Excerpts from ‘microliths’ by Paul Celan

from ‘Microliths’

 

161

Re­membering
also pre­membering, pre­thinking and storing of what could be

Yeats: I certainly owe more to that poet than to Fr. surreal.

Strange. In front of a candle
Now I tried to render visible the grain of sand (Buber, Chass. — //Nibelungens[on]g) that had to have been sunk into me too at some time.
Mother, candles, sabbath
But the poem lead me out of this idea, across to a new level with this idea

162

162.1 ­

It is part of poetry’s essential features that it releases the poet, its crown witness and confidant, from their shared knowledge once it has taken on form.  (If it were different, there would barely be a poet who could take on the responsibility of having written more than one poem.)

162.2

—Poetry as event
Event = truth (“unhiddenness,” worked, fought for unhiddeness)
Poetry as risk
Creation = /power­activity /Gewalt­tätigkeit (Heidegger)
Truth ≠ accuracy (­i­: consistency)

–in each first word of a poem the whole of  language gathers itself —
–handiwork: hand / think through connections
such as “hand and heart”
handiwork — heartwork

Beginning: “Poetry as handiwork”? The handmade crafting of  poetry?

About ‘Microliths’at Jacket2 Magazine
About ‘Microliths’ at Poetry Foundation.

I would like to thank Pierre Joris for his translation of Microliths. These translations are © Pierre Joris 



Once

Once
I heard him
he was washing the world,
unseen, nightlong, real.

One and infinite,
annihilated,
ied.

Light was. Salvation.

From  Fathomsuns and Benighted  by Paul Celan (translated by Ian Fairley for Carcanet Books) (1991) 



Paul Celan related texts by Pierre Joris

   Threadsuns by Paul Celan translated by Pierre Joris

 

The Meridian

Final Version—Drafts—Materials  (2011) PAUL CELAN EDITED BY BERNHARD BÖSCHENSTEIN AND HEINO SCHMULL TRANSLATED BY PIERRE JORIS SERIES: MERIDIAN: CROSSING AESTHETICS

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Breathturn into Timestead: The Collected Later Poetry: A Bilingual Edition (German Edition) (German) Hardcover – December 2, 2014

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Further Reading on Paul Celan

Pierre Joris websites and articles

Celan/ Heidegger: Translation at the mountain of death; on translating “Todtnauberg” by Pierre Joris
On the Translation of Later Poems by Paul Celan by Pierre Joris (Harriet/ Poetry Foundation & blog)
Paul Celan and the Meaning of Language; An Interview with Pierre Joris (Interview; Doug Valentine, Flahpoint Mag)
Celan the aphorist (Nomadics Blog, Pierre Joris) Original article at Jacket2 Magazine
On Poethead: Once, Irish & (Todesfuge translated by John Felstiner).

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A Celebration of Irish Women Poets on Bloomsday 2017

“Canal Walk Home” by Gillian Hamill

 
What is it
About the power
of the water
To heal hurts
 
Three lads sit on the boardwalk
They hardly look like delicate sorts.
And yet they gaze out
Contemplate
The rushing rippling mottles of the
Undulating lake
Can soothe souls.
 
Car lights are reflected in
Striking streaks, always dappling
Buzzy thrill of
Modern pyrotechnics
In the most basic of
Science laws.
 
Edged by banking sycamore leaves
I took one and put it in my pocket
To describe it better.
The smell of its earthy salt and bark
Present.
And the bare elegance
Of stripped black branches
Spearing themselves into the night air
Soldered into the genesis
Of life
And yes they are
Wild quiet.
 
A little further on
There’s a piece of street art says
Only the river runs free
And maybe that’s the attraction
Of this portal into liberty.
 
And then to gaze down the row
Through Camden Street from Portobello
The multi-potted chimney tops
Sophisticated lego bricks
Pricked by the Edwardian arc
Of ornate street lights.
 
The red car lights more dense
The further in you go
Speeding up into
A crescendo
Of urban adrenalin
As if in a movie
And the cameras were moving in
Drawing you in
Crackle.
 
