‘Ism Writers’ by Susan Millar DuMars

Ism Writers

The world is full of ism writers
sobbing, always sobbing
for many distant victims –
but if they found ‘you’ bobbing
in the river, clearly drowning
they’d explain in patient tones
how your privilege, not the current,
is what’s dragging you down.
They’d talk until the bubbles stopped
pen an elegy then
for now that you’re a soggy corpse
it feels safe to call you friend
while sobbing, always sobbing.
That’s what ism writers do.
Every word they write’s correct
but not one word is true.

© Susan Millar DuMars

 

Susan Millar DuMars has published four poetry collections with Salmon Poetry, the most recent of which, Bone Fire, appeared in April, 2016. She also published a book of short stories, Lights in the Distance, with Doire Press in 2010. Her work has appeared in publications in the US and Europe and in several anthologies, including The Best of Irish Poetry 2010. She has read from her work in the US, Europe and Australia. Born in Philadelphia, Susan lives in Galway, Ireland, where she and her husband Kevin Higgins have coordinated the Over the Edge readings series since 2003. She is the editor of the 2013 anthology Over the Edge: The First Ten Years.

Sunflower
Madame Matisse is shown her portrait, 1913

“One Has To Admire His Ability As A Poet” by Kevin Higgins

One Has To Admire His Ability As A Poet

“I was struck by … his courage in speaking out to defend the memory of Charles Haughey”
Vincent Woods, RTE website

To defend the memory of Boris Yeltsin’s
vodka bottle. To take money from both the late Benito
Mussolini and, when pragmatism demanded it, those
who spat on him when he was safely
hanging upside down outside an Esso station.
To put in the proper context of realpolitik
as practised in parts of County Wexford
the late Father Fortune’s harem of boys.
To share a Ouija board with President Duvalier
while supping rum from the skull of an infant
who was always going to come to this
because, in the words of W.H.Auden,
‘poetry makes fuck-all difference’.
To share a roast leg with General Amin
and not mind which of his enemies was being eaten.
To recite even his longer poems
to a musical accompaniment of Vladimir Putin
twanging his jock-strap, like a rude balalaika.
To roll around wrapped in the French flag
with Marine Le Pen, whispering
in her cockle shell the words ‘Barbie, Bormann,
Goering’, because that’s the sort of thing
an advocate for the arts must sometimes do.

KEVIN HIGGINS

kevin-author-photo-december-2013-1Kevin Higgins facilitates poetry workshops at Galway Arts Centre and teaches creative writing at Galway Technical Institute. He is also Writer-in-Residence at Merlin Park Hospital and the poetry critic of the Galway Advertiser. He was a founding co-editor of The Burning Bush literary magazine and is co-organiser of over the edge literary events in Galway City. His first collection of poems The Boy With No Face was published by Salmon in February 2005 and was short-listed for the 2006 Strong Award. His second collection, Time Gentlemen, Please, was published in March 2008 by Salmon. His work also features in the generation defining anthology Identity Parade – New British and Irish Poets (ed roddy lumsden, Bloodaxe, 2010). Frightening New Furniture, his third collection of poems, was published in 2010 by Salmon Poetry. Kevin has read his work at most of the major literary festivals in Ireland and at arts Council and Culture Ireland supported poetry events in Kansas City, USA (2006), Los Angeles, USA (2007), London, UK (2007), New York, USA (2008), Athens, Greece (2008); St. Louis, USA (2008), Chicago, USA (2009), Denver, USA (2010), Washington D.C (2011), Huntington, West Virginia, USA (2011), Geelong, Australia (2011), Canberra, Australia (2011), St. Louis, USA (2013), Boston, USA (2013) & Amherst, Massachusetts (2013). Mentioning The War, a collection of his essays and reviews was published in april 2012 by Salmon. (SALMON)
It Was For This by Kevin Higgins

“Colour” and Other Poems by Paul Casey

Colour

for T.S.Eliot and after fourteen poets

The purple stole away from the skins of plums
Everywhere we turned became a maze of colour
I protect you with an indigo coloured whisper
You curve the ends of my black and white day
Coffee brown, is mole, dying leaves, dry earth
But smell led me here, the smell of yellow
The blue, white and red stripes of exotic confusion
Moving over the green gravel of a formal grave

I wet my lips and a blackbird flies out of my mouth
Faces in the front row, silvered in screenlight, focus
I thought everyone knew what was meant by sugar-paper blue
Tyrian dyes and flax and peacock plumes
Gold and yellow where the clouds crack and break away
Anemone-blue mountains outlined against the pearl-grey morning

Colour was first published in Live Encounters

Fishapod out of Watercolour

The Spring sea arrives
in flailing sage,
clutches lime-white soles
with the early hunger of sand.

