“Market Prayer” and other poems by Annemarie Ní Churreáin

Laundry

 
Here in the Indian foothills,
I share a house with a man from Greece
 
who speaks no English perfectly,
disappears for days on a motorbike,
 
leaves his laundry on the low make-shift line,
grieving an absent sun.
 
Side by side they hang: his shirt, my summer dress
as if they know each other well
 
and when he returns, smelling of engine oil,
monsoon, rolled brown cigarettes,
 
we have no formal language,
to share our separate joy.
 
Drip-drip on the balcony,
a queer, white pool gathers below.
 
He holds at a sleeve, looks to sky.
I open my palm for signs of rain.
 

Market Prayer

 
It is the scent of hanging fruit
more than roots pulled
from lines of parallel dirt
that lingers
after all that has happened.
I touch a pyramid of lemons
and everything is new again.
I pick one, and close my hand around it
as if to test these immutable seeds
glowing in my darkness.
For what, I do not know.
Pomona of Orchards, please:
like the finder of a planet
seeing for the first time
an otherness, I am afraid
the life I dream exists.
 

Protest

 
One cut and the hair worn since childhood
fell upon the floor
dead soft.
 
A spear-thistle;
her new, bald skull
refused order.
 
She belonged to heather
and in tail-streams
cupping frogs,
 
delighting
in the small, green pulse of life
between palms,
 
not here:
at the dark centre of reunions, separations,
starved of air.
 
This was a protest of love, against love
demanding
sun, rain, wilderness.
 
From a finger, she slid a band
placed it underfoot,
pressed down
 
until the stone
made the sound of a gold chestnut
cracking open.
 

The Scandal

 
The villagers did not unite
in outrage
but instead, they set about their days as usual,
posting letters, buying fruit, forming queues in the bank after lunchtime.
 
They said little
but within that little lay much;
little was a gated field in which something extraordinary was buried.
 
They held to their inner selves
resilient
in emergencies of projected light.
 
And yet,
over time, there happened a slow retreat from joyousness;
a packing away of the Emperor’s new clothes, for good.
 
Only the giant oaks
would live to remember imagination.
 

End of Girlhood

 
The first time
a tree called me by name,
I was thirteen and only spoke a weave of ordinary tongues.
 
It started with a leaf and next,
a mist came down from the hills, beating a lone skin drum,
looking for me.
 
Scarlet pimpernels dropped hints
that could not be ignored:
no red is innocent.
 
Badger trails called me aside for a word.
Come underground, they said,
see what we are made of.
 
Market Prayer and other poems are © Annemarie Ni Churreáin

Annemarie Ní Churreáin is a poet and writer from Donegal, Ireland. She has been awarded literary fellowships from Akademie Schloss Solitude (Germany), Jack Kerouac House (Orlando) and Hawthornden Castle (Scotland). In 2016, Annemarie was the recipient of a Next Generation Artists Award from the Arts Council of Ireland. In Autumn 2017, Annemarie’s debut collection ‘BLOODROOT’ is being launched by Doire Press, Galway. For more information, click here.

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I. Am. Straight. Are you ? & other poems by Lisa Lowther.

Dedicated to the many people all over the world that cannot live liberally & authentically for reasons of culture or other. May you find a path that frees you to be true to your beautiful intrinsic self, whatever that may be.

Closet

Ivory Solid Wooden Door –
unbreakable
Shining Gold Handle
protected by two
one on either side
admittance – speaks quietly
the other will decide
as you attempt to open
not just anyone is welcome

White Backless Gowns
on shining skin
Chiffon, Encrusted Diamonds
heels that can match any
Elegant Masquerade Masks
green eyes of foreign waters
pearls, bright & round as the moon
reflected
only to the celebrant

By Invitation – The Other
Vintage Lace
some roses too
For Your Entrance –
not an exit of mine, this time
do close the door on leaving
the two shall rest awhile

A little like my own

Even I did not feel invited into this poem

I. Am. Straight.

Are you ?

