Poems from “Barefoot Souls” by Maram al-Masri

Sara

Daughter of Sana
Age 9

 
Why does my father
beat my mother ?
 
She does not know
how to iron his shirts properly.
 
Me, when I am grown up
I will iron the shirts
very well.
 

FAÂdi

Son of Sonia
Age: 7

 
You know, Mother
if the giant comes
during the night
to beat you,
You can come
sleep in my bed.
 
I ate up all my soup
and all my spinach
so that
I can grow up quickly
and protect you.
 

Salma

Son of Leila
Age: 12

 
Why don’t you go to the doctor
and have him give back your smile,
Mother,
your lovely smile?
 

Samir

Son of Magda
Age: 13

 
I do not remember her face,
I was very small when my father
carried me off to my grandmother’s house
far,
far away.
 
My grandmother did not like
the one who had brought me into the world,
with every prayer she would demand that God
would punish her.
 
She would say, hers is the blood of the devil.
she would say, she abandoned you
for the cats to eat you up.
 
Eighteen months old … that’s very young
for a child
to have to defend himself.
 

Clément and Romain

Children of Florence
Age 12 and 9

 
Don’t forget, Mother
to pack me and brother
in your baggage.
 
We won’t annoy you
we’ll behave this time.
 

Chloë

Daughter of Suzanne
Age: 11

 
I have often
seen my father
drag my mother by the hair
into the bathroom.
I’d hide myself
in the cupboard
and wait until he’d calm down.
 
On the wall in the sitting room
there’s a photo of a crocodile.
myself and my brother,
we used to call it
‘Papa’.
 
from II, The Scream, Barefoot Souls
 

VI

 
Look, look
at all the wounds I have received
in your wars.
 
This wound, deep and dark,
I got it at 18,
the first time you injured me.
I bled until I thought I might die,
swore I would never again
get into a fight.
 
But every time you return,
smiling that smile,
promising paradise and eternity,
 
back I come again
without helmet or armour
and you lunge at me with your words,
stabbing as hard as you can,
as if, truly,
you wished me dead.
 
I do not know by what miracle
I survive,
nor by what miracle
I fall back into your arena.
 
Look, look,
this one is still fresh,
still bleeding.
Be gentle, this time …
 
You see,
I cannot bear another wound,
At the very least, do it nicely ..
 

There are Women

 
There are women
who carried you
who offered their blood and their wombs
who brought you into the world
who bathed you
who breastfed you
 
There are women
who cherished you
when you were small
until you grew up,
when you were weak
until you became strong
 
There are women
who desired you
who entwined you in their arms
who welcomed you in their wombs
who gave you their mouths
who gave you to drink of their water
 
There are women
who betrayed you
and there are women who
abandoned you.
 
These poems are © Maram al-Masri

Maram Al-Masri

Maram Al-Masri is from Lattakia in Syria, now settled in Paris. She studied English Literature at Damascus University before starting publishing her poetry in Arab magazines in the 1970s. Today she is considered one of the most renowned and captivating feminine voices of her generation. Besides numerous poems published in literary journals, in several Arab anthologies and in various international anthologies, she has published several collections of poems. Thus far her work has been translated into eight languages. Maram al-Masri has participated in many international festivals of poetry in France and abroad. She has been awarded the “Adonis Prize” of the Lebanese Cultural Forum for the best creative work in Arabic in 1998, the “Premio Citta di Calopezzati” for the section “Poesie de la Mediterranee” and the “Prix d’Automne 2007” of the Societe des gens de letters. Her poetry collections include “Karra humra’ ala bilat abyad” (Red Cherry on the White Floor) and “Undhur Ilayk” (I look at you). (Source: Arc Publications)

Barefoot Souls by Maram Al-Masri (Source: Arc Publications)


“Barefoot Souls” was translated by Theo Dorgan

TheoDorganTheo Dorgan is a poet, novelist, prose writer, documentary screenwriter, editor, translator and broadcaster.

