Issue: Issue 10, 22nd August 2017


The Poetry of Stephen Byrne

Stephen Byrne is an Irish chef and writer currently living in Chicago. His first collection ‘Somewhere but not Here’ won the RL Poetry Award, 2016 International category and is due to be published late 2017. He has been published worldwide in places such as Warscapes, Spontaneity, Indian Review, Tuck Magazine, The Poetry Bus, The Galway Review, RædLeafPoetry-India, The Original Van Gogh’s Ear Anthology and many others.  He is the food writer for ‘This is Galway’ website.

 

 

 

 

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Again and Again you Leave

Breathe.

                           Another war

    has broken the night

                                       in two.

The cracked moon-

  light

            is smashed glass all over the table.

 

I never asked you to walk into the sea.

 

Five minutes to eleven

                the war crackling like burning wood

                                         in our throats,

           smoke punching the ceiling

                        from our mouths

our mouths two fists

                     locking lips

                                  so we breathe

                   in, out, in, the taste of blood

        drowning out the fire.

 

Did I say We

                    breathe?

                                      What I meant was

                I stuck the tip of my tongue

                                 into my bloodied cracked tooth

            searching for the taste of you

                                                    the taste of war

the war between the tick of the clock

             screaming don’t leave

                          & the tock stopped dead on five minutes to eleven

but

                               you left

when I pleaded to you

                        stay

 

It’s only chunks of moon-glass

shattered like your bones

                                     upon the rocks.

Returning

Waiting to Return

My father never leaves his corner anymore.
His chair & ass have become one, married fifteen years.

He just sits & smokes, listens, smokes, eats, smokes.
The clock has giving up & died.

The Earth, breathless from passive smoking, now
stands still, unable to race around the sun

while he grows old, oblivious to the hour of day.
He just sits & smokes, eats, smokes.

He dreams of fishing beside the canal
with the wind in his face & rain in his beard.

He anticipates the day he can return to the place
he feels content. He waits staring towards the window,

remembering how he use to fish; his hand clutching the fishing rod,
the maggot with a hook through its head, the slow water

harmonizing the reeds, the passing swan, the thrill of a fish
taking the bait- the impeccable sound of absence.

He yearns to be there. He is so close. For now, he just sits
& smokes, eats, smokes, listens, smokes, waiting to return.


 

 

 

 


Ruthless Self-editing by Michael Griffith

by Michael Griffith

 

At an early stage of your studies as a writer, you heard the advice “kill your darlings,” or some close variation of it. Get rid of fluff, even if you love the way the fluff feels. Excise wordiness, exorcize old favorites that have become routine fallback masked as “voice” or ”my style.”

 

But when and how to do the murderous act on your own writing? How can you become a ruthless and careful killer of your own daring words and lines?

 

1.) Write first, edit second.

 

Too many of us try to edit as we write, try to forge the perfect line, then move on to the next line, work work work to get it just right, then try to write the next perfect line. Grueling and stressful work!

The reason it’s so grueling and stressful is that the side of our brain which creates is not the same side which does logical work, and editing is logical.

 

So write first; just get your ideas out, not even stopping to check for spelling or grammar. Just write! Let your ideas and word flow out, spilling across the page or screen. Be very open and free with yourself.

 

Let what you write sit for a time, not thinking consciously of it. Do some non-writer activities like go for a walk, do some household chore, watch TV, cruise Facebook. Perhaps, if there is no imminent deadline you’re shooting for, put the item you’ve written away for days, weeks, or even longer. Notes, title ideas, scraps from possible future stories, lines of dialogue, or first drafts of whole poems can all be filed away for later editing. It’s quite possible that some other piece or assignment will come along and steal your time and attention away from what you were working on.

 

Go back and look at the piece with fresh, analytical eyes, the eyes of a critic, teacher, or editor. You have already created; now it’s time to forge.

 

Such things to consider would be wordiness, verb tensetypos, grammar and usage, laziness (have you used interesting, worthy words, words and phrases which will attract readers?), your topic (asking “so what?” here helps. In other words, an editor and reader, both of whom may be jaded, can well say “so what?” to your piece. What about it makes it HAVE to be accepted and read? What makes it stand out from the hundreds of other plays or poems they’ve read?), your piece’s point of view (usually either first person or third person), internal logic (does every line or scene lead to a logical conclusion?), and, for poetry, pattern/formal issues, meter, and rhyme.

 

I have let some snippets and drafts of poems sit for over a year and gone back to them and applied all of the above criteria as necessary to them, sometimes working them into further drafts or even final drafts, though more often forging the snippet or draft into something more usable, then putting it away for later editing.

 

Likewise, for poems or stories which have been rejected, before sending them out to other markets, I always go over them re-asking the above questions and re-examining them with my critical eye. Sometimes I will try a new point of view, find lines that don’t seem to fit as well as I once thought, re-worded lines, and so on.