Crackle
Quick, quick slow
Travelling
Boom
in.
 
For all your talk
Of dalliances with the dark
Don’t you know that they are
One and the same.
 
The splendour of the curvature of the
veins in a leaf’s skin
Echoed with variations
Of trickled threads of gold.
Are as a naked woman’s
Crystallised spine
Waiting for your touch
Nymph and nature
They are one and the same.
 
But purity
Glorying in freedom
In liberated breeze
There is no need for
Shame.
 
“Canal Walk Home” is © Gillian Hamill

Originally from the village of Eglinton in Derry, Gillian Hamill has lived in Dublin for the past 12 years (intermingled with stints in Galway, Waterford and Nice). She has a BA in English Studies from Trinity College, Dublin and a MA in Journalism from NUI Galway. She is currently the editor of trade publication, ShelfLife magazine and has acted in a number of theatre productions. Gillian started writing poetry in late 2014.
 
⊗ Gillian’s Website

 


 

“The Welcome” by Freda Laughton

 
Awaits no solar quadriga,
But a musty cab,
Whose wheels revolving spiders scare
Pigeons from plump pavanes among the cobbles.
 
Past the green and yellow grins
Of bold advertisements
On the walls of the Temple of Arrivals and Departures,
(Due homage to the puffing goddesses
 
Stout, butting with iron bosoms),
We drive, and watch
The geometry of the Dublin houses
Circle and square themselves; march orderly;
 
Past the waterfalls of lace dripping
Elegantly in tall windows;
Under a sun oblique above the streets’
Ravines; and past the river,
 
Like the slippery eel of Time,
Eluding us; eight miles clopping
Behind the horses rump to where
The mouth of Dublin gulps at the sea.
 
And there beside the harbour
And the Castle,
And the yellow rocks and the black-beaked gulls,
The piebald oyster-catchers, limpets, lobster-pots,
 
There is a house with a child in it,
Two cats like ebony
(Or liquorice); and a kitten with a face
Like a black pansy, a bunch of fronded paws;
 
And a dog brighter than a chestnut, –
A house with a bed
Like an emperor’s in it, –
It is late. Let us pay the cabman and go in.
 

“The Welcome” is © Freda Laughton

Freda Laughton was born in Bristol in 1907 and moved to Co. Down after her marriage. She published one collection of poetry, A Transitory House (1945) but little else is known about her life and work. She may have lived in Dublin for sometime, as her poem The Welcome details the textures of Dublin City and its suburbs, and suggests she knows the city by heart. Her date of death is unknown. Freda Laughton’s poems were submitted by Emma Penney, a graduate of the Oscar Wilde Centre, Trinity College Dublin. Her thesis, Now I am a Tower of Darkness: A Critical History of Poetry by Women in Ireland, challenges the critical reception of Eavan Boland and the restrictive criteria, developed in the 1970’s, under which poetry by women in Ireland has been assessed. She considers the subversive nature of women’s poetry written between 1921 and 1950, and calls into question the critical assumption that Eavan Boland represents “the first serious attempt in Ireland to make a body of poems that arise out of the contemporary female consciousness”. In Object Lessons, Boland concluded that there were no women poets before her who communicated “an expressed poetic life” in their work. Emma’s thesis reveals how this view has permeated the critical landscape of women’s poetry, facilitating an absurd privation of the history of poetry by women in Ireland and simplifying it in the process.

Interview with Emma Penney
Dear Freda, Your Poems are being discussed on Jacket2 Magazine

 


 

“Nurture” by Liz Quirke

 
In the nine months I didn’t nourish you,
I made notes, I studied the seasons
for ingredients to encourage your growth.
Scraps of paper, post-its hidden
in case anyone would view my thoughts,
pity my trivia of leaves and berries.
 
A mom yet not a mother,
a woman yet not a woman.
My preparation took place in private,
not in maternity wards or hospital corridors,
but in the hallways of my mind
where I could put up pictures, time lines,
fill cork boards with plans.
 
