“Finding Symmetry” and other poems by Jo Burns

Conchita reads Pablo’s letter to God

(while he is painting)
Your committee for time-keeping has ruled
diphtheria a highly unpunctilious event.
By consensus you can’t seem to remember
this being planned into any agendas.
You call me precocious but Pablo, honestly
it’s you that Mama has always adored,
Papa ignores me, I can’t even draw.
It’s all planned for you so perfectly.
You’re a stickler for timeliness,
and planned these years differently.
You have the domestic dates regulated
but I heard you, silently
trying prayer on for size, gambling paint
for my life. You waver clandestine.
Your brushstrokes will sacrifice us all
and I will be the first in line.
First published by Helen Ivory at Ink Sweat and Tears for National Poetry Day.

Mrs Violet Schiff at The Majestic

At this gathering of society horsemen
behind Parisian oyster cream gates,
Proust is here. He drives me insane.
Bloody Joyce is silent and seems irritated.
I’m waiting for you Pablo. Please wear,
for me, that faixa wound on your temple.
Stravinsky is nervous. I need another cocktail.
I’ve already told them all Picasso is coming.
Every minute you make Diaghilev and I wait,
so many numerable things are taking place.
250 children are born, pure and new,
100 souls pass through death and space.
The universe expands by 3000 miles, more or less.
400 litres of blood pump through our veins.
100 marry and 80,000 (probably) have sex.
6 billion human hearts beat 300 billion times.
Although there are 500 thousand minutes per year,
and it could be assumed that each one of them is small,
each minute I wait, while they quarrel over Beethoven,
Pablo, my social reputation is going going gone.
First Published by Adam Crothers at The Literateur

Dora Maar, The Weeping Woman

It’s my turn—
cigar ember stubbed out
by his shoe
he immortalises
that which
he’s formed me into
a souvenir stub
of travels he took
into my gut
my entirety—
a teardrop of paint
on his brush
First published by Lonnard Watkins for Shot Glass Journal

Maya’s soliloquy to Pablo

When you leave, it is only fair and right
to clear the table once set with laughter
and tip the wine glasses into the sea
then mix a drop of blood in salt water.
When you leave, please feed your paint to the fish
and leave the front door ajar for the wind to bring
me the breeze. It’s simple leaving etiquette,
when you’re going and determined.
When you leave, please throw your anchor away,
lose my portraits, burn all those written lines.
Remember from your swaying, wind-blown deck
to point your spinnaker squarely to horizon.
First published by Ann Kestner for Poetry Breakfast

Finding symmetry

I like it best when things deflect,
let the ocean spread as mirrored glass,
let it unfold my own dimensions,
let sun spread in wash, a simple kind
of reflection, like when I look at you,
laying past saids to dids on sand grain piles,
forming foundations for future what ifs,
curving spirals for your life’s nautilus.
Let the ocean hold the time I held you,
bloodied, vernixed, tied by pulsing cord,
I unfurled and couldn’t love you more;
Narcissus drowned to newborn echoes.
It’s known the heart cannot hear itself,
but in your own fibonacci swirl
let the ocean reflect my diffracted beat,
where chaos in a whirl became symmetry.
First Published by Greg McCartney for The Honest Ulsterman


The Sun aflame in the cosmic lantern bound/we are mere ghosts,
revolving, the flame surround/played in a box whose candle is the sun
round which we phantom figures come and go.

                                                                 Omar Khayann, Rubaiyat.
His hair spun in halo, the Lord of the Dance,
dances in Samsara’s wheel, entranced,
his breast, one earring—his Parwati side
holds planets still, male half Lingam stands.
His left hand blesses, his right foot stamps
breaking demons’ backs. The stars gaze on,
through horizons towards the coiling snake,
an ocean with five upraised hoods,
watches Shiva twist, as he weaves mudras
with his hands spread over all paradise,
in cosmic manouevres of spiral bliss,
this expanse of life fire, a tripping fuse
is loose limbed chaos in eskapada.
The rattle drum beats out introspection.
Brahma faces all cardinal points at once,
bemused at this paradigm, unending,
Aeons spinning on towards destruction
Clockwise, creation loses time,
but he knows something we mortals don’t.
Before rebirth, we must come undone.
First published by Angela Carr for Headstuff

erbacher-jo-2015-036-bJo Burns comes originally from Maghera, County Derry. After studying Biomedical Science and spells in Chile, Scotland, England, she now lives with her family in Germany. Her poems have been published by or are forthcoming in: A New Ulster, Poetry Breakfast, The Galway Review, The Incubator, The Honest Ulsterman, Headstuff, The Irish Literary Times, Poetry NI P.O.E.T Anthology, The Literateur, Lakeview International Journal of Arts and Literature, Four x Four, Ink Sweat and Tears, Forage, Shot Glass Journal, Orbis, Picaroon and Poetry Pacific among others. Her work has been nominated for the Pushcart Prize and she is one of Eyewear Publishing’s Best New British and Irish Poets 2017.


She occasionally retweets other peoples’ interesting posts at @joburnspoems

“Mallards” by C. Murray


This is the crossroads, this is where it is.

Black cat has killed a male chaffinch.
There are rusty feathers all over, feather blown

they roll down the steps                            |they indicate a way|

your freedom,

                            robin heralds it,
                            someone has put up bunting
                                                                even, and

you are caught on that first step of your descent
in a pause of red,
of white.

 “Mallards” is © C. Murray & it was first published in ANU 48

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


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

Blank pages and Other Poems by Ellie Rose McKee


This Feeling

This feeling is a soft, slow touch
A gentle trickle,
A dying ember and a silent whisper
A glistening, glowing light
A haunting melody,
A sad smile and a quiet sigh
This feeling is longing
Love and waiting wrapped as one
The girl by the window
Scanning the wide, still sea
Waiting for her prince

Blank Pages

I got a new notebook today
The cover was so bright – shining
And the pages: the highest quality
But it was difficult deciding
Just what to use it for
Part of me didn’t want to use it at all, lest I spoil it
I wanted to fill the pages with something important
That I’d want to keep, and look back on
Wanted to take extra care, so I’d never need to rip out any pages
And then I thought to myself, how much this notebook is like my life
And I still don’t know what to write
And the years are slipping by


Festival (To Be Young)

Sweat, on top of dirt, on top of sun burn
Headache from the heat, and a chill
From the cold walk back to the tent, in the dark
Adrenaline in my blood, and a reverberated beat in my chest
Laughter, chatter, and noise
No sleep under the full moon
Many unforgettable memories
This Feeling, Blank Pages and Festival are © Ellie Rose McKee

This Feeling was originally published in McKee’s first collection of poetry and short stories Still Dreaming.

1959492Ellie Rose McKee is Originally from Bangor in Northern Ireland, Ellie lived in Lincoln, England for three years. Since then she has spent six months living in Oxford and a considerable amount of time travelling elsewhere around the UK. She is the author of Still Dreaming and Wake – collections of poetry and short stories – is currently working as a freelance writer while finishing her first novel, a love story with the working title Rising from Ashes, in her spare time.

Fossil 1 , by C. Murray

  the whole woman
not tamp-in
  onto the still-living-soil
  a new shape
  the bone and the
  the still-warm blood
  and infinitely blue
  the milk-flow from crystallising breast
a stone-dress
 .material as silk-soft
  caul or veil
  can be sweet as silk or rain or
  rain sinews against and into
  chalice of womb.
  half-into the wall
  and often not
a lone bird night-sings
Fossil 1 is © C. Murray
First published, A New Ulster issue VI , 2013