‘Sylvia Plath You are Dead’ and other poems by Elaine Feeney

Charles Bukowski is my Dad

 
He stands with me in the
best-dressed-lady-line,
holding open my pearl lace
umbrella to the
ravaging Galway rain.
 
He calls me up on
blue Mondays and gives me
whiskey on bold Fridays.
 
He fills up my father-space
He fills up my mind-space
He fills up my hot-water bottle
 
His advice fills up my cheer
and revives my rotted liver,
 
but that’s a small price to pay
because Bukowski’s my Dad.
 
He’s my feather pillow
and my guitar string.
 
He’s my soccer coach and sex therapist
 
He paints my nails
pepperminty green and sings
 
raindrops keep falling on my head
on wicked trips to the racetrack.
But that’s a small price to
because Bukowski’s my dad.
 

Biteens

 
Little biteens of people, pieces all over the raven pavements and sprayed on the cracked gutters, bits of them strewn on the carpeted lanes, and propped against wheeley bins like the carcasses of bored butlers, bits of them.
 
Biteens of people, shards of anoraks and faded canvas shopping bags, sloven splinters of their teeth, angles of jawlines where jaws used to sit, pieces of people, god help them, dead to rush hour, dead.
 
Silver wisps of greasy dandruffy dead hair.
 
Dead waiting at the bus stop dead waiting at the counter top dead waiting at the social shop dead waiting at the hospital drop dead waiting at the morgue spot.
 
Putting biteens of sharred shoulders to the wind,
their half bodies and eaten bones.
 
The blush-blown look of the cretins, blown out of our way down alleys in corpo houses on free bus spins on acid on nebulisers on tea on glue and sugar on lithium on valium on sadnesss and sorrow on beauty on faith.
 
Biteens of people, pieces of them, imagine it.
 
Light a candle or two.
 
For their mass cards and petitions, for their shopping bags for our lady and their prescriptions, for their mothers for their missing sons and for their saints.
 

Bog Fairies

 
The heather like
Pork belly cracked
Underneath my feet-
 
The horizon like
Nougat, melted
Its pastel line at the heath edge
Blue fading to white light.
 
We stacked rows of little
Houses for bog fairies –
Wet mulchy sods
Evaporating under our small palms.
 
Crucifixions of dry brittle crosses
Forming the skeleton-
My narrow ankles parallel to them.
 
Coarse and tough like the marrow of the soul,
Like the skeletons crucified under the peat.
 
The turf will come good
My father said
When the wind blows to dry it.
 
We dragged ten-ten-twenty bags
With the sulphury waft of cat piss,
Along a track dotted with deep black bogholes,
Then over a silver door, like a snail’s
Oily trail leaving a map for the moon,
And for bog fairies to dance in the mushy earth-
For us all to glisten in this late summer.
 
And behind the door
Once upon some time
Old women sat in black shawls
Bedding down Irregulars and putting kettles
On to boil for the labouring girls.
 
But I was gone.
 
I was gone at ten in my mind’s eye.
I was dragging Comrades from the Somme
I was pulling Concords in line with Swedish giants
I was skating on the lake in Central Park
I was crouched in the green at Sam’s Cross
I was touring Rubber-Soul at Hollywood Bowl
I was marching on Washington with John Lewis
I was in the Chelsea Hotel with Robert Mapplethorpe,
He was squatting on my lap with his lens,
Swearing to Janis Joplin I could find her a shift,
Nothing is impossible when you blow like that girlfriend.
I sang Come As You are in Aberdeen with union converse,
Blue eye liner and mouse holes in my Connemara jumper.
 
I was anyone but me
I was anywhere but here
I was gone
 
We rushed to hurry before the summer light would fade
Because animals needed to be washed and fed
 
And turf needed to be stacked
And all the talk of our youth
Would be said
In whispers and secrets, or written on postage stamps
 
Because light was the ruler as it was closing in around us,
Beating us, like the dark on the workmen
Deep in the channel tunnel that night.
 
