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Ellen Chia

“Cloud Forest” and other poems by Ellen Chia

Cloud Forest

On montane roofs,
Veil-thin sojourners
Serpentine through green
Flightless birds —
Myriad crowns perching
One-legged, spreading
Multi-tiered wings
Plush with plumes now
Dripping fresh
With the gilded bath.

In the plumage larders,
The green birds set to
Spin their sugary fares,
While at it,
Gazillions of their
Tiny lungs
Are humming the
Three billion-year-old gift;
Coursing far and wide
Through life’s tributaries,
Even of those
Who wish to silence
The gift
With their acute myopia.

 

Current

The Asian openbill stork alights
Amid the wheeling terns,
Then drifts along
On the hyacinth raft –
The raft by now
A seasoned drifter;
Growing organically
And by fortuitous mergers
On this placid
Cloud-mottled river.

That makes three drifters
On this course of the river
Giving ourselves over to
The current of the moment –
My thought self
Long embarked with the stork
On the raft.

 

The Balcony Wall

The alliance, one of an
Indefatigable nature
Forged between
Time and Weathering
Has rendered its coat
What was once a gleaming
Eggshell white into
A variegated sooty black.

Cracked peels
Like cartographers shape
Tattered maps
Of its worst battered regions –
Laying bare
Raw cemented pasts to
The potted ferns;
Their frondy tips tracing,
Seeking sense
The genesis of these elements
Now breathing.

 

The Island

Enter a southerly wind,
A whiff of saltiness
And from the recesses
A stealthy seepage …
Then wave
After wave,

Recollections lap up
Against the shore
Of the room –
Now an island skirting
With long-tail boats
And wooden stilt houses
Perch on pebbly beaches

Where a hog resident
Forages with impunity
Right into its hills
Overlooking routes
Promising sightings of
Pink dolphins (I remember
our host prostrating to give
thanks at the Naga Goddess
shrine after the sighting of
a pod deemed auspicious by
locals).

I bask in my island room –
Relishing the sea salt
On my cupid’s bow,
Giving myself
Over to the lulling
Rustling of coconut palms
When a flower crab
Scuttles from my gaze
Into the shadowy depths…
Do excuse me,

I must get going,
There are nooks yet
To explore:
The wind is like
A postman bringing
Summons of dues.

 

A Bangkokian’s Consolation

An April morning,
A pewter-grey
Volvo 240 sedan
Lingers in the shade
Of a Golden Shower tree
Now at the zenith
Of its bloom.

There’s still time
Before igniting
The infernal
Tarmac regime;
Enduring to and fro
The crawly
Lengthy hours
Of fumes and jams
Alongside the
Metal herd –
Huddled in the
Urban cauldron
Simmering
Rage and anxieties.

Yes, these are moments
To be solitary still,
For the windscreen
To indulge in
The tree’s silhouette;
To drink in the
Sprawling sinuous branches
Where floral clusters
Droop like ponderous grapes,

Where their petals now
Dust the roof and bonnet
Like gilded butterflies
Frozen in time.


 

Cloud Forest” and other poems are © Ellen Chia

Ellen ChiaEllen Chia enjoys going on solitary walks in woodlands and along beaches where Nature’s treasure trove impels her to document her findings and impressions using the language of poetry. Her works have been published and are forthcoming in The Ekphrastic Review, NatureWriting, The Honest Ulsterman, Zingara Poetry Review and The Tiger Moth Review.

Image: Ellen Chia & ‘Giken’

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“The House of Childhood” and other poems by Ute Carson

The House of Childhood

We return to the place
where we first heard voices,
smelled the air and tasted nourishment,
where hands caressed or frightened us,
where comfort was our cocoon
or neglect made us shiver.
The tears of harm are cold,
the tears of joy warm as a lagoon.
We carry the house of childhood within us,
and spying through its translucent walls
we keep life at a distance-or embrace it.

 

Ode to Water

I am a nymph,
I inhabit the rivers, lakes and streams,
sing to the brooks, the ocean,
dance to life starting within.
I rise as a mermaid
an aquatic creature,
drown fires,
quell the thirst of the earth,
mix with the air.
The moon is my lover,
together we balance
the rhythm of the tides.

 

Crying is a Gift

I dislike sentimentality
and have always thought
that tears should be shed sparingly
until our 8 year-old grandson complained,
“I don’t like my friends to laugh when I cry.
How can I be happy again if I don’t cry?”
Tears are our release
from joy and sorrow
and like a stream
they gurgle over small stones
or gush over ravines,
all ending in the universal maelstrom
of lament and comfort.

