Patterns of Sensation – the bodies of dolls by Salma Caller

Silk Velvet Purse Doll

Tiny invisible stitches hold rivets that hold rivulets
Of silk ending in the darkness
Where dreaming continues
The sleeping and dreaming of her invisible body

Silk Velvet Purse Doll


A mille-feuille
A body of a thousand layers
A thousand gauze tissues
A thousand substances
Concealing a darkened chamber
A heavy velvet pouch
Profligate sensual reclining body feeling inwardly
Reaching caressing touching exploring the textures of the inside of a dark and empty space
Where nothing is also everything
A costly ornate body of sensation
Silk velvet skin silk thread silk tassel nerve endings
Silent silken hair spreading
A dense and tactile embroidery surrounds her slits tips lips edges and borders
Wires closely over-sewn create
Her ribs
Brushing stroking heating and burnishing
Made a body that is close textured lustrous gleaming and smooth
Intricate and laborious twisting and twirling of twines
Tiny invisible stitches hold rivets that hold rivulets
                       Of silk ending in the darkness
                       Where dreaming continues
                       The sleeping and dreaming of her invisible body
That dreaming heavy velvet body
Held in the darkness by a skin of sound
Pearl fastenings fasten her breast
                                                    Silk velvet velvet silk
Threads pulled tightly holding her in holding her inwards
Net gauze tissue
Lace wire mesh
Locks of glossy hair
Fine shimmering strands of metal thread
Seeds metal beads sequins
A weaving of delicate traps that subdue mesmerise and enclose
Hiding her in intricacy and leading to labyrinths of the eternal

Chinking of bells
Clicking of shells



Tiny invisible stitches hold rivets that hold rivulets
Of silk ending in the darkness
Where dreaming continues
The sleeping and dreaming of her invisible body


Where nothing is also everything
A costly ornate body of sensation


Seeds metal beads sequins
A weaving of delicate traps that subdue mesmerise and enclose
Hiding her in intricacy

The Shell Bell Shaking Doll

(Aluminium silver wax fur hair beads glass twine carved wooden body musk leather lace shells bells)

She was a multi-purpose object
And made a variety of textural sounds
Chinking of bells
Clicking of shells
The dull thud of organs suspended within a hollow
Their deep and heavy percussion
Tasselling around her
Metallic fragments
Sound out from pale bells
And whitish shells
A chalky body
Carved and curved
Arching over
Her painfully embroidered beaded fabric heart
Lungs of lace rustling
Under a dome
Her shells and her bells
Rang out in another realm
Skeins of silvered twine
Slivers of shivering glass
Pelts of soft fur that cannot warm her
Hand strokes of paint are
Memories of a gentle touch
An aura of sound and movement
Are shaking out of her still

She was a multi-purpose object
And made a variety of textural sounds

Chinking of bells
Clicking of shells

The dull thud of organs suspended within a hollow

The Unravelling Glassfire Doll

Her painfully embroidered beaded fabric heart
Lungs of lace rustling
Under a dome
Her shells and her bells
Rang out in another realm
Skeins of silvered twine
Slivers of shivering glass




Myriad of the hollows
With an eye in every cell
Splitting and spitting
Seeds and jewels
Saint of the hollows
Myriad of the Sorrows
The vessel of the body curves about a sacred hollow of emptiness
Out of which a carved voice unfolds
That dark pod concealed with a shimmering Membrane
Infinitely embracing each pip
Myriad Miriam Maryam Madonna of the Pomegranate
Resurrection of shadows.

Net gauze tissue
Lace wire mesh
Locks of glossy hair
Fine shimmering strands of metal thread

About Patterns of Sensation – the bodies of dolls

This series of works on paper by artist Salma Ahmad Caller, explores the notion of the female body as an idea that is constructed, made like a folk doll’s body, from materials both real and imagined. The folk doll or fashion model is patterned and marked by how a society thinks about femininity. Each material used to make ‘her’ carries it’s own set of cultural notions, sensations and associations. ‘She’ is often ornamented with patterned textiles, jewels, silk, velvet, embroidery, pearls, shells, tassels, bells, or associated with flowers, fruits and fertility, or with lace, nets, knots and webs, creating textures that carve ‘her’ body into zones of social and sexual importance.