The black light killed the purple heather
Yet I danced on the crackle in the dust
I crackled on the dust in the heather
My dance on the heather turned to dust.

 

 

Pity the Mothers

 
Pity the mothers
who weathered their skin
to raise their sons to die.
 
Pity the routine,
the daily stretching table
ferociously making meet ends.
 
Pity the mothers who told
sons the world was tough and wild-
 
To have them sold out in the early hours
of mornings’ immutable stage
fresh and stung.
 
Brave the world
They should have said
Brave its bold beauty
Brave the world my brave sons
And be beautiful
Because fear is a choking kite string in a storm.
 
Fear is a punctuating dictator
 
Fear will drive you half insane
and there’s no spirit in half a cup of anything.
 
Fear will wake your sleep and damn your
first born nerves.
 
There is no fertility in fear
no function, no performance.
 
Be a kite
Be yellow
Be bold
Be mad
 
Don’t step at the edge of it
all and send your body half-way
forward to the sea-froth.
 
For there you will find the headwinds.
 
Pity the bags, shoes, boots,
hurls mothers left
by the door.
 
The endless soups and syrups
The forever effort
The long lasting kisses they left on young jaws
 
To send them to the world fearful
And then feared.
To send them to the world with pity
And then pitied.
 
Pity the mothers
with their strong
elbows worn from effort.
 
Struggling against headwinds-
 
sanding the grain
in the wrong direction.
 
Pity the mothers
Who weathered their skin
just to raise sons to die.
 

Sylvia Plath You Are Dead

 
Sylvia Plath you are dead.
Your tanned legs are dead.
 
Your smile is dead, and
Massachusetts will mourn her
 
Girl on lemonady days
on sunshiny days
 
She will mourn her on dark days
when screaming girls go mad
 
In maternity wards
and scream in domestic wards,
 
And cry handfuls of slathery salty water
in kitchens over ironing boards.
 
Sylvia Plath you are dead,
and girls try rubbing out stretched marks
 
on their olive silver skin, until they
bleed. Their tiny babies cry in the halls
 
until windows framed with candy
colours, fog over their minds, their aprons, their skirts
 
their college ways, where there were no lessons on
crying. Silvery Plath the moon howls at them
 
taunted by strong winds, out the garden paths
gusts blow heads off the ivy shoulders,
 
but heather keeps her low profile
her head down, smiling.
 

Mass

 
Mass will be said for no more bad language and gambling and wanking that the Athenry boys are doing, down the back of the castle, down the back of the couch, all the punching and hitting and groaning, moaning at the Turlough boys, the Clarinbridge boys, the boys from Killimordaly, down the back of the Presentation grounds.
 
There will be mass when you lose at the Galway Races
 and for the saving of your soul if you take the boat to Cheltenham.
 
There will be a mass for when the horse runs, and when the horse dies, and for the bookies who win and the punters who win,
 
and the bookies who lose and the punters who lose.
 
There will be mass for hare coursing and flask-filling.
 
There will be mass for your Inter Cert and your twenty-first,
 
There will be a filling-out-your-CAO-form mass.
 
Mass will be held in the morning before the exams, mass will be held in the evening for your bath.
 
There’ll be a special mass on Saturday afternoon for your Granny. There will be a mass for your Granny’s boils and aches and black lungs and ulcers and spots and diabetes and psychosis.
 
There’ll be a mass for the anointing of the bollix of the bull above in the field near the closh over the railway bridge.
 
Mass will be held before the College’s Junior B Hurling Final, it will be held for the Connaught Cup Junior A Regional Final in wizardry and sarcasm.
 
Mass will be held on top of the reek for the arrogant and meek, and the bishop will arrive by eurocopter. There will be a mass to get him up in one piece and back in one piece.
 
Masses will be held in the outhouse.
 
Mass will be held for the safe arrival of new lambs and the birthing of ass foals.
 
Mass will be held in your uncle’s sitting room but his neighbours will be envious and later stage a finer mass.
 