 

BREAKING AWAY

Years ago at bedtime
my grandson’s chubby arms
squeezed my neck like a boa.
Now that he is growing up
my arms encircle him.
He squirms at my affection
and wriggles free from my embrace.
Then as his long legs stride out
he glances back,
tossing me a smile back.

 

OLD LOVERS

They are folded together like a blanket,
desire strong as ever
though the flesh is weak.
They sink into each other’s warmth,
savoring the tenderness welling up
from a life well-lived together.

“The House of Childhood” and other poems are © Ute Carson

A writer from youth and an M.A. graduate in comparative literature from the University of Rochester, German-born Ute Carson published her first prose piece in 1977. Colt Tailing, a 2004 novel, was a finalist for the Peter Taylor Book Award. Carson’s story The Fall won Outrider Press’s Grand Prize and appeared in its short story and poetry anthology A Walk Through My Garden, 2007. Her second novel In Transit was published in 2008. Her poems have appeared in numerous journals and magazines in the US and abroad. Carson’s poetry was featured on the televised Spoken Word Showcase 2009, 2010 and 2011, Channel Austin, Texas. A poetry collection, Just a Few Feathers was published in 2011. The poem “A Tangled Nest of Moments” placed second in the Eleventh International Poetry Competition 2012. Her chapbook Folding Washing was published in 2013 and her collection of poems My Gift to Life was nominated for the 2015 Pushcart Award Prize. Save the Last Kiss, a novella, was published in 2016. Her new poetry collection Reflections was out in 2018. She received the Ovidiu-Bektore Literary Award 2018 from the Anticus Multicultural Association in Constanta, Romania. In 2018 she was nominated a second time for the Pushcart Award Prize by the

Ute Carson resides in Austin, Texas with her husband. They have three daughters, six grandchildren, a horse and a clowder of cats.

Visit Ute’s website at www.utecarson.com

“Thin Places” and other poems by Eithne Lannon

Thin Places 

The wild meadow weave, the strand, 
         places of late summer, autumn,
 
a stone skimming water, suspended 
        in air, its slow motion glide punctuated 

by the drop, touch, rise of a ghostly presence,
          this wary hesitation between water 

and stone, mysterious as the rift between 
     music notes in air, unsettling the familiar light 

which shudders again with tiny rainbow bubbles 
   holding air-drops in. And then the final slide over 

gravity’s edge, into polished bottomless depths, 
        beyond the belly-aching threshold⎯

dropping, ever dropping, into the quiet 
     whispering, the unspeakable tenderness.

Binn Éadair

I have waited through the long winter grey
for the slow clean curve of spring,

the sun a warm breath on my neck,
its lips glossed with a damp breeze.

Far below, the murmurings of wind and water
weave a familiar braid of intimacy,

the whole of the blue sky is stretched wide,
light falls on us, a lovers’ blanket spread on sand.

This moment is already time’s fugitive;
sweet rain pooled in a dockweed’s leafy

pocket, the soft unwrapping of downy buds,
moss gathered in a hollowed bowl of earth—

like a container that holds and pours,
we are filled and emptied.

To be lifted then into the loose
hem of the breeze, cast out

over the spooling cliff, to drop
like a bird, free-fall into the wind.

 

Earth Music

I will lead you by the hand to the hushed hum
of the gentle oak, an evening breeze sounding

shivers into leaves, quiet turbulence in the air
and the gravity of sound settling on mossed stone.

I hear its tongue-lick in ivy the way a bat hears
the silhouette of trees, or a whale the shape of its home,

touching the skin like sound braille, tiny neck hairs
startled to its presence; earth music in the trees

and in the stony wind, atoms of light trembling in tiny
dust particles where body-bones separate, flesh disappears.

Between heart-pulse and light’s shadow-touch,
I will lead you to the quiet abundance of silence,

the wide emptying of voiceless things; earth’s pulse,
seamless and somewhere beyond absence.

 

Translation

Early evening, the sea all silk and copper-clad,
russet seams threading air, holding nothing
 
but lingering light. Poised on the glazed edge
of the estuary, a heron; stem-like and spectral, folded
 
into the soft grey petals of his shadow. Overhead,
dark-bellied geese fly in low wavering lines,
 
flock to the beginning of memories they don’t recall
from a place they reclaim without guidance—
 
here, clouds are porous with light, lisping vowels
and tongue-flickers lapping twilight—while westward,
 
through the woods, a wash of starlings erupts
from the trees, sweeping murmurations,
 
the chorus of bodies dips and dissolves, rises
into dust formations. Now the heron loosens
 
unwieldy wings, lifts like vapour,
like stillness taking flight.
 
