“Killruddery” by Helen Harrison

Beneath the elders
Where bumble bees
Lose themselves
In flowering thyme;

I lie down in dew-soaked ease.

And dog-rose is the scent
That makes my spirits rise
In the kingdom of the low –
Flying bird.

I take comfort on the mossy soil;

Last years leaves sweet;
Damp In the wing-tipped breeze,
To ease my mind and soothe
My brow;

In dappled light my speckled thoughts take flight…

And the worm-seeking thrushes
Make a rustling sound
Where life goes on
Underground –

Beneath the earthy mound.

Killruddery is © Helen Harrison

hhHelen Harrison was raised on the Wirral, seven miles from Liverpool, by Irish parents, and has lived most of her adult life in Co Monaghan, Ireland, where she is married with a grown-up daughter. She has had poems published in A New Ulster, North West Words, Mad Swirl, The Galway Review, The Bray Journal, and the Poethead blog. Her first collection of poetry The Last Fire was published during 2015 by Lapwing. Helen has been guest reader read at venues in Ireland including O’Bheal Poetry Readings in Cork, and The White House Readings in Limerick.
 

Links if required:

 

“Bow Down” at York Literary Review

cropped-Purification-watercolor-and-black-carbon-pigment-on-cotton-paper-2014

Bow Down

 
A harrowed tree
nest-ruined
tangled leaf.
 
Its bough down,
bow down
 
A-flowering-tree
 (still it flowers)
 
Submarine blue is
where dawn occurs
 (South/South-east of here)
 
Dawn’s light box runs
from north blue
to south warm
 
The point between
is lit-not-lit,
(nor) seamed
  a bas-relief.
 
Bow Down is from A Hierarchy of Halls and was first published in York Literary Review, Issue #1 2016
 

York Literary Review

‘Sonnet From A Derelict House’ and other poems by Daniel Marshall

metamorphosis

 
gulls bathe & fish in temporary rock pools
near the recycling spot in ongpo village. i wonder
if the dead mermaids of old jeju are reincarnate as gulls?
whether they thank the wind for bringing morsels of food to them?
 
have they returned to the place they liked to forage abalone,
where they taught their children how to recite the poems of the sea
& laced a 1000 soups with shell fish & sea weed?
in the translucent pools objects that don’t belong to the sea
 
but the sea has made ornate on its potter’s wheel
lie like artifacts waiting to be raised from the dead.
you can hardly recognize shards of green bottles,
broken, budget china plates, the flutes & spouts of blue vases
 
& their bases with the artists name erased by the currents.
but a saucepan lid, the nipple of its handle.
a rusty tobacco tin with mushed up cigarettes inside.
a bottle of washing up liquid. a cement bag collecting shells & kelp
 
go unchanged. no matter
the hours the mad sea potter clocks in.
 

 

the pacific

 
we walk 1 km or so,
pass through gangjeong village,
away from where ajummas
who look like permed mussolinis,
gut & flense red porgy & barter
at the pitch of cash registers, on the street corner.
beyond the outskirts
where the abandoned banners of protest
against the construction of a naval base is stationed,
to where the pacific ocean is being itself.
the land emptied. the roads emptied. people emptied.
the ocean here moves the mood to its own way.
& we are moved with it too.
because we are people.
 

jeju church

 
the telegraph cables wobble like plucked harp strings.
i follow them to a church: the modem of god.
the fastest router to his love & law.
 
i doubt they get a decent signal there;
therefore anxiety’s doppleganger cowers behind the plastic pews,
in a church, without nave or apse; persistent
 
their’s is a church suitable for gaggling wants to god.
the neon crucifix where the lightning rod should be picking petals of dark
to save the air conditioned congregation from the godless element.
 
the don’t see that the weather is god, their livelihood.
they don’t see out there is all god can be
& the only place he might find comfort from the grind of his silence.
 