Contemplation of what life once was & could have been
momentarily fills my heart with sadness
I could have chosen that path
the superficial comfort of what society states is my success
I now would be dead
a funeral
that I alone would have attended
privately & inside of me
a society that conditioned the belief amongst many
that my ‘type’ would only have a marriage to a ‘He’
that very poison choking the core beauty of some other ‘females’
Thankfully, that wasn’t me

I too could have taken that pride…. in a husband
a free ticket to shield my secret
My.
Secret.
To bury –
present us both as a society success
but Girlfriend, Fiance & Wife
I understand you
Without a judgmental nor a critical weight
for you & I are both the same
We are straight
‘Ssh’traight

A path interrupted by authentic desire
many a beautiful night
sharing a wild & deep embrace
of soft satin skin
& bright white lace
between the sheets with a natural beauty
to wake with the sun filling a room
illuminating the exquisite reality
for the torture of acceptance
to cut the presence of it, her & the sun
as easy as a knife would cut a single green blade of grass
& that torture ?
for simply being ‘Ssh’traight

‘Ssh’ traight
‘Ssh’traight
‘Straight’! – Presumed by many
always followed by
“Who is the lucky man?”
to scream inside
but I am in the sun with ‘her’
where I am alive & feel more like me
not dead to ‘Him’ or worst again
Dead to me
Dead to me
Dead to me!

The morning passes
with the fading sun
let go of my grasp
look deep in her eyes
share a warm kiss
this always suggested our departure
‘Ssh’traight reflection in the mirror
take a breath
rouge lipstick I paint
mascara to darken my lashes
on opening that door
remember to lift my head
clicking my heels into the engulfment of society again

until the next time
I am straight
Are you?

Here

So you’ve left ?
sorrowful mess
alone in mind of how & what
weeping heart
no matter what
full –
yet void of why

So you’ve left
& my heart to love again –
impossible
to what it was
& IS
is rare
is rare

So you’ve left
maybe, once again
for I knew you, before we met
‘a first uniting?,’ the lady asked
to reply ‘No’
simply

Our eyes had met
with a familiar gaze
time stood I’m sure
moved by smiles
to the beauty of ‘Hello’ again
softly.

So you’ve left
from that hello
& in between –
the love
the years
& everything
to this goodbye?
Good bye?!
So you’ve left
well, so you say! –
I see you smiling
in the hallway
to catch a moment of me smiling back
& realise
it’s just

So you’ve left
to hear your song
I tilt my head to hear some more
to recognise myself
with company –
a  sudden silence

So you’ve left
to see you sitting in the sun
& reach toward you
with falling tears
an empty chair

So you’ve left
while your arms hold me
an intersilient cold air
no words spoken
just traffic passing by

So you’ve left.
then tell me
how I hear you call my name?
pause & listen
to hear just the night

So you’ve left
then why visit
when I’m sleeping
& rise to see you smile in bed
to turn
to nothingness,
again

So you’ve left
yet, I see you
look deep in my eyes
With much light &
feel your hand
mind mine

So you’ve left ?
why is it
You’re still here
still here
here.

(LL 2011)

The Wake

Ticking clock
between the silence
 the intermittent noise
TicK – TocK – TicK – TocK
cracked ceiling
splitting view of complete darkness
1 hundred beautiful memories
visit

Moonlit windows
white sheets of warmth
TicK -TocK – TicK – TocK
Remembrance
of patchouli
a beautiful haunting
Still

Vacant presence
to a time of us
TicK – TocK – TicK – TocK
now dead
without attending
buried by us both
separately –
An empty wake

TicK – TocK – TicK- TocK
All the while
Awake

I. Am. Straight.
Are you ? & other poems are © Lisa Lowther

Lisa Lowther lives in Cork City. She is a mother to one daughter. She has written poetry intermittently and increasingly over the years, previously not submitting any of her work. She has a passion for reciting poetry as well as reading. She holds a Business qualification & has previously worked in the University College of Cork for a number of years as well as other companies within the Business sector. She subsequently trained in sexual health and was involved in the promoting of sex education on various topics including sexuality awareness. This is Lisa’s first published work. She is presently dedicating time to her love of writing poetry and she is working on her first collection.