His poetry collections are The Ordinary House of Love (Galway, Salmon Poetry, 1991); Rosa Mundi (Salmon Poetry, 1995); and Sappho’s Daughter (Dublin, wave Train Press 1998). In 2008 Dedalus Press published What This Earth Cost Us, reprinting Dorgan’s first two collections with some amendments. After Greek(Dublin, Dedalus Press, 2010), his most recent collection is Nine Bright Shiners(Dedalus Press 2014). Songs of Earth and Light, his versions from the Slovenian of Barbara Korun, appeared in 2005 (Cork, Southword Editions). In 2015 his translations from the French of the Syrian poet Maral al-Masri, BAREFOOT SOULS, appeared from ARC Publications, UK.

He has also published a selected poems in Italian, La Case ai Margini del Mundo, (Faenza, Moby Dick, 1999), and a Spanish translation of Sappho’s Daughter La Hija de Safo, (Madrid, Poesía Hiperión, 2001). Ellenica, an Italian translation of Greek, appeared in 2011 from Edizioni Kolibris in Italy. (Source: Aosdána)

 

mc_9781910345375Barefoot Souls by Maram al-Masri
Translated by Theo Dorgan
From |  Arc Translations Series

About Barefoot Souls by Maram al-Masri Detailing the lives of Syrian women living in Paris, these poems, capturing the unheard voices of women whose lives are suppressed in unimaginable ways, allow us to explore moments never mentioned in the news reports. Potent and never failing to capture the essence of the feminine experience with a remarkable amount of insight.
978-1910345-37-5 pbk
978-1910345-38-2 hbk
978-1910345-39-9 ebk
120pp
Published September 2015

Arena Interview on Barefoot Souls by Maram al-Masri

 

‘I wanted to tell you, but there was no time’ and other poems by Csilla Toldy

Kitchen

 
With hot chilli in my eyes
I read between the lines,
a coded message of noises:
A child’s scream sheathed in wind blasts,
 
gashes through the cracks.
The mandalay porcelain clock, riveting,
ticks between my shoulder blades.
I carry my life like a snail.
 
The fridge sighs,
a boiler roars into motion,
it broils the oil of the seas and heats
– my place, the kitchen at dawn.
 
Clouds scrub the stratosphere with desert sand;
a mad dog, stuck in fear, just shrills.
The river at the bottom of our glen,
shushing its song, cushions our senses.
 
In my body’s kitchen
the heart spins unrelenting.
Organs send impulses talking to each other.
“Thanks for the parcel, we enjoyed the food.”
 
The universe of enzymes awakens,
matter is transformed, vibrations vocalise.
My body is gauze, from Gaza, letting through the particles
of light – staunch at covering the wounds, so absorbent.
 
Beyond its wonders I remember
last night’s cosmic dance at this table,
our conversation about intelligence and order
and that we are bacteria in God’s body.
 
First appeared in Red Roots-Orange Sky, Lapwing Publications, Belfast edited by Dennis Greig
 

Danube – Duel

 
Is that a boat or a coffin
bobbing up and down on the river
framed by the intricate lace of the parliament?
 
The country taught me hate
the tightness of place, sometimes echoed
when the gales gather and attack this island.
 
No escape, lie low, let the winds blow overhead,
wait, even if you are sitting on a hot spring
even if you fume vitriol.
 
Remembering the river’s bank
ragged lines of men and women, shot
after they were told to slip off their shoes.
 
Boney bare trees reach up into the sky
grab the pain – hanging on
pulling it down, draw it deep into the soil.
 
The Danube splits the land. From the crack
incredible amounts of fresh water, hot and clear
bubble up with the smell of rotten eggs.
 
Healing waters – they say –
good for the bones and joints,
the ailments that plague the core of the nation.
 
The Jews that never got buried
float away into the sky – in the spas soaking
people play chess in sulphuric silence.
 
First appeared on Poetry24 edited by Martin Hodges
 

I wanted to tell you, but there was no time

 
In my dream I had to take the key to your flat and leave it there
It was very hard to do
I had to balance on steep rocks and loosened iron hoops
In my thoughts I tousled your hair and something lifted me up
A force – and my stomach jumped into my throat.
I was laughing, for this was what I wanted.
Then it was over – (some new dream, new convolutions began about
a girl who dived into the awesome blue of the sea –
Cassandra – I was glad that she left me alone
Like a sunset, her blonde locks sunk into the sea)
 
I was thinking about symbols on my way to you near the southern railways
And my stomach was in my throat.
Arriving, I felt the usual little pain, you said I was beautiful
and I believed you. There was no doubt about it – I could love
You as it was good for me. We were standing at the glass panels
In front of us the space
I did not tousle your hair, there was no embrace, although desired
I left, I was in a street again and a force lifted me up –
the one that was leaving dragged me with itself.
I was a weak woman then, tiny and the struggle with my own power
Seemed ridiculous. I let it fall into the void.
 
