“Wending” and other Poems by Allis Hamilton

Mrs. Piper

after Pied Piper of Hamelin
 
He came home with that wooden whistle
one blustery winter’s day.
 
Said he found it on the snow
at the crossroads of Hamelin and Coppenbrügge.
 
It was just lying there he said.
He learned to play it fast enough,
 
one could well say he was a natural.
But I got rather fed up with his playing here in the cave.
 
It bounced off the stonewalls and I could get no work done,
so I sent him out.
 
The first time my husband returned after a day out
with that whistle, it was flies that followed him.
 
All a-buzz in swarms like swallows on a summer’s eve.
Next it was the worms slithering along behind him
 
like one enormous python.
He used them to catch us plenty of fish.
 
When he brought home the rats,
that was quite something.
 
I smoked the meat from most of them;
we had a winter’s worth of food.
 
And I tanned their skins of course;
they made for wonderful shoe warmers.
 
But when he brought home all of those children,
that was something else altogether.
 
Published in The Australian Poetry Journal 2015 Issue 5 No. 1,
Edited by Michael Sharkey
 

The Fottie

 
Often we saw her walking the hushed hills,
making her way among sheep-worn heather.
Her feet shod in the skin of lambs – lambs
 
whose dead eyes knew the pecking beak of crow.
Always she was wrapped in her tan and green shawl,
her hair as wild as night.
 
She collected clutches of wool caught in clumps of hawthorn,
tangled in clusters of heather, blown by winds’ fierce breath
onto thistle-thorn. Sometimes digging roots with a broken antler
 
on the burn’s steep brae where the roe deer spar.
She gathered lichen long grown on granite rocks; picked
yellow flowers off gorse with small careful fingers,
 
placing them like stolen kisses into her apron pocket.
We villagers wondered what she did with her collection,
she, as shy as fox, as quiet as grass.
 
After we found her beautiful body beaten blue
by the bashing burn – washed up on the banks
from a tremendous storm – we discovered her craft.
 
She had woven exquisite colourful, detailed tapestries
that covered the walls of her crumbling croft.
There it all was, the stories of our lives as seen from her eyes:
 
Missus Brodie and her black-eyed triplets, husband long dead
at the horns of a boar; Johnny the knocker with his four-fingered
hand standing by the blacksmith fire; laird Edward McIntosh
 
with his mistress Missus MacLeish laying deep in the shade
of a willow grove; Claire and Norma trading goats’ milk
in sloshing metal pails, sometimes for more than money;
 
Albert and Dave climbing down a tall Scots pine,
crows’ eggs in their mouths running, late for school;
and there was myself, my brown eyes wide, looking
longingly towards her.
 
Fottie is a female wool-gatherer.
 
Published in Painted Words 2015, a BRIT TAFE Anthology,
Edited by Professional Writing and Editing Students
 

Wending

 
On a grey rainy day, a cuckoo bird comes to a tree at my window.
At irregular intervals it hammers among fat drops falling on the flat tin roof.
 
Uncurling the sleeping cat from my lap, I walk out into the misty sky to try and find
the feathered form. Given a choice I would live forever in a day like this: wet, grey,
 
visited by birds singing their intricate songs. I would read stories of bicycle rides
and embroider the thoughts of a honey bee. It takes me days to wash off
 
the nagging world, rinsing and rinsing until finally I find my own skin.
Though I just can’t seem to find that bird that is hammering.
 
Published in Plumwood Mountain, Volume 3, Number 1,
Edited by Tricia Dearborn
 

White-necked (Pacific) Heron,

Ardea pacifica
 
Still
as stone you stand
on long leather legs
in water older than stars
 
As stone you stand
keeping patience
in water older than stars
lapping the lips of the lagoon
 
Keeping patience
your incremental movements
lap the lips of the lagoon
more monk than bird
 
Your incremental movements
clues to the source of stillness
more monk than bird
head bowed collecting prey
 
Clues to the source of stillness
serpent-necked fisherman
head bowed collecting prey
using shadow as ally
 
Serpent-necked fisherman
your charcoal cape enshrouds
using shadow as ally
a trick the sunshine taught
 
Your charcoal cape enshrouds
scrying water’s soft underbelly
a trick the sunshine taught
from the sky’s open lid
 
Scrying water’s soft underbelly
beak poised as a precise knife
under the sky’s open lid
waiting
 
On long leather legs
still
 
Published as part of the Bimblebox 153 Birds, An Australian touring exhibition
Compiled by Jill Sampson
 

Wince

 
Amanda eats ants
underneath the cherry tree,
placing the acrid
green biters
on her wet
flinching tongue
 
Published in The Caterpillar Issue 12 Spring 2016
Edited by Will Govan
 
“Wending” and other poems is © Allis Hamilton

Allis Hamilton in LightAllis Hamilton lives in a small, hand-built shack powered by the sun, in regional Australia where she scampers barefoot over rocks. She creates poetry, art, and music. She was an acrobat and classical musician until a brain haemorrhage put a stop to that. Allis is a co-convener of PoetiCas, her town’s poetry readings. Some of her poems live in Australian Poetry Journal, The Caterpillar, Plumwood Mountain, among other places.