“Eavan Boland: Inside History” Edited by Nessa O’Mahony and Siobhan Campbell

EAVAN BOLAND
INSIDE HISTORY

(Arlen House, 2016)
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Eavan Boland: Inside History, a new volume of essays and poems in response to the work of the internationally-renowned Irish poet, will be published by Arlen House on 1 December 2016. Edited by poets Siobhan Campbell and Nessa O’Mahony, Eavan Boland: Inside History is a reappraisal of Boland’s influence as a poet and critic in the 21st century and is the first major commissioned collection of essays to be published on Boland.

The volume includes critical essays on, and creative responses to, her work by leading writers, thinkers and scholars in Ireland, the UK, Europe and the US and reappraises Boland’s influence as a poet and critic for the 21st century. The fresh and diverse approaches provide a new frame for a critical engagement which crosses continental and aesthetic boundaries. The book therefore repositions Boland scholarship with a focus on the most important aspect: the poems themselves.

Contributions include a foreword by Mary Robinson, former President of Ireland, as well as essays by Jody Allen Randolph, Patricia Boyle Haberstroh, Siobhan Campbell, Lucy Collins, Gerald Dawe, Péter Dolmányos, Thomas McCarthy, Nigel McLoughlin, Christine Murray, Nessa O’Mahony, Gerard Smyth, Colm Tóibín and Eamonn Wall. There are also poems from Dermot Bolger, Moya Cannon, Katie Donovan, Thomas Kinsella, Michael Longley, Paula Meehan, John Montague, Sinead Morrissey, Paul Muldoon, Eileán Ní Chuilleanáin, Nuala Ní Dhomhnaill, Jean O’Brien and Nessa O’Mahony. The volume concludes with A Poet’s Dublin, a reissuing of the conversation that took place between Eavan Boland and Paula Meehan on the occasion of her 70th birthday in 2014.

Eavan Boland worked as an editor with Arlen House in the 1970s and 1980s and did extraordinary work in developing new Irish writing and broadening the boundaries of Irish literature. We are pleased to publish this collection on her work,” said publisher Alan Hayes.

As editors, we’ve been delighted to be part of the conversation that this volume has begun,” said Siobhan Campbell. “It’s been a privilege and an honour to work on this collection particularly as both Nessa and I feel poetically in Eavan Boland’s debt, as do so many of our contemporaries.”

Eavan Boland: Inside History is published on 1 December 2016. It will be launched at Poetry Ireland, 11 Parnell Square, Dublin 1, on Thursday 15 December 2016 at 6.30 with special guests Eavan Boland and Mary Robinson.

978–1–85132–140–7, 368 pages, paperback, €25
978–1–85132–150–6, limited edition numbered and signed hardback, €55

ARLEN HOUSE LTD, 42 Grange Abbey Road, Baldoyle, Dublin 13.
Phone: 086 8360236: Email: arlenhouse@gmail.com

The Light Dancing” and “Lizzie” by Catherine Conlon

The Light Dancing

When I close the door
my father’s coat slow-dances
against the dark wood.
It is old, this coat,
marked by many winters,
labours of a lifetime done.

I imagine him in the front yard
screening sand for the new extension,
coat collar upturned against the breeze,
a cigarette ashing towards his lip.
There’s a light in his eyes
when I stop during play
to prattle and hear him say
“you’re the best woman in the house”

Now coming from the Big Field,
the day’s farming done,
his great hands in deep pockets.
Dark shoulders that bear a darkness coming,
the last of the light
dancing on his wet boots.

(first published in Ropes 2015. Issue 23)

Lizzie

I had a child’s view of her,
black stockinged legs
without shape of calf or ankle
at my grandmother’s hearth,
the fire shining in her laced-up shoes.
Balls of wool from an old shopping bag,
and her tongue like the clappers
as she looped and purled.
Her needles took up the light,
flew like red spokes
in the garment cradling her lap.

