Poems from ‘Signature’


thistle roll
thistle roll
twig sphere
scatters a
thicket clump
looks alive, its
red-tipped a
bag blown to
a bird-corpse let lie
its throat opened out
purple the thistle-roll
and hue,
purple the cry

a field of ewes, their winter wool loose
blown down to the rusted gate.
a flower clock banks each moment to the birthing,
their mothering.
their rich milk a wellspring. spring now and
a breeze tickles the white cloud
their winter coat shed, wind still barbs her cries
they ignore her labouring

Thistle Roll and Tear are © C. Murray

Signature is published by Bone Orchard Press, and edited by Michael McAloran. It is my second chapbook, and it can be bought via LULU. If you are into freebies, and not supportive paying for your arts, a sample of my writing, a chapbook called Three Red Things is available here.

ssignatureignature is a beautifully wrought collection of short/ imagistic/ surrealistic-impressionistic poems…ISBN 9781291797046

Copyright Christine Murray

Edition First

Publisher Bone Orchard Press

Published 23 March 2014
Support independent publishing: Buy this book on Lulu.

Orphans from Poetry Ireland’s Forum

Some years ago poets and emergent writers used a forum on Poetry Ireland for discussion, testing poetry, and commenting on the work of others. The idea was good, although the tech wasn’t so hot. After some discussion with the then Admin it was decided to have a place (not online) where poems could be published with a view to later submissions. This was a generous extension of your basic discussion forum, and geared to the need of the emergent writer. Poems that appear online are not published by many magazines, so the space had to be a closed one.

Many at the Poetry Ireland Forum went on to publish these works. Unfortunately, the forum is to be closed and while there is no announcement on the forum pages, there is brief note there on the closure and deletion of the forum available to members. There was an email :


Dear C Murray


Over the past few weeks, Poetry Ireland has been engaged in an in-depth review of all its online resources, including the Poetry Ireland Forum.

After careful deliberation, we have decided to close down the Poetry Ireland Forum, with effect from Friday 8th November 2013. We strongly advise all members to make copies of their posts by midnight Thursday 7th November, as after this date the Forum and all its contents will be permanently deleted from our servers.

We would like to take this opportunity to thank all Forum members for their participation over the past few years.


I believe that this deadline for removal of works has been extended, though not indefinitely, and that an archive has been made available to members of the PI Forum. The type of tech used does not allow for portability, so files must be manually taken off and uploaded elsewhere. This is a huge and upsetting inconvenience.
I have been in and out removing drafts of poems, the majority of them later published. I am linking them below this brief post. The conversations and encouragement on a place dedicated to poetic interests is to be expediently dumped down the tubes and some of that loss is irretrievable for me (and others)
I hope when PI finish their deliberations on their online facilities that they will find a way to extend their space to emergent writers in a manner that includes data liberation tools and a stated ethos regarding intellectual rights.


Dear C. Murray,

There is an archive of the Forum, which is currently available to all registered Forum members at

Unfortunately, we no longer have the resources to host and moderate the Forum. We strongly recommend that members make copies of any posts/original work they wish to keep.

Kate O’Shea is a crack poet


His poems are words upon words
like eggs smeared with henshit.
They could be free range or organic –
who knows? Too calculated to be risky.
I buy 30 for 1.99 in Liberties Market
and dodge small boys with girls’ earrings
who have never heard of Jackson Pollock
but make an impression on the
bottom of Francis Street and day-trippers,
a stone’s throw from the Bad Art Gallery
which is pretty all right if you like
Mia Funk and well-built women
doing dirty things with bananas.
That’s the problem with men
who are too into blowjobs
more words upon words
like eggs smeared with henshit –
stylised, idolised.
Eggs is © Kate O’Shea


Misery heaped on misery like an Irish Sunday dinner.
It’s hard to swallow; lives like this happen to people
that sprouted dreams like Mr Potato head.
Once fat faces chipped away by keeping body
and soul a hive of useless colony,
the queen bee washed-out and martyred.
Even back then with bamboo rod
and fishing net, catching tadpoles in jam jars,
I wrote sentences in water, used the strange
bodies as living commas, apostrophes
following Os, no ownership,
unlike other daughters I scrutinized in photographs,
I turned wild like the ditches dividing fields,
at the roadside, always on the edge, barbed,
 keeping out of the way, scuttling in the sunlight
with rabbits and wrens, foxes, badgers, and hedgehogs.
Words hurt like a kick in the teeth. A fist.
Sitting at a desk I feel I have come full circle.
Tadpoles swim in the pupils of my eyes,
drip from my tongue, squirm on the page for all to see.
I imagine a thumb come to squish them.
I imagine his hazel eyes,
dumb as nuts telling me nothing –
the mouth moves like a loom.
Conformity, conformity, conformity.
I am sick of language, and even he cannot comfort me.
Old allegiances like dead frogs
spread-eagled to reveal their insides.
Anatomical clocks. Ancillary. Tadpoles.
Tadpole is © Kate O’Shea

