Category Archives: Alpha sites for women poets

‘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

‘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.