There will be a mass to find you a husband, and a few masses to pray he stays.
 
There will be a good intentions mass. Your intentions if they’re good will come true. Mass will be held for your weddings and wakes and when you wake up.
 
Mass will be held for the Muslim conversion.
 
Mass will be held for George Bush.
 
Mass will be held for the war on terror.
 
Mass will be held for black babies and yellow babies and the yellowy black babies.
 
Mass will not be held for red babies. They have upset Pope John Paul.
 
Mass will be held for your brother when he gets the meningitis from picking his nose. Mass will be held for your cousins when they stop going to mass.
 
Mass will be held for the harvest and the sun and the moon and a frost and a snow
 and for a healthy spring and red autumn, for a good wind and no wind, and for a good shower and a dry spell, and for the silage and the hay and the grass and the turf.
 
There will be a saving-of-the-turf day. There will be a saving-of-the-hay day. There will be
a saving-my-soul day.
 
There will a mass for the fishing fishermen.
 
There will be multiple masses for Mary around August when she did all the appearing.
 
There will be a good mass when the statue cries rusty tears. There will be a good mass and a great collection.
 
Mass will be held for the cloud people.
 
Mass will be held for apparitions and anniversaries and weddings and baptisms.
 
Mass will be held to church your sinned body after giving birth, there will be mass to wash your unclean feet.
 
Mass will be held for all your decisions so you don’t have to blame yourself.
 
There will be mass for the poor dead Clares.
There will be mass for the Black Protestants if Paisley allows it. Mass will be held for the De Valera’s and the Croke Park goers.
 
There will be a mass for the conversion of the Jews (and their collection).
 
There will be a mass for the communion class, there will be a mass for the no-name club non-drinkers. There will be a giving-up-smoking-the-Christian-way mass.
 
There will be a mass for the Christian Angels, only Christian ones.
 
There will be no mass for your freedom, but the air will be pea sweet and the sky will clear.
 
Mass will not be held for the souls of your gay sons.
 
Mass will not be held for victims, for cynics, anti-clerics, the song-and-dance makers, the antagonising atheists, the upsetting-the-apple-cart persons.
 
There will be no women’s mass.
 
There will be no mass solely by women for women. Your daughters will not hold mass.
There are strict rules for the masses.
 
The above poems are © Elaine Feeney and have been published by The Stinging Fly, Once Upon Reflection, and The Radio was Gospel (Salmon Poetry 2013)

photoElaine Feeney is considered a leading part of political contemporary Irish writers. She was educated in University College Galway, University College Cork and University of Limerick. Feeney has published three collections of poetry Indiscipline (2007), Where’s Katie? (2010, Salmon) and The Radio was Gospel (2013, Salmon) Her work has been published widely in literary magazines and anthologies. She is currently working on a novel.
 
“Elaine Feeney is the freshest, most engaging and certainly the most provocative female poet to come out of Ireland in the last decade. Her poem ” Mass”, is both gloriously funny, bitter-sweet in the astuteness of its observations and a brilliant, sly window into the Irish female Catholic experience. Her use of irony is delicious. Her comments on the human condition, which run throughout her lines, are in the tradition of Dean Swift and she rightfully takes her place alongside Eavan Boland and Nuala Ni Dhomhnaill as a very, very important Irish voice.” Fionnuala Flanagan, California 2013 (Praise for The Radio was Gospel, 2013, Salmon)
 
“A choice collection of poetry, one not to be overlooked, 5 Stars” Midwest Book Review, USA, (Praise for Where’s Katie? 2010, Salmon Poetry).
 