Dandelion Clocks

Female poets with cropped hair bang on about their weariness,
world-weariness and immortality on the grey page.
There is grief and they are all alone, day after day after day,
their lovers have skedaddled, now they drag the icy moon
after them like a giant pill into middle age.
This is the stage I dive roll across like a navy SEAL
avoiding cat flaps and vintage night gowns with tiny buttons
up to the neck, trying not to look pensive,
that finger-cocked-under-the-chin faraway gaze
like Rodin’s statue, but not the same. Bang.
I inhabit a different space, my only dread, going home,
or whatever that means, to hang like a windsock
on a calm day, slightly awkward and out of place.
I have moved on and how I chose to wear my hair
contains no clue to my tabernacle, the fugitive in me
plays rummy and quaffs light beer, takes two foreign holidays
a year and listens to Wallis Bird full blast – ‘To My Bones’.
I scrimped and saved all my words for grand sentences
and the joy of christening nameless things,
whether broken or chipped, chilled by the breath of history,
no longer walking on tiptoe but stomping a sean-nós dance,
and here is the mystery, my feet dodging the bodies
scattered across the floor like unloved seeds of blow balls,
our dandelion clocks.
Dandelion Clocks is © Kate O’Shea

Kate O’Shea lives in Dublin. Her chapbook Crackpoet is available on Amazon. She was short listed for the Cork Literary Review Poetry Manuscript Competition and the Patrick Kavanagh Award twice. She is widely published in journals abroad. Her latest publications were in The Seranac Review, Orbis, Cyphers, Outburst, and Prole. Most recently she has been nominated for a Pushcart Prize in America.

She has been published in Icarus, Electric Acorn, Poetry Ireland Review Issue Number 34 (1992), The Burning Bush, Riposte, Poetry on the Lake , Silver Wyvern Anthology (Italy), Out to Lunch Anthology 2002,, Shamrock Haiku, Bamboo Dreams an Anthology of Haiku Poetry from Ireland, Poetry Bus 3 & 4, Outburstmagazine Issues 8, 9, 10, 11, 12 & 13, First Cut, CANCAN (Scotland) June 2013, LucidRhythms (U.S.A) ,Angle Poetry Journal, Australia (Issue 3, March 2013) The Galway Review and Turbulence Magazine (U.K.) June 2013.
Her first published work was a short story, and for this, she won the Prudential Young Irish Writers’ Award 1990. Her humorous sketches were broadcast on Mike Murphy’s Arts Show on RTE Radio 1. She was one of the youngest members of the Dublin Writers’ Workshop, and after that went on to found Chocolate Sundaes at La Cave with William Kennedy and Christopher Daybell in the mid nineties. She was the winner of the Gerard Manley Hopkin’s Poetry Award 1991 and took the overall prize for poetry in the 1998 Clothesline Writers’ Festival. Two poems highly commended by Al Alvarez, were published in The Silver Wyvern Anthology in Italy, 2001.
Kate edited and published posthumously, the selected poems of her good friend Christopher Daybell, The Man With The Crowded Eye (2001).
She is an accomplished performer and respected on the open mike circuit. She wrote about her experiences in Poetry Ireland Review Magazine (2003), and has read in New York and Rome. She recited in The Palace Bar 2009 to honour Patrick Kavanagh; in 2010 she did a reading/stand up routine, for GLÓR, International Bar. She was one of the poets from Dublin’s lunchtime reading series organised through Bank of Ireland’s Arts Centre and featuring contemporary poetry in Ireland today. The OUT TO LUNCH anthology (2002) featured the works of “…young, emerging poets like Paul Grattan, Conor O’Callaghan, Kate O’Shea, and Enda Wyley.”

Review: All Stepped / Undone – by Michael McAloran.

the griefscape as no-place: All Stepped / Undone – by Michael McAloran.

endless ribcage of the sky / the glut of blood beneath
and a pulse of shit / dry your eyes / it’s just beginning

( p123 ,  all stepped / undone – ) is © Michael McAloran

All Stepped /Undone- is Michael McAloran’s fifth full poetry collection, and his second full collection with Oneiros Press. Tracing a line through McAloran’s work to date, one can discern a drive to whittle his poetic voice to its essential core.

All Stepped /Undone- is sometimes a griefscape, the collection is by turns both nihilistic and elegiac in its tone:

as if to –

bled winds of
   the unspoken
spasm lock of the atoned blood
   no not enough
paling into
birthing as if to ….

(p54 , as if to – from in thin dreaming- ) is © Michael McAloran

In structural terms All Stepped /Undone is loosely tripartite, however it is not as structurally underpinned as in McAloran’s In Damage Seasons – (Onerios Press 2013) which was somewhat more defined and contained within the poet’s structuring of his text. This is no bad thing in itself, as an evident structure can limit the movement of the text. I have included my reading of In Damage Seasons- at link.  cf. my note at the end of this post.