As the folic acid built your brain stem
I collated ideas to stimulate it further,
mapped journeys for us,
paths we could walk together,
a staggered relay to start
when your other mother
passed your tiny form to me.
 
And I could see myself holding your hand,
using my limbs to scaffold the structure
your mother put so beautifully in place.
I am your mom without the biology of mothering.
All I have for you is my heart, my brain, my lists of things,
all but those nine months when I was waiting.
 
(first published in New Irish Writing in The Irish Times)

“Nurture” is © Liz Quirke

Originally from Tralee, Co. Kerry, Liz Quirke lives in Spiddal, Co Galway with her wife and daughters. Her poetry has appeared in various publications, including New Irish Writing in the The Irish Times, Southword, Crannóg, The Stony Thursday Book and Eyewear Publishing’s The Best New British and Irish Poets 2016. She was the winner of the 2015 Poems for Patience competition and in the last few years has been shortlisted for the Cúirt New Writing Prize and a Hennessy Literary Award. Her debut collection Biology of Mothering will be published by Salmon Poetry in Spring 2018.
 
https://bogmanscannon.com/2016/04/02/fall-at-33-weeks-by-liz-quirke/

 


 

“Detail” by Rachel Coventry

 
The world is full stretched,
and sick with possibility.
You find yourself in a gallery
ill with heat and standing.
Waiting for some man
to play his ridiculous hand.
So bored of art, but then
forced into wakefulness
by the feet of Diego Velazquez’
Cristo Crucificado. All suffering
now upon you and you
bear it because you have to.
 
First published in the Stony Thursday Book

“Detail” is © Rachel Coventry

Rachel Coventry’s poetry has appeared in many journals including Poetry Ireland Review, The SHop, Cyphers, The Honest Ulsterman and The Stony Thursday Book. She was selected for the Poetry Ireland Introductions Series in 2014. In 2016 she won the Galway University Hospitals Arts Trust Annual Poetry Competition and was short-listed for the Patrick Kavanagh Poetry Award. She is currently writing a PhD on Heidegger’s poetics at NUIG. Her debut collection is forthcoming from Salmon Poetry.

“Going Dutch” by Seanín Hughes

 
I cut my teeth on you;
let enamel tear
through the warm pink tissue
of adolescence.
 
I bared my legs, but
bent them inward,
dressed them in angles
in case you found them
too soft, too fleshy.
You didn’t (they weren’t).
 
I kept my hair down
so subtle shadows fell
where cheekbones might be,
stolen symmetry, in case
you realised I wasn’t
pretty enough. You didn’t (I was).
 
We’d play pool –
I never won (I never cared) –
and eat chips on the way home;
you paid your way and
I paid mine, and I never needed
to wear my coat (I did), until
 
that one night when
you didn’t walk me home,
the night I fell asleep and
you cut your teeth on me,
the ones you lied through (you did),
and I paid in full.
 

“Going Dutch” is © Seanín Hughes

Seanín Hughes is an emerging poet and writer from Cookstown, Northern Ireland, where she lives with her partner and four children. Despite writing for most of her life, Seanín only began to share her work in late 2016 after penning a number of poems for her children. Prior to this, she hadn’t written in a number of years following the diagnosis of her daughter Aoife with a rare disease. Drawing from her varied life experiences, Seanín is attracted to challenging themes and seeks to explore issues including mental health, trauma, death and the sense of feeling at odds with oneself and the world.

“Hypothesis” by Clodagh Beresford Dunne

 
So the editor wants to know why
people are killing
themselves. I’ll tell you why –
because they are part of a revolution
they know nothing
about. Not a revolution with guns
and knives but one in its strictest
physical sense, the revolution
of the geoid, the planet earth.
We might share it with billions
but these days
we are each on our own
as it sits, upturned on its axis
slowly revolving, shaking off the detritus
until one by one
we cling to the surface
or free-fall into oblivion.
And so we concoct bizarre ways
to dodge our turn –
we are drawn to the oceans to hide
but drown in their deep waters,
we strive to weigh ourselves to the ground,
injecting ourselves like batteries
with liquid lithium.
To defy gravity
we anchor our ankles to balls and chains
or feel the ephemeral
ecstasy of letting
blood from our veins.
While some tie ropes around their necks
as they take their turn,
ready to hang
from the world, like a tarot card I once saw.
 
