“Brother” and other poems by Clodagh Beresford Dunne

Brother

Don’t look at the rosemary on the fridge
shelf – it will remind you of the lamb
you cooked yesterday and how you
laughed at the notion of posting
next Sunday’s roast Down Under.
 
Don’t think that staring at a television
screen will fill the void. The Sydney
cricket match on the afternoon sports
bulletin will emulate the scorch
of your dancing coal fire.
 
Don’t step outside to breathe the frosty air,
you might foolishly look up to the sky
and see the ethereal trail of a jumbo jet
oblivious that it and every emigrant ship
has carried fragments of others.
 
Don’t look at your young son stretched
out, colouring his pages with crayons
– it will only remind you of your brother,
six years your junior, of how you walked
the school route with him, his small hand in yours.
 
            Brother was published in the Southword Literary Journal

 

Plenary Indulgence

Abrakedabra! and a plume of white smoke
Habemus Papam We have a Pope!
 
Through crimson curtains he emerges.
Immaculate.
Cassock and cape like fresh snow.
The conclave gushes behind
all blood red and sanguine.
They are umbilical
 
Connecting me to my grandmother
who polished her front step
with a tin of Cardinal Red
reciting her thirty-day-prayer
in rhythm with the bristles of her brush –
her incantation
a crucifix of indentation –
up and down, side to side, going nowhere.
The end result gleamed but was slippery
like dripping.
 
Do you know the Pope wears red shoes ?
I do – for the blood of the martyrs
or maybe for their Ferragamo tag.
Do you know he wears a fisherman’s ring?
I do – for St. Peter who cast
his net into the sea
or maybe to dress his hand
with gold and diamonds.
Do you know he gives out a Plenary
Indulgences on special occasions?
I do.
 
And then the pope raised his hand
and drew the world to his palm
and to my surprise, for a moment, I remained there.
 
                                                                                                                                                                           First published in Poetry 24.

Hypothesis

So the editor wants to know why
people are killing
themselves. I’ll tell you why –
because they are part of a revolution
they know nothing
about. Not a revolution with guns
and knives but one in its strictest
physical sense, the revolution
of the geoid, the planet earth.
We might share it with billions
but these days
we are each on our own
as it sits, upturned on its axis
slowly revolving, shaking off the detritus
until one by one
we cling to the surface
or free-fall into oblivion.
And so we concoct bizarre ways
to dodge our turn –
we are drawn to the oceans to hide
but drown in their deep waters,
we strive to weigh ourselves to the ground,
injecting ourselves like batteries
with liquid lithium.
To defy gravity
we anchor our ankles to balls and chains
or feel the ephemeral
ecstasy of letting
blood from our veins.
While some tie ropes around their necks
as they take their turn,
ready to hang
from the world, like a tarot card I once saw.

                                                                                                                                                                    First published in The Stinging Fly

Seven Sugar Cubes

   On 10th April, 1901, in Massachusetts, Dr. Duncan MacDougall set out to prove that the 
   human soul had mass and was measurable. His findings concluded that the soul weighed
   21 grams.
 
When your mother phones to tell you that your father has died 
ten thousand miles away, visiting your emigrant brother, 
in a different hemisphere, in a different season, 
do you wonder if your father’s soul will be forever left in summer? 
 
Do you grapple 
with the journey home of the body of a man you have known
since you were a body in your mother’s body? 
 
Does the news melt into you and cool to the image 
of his remains in a Tasmanian Blackwood coffin, in the body of a crate
in the body of a plane? Or do you place the telephone receiver back on its cradle, 
take your car keys, drive the winter miles to your father’s field, where you know 
his horses will run to the rattle, like dice, of seven sugar cubes.


                                                       first published in The Irish Times

 

You Have Become the Hand Rub of an Olympian

 
When your ashes return
in a small wooden box,
a brass plaque on top,
there is no cord
 
or record of attachment
to anything or anyone.
Somewhere a uterus
is evacuating itself – 
 
a mass of patient vessels,
surrendering and collapsing
bereft of implantation,
their futile existence spent.
 
If we were to walk
every inch of the earth
or soar to a distant planet
we’d be utterly sure
 
of one thing now – 
we’d find nothing
of you except these ashes –
not your cadaver
 
or the bony frame 
of your being,
not the protrusion
of your dental arcs.
 
You’ve been reduced
to chalky powder
like the hand rub
of some Olympian
 
preparing to bar-cling.
If this box should open,
one accidental sneeze
might spell the resurgence
 
of your skin cells, hair
follicles, a glutinous eye
or a femur bone. Rewinding,
back-tracking,
 
you’ve been redacted
to the nothingness of an atmosphere.

                                                                         (The Pickled Body)

 
brother and other poems are © Clodagh Beresford Dunne

Clodagh Beresford Dunne was born in Dublin and raised in the harbour town of Dungarvan Co. Waterford, in a local newspaper family. She holds degrees in English and in Law and qualified as a solicitor, in 2001. During her university and training years she was an international debater and public speaker, representing Ireland on three occasions, at the World Universities Debating Championships. Her poems have appeared in publications including The Stinging Fly, The Irish Times, Southword, The Moth, Spontaneity and Pittsburgh Poetry Review. She was the recipient of the Arts Council of Ireland Emerging Writer Award Bursary (2016) and a number of Literature awards and residencies from Waterford City and County Arts Office. In April, 2016 she delivered a series of readings, interviews and lectures, in Carlow University and Robert Morris University, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, as part of Culture Ireland’s International Programme. In February, 2017, as part of the AWP Conference and Book Fair in Washington, DC, she participated in a reading and discussion panel: “A World of Their Own” (five female poets in cross-cultural conversation) with US poets, Jan Beatty and Tess Barry, Irish poet, Eleanor Hooker, and Lebanese poet, Zeina Hashem Beck. She is a founding member, coordinator and curator of the Dungarvan and West Waterford Writers’ Group. She lives in Dungarvan with her husband and four young children.

“Detail” and other poems by Rachel Coventry

Detail

 
The world is full stretched,
and sick with possibility.
You find yourself in a gallery
ill with heat and standing.
Waiting for some man
to play his ridiculous hand.
So bored of art, but then
forced into wakefulness
by the feet of Diego Velazquez’
Cristo Crucificado. All suffering
now upon you and you
bear it because you have to.
 
First published in the Stony Thursday Book
 

Dispute

 
Latterly, my mother’s silent complaint,
the mute argument of her life
 
articulated itself inside her body
each unspoken tirade
 
eventually rendered in flesh
scratched into synapse
 
a foot plants itself on the stair, refuses
to move till she swears, come on
 
you fucker, drags it sulking
up one but then the other
 
stops and on it goes
the claim and counter claim
 
of an insidious dispute
that leads nowhere
 
First Published in the Honest Ulsterman
 

Beat

 
Systole
 
I am still haunting at the old addresses
oblivious to cosmetic improvements,
wandering pre-gentrified Stoke Newington
lost in a maze of grey council estates
still transfixed by reverberations
of tower blocks that have not yet
shivered to the ground
but still sweep acid house,
a lonely beam over
Hackney’s waste ground.
 
Diastole
 
Burning like the earth
at the Burmese border
the fans all noise no effect
Thai women, still as Buddhas,
me, western, huffing and bloated
wrestling with Christ on the floor,
really grasping at straws,
weaving pale meanings from gecko calls.
Maybe take succor in a different boy?
Some savage memory blazes momentarily
burns me clean. Give in finally. Breathe
 
First published The Poet’s Quest for God Anthology
 

What did I do to deserve you?

 
We exist so the universe
can experience loneliness
 
you may think if everything
is one, it will be content,
there will be no suffering
 
but you are wrong
if there is just one thing
there can be only be longing
with nothing to long for
 
so here we are, splinters
in the dark, no other purpose
but to break each other’s hearts.
 
First published in Poetry Ireland Review
 

As you sleep

 
I watch the flickering rhythm of skin
the pulse of the carotid artery
wonder and fear at its delicacy
and in reversal only lovers achieve
you are flesh and I am dream.
 
First published in Banshee

Rachel Coventry’s poetry has appeared in many journals including Poetry Ireland Review, The SHop, Cyphers, The Honest Ulsterman and The Stony Thursday Book. She was selected for the Poetry Ireland Introductions Series in 2014. In 2016 she won the Galway University Hospitals Arts Trust Annual Poetry Competition and was short-listed for the Patrick Kavanagh Poetry Award. She is currently writing a PhD on Heidegger’s poetics at NUIG. Her debut collection is forthcoming from Salmon Poetry.

The Spring 2017 issue of Compose Journal is live

Our Spring 2017 issue features an interview with Margo Orlando Littell and an excerpt from her debut novel, Each Vagabond by Name;  poetry by Laura Donnelly, Brian Simoneau, Chris Murray, Tanya Fadem, Sergio A. Ortiz, John Grey, Lita Kurth, and Gail DiMaggio; creative nonfiction by Noriko Nakada, Marion Agnew, Kevin Bray, Telaina Eriksen, Jim Krosschell, and Wendy Fontaine; fiction by Andrew Boden, Darci Schummer, Liesl Nunns, Laura Citino, and Beth Sherman; and artwork by Ana Prundaru, Fabrice Poussin, and Brian Michael Barbeito.

See more at: http://composejournal.com/issues/spring-2017/#sthash.hmFQpFvl.dpuf
 
Thanks to Suzannah Windsor and Andres Rojas for including two poems from my book (work in progress)  at this link

“Prostrate” and other poems by Mary O’Connell

The First Cut is…

for Ifrah Ahmed
 
A fat red sun comes up above the trees.
Ngozi claps her hands, today’s the day
her gran will bring her to Shangazi,
her mother’s aunt.”You must be brave”, they tell
the eight-year-old, who loves to hop and skip
along the dirt-tracks where the lizards play.
 
They walk for miles, but she discovers tunda;
mangoes and papayas in gran’s cotton bag—
a special treat for this her special day.
gran’s hand tightens as she walks into the house.
The windows are all darkened and a fan
on the ceiling makes a whirring sound.
 
Then she sees a bed with shiny instruments
and pushes into gran to hide her face.
The old one sits into a wing-backed chair,
cradles Ngozi in her arms and speaks:
“It won’t take long, my love, just look away.”
A touch of steel, and then a scalding pain.
 
“Now you’ll be ready for your wedding day.”
she hears them shout, as they raise and place her
on the bed, lying on one side, both legs tied.
Tears burn her cheeks, her throat feels sore and dry.
She shivers in the heat and feels betrayed,
invaded by a mutilating blade.
 

Amaryllis Belladonna

 
Something rising from the earth invades my life,
flaunts shamelessly in my place of refuge.
For weeks it lay folded in its verdant sheath,
then slowly pushed out its raw obscenity.
Interlocking petals mimicked loudspeakers
that blazed out without warning,
a ‘triffid’ broadcasting calamity.
 
It stares me down, daring me to look
into its crimson gullet, falling into black.
Yellow stamen at its lip protrude
to mock me with a snide gap-toothed leer.
Why should a gifted pot-plant snarl my peace?
Could the seeds go back to adolescence
coming upon the secret bloom of blood?
 

Prostrate

 
The Muezzin’s cry
calls you out of sleep,
 
you wear a cloth
that cancels all your curves,
 
walk to the Mosque to find
your place behind the latticed screen,
 
supplicate heaven
to send no more distress,
 
the belts of gelignite
that rock the square,
 
the Prophet’s message twisted in the sand.
fragmented symbols rising in the sand.
 
Prostrate and other poems is © Mary O’Connell

Mary O’Connell has had poems published in Southword , Best of Irish Poetry 2008, and the Café Review, (Portland ME). She taught languages and English and now lives in Cork city. She also had some success reciting her work in Strokestown and Derry. She has been fortunate to have been mentored by Paddy Galvin and Greg O’Donoghue in a workshop at the Munster Literature Centre, and often writes about nature and classical mythology, as well as taking an ironic look at public figures and events. A regular at O Bhéal, she has twice been asked to read for visiting American students.

“Consumed” and other poems by Gillian Hamill

Clarity

 
So still
It had to
Come to the fore

I could feel
The tears drop
And drip down
On to my leg
Fully-formed droplets
I could count rain

In the still
Stilled mind forge chatter
The sadness had nowhere to go
But out.

Canal Walk Home

What is it
About the power
of the water
To heal hurts

Three lads sit on the boardwalk
They hardly look like delicate sorts.
And yet they gaze out
Contemplate
The rushing rippling mottles of the
Undulating lake
Can soothe souls.

Car lights are reflected in
Striking streaks, always dappling
Buzzy thrill of
Modern pyrotechnics
In the most basic of
Science laws.

Edged by banking sycamore leaves
I took one and put it in my pocket
To describe it better.
The smell of its earthy salt and bark
Present.
And the bare elegance
Of stripped black branches
Spearing themselves into the night air
Soldered into the genesis
Of life
And yes they are
Wild quiet.

A little further on
There’s a piece of street art says
Only the river runs free
And maybe that’s the attraction
Of this portal into liberty.

And then to gaze down the row
Through Camden Street from Portobello
The multi-potted chimney tops
Sophisticated lego bricks
Pricked by the Edwardian arc
Of ornate street lights.

The red car lights more dense
The further in you go
Speeding up into
A crescendo
Of urban adrenalin
As if in a movie
And the cameras were moving in
Drawing you in
Crackle.

Crackle
Quick, quick slow
Travelling
Boom
in.

For all your talk
Of dalliances with the dark
Don’t you know that they are
One and the same.

The splendour of the curvature of the
veins in a leaf’s skin
Echoed with variations
Of trickled threads of gold.
Are as a naked woman’s
Crystallised spine
Waiting for your touch
Nymph and nature
They are one and the same.

But purity
Glorying in freedom
In liberated breeze
There is no need for
Shame.

Consumed

My soul is saddening.
Keening.
And crying out to the wolves.

Take me away. No answer.
Take me away. Louder
Take me away. Hysterical.

But while geographically there were many places she could have gone to.
In reality there was no place left to go.

His flinty eyes of malice recognised this.
And licking his lips. Charged.
Devoured.
Through sinew and synapse chomped.
No morsel left to be spat out.

Only her emptiness lingered
He could not wrap his jaws around
What did not exist.

That seething chasm of nothingness
Expanding
Every second, every minute, every hour, every day.
Swallowing all hope in its midst
And mainlining the remaining smulch into veins of her ill-begotten offspring.

Why, the wolves of course.
Ravenous little critters.

Engorged breasts of black milk
Mewling malevolence howled.
But madre macerated could not answer with a kiss.
Consumed by her own despair.
Literally.

The Last Day

 
Trails
Of entrails.
Gluttonous fat deals
Dripping hot sumptuous on molten train rails.
Mangy dog heels
To whine on his recline on a bed of nails
Hammered by slippery electric eels
And now pedal fast boy on your wheels
See glorious concrete hardened by steels
Wash, wash, wash, but grit you shit under your fingernails
Why, this is what you wanted as the bell peals.
Zap-ting, zap-ting, ting-ting-ting-ting go your microwave meals.
Greasing up your desperate bid to burn on among writers of great tales
But selfie, self loathing, self loving mastery, your progress is as slow as a snail’s
And soon, the filmy transcribe of time, your dignity steals
They say that love heals
But I don’t give a damn, I just want all the feelz.
Sewed into a corner by the bloodied strands – trails of entrails
The mighty man kneels

Before God
And Prays.

Consumed and other poems are Gilliam Hamill.

Originally from the village of Eglinton in Derry, Gillian Hamill has lived in Dublin for the past 12 years (intermingled with stints in Galway, Waterford and Nice). She has a BA in English Studies from Trinity College, Dublin and a MA in Journalism from NUI Galway. She is currently the editor of trade publication, ShelfLife magazine and has acted in a number of theatre productions. Gillian started writing poetry in late 2014.
 ⊗ Gillian’s Website