The Geometry of Love Between the Elements by Fióna Bolger

Caught in the Cross Hairs

 
I bury my face in the thickness of your hair
the darkness, the softness, the smell
raw brain sweat, your innermost thoughts
desire become scent
 
beneath the softness
the hard skull skin
a barrier you need
and I want to penetrate
 
to enter see the wiring
observe my image
upside down in the back of your head
then turn and peer through your eyes
 
I’d see the world as you
 

You’ve stolen my tongue

 
I thought I had the power
in dreams I knelt at the chopping board
an awkward sacrificial lamb
I brought the cleaver down
silencing my babble
 
but you held the knife
and while I slept you forced
my lips apart and cut
at the roots
ever the skilled operator
you stitched me up
needling the thread
to connect the severed ends
 
I can still make sounds
some almost words
they think they understand
but my tongue is in your hands
 

'Blue' by Vani Vemparala

‘Blue’ by Vani Vemparala

From The Geometry of Love Between the Elements by Fióna Bolger. A Grimoire published by Poetry Bus Magazine.

cure for a sharp shock

 
it’s that moment
when you trust
let go the balloon
your hope floats
up into the air
it’s beautiful and red
 
it bursts
empty rubber pieces
a shade darker
float to earth
 
I read somewhere
if you take these shreds
put them between broken
pieces of pottery
and blow
they’ll sound beautiful
 
I’m not sure
I read it
somewhere
 

cure poem for the lovelorn

 
a woman sits alone
her eyes are on the swan feathers
dropped by the moon upon the sea
 
she sees no-one on the horizon
but who can walk on water
dance on down
 
by day she weaves her stinging sadness
into nettle shirts, by night she waits
for her lover – the one who needs
 
to wear those painful clothes
to be fully human again
no longer trapped
 
on a cold moon
dropping feathers
on the sea
 
Cure Poems are © Fióna Bolger

bolger

Fiona Bolger’s work has appeared in Headspace, Southword, The Brown Critique, Can Can, Boyne Berries, Poetry Bus, The Chattahoochee Review, Bare Hands Poetry Anthology and others. Her poems first appeared in print on placards tied to lamp posts (UpStart 2011 General Election Campaign). They’ve also been on coffee cups (The Ash Sessions). Her grimoire, The Geometry of Love between the Elements, was published by Poetry Bus Press. She is of Dublin and Chennai and is a member of Dublin Writers’ Forum and Airfield Writers.

 

From Poetry Bus  A Grimoire is a book of magic and what is more magical than poetry? So instead of producing a series of chapbooks we’ve opted to create something a bit more special. Our first poet is Fíona Bolger and her Grimoire is called ‘The Geometry of Love between the Elements’
 
A beautiful book of poems illustrated by Vani Vemparala and featuring translations into Irish, Polish and Tamil by Antain Mac Lochlainn, Aleksandra Kubiak and R.Vatsala respectively.

‘Lament’ Recorded at the Smock Alley Theatre

I received this morning the sound files for a performance of Lament that occurred at the Smock Alley Theatre, as part of the 2012 Béal Festival. My thanks to Elizabeth Hilliard and David Bremner for programming the piece.

Friday Afternoon – part 3.wav

Containing:

Christine Murray: Lament (for three female voices) (performed by Dove Curpen, Réiltín Ní Charthaigh Dúill and Emilie Champenois; also with thanks to Rita Barror for organising and reading-through) (first performance)


Beal2012

‘Ceathrúintí Mháire Ní Ógáin’ and ‘A fhir dar fhulaingeas’ by Máire Mhac an tSaoi

Máire Mhac an tSaoi poetry Original Irish versions followed by English translations

.
Ceathrúintí Mháire Ní Ógáin
A fhir dár fhulaingeas…

Ceathrúintí Mháire Ní Ógáin

I

Ach a mbead gafa as an líon so –
Is nár lige Dia gur fada san –
B’fhéidir go bhfónfaidh cuimhneamh
Ar a bhfuaireas de shuaimhneas id bhaclainn

Nuair a bheidh arm o chumas guíochtaint,
Comaoine is éiteacht Aifrinn,
Cé déarfaidh ansan nach cuí dhom
Ar ‘shonsa is arm o shon féin achaine?

Ach comhairle idir dhá linn duit,
Ná téir ródhílis in achrann,
Mar go bhfuilimse meáite ar scaoileadh
Pé cuibhreann a snaidhmfear eadrainn.

II

Beagbheann ar amhras daoine,
Beagbheann ar chros na sagart,
Ar gach ní ach bheith sínte
Idir tú agus falla –

Neamhshuim liom fuacht na hoíche,
Neamhshuim liom scríb is fearthainn,
Sa domhan cúng rúin teolaí seo
Ná téann thar fhaobhar na leapan –

Ar a bhfuil romhainn ní smaoinfeam,
Ar a bhfuil déanta cheana,
Linne an uain, a chroí istigh,
Is mairfidh sí go maidin.

