Poems from ‘Vocal Chords’ by Maeve O’Sullivan


Vocal Chords by Maeve O’Sullivan

Published, Alba Publishing 2014. 64 Pages

Sunday, Women Drying Their Hair

Bare-legged, in light, pale clothing,
three young women stand on an urban rooftop;
New York, probably, or some other big city.
They are letting the wind dry their hair
while white garments sway on a line behind them,
and the chimney beside them casts a long shadow.
It is 1912, and Sloan’s subjects could be sisters:
one redhead in a green skirt, one brunette, one blonde.
The brunette looks approvingly at the redhead,
while the blonde brushes her hair which hangs
like a curtain, her head titled to the right,
the left hand on her hip for balance.
I imagine they are chatting about the night before;
what they did, who they saw dancing, girl talk.
One of them could be softly humming
After The Ball or something jazzy;
no World War to bother them yet, and no Depression,
this year forever marked by a ship called the Titanic.
This is how I would like my three sisters to be;
close, relaxed, hanging out happily,
the brunette smiling at the redhead, the blonde
still long-haired and carefree, and me,
the youngest girl, looking on
from the gallery, taking it all in.
Sunday, Women Drying Their Hair is © Maeve O’Sullivan.



West African proverb:’When an old man dies, a library burns to the ground.’
Book by book, a library burns down
when someone dies in Africa; the fire
consumes the memory, the sensorium.
And when he lights his robes of orange-brown,
the monk rejects the puja, picks the pyre
as, book by book, his library burns down.
Three hundred people in a Midwest town
were burnt alive like blossoms on a briar,
with loss of all those memories,sensoriums.
Before he left,prognosis barely known,
my father trudged his way through the quagmire;
then, book by book, his library burned down.
The seeds of our dejectedness were sown
when that disease took hold and made a liar
of her clouding memory, her sensorium.
And when at last I’m put into the ground,
or else cremated, ashes back to Gaia,
book by book, my library will burn down,
consuming, then, my memory, my sensorium.
Heartwood is © Maeve O’Sullivan

White Star

the majestic steamer
slips into the sea-
first voyage

spinning his top…
the child who survived
to die three years later
she goes back in
for the hat from her mother-
makes the lifeboat
the pills in her pocket
eventually identifying
the lost Irishwoman
anchor, propeller
these rusticles
a hundred years
in the making

White Star is © Maeve O’Sullivan

vcMaeve O’Sullivan works as a media lecturer in the further education sector in Dublin. Her poems and haiku have been widely published and anthologised since the mid-1990s, and she is a former poetry winner at Listowel Writer’s Week. Initial Response, her debut collection of haiku poetry, also from Alba Publishing, was launched in 2011, and was well-received by readers and critics alike. Maeve is a founder member of Haiku Ireland (www.haiku-ireland.com) and the Hibernian Poetry Workshop. She also performs at festivals and literary events with the spoken word group The Poetry Divas. Her poem Leaving Vigo was recently nominated for a Forward Prize for a Single Poem by the Limerick-based journal Revival (http://poetry-24.blogspot.ie/2013/08/leaving-vigo.html).

Vocal Chords


by Maeve O’Sullivan

ISBN 9780957526587

Paperback. 64pp
Published: February 2014

£10 / €12 / $16

To order, email: info@albapublishing.com

Bone Orchard Poetry has re-opened for submissions

An experimental blogzine of the Bleak/the Surreal/the Dark/Absurd and the Experimental…


Submissions Guidelines

Please submit 3-6 poems or 1-3 short prose/ prose poetry/ flash fiction pieces for consideration. NO ATTACHMENTS, they will be deleted automatically. Publication is on a rolling basis. A bio is optional but please keep it short. All submissions to: boneorchardpoetry[at]gmail[dot]com

Submit 3-6 poems or 1-3 short prose/prose poetry/flash fiction pieces for consideration to boneorchardpoetry[at]gmail[dot]com

Poems from ‘The Blind’

These series, published at A New Ulster #10, Ditch Poetry, and The Southword Journal are from my book The Blind (Oneiros Books, 2013)



it is all ceremony
it is all the cloths
all gathered-in

it is white tailor’s chalk
in a neat triangle
it is the blanket-stitch
before the machine

it is the neighbour woman
with her bone-pick
pulling stitches
one by one
from the curtain lining

the [bone-pick] is ivory coloured
a little larger than a [tooth-pick]
nubbed to cradle under the silks

and lift them up
so she can snip it at the ties


the little knot hidden in back of the material stretched out across her knees is silver
the thread is doubled-to

the material is some floral-stuff on white laid onto a cream skirting
she will rinse it out in cold water later

and hang it on the monday line the blue-blue rope of the monday line
the length of material

is clean / sweaty from her handiwork
she will hang it over the gauze of her nets which are always immaculate

her effort is blind/
she does not need eyes to feel her work her gathering-to of the pleats