It’s hard not to believe in this; birdsound and birdshape,
two seagulls wing-surfing the ragged cliff-spine,
 
entirely consistent, faithfully articulate—
what we don’t have words for may still exist.
 
In the cool breath of evening, tidal swamp-sands
swell over stones, shadows slide out of things.
 
Motionless again, the heron
is zen master,
 
a hanging bell holding through the dusk
of the estuary,
 
the slow unravelling of this moment
every other moment fits inside.

Moon

Take the river’s curl, the ocean’s wave, 
      the never-ending trees, the sway of a meadow,
        the roll of the sun, the scattered stepping stars.

And take last month’s silver bud of moon
    now come full to the sky, her mouth is wide and open,
      white lips brimming with a soft wet light,

month by month, she gives her widening
    emptiness to the earth, holds the planet in her orbit,
       washes ocean after ocean over sand: 

I stretch out my arms and reach for her,
    hold hands with her rhythm, climb into her open
      wound, my blood is lapping at her perpetual pull,

I sleep in the mantle of her tidal pulse, slip
   the ring of her light onto my finger. At the last hour
     of fullness, I wade inside her alluvial silt,

feel desire awash in my gut. Lost inside
    her wholeness, carved into her darkening spine,
      I am swallowed into goddess light.

Thin Places and other poems are © Eithne Lannon

Eithne Lannon is a native of Dublin. Her poems have been included in various publications such as The North, Skylight 47, The Ogham Stone, The Lea-Green Down Anthology and Boyne Berries. On-line in Ireland, the UK, US and Canada, she has work published on Headstuff, Artis Natura, Sheila-na-Gig, Barehands and Punch Drunk Press among others.

Her work has been listed in various competitions such as the Bray Literary Festival, the Dermot Healy competition and Galway University Hospital Poems for Patience. She was winner in 2018 of the Ballyroan Poetry Day Competition and Runner-up in Against the Grain this year. Her work was also Highly Commended in the Blue Nib Winter/Spring Chapbook 2018 and commended in the Jonathan Swift Awards.

 

Eithne’s first poetry collection Earth Music will be published with Turas Press in April 2019.

‘Through the blossom-gate’ C. Murray

Poethead

Through the blossom-gate,

 
and quite before the acid leaf unfurls into its meaning—

we are subjected to the play of light,
working on our necessity to speak out

into a flowering. It is not yet warm —
already, the sun is playing at dragging up

and displaying those unwanted words,
elucidatory and garish in their babblement.

It is almost necessary to cut them at their source,
that well-spring is a tree-wounded-gash,

the birds disagree in their illuminatory chatter,
as they may.

Through the blossom-gate is © Christine Murray, first published in Southword Journal (Munster Literature Centre).  Through the blossom-gate was published in my first collection of poetry, Cycles. (Lapwing Publications, Belfast)

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‘a song to rest the tired dead’ and other poems by Raine Geoghegan, MA

Romanichals in the 1950’s(i)

covels packed
chavies scrubbed clean
me rackley’s bal washed with panni
the grai grizhomed holled

(ii)

opre and gel on
dikk the next atchin tan
a fellow chal pookers
kushti bokt

 

Romani words: Romanichals – English Romanies; Covels – belongings; Chavies – children; rackley’s – girls; Grai – horses; Grizhomed – groomed; Holled – fed.

Opre – arise/forward; Dikk – look for; Atchin tan – stopping place; Chal – Travelling man;
Pookers – calls out; Kushti bok – good luck

 

Somewhere in Apple Water country

Me Mum’s cookin’ sushi stew.
Me Dad’s chinning the koshtie’s.
I’m practisin’ handwritin’ with a fine pencil.
I’m lookin’ forward to sendin’ a proper letter
to me cousin Louie, she’s a didikai and goes
to school in London. Me dad calls it royal town
and say’s ‘e wouldn’t go there, not if yer paid ‘im.
She ‘as to wear a uniform, red and gold, but she
can’t wear ‘er gold ‘oops, it’s against the rules.
If I ever went to school, me dad would ‘ave murder
if anyone touched me ‘oops or me ears.

Apple Water Country – An old Romani word for Herefordshire.
Romani words: sushi – rabbit; Chinning the koshtie’s – making pegs; Didikai – non Romany.

 

A Memory of the Hop Fields

She is in the front garden
bending low, picking bluebells,
wearing her old red apron,
with the Spanish dancer on the front.

She stands up, rubbing her lower back,
her mind shaping a memory.
The hop fields,
her mother lean, strong,

picking the hops as quick as a squirrel.
Her bal in plaits, tied on top of her head.
Her gold hoops pulling her ears down.
Ruddy cheeks, dry cracked lips.