First published in The Stinging Fly

“Hypothesis” is © Clodagh Beresford Dunne

Clodagh Beresford Dunne was born in Dublin and raised in the harbour town of Dungarvan Co. Waterford, in a local newspaper family. She holds degrees in English and in Law and qualified as a solicitor, in 2001. During her university and training years she was an international debater and public speaker, representing Ireland on three occasions, at the World Universities Debating Championships. Her poems have appeared in publications including The Stinging Fly, The Irish Times, Southword, The Moth, Spontaneity and Pittsburgh Poetry Review. She was the recipient of the Arts Council of Ireland Emerging Writer Award Bursary (2016) and a number of Literature awards and residencies from Waterford City and County Arts Office. In April, 2016 she delivered a series of readings, interviews and lectures, in Carlow University and Robert Morris University, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, as part of Culture Ireland’s International Programme. In February, 2017, as part of the AWP Conference and Book Fair in Washington, DC, she participated in a reading and discussion panel: “A World of Their Own” (five female poets in cross-cultural conversation) with US poets, Jan Beatty and Tess Barry, Irish poet, Eleanor Hooker, and Lebanese poet, Zeina Hashem Beck. She is a founding member, coordinator and curator of the Dungarvan and West Waterford Writers’ Group. She lives in Dungarvan with her husband and four young children.

 


“Alice and her Stilettoes” by Lorraine Carey

 
We always walked faster
past her little house on the brae.
Every so often she’d scuttle out and
snare us, clutching a plastic bag with
the highest heels, scuffed
and peeling, ready for the cobbler’s vice.
 
Her elfin face powdered,
her fuchsia mouth pursed,
the stain snaked onto her snaggled teeth,
crept over her lips.
She lay in wait,
behind net curtains that twitched.
Her ears hitched to the sound
of the school bus, stalling,
as we stepped off at Charlie Brown’s,
stinking of fags.
 
Once John got three pairs
of spine benders, for repair,
so she had a choice,
for Mass on Sunday.
 

“Alice and her stilettoes” is © Lorraine Carey

Lorraine Carey from Donegal, now lives in Co.Kerry. Her work has been published / is forthcoming in the following journals; The Honest Ulsterman, A New Ulster, Proletarian, Stanzas Limerick, Quail Bell, The Galway Review, Vine Leaves, Poetry Breakfast, Olentangy Review and Live Encounters. Her first collection of poetry will be published this summer.
 

“Brother” and other poems by Clodagh Beresford Dunne

Brother

Don’t look at the rosemary on the fridge
shelf – it will remind you of the lamb
you cooked yesterday and how you
laughed at the notion of posting
next Sunday’s roast Down Under.
 
Don’t think that staring at a television
screen will fill the void. The Sydney
cricket match on the afternoon sports
bulletin will emulate the scorch
of your dancing coal fire.
 
Don’t step outside to breathe the frosty air,
you might foolishly look up to the sky
and see the ethereal trail of a jumbo jet
oblivious that it and every emigrant ship
has carried fragments of others.
 
Don’t look at your young son stretched
out, colouring his pages with crayons
– it will only remind you of your brother,
six years your junior, of how you walked
the school route with him, his small hand in yours.
 
            Brother was published in the Southword Literary Journal

 

Plenary Indulgence

Abrakedabra! and a plume of white smoke
Habemus Papam We have a Pope!
 
