‘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_smallLiving in Bray, Co. Wicklow, Shirley McClure won Cork Literary Review’s Manuscript Competition 2009 and Listowel Writers’ Week Originals Poetry Competition 2014. Her collection, Who’s Counting? is available from Bradshaw Books or via http://www.thepoetryvein.com/. She facilitates creative writing courses and workshops.
‘Red Hen’ and other poems by Shirley McClure

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

Martyrdom by Kristina Marie Darling

Protected: The Non Herein- by Michael Mc Aloran

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Protected: The Non Herein- by Michael Mc Aloran

And Other Poems

This is a brief note about the And Other Poems blog which is owned and written by Josephine Corcoran. What a breath of fresh air the blog is, judging by contemporary availability of good poetry (and critique). To say that poetry is sorely neglected in the face of market-forces is a wild understatement, but more polemic anon.

“And Other Poems is simply a quiet, uncluttered place to read poems by different writers posted by Josephine Corcoran. The blog’s aim is to give readership to poems which would not otherwise be available, for instance poems no longer elsewhere online, out of print poems, poems published in print but not online, and new, unpublished poems by established writers. Poets have given permission for their work to be featured and copyrights remain with the poets.”

I had been seeing some of Josephine’s link on Twitter for a period of time, and as always was gladdened to see the advent of blogs and websites dedicated to the reader of poetry. Quite a few blogs and websites deal in modern and contemporary poetry in all its wonderful variety. Whilst some people may look on this avant-gardeism as a niche-activity, it is important that the poetry-reader can access all types of poetic-writing. It has been a while since I looked at how poets use online tools to disseminate literature  but I see a radical improvement and diversification in the area. Josephine knows her poetry which is excellent for her readers. I recommend a perusal of her blog and of  her list of poets which is wonderfully diverse. I am adding here the And Other Poems index , and of course a link to my poem i and the village (after Marc Chagall) which she kindly published on 11/09/2012.

I have never presumed that poetics are a niche-activity , but that a wholly conservative approach to critique combined with a mechanistic desire to advance contemporary fiction book-sales dominate newspaper editorials/reviews,  at least in Ireland. The fact that many readers seek poetics through varieties of means, combined with news that 30,000 people signed up to PENN State’s Modern and Contemporary Poetry Course in 2012  would suggest that market-forces are just wrong. Or actually repellent !  Editors would rather clever women review silly books, than look at poetry or actual literature.  If  poetry readers seek adequate reviews of women authors and their books they must look elsewhere than the media, hence the blogs, the small presses, the literary journals and forums dedicated to poetry.

There is a list of blogs and websites dedicated to poetry on the right sidebar of this site. Links to And Other Poems are embedded in this post and given below :

Irish Poetry Imprints (Online and Print)

And Other Poems

The difficulty with muses

muse

It seems that muses, those shadowy goddesses who influence writers, are limited under current editorial and employment injunctions to give inspiration alone to great male poets. Or so Simon Gough would have us believe.

Muses apparently perform some type of quasi-sexual inspirational function and it doesn’t matter if they are girls or boys, once the poet is a dude and his inspiration is carried through the ages to the makers of poetry. I wonder (aloud) if the linked article had been written by a female poet, a woman writer – would the muse issue be a bit more interesting, or complex ? 

Simon Gough

“There’s no reason on earth why a muse should have to be female.  Whatever the truth of the matter (and uncertainty still rages in the higher corridors of intellectual power), the identity of “the fair youth”, to whom Shakespeare dedicated so many of his sonnets is almost immaterial. The one certainty is that he had a muse, who provoked

 

‘But thy eternal summer shall not fade
Nor lose possession of that fair thou ow’st;
Nor shall Death drag thou wander’st in his shade,
When in eternal lines to time thou grow’st.’

 

Here is Simon’s  top nine list of great poets and their muses :

  • Catullus – Lesbia

  • John Keats -Fanny Brawne

  • Thomas Hardy – Emma Gifford/Florence Dugdale

  • W.B Yeats – Maud Gonne

  • F. Scott Fitzgerald -Zelda Fitzgerald

  • Bob Dylan – Sarah Lowndes

  • Neal Cassady -Jack Kerouac

  • Robert Graves – Margot Callas

The woman muse (or sometimes the young boy muse) provides the meat and torture of poetic inspiration to a succession of male writers in Gough’s imagination. He makes no mention of the muses of Elizabeth Barrett-Browning, of Adrienne Cecile Rich, of  Sylvia Plath. The entire list of writers produced by Gough includes not a single woman poet !

I’d like to see a woman poet’s perspective on the muse. Maybe that will happen in a century or so when the literary establishment comes round to the idea that women write rather excellent poetry. I have to say that I rather prefer the idea of the Duende anyway. Writers interested in the idea of the muse and of the Duende should look up Federico Garcia Lorca.

The muse who features on Poethead is called  Euterpe.

The difficulty with muses