Forces of cultural and social expectations mark and carve our bodies but also the things we touch and feel are etched onto us, mapping zones and patterns of our experiences, our traumas and losses, our sensuality and feeling.
Bringing the biological and the ornamental together to subvert the usual imagery of the female body, Salma uses decorative and ornamental forms, arabesques, whiplash and sinuous lines, and curvilinear shapes in her work, as a language of the biological sensational body, to try and capture the body we feel not the body we think we see.

The shape of the bodies of the ‘dolls’ in this series is based on the paisley tear drop shape or Boteh. An ‘Eastern’ ornamental form that has travelled and transformed across time. It has complex origins in many cultures, mainly from Iran, Azerbaijan and India and now has many connotations, of colonial trade, and a feminised and orientalised idea about ornament. Yet it had a previous changing life of meaning across cultures, symbolising or embodying concepts of eternity, life, of humility, of being bent under the weight of conquest, a fruit, a seed, a pine, a flower, a tear, that were not reserved for the feminine only.

These works on paper have been made using graphite, Indian Ink, collage, watercolour, acrylic and gold pigment.

The Infinite Body Of Sensation; visual poetry by Salma Caller

“narcissus” by C. Murray


not step twice into, not
  step back from stream.
     its nets are storm blackened,

narcissus’ flower is a cut out. 
  it has shut in the cold,
 skeining back into the bud.

 echo and,

he skeins back his thread
   the blind buds are always.


  back then.


  back then,

      back from the black river nets.

narcissus was first published in the Spring 2017 issue of Compose Journal

Chris Murray is an Irish poet. Her chapbook Three Red Things was published by Smithereens Press  (2013). A small collection of interrelated poems in series and sequence, Cycles, was published by Lapwing Press (2013).  A book-length poem The Blind was published by Oneiros Books (2013). Her second book-length poem She was published by Oneiros Books  ( 2014). A chapbook, Signature, was published by Bone Orchard Press  (2014). “A Modern Encounter with ‘Foebus abierat’: On Eavan Boland’s ‘Phoebus Was Gone, all Gone, His Journey Over’ ” was published in Eavan Boland: Inside History (Editors, Nessa O’Mahony and Siobhán Campbell) by Arlen House  (2016).

⊗ See more at:

The Spring 2017 issue of Compose Journal is live

Our Spring 2017 issue features an interview with Margo Orlando Littell and an excerpt from her debut novel, Each Vagabond by Name;  poetry by Laura Donnelly, Brian Simoneau, Chris Murray, Tanya Fadem, Sergio A. Ortiz, John Grey, Lita Kurth, and Gail DiMaggio; creative nonfiction by Noriko Nakada, Marion Agnew, Kevin Bray, Telaina Eriksen, Jim Krosschell, and Wendy Fontaine; fiction by Andrew Boden, Darci Schummer, Liesl Nunns, Laura Citino, and Beth Sherman; and artwork by Ana Prundaru, Fabrice Poussin, and Brian Michael Barbeito.

See more at:
Thanks to Suzannah Windsor and Andres Rojas for including two poems from my book (work in progress)  at this link

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


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.


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.


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.


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

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

“Trompe L’Oeil” and other poems by Patricia Walsh

Trompe L’Oeil

Tidied away, fast disappeared,
what’s lost in the house isn’t lost.
In a mid-sentence, blasting myths and fairytales
I avoid the radiance of your eye.

Hidden phallic symbols litter the test
crunchy fallen leaves subdue the table
reference books stand-offish, yet useful
the clock, used to stares, reigns supreme.

What escaped thought becomes you?
What line unwritten begs attention?
The trompe l’oeil of art crumbles
a piece of fiction no longer necessary.

It would do well to save ink and rest,
watch Love/Hate till my eyeballs dissolve,
or the TV licence man catches me. Anyway
smartphones, smart bombs pave the way.

Eyeball to eyeball, keeping in check
a double decker bus is crashing into me,
foolproof suicide, if you stand next to me,
always having money to keep me sweet.