Seeping, air-bound,
caught on the cusp
of an inner eclipse
I turn to olive water.

Nothing can be at rest
beneath this marble ichor
moon of all things opaque
and aquamarine.

In stone-pale, heaving waves
tik-taa-lik struggle
to reach the shore
– to shift an ageing jade spell

for the sea to cast wide
her turquoise daydreams
helpless crashing raging

at the thirsty white sun,
the untempered one
as ocean sighs find all

that crawl from her murky womb
to stand and gaze uncertain
at ice slowly gleaming teal

or a fern vapour of dream.

– first published in home more or less (Salmon Poetry, 2012)

An Béal Corcra

Delightful aftertaste
this river
of kingly colour
Ocular delight
this stream
of purpoesy
vein-aortic mix
of spirit liquid

as even
evolved vampires
overdose
on blends
of rich-thick
contradiction,
of unravelled
breaths expired

even as
seasoned muses
pilgrim-seasoned muses
each leave a trail
of purple dripping
from tongue and teeth
a new harvest
of mystery

and even as
starved poets sip
the mountain manna
purple poem wine,
dream-drunk poets
pulse-deafened
descend purply
their seasoned lips

– first published in the chapbook It’s Not all Bad (Heaventree Press, 2009)

Blue Roses

for Rosie

And then there are uncertain nights
when she blushes a sudden lavender
as I first remember, or darkens to a violet sleep.
Sometimes, she shimmers from the tranquil deep
of a burgundy world, dreaming and I
witness her water to a pale coral dawn

I’ve seen her shine as light as pear
tethered still and clear by the anchors
of warm mid-morning daydreams,
turn sepal green as if petal less
or glow amber as the fallen leaves
from a bouquet of autumn operas.
And on each blue moon, without fail
fold into the calm of origami white.

Usually my rose is a full flaming-red
cardinal weekend in a time made
only of roses. Is a wild flowering
rambler, a climber, a rosebush of scarlet
matadors, urging the shy and tormented
to dance in the showers of abundant daily joy.

If on certain days I could breathe
for her, roses of only breath,
they would each live as blessed
as a momentary labour of thorn-less blood
a singly purposed mist of quartz,
two thousand tender dozens per day
all shed before her footsteps and dewed,
tinted finely, with the scent of blue roses.

– first published in The Stony Thursday Book and then in home more or less (Salmon Poetry, 2012)

In the Shade

ash green lakes
aquamarine memory
beryl tears
cambium skin
celadon mist
chartreuse touch
clover-sprung harp
copper green temper
coral turquoise tongue
emerald green heart
fern green sleep
forest green winter
grass green bed
gravel-green lullabies
grey-green wink
hawthorn essence
hazel green gaze
island green iris
jade green mouth
lime green aura
marble green poitín lips
midnight shade of green
mint green sight
moss green sex
myrtle green palms
olive green age
opal green seas
pea green ire
peacock-green visions
pine green bones
reed green waters
sage green fires
sap green toes
seaweed green thighs
spring green dawn
Tara green rain
tea green calm
teal sorrow-pools
thyme green dusk
viridian storms

– first published in home more or less (Salmon Poetry, 2012)

.

Colour & other poems are © Paul Casey

Pic: Shane Vaughan
Image: Shane Vaughan (2016)

Paul Casey was born in Cork, Ireland in 1968. His poetry collections are home more or less (Cliffs of Moher, Salmon Poetry, 2012); and Virtual Tides (Salmon Poetry, 2015). His chapbook of longer poems is It’s Not all Bad (Coventry, Heaventree Press, 2009)

In October 2010 his poetry-film The Lammas Hireling, after the poem by Ian Duhig, premièred at the Zebra poetry-film festival in Berlin and has been screened at StanZa in Edinburgh and Sadho in New Delhi.

He grew up in various stages between Ireland, Zambia and South Africa, working mostly in film, multimedia and teaching. He lectured screen writing at the Nelson Mandela University, where he convened the greater Port Elizabeth Poetry Competition in three languages and four age groups.