First appeared in A New Ulster edited by Amos Greig

Broken – Winged

 
The first time I heard your voice on the line
defensively bored, I thought my pleading
rendered me powerless. But surprising:
It was the key to your poor, broken heart.
 
I admired the splinters: Twisted sky,
land, barbed wire manifold reflected,
Medusa eyes flash, piercing the sadness,
but whirls of winds carry us to new heights.
 
I believed in me being your healer –
making you whole a possibility.
Wanted to be the cohesive matter,
 
Superwoman with the magical torch,
blind to your pain’s artful prosperity –
to the cage of guilt and cunning reproach.
 
First appeared in Red Roots-Orange Sky, Lapwing Publications, Belfast edited by Dennis Greig
 

Photo by Alistair Livingstone

Photo by Alistair Livingstone

Csilla Toldy was born in Budapest. After a long odyssey in Europe she entered the UK with a writer’s visa to work on films and ended up living in Northern Ireland in 1998. Her prose appeared in Southword, Black Mountain Review and anthology, Fortnight, The Incubator Journal, Strictly Writing and Cutalongstory. Her poetry was published online and in print literary magazines, such as Snakeskin and Poetry24, Savitri, Lagan Online, Headstuff, Visible Verse, A New Ulster and in two chapbooks published by Lapwing Belfast: Red Roots – Orange Sky and The Emigrant Woman’s Tale. Csilla makes videopoems, available on her website:  www.csillatoldy.co.uk &  https://soundcloud.com/ctoldy

“Fintona” and other poems by Aine MacAodha

Windowless church

 
My church has no windows
in fact it has no doors either
and to be fair no altar
it has no ordained minister
or priest or gospels.
Its in my heart, in
the starry sky
the moon shining over the land
its the planets in our solar system
the sun when it shines or not
its the foods god/creator
left us, berries, leaves, nuts
my church has winter winds that
cut to the bone and to enlighten
I have the sweet smell of roses
as I follow the seasons.
It is bog cotton waving on an
early Autumn evening as the
sun bids farewell.
On nights like these
dark and Irish wintery
the familiar trees and hills
become ancient septs
ready for battle with the ether.
Fields caped in winter fog
appear as crafted cities of the dead
souls roam among the rushes
in search of utopia or a home.
Trees scan the darkened horizon
the wind calls out names too and
winter hangs around like a threat.
This is my church.
 

Distractions

 
It’s the end of April.
Spring late this year
begins its infinite ascent
to the tips of the cherry tree
birds come by often
a come-all-ye in the front garden
their songs reach an inner place
like listening to Franz Haydn
his strings reaching out
from centuries past making clear
contact in a podcast
channelling his toils and efforts
an artist whose initial struggles
with mind, soul, pocket
rise and fall with each
strike of the bow
altering my thoughts on outer things
a distraction, like the bird song often
heard in my childhood estate longing
for far flung horizons.
 

Stone circle alignments

 
They invite soul connection
invoke an energy of some sort
long past histories underfoot.
Early man was quite the architect
aligning the stones in such a way
that at equinox and solstices
sun rises to light up the passageway.
A seeking brings people here
an ancient longing that needs met.
Creevykeel court tomb is a full tomb
the largest in Ireland.
Tievebaun Mountain seems to guard it
shadows come and go with the sunsets.
we don’t give ancient man enough credit
for the science they carved into the landscape.
 

Fintona

 
Or to give it its’ town-land meaning
A fairly coloured field.
A small country town, familiar, friendly.
one can see the whole shopping street
from left to right without shifting a foot.
There is a jewel though
a hidden forested area
where a raised fairy fort stands
once druids conferred their words
in praise of nature.
 
There too I find the remains of a
burnt out wreckage of a car
perhaps stolen years ago left now for
mother nature to clear up which she did
wrapping her briars in and through the doors
designing the broken glass with her leaves.
 

Awakening

 
Sun slants in through the venetian blinds
dust particles float in the narrow space
books, a pen, Sundays newspapers
and a mobile phone cling on the quilt cover.
 