Her father pulling poles,
sweating, smiling,
his gold tooth for all to see.

At the end of a long day
she would stand on top of an apple crate,
comb his hair, kiss his neck tasting of salt.

He would pick her up,
Swing her high, low and say,
   ‘You’re the prettiest little chi there ever was.’

Romani words: Bal, hair. Chi, daughter/child.

 

Koring Chiriclo ii – a triolet

Jel on, me dad would say.
Pack up yer covels, we’ll be on our way.
Take our time, get to Frome’s Hill by May.
Jel on, me dad would say.
The cuckoo’s callin’, untie the grai,
Up onto the vardo. It’s a kushti day.
Jel on, me dad would say.
Pack up yer covels. We’ll be on our way.

Romani words: Koring Chiriclo – the cuckoo; Jel on – move on;
Covels – belongings: Grai – horses; Vardo – wagon; Kushti – lovely.

 

‘a song to rest the tired dead’

im of Celia Lane
it is dusk
she has come to wash the body
a table is set by the bed
a bowl of lavender water
clean muslin cloths
a white towel
  ‘too young for death’
she thinks as she removes all the clothing
and jewellery from the body of her niece
she notices stretch marks on the thighs
how the breasts have dropped
from feeding the chavies
    ‘forty years ago, just been borned
sucking at her Daya’s breast.’
taking a cloth
she dips it in water
squeezes it hard in her hand
sets about her task
malts stand by the door way
aunts, daughters, sisters and the daya
singing in low soft voices
a song to rest the dead

she speaks quietly
to her loved one as she gently cleans
lifting one arm up then the other
holding it
placing it down carefully
as if it was made of glass

the others won’t move too close
it is mokkadi to do so

this woman who washes the dead
now holds both feet
letting them rest for a while
blessing them for all the miles
they have trod the earth

she dresses her niece in the finest of clothes
combs her dark tangled hair
places the gold chain and earrings in the palm
of the right hand
puts the wedding ring back on
the third finger of the left hand
    ‘such small fingers’
bending forward, kisses them
   ‘you are ready now my gel, sov well’

Romani words: Chavies – children; Daya – mother; Malts – women; Mokkadi – unclean;
Sov – sleep.

 

O Lillai Gillie

(Angloromani)
Prey o lillai, prey o lillai
Gillyava a gillie
Prey o chick, prey o charos
Gillyava a gillie

Prey a panni, prey o panni
Gillyava a gillie
Shoon me vas’ tacha
Gillyava a gillie

Prey o raddi, prey o raddi
Gillyava a gillie
Chumos for me pen
Gillyava a gillie

Prey o lillai, prey o lillai
Gillyava a gillie
Prey o chick, prey o charos
Gilyava a gillie.

Gillyava a gillie, gillyava a gillie
Shoon me vas tatcha,
Gillyava a gillie.

 

The Summer Song

In the summer, in the summer
I will sing a song, a song
Of the earth, of the heavens
I will sing a song

On the river, on the river
I will sing a song
Listen, my beloved
I will sing a song

In the night, in the night
I will sing a song, a song
Kisses for my love
I will sing a song

In the summer, in the summer
I will sing a song, a song
Of the earth, of the heavens
I will sing a song

I will sing a song, a song
Listen my beloved,
I will sing a song.


 

 

 

a song to rest the tired dead’ and other poems are © Raine Geoghegan, MA

Author’s note

Please note that the following poems are published in Apple Water: Povel Panni,
‘Romanichals in the 1950’s’,Somewhere in Apple Water Country’ andA Memory of the Hop Fields’.
‘a song to rest the tired dead’ was published in Here Comes Everyone in the Ritual (online edition, August 2018)
‘A Memory of the Hop Fields’ was published in Words from the Wild  (Summer Edition, 2018) editors, Louise Taylor & Amanda Ostusion
‘Somewhere in Apple Water Country’ was published in Bonnie’s Crew (May 2018) editor Kate Garret.
‘Koring chiriclo (ii)’ was published in Under the Radar (Summer Edition, 2018)

 

Raine Geoghegan, MA lives in West Sussex. She is half Romany with Welsh and Irish ancestry. Her poems and short prose have been widely published and her debut pamphlet, Apple Water – Povel Panni published by Hedgehog Press was launched in December 2018 and previewed at the Ledbury Poetry Festival in July 2018. Her poetry has been featured in a documentary film about hop picking ‘Stories from the Hop Yards.’ She is a Pushcart Prize and Forward Prize nominee. Other publications include, Under the Radar; Poetry Ireland Review; The Curlew; The Clearing and The Travellers’ times, amongst others