The Story Telling Tent

“Cuween Chambered Cairn” and other poems by Tim Miller

Cuween Chambered Cairn

 
I should go on my hands and knees to you,
you farmers from five thousand years ago.
Even though your skulls are no longer here
or the small skulls of your two dozen dogs,
in retrospect I realize how wise
I was, dipping in and out of your dark
—the familiar main chamber and three rooms—
to never pause in all my picture-taking
to never stop and extinguish the light
to have found you at the end of the day,
so that we were tired and a bit rushed.
Something like the terror at what went on here
would have overwhelmed me in the moment,
the seriousness of generations
which I only became aware of later:
like an ancient fireplace still smudged with smoke,
our shoulders were soiled from the gloom on your hands.
 

Horses on Orkney

 
Horses curled in the flaming spiral of sleep,
the huge immensity of their bodies
 
belied by the blankets they wear, or the
tight scroll they twist themselves into on the ground,
 
an enormity suddenly made small
or at least passive, compact, the coiled braid
 
of body closer to tree or landscape,
the tilted, chiseled head nearer to stone
 
or steel or something pulled from the fire,
some monument to just how this place works
 
that you do not escape the wind, but dream in it.
 

Dedalus & Icarus

 
The old craftsman came to Cumae after
a long life of art and flight, love and theft,
came alone to the Sibyl’s Italian shore
wasted with age and reputation
 
to the one who knew every alphabet,
the seeress who saw the future in driven leaves.
And warped with the same old age as him,
she asked that he carve her sanctuary.
 
His bent wrinkled body covered in dust,
he hammers and carves and polishes away
all of the horrors let loose from his hands:
his dead nephew; the bull-impregnated
 
woman and its awful issue; the youths
brought from Mycenae for its food; the slave
girl’s love that bore him a son, and the love
he took pity on that imprisoned them both—
 
he strikes them away and leaves them on the wall,
all of them and so much more envy and
revenge and awe at his talents, hammered
forgotten. But not his son. Twice he’s tried
 
to let him go, as the sky did before
the sea took him; twice he’s tried to fashion
his face or his descent or his youthful limbs
or just his eyes, and twice he’s stopped in tears.
 

Skara Brae

 
Follow the alley of flagstones
to a slab door of wood or rock,
locked with a shaped bar of whalebone.
Inside, opposite the door, a
dresser stacked with pottery, wool,
beads of bone and shell, or pendants
of whale’s teeth or the ivory tusks
of walrus or boar. The hearth is
central, the hearth is heat and light
and the cooking of all that’s caught:
mutton and venison, gannet
and golden plover and lobster,
eel and salmon and mussel, cod
and crab and pork, gull and scallop.
Wild berries fill the belly too,
wild cherries, hazelnut, honey,
some form of fermented plant for beer,
or the richness of cows and goats.
Near the hearth, a tank for fish bait,
while beds and shelves curl around,
around the fire fueled by seaweed,
and beneath the rafters of whale ribs.
 

There’s one building with no bedding,
but still a hearth, always a hearth,
no metal yet and only stone,
only wood and bone: blades, mattocks,
whistles, fine points or polishers,
all undertaken so near the sea
(but not so near as the sea is now),
generations of food-waste, ash,
dung, bones, broken pottery, shells,
or rope of crowberries—centuries
of families, layers of houses
stacked like rock atop each other,
farmers farming, hunters hunting,
a nameless North Sea and a still
nameless wind giving sound and flavor
to the landscape and the prized lives
that prompted those circles of stone,
that made an occasion of a
hill or loch, coast or height or isthmus.
 
Through the unknown, unremembered gate
we found the village and the bay
another excuse for green and blue,
five thousand years to our first world,
having flown far to propitiate
those who may have sailed from the south
to this true north, treeless and edged like a blade.
 

Robert Oppenheimer

 
Now I come to write in light and fire,
in a language of power we all know,
beyond every letter and poetry
and all the dithering of philosophy,
all the prevarication of politics.
The physicists have known sin, it’s true,
but also the brilliance of a burden
overcome in the brittle mountains,
a foul display that was beyond awesome,
beyond my conscience but still atop it:
in less than a second tens of thousands
turned to piles of boiled organs and black char,
the burnt but still living running for the
cisterns or the boiled, dead-crowded rivers.
 
