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.

Notes on the half-hidden, Thimblerig by Annette Skade

Annette-Cover-1-212x300

Thimblerig by Annette Skade

Bradshaw Books 2013

63 pages


Notes on the half-hidden

Annette Skade’s debut collection Thimblerig was published by Bradshaw Books in 2013. Thimblerig is a collection of some 53 poems on themes of family, familial history, and on the poetic striving for voice. Skade’s sub-thematic flow, her buried themes, are brought out using the symbolism of light,  and of the natural world that surrounds her.

Skade is at her best as a writer and recorder of history and tale, her preoccupations are carried through the text as light-maps. She uses the symbols of the caul, the moth, and the cord (as rope, umbilicus, even as muscle ). Her symbols often denote boundary both in the  physical and in the emotional sense.  

Women play an important role in Skade’s familial tracery, her bloodline. Thimblerig is dedicated to Skade’s mother and to her daughter. In Thimblerig Skade’s grandmother forms the apex of the matrilineal pyramid, appearing in The Caul

The Caul

She was born with a caul on her face.
The mid-wife said it was good luck,
cut away the membrane,
examined its milky translucence
and placed it in tissue to be kept.
Her father sold it to a sailor
as a charm against drowning.

All her life she loved chiffon scarves.
Its my belief she missed
part of herself sold away.

p 11 Thimblerig

Family tales are held together with fine wisps of poetry which will transmogrify into light. Annette Skade uses light to map her history and to create boundaries of safety in which to enclose and keep family safe. There is an element of ephemeral about her use of light which she has developed into a fine sense in the beautiful Oak Grove,

Oak Grove

I draw a ring
around this house:

snail shell
harbour
omphalos

Strophe, antistrophe:
from oak to oak,
bin to bench,
winter green to herb,
washing line, shed.

Tread the seasons,
serve the sickle moon,
observe it spring,
orange, low on a dark sea.

A rope of days, twined strong,
to ward off the stranger,
the letter come to dispossess.

Oak Grove answers to A Map of My House In Terms Of Light, where the poet shows her reader the physical interior of the home traced with light: as impermanent, subject to deep loss and to necessary change. The exterior ring of protection and enclosure traced by the poet belies the move to drift of the lives of those she means to protect and to keep. those that are within the home:

To plot all changes
from dawn to dusk
and through each season,
I need many such maps
an atlas of light.

from  A Map of My House In Terms Of Light, Thimblerig.

Skade is always striving to make her meaning through her use of symbol. In one poem here she has capped a false tail onto the work Papyrus Fragment forcing her ending too soon. Skade deserves a broader canvas for her imaginative play, which she will follow through with in her next collection.

Two moth poems occupy the ground where the poets strives to examine the vulnerability of her existence. I wanted to look at these closer because they form the penates and laertes of the collection and of the poet’s thematic concerns. These are Papyrus Fragment and Restless.

Restless

A hundred moths made a lattice
on blue-black window pane,
some the size of wrens
others torn corners of paper:
a nightly frantic race of wings.

Papyrus Fragment

It darts, bares a blaze
of underwing to plain sight;
this endless fragile need
to make a mark,
to come to light.

Skade’s investigation of nature is where she triumphs as in Solstice Rose. This poem and Oak Grove in particular show a poet who is  an imagist. A perfect image is accomplished in thirteen brief words,

Solstice Rose

Thorn switches
cage
a single yellow bud,
clenched
against wind whips:
a sundrop.


Crown Of Thorns by Bethany W Pope


Crown of Thorns by Bethany W. Pope

Oneiros Books 2013

Crown Of Thorns by Bethany W. Pope is published under the Oneiros Books imprint. This is not an easy book to read. Ultimately it is a tale of triumph against war, where  war is child sexual abuse, rejection, and alienation. Throughout Crown Of Thorns there is a sense of profound hope and strong unshakeable faith.

