Category Archives: Poetry Journals

from “breath(en) flux ” by Michael McAloran

I

#

.…silence yes/ silenced yes/ as if to ever
having done with it/ stripped solace no/
 
vital lapse in all depth of becoming-un/ as if
because it were unto/ ash unto/
 
no/ pure as never was/ ever was/ given to
yet it cannot/ asks of dust what climb or
other than /
 
dry reach in catascopic/ hence shadow never
vital/
 
all traces then forgotten/ yet given to un-
forgot/ blind edge laughter/ afar/ no/

#

clamours afar/ yet nothing to it/ in banquet
of nothing no not a/

hence shadow’s dissolve in bit night balm/
well-spoken silenced/

of ghost-limbed rapture no/ call cards as if
to/ dissolve yet surface of what to it/

spit in eye of eye of it/ no/ traipse till yet
un-afar a-light unlit light of silhouette dark
what dark/

yet for as if to/ not a sense of all’s retrace/ of
fading nullity/ ever only of it/ spliced no
not ever…

#

…further echo further no/ as if to say that
no/ non further yes/ silenced in stripped
silence of/

rapture suffocate in which a-dream/ not a/
vibrates yes yet lack of sounding all colours
clear/

waste upon waste/ useless forage/ nothing
that ever was/ ever was or if/

what will in-speak derivative of what or
else/ blood can only ever be/ what can be/

unspoken detritus desire demarcate/ dim
light of eyes all dredged/

 

#

speaks yes or no no answer collapse of/

fallen flourish/ being in/ silence in/ yet not
a trace there is yet / silenced/ two three
what can be/

opens up in head of time spent forgotten/
fade of five steps/ back or forth no matter if/

dries eyes with waxen what bodily volatile/
reduction of all/ bind bite what what/

time rotting within skull of gild/ meat
locked to/ breath silencing allwhile…

II
#

…in breathless of/ all suffocate’s desire in
realm/ forgotten closure fissure fissure ice
until/

drag of tilt till shear of open spasm/ flail
naught un-sky/ dressage vortice no/

yet given of until/ reduct blind forage
empty emptily/ walls seep solace rupture
eye/

eclipt drags out all what once was once or
ever other than in if/ ashen dislocate/

resurgence/ resurgence no/ head drowns in
bloody latrine clear glass/

#

ruptures rails in absent sense derail/ cracks
blind all shadow deft until/ light snap
stone/

dirt in trace reduct/ fallen/ haven yes or no/
price of elective/

price of unsung what reach of purpose
strips death cloud from eye/ frozen breath
collapse/

juggernauts too/ two or four/ fore/ of a/ not
a/ resurgence nothing cracks here or ever
unto/ dead head disarm/ rolls dice around
on lacerate of tongue/ spits lest dawn…

#

…expels from out of which/ desire silence
breathless overtures/

oceanic collapse/ drags din wind collision
of/ sun forgotten/ worthless/

in click-clack steel bone drag hilt no/ rots
clap hands/ drained ever/

ever on yet what from purchase present
nothing was whatever was/

cold walls in which to/ collapse un-dread re-
dread/ head in vice of cold colours/
trick of light/

#

blood from out of forage ever-no/ steers eye
unto further no further distance/

screams out from it/ visage no/ warped
bones ever all/ all lies all present and
correct/

bitten white light silence breakage point
was once spoken or was not/ bites again/
rain rain in obsolete pulse bulb/

there is spit/ there is shadowing untold/
light’s corrode/ dead laughter realm/
bruised/ tacit/ stammers once more as if it/
silence silence/ rotting colours abound…

III
#

…in-dreamt capacity/ trades meat for
absent shores/ given less/ shadowed no/

nothing dreamt of furtherance become yet it
cannot/ furtherance of which in else of other
lessened/

meat trade in opulent unsound it trace
nothing/ unsound retrace un-meat of fallen
ash/

of prism pillage traces/ yet drains of/ there
or other/

collapsed purpose unfelt in an un-sky of
shatter-glass abattoir/

.