III

Achar bliana atáim
Ag luí farat id chlúid,
Deacair anois a rá
Cad leis a raibh mo shúil!

Ghabhais de chosaibh i gcion
A tugadh go fial ar dtúis,
Gan aithint féin féd throigh
Fulaing na feola a bhrúigh!

Is fós tá an creat umhal
Ar mhaithe le seanagheallúint,
Ach ó thost cantain an chroí
Tránn áthas an phléisiúir.

IV

Tá naí an éada ag deol mo chíchse
Is mé ag tál air de ló is d’oíche;
An garlach gránna ag cur na bhfiacal,
Is de nimh a ghreama mo chuisle líonta.

A ghrá, ná maireadh an trú beag eadrainn,
Is a fholláine, shláine a bhí ár n-aithne;
Barántas cnis a chloígh lem chneas airsin,
Is séala láimhe a raibh gach cead aici.

Féach nach meáite mé ar chion a shéanadh,
Cé gur sháigh an t-amhras go doimhin a phréa’chas;
Ar lair dheá-tharraic ná déan éigean,
Is díolfaidh sí an comhar leat ina séasúr féinig.

V

Is éachtach an rud í an phian,
Mar chaitheann an cliabh,
Is ná tugann faoiseamh ná spás
Ná sánas de ló ná d’oíche’ –

An té atá i bpéin mar táim
Ní raibh uaigneach ná ina aonar riamh,
Ach ag iompar cuileachtan de shíor
Mar bhean gin féna coim.

VI

‘Ní chodlaím istoíche’ –
Beag an rá, ach an bhfionnfar choíche
Ar shúile oscailte
Ualach na hoíche?

VII

Fada liom anocht!
Do bhí ann oíche
Nárbh fhada faratsa –
Dá leomhfainn cuimhneamh.

Go deimhin níor dheacair san.
An ród a d’fhillfinn –
Dá mba cheadaithe
Tréis aithrí ann.

Luí chun suilt
Is éirí chun aoibhnis
Siúd ba cheachtadh dhúinn –
Dá bhfaigheann dul siar air.

Cathrúintí Mháire Ní Ógáin from, Margadh na Saoire. Dublin: Sairseal agus Dill, 1956, 1971.

Mary Hogan’s quatrains

I

O to be disentangled from this net –
And may God not let that be long –
Perhaps the memory will help
Of all the ease I had in your arms.

When I shall have the ability to pray,
Take communion and hear Mass,
Who will say then that it is not seemly
To intercede on yours and on my behalf?

But meanwhile my advice to you,
Don’t get too firmly enmeshed,
For I am determined to let loose
Whatever bond between us is tied.

II

I care little for people’s suspicions,
I care little for priests’ prohibitions,
For anything save to lie stretched
Between you and the wall –

I am indifferent to the night’s cold,
I am indifferent to the squall or rain,
When in this warm narrow secret world
Which does not go beyond the edge of the bed –

We shall not contemplate what lies before us,
What has already been done,
Time is on our side, my dearest,
And it will last til morning.

III

For the space of a year I have been
Lying with you in your embrace,
Hard to say now
What I was hoping for!

You trampled on love,
That was freely given at first,
Unaware of the suffering
Of the flesh you crushed under foot.

And yet the flesh is willing
For the sake of an old familiar pledge,
But since the heart’s singing has ceased
The joy of pleasure ebbs.

IV

The child of jealousy is sucking my breast,
While I nurse it day and night;
The ugly brat is cutting teeth,
My veins throb with the venom of its bite.

My love, may the little wretch not remain between us,
Seeing how healthy and full was our knowledge of each other;
It was a skin warranty that kept us together,
And a seal of hand that knew no bounds.

See how I am not determined to deny love,
Though doubt has plunged its roots deep;
Do not force a willing mare,
And she will recompense you in her own season.

V

Pain is a powerful thing,
How it consumes the breast,
It gives no respite day or night,
It gives no peace or rest –

Anyone who feels pain like me,
Has never been lonely or alone,
But is ever bearing company
Like a pregnant woman, in her womb.

VI

‘I do not sleep at night’ –
Of no account, but will we ever know
With open eyes
The burden of the night?

VII

Tonight seems never-ending!
There was once such a night
Which with you was not long –
Dare I call to mind.

That would not be hard, for sure,
The road on which I would return –
If it were permitted
After repentance.

Lying down for joy
And rising to pleasure
That is what we practised –
If only I could return to it.

Translation by James Gleasure.