Through crimson curtains he emerges.
Immaculate.
Cassock and cape like fresh snow.
The conclave gushes behind
all blood red and sanguine.
They are umbilical
 
Connecting me to my grandmother
who polished her front step
with a tin of Cardinal Red
reciting her thirty-day-prayer
in rhythm with the bristles of her brush –
her incantation
a crucifix of indentation –
up and down, side to side, going nowhere.
The end result gleamed but was slippery
like dripping.
 
Do you know the Pope wears red shoes ?
I do – for the blood of the martyrs
or maybe for their Ferragamo tag.
Do you know he wears a fisherman’s ring?
I do – for St. Peter who cast
his net into the sea
or maybe to dress his hand
with gold and diamonds.
Do you know he gives out a Plenary
Indulgences on special occasions?
I do.
 
And then the pope raised his hand
and drew the world to his palm
and to my surprise, for a moment, I remained there.
 
                                                                                                                                                                           First published in Poetry 24.

Hypothesis

So the editor wants to know why
people are killing
themselves. I’ll tell you why –
because they are part of a revolution
they know nothing
about. Not a revolution with guns
and knives but one in its strictest
physical sense, the revolution
of the geoid, the planet earth.
We might share it with billions
but these days
we are each on our own
as it sits, upturned on its axis
slowly revolving, shaking off the detritus
until one by one
we cling to the surface
or free-fall into oblivion.
And so we concoct bizarre ways
to dodge our turn –
we are drawn to the oceans to hide
but drown in their deep waters,
we strive to weigh ourselves to the ground,
injecting ourselves like batteries
with liquid lithium.
To defy gravity
we anchor our ankles to balls and chains
or feel the ephemeral
ecstasy of letting
blood from our veins.
While some tie ropes around their necks
as they take their turn,
ready to hang
from the world, like a tarot card I once saw.

                                                                                                                                                                    First published in The Stinging Fly

Seven Sugar Cubes

   On 10th April, 1901, in Massachusetts, Dr. Duncan MacDougall set out to prove that the 
   human soul had mass and was measurable. His findings concluded that the soul weighed
   21 grams.
 
When your mother phones to tell you that your father has died 
ten thousand miles away, visiting your emigrant brother, 
in a different hemisphere, in a different season, 
do you wonder if your father’s soul will be forever left in summer? 
 
Do you grapple 
with the journey home of the body of a man you have known
since you were a body in your mother’s body? 
 
Does the news melt into you and cool to the image 
of his remains in a Tasmanian Blackwood coffin, in the body of a crate
in the body of a plane? Or do you place the telephone receiver back on its cradle, 
take your car keys, drive the winter miles to your father’s field, where you know 
his horses will run to the rattle, like dice, of seven sugar cubes.


                                                       first published in The Irish Times

 

You Have Become the Hand Rub of an Olympian

 
When your ashes return
in a small wooden box,
a brass plaque on top,
there is no cord
 
or record of attachment
to anything or anyone.
Somewhere a uterus
is evacuating itself – 
 
a mass of patient vessels,
surrendering and collapsing
bereft of implantation,
their futile existence spent.
 
If we were to walk
every inch of the earth
or soar to a distant planet
we’d be utterly sure
 
of one thing now – 
we’d find nothing
of you except these ashes –
not your cadaver
 
or the bony frame 
of your being,
not the protrusion
of your dental arcs.
 
You’ve been reduced
to chalky powder
like the hand rub
of some Olympian
 
preparing to bar-cling.
If this box should open,
one accidental sneeze
might spell the resurgence
 
of your skin cells, hair
follicles, a glutinous eye
or a femur bone. Rewinding,
back-tracking,
 
you’ve been redacted
to the nothingness of an atmosphere.