#

distances that never were unforgotten/ in
stench reek to abound one step shit flow in
veins/

it is cold it is not/ collected from/ wayward
sentence as flies gather in/ if said what once
was never once/

opulence/ circling skulled veins what
matter (the) vultured teeth of it/ scar tissue
un-livid/

naught a closed wound apathetic/ apathetic
stretches boundary tint/

collapse still yet nothing pressed to the
bone’s collision/ unspoken of…

#

…echo erased that never heard was not of a/
design utter violet sheer/ cold cast a bitter
a/
 
longing stretched/ meat solace of which of
eye in-dream/ else collision solace final/
 
redeem non-touch meat cold as ever was
before lapse eye a sleight of hand/
 
nothing to follow yet cannot/
 
etches from out of nothing furtherance
undone resolve forgotten/ rotted meat a
blister here/
 
#
 
solace fracture/ another’s density/tomes
cast dead no sentence in only of ever-like
fettered resound/
 
yet cannot sense/ un-sensed/ a locket/ in-
breath of sarcophagus eye given to fall/
 
long foreign hours never to be proven/ yet
what what longing/ else of none/
 
till dense approximate/ crumbling
measurements/ trace cold dead teeth a sneer
at the unutterable/
 
pressure point of long non-stir/ into utter/
cold meat as ever was before/
before having…

 
from breath(en) flux & © Michael McAloran

Michael Mc Aloran is Belfast born. He is the author of a number of collections of poetry, prose poetry, poetic aphorisms and prose, most notably Attributes (Desperanto, NY, 2011), The Non Herein & Of Dead Silences (Lapwing Publications, 2011/ 2013) Of the Nothing Of, The Zero Eye, The Bled Sun, In Damage Seasons (Oneiros Books (U.K)–2013/ 14); Code #4 Texts a collaboration with the Dutch poet, Aad de Gids, was also published in 2014 by Oneiros. He was also the editor/ creator of Bone Orchard Poetry, & edited for Oneiros Books (U.K 2013/ 2014). A further collection, Un-Sight/ Un-Sound (delirium X.) was published by gnOme books (U.S), and In Arena Night is forthcoming from Lapwing Publications. EchoNone & Of Dissipating Traces were also recently released by Oneiros Books. breath(en) flux, a chapbook, was recently released by Hesterglock Press.

“The Aunties” and other poems by Josephine Corcoran

Honeymoon

 
I wouldn’t call it a honeymoon,
those muffled nights in mothballed rooms.
With cake in the boot we pilgrimmed north,
taking a young marriage to old widows,
 
my father’s brothers dead,
their crucifixes still hanging.
In each house we were given the double bed,
my aunties inviting us to fornicate
 
on concave mattresses holding dead men’s
seed. Had we come one week before,
you would have been given nothing
but dusty blankets on a downstairs floor,
 
and I would have sunk, alone and deep,
into the mildewed sponge of a cousin’s bed.
My aunties would have spread
as wide as angels in their marital sheets,
 
their doors ajar, the solemn whispers
of their night-time prayers beating
as sweet as deathbed love-making.
But our wedding vows were said,
 
so we sipped tea on upright chairs
still dimpled from Brylcreemed heads,
and rolled like screws in sideways jars
on shelves in locked-up sheds.
 
   Seven years,
one son, one daughter later,
Jesus has been sent to us.
(The aunts are gone, their houses stripped)
His legs are broken (long marriages skipped,
 
thrown into landfill) and we laugh
when our little children ask about our honeymoon.
I see you dreaming down our garden path
as you hold the broken body in your hands.
 
He was nailed to the Anaglypta. You are picturing
the twist of wire you’ll use to bind his legs;
the nail, the hammer, the spirit level, the pencil
mark the place he’ll eternally outstare us.
 
I love the way our daughter sings
as her finger traces our wedding rings.
 

Dead Sisters

Maria and Elizabeth Brontë, died aged 11 and 10
 
So young to be marooned here,
we spend our pain on travelling
dreams, skating over frozen seas,
following their inky maps,
our boats to Gondal trapped
on battered moors. We straddle
the backs of galloping hares,
fly flat on the wings of marble-
eyed hawks grown dragon-sized,
since in our dreams we are
as tiny as toy soldiers.
We cry for them to carry us
beyond mountains and frog-filled lakes.
 