Elaine Feeney saying Mass

‘modern art’ and other poems by Anamaría Crowe Serrano

the stress clinic

it’s ok	no one need know	only negligible
impending threat 	i’m going to leave you
   let healing happen
i’m turning left into the coffee shop	it’s easy 
	like this		one step	
                 one more
comforting to sit 
   even on seats slashed by spooks	

i can wait	learn patience is learnt on the edge
	other worlds where others wait
for the breath		something that “presents”
    a hiatus between one distress and 
the nest you’re reluctant to leave

it’s ok	the world is out there	still	the density
you love suspended in space	preparing 
the next problem for you to solve 	you’re good
at that		talented		
   are you ok?	me too 		it’s just 
the acid sprung on a tensile in my stomach

❧
at ulica Freta, 16 – before radium or polonium

the wood seeps into your bones
in a room that lives	as if its grain 
& whorls were part of your nervous
system – smooth	marrow – polished 

in your tea one lump, two	meticulous
the molecules contract till they disappear
  optical illusions have their own reality

billowing on the balcony	Poland
is diluted	Prussian Russian 
fission renames a people
  invents a purpose of its own

but you can shut it out	indomitable
in a room that soon is rubble while thunder
splits the summer	partitions your
future	gladioli everywhere 	alert
to your black dress	alive	your luggage
    waltzing in the street

(originally published in Can-Can #2)

❧



modern art

you’re slung 
   rigid
against the wall

boxed in the past

adroit
your mouth apes
bereft of tongue
hoping to emit
a word
a silence, even

something, anything
of the side-tracked route
you had to take
from primitive iron
lodged in some alpine nook
through ism, to prism
to plexiglass

you’re waiting - aren’t you
for me 
to gut you
get the warm feel
of your spasm
   when I tug
on the spinal cord

and watch you
crumple
to the ground
crimson
refusing to be pressed


❧

the stress clinic, at ulica Freta, 16 – before radium or polonium & modern art are © Anamaría Crowe Serrano. Read Jezebel & Taipei (PDF)

Anamaria Crowe Serrano-by RK at 7T

Anamaría Crowe Serrano is a poet and translator born in Ireland to an Irish father and a Spanish mother. She grew up bilingually, straddling cultures, rarely with her nose out of a book. Languages have always fascinated her to the extent that she has never stopped learning or improving her knowledge of them. She enjoys cross-cultural and cross-genre exchanges with artists and poets. Much of her work is the result of such collaborations. With a B.A. (Hons) in Spanish and French from Trinity College Dublin, Anamaría went on to do an M.A. in Translation Studies at Dublin City University. Since then, she has worked in localization (translating hardware and software from English to Spanish), has been a reader for the blind, and occasionally teaches Spanish. For over 15 years she has translated poetry from Spanish and Italian to English. Anamaría is the recipient of two awards from the Arts Council of Ireland to further her writing. Her translations have won many prizes abroad and her own poetry has been anthologised in Census (Seven Towers), Landing Places (Dedalus), Pomeriggio (Leconte) and other publicationsShe is currently Translations editor for Colony Journal: www.colony.ie.

AND AGAMEMNON DEAD : An Anthology of Early Twenty First Century Irish Poetry

Christine-Elizabeth Murray:

Thanks to Michael J Whelan for this post on ‘And Agamemnon Dead: An Anthology of Early Twenty First Century Irish Poetry’ 

Originally posted on Michael J. Whelan - Writer:

And Agamemnon Dead An Anthology of Early Twenty First Century Irish Poetry Edited by Peter O'Neill & Walter Ruhlmann And Agamemnon Dead
An Anthology of Early Twenty First Century Irish Poetry
Edited by Peter O’Neill & Walter Ruhlmann

Hi everyone, I’m really happy to announce that a brand new anthology of contemporary Irish poetry has been published today (St Patrick’s Day) in Paris and I am also delighted to say that I have five poems included in the collection alongside a number of exciting and interesting new voices coming out of Ireland in the these early years of the 21st Century.

And Agamemnon Dead An Anthology of Early Twenty First Century Irish Poetry, Edited by Peter O’Neill & Walter Ruhlmann is published by Muavaise Graine (Paris 2015) –

see https://www.facebook.com/mgversion2datura

and among its 187 pages you will find poetry from

Michael McAloran — Amos Greig — Dylan Brennan — Christine Murray — Arthur Broomfield — Peter O’ Neill — Rosita Sweetman — Michael J. Whelan — Anamaría Crowe Serrano —…

View original 227 more words

‘Birth Partner’ and other poems by Lindsey Bellosa

Becoming a Woman

 
The first time: my underwear,
stained and crumpled, squashed
into our bathroom cupboard and I am paged
to the nurses’ office at school where the nurse
asks in hushed tone if something has happened—
we have watched the videos and been shown
the diagrams, and my mother has called the school,
having found my underwear, asked: voice
full of pride and worry…so I nod as though
I know something the other girls don’t,
that the boys snicker at: still small; squeaking—
and I am so tall and so soft : already in a bra,
sprouting hair; already not a child but still
wanting to be a child, and something so tender
is lost and bleeding in me. Now, there is a secret
I am keeping but I can’t tell what it is—
something to be careful of; something
to be concealed and I am given plastic razors
and perfumes and pads and I am afraid, afraid, afraid
like a child in the dark, not knowing of what.
 

Conception

 
First there is a lush, quiet sky: sea
filled with anticipation. Then something
is released, and time grows fingers.
 
The moon cycles, triggering our cycles
and the cycles of fish, feeding; turtles
emerging to shore
 
egg-laden; heavy as moonlight.
 
Life is mostly waiting: on possibilities,
on hope. There are chances—
shadows that never become.
 
But this is not hope; this is the one,
definite thing, the only thing
that reaches and it is inside of me—
 
sea hovering around the start
of unseen stirrings.
 

Birth Partner

 
I saw what was your world
spin away from you in moments.
It was replaced by a body.
 
The body was yours but also not yours.
It had its own limbs, its own cries
and also your limbs and cries.
 
I saw how the sea opened its mysteries—
slipped gleam of grey curve.
I saw your dreams emerge.
 
When you woke up, you were crying
and laughing. Death had tumbled you;
finally you knew pain.
 
You clasped your new life in your arms,
seeing love for the first time. You murmured:
It was you. It’s you.
 

Motherhood

 
The wild landscape of love,
moon-soaked and ragged plain.
All the edges too clear; animals
ruthless. The barren moon rules,
bald in its light, which illuminates
writhing Earth: swill of fertility,
pain and want. A squall, a mass
of tails: spinning and spinning. Now,
the heart fixes like a hook to a cry.
It is plaintive and true. Nothing
was ever so clear. Like stars
on a winter night, piercing
the uncovered universe black
and white. This is life.
This is how time keeps itself.
 

The Tree of Time

 
(based on Maria Rizzo’s painting of the same title)
 
Time grows in branches,
one moment very like the other:
 
Second son, I have been here before.
This is a dark time; your cries are waves
 
colliding with my dreams. Reality
is twisting into something new,
 
and my life is changing color….
The view of the night sky boxed,
 
like a window. But your eyes
are stars, constant—
 
shining, bright yellow,
at corners of my nights
 
as I wake to feed you:
obsessed with numbers—
 
the ounces you drink, weight.
My face is clouded moonlight:
 
less than slivering light. Little son,
shadows are waves on water.
 

This is a magical time.
We will put down new roots,
 
but not now. Not here. Now the sea
races like a heart, your hand
 
presses my face, in sleep.
Now nights are like days,
 
and every day is a ladder rung
reaching to a brand-new life.
 

Portrait

 
The eyes: hooded sky
the rest of the face hangs from—
little crescent moon.
 
Now you cast them to me:
ask your questions, make pleas,
defy with your white scowl.
 
Your lips are mine, drooping
roses; the pink shape of wonder
and the slope of your cheeks, mine,
 
but whitewashed of flaws; white
and pink, translucent as light
and thin-skinned as an egg.
 
Blue trails beneath the surface,
lines of a map, where eyelashes
linger: catching, giving depth.
 
Every day you grow arms and legs
and more looks, like light—
from me but not mine.
 
Like my mother in an old video—
I see me as I see you in me. She sees herself;
in the mirror, sees her mother.
 
The fourteen-year-old me in the video:
wiggling, excited for something I didn’t know
yet: bursting from my pink swimsuit—
 
My mother knew. Lips stitched into a line:
eyes on the horizon, as mine are now.
The past comes in like the tide—
 
and our faces swallow themselves.
We shrug in and out of them
like a borrowed sweater;
 
like the two imprints, potter’s
thumb slips just under your eyes:
up go the pupils,
 
up knit the eyebrows—
always up and away.
This is the way love travels.
 
© Lindsey Bellosa

 lindseyLindsey Bellosa lives in Syracuse, NY.  She has an MA in Writing from the National University of Ireland, Galway and has poems published in both Irish and American journals: most recently The Comstock Review, The Galway Review, IthacaLit, Crannog, Emerge Literary Journal and The Cortland Review.  Her first chapbook, The Hunger, was  published with Willet Press in 2014.

.

‘Evensong’ and other poems by Cherry Smyth

Evensong

 
The way evening comes in
(or on or down)
brings the word closer
than it’s ever been:
the blue levelling deeper,
evening to a fade
that seems to make the colour
brighter, the best possible
way to age. I keep watching
its beauty as if I could learn it,
shaking a month’s dust from
a carpet out of the top window,
my face paused in the cold air,
joining indigo,
the lidless city,
invulnerable,
the universe heard.
 

Where it Led You

(for John Maggio)
 
You say the wind in the trees brought it.
Your grandmother’s house nested by woods,
a cabin more like, with an outside toilet
and the smell of fallen apples masking it.
It isn’t the rotting, sweet thickness but where
it leads you: into the woods, where small
creeping shadows called to city boys who
could play lost, jungle commandoes.
 
You followed your brother into a clearing.
There lay something you knew but didn’t,
something that should move but couldn’t
– a heap of smattered fur, even before the flies
knew, a litter of puppies, the texture tangy
in your mouth, a fruit bruise, the pelts asking
to be petted, the bloodholes where the pellets
entered. Around you circled the knowledge of BB
guns, the deadly capable forest boys and the rustling
that shocked a new silence into you both.
 
When you say you want more space in the
maze of your paintings, I hear whimpering
in the trees, the pop-pop-pop of boyhood, see
a mound of warm heads. You will paint a path
out of the woods, making room for each and
every one, in fathering light. Your world is
kinder, figuring the dense, bewildering mass,
the face-down side of the bright apple.
 

Anniversary Poem

 
Dark barely lifts from
the rooftops, winter casting
its poorly washed sheet down.
January, the time of year I am least,
I stop on the stairs, refocus on
plum branches where green
nodes are clustering,
unwinding the clock of sap.
 
One year on, her warmer
hand taking mine has made me
almost immune – here’s the
very second, the hill of snow,
our sex-bright skin that graphs
a cycle beyond the usual lustrum;
look at her fingers fanning out
the count from her thumb;
hear the click of the abacus,
promising something foolproof
in calling love a number.
 
Evensong, Where It Led You and Anniversary Poem are © Cherry Smyth

Cherry on beachCherry Smyth is an Irish writer, living in London. Her first two poetry collections, When the Lights Go Up, 2001 and One Wanted Thing, 2006 were published by Lagan Press. The Irish Times wrote of this collection: ‘Here is clarity and realism, couched in language that is accessible and inventive. The title poem carries all Smyth’s hallmarks: precision, linguistic inventiveness and joy.’ Cherry’s work was selected for Best of Irish Poetry, 2008, Southword Editions and The Watchful Heart: A New Generation of Irish Poets, Salmon Press, 2009. Her third collection Test, Orange, 2012, was published by Pindrop Press and her debut novel, Hold Still, Holland Park Press, appeared in 2013. She also writes for visual art magazines including Art Monthly. She is currently a Royal Literary Fellow.

Poetry by Cherry Smyth
Water, Shine On Sarah Lucas, and other Cherry Smyth poems on Soundcloud