                                                                         (The Pickled Body)

 
brother and other poems are © Clodagh Beresford Dunne

Clodagh Beresford Dunne was born in Dublin and raised in the harbour town of Dungarvan Co. Waterford, in a local newspaper family. She holds degrees in English and in Law and qualified as a solicitor, in 2001. During her university and training years she was an international debater and public speaker, representing Ireland on three occasions, at the World Universities Debating Championships. Her poems have appeared in publications including The Stinging Fly, The Irish Times, Southword, The Moth, Spontaneity and Pittsburgh Poetry Review. She was the recipient of the Arts Council of Ireland Emerging Writer Award Bursary (2016) and a number of Literature awards and residencies from Waterford City and County Arts Office. In April, 2016 she delivered a series of readings, interviews and lectures, in Carlow University and Robert Morris University, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, as part of Culture Ireland’s International Programme. In February, 2017, as part of the AWP Conference and Book Fair in Washington, DC, she participated in a reading and discussion panel: “A World of Their Own” (five female poets in cross-cultural conversation) with US poets, Jan Beatty and Tess Barry, Irish poet, Eleanor Hooker, and Lebanese poet, Zeina Hashem Beck. She is a founding member, coordinator and curator of the Dungarvan and West Waterford Writers’ Group. She lives in Dungarvan with her husband and four young children.

“Prostrate” and other poems by Mary O’Connell

The First Cut is…

for Ifrah Ahmed
 
A fat red sun comes up above the trees.
Ngozi claps her hands, today’s the day
her gran will bring her to Shangazi,
her mother’s aunt.”You must be brave”, they tell
the eight-year-old, who loves to hop and skip
along the dirt-tracks where the lizards play.
 
They walk for miles, but she discovers tunda;
mangoes and papayas in gran’s cotton bag—
a special treat for this her special day.
gran’s hand tightens as she walks into the house.
The windows are all darkened and a fan
on the ceiling makes a whirring sound.
 
Then she sees a bed with shiny instruments
and pushes into gran to hide her face.
The old one sits into a wing-backed chair,
cradles Ngozi in her arms and speaks:
“It won’t take long, my love, just look away.”
A touch of steel, and then a scalding pain.
 
“Now you’ll be ready for your wedding day.”
she hears them shout, as they raise and place her
on the bed, lying on one side, both legs tied.
Tears burn her cheeks, her throat feels sore and dry.
She shivers in the heat and feels betrayed,
invaded by a mutilating blade.
 

Amaryllis Belladonna

 
Something rising from the earth invades my life,
flaunts shamelessly in my place of refuge.
For weeks it lay folded in its verdant sheath,
then slowly pushed out its raw obscenity.
Interlocking petals mimicked loudspeakers
that blazed out without warning,
a ‘triffid’ broadcasting calamity.
 
It stares me down, daring me to look
into its crimson gullet, falling into black.
Yellow stamen at its lip protrude
to mock me with a snide gap-toothed leer.
Why should a gifted pot-plant snarl my peace?
Could the seeds go back to adolescence
coming upon the secret bloom of blood?
 

Prostrate

 
The Muezzin’s cry
calls you out of sleep,
 
you wear a cloth
that cancels all your curves,
 
walk to the Mosque to find
your place behind the latticed screen,
 
supplicate heaven
to send no more distress,
 
the belts of gelignite
that rock the square,
 
the Prophet’s message twisted in the sand.
fragmented symbols rising in the sand.
 
Prostrate and other poems is © Mary O’Connell

Mary O’Connell has had poems published in Southword , Best of Irish Poetry 2008, and the Café Review, (Portland ME). She taught languages and English and now lives in Cork city. She also had some success reciting her work in Strokestown and Derry. She has been fortunate to have been mentored by Paddy Galvin and Greg O’Donoghue in a workshop at the Munster Literature Centre, and often writes about nature and classical mythology, as well as taking an ironic look at public figures and events. A regular at O Bhéal, she has twice been asked to read for visiting American students.

“The Devil, Oblique Angles and Polka Dots” by Sue Cosgrave

The Devil, Oblique Angles and Polka Dots

For Grandmother

Your host shimmers
beyond the margin of this page
as my fingers tap-tap you from the dead.
 
It takes you a while to snap into focus.
 
You remind me
of a day when I was eight,
                      or ten, at most,
 
the day I got lost in the woods.
How I blubbered and wailed for you!
 
