“Blackjack” a bilingual volume of twenty contemporary Irish poets published by Singur Publishing

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Blackjack; A Contemporary Volume of Irish Poetry (Singur Publishing, 2016)

Cover painted by Sorin Anca
Coordinated by Dorina Șișu and Viorel Ploeșteanu


The twenty Irish poets translated into Romanian for this volume are: Afric McGlinchey, Billy Ramsell, Breda Wall Ryan, Christine Murray, Damian Smyth, David Butler, Dean Browne, Edward O’Dwyer, Eileen Sheehan, Eleanor Hooker, Eugene O’Connell, John W. Sexton, Leeanne Quinn, Maeve O’Sullivan, Mary O’Donnell, Nessa O’Mahony, Noel Duffy, Paul Casey, and Roisin Kelly.
 
The Blackjack translators are: Dr. Isabel Lazãr, Maria Liana Chibacu, Margento, Elena Daniela Radu, Mãdãlina Dãncus, Mihaela Ionitã, and Oana Lungu.

I would like to thank Dorina Șișu and Viorel Ploeșteanu for including my poems, Delicate, Pretty Useless Things and Descent From Croagh Patrick in this edition. Thank you for a lovely launch evening, and I would like to expand the Index at Poethead to include more Romanian poets.

The online edition of Blackjack.
Revisita – Itaca
 

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

“Water Memory” and other poems by Jackie Gorman

Water Memory

 
The bottom untouched by sunlight,
heart shrinking down
as though the future isn’t real.
Nothing to hold on to.
Musty smell of the lake,
fish and forgotten hooks.
Boats on the horizon.
Just the water before thought.
My hook snagged in the want of this world.
A silent urge to be like water,
flowing yet strong enough to hold a ship.
I draw a fish in my notebook.
 

The Hare

 
Barney stopped the mower and looked down.
Full-grown, it was twitching in its soft fur.
I twitched when he mumbled “kinder to kill it.”
 
With a mossy stone, he crushed it.
Its liquid eyes and long ears
stayed with me for weeks.
 
I dreamt of it dancing in the callow,
when the moon was out.
Threading the faint light
between dusk and dawn,
thresholds of transition.
 
Barney limped,
next time I saw him
climb out of the tractor.
 

The Hedgehog

 
My father lifted him up on a spade
and put him down in the back field.
Years later,
I watched my mother looking out the window.
From where she stood,
she watched him scurrying away.
I remembered his tired eyes and shedding spines.
He looked back at her,
as though he knew she was following him
with her wide innocent eyes.
 

The Stag

 
Near Cloonark, I step out of my skin and follow him through the trees.
Tawny antlers rising above the grass, like church spires in a town.
Spell of velvet coat, soft wet muzzle and deep brown eyes.
I know I’d go anywhere with him, following the hazy scent of memory.
I’m drinking pure silence as he crosses the stream.
 
He is doing what he must do to survive,
stripping the bark off ash and birch trees.
He may take something that doesn’t belong to him,
kale or winter wheat, potatoes or rye.
Or perhaps what I want, another chance, another life.
 
He shows me how to wait without waiting,
to be careless of nothing and to see what I see.
Digging up the soil with his cloven hooves.
The translation of something felt,
the expanse between love and not touching.
The dark deep silence, where we dream ourselves human.
 
My life reflected in his eyes, until I see I am him,
watching him slink towards my slough,
assuming its empty folds and creases.
I found a skin like this before and hastily cast it aside ;
a thin membrane of an old reality.
I should have treated it with kindness and not disdain.
 
I walk out of the woods and the clearing gleams.
Water and words, the trail I leave behind.
He’s breathing behind me, shallow and fast.
My breath whispers like a remembered undertow ;
“here, see me as I am, dark venison flesh, warm and solid.”
 

Water Memory and other poems is © Jackie Gorman

IMG_2805Jackie Gorman is from Westmeath. Her work has featured in Bare Hands, Wordlegs, The Honest Ulsterman and later this year, her work will feature in Poetry Ireland Review, The Sentinel Literary Quarterly and Obsessed by Pipework. She has been highly commended in the Patrick Kavanagh Award and the Goldsmith Poetry Competition. She was a prize winner in the 2015 Golden Pen Poetry Competition and her work has appeared in creative writing collections, edited by Noel Monahan, Alan McMonagle and Rita Ann Higgins.

“Bow Down” at York Literary Review

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Bow Down

 
A harrowed tree
nest-ruined
tangled leaf.
 
Its bough down,
bow down
 
A-flowering-tree
 (still it flowers)
 
Submarine blue is
where dawn occurs
 (South/South-east of here)
 
Dawn’s light box runs
from north blue
to south warm
 
The point between
is lit-not-lit,
(nor) seamed
  a bas-relief.
 