He is the founder and organiser of the Ó Bhéal reading series in Cork, where he lives. (Source: Irish Writers Online)

.

Audio and Film Poetry by Paul Casey:

“Nurture” and other poems by Liz Quirke

Nurture

 
In the nine months I didn’t nourish you,
I made notes, I studied the seasons
for ingredients to encourage your growth.
Scraps of paper, post-its hidden
in case anyone would view my thoughts,
pity my trivia of leaves and berries.
 
A mom yet not a mother,
a woman yet not a woman.
My preparation took place in private,
not in maternity wards or hospital corridors,
but in the hallways of my mind
where I could put up pictures, time lines,
fill cork boards with plans.
 
As the folic acid built your brain stem
I collated ideas to stimulate it further,
mapped journeys for us,
paths we could walk together,
a staggered relay to start
when your other mother
passed your tiny form to me.
 
And I could see myself holding your hand,
using my limbs to scaffold the structure
your mother put so beautifully in place.
I am your mom without the biology of mothering.
All I have for you is my heart, my brain, my lists of things,
all but those nine months when I was waiting.
 
(first published in New Irish Writing in The Irish Times)
 

Juno

 
I gave you a warrior name.
Brazen, audacious,
a statement of intent.
 
After the third scan,
I set out across the world’s mythologies
to uncover the name to herald you.
 
I found you in the pages
of an old hardback,
barely two inches in a row of columns.
 
Sensible, poised,
waiting for me to arrive and collect you
at the obvious conclusion,
assured that this is where you had always been.
 
For weeks after our first meeting
you kept me company.
 
Your name fell in ink from my pen
until that sturdy bulk of letters
came as familiar as my own.
 
The shape of you rolled around my mouth
like a boiled sweet,
pushing taste to unreachable corners,
forcing my buds awake until I had a full sense of you.
 
Your vowels whispered through my lips,
soft as the steam after a kettle click.
 
And when you arrived, emergent, slow to pink,
but quickly, so quickly,
your name gushed out of my mouth
like your first breath,
 
triumphant,
your first victory,
your battle cry.
 
(first published in New Irish Writing in The Irish Times)
 

Ashes

 
When I die, bring me to the lake
and pour me in. Don’t scatter.
I want my toes to mingle
with the clay at the bottom.
I will become part of the sediment,
constant and forgotten.
 
Fish will nibble on my innards
and transport me to tables
all around Boluisce,
as a reminder to torchlight
poachers that they can never know
exactly what they’re eating.
 
My hair will sway among the rushes,
caressing the soggy shore.
My shoulders will fall into holes
left by bedraggled cattle
trying to water themselves.
 
My heart, I want you to lob
into the middle of the lake
like a stone wrapped in a love letter,
where a salmon will find it
and make it its own.
 
All this, love, so when you sit
in the damp, my hair will
brush your hand and my heart
will graze your hook.
and the wind will carry
my mouth saying
catch me, I’m yours.”
 
(first published in The Galway Review, Vol 1)
 

Rite

 
There will be a changing of the guard,
if such ceremony will be allowed,
A dusting down of dampers to
purge all lamps and lights.
Shops will mourn from their facades,
black-ribboned in the old way.
Passers-by will nod and scuttle
to spurn the mists of death.
Great coats will be sponged as they were before,
and shoes spit-shone to a pitch-like gleam.
The footfall slap will ring out around the streets.
Wedding services kept for cakes
will peek from muslin blankets
to sour-crust dry triangles,
while whiskey flows like speech.
Clocks will chime only grief notes,
humming deep into the silence.
Eyelid mirrors will reflect the dark beneath.
Running along on idle tracks,
children will be shunned
from the adult world
palming flowers in the breeze
to mimic final kisses not received.
 
(first published in The Stony Thursday Book 11)
 

Salvage

 
New rooms I will build from you, bones and all.
The laboured rungs of your spine will stack neatly,
beautiful furniture. Angled strength
siphoned through your forearms,
trust wrought from the ballast lines of your limbs.
 
You are the structure I crave, but I have little
to give to this construction,
no materials or design.
The dimensions must come from you,
your shape and clever eye.
 
I will unpack my flimsy particles for assessment.
Spread me out, inventory what remains.
If you see fit, assemble my unruined elements,
joints, anything you can salvage.
Wrap tight, firm till I set and can stand alone.
 