When you finally found me—
a snot and hiccup spewing fountain
– not pretty.
 
“What took you so long?”
 
It was strange how you appeared, seemingly out of nowhere;
haloed in spring beyond the green fog of young birches,
your sudden presence, not reassuring – not at first –
“why did you leave me?” I cried
 
all the while, you, unruffled, reproached me: “Shame on you. A big girl crying
like a baby. And for no reason at all. Don’t you know that God
is watching over you, Detushka?’
 
Aha! This is where I should invoke the DEVIL.
Yet, there is no need,
for he’s here, already, lurking.
in the detail, wearing

your best navy polka dot dress – what else –
the one you were buried in.
The one you had kept shrouded, when alive,
in a film of translucent tissue.
 
How well I recall the day:
me, six years old and agog
 
for the morbid. For hadn’t you whispered to me:
“I’ll tell you a secret – something you should know
for when I’m dead.”
Of course I was disappointed! A DRESS? IS THAT ALL? Polka dots!
What the devil! I should have / could have exclaimed, but sure,
at that age I didn’t know any better.
 
But no, it is you, not the devil I see hovering just there,
where my eye does not dare
appearing to me as you did that day in the woods:
light streaming over your left shoulder, oblique, aimless—
the light, of course,
not the shoulder, for the shoulder, even lopsided,
 
knew where it was heading.
 
Heaven was always your destination,
              as I knew only too well.
And I knew, equally well, there was no place for me
 
astride a puffy cloud my nose buried in your soft breast
gleaning comfort from your old woman smell.
 
No.
 
My place was in the woods. Kneeling on a bed
of prickly pine needles.
 
Of course I hated that icon of yours;
that dead-eyed, flat-faced Madonna
and her miniature child simpering at me in his nakedness
when all I wanted to do was sleep
while you, awake at the crack of dawn, genuflecting
 
to them,
praying all the while:
 
I hasten to Thee,
O Master, Lover of mankind, and by Thy loving-kindness I strive
to do Thy work

 
… and oh, how you worked!
digging the permafrost. Building His canal,
the one that went nowhere.
 

GLORY, GLORY THE REVOLUTION!

 
and I pray to Thee: Help me, O God, at all times
 
Did he ever!
But, perhaps He did, at that.
What is it they say about God and burdens? He did help,
after a fashion:
by the time I was born, your once dainty feet,
He had magic-ed to the size of a man’s,
and your delicate hands to that of shovels.
 
and deliver me, O God, from every worldly evil thing
and every impulse of the Devil       OHO, HERE WE COME

TO THE CRUX OF IT:
WE CAN NEVER ESCAPE THE DEVIL.
 
Yes, I fed him tasty morsels to do my bidding – unknowingly –
I believe.
 
I made him promises,
offered him rewards,
without knowing I was doing any such thing. Like the time I cut
my Barbie’s hair for him
(he liked her shorn of course, her eyes, hence, more visibly dead).
 
You see; the Devil was honest that way. And a good teacher too:
no more worship for me at the altar of Barbie! That’s why
when your icon fell off its perch
 
I knew IT WAS HIS DOING!
 
So what if it was my rubber ball that hit the shelf where the icon rested,
Madonna and Child no longer serene above the ever-burning flame?
 
Sure,
even the Devil needs a helping hand.

The Devil, Oblique Angles and Polka Dots is © Sue Cosgrave
Sue Cosgrave was born in Russia and spent her formative years in the United States, in Iraq and in Finland. After travelling extensively in Asia and the Americas, she worked in various parts of Africa before settling in Ireland. Her work, drawing on many cultural traditions, appeared in the Cork Literary Review, The Five Word Anthology, Can Can, Abridged, The Bone Orchard and The Irish Examiner among others. She featured as a guest reader at various events both in Ireland and the UK. Sue has a Masters in Creative Writing from Lancaster University and is currently working on a trilogy set in Iraq as well as a poetry and a short story collection. In 2016 she was finalist for the Wisehouse International Poetry Award