Bow Down is from A Hierarchy of Halls and was first published in York Literary Review, Issue #1 2016
 

York Literary Review

“We Did Not Choose The Sea” and other poems by Philo Ikonya

Unrecorded

 
Stone music
When your music rises
from your grave in flower
and some stones quiver
and sing notes musical
I hear your voice
 
When music pricks the air
from a needle in friction
and touches the first traction
molecule of air kissing your ear
I have memories
 
When your words attach a molecule
of air to another and in you we
breathe, sing and live in hope
when we cannot forget we rise
I sing my soul your language
 
Our hair is proud and sings on air
When loving is truly spoken
It is in your ear in seconds
in your heart and mind and soul
 
Add warmth and fire to it
Your own interpretation original
Your body moves in dance
Still you rise, still you rise, dance
and fall and rise from grave in flower
 

Weave your joy

 
With the tips of your fingers
And all of you like the
Orchestra conductor knows that music
Know your body:
Its heart drum
Piano toes…
 
The epic of weavers undaunted
the road to the market is mine
my head is a carrier of universes
I know my step is in space
and those arrows you see on my cloth
have known many lights…
nights and colors
 
Recognition that ignites
when that face you see again out of nowhere comes
Suddenly feelings surge
blow and rage a real storm
inside
Heart shaken like a vessel love filled bubbles
Feel every nerve awake
Blood rush blush…
Something lost now
rare since a screen touch keeps
telling where and how you are
Soon surprise will be ancient human feeling…ouch!
 

trembling dreams

 
You wake me up each time
but I dream on with hope
You tell me children cannot
eat dreams in a poem
But when I look I see them
only clad in dreams
the only pants they wear
that you cannot tear
 
I have sat and mended endlessly
and washed with tears
things mention would tear this paper
things surfing in my soul
 
Come again, enlarge my spirit
into dreams and let me sleepwalk
and stalk in my talk so many ghosts
Until I ring my bell of peace
and you fall out of your fantasy
and see saints sainting without fainting
 

We did not choose the sea

philo 6.1.2014
 
When we found them washed ashore
they were barely alive but still breathing
We spoke for the voiceless they
said, many times, and now speak to us
and for us and with us share this breath
 
We shuddered at life’s turns and twists
when the madding crowd kicked them hard
They slave them again, they do, their voices
deadly drilling the stones so alone intone
 

Longing

 
Solitary times teach
so loudly that silence
grows so deep and speaks
a new language: And now
Let me see my love, let me
hear my hope, touch my faith
Let me taste our belonging in fragrance
It has been so long and I have
a new alphabet to share with life
 

Come

 
You come closest
to my chest and tell
me in my own tongue
that you are my latest thought
the fount sings unending
the ocean rises as the rivers dry
and we see the stones still
washing and washed
 
Humans never understood
color then, never not in
all those matches in design
Not in all those pastels in
cake and bathroom tiles
 
Not in all that whiteness
and darkness in the broods of life
We so challenged by the sun
without which we wither
think
color must be bright
and I know
that we have not understood color
Cold
We have not got it in color
We attach to it not the warm sound
that leave our mouths to cut the air
frightened of it we are when it rains
purple
and now we know that sign
like we have worshipped the rainbow
for years
 

Round the rock

 
Roots then finding
their way blindly down
trying you
to pass they go this way
and that
through soils find you
and hug you
 
You sing to them the
song of beginnings you
play for them the sound
of the music of their birth
the sign of life
Do not be sad you are
not in a foreign land you tell
them as they move
 
Rain
falling finds those still
thrusting roots
 
Yours of stone
you have them
and the roots of a tree
carrying generations into
this other freedom so hidden from
our eyes
that the place of gray we think
but we never understood
 
Here to go everyone has a visa
given by the first cry, you life and
friction before in your forbearers
Here to go everyone is in song
 
Hug us rock and break us
as we broke you, break our wood
and if we are ashes, kiss us rock
and let your hardness be the crook
of Our Mother’s arm, so soft
 
We Did Not Choose The Sea and other poems are © Philo Ikonya

downloadPhilo Ikonya is a writer, lecturer and human rights activist. She is the President of PEN Kenya. She taught semiotics at Tangaza College and Spanish at the United States International University in Nairobi. She graduated in Literature and Linguistics (The University of Nairobi) before reading philosophy in Spain and Italy. She worked as an editor for Oxford University Press (Eastern Africa). Born in Kenya, Philo speaks Kiswahili, Gikuyu, English, Spanish and some Norsk. She has a grasp of Italian and French. Philo is a mother of one. She is currently living in exile in Norway.
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Her fiction includes two novels, Leading the Night and Kenya, will you marry me? She has published three poetry anthologies: This Bread of Peace, (Lapwing) Belfast, Ireland, and Out of Prison- Love Songs translated into German (Aus dem Gefangnis Liebesgesange). Philo is a Pan-Africanist.
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-from PEN: http://www.pen-international.org/who-we-are/board/philo-ikonya/#sthash.tasg0SKN.dpuf