News of a flood or an earthquake makes me
think of myself, since the questions usually
given to heaven are now tendered to me,
and its silence is something like my own:
any remorse is just ridiculous
and any warning is usefully late,
since I’ve already handled God’s fuel.
I cannot keep from swagger, or from mourning:
this knowledge a weight you will never know,
and with it a satisfaction, a pride:
numbers and elements resolved into
a thing that worked, but never should again.
 

⊕ Bone Antler Stone (Museum Pieces) by Tim Miller

Cuween Chambered Cairn” and other poems are © Tim Miller

IMG_4352Tim 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 www.wordandsilence.com.

“Eve Labouring for 37 Hours; the yes poem” at Levure Littéraire 12

ring

Eve labouring for 37 hours; the yes poem

 
Great
Monumental
Eve in pain.
 
Will bring
Forth a Cain /
Abel
Cannibal.
 
Exhausted stretch
rather/rather/rather
rather/rather/rather
dilate/ than die/ yes.
 
So just. Sous justice.
En vertu de la justice,
pour :
 
(‘In sorrow you shall bring forth children’)
 
Face. Yes. Present. Yes. Hands.
Yes. His image,
Who conjured it?
 
Mouth of dry twigs
The/sticks/stones
Bones/buttons
 
a knee-piece/skulls.
 
There are piles of skulls
pushing through my grimacing cunt,
 
All the pretty things,
stones/bones/buttons
a knee-piece/ skulls
 
Sous justice.
 
Merci !
 

The Burning Tree

 
Mineral planes impinge
surface embed glares red,
 
deep red.
A scarlet arrow
burns out on my white tile,
and cools.
 
The Burning-
Years’ round brings Rothko light
– Tree.
 
Glass stained is a bloody
transparency.
 
Sun brings up the silica
right to its surfaces,
where they may glitter
their red sparks.
 

Willow

 
Willow’s wooded music is hollow,
dead, or veiled.
She awaits yellow spring.
 
Willow is first to don it.
 
A tree,
plain and ordinary.
 
“Eve Labouring for 37 Hours; the yes poem” at Levure Littéraire 12 & other poems are © C. Murray

I am very grateful to Carmen-Francesca Banciu for publishing my group of poems at Levure Litteraire 12.
 

Image by Leonard Baskin

Image by Leonard Baskin

From the editorial: The Camps of Resistance and Fields of Consciousness, is the theme of this issue. A wide field! A multifaceted theme that addresses many aspects of our time. When we chose this theme, we did not yet realize that the future contributions would be so inspired by the present and focus on specific aspects, such as (e)migration, exile, escape.The drama of flight, losing one´s home and a country – but even the ambivalent feelings toward the refugees- are the main aspects that have emerged from our topic. Many of our writers have dealt with the theme in an artistic, essayistic, philosophical form.

Impressive contributions resulted. Among others, even interdisciplinary projects were created, such as the cooperation between the Irish-American writer Emer Martin and the Indian-American artist Moitreyee Chowdhury, a joint video art, poetry and painting contribution. Or the contributions from Gesine Palmer, Sabine Haupt, Peter O’Neill – just to name a few out of the abundance of outstanding contributions.

Some contributions deal with the fear of the ever-increasing amount of war zones and therewith the consequences. Among others, the war zones heavily influenced by religion that endanger humanity by forcing them to act in violence, protest or to flee. The fear of new wars, violence–and terrorism. Implicit questions are asked about the consequences of war and poverty that result from the mass migration. The fear of the established political systems and lifestyles collapsing. The fear of cultures, religions and interests colliding and clashing. But also the aftereffects of ecological exploitation and natural disasters.

“The Middle of April” by Fióna Bolger

The Middle of April

 
After Robert Hass
 
i
whan that Aprille with his shoures soote
the droghte of March hath perced to the roote

my grandfather quotes
Chaucer from the vinyl
 
ii
he knows more now
we will too soon
 
iii
in the spring
pelmet of green
 
in the summer
scarf of orange
 
in the autumn
shawl of white
 
iv
bamboos knock out a tune
until disturbed by elephants
grazing, discarding as they go
 
v
The dangers lie in the jugular. No one really likes the smell of elephant poo but it makes paper of a high quality. Words written on digested bamboo. Nothing is lost between page and palm. That is mystery: pen, ink, paper, thread, card, dream, word. A memory clings like the smell of dung. And there are always fibres
 
vi
let there be peace between us
let us learn together
om santhi santhi santhi
 
vi
there’s no shit like
your own shit
 
vii
And instead of entering the reserve forest we wandered through the village. The tea shop sold weak milky tea. We heard them, small black cows with bells around their necks. People warned us an elephant herd was nearby. We found their still steaming dung. This was all free and unreserved.
 