Its 9.30am Spring has come, crisp April air
drifts in from the ajar window, it will soon be
Summer again, warmth of the sun rejuvenates.
 
I wander the halls of my mind on wakening
sieve through last nights dream
catching broken pieces of a story or place
and wondering all day if it meant something.
 
Fintona and other poems is © Aine MacAodha
These poems have been published in the online journal Episteme, Vol. 4(1), June 2015 under the section IRISH POETRY | Web address | http://www.episteme.net.in/

 

Aine MacAodha is 52 year old writer from Omagh North of Ireland, her works have appeared in Doghouse Anthology of Irish haiku titled, Bamboo Dreams, Poethead Blog, Glasgow Review, Enniscorthy Echo, poems translated into Italian and Turkish, honorable mention in Diogen winter Haiku contest, Shamrock Haiku, Irish Haiku, thefirscut issues #6 and #7, Outburst magazine, A New Ulster issues,2 ,4, 27. Pirene’s Fountain Japanese Short Form Issue, DIOGEN Poetry, Argotist Online, The Best of Pirene’s Fountain ‘First Water’ Revival and Boyne Berries. She self published two volumes of poetry, Where the Three rivers Meet and Guth An Anam (voice of the soul). Argotist online recently published ‘Where the Three rivers Meet’ as an E book. Her latest collection Landscape of Self was published by Lapwing Press Belfast.
 
https://sites.google.com/a/lapwingpublications.com/lapwing-store/aine-macaodha
http://ainemacaodha.webs.com/index.htm

“Satellite” and other poems by Roisin Kelly

To a Writer

 
You write of raspberries and snow
of the mimosa flower’s scent
of how it makes you feel to put on lipstick
and heels. Of how it feels to wander home
 
below the stars, drunk but not too drunk
how you always like to show a little cleavage
though you never undo more
than the top two buttons of your shirt.
 
But there’s so much else I’d give to you
like the full pale weight of your breasts
bared to the world and wild.
During menstruation, don’t stay in
 
breaking chocolate before a laptop screen:
dip your fingers between your legs
and stain your face with red.
Write down all of last night’s dream
 
not just the parts with crystal seas
but the parts you’d rather not think about.
Drink whiskey until you vomit.
Stand on a beach in your bare feet
 
and cry about the guy who betrayed you
but comfort yourself also
with thoughts of his drowned body
his groin now a home for nibbling fish.
 
For the last time, I give to you one
of our mornings at the Claddagh
where we used to meet and drink coffee.
Take this pain-au-chocolat
 
in your hands, tear it in half
and devour its fragrant cloud
down to what you so desperately desire:
the dark liquid heart of things.
 

The Morning After

 
She leaves the holiday cottage early
thinking we’re all still asleep. I hear the latch’s rise
and fall, the click of the closing door.
 
Lying in bed, I picture her walking down the lane
past fields of wheat, and tiny gardens already vivid
with islanders’ clothes hung out to dry.
 
I imagine her on the beach, shading her eyes
against the sea’s neon-green, stabbed here and there
with the black knives of sea-stacks.
 
A gull circles, its cry like an accusation.
I know she’ll have knelt where waves crawl to foam
and have started digging a hole.
 
The tide will rush into the hole as many times
as I poured wine into her glass last night
while the others drank at the harbour pub.
 
She’ll bury the things that weren’t hers to keep:
the wine-cork, the used matchsticks, the candle-stub.
Later, when she returns, the kitchen is filled
 
with the smell of frying bacon, its red hiss.
Someone’s made tea, they call for a towel
to swaddle the pot and keep it warm.
 
I keep my back to where she stands at the door
and crack eggs one by one in a bowl.
 

Unforgiven

 
The sun sinks blood-red beyond the plain.
My horse continues towards its closing eye
step by weary step. Between my hands I grip
 
the saddle’s leather, feel at my hip
a pistol. A coyote howls a warning to the space
between the setting of the sun and the rising
 
of the bone-white moon, and you are unforgiven.
I will find you, my lover, my condemned sinner
and when I hunt you from your hidey-hole
 
even the familiar stars will show no mercy.
I know every rock and twisted tree that marks
this barren place. I know my way in the dark.
 