These rooms will be a composite of us both.
You, the shape, register of craft.
My fingertips will press your intercostal
muscles to cornice definition,
push your art to show itself.
 
Debris thickens your knuckle bends
and fist-curled territories,
but this is our arrangement,
where my tiles slot into our mosaic
and you are the setting clay that holds.
 
Once done with your reclamation,
survey the scree, hold the smallest parts together,
dust my skin with cement-rough hands.
Through the heat of your palms
I will come back,
 
resembling what I was before,
but better because of you.
 
(first published in The Ofi Press)
 

Boluisce

 
I root my fingers, burying them back and down.
A twist into black, acidic soil,
deeper than anything man-made.
 
I push to the graves of the lake families,
generations who lived and died by the water.
 
I pay my respects in the only way I know,
by kneeling in the sodden earth
and sinking parts of me towards parts of them.
 
I do what no record does and remember their passing,
their assimilation back to the land.
 
I want them to teach me how to inhabit this place,
to reanimate and diffuse their knowledge into my urban bones,
our times merging under a canopy of living skin.
 
(first published in An Áit Eile)
 

Nurture and other poems are © Liz Quirke

Liz_Quirke_greyscaleOriginally from Tralee, Co. Kerry, Liz Quirke lives in Spiddal, Co Galway with her wife and daughters. Her poetry has appeared in various publications, including New Irish Writing in the The Irish Times, Southword, Crannóg, The Stony Thursday Book and Eyewear Publishing’s The Best New British and Irish Poets 2016. She was the winner of the 2015 Poems for Patience competition and in the last few years has been shortlisted for the Cúirt New Writing Prize and a Hennessy Literary Award. Her debut collection Biology of Mothering will be published by Salmon Poetry in Spring 2018.

 

“Treatise on Uselessness” by Kevin Higgins

Treatise on Uselessness

after Rosita Boland

Throughout my truly enormous life,
I’ve never found a use for
gypsies.

When one decides to spend the night
searching online
for a worse deal
on one’s house insurance,
there’s never
a gypsy about to help.

Or when one advertises a vacancy
for Associate Professor of English at Trinity
there’s hardly ever a gypsy
around to fill it.

Or when the wedding
of an Eritrean goatherd and his beloved
is in crying need of a cruise missile,
there’s never a gypsy available
to press the required buttons
and later tell the inquiry
it was all a terrible
misunderstanding.

Despite millions ingested
by social programmes, we’ve mostly
failed to submerge gypsies
in the internationally agreed system
of an indecent day’s pay
for a decent week’s work.

Yet the state insists
on making gypsies compulsory
for those who’d rather never
have to speak to one.

What practical purpose does it serve
for us to continue to try to absorb
gypsies into what my late Popsicle
-a one time Viceroy of Upper Munster- used
to call society,

when all but a few fanatics know it’s futile
as trying to teach a Latvian cage dancer
how to speak Irish?

© KEVIN HIGGINS

kevin-author-photo-december-2013-1Kevin Higgins facilitates poetry workshops at Galway Arts Centre and teaches creative writing at Galway Technical Institute. He is also Writer-in-Residence at Merlin Park Hospital and the poetry critic of the Galway Advertiser. He was a founding co-editor of The Burning Bush literary magazine and is co-organiser of over the edge literary events in Galway City. His first collection of poems The Boy With No Face was published by Salmon in February 2005 and was short-listed for the 2006 Strong Award. His second collection, Time Gentlemen, Please, was published in March 2008 by Salmon. His work also features in the generation defining anthology Identity Parade – New British and Irish Poets (ed roddy lumsden, Bloodaxe, 2010). Frightening New Furniture, his third collection of poems, was published in 2010 by Salmon Poetry. Kevin has read his work at most of the major literary festivals in Ireland and at arts Council and Culture Ireland supported poetry events in Kansas City, USA (2006), Los Angeles, USA (2007), London, UK (2007), New York, USA (2008), Athens, Greece (2008); St. Louis, USA (2008), Chicago, USA (2009), Denver, USA (2010), Washington D.C (2011), Huntington, West Virginia, USA (2011), Geelong, Australia (2011), Canberra, Australia (2011), St. Louis, USA (2013), Boston, USA (2013) & Amherst, Massachusetts (2013). Mentioning The War, a collection of his essays and reviews was published in april 2012 by Salmon. (SALMON)

It Was For This by Kevin Higgins