Tag Archives: poetry

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 was forty-seven –
finally, improbably
a married woman.
 
Wedding is © Katie Donovan first published in the November 2015 issue of Cyphers Magazine, edited by Eilean Ni Chuilleanain, Macdara Woods and Leland Bardwell
 

Operation

 
In the hospital,
gowned in gauzy cloth,
he is prepped;
his limbs so thin,
his head bursting with the tumour,
with knowing that wrestling
the thing out may kill him.
 
All day the cutters and stitchers
are at work, slicing from lip
to clavicle, sawing bone,
careful not to snick an artery,
gouging a flap from his thigh,
to patch the gap
where the tumour hid
thriving in its secret lair.
 
When it’s out –
and they have fixed the jaw
with a steel plate;
rivetted the long L-shape
of the wound –
he lies arrayed
with tubes and drains.
He floats in the shallows
of the anaesthetic,
his breath echoing eerily
from the hole in his throat,
his face utterly still.
 
The night before the operation
he read “Peter Pan”
to our children,
and in the morning
he surrendered;
waving from the trolley,
as if to clutch a last particle
of the life we figured for him,
as if to let it fall.
 
Operation is © Katie Donovan first published in Irish Pages, The Heaney Issue, 2014, Vol. 8, No.2, edited by Chris Morash and Cathal O Searcaigh
 

Off Duty

 
Is my face just right,
am I looking as a widow should?
I pass the funeral parlour
where four weeks ago
the ceremony unfurled.
Now I’m laughing with the children.
The director of the solemn place
is lolling out front, sucking on a cigarette.
We exchange hellos,
and I blush, remembering
how I still haven’t paid the bill,
how I nearly left that day
with someone else’s flowers.
 
Off Duty is © Katie Donovan first published in The Irish Times, 2014, by Poetry Editor Gerry Smyth
 

Katie Donovan has published four books of poetry, all with Bloodaxe Books, UK. Her first, Watermelon Man appeared in 1993. Her second, Entering the Mare, was published in 1997; and her third, Day of the Dead, in 2002. Her most recent book, Rootling: New and Selected Poems appeared in 2010. Katie Donovan’s fifth collection of poetry, Off Duty will be published by Bloodaxe Books in September 2016. She is currently working on a novel for children.

She is co-editor, with Brendan Kennelly and A. Norman Jeffares, of the anthology, Ireland’s Women: Writings Past and Present (Gill and Macmillan, Ireland; Kyle Cathie, UK, 1994; Norton & Norton, US, 1996). She is the author of Irish Women Writers: Marginalised by Whom? (Raven Arts Press, 1988, 1991). With Brendan Kennelly she is the co-editor of Dublines (Bloodaxe, 1996), an anthology of writings about Dublin.

Her poems have appeared in numerous periodicals and anthologies in Ireland, the UK and the US. She has given readings of her work in many venues in Ireland, England, Belgium, Denmark, Portugal, the US and Canada. She has read her work on RTÉ Radio One and on BBC Radio 4 and BBC Radio 3. Her short fiction has appeared in The Sunday Tribune and The Cork Literary Review.

 
Entering The Mare and other Poems by Katie Donovan

‘Cleaving a Puzzle-Tree’ and other poems by Doireann Ní Ghríofa

Cleaving a Puzzle-Tree

 
1.
 
I didn’t see my grandmother’s tree in Chile,
araucaria araucana,
though they grow tall there and are many.
I must have walked under them every day, tripped
over their seeds, but I didn’t think of her, oceans away,
standing in a square of green, raking leaves
around her monkey puzzle tree.
 
2.
 
For over a hundred years, that tree stood between
pruned rosebush and clipped hedge, a long shadow
moving over wet fields and stone walls.
As a girl, I clung to the trunk when we played hide and seek,
rough bark printing maps on my palms.
 
3.
 