They shake in their beds.
The travelling box lies waiting.
We tiptoe on lopsided floors,
watch the news from Angria
ripple over them in sleep, whisper
We mustn’t keep you any longer.
 
They have laid out shadows
and attics and mists.
 
We disappear.
 

The Aunties

 
Brewing tea in our kitchen
we snort, remembering you screaming
to your mother we were witches.
Behind her back
we flew to fetch biscuits,
you said. We were trees in the dark
who followed you home,
the lampposts that tiptoed after you
to blind your unclenched eyes.
 
We fed you trifle, persuaded you
we hadn’t eaten your mother,
that shadows were not black blood
against a sunlit wall. You understood
she was drinking wine,
there was no hole in her side
where we’d ripped you from her,
and you knew that knives were for cake
and the crusts of sandwiches.
 
You threw careless waves to your mother,
ran into our house like a spring tide,
the seagulls laughing;
the old tricks had worked again.
 

Gasps and Sighs

 
Is it because
we fell from our nests
before we knew
we had wings?
that we remember
our heads crowned
in pain? our upended
legs? is it because
our wombs are
falling? a lament?
does all this explain
the gasps and sighs
we hear on landings,
through half-opened
doors, when we are
burglars at the top
of the stairs,
imagining ourselves
beating through
rooms, stealing
nothing?
 

Thanks for Not Switching Me Off

 
I’ll have no concept of time
so, no rush, and I may fail to respond
to painful stimuli,
and to sound, but don’t let that stop you
from playing me The Three Degrees
singing When Will I See You Again?
because even though I may be oblivious
to the doctor tipping light in my eyes
from her sterilised torch,
that doesn’t mean I won’t see again
Miss Travis,
Miss FitzSimons
and Mrs Cuthbertson,
or rather, three sixth-form girls on the stage,
done up as them, in gabardine raincoats,
sturdy shoes, clear plastic rain bonnets,
doing the moves, singing
hooo_ooh, haar_aarr,
precious mo_ments!
(The Three Degrees Fahrenheit! came the shout)

 
and wheeled to the daylight
I’ll shake again,
a laughing girl again
in a sea of other laughing girls –
when the future flung open
the world’s windows,
our lives soared in.
 
I’ll fly again with oxygen in my blood –
that was the first time I understood love
when I dared to look at the three of them
on the day of their retirement.
They laughed too,
their rock-hard curls trembling,
tears bright
on their bat-wing glasses.
We never knew
if they liked the carriage clocks,
if they ever set
their hearts ticking.
 

I Remember the Fear of Forgetting

 
I remember the fear of forgetting
the Austro-Hungarian Empire
under the cuffs of my school blouse.
Archduke Franz Ferdinand
and Sophie, his pregnant wife, are hiding
in my pencil case. The Black Hand,
Bosnia-Herzegovina and Serbia
aren’t visible until I creep
my skirt three inches up my thigh
and Sarajevo, 28 June
1914 is folded so small
it’s a blister on the sole of my foot.
 
I take Gavrilo Princip to my lips;
I would rather swallow ink
than hand him over.
 
The Aunties & other poems are © Josephine Corcoran

downloadJosephine Corcoran left school early with few qualifications. She returned to full-time studying when she was 30 which was when she started writing and submitting her work for consideration. She has two BBC Radio 4 credits, for a play and a short story, and one of her plays was produced at the Chelsea Centre Theatre in London. She has been writing poetry seriously since 2010 when she was a runner-up for the Bridport Prize. She has been published or is forthcoming in, among other places, The Rialto, Under the Radar, The Manchester Review, New Walk and Poetry Wales. Her pamphlet The Misplaced House was published by tall-lighthouse in November 2014. She edits the poetry site And Other Poems.

Poems from “Off Duty” by Katie Donovan

Wedding

 
“Hasty,” the judge mocked
until he read the letter
from the consultant,
his jaded face changing to pity.
We got the green light then,
to marry in a hurry.
 
We turned up in our jeans
and limped through the ceremony –
upsetting the officiating lady,
determined to make this
a special occasion.
 
Outside the registry office
we inked a shadow
on the next couple:
the bride, glowing in her plumage,
her robust young groom,
their flower girls fidgeting.
 