Cathrúintí Mháire Ní Ógáin from, Margadh na Saoire. Dublin: Sairseal agus Dill, 1956, 1971.


A fhir dar fhulaingeas…

A fhir dar fhulaingeas grá fé rún,
Feasta fógraím an clabhsúr:
Dóthanach den damhsa táim,
Leor mo bhabhta mar bhantráill

Tuig gur toil liom éirí as,
Comhraím eadrainn an costas:
‘Fhaid atáim gan codladh oíche
Daorphráinn orchra mh’osnaíle

Goin mo chroí, gad mo gháire,
Cuimhnigh, a mhic mhínáire,
An phian, an phláigh, a chráigh mé,
Mo dhíol gan ádh gan áille.

Conas a d’agróinnse ort
Claochló gréine ach t’amharc,
Duí gach lae fé scailp dhaoirse –
Malairt bhaoth an bhréagshaoirse!

Cruaidh an cás mo bheith let ais,
Measa arís bheith it éagmais;
Margadh bocht ó thaobh ar bith
Mo chaidreamh ortsa, a óigfhir.

Man for whom I endured…

Man, for whom I suffered love
In secret, I now call a halt.
I’ll no longer dance in step.
Far too long I’ve been enthralled.

Know that I desire surcease,
Reckon up what love has cost
In racking sighs, in blighted nights
When every hope of sleep is lost.

Harrowed heart, strangled laughter;
Though you’re dead to shame, I charge you
With my luckless graceless plight
And pain that plagues me sorely.

Yet, can I blame you that the sun
Darkens when you are in sight?
Until I’m free each day is dark –
False freedom to swap day for night!

Cruel my fate, if by your side.
Crueller still, if set apart.
A bad bargain either way
To love you or to love you not.

Translated by Biddy Jenkinson.

maireMáire Mhac an tSaoi (born 4 April 1922) is one of the most acclaimed and respected Irish language scholars, poets, writers and academics of modern literature in Irish. Along with Seán Ó Ríordáin and Máirtín Ó Direáin she is, in the words of Louis de Paor, ‘one of a trinity of poets who revolutionised Irish language poetry in the 1940s and 50s. (Wiki)

These poems are published courtesy of Micheal O’Conghaile at Cló Iar-Chonnachta. My thanks to The O’Brien Press for dealing so swiftly with my queries regarding sharing some poetry and translations by Máire Mhac an tSaoi.

Thanks to Bridget Bhreathnach at Cló Iar-Chonnachta for providing the physical copies of Mhac an tSaoi’s poetry, and to translators  James Gleasure and Biddy Jenkinson.

Regarding the void through the lens of The Zero Eye

 

 

In the realm of suffering, affliction is something apart, specific, and irreducible.’

                                                                                  Simone Weil.


I equate Michael McAloran’s use of imaging in The Zero Eye with the concept of necessity propounded in Weil’s essay on affliction which I have quoted above here. There occurs a layering of image in The Zero Eye which explores at once the dissipation of language and the voidal space wherein a voice explores the themes of perception and the stripping down of conscience. In typical McAloran fashion a structural element is inserted into the book which undermines the preceding text,  in this instance he uses a coda at #10.

#10

the zero eye fails/ cannot/ can or cannot only in/ barren vice of obsolete/ of film upon eye in glimmer tide/ of cataract projectile upon/ itches to be gone in eye of/ absurd of/ zero else of black/ no nothing of/ zero eye not feel/ unblinking black/ gallows none/ razor none/ (+0)/ skeletal as if/ no not infinite/ yes infinite

Weil describes affliction through her construction of the image of a hammer hitting the nail in the exact dead centre of the wood, that the reverberating echo would traverse all space and time. McAloran’s dead-centre is the black lens of the death-eye, over which pass worlds. Eye’s monologue occurs in a space peripheral to where voice’s bodily humanity lies.

#2

crafted in absence of voice/ here or there a nothing of/ claimed yet ever-fading/ yet silenced ever/ still yet/ breakage upon rock of night’s forever distance/ motion of which feeds flame of/ yet ever to rage against/ shift unto/ remnants in midst/ shadowed by final yes/ once absence births/ hands cold/ search through weight of cold/ silhouettes of/ cannot lacks cannot or cannot/ hence proliferation of/ sound upon distance/ and of echoing/ undoing…

The Zero Eye is 24 pages long and it represents a step away from the grief-scape that McAloran created through his recent books, none is closer (or further) from his present  intent than the Lapwing Press published ‘The Non Herein-’. The created space developed in that book has given way to intimate space, be it a shack,  a room, or the artificial space of the stage.

