become a stretch of soil and burnt grass and harden.
There are always tears.
	They seem to come from outside and wash me down until, like ivy,
I am again rambling.
	On a tarred path my jaw is jolted by hard, inexplicable haste.
My ankles wound each other.
	I bleed and wonder if I should spancel myself to slow.
There are creatures
	who only pace the one field. Even a hobbled route finds knowledge.
I look at my feet and don’t know them.
	Too long with my eyes on a misted goal has cost me my body.
Happenings are always outside. 
Strange, when I see no walls. Where is the place of occurrence?
I thought life was movement.
	Coming to gravel I have less ground and that brings thoughts of release.
Water is too deep
	and I fear high places. To walk is the freest I can do and I wipe my tracks. 
What will pass is the breeze
of a small body, non-native, a light touch on a puzzled cheek.

Máighréad Medbh was born in County Limerick. She has six published poetry collections, and a prose work, Savage Solitude: Reflections of a Reluctant Loner, was published by Dedalus Press in 2013. Since her first collection, The Making of a Pagan, in 1990, she has become widely known as a performance poet. She likes to explore themes, which led her to write a sequence on the famine, Tenant, published by Salmon Press, and a sequence inspired by astrology, Twelve Beds for the Dreamer, published by Arlen House. Her work has appeared in many journals and anthologies, and has been translated into German and Galician. She has performed widely, in Europe and America as well as Ireland, and on the broadcast media. Máighréad has written three novels and a fantasy sequence for children. The novels are online as ebooks. She has also written for radio, and publishes a monthly blog/essay on her website. A verse fantasy, Parvit of Agelast, is to be published by Arlen House in 2016.

 

www.maighreadmedbh.ie

PDF version of this work

‘Red Hen’ and other poems by Shirley McClure

Maternity

 
I want to have poems
by Caesarean section
wearing my Infallible lip gloss
 
and counting on my designer
obstetrician.
I will keep my bump discreet,
 
drink litres of San Pellegrino,
strive to avoid striae gravidarum,
laser them later if it comes to it.
 
I want to live a normal life
despite the media,
and when it’s time,
 
my lines will glide out raring
to open their lungs and wail
as true as any natural birth.
 
Published in Clifden Anthology 35, 2013

 

Red Hen

 
We know nothing
about hens, yet find ourselves
in charge of half a dozen.
 
The odd girl out –
you call her Mrs.One – loses
her footing in the mud.
 
You carry her
into the hen-house
with piano player hands.
 
Still there the next day,
she has turned her blunt
red beak to the wall.
 
We talk to neighbours
about red mites, infections,
wonder if she’s egg-bound.
 
We fill her bowl
with cabbage-leaves,
stroke her tight wings.
 
Her sisters cry out,
foul her water,
shit on her plumage.
 
We are told you’d get
a new hen for the price
of the vet. For the first time
 
I want to crack a bird’s neck.
Instead we hand her back,
ailing but alive.
 
Weeks later you find me
in quick tears
for the red hen;
 
you brush the rust
of my feathers, fill up
my hopper with oyster shells.
 
Published in Orbis, 2014
 

Yoga class

 
I skipped my yoga class
because the man was due
to fix the curtain rail.
 
Upstairs, he poised in heavy boots
on the edge of my bed,
but not before prudently
peeling back the elegant blue
Brown Thomas duvet.
 
Beneath him I stood
at optimal angle to flaunt
my cleavage, to hand him screws.
 
Smoothly he inserted the rawl plug,
then with slightly quicker breath
he drove it deep
into my freshly painted, trembling
Orchid White walls.
 
Threading the hoops unto the pole
we lifted it together,
our fingers touching
as he tenderly
completed the work.
 
Later we did yoga together
dreamt up new asanas
and held them, and each other
until light began slinking through
my brand new curtains.
 
From Who’s Counting?

 

Text Sex

 
Text messaging,
the first hot Sunday in May-
he: I hope you’re doing something
wild. I’m
busy with lambing.
She: Sun-bathing
out the back,
does that count as wild?
He: That depends
on how naked you are…
 
She pictures him delivering,
arm-deep
in placenta,
imagining her nakeder, fuller,
redder than she really is, outside
on a blue rug holding
a silver mobile phone.
 
She turns over, pale still,
unhooks her bra;
they joke about his sad life
chatting to sheep
phone dating,
dreaming of nakedness
in Edenbrook Heights.
 
If she were less prudent,
She’d ask him over now,
shower him, sponge each finger carefully,
massage his neck and armpits
with apricot soap;
but it’s not like that with them,
his wedding band has left a mark
that no lamb’s blood can cover.
She dresses, texts goodbye
and phones
the take-away.
 
From Who’s Counting?

ShirleyPhotoBoyle12_smallShirley McClure’s (1962-2016) Stone Dress was published by Arlen House in August 2015. Her CD Spanish Affair, with her own poems plus poetry and music from invited guests, was launched in June. All proceeds from the CD go to Arklow Cancer Support Group, where she facilitates a writers’ group. Her first poetry collection, Who’s Counting? (Bradshaw Books) won Cork Literary Review’s Manuscript Competition 2009. She won Listowel Writers’ Week Originals Poetry Competition 2014. Shirley lived in Bray, Co. Wicklow.

Martyrdom by Kristina Marie Darling

'Visitation' by Noah Saterstrom (2012)
‘Visitation’ by Noah Saterstrom (2012)

Martyrdom

 
I never imagined love as a cause for suicide. But there we
were, surrounded by all of the tell-tale signs: a breadknife,
a withered corsage, a white dress with some ruffles along
the bottom.
 
The night before I sensed that something had gone
terribly wrong. He told her, brushing the hair from his
eyes, how her sonnets failed to turn at the volta.
 
Now she’s gliding along the surface of the lake. Her hands
folded like the knot on a small bouquet.
 
So he tries and tries to wake her. He looks at her perfect
wrists, nearly submerged: cold skin , a silver watch, every
bracelet fastened in place.
 
Martyrdom is © Kristina Marie Darling, from Brushes With (Blazevox Books 2013)
 

I did a brief reading of Kristina Marie Darling’s Brushes With on my Open Salon blog