after Pied Piper of Hamelin
White-necked (Pacific) Heron,
In the orphanage a child
© Michael J. Whelan (Published in Cyphers, Nov 2011)
GRAPES OF WRATH
It happens on a Thursday, just after 2pm,
A soldier climbs from the rubble limbs
© Michael J. Whelan
(Qana Massacre April 18th 1996)
You lay in your frozen field, slack-jawed at how you
I imagine the fears of your kin as they searched the high
© Michael J. Whelan
Published in And Agamemnon Dead – An Anthology of Early 21st Century Irish Poetry Edited by Walter Ruhlman & Peter O’ Neill (Paris, 2015)
The sodden fields are bleak, the road
© Michael J. Whelan
It’s raining, always is,
You’re not really afraid – for yourself,
No, you’re not afraid for yourself,
You – the uniforms that stormed into their hurting place
© Michael J. Whelan
Published in Three Monkeys, online magazine, Feb 2013
|PARADOX OF THE PEACEKEEPER IN THE HOLY LAND
I am forever walking upon the shore
betwixt the sand and the foam.
The high tide will erase my footprints,
and the wind will blow away the foam,
but the sea and the shore will remain foreverKahlil Gibran
In Lebanon I sought redemption
before these wars for modernity and religion
and the same priests parcelled out her favours to believers
the defence of Masada by Jewish zealots
who lit the path for Crusaders and the burial places of a thousand years
and where now the free man might dig with trowels once more,
and young girls might seek the damask rose in the gorges of forgotten ambushes,
they wait and pray looking up upon the many faces of the gods
© Michael J. Whelan
Published in A New Ulster, issue 32, May 2015
|Michael J. Whelan is a soldier-poet, writer & historian (Curator – Irish Air Corps Aviation Museum) living in Tallaght County Dublin. He served as a peacekeeper in South Lebanon and Kosovo during the conflicts in those countries in the 1990s, which inspires much of his work. He was 2nd Place Winner in the Patrick Kavanagh Poetry Award 2011, Shortlisted in 2012 with a Special Commendation in 2013. He was 3rd Place Winner in the Jonathon Swift Creative Writing Awards 2012, shortlisted in the Doire Press and Cork Literary Manuscript Competitions and selected for the Eigse Eireann/Poetry Ireland Introductions 2012. His work has appeared in the Hennessy New Irish Writing 2013, Poetry Ireland Review, the Red Line Book Festival and many other literary magazines and newspapers. His poems were recently published in a new anthology titled The Hundred Years War published by Bloodaxe UK in May 2014.
Michael blogs at https://michaeljwhelan.wordpress.com/
|It was with great sadness that I learnt of the death of Dr. Muireann Ní Bhrolcháin, Senior Lecturer of Early Irish (Sean-Ghaeilge), at the Centre for Irish Cultural Heritage at Maynooth University. Obituaries and remembrances are too formal a way to encapsulate the energies of the person who has passed away. What we may say about her on paper; on her authorship, her survivors, and her activities, pale in comparison to the ball of energy that she was. Muireann had a huge and warmly generous physical presence despite her tiny size. She was quite literally a ball of energy.
I first met Muireann Ní Bhrolcháin at the Four Courts, as one did during the campaigns that dominated the Celtic Tiger era. Protestors would be in and out of courts fighting on issues related to the complete destruction of any and all heritage laws by the Fianna Fáil Party who came up with new planning bills even as they tore down and scrapped institutions that were charged with the preservation of our natural and built heritage. News media would jostle to get near the government ministers who thought up new and ingenious ways to fast-track planning laws and ramming their tastelessness into property bubbles, bad housing, dublin satellites, and the ephemera of trash that can only be described as garbage politics. People like Muireann were almost criminalised for objecting to the fact that in the 13 years of political dominance by Fianna Fáil and it’s motley collection of political props, not one of them actually bothered to bring in a single heritage preservation bill. The media never asked why there were no heritage bills, they were busy selling houses for the government.
Muireann asked the awkward questions like why Dúchas was abolished by Martin Cullen TD, Why Bertie Ahern was so intent on a leadership that passed endless fast-track and Strategic Infrastructure Bills, and why successive Environment Ministers could not pass The Aarhus Convention into Irish law, they still haven’t. Why above all were we demolishing (‘Preservation by Record’) unique sites at Tara (39 sites were demolished) in the Gabhra Valley to allow for the M3 Toll Road. Decentralisation of protections like the OPW, and the defunding of existent preservation programmes were policies that ensured cheap housing and good profit to companies like the NRA (who also managed to take on the majority of archaeology programmes nationally) The media not alone did not trace these issues but they deliberately ignored or obfuscated them within a sugary silence that disallowed anything negative or challenging to emerge that might effect the status quo. There was no joining of dots, just a lot of quangoes and silence in the Tiger Era.
Despite this juggernaut of profiteering and short-termism, Muireann for the most part kept her temper and went into the courts, or she stood out on the Hill Of Tara in all weathers, or she waved orders into the faces of the Gardaí. She never cried in front of me but she witnessed a scarring and vicious tragedy that seems to encapsulate the appalling recklessness and greed of the Tiger Era. It was a devastation that was fuelled by greed and lack of education: bulldoze everything and make some cheap tract housing , extend the Dublin suburbs into Meath and while we are at it make a tidy little profit from unhooking all laws that preserve our unique heritage. Gombeenism is not the word for it.