Bethany Pope uses an imagery and symbolism in Crown of Thorns that is bloody, battered, estranged, and sometimes terrifying. Corridors, umbilici, and torn flesh form the vast part of the imagery, with water and earth less spoken but always present. Crown Of Thorns is a testament of survival and endurance sited in a complex construction that requires some explanation.

Divisions in Crown Of Thorns

There are four major divisions in Crown Of Thorns, Crown of Thorns, House Of Masks, Rabbit Trap, and Bloodlines: An Emperor’s Crown. Within each division are series of poems excavating both familial and personal history. The series are broken into sonnet groups, some of which are acrostic.

The opening section of the book eponymously titled Crown Of Thorns comprises two separate threads (or cords) Joy and John. The section is 15 sonnets long, alternating between two groups of seven sonnets under each heading that become entwined in Sonnet #15. Crown Of Thorns forms the foundation of the book proper. The major themes of survival and abuse are herein introduced.

The themes of this opening section of the book are taken up throughout the other previously named divisions, House of Masks,  Rabbit Trap and Bloodlines. Pope maintains a careful balance in the foundational and introductory parts of her book. She explores and ultimately accepts the damage of war on the body, and its survival in the final part of the book Bloodlines: An Emperor’s Crown.

Pope has intricately embroidered her major themes throughout the fabric of the book. She will pick up and repeat phrases in different sonnets, most especially in  Bloodlines: An Emperor’s Crown, which is more assured and deftly handled than the earlier sections. Bloodlines is cumulative, thus the most difficult set of themes to render poetically.

The achievement of this book is for the writer, who has honed her craft to attain her mature poetic voice. This, she achieves through her use of structure, structural underpinning in the form of acrostic sonnets, and a developed use of symbolism that interweaves its way through each titled or numbered section. The use of  the symbolism of the umbilicus, the corridor, the tunnel, the eye , and water is very evident in the final section of the book through Crown 2: The Ancestors, Crown 3: Alchemy, and Blood Jewels. These named sections form the final part of the book, titled Bloodlines, An Emperor’s Crown.

Symbols In Crown of Thorns

Crown Of Thorns is set out as a Bildungsroman, or more properly a pilgrimage. The book is confessional, as it is a testament of victory over war. War is the torn body and soul of the victim of child abuse, war in the experience of neglect and poverty. The deepest victory is in Pope’s admittance to herself that the battle is never entirely won. It begins anew each day with the ‘Dream that bursts when eyelids open.’

Some of Pope’s material is traumatic to read and to think about. Her most intense victory therefore is in how she has achieved compression of her traumatic themes through her use of poetic form, and in how she has explored and set out those themes through sure use of symbol.

Soil, earth, water and the dark blood of birthing mingle their acids into an existence that is always questing for right and truth. The umbilicus, that dark binding cord of ancestry binds the victims of family through change of place and of time,

13.

‘The corridors run, binding us together
out of glistening blue and red wires.’

Crown 3: Alchemy (Bloodlines)

Bloodlines makes liberal use of the acrostic form spelling out a history, which I read as an SOS. Bethany is born, only purity is my tough refusal to, sell my poor soul, and so on. It is a morse-code of distress hammered into sonnets of sure structure and strong voice. I found myself trying to avoid the acrostics as much as possible to get to the meat of the work, although the acrostic sonnets form the tough outer skin of the poetry- the rind.

Joy: Thorns

Growing flesh around the darkened hole death springs from,
the bark hardens around the hollow in the bole,
the secret place you love for no known reason.
Dressed in a chiton, playing the role of nymphic
servant to unseen Pan, you slide into the loamy darkness,
your wood-rot scented hide. Adolescent haunches
squat in soft soil. You have a shepherd’s pie you bought
with two week’s allowance. Treated bamboo and garish
dyed bands, producing a sound your mind makes melodious.
The tree speaks with the borrowed breath of a wounded girl.
Saturday is for hiding, drawing strength from the earth.
Sundays still belong to grampy, his evil, elderly
entitlement; right of patriarchy to penetrate
beyond the heart of innocence, which grows no armor-bark.

by Bethany W Pope