‘Sans’ published The Southword Journal


outside the ragged bird tears
dead flies from window nets

and it is not clothed right
– it claws the glass

suspend I

from the mirror architrave
float down silken threads
they are not blackened yet

from the branches they reach down
laden with fruit
out on the limb
birds beat them for desiccated meat

making sweetmeats for desperate bills
a man is clipping the edges with steel
season’s treachery

suspend I

from the mirror architrave
float down silken threads
they are not blackened yet

from the ceiling hooks
float down wisps of
red thread – almost

cobweb light she is
arched back unsure
whether to suspend

burnt orange silks
cover the shutters
there are children in the street

she is nonetheless
quite bound-up
in red ropes

from loop at nape
and length of torso
it is peaceful

being spider-rolled
webbed-in and arched
as if a

bird swoops down
behind the orange silks


suspend I

as if
she were an exotic fruit
a seed caught in breeze

from the mirror architrave
float down silken threads
they are not blackened yet

cobweb light she is
arched back unsure
whether to suspend

in the red threads
that loop at her nape
down the length
of her torso

dividing and opening
her out achingly
if she moves the
threads will tighten

the harpies are perched in the suicide-trees

Hunger, published Ditch Poetry


a hook for an eye
this ribbon for a slip

there’s a pigeon in the pot
and tree makes the room

your foot on the boards
your head in the sky

no mind if your stockings snag
are splinter-caught

the red thread
frayed or snag

walk now on swollen feet
on feet that are bound-in

with red and orange
with stocking threads

these can be mended
these can be made whole again

you wouldn’t even
notice the tear

we are so good
at what we do

neat and tight
no pain no gain

for the ragged flower


gauze dries into the stitched wound
where the tender-care of hands tug
to redress to change to douse stitches
with a brown liquid stuff

it dyes the skin a type of clinical colour
but with so tender a care -

the split wound of vaginal mutilation
is less easy to care for
no gauze can be safe at depth of
and thus submersion-in salt baths

whilst the jagged edges gather to
as mended sails, as canvas-stuff
as linen-stuff

you can tell at a distance that
a woman has a scar that snakes up
by the cast of her foot
the heel-down look

those stitches are insoluble
the birth passage
for the next opening


the feather-hook is a seed spiralling in the breeze,
a false signal

it mocks the mayhem of the caught moth down to
its nub stone

its plane is a shell network of dried skin, veined even
– it has a spine of sorts

it mocks the mayhem of the caught moth down to
its nub stone

Hooks’ published in ANU #10

The Blind is a contemporary poem-tale about The Furies. The themes and symbols of The Blind are entirely interdependent from beginning to end. The Blind is set out as a tale and employs experimental poetic methods throughout, including cut-up, repetition, symbol and internal rhyme. I did not make use of poetic prose, as I felt that it would be a challenge to tell a tale poetically. I am delighted that the book is now available. I have found it easier to employ these methods in conceiving book-length poem-tales since I began working in this manner, and to this end I have initiated another project in a similar vein.

Christine Murray is a City and Guilds Stonecutter. Her chapbook, Three Red Things was published on June 4th 2013 by Smithereens Press, Dublin, Ireland. Her collection, Cycles was published by Lapwing Press (Belfast) in August 2013. THE BLIND is her latest collection.


ISBN 9781291577105

Purchase Link for The Blind
Previews of The Blind at Ditch Poetry

Publications acknowledgements for The Blind

Thanks to David Mitchell , publisher at Oneiros Books and to poetry editor Michael McAloran, who guided me through publishing my second poetry collection, The Blind.

  • Thanks to Amos Gideon Grieg , publisher at A New Ulster Magazine, who previewed some of the poems from The Blind this past summer. The series published at A New Ulster was entitled Hooks, Ceremony and Hunger.
  • Thanks to Ditch Poetry, who featured Suspend I from The Blind in their magazine.
  • Thank you to the editor of Southword Literary Journal (Munster Literature Centre) who will publish poems from The Blind in the Winter 2013 issue of Southword.

Poems from Crown Of Thorns by Bethany W Pope


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

Crown 3: Alchemy

The corridors run, binding us together
Out of glistening red and blue wires. I begin to
Understand the composition of my body,
Generated from matrices of history and flesh.
Here are my mother’s breasts, they rise from my chest,
Retaining the form they had in her lost youth. My
Eyes are my fathers; they entered the stream through his
Father’s mother. Flesh and brain, spirit, soul, an internal
Unending source that mingles past and future, feeding me.
Salvation from misery, the remnants of an
Aching jaw, is found in reviewing the struggle. My
Life, redeemed through recognition of its features in
The faces, the stories of the ancestors who
Owned my blood in the beginning. I am myself, and them.
from Bloodlines; An Emperor’s Crown © Bethany W. Pope

Cup by C. Murray


nest rests
her cup

(heart, feather)

into wood

In air (above)
sky is a heart caught
red, its amber spilling

nest stills
her dust
and moss

breathe out 

underground, wet roots stir
the sleeping house up

     the softening rain

my veins answer tree


Cup is © C. Murray


New Trees,

there are three -
two crows dance 
steel-beaking the mounds round

New Trees is © C. Murray

Image is © Mick McAloran

Image is © Mick McAloran