The three parts of All Stepped /Undone- are :  till claimed – of thin dreaming – ,  and all stepped /undone- .

till claimed- and of thin dreaming – are quite similar in form and in their sharing of theme and image. all stepped /undone- while sharing and picking up on these themes is aphoristic and condensed in its poetic expression:

head of dust / no /that was the drapery of the silence /
called upon /subtle till graceless / till bounty / reflected
upon /lest the burgeoning see

(p106 , all stepped /undone – ) is ©  Michael McAloran

One can see the development of McAloran’s voice from his earlier collection of aphorisms , Attributes, through the third section of this current book. His poetic voice has become skilled and honed to allow for his sure expressiveness which he achieves in the least amount of words.

Readers of Michael McAloran would do well to acquire the books Attributes and In Damage Seasons to see how he has developed and opened out his poetic work. I mention those previous works in particular as they are most related to the current text under review, in my view.

I feel that McAloran is directing his skill toward a quality of expressiveness that is the sure mark of the artist. He is developing a mature poetic voice that has a quality of tone  rare in contemporary Irish poetics :

back-flexed / the arrow’s breath to claim the sky of /
night / the bread broken / such was the blade’s redeem /
or the blood-cut star of light / glistening /of the heart’s

(p 116, all stepped /undone -) is ©  Michael McAloran

Whilst related to McAloran’s collection of aphorisms, Attributes, in form, and to In Damage Seasons in its intent and expression, this work is more loosely structured than both, and is therefore built wholly in the active poetic voice. The poet’s voice as mouthpiece of the internal landscape. In this case the voice or protagonist is mouthing his grief and alienation.

Of the three parts to this book , till claimed- is the furthest the writer will go in terms of his willingness to express alienation. The poems herein, and those of in of thin dreaming- are generally longer than in the final eponymously titled section.

There is as always with McAloran  a complexity of image and a deprecating humour, the poem scuttle- can be read a few ways:


scuttle –

impossible ashes
splice of
 dread knock and yet …
of the lock upon
spill of spurious lights
    caress of…
sun light
worthless as breath
with my little eye
longing of
scuttle of dead hand wavering

scuttle – is from till claimed – p11 of All Stepped/Undone and © Michael McAloran

 One is never quite sure, hence my delight at word-play and at McAloran’s image-play/ply of.

With McAloran a longer poem can be less expressive than the short aphorism. it is often akin to witnessing the unleashed voice in I (till claimed – ) warm up and spit out a gully :


why ask
answered /
   (absence of light)
rage of death
and the cold ravage
of stone
    in dead weather sun light
coil/casket of
X.-ed out
final throes

(p 71 , of thin dreaming – ) is © Michael McAloran


The unaccommodated and loosely structured poetic voice suits the visual artist in McAloran:

biting still-

vortices of …
(ah spill the night
     ..into cups of earth)
in this dry sunlight
   breaking for favour sensed
earthed from out of which to cast
vacantly as shadow

(p46 excerpt of biting still- from of thin dreaming- ) is © Michael McAloran.

Note : I have linked my reading of In Damage Seasons- here , the reason being that while the two texts share a tripartite structure , they are vastly differing works in terms of how the writer manages his expression. In Damage Seasons- has a structural containment, a triptych architecture, that felt almost imprisoning as it tied down the poet’s voice.


Bone Orchard Poetry, a blogzine for working poets and writers

Bone Orchard Poetry is variously active on discussion sites and uses social-media well. This is what writers refer to as bloody good innovative web-use. Editor Michael McAloran keeps the blogzine brief in description, ‘ An explorative blogzine of the Bleak/ the Surreal/ the Dark/ Absurd and the Experimental. ‘ There you have it encapsulated in a single minimal statement, a blogzine dedicated to new writing that focuses on the actual work of  working writers.

I had been aware of Bone Orchard Poetry for a period of time. I decided to investigate it, and I submitted a single poem. Turns out a single poem isn’t enough. This is probably the best thing about Michael’s editorship of the Zine, I got an email back suggesting that a single poem submission doesn’t really tell the reader anything about the writer at all. He suggested I re-submit with a small grouping of poems. This I did. I sent a sequence based in a dream, actually based in the reality of a grief-experience. The poem initially had one extra verse, and there was a turn contained within that verse. I am still holding onto the original cycle in a folder, as I am very unsure of the turn issue in the poem.

Eamon Ceannt Park Cycle is based in a seven day walk through an unfamiliar/familiar park, in winter. This sequence does not always occur in waking reality, it is a dream-reality.  Maybe the rest is nightmare. I am adding a link to the entire sequence here, and a brief excerpt from ECPC(#III).

Eamon Ceannt Park Cycle

There is a man in the stone.
The dew is playing fire at her feet,
wetting her legs.
A legion of rooks guard his stone.
© C. Murray

Go read the site, I note that Kit Fryatt is a contributor , she will be familiar to Poethead readers for her poems which I published here and here. I added the Bone Orchard Poetry link to Irish Poetry Imprints on my blogroll.

Other poet-contributors to Bone Orchard Poetry are, PD Lyons ,Luis Cuauhtemoc Berriozabal, Kevin Reid, Gillian Prew, John W. Sexton, Alyssa Nickerson, Craig Podmore, , Michelle Greenblatt, Heller Levinson, David Scott Pointer, Natasa Georgievska, Carolyn Srygley-Moore, Anthony Seidman, Aad de Gids and David McLean