 

눈 = snow & eye

 
this blizzard two days deep is an anomaly
: it hasn’t snowed like this for 35 years.
the island’s comatose yet comfortably delivered from
the common arrangements of any old day
: farmers off the hook with needy furrows;
disheartened tourists hop scotch 4 dimensions a-z;
the restaurants full of happy people getting drunk;
biyang island’s buggered off all afternoon,
a graphite smudge in the corner of a child’s sketch.
i feel a perfect ease in this seraglio of snow,
furnished with moving tapestries of conifer & crow.
litters of onion & cabbage, the brown flame
of decay like the edges of old manuscripts
spreading to the whorls & cores.
the harem wenches shaped like soil who swaddled them,
who with familiar cuddles warmed
their spindly legs until the autumn harvest,
look bored without their motherly duties.
there isn’t a soul & if there was
a barrier of snow rushes between us.
flocks of sparrows navigate the drift,
the traffic of currents & pockets of gale
quiff the snow on the ridge ahead.
i hope i never find time to return to the world.


sonnet from a derelict house

 

the village houses dumb with old age. blind & windowless of their worth.
their pipe-orifices blow off excess steam. asbestos hunkered in their heads.
a few roof tiles absent : old storms popped them off like champagne corks.
cut short like children who are seen but never heard. downcast & diffident.
they mime their rantings at a generation that admires but does not fix.
they had an idiolect arrested by indifference & so they do not croak
objections to invasive mainlanders with café aspirations.
they’ve busied themselves like a mouth chock full of ginseng sweets
so long, they forgot the peal of beauty poking from their grout,
the saturating mold that sticks them together. you’ve not decided you have value yet.
when the aesthetic nuances of apartments lie in tatters: when the weathered marks,
the petroleum foot prints & ichor rust begin to tell on iron bones & fiber glass skin
they’ll hurry back to you with a lick of paint, stucco & warm sibilant love,
their guests will write on post-it notes they are too guilty to compose themselves.

fish lady

 
the jeju grandma who squats outside the chiropractor
sells gold bream, kelp & mackerel piled in little blue baskets.
the lamppost is her backrest, the pavement is her chair.
her back’s bent like an oreum. she must be in a lot of pain.
most of the day she naps with the fishes. i never saw her sell a thing
& i can’t cook fish in the café : it makes a dreadful stink.

the air in hallim town is thick with salt & brine.
it comes from the sea hidden in netted hauls of jeju cuttlefish
-red freckled tentacles like broken fingers & heads like bone china vases.
her bones are rusty as a trawlers’ nuts & bolts.
her knuckles have been bleached with salt & cold.
she’s wrapped up in a microfiber blanket, she has no gore-tex clothes.

her veins bulge out of tissue flesh, like highways on a map,
the luggage of her grueling years drags under her eyes.
after working seven days a week, outdoors in the fields,
or on the wet street, since she was a teenager,
the elements have buffeted her geography’s shape inside & out.
we can travel her hardships without a compass needle.

there is no son or daughter to help her lug the stock.
she has mothered. be sure of that. suckled & smacked them into citizens.
they’ve been consumed with seoul’s nightly attractions: pork & soju.
disfigured by charts & indexes, the etiquette of the salary man
: the boss says drink! we say how much? the boss says jump! we say from where!
if only she’d not shamed their island roots they’d be less corpulent.

on sunday all the shops & vendors on the street stop trade.
she goes to church & tends the spirit then goes home to tend the soil.
she has a little garden behind her little house beside the sea.
she grows a row of cabbages, spring onions & garlic
: in autumn for the umpteenth time she’ll make kimchi for the year ahead
: the fuel for her to endure one more ring of seasons in the harbour town.

one day, i’ll go to the chiropractor & she won’t be outside
& her fish will not have been caught & birth prodigious shoals.

Daniel Marshall is a poet from England who now lives in Jeju Island, Korea, where he runs a café & guesthouse, which he built with his wife from the soil up. He is an emerging writer who, when he manages his time well, writes & blogs. You can read several of his ongoing projects here & a number of articles he wrote on dream psychology & analysis whilst he lived in the mountains of mainland Korea. Feel free to contact him anytime through his blog:
 
https://danielpaulmarshall.wordpress.com/
or at danielpaulmarshall85@gmail.com
 
Sonnet From A Derelict House and other poems are © Daniel Marshall

“The Pathologist’s Wife” and other poems by Natalia Spenser

For Sylvia-Down in Adoration

 
You were Fulbright a seismic enigma
the fleet foot hare rising in pastel dusk.
It stalked like crows in the breast of a man
who sold your head for hapless wanderlust.
Your damage was like splintering of glass.
Could he not understand what it is to be
a milk jug, wasted lipstick, the outcast
shadow hung from a star-struck hemlock tree.
But a quiet voice is so more loquacious
than a risen phoenix roaring through air.
Maybe now is the time for tempered hush
time to weave your bridal crown through red hair.
He brought Devon sea shells to your headstone
you were his lotus his night passage glow.
 

For Jane Kenyon

 
Ten years on, while storm buffets glass and juniper,
snowflake tiers inside my porch
finger an army of miniature baubles.
 
The plastic robins perch lopsided. Even
that new star, a rushed afterthought, curtseys
on its axis where a black one legged doll should be.
 
Dear Jane I never met you. But I guess your mother
was at the station with pasteboard suitcases—ready
to sew broken limbs together again.
 
Now as I make end to season,
with more than a single strand of tinsel,
I nest plywood angels and churches
 
for a woman who breathed cypress and pondered why
only nightjars or silver fish
knew how to take shadowless flight.
 

The Pathologist’s Wife

Taken as a whole she is like any other woman 
one heart four chambers one brain eight lobes
 
If I place them in your gloved hands	her weight
is less than a pre-term infant

this woman	mute monkey on one shoulder
zealous cat on the other

At the edge of night she wears a cowl of thorns 
the spines draw blood if I forget to soften my touch

Whatever moves between bright thought & Tahitian body
Gauguin’s veneer is noted	full mouth
 
broad nose	hair above her lip	the nest
of a bird humming at her wishbone		& if

you crystallise sadness	look close 
under a microscope	you find
deep sea brittle stars	in that one rare tear
Natalia - CopyNatalia Spencer B.A lived in North Africa at the start of her life & now inhabits a quiet niche of South West England. Like most writers she knows, she has family, cats, many books. Her flash fiction has appeared in Kissing Frankenstein and other Stories, & Flash Frontier. In 2015 she won The MSF Silver Award for Best Poem from Visual Stimulus. More recently she has poems published in The Poetry Shed & various magazines. She is working towards her first collection.

“Mother’s Cradle” and other poems by Maria Wallace

On the Great Blasket

 
The wild rose briar scorns
the garden rose,
and jutted from the deep,
this island scorns, defies life
from sunrise to the midnight moon.
 
Certain of approaching
endings, in a lamp-lit room
bean a’ tí Peig voices island stories.
 
I sit alone
on a sun-warmed stone, hear,
entangled in the west wind,
the whirl of her spirit
hug this grassy hillside,
those bleached dwellings below,
 
and below that,
rock-battering ocean waves
ride off
with particles of that past.
 

Under the shadow of birds

 
Black birds,
she thinks they are ravens,
hover over her
for the past eighteen years.
Their coarse croaking cries
drown all other sounds;
dark plumage shines
as they circle around
ready to destroy
the little she still has:
a neat house for two. Neat.
For two. Even under attack.
Not a speck of dust –
the aroma of fresh baking
rejoicing through the house,
though, the birds’ shadows stab,
their long bills tear her innards.
 
One May afternoon in the cul-de-sac.
Her toddler son in a group
playing Simon Says,
and Hop, Skip and Jump
a few feet from them.
 
A screech of tyres always tells a story.
 
Her doctor said
another baby would help the healing.
The first flock of black birds swooped down
when her husband said:
Another baby?
No way! You couldn’t look after
the one you had
!

 

Morning sounds

 
My waking is not
to electric saw sounds,
hammering, voices and timber clatter.
 
In absence of the familiar,
I hear seagulls’ noisy squall
from opposite ridge-tiled terracotta roofs.
 
Sunlight chinks filter through
the window shutters’ wooden lattice.
I remember a shaft on mounds
of delicate wood shaving curls,
a man talking about grain, knots,
plywood, ash, pine, sawdust under
finger nails, caught in eyelashes.
 
I open the window.
Faint sobbing from room below tells
his tree of life has taken the final blow.
 
On wrought-iron rail
last night’s raindrops tremble,
begin to dry under sunlight.
 
The seagulls fly away.
I face the day,
reluctant.
 

No death in the afternoon

i.m E. Hemingway. Sunday, July the 2nd 1961
 
You woke before the sun
showed over the mountains
east of Ketchum, before it had time to touch
a greeting on your window.
 
With bathrobe and slippers, ghostly silent
walking by your wife’s bedroom door.
In the storeroom familiar gun oil and leather smells
reaffirming your decision.
 
Were you, that day, the old man of the sea trailing behind
nothing but fish bones, a defeated carcass unable to feel
the unloving contact of cold metal? Or, in that padlocked
plaza de toros, did you battle with,
run away from the beast? Heat like embers,
hot even the sand under your feet, faced
with a raging bull, black back glistening with blood
that would be repaid with blood. No spectators
to applaud last faena for bull and matador.
 
No death in the afternoon. Crisp dawn,
and the bells toll for you.
 

The Meenybradden Bog Woman

(from the late medieval period,
uncovered in 1978 in county Donegal)

 
Peat brown hours
turned to centuries,
toughened
your skin with the soft touch
of nature’s forgatherings.
A lullaby the drip and squelch
of wet leavings,
the gossip of grasses,
the winnowing wind
and occasional bird song
rippling over you
like the deepest, final note
of a cello.
And you listening
to all that muted music,
stilled in the hold of roots,
under the brown-veined roof
of your dark sky,
 
hating the silent tongue
of time.
 

Mother’s cradle

 
She gathered our days
in her strong apron
the way she gathered autumn
apples in it,
a scoop of maize to scatter
among clucking hens,
fresh mint in flower,
stolen from burbling bees,
her fragrance for days.
 
She would sit to pod
an apron full of peas, peel
a bowl of potatoes,
rest darning a pile of socks,
knitting to pale winter chills.
 
Her pockets always bulged
with mysteries.
The sound of a few coins
promised toffee sweets,
a strip of liquorice.
 
In her lap rainbows were held,
and moon slivers and stars.
Twice held a dead child.
 
Mother’s Cradle and other poems is © Maria Wallace.

Maria Wallace (Maria Teresa Mir Ros) was born in Catalonia, but lived her teenage years in Chile. She later came to Ireland where she has now settled. She has a BA in English and Spanish Literature, 2004, an MA in Anglo-Irish Literature, 2005. She won the Hennessy Literary Awards, Poetry Section, 2006. Her work has been published widely in Ireland, England, Italy, Australia and Catalonia. Winner of The Scottish International Poetry Competition, The Oliver Goldsmith Competition, Cecil Day Lewis Awards, Moore Literary Convention, Cavan Crystal Awards, William Allingham Festival. She participated in the ISLA Festival (Ireland, Spain and Latin America), 2015, and has published Second Shadow, 2010, and The blue of distance, 2014, two bilingual collections (English – Catalan), a third one to come out within the year. She has taught Spanish, French, Art and Creative Writing. She facilitates Virginia House Creative Writers, a group she founded in 1996, and has edited three volumes of their work.