viii
the green mango is sour
best eaten karam with vellum
 
Nagpur loose jackets are rare now
orange trees cut to grow apartments
 
the iron red soil of Niyamgiri
woven into the shawl
 
ix
Here are some things to eat from a banana leaf: idli, dhosa, uttapam, appam, idiappam, sambhar, rasam, chutney, chutney podi, kozhikattai, thair saddam, thokku, chappatti, parratta, puri, anna saru, chakra pongal, ven pongal. Ungaishtam sapdingo… Eat your desire.
 
x
still searching
for the man in the cafe
 
xi
silk saree
 
xii
she said: ask them
and he said: no
she said: why is it
like this?
he said: nothing
she said: no
he said:
 
xiii
theyn kuricha nari
the fox who has drunk honey
 
xiv
and from vinyl I learned
He loves you, yeah, yeah…
Did you happen to see….
myself in those songs?
 
xv
agni nakshetram –
water tastes sweet
as mango juice trickles
from finger tip to hand
to elbow and bathed every veyne
in swich licour, of which vertu
engendered is the flour
 
The Middle of April is © Fióna Bolger

fiona bolgerFióna Bolger’s work has appeared in Southword, The Brown Critique, Can Can, Boyne Berries, Poetry Bus, The Chattahoochee Review, Bare Hands Poetry Anthology, The Indian Muse and others. Her poems first appeared in print 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 in 2013. Her work has been translated into Irish, Tamil and Polish reflecting the journey her life has taken.
 
She is a facilitator at Dublin Writers’ Forum and a member of Airfield Writers. She works as a creative mentor with Uversity MA in Creative Process. She lives between Dublin and Chennai.
 
from The Geometry of Love Between the Elements (Poethead)

Excerpts from ‘The Muddy Banks’ by Michael S. Begnal

Uptown

 
1.
 
Yellow and crimson leaves, the sidewalks and streets,
leaves of vines clinging to tree trunks
and brick buildings, concrete staircases overgrown
with weeds and roots—
 
vines cling on tree trunks, brick buildings are
concrete things, dwellings of a dead mind,
dwelling-places of a vanished mind
that stained such things as this—
 
dwellings of a vanished mind, saw someone,
saw things, broken windows, crimson leaves,
mansards, toilets whose porcelain is stained
and rough, whose water ran—
 
broken windows saw the concrete staircase below,
its iron handrail rust like leaves,
its steps buckled and cracked with roots and weeds,
hacking coughs—
 
window broken to the cold, saw someone hacking
over the porcelain stained rough like leaves,
a mind vanishes, someone vanishes
in a cold apartment where the toilet runs—
 
a dwelling-place is empty but of concrete things,
broken panes, a toilet’s porcelain dry and rough,
a mind has vanished down a concrete staircase,
across the highway, to the cold river
 

Uptown

 
3.
 
Snow on one of the two
blue steel arches
of the Birmingham Bridge
blue-green, white, and splattered
with rust, the snow sour curdled milk
 
sheets of broken ice
floating in the Monongahela,
pieces accrued together
in frozen geometries
of white-grey on grey-green
 
empty trees de-veiled,
the South Side hills in snow, and
from beyond that distance,
from beyond the hills,
from beyond other ridges,
 
announcement, an announcement:
 
  I bring news,
  a stag lows,
  winter snows,
  summer has died
 
  high wind cold,
  sun is low,
  short its track,
  river a riptide
 
  the ferns all red,
  a shape concealed,
  a goose rises,
  ancient its voice
 
  cold takes hold
  of birds’ wings:
  a time of ice
  is my news
 
These excerpts from The Muddy Banks (Ghost City Press, 2016) are © Michael S. Begnal,

Note: “Uptown” section 3, lines 17-32 (beginning with the line “I bring news” and continuing through “is my news”), is my translation of an anonymous 9th-century Irish poem beginning “Scél lemm duib. . .” (which also appears on a t-shirt made by An Spailpín Fánach).


⊕ Purchase Link for The Muddy Banks by Michael S. Begnal

Mike S. Begnal Michael S. Begnal has published the collections Future Blues (Salmon Poetry, 2012) and Ancestor Worship (Salmon Poetry, 2007), as well as the chapbook Mercury, the Dime (Six Gallery Press, 2005). Formerly editor of The Burning Bush literary magazine and formerly longtime Galway resident, Begnal’s work has appeared in numerous journals and anthologies and has been nominated for a Pushcart Prize.

Contacts for Michael S. Begnal: