All posts tagged: Bloodaxe Books

“Sing” and other poems by Jane Clarke

Sing Let choirs make frosty nights sing, let them tell stories of shepherds caring for sheep, a stable, a donkey, a star in the east, while you remember the road to the church in the woods, the battened door, timber trusses, peeling paint and plaster that fell like snow on the christening font and harmonium, the pot-bellied stove that offered a smidgeon of heat, candlelight soft on the bible lying open to Isaiah, For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given… Let yourself sing, diminuendo or crescendo, as if you still believed.   Point of Departure A Sunday evening in January. My father is taking me to the train because my mother can’t; her heart is broken over what I told her. Just my father and me, unused to this time together, quiet except for the engine’s hum and the sweep of wipers but in his silence I hear a rhythm — he’s cutting thistles with a scythe, a gate opens into a meadow I’ve never seen.   When winter …

Poems from “Off Duty” by Katie Donovan

Wedding   “Hasty,” the judge mocked until he read the letter from the consultant, his jaded face changing to pity. We got the green light then, to marry in a hurry.   We turned up in our jeans and limped through the ceremony – upsetting the officiating lady, determined to make this a special occasion.   Outside the registry office we inked a shadow on the next couple: the bride, glowing in her plumage, her robust young groom, their flower girls fidgeting.   My brother and his wife had used their lunch hour to be our witnesses. They went back to work, and my new spouse rode off on his bike: the big triumph that, with six months to live, he could still cycle.   I had to collect our children – the paltry nuptials would have been disappointing – no frocks, no fun – just this boring signing thing, and so I kept it secret, left them with Gran.   I sloped off to the train. It was bright, a May day, and I …

“The Mission” by Rita Ann Higgins

The Mission I think of the last time we met on the prom in Galway. A sunny day in May you looked cool in those shades. You looked taller somehow. We talked for ages. You told me about plans for your mother’s sixtieth. I felt lucky to have such a nephew. Shades or no shades. You hid your distress well, John. None of it was evident that sunny day. The day of good nephews. A month later you went to Beachy Head. WTF John. I think of you leaving your bundle on top of Beachy Head. Your belt coiled around your watch your wallet with a photo of your daughter your fire fighter’s ID card your blood donor card your bus ticket from Brighton. Losers weepers. Margaret, your Irish twin, was on a holiday she didn’t want to go on. She had been worried sick, she had us all demented saying you were going to do it. Twins know things, Irish twins know more. I was at a wedding in June when some friends of …

‘Entering The Mare’ and other poems by Katie Donovan

Entering the Mare (The inauguration of an Irish chieftain, as observed by Gerald of Wales in the 12th century)   She stamps and shivers, her white coat vainly shrugging, as the would-be chieftain plunges in, burying deep his puny, acrid man’s seed, between her fragrant haunches.   The Goddess lives in her fine rearing head, the pink stretch of her lips, the wide, white-haired nostrils. Her hoof might have crippled him, her tail whipped out his arrogant eyes. Instead she jerks clumsily, trying to escape the smell of his hand.   Later he swims in the soup of her flesh, sucking on her bones, chewing the delicate morsels of her hewn body.   He has entered the Goddess, slain and swallowed her, and now bathes in her waters – a greedy, hairy, foetus.   Rising from her remains in a surge of steam – her stolen momentum – he feels a singing gallop through his veins: a whinnying, mane-flung grace rippling down his spine.   Riding off on the wings of the divine Epona, he …

Two poems by Liliana Ursu.

Poem with a Griffin, a Pike and Peacocks. I am reading a poem while it rains. The day blinks through windows guarded by a griffin; its talons flex, its tail switches.   Do you remember those summer showers high in the mountains? The dull pop of a toadstool beneath your bare foot in the dew-covered grass?   Under a crystal bell jar, the still life-fleshy ripe bananas, cherries, lemons and the silver knife you bargained for in the bazaar as the Bhosphorus sparkled at the feet of the one you loved. On the wobbly kitchen table, with that very knife, you slit open a pike.   And the hunting rifle, propped against stuffed peacocks- has it turned into a lapdog licking the other woman’s hands as she weighs my pearls…?   In the Forest I wrote the essential poem on an oar just before setting out. Perhaps long ago it’s been erased or maybe the sea knows it now by feel. Like the woman in Rousseau’s painting I shudder at the sound of footsteps -when …