My brother and his wife
had used their lunch hour
to be our witnesses.
They went back to work,
and my new spouse
rode off on his bike:
the big triumph that,
with six months to live,
he could still cycle.
 
I had to collect our children –
the paltry nuptials would have been
disappointing – no frocks, no fun –
just this boring signing thing,
and so I kept it secret,
left them with Gran.
 
I sloped off to the train.
It was bright, a May day,
and I was forty-seven –
finally, improbably
a married woman.
 
Wedding is © Katie Donovan first published in the November 2015 issue of Cyphers Magazine, edited by Eilean Ni Chuilleanain, Macdara Woods and Leland Bardwell
 

Operation

 
In the hospital,
gowned in gauzy cloth,
he is prepped;
his limbs so thin,
his head bursting with the tumour,
with knowing that wrestling
the thing out may kill him.
 
All day the cutters and stitchers
are at work, slicing from lip
to clavicle, sawing bone,
careful not to snick an artery,
gouging a flap from his thigh,
to patch the gap
where the tumour hid
thriving in its secret lair.
 
When it’s out –
and they have fixed the jaw
with a steel plate;
rivetted the long L-shape
of the wound –
he lies arrayed
with tubes and drains.
He floats in the shallows
of the anaesthetic,
his breath echoing eerily
from the hole in his throat,
his face utterly still.
 
The night before the operation
he read “Peter Pan”
to our children,
and in the morning
he surrendered;
waving from the trolley,
as if to clutch a last particle
of the life we figured for him,
as if to let it fall.
 
Operation is © Katie Donovan first published in Irish Pages, The Heaney Issue, 2014, Vol. 8, No.2, edited by Chris Morash and Cathal O Searcaigh
 

Off Duty

 
Is my face just right,
am I looking as a widow should?
I pass the funeral parlour
where four weeks ago
the ceremony unfurled.
Now I’m laughing with the children.
The director of the solemn place
is lolling out front, sucking on a cigarette.
We exchange hellos,
and I blush, remembering
how I still haven’t paid the bill,
how I nearly left that day
with someone else’s flowers.
 
Off Duty is © Katie Donovan first published in The Irish Times, 2014, by Poetry Editor Gerry Smyth
 

Katie Donovan has published four books of poetry, all with Bloodaxe Books, UK. Her first, Watermelon Man appeared in 1993. Her second, Entering the Mare, was published in 1997; and her third, Day of the Dead, in 2002. Her most recent book, Rootling: New and Selected Poems appeared in 2010. Katie Donovan’s fifth collection of poetry, Off Duty will be published by Bloodaxe Books in September 2016. She is currently working on a novel for children.

She is co-editor, with Brendan Kennelly and A. Norman Jeffares, of the anthology, Ireland’s Women: Writings Past and Present (Gill and Macmillan, Ireland; Kyle Cathie, UK, 1994; Norton & Norton, US, 1996). She is the author of Irish Women Writers: Marginalised by Whom? (Raven Arts Press, 1988, 1991). With Brendan Kennelly she is the co-editor of Dublines (Bloodaxe, 1996), an anthology of writings about Dublin.

Her poems have appeared in numerous periodicals and anthologies in Ireland, the UK and the US. She has given readings of her work in many venues in Ireland, England, Belgium, Denmark, Portugal, the US and Canada. She has read her work on RTÉ Radio One and on BBC Radio 4 and BBC Radio 3. Her short fiction has appeared in The Sunday Tribune and The Cork Literary Review.

 
Entering The Mare and other Poems by Katie Donovan

‘Moving Like Anemones’ and other poems by Lorna Shaugnessy

Crystal

 
The blower adds breath to heat,
turns and blows within the mould
until he finds precise form.
Molten glass vibrates.
It takes ten years
to learn how deep you can cut
before the glass shatters,
how deep you have to go
to catch the light.
Mistakes pile up
waiting for the furnace,
a second chance,
instability anchored
by the weight of lead.
 

Río Tinto

 
We cannot enter the Roman graveyard.
The gates are padlocked and chained
so we press our faces to the wire,
squint at the skewed angles of mossed stones,
the departed minions of enterprise and empire.
Behind us the mines, where pulleys and sidings
punctuate strata of centuries-old endeavour.
Rock and mineral are bared in russets and ochres
too raw for peopled places. Their cratered wounds
fill with water so deep you could drown there.
Today is Sunday. In the high, hushed
absence of trucks to rumble up the hill
we try to hear beneath the wind,
listen for the sound of stone,
touch the injured past, its fissured heat.
 

Moving Like Anemones

(Belfast, 1975)
 
I
 
I cannot recall if you met me off the school bus
but it was winter, and dark in the Botanic Gardens
as we walked hand in hand to the museum.
Too young for the pub, in a city of few neutral spaces
this was safe, at least, and warm.
The stuffed wolfhound and polar-bear were no strangers,
nor the small turtles that swam across the shallow pool
where we tossed pennies that shattered our reflected faces.
We took the stairs to see the mummy
but I saw nothing, nothing at all, alive
only to the touch of your fingers seeking mine,
moving like anemones in the blind depths.
 
II
 
Disco-lights wheeled overhead,
we moved in the dark.
Samba pa ti, a birthday request,
the guitar sang pa mí, pa ti
and the world melted away:
the boys who stoned school buses,
the Head Nun’s raised eyebrow.
Neither ignorant nor wise,
we had no time to figure out
which caused more offence,
our religions or the four-year gap between us.
I was dizzy with high-altitude drowning,
that mixture of ether and salt,
fourteen and out of my depth.
 
III
 
The day was still hot when we stepped
into cool, velvet-draped darkness.
I wore a skirt of my sister’s from the year before
that swung inches above cork-wedged sandals.
You were all cheesecloth and love-beads.
I closed my eyes in surrender
to the weight of your arm on my shoulders,
the tentative brush of your fingers
that tingled on my arm, already flushed
by early summer sun.
Outside the cinema I squinted,
strained to adjust to the light
while you stretched your long limbs like a cat.
You were ripe for love and knew it;
I blushed and feared its burning touch.
 

Dogged

 
The injured past comes back like a mangy dog.
It hangs around, infecting my doorstep with its sores
and the smell of neglect, trips me up when I venture out,
circling my legs, ready for the next casual kick.
If I feed it, it’ll never go away.
If I ignore it, it’ll never leave
but press its scabby skin against the door-pane,
crouch in the corner of my eye, licking its paw,
or cower in the wing-mirror as I drive away
and limp out to meet me when I come back,
loyal and unwelcome as disease.
 

The Watched Phone

 
Her son is out there somewhere
the rain beats his jacket seeps through his jeans
runnels of water travel from nape to chin
 
somewhere out there her son in seeping jacket
beaten from nape to chin
travels through runnels of water
 
out there the rain seeps nape to chin
water runnels down jeans and jacket
her beaten son is travelling
 
he seeps through jeans and jacket
runnelling out somewhere
rain beats
 
water seeps and her son
travels rain-runnelled nape to chin
beaten out
 

Pain has a shaved head

 
and no eyebrows. It stands on one leg,
one foot, the side of one foot,
afraid to take up too much space,
knows the meaning of nothing
and the provisional nature of everything,
knows in a split second it could plunge into something worse
but has no tongue to cry out, only a beak that opens
and closes without sound. The soles of its feet are charred,
toenails thick as claws and a grey-green mould
grows slowly up its legs to bloom in the moist places
of the groin and under arms. Spasms
contort the torso into impossible forms
but its eyes never leave the pitiless ground
that thrusts frangipani, oleander, passiflora,
bird of paradise, hibiscus and royal palm
up and up, relentless,
till the nerve-ends of fronds
touch blue sky.
 
Moving Like Anemones‘ and other poems is © Lorna Shaugnessy

t4_-491194348Lorna Shaughnessy was born in Belfast and lives in Co. Galway, Ireland. She has published three poetry collections, Torching the Brown River, Witness Trees, and Anchored (Salmon Poetry, 2008 and 2011 and 2015), and her work was selected for the Forward Book of Poetry, 2009. Her poems have been published in The Recorder, The North, La Jornada (Mexico) and Prometeo (Colombia), as well as Irish journals such as Poetry Ireland, The SHop and The Stinging Fly. She is also a translator of Spanish and South American Poetry. Her most recent translation was of poetry by Galician writer Manuel Rivas, The Disappearance of Snow (Shearsman Press, 2012), which was shortlisted for the UK Poetry Society’s 2013 Popescu Prize for translation.

‘Chasing Tails’ and other poems by Layla Hehir

Beware of the Hey Man

 
Beware of the Hey Man,
he’s lurking in the street.
That hipster-hatted Hey Man,
the coolest guy you’ll meet.

He’s sipping on his coffee,
a pained artistic soul.
The only thing that this guy’s
drawing is the dole.

His conversation sparkles
as he bums a cigarette.
He’s working on a book you know,
it’s just not finished yet.

Beware of the Hey Man,
he’s drifting through the crowd.
If you keep drifting every day man,
the world won’t wait around.

The screenplay never written,
the painting never hung.
You’ve wasted years
and missed the boat
but hey man, it was fun.

Sharon

 
She scurries through life
like a squirrel on cocaine.
Her manner is harried,
her banter inane.
Give her one problem,
she’ll come back with twenty.
Don’t ask for ideas,
you know she’s got plenty.
 
She’s sorted the inventory
nobody needed.
If she stays the latest
it means she’s succeeded.
She feels so hard done by,
why all the complaints?
Will anyone tell her
she belongs in restraints.
 
We all have a Sharon
in some form or shape
whose purpose is solely
to cramp and frustrate.
So watch out, she’s lurking
In everyone’s crew
If no bells are ringing
then maybe it’s you.
 

To groups of women in restaurants

 
To groups of women in restaurants,
please tell us what you had
and tell us how you really shouldn’t
but you’re getting wine, you’re mad!
 
To groups of women in restaurants,
speak up now don’t be shy.
We’d love to hear about your day
and how you’re way too good for that guy.
 
To groups of women in restaurants
we understand your pain.
The decision to get dessert is tough,
but don’t you deserve it Lorraine!
 
To groups of women in restaurants,
be careful now, don’t choke.
I don’t care if you get dessert,
I don’t care about your day.
It sounds like he was right to leave you.
Next time please get a takeaway.
 

Chasing Tails

 
It’ll all be fine in Canada,
I don’t care what you say.
Just punch in time,
pack up, goodbye.
We’re counting down the days.
 
We’ll never fight in Canada
I know we won’t, okay?
It’s just this place,
stagnant state,
long hours,longer days.
 
I’ll do yoga in Canada
We’ll both go gluten free.
I wonder who’ll be laughing then
We’ll get there, wait and see.
 
I’ll play the harp in Canada.
I’ll practice every day.
But why would I start learning now?
I’m leaving anyway.
 
I am still set on Canada
I don’t care what you hear
Just laying low
And making plans
It’s only been a year.
 
What’s so great about Canada?
That’s what I always say.
I was never going,
Are you mad?
That scumhole, stay away!
 
I’m thinking about Australia,
that’s where it’s at, you know.
I’ll learn to surf,
like I always said,
it’s the only place to go.
 

Rosanna, Queen of the World

 
We sit and laugh,
Wes and I
as we start our second pizza.
They believed it,
every word.
It couldn’t have been easier.
 
Phase one of our plan now complete,
the cogs are slowly turning.
They went for this,
who knows what else ?
The world will soon be burning.
 
What next you ask?
Why it’s phase two,
to tighten my control.
We say ALL food
is the enemy now
and watch them starve,
behold!
 
Just when their strength is burning low
and life but clings to bone,
I’ll make my move,
the world is mine!
Rosanna takes the throne.

“Chasing Tails” and Other Poems is © Layla Hehir

Layla Hehir is 25 years old and was born in Limerick. She was shortlisted in the Hot Press Write Here Write Now competition 2015 and the Creative Writing Ink May Competition 2015. Her poem ‘Beware of the Hey Man’ was featured as poem of the week on the Headstuff literary website in September 2015. She won the readers choice award in the Headstuff Lacomic Cup Short Fiction Competition 2015. She has had poetry published in Ropes literary journal 2013. She enjoys writing poetry and fiction when she is not drinking wine with her cats.