Muireann’s gentler side emerged when she involved herself in cultural events like the Feis Teamhair where poets like Peter Fallon, Seamus Heaney, Paul Muldoon, Susan McKeown and more came yearly to Tara to raise cultural voice and to sing their protest. It was probably at Feis Teamhair that I last saw her turn back toward someone who grabbed her arm and asked her a question or greeted her warmly.
We make public poets, great men and women who are imprisoned in the media glare. We want them to represent all that is good in Ireland, and we consign the irritating questioners to the margins. Muireann was an irritating questioner, a restless and enthusiastic spirit, a friend and colleague of great poets, she defended and embraced our literary and poetic heritage with all her health and drive.
She has not lived as long as those she opposed, but her name is inscribed in the history of Tara, a visual sign that people will battle great odds to illuminate truths that politicians and their wordless and grey supporters ignore. Dr. Muireann Ní Bhrolcháin has died a respected and feisty woman, unlike the liars she challenged daily and I will miss her big heart.
Rest in Peace Muireann x
Christine Murray (published at The Bogman’s Cannon )
Once Upon A Time
The literal translation of this poem was made by Zuzanna Olszewska.The final translated version of the poem is by Mimi Khalvati
Once Upon A Time: this poem refers to a fairytale in which the hero sets off to fight the Black Demon, aided by the White Demon and the magic powers of a sack with a mirror, a comb and a strand of hair. Fairytales traditionally start with the refrain, ‘There was one, there wasn’t one, apart from God, there was no one.’
View from Afar
View From Afar is © Shakila Azizzada
|With thanks to Sarah Maguire director of The Poetry Translation Centre for facilitating my selection of poems by Shakila Azizzada.
The poems were translated by Mimi Khalvati and Zuzanna Olszewska for the Poetry Translation Centre
Shakila Azizzada is a poet from Afghanistan who writes in Dari.
Shakila Azizzada was born in Kabul in Afghanistan in 1964. During her middle school and university years in Kabul, she started writing stories and poems, many of which were published in magazines. Her poems are unusual in their frankness and delicacy, particularly in the way she approaches intimacy and female desire, subjects which are rarely adressed by women poets writing in Dari.
After studying Law at Kabul University, Shakila read Oriental Languages and Cultures at Utrecht University in The Netherlands, where she now lives. She regularly publishes tales, short stories, plays and poems. Her first collection of poems, Herinnering aan niets (Memories About Nothing), was published in Dutch and Dari and her second collection will be published in 2012. Several of her plays have been both published and performed, including De geur van verlangen (The Scent of Desire). She frequently performs her poems at well-established forums in The Netherlands and abroad.
|The first edition of SHE was published by Oneiros Books in 2014.
The cover painting image is © Anastasia Kashian, with great thanks to David Mitchell for design, and to Michael McAloran for accepting the book on behalf of Oneiros Books.
Two poems from The Island Sequence of ‘She’
sea is a womb
sea is a womb
rock and rock,
gold lace a-glitter
beneath the carved wave
black the inky waves lap to
black the inky waves lap to and black they suck the shale and if birds swoop they are the mere shadows of birds there are hands there to disembark you to hold you over the rocky black those hands that will arc you onto the comfort of stone this is the sea/ this inky black it does not smell of sea the gap between the boat and the shore is awesome the wood laps the water dragging it out / and bobbing it back again the chasm at the heel and one step forward to land to stone comfort.
Poems from The Island Sequence of ‘She‘ are © C. Murray
black the inky waves lap to was published in The Burning Bush VI
(i) A letter found in the box that contained this narrative, being addressed to the cousin of former patient, Miss Constance Byrne.
(ii) A note attached to the file of Miss Constance Byrne (now deceased).
|Cousin – ,
The narrative that follows here is a faithful rendering of my wanderings from the time of my retirement to the dawn. It is always the same. I do not expect anyone will believe me, but I know that my dreaming life is as real as my waking life.
Indeed, I have learnt not to call these sleeping narratives anything other than a different part of my reality.When I first encountered the entity that appears on the towpath I was afraid for She seemed hardly human to me. I had gone little by little into this dreaming place over the course of twenty years, and I had explored it wholly in her company. I do not know what my encounter with this lady means, I intend to find out. In my exploratory times there I have never yet met another person. Although there were signs of life (or of creaturely habitation).This landscape seemed to me to be ruined by war and by heat. What else could make marble of glass shards?
It is bleak there. At every dawn there occurs a throb of colour and I know that somehow I am back here in this world. I do not believe that my nightly explorations are a dream, for I have found tears upon my slippers, and a rend in the lace of my dress.She wants to show me something. She has indicated for me a bridge. I intend to cross over it, and thereby to continue to explore the geography of its unknown terrain.
I travel now alone. I am unencumbered by family, nor by tradition. I leave to you this letter and some small tokens of my esteem. Know that I am safe, and although I undertake this journey with trepidation, I remain always your,