Satellite

 
On the bench where we first kissed, I sit alone
above the city. The scent of roasting hops seems to come
not from the brewery but from the Plough’s
starry saucepan tilting in the sky. I trace
its crooked handle, and remember how you cooked for us,
standing at the stove’s heat and stirring onions—
your movements as tender as you wanted them to become.
 
I stood beside you, watched the slivers turn translucent.
Last winter, when infatuation spread through me
like a cancer, I could have stayed on this hill
forever, where you put your downy Canada Goose coat
around my shoulders, and rolled joints
with your cold hands. Clusters of orange streetlights
on the opposite hills dazzled my eyes,
 
stuttering here and there with the stray, rogue cell
of a traffic light changing from green to red.
These city lights no longer trap you in their honeyed glow
but my stars are still the same as yours. From your country
do you see that satellite drifting through the sky
like the ghost of you growing fainter by the minute?
I follow its patient path until it vanishes,
 
slipping butter-smooth past the horizon.
How long until it returns? Passing and passing
over the world, over my city replicated in miniature: bars,
cafés, cathedral spires, this hill, this bench.
Will you spend Christmas alone? If you shook the globe
containing the perfect scene you left me in
I’d feel the earth move, but it wouldn’t snow.
 

Laundry

 
It was one of life’s thoughtless routines,
lifting your clothes from my floor.
 
When I find some of your old shirts again
I hold them as gently
 
as if they’re fragile eggshells, the warm
yolk of life gone from them.
 
I know what it’s like to feel as empty
as a man’s unwashed shirt.
 
For the last time, I wash your clothes
with my own; for the last time
 
I perform that domestic ritual of love.
Our clothes hang side by side
 
once more: mine bright, yours dark.
Damp cloth, the scent of floral detergent.
 
Cherry blossoms in April,
two people caught in a sudden shower.
 

Christmas, Cork City

 
Our first date was on Christmas Eve
when we wandered the streets, past candlelit cafés and bars.
On the courthouse steps we cracked open beer cans
like a precious clutch of eggs, drained their cold yolks.
 
A traffic light swung like a bauble in the liquid black
of your pupil—the red of a single, dangerous berry.
You struck a match for your cigarette. At the same moment
my mother lit the window’s candle back home
so Mary and Joseph would know they were welcome.
 
Oh lonely orbit of stars and traffic lights.
I waited in the city’s desert darkness
for the glimpse of gold beyond your drawn curtains—
for the promise of a threadbare sofa to lie on,
of bread and wine on the table. Of the three gifts
of your eyes, your hands, your lips.
 
That night, the earth would slow in its turning
before a new sun began to rise,
tearing itself into existence between the old, known world
and some fiery entrance to elsewhere.
 
Satellite and other poems are © Róisin Kelly

Picture © Linda Ibbotson

Picture © Linda Ibbotson

Roisin Kelly is an Irish poet who was born in Belfast and raised in Co. Leitrim, and has since found her way to Cork City via a year on a remote island and an MA in Writing at the National University of Ireland, Galway. Her poems have appeared in Poetry Chicago, The Stinging Fly, The Timberline Review, The Irish Literary Review, Synaesthesia, Aesthetica, The Penny Dreadful, Bare Fiction, The Baltimore Review, Banshee, and Hallelujah for 50ft Women: Poems about Women’s Relationship to their Bodies (Bloodaxe 2015). More work is forthcoming in Best New British and Irish Poets (Eyewear 2016).

Poems from “Strange Country” by Kimberly Campanello

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3These poems were first published by Tears in The Fence and are © Kimberly Campanello
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Kimberly Campanello was born in Elkhart, Indiana. She now lives in Dublin and London. She was the featured poet in the Summer 2010 issue of The Stinging Fly, and her pamphlet Spinning Cities was published by Wurm Press in 2011 . Her poems have appeared in magazines in the US, UK, and Ireland, including  nthposition , Burning Bush IIAbridged , and The Irish Left Review . Her books are Consent published by Doire Press, and Strange Country Published by Penny Dreadful (2015) ZimZalla will publish MOTHERBABYHOME, a book of conceptual poetry in 2016.

 

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Strange Country can be bought from Penny Dreadful Publications
Sanctus by Kimberly Campanello
We Protect The Weak by Kimberly Campanello