Stuck in the village. You’re lost, after all.
Winding through people, an avoidance strategy,
cold calling my fantasies, standing aloof
no eye contact can remedy this.

Citrus Refresh

Bruised flesh, eaten by spinsters’ cries
calling for regional order.
Sated for now, tomorrow might never arrive.

No one spies without a purpose
fearing for their own safety, paramount
twitching the lens to a heart’s craving.

The scented candle reverberates with intent
for one’s own good, uncomfortable as it is
being beaten or insulted is still normal.

Choosing select friends for me,
the more mature, the better, despite age.
Sinking apples instead of sweets is approved.

Identical dress, though hips not developed
the smallest size bra fits to a tee
knowledge of a curricular activity is key.

Associating with local heroes
falls flat, due to a lack of interest
I am not part of this charade, as ever.

Waiting for this mess to subside,
my own freedom answering to itself
scandal contained in pint glasses and pizza.

Not caring for silent soldiers, speed bumps as such
fattening lectures from betters all the time
scented with envy, cries from another pillow.

Skin on Skin

It rubs me up the wrong way,
this intermittent friction, hard graft
producing nothing, save hard-won tears.

Woken up by solid cold extension,
I slowly realise things could be better,
divorcing circumstance from comfortable creatures.

I am not amused, or inspired
to catch a structure of yours in my arms
embracing a lifestyle already broken.

Outlining separation procedures close to hand
never realising this could be the end
waking up to hubris, fashion condemned.

Bloody finale, a pregnant conclusion
signs away your status, folding a future
declarations of convenience finish the task.

You lie down, beyond reproach, not seen again
until the Armageddon proves you right,
living in pockets too rich to bother you.

They croon in time to your desecration
anal therapy, skin on skin not above their station
serving them right, suburban whores.

Open Wound

A cooked nerve, gaping at nothing
in particular, festers at will.
Suppurates on demand, a carving of a foot
a thorny lesson in kitten heels.

Bespoke man-shoes don’t avoid the issue,
mashed with sticking plaster for some hours
blood, on occasion, washes out the gunk
a moist challenge in another’s footwear.

Dancing in time to excruciating pain,
I can only offer up so much misery
at a time, suffering has its limits
caught in the heel, pouring out its filth.

It will pass, I know. Avoiding gangrene is good,
blood poisoning is the only comfort I know,
respecting my privacy over all other causes
not yelping at will, suffering under umbrage.

Using my head for something, besides bright fantasy,
pick off the scabs on its final journey,
some satisfaction on its ultimate trip
a limit to endurance, a finite walk.

Fine Feathers Do Not Make Fine Birds

By foul means or otherwise, I stake my claim
on a grandmother’s cast-offs
clearing slides, fastening hair, prettified.

Not so much rebellion as assertion
a desired scenario always in my head,
a disco for one person, but where’s the joy in that?

Is my eyeshadow too obvious?
Does this hair cream scream usage?
Or is this lipstick too red for your liking?

Puberty drags its heels, so do I,
take up the slack with cosmetics to go
pound shop treats accumulated on the sly.

My friends can’t figure me out.
Innocence eroding away, but not quite,
doll-faced presentations still ringing true.

Invisible curfews taken as read
cut and dried regulations rest weary heads
a maturity missed, a freedom curtailed.

Trompe L’Oeil and other poems are © Patricia Walsh, Patricia Walsh image © Linda Ibbotson

Image © Linda Ibbotson
Image Linda Ibbotson

Patricia Walsh was born in Mourneabbey, Co Cork, Ireland. She was educated in University College Cork, graduating with an MA in Archaeology in 2000. Previously she has published one collection of poetry, titled Continuity Errors (Lapwing Press, 2010) Her poetry is published in The Fractured Nuance; Revival Magazine; Ink Sweat and Tears; Drunk Monkeys; Hesterglock Press; Linnet’s Wing, Narrator International, and The Evening Echo, a local Cork newspaper with a wide circulation. She was the featured artist for June 2015 in the Rain Party Disaster Journal. In addition, She has also published a novel, titled The Quest for Lost Eire, in 2014.