In April gales, the tree sways. From the window,
my grandmother watches a chainsaw blade
spin the tree into a flight of splinters,
until only logs and sawdust are left.
In each neat wheel of wood, an eye opens,
ringed by lines of the past. The logs are split,
stacked, the tree turned into armfuls of firewood
which will rise as smoke to the sky,
a puzzle unravelled.
 

Frozen Food

 
In the frozen foods aisle, I think of him
when I shiver among shelves of green flecked
garlic breads and chunks of frozen fish.
I touch the cold door until my thumbs numb.
 
Strangers unpacked his body in a lab
and thawed his hand, watched long-frozen fingers
unfurl one by one, until his fist finally opened,
let go, and from his grasp rolled
a single sloe,
ice-black with a purple-blue waxy bloom.
 

Inside the sloe,
a blackthorn stone.
Inside the stone,
a seed.

 
Standing in the supermarket aisle,
I watch my breath freeze.
 

Museum

 
I am custodian of this exhibition of erasures, curator of loss.
I watch over pages of scribbles, deletions, obliterations,
in a museum that preserves not what is left, but what is lost.
 
Where arteries are unblocked, I keep the missing clots.
I collect all the lasered tattoos that let skin start again.
In this exhibition of erasures, I am curator of loss.
 
See the unraveled wool that was once a soldier’s socks,
shredded documents, untied shoestring
knots — my museum protects not what is left, but what is lost.
 
I keep deleted jpegs of strangers with eyes crossed,
and the circle of pale skin where you removed your wedding ring.
I recall all the names you ever forgot. I am curator of loss.
 
Here, the forgotten need for the flint and steel of a tinderbox,
and there, a barber’s pile of scissored hair. I attend
not what is left, but what is lost.
 
I keep shrapnel pulled from wounds where children were shot,
confession sins, abortions, wildflowers lost in cement.
I am custodian of erasures. I am curator of loss
in this museum that protects not what is left, but what is lost.
 
‘Cleaving a Puzzle-Tree’, ‘Museum’ and ‘Frozen Food’ are © Doireann Ní Ghríofa

DOIREANN b+wDoireann Ní Ghríofa is an award-winning bilingual poet, writing both in Irish and in English. Paula Meehan awarded her the Ireland Chair of Poetry Bursary 2014-2015. Her collections are Résheoid, Dúlasair (Coiscéim), A Hummingbird, your Heart (Smithereens Press) and Clasp (Dedalus Press). Her work is regularly broadcast on RTE Radio One. Doireann’s poems have previously appeared in literary journals in Ireland and internationally (in Canada, France, Mexico, USA, Scotland and England). Two of her poems are currently Pushcart Prize nominated.
.
www.doireannnighriofa.com & DoireannNiG

‘Fable’ and ‘Oh Cherry Trees You are Too White For My Heart’ by Doris Lessing

Poethead

Fable

When I look back I seem to remember singing.
Yet it was always silent in that long warm room.

Impenetrable, those walls, we thought,
Dark with ancient shields.The light
Shone on the head of a girl or young limbs
Spread carelessly. And the low voices
Rose in the silence and were lost as in water.

Yet, for all it was quiet and warm as a hand,
If one of us drew the curtains
A threaded rain blew carelessly outside.
Sometimes a wind crept, swaying the flames,
And set shadows crouching on the walls,
Or a wolf howled in the wide night outside,
And feeling our flesh chilled we drew together.

But for a while the dance went on –
That is how it seems to me now:
Slow forms moving calm through
Pools of light like gold net on the floor.
It might have gone on, dream-like, for ever.

View original post 238 more words

‘The House of Altogether Nothing’ & Other poems by Jan Sand

The House of Altogether Nothing

The countryside in which it stands
Is broken with large jagged rocks.
Its trees are dark, from northern lands,
Whose branches scratch the sky; boney bough knocks
One against the other. Cold winds finger through
Odd strands of captured human hair,
Torn newspaper strips look as if they grew
Amongst the leaves to bleakly declare
Of violence and despair. Black groves smell
Of damp decay. They display white fungoid growth
Through which black insects grope, explore a shell
Deserted by a snail that caps its glowing trail. One is loathe
To venture near this place of threats
But winding through dead leaves, broken rubble
Is the path where stumble those, full of regrets,
Replete with fears, burdened with trouble,
Pass to reach the house. Its peaks and walls
Assault the sky like a cataclysmic scream,
Intertwined grotesqueries that captures and enthralls
Those destined to drop into its dream.
The weary travelers approach in single file, one by one,
Trudge to the door which swings open wide.
They know their journey’s almost done.
They tremulously step inside.
Halfway down the long bare hall
Their head is seen to wobble, shake.
Comes now a groan, a gasp. Then the fall.
It thumps and rolls. The arms quake
And drop as well. The torso tumbles,
Then the legs topple like loose lumber.
The parts now chute in sliding jumbles
Through a hole in the floor. Nothing left to encumber
The next traveler. The house re-opens its front door.
The upper stories flicker, luminesce.
Moonlight glistens. Something rises to soar
From out a square chimney – glaucus, incandesce
To dissipate like spectral steam.
Something wakens from a dream.

The House of Altogether Nothing is © Jan Sand

These images are © Jan Sand jan1Death

Rains

There are rains that drag fog skirts
Across the country-side in stealthy hiss,
That, gently, in determination
Dampens down the grass with sodden kiss
Of sky to earth as caring as a mother
Calms her resting child.
There are rains of panicked horses’ hooves
That illuminate their stampede
With angry lightning flashing on black roofs
While trees sway and shudder in dismay
And water demons pound on window panes.
But some rains come and merely sit
And drum in steady patient siege,
Work soft hammers on the dents and wrinkles of the day
Smoothing anger and distress to flat peace,
Tempt shy dreams to peek from hidden thoughts
And welcome in safe surrender to sleep’s release

Rains is © Jan Sand

2 Am

The early black
Is still unstirred
By yawning morning.
The ceiling fills
With predatory thoughts,
Like quiet children
Come to play
Their silent games,
Poking sticks into
Dark passages
Of forgotten memories;
Memories like frightened mice
That scurry off in panic.
The sadly moaning bell
Sixty years ago on a lonely buoy
Shrugging its shoulders
In a choppy sea.
A special purple
Strangely found on both
An apron and a stub of clay
In kindergarten.
The round eyed stare
Frozen to my mother’s face
As cancer pain
Prodded her to certain death.
A pet white rat curled in snooze

On my pillow by my cheek.
The falling crescent moon
Smiles in my window
Like my long gone mother
Soothing me
Back to the peace of sleep.

2 am is © Jan Sand

jan2Jan Sand is originally a New Yorker. Currently a resident of Helsinki, Finland. Having read and enjoyed his poetry at Open Salon, I requested some work for Poethead.

Bio: I am a former industrial designer formerly a New Yorker, now retired and living in Helsinki, Finland. I have been writing poetry for several decades but am more or less unpublished except at a couple of web sites run by acquaintances met on the web. I know no other poets but take up my time with graphics and poetry and innovative cooking and baking and learning Finnish and relating to the wild animals in my area.

 

 

 

 

Poetry: A Poetry Series at Deep Water Literary Journal

what is beneath ?

 
a scrap of satin – some wood
 
and what is beneath the wood ?
 
dirt, the earth,
it is cold
 
is it alive ?
 
it contains the stir of flowers
it contains the whispering grass
 
and above it all ?

.
some turf
the blue sky
 
what are you listening to ?
 
my dark blood
the heart plays a tattoo
beneath this pale linen
this wool-stuff
 
and ?
 
it listens for the stir of flowers
it hears the grass whisper.
 
What Is Beneath ?’  is © C. Murray