#1

in shed of flame that was never light/ better yes never of it/ bite down upon edge-solace of/ trade anguish for oblivion/ yet naught as ever/ final as/ less or more/ ever was/ remnants of then or nothing left to/ no/ no breaking forth/ no never again/ let it/ decline of/ yes death of/ yet will not/ clings unto/ as if to say/ the zero eye/ un-scattered none/ falls unto or not/ utters without pause for/

McAloran’s instinct as a writer is to bring the reader into the created space, and then to turn their expectation on the head by radically altering the pace of the piece,  which he achieves in his coda.

The major carrying image of this book is the eye/I. The eye/I occurs as symbol throughout McAloran’s work, but in this case it represents a shift in focus from the universal to the particular, or the intimate.

#2

the zero eye will ever be/ shape without form/ density of rind branded by sting of inescapable/ rots through unto/ until/ yet given to silence/ scatters breath of nocturne/ clasp of weight/ says nothing more of I/ clean break/ subtlety of design/ crafted in absence of voice/ here or there a nothing of/ claimed yet ever-fading/ yet silenced ever/ still yet/ breakage upon rock of night’s forever distance

There is a subtextual violence throughout The Zero Eye, which I read as lament. Words occur and re-occur, they voice a violent out-rooting of the sense of moment, spliced, rixt , marrow of spliced, ….translucent carrion ,  density of rind, deformed, empty, shadowless, rupture.

#9

zero black pupil of/ of what/ (question once in text/ believed)/ no matter/ erase/ recommence where there is naught/ raging blindly/ hop-scotch…

Here voice, or voice’s echo is knitting together themes in a manner that prepares the reader for the coda, where a nihilist rejection of the almost sweet lament that occurred in the preceding ten pieces is shot through with a clownish repetition and cut-up technique turning the book onto its head and abruptly ending it.

Coda

(…text no/ this is not a/ this is not/ not this/ is/ a text not/ not this a/ this/ this is not text/ not a text/ text not this is not/ a/ this/ not a/ text no this is a/ not a text this/ this is not a/ this not a text is/ this not a/ not a this a text is not/ not/ not this/ a text/ not a/ text not this is a/ this is not a text this is not a text this is not a text this is not a text this is not a text this is not a text/ text no this is not a/ text no/ a text not this/ not a/ text not this is not a…ad infinitum).

Kicking to the kerb of the subtle beauty of the lament, McAloran forces the reader to remove herself from the hypnosis of the previous text, and address the worthlessness of human-suffering. The Zero Eye represents a culmination point and a watershed in McAloran’s work as a writer. His use of structure and symbol is highly developed in all his recent books, yet inherent in this book is a cool limpidity not heretofore noticed by me.

McAloran’s excavation of his psychic depth in books like All Stepped/Undone and The Non Herein- led to the creation of a huge internal landscape. Here there occurs a reduction of the claustrophobic element of  his previous books, and a movement towards a smaller and more intimate space, wherein voice in the form of soliloquy or monologue is given freer reign.


Recours au Poème: Poésies & Mondes Poétiques

My thanks to Matthieu Baumier, editor at Recours au Poème , and to Elizabeth Brunazzi, who published and translated four poems from my collection, Cycles (Lapwing Publications, 2013).
 
I am adding here Elizabeth’s translation of i and the village (after Marc Chagall)

moi et le Village

 
(d’après Marc Chagall)
 
Version française, Elizabeth Brunazzi
 
La rosée découle en jade une lune aux trois quarts
L’Amour O l’amour! Ta fleur arrachée embaume
 
De son parfarm ma main, bientôt
bientôt me rappelant une certaine musique-
 
Mon destin a toujours été de quitter le lieu
où la lune dansait avec la subtile Neptune!
 
Tout se dissout-
sauf le souvenir de ton visage,
ton rire en pleine rue et ta danse pour la lune!
 
Tes bagues de jade et ta fleur sont mes bijoux,
nuançant toutes choses d’une teinte de vert, de pourpre, d’un bleu profond.
 
La rosée découle en jade une lune ornée comme un bijou,
Sa fleur blanche fond sous le bleu.
 
Je me souviens d’un visage, maintenant fixé en lumière,
maintenant un ton, une bague ornée de bijoux, une certaine nuance brillante.

 

 

(after Marc Chagall)

Dew drops into jade a three-quarter moon.
Love O love ! Your uprooted flower dissipates

Its scentedness onto my hand, soon
soon recalling to me a certain music -

My fate was always to leave the place
where moon danced with subtle Neptune!

All dissolves -
save your remembered face,
your laughing in the street and your dancing for the moon!

Your jade rings and your flower are my jewel,
shading everything green, and purple, a rich blue.

Dew drops into jade a jewelled moon,
Her white flower dissolves under blue.

I remember a face, now caught into light,
now a tone, a jewelled ring, a certain bright hue –

Link
Recours au Poème: Poésies & Mondes Poétiques