She measured me
in the breadth of her childless arms
and grew me a shawl the colour of flame.
Its touch to kindle her memory
to set old fires dancing.

(first published in Skylight 47. Issue 5 )

The Light Dancing” and “Lizzie” are © Catherine Conlon

Catherine Conlon lives in Celbridge, Co. Kildare. She has been shortlisted for the RTE P.J. O’Connor Radio Drama Awards and has had two stage plays performed. Her short stories have been published in Stories for the Ear and Boyne Berries. Her poems have appeared in Poetry Ireland Review, The Irish Times, Books Ireland, The Cuirt Journal, Ropes, Skylight 47 and in various anthologies and newspapers.

“Iago’s Curse” and other poems by Liza McAlister Williams

September Tenth, 2001

 
Outside the store, at the sidewalk sale,
the breeze lifts each dress again
as the shop girl tries to smoothen them:
musses the chic brown challis pleats,
ruffles the flamestitch voile
whose turquoise and chartreuse V’s
seem borrowed from another day.
Sun, when it shines on this scene,
is playful, peeping between
steely clouds whose sky business
does not admit playfulness.
The baking, lazy summer’s over –
the long summer when the towers
that are about to fall amidst us in ruins
have so far felt and withstood only
the earliest tremors of their collapse.
 

Serenade

(after Kevin Young)

Rain popping on the air conditioner
like hail on a tin roof

like a handful of pebbles against a window
like the pinging of a car engine cooling off –

you can make a story to explain
being alone again on a drenching night:

a hobo curled in the hay
of another anonymous barn

a virgin with cold feet
ignoring the signal to elope

a travelling salesman
out of gas in Barstow CA –

the story makes no difference
when the ending is the same. 

Hit and Run

 
A brown curled leaf that clings to the winter oak
long past its season’s close is a lingering sign
of the cycle’s natural end. But when she phoned,
her voice ragged with tears, and choked through sobs
the name of her young friend, the hand of panic
laid its icy finger on my neck.

This seasonless attack on order’s wrecked
the borders we’ve protected: it’s a force
unforeseen – death seeps between the seams
of the earth, its garden smell of mulch and mould,
one inconsistent note mixed with the old:
of twig and leaf in newly sundered green.

Déjà Vu

Something shifting low in my gut tonight,
an air bubble from the lentil soup,
made me suddenly think of you,
how we’d lie together curled in sleep
and, turning, you knocked your elbow
or knee peremptorily against the inside of me.

Now that I’ve known you for twenty years
I smile to think of your string-bean limbs
and your purposeful disposition even then,
the two recently married and trying
to get along in the tight quarters of my womb,
and you and I too, not yet having formally met.
 

Iago’s Curse

 

I mine own gain’d knowledge should profane,
If I would time expend with such a snipe
But for my sport and profit.
                                                                          Othello I iii lines 384-6

They met together after a long time
and, as from separate dreams, awoke
from their ideal worlds of Art and Rhyme
to see around them loss, decay and crime.

“There will always be another test,”
one thought, and nearly spoke,
as she lightly, secretly caressed
the absence of the aching, missing breast.

The other knew a different way to lose:
a child, in thrall to greed; broke;
drowning his qualms in power and booze,
hate, for ‘sport and profit,’ as his muse.

They heard, somewhere around them, out of sight,
the heavy sounds – from chestnut, and from oak,
from the great elms with their hopeless blight –
of limbs falling, falling in the night.

Iago’s Curse and other poems are © Liza McAlister Williams

DSC04180Liza McAlister Williams has taught writing and literature at Pratt Institute in Brooklyn, New York, for many years, finding that poetry is a bridge-builder to the artistic process of art and design students. She and her husband have raised two daughters amidst the pleasures and challenges of old-house-living and urban gardening. She writes creative non-fiction, poetry and children’s poems. Her work has appeared in a number of journals, including Measure, Blue Unicorn, New Hopkins Review, and Light, and she was a runner-up several years ago in the Howard Nemerov sonnet competition.