 

2.) Thinking like a killer:

 

All editors are killers and all works submitted to them become victims. Okay, put in nicer terms, no editor can accept all work that is presented to them. They must reject some, maybe up to 99% of it, for the sake of their publication’s needs. What can a writer do to help their piece not get killed? Don’t let it become a victim: give it the tools it needs to become kill-proof. Think like a killer – er, editor.

 

Look at every one of the criteria listed in item 1 above, because all editors do. Does your story, article, or poem suffer in any area such as verb tenses shifting or the internal logic not following to a satisfying end? Be ruthless, because editors have to be. Only 5% of all poetry submitted for publication is accepted by editors. Some literary journals accept less than 1% of the stories sent to them, and most hover at about 5%.  Said another way, your work has about a 95% chance of being rejected – killed – by an editor.

 

Have you done your research on the market you’re sending to? Does your piece fit their theme or style?  Is your piece TOO much like other work already seen in print in that publication? (Work must fit in without seeming too familiar. This is a delicate and frustrating balance for both writers and editors.)

 

You’ve got to protect your work from potential rejection before sending it out into the world. Ruthless self-editing is the best way a writer can help your work be as strong as possible. Use the eyes of a critic and have the instinct of a killer. Look for any weakness in the piece and then strike!

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Shirley Bell Reviews – On Balance by Sinéad Morrissey

On Balance by Sinéad Morrissey

 

Paperback, ISBN: 978 1 784103 60 6 Carcanet Poetry May 2017

This is the Poetry Book Society choice for Summer 2017 and Sinéad Morrissey writes in the Summer Bulletin that “Gravity started it, or rather things which defy its force: acrobats, carrier pigeons, aeroplanes. Earth defying structures, constructed out of our cleverness. Whatever stays up when it shouldn’t, making us gasp.”

This leads into various avenues.

Morrissey opens with the launch of the Titanic, in the opening poem The Millihelen , (a fanciful measurement of the amount of beauty it takes to launch a ship), where “the ship sits back in the sea/as though it were ordinary…regains its equilibrium” but only for now.

In the title poem, On Balance, she goes on to Philip Larkin’s Born Yesterday and his misogynistic “May you be ordinary…In fact, may you be dull”. Where women are “girls” and she berates the poet: “You were the mean fairy/at the christening, /feigning honesty.”  She tells Larkin that he would never have been allowed to approach her own magnificent daughter, so far from dullness “as shadows on the landscape after staring at the sun.”

Her poetry is a mixture of close observation and intelligent analysis. Nativity has the children “so cleanly/…lifted from their context” away from their parents, even if there is a fear that the children will “unhook themselves/from the strings of their teachers’ attention….(and) “scatter like birds off a lake.” When she was five, the poet witnessed a near drowning, and in At the Balancing Lakes we have a child’s vision of cuckoos and sandwiches, and the way “her fine blonde hair/keeps surfacing like pondweed”, and  “losses so far:/the tank of my brother’s frogspawn…our neighbour driven off/ in an ambulance who/ never came back; my skipping-/rope..”

She also has a particular gift for narrative voices. The Collier documents a lifetime in the darkness, and My Life According to You is a clever retort. She recreates My Seventeenth-Century Girlhood when after marriage at 14 “The days had no more avenues/to read or wander in” once Mr Thomas Davers came calling, summed up in “His hat. His manners.”

She uses the documentary Expedition to the End of the World,  in Whitelessness, where professionals, balancing on the edge, exploring a landscape only accessible because of global warning, each describe their environment through their own specialist language; through its rocks in The Geologist, “this one/contains the ridges of human teeth”; in The Photographer with his signs, the “ox skull….looks like a crime scene”, and his glacier colours of “desert turquoise”; with The Geographer in the unexplored as yet unnamed valley; The Artist who “did not pack colours” for the grey and black landscape, and white animals which become  “spaces on the paper where their bodies were/last time I glanced up.”; The Marine Biologist, with the “previously inaccessible ballet-/dancers” in the Petri dishes; and lastly, The Archaeologist  who can recreate a Paleo-Eskimo village from “a single nick on  a flint.”

All in all, this is a fine collection and it successfully connects the personal to the challenges facing society including environmental and gender issues, and to the iconic, like the Titanic, the female flying legend Lilian Bland, and Napoleon’s skeletal horse. Like her circus performers, who reappear throughout the book, she has achieved her own balancing act.


Art into Poetry, Poetry into Art

– or Ekphrasis – 3. Paul Celan’s Death Fugue and the paintings of Anselm Kiefer

 

In Phil Dunn’s fascinating article in Issue 9, From the Other Side, Paul Celan and his Death Fugue  was mentioned.

This particularly interested me because in 2014 I visited the Anselm Kiefer exhibition at the Royal Academy of Arts in London and the two paintings relating to Death Fugue were hung alongside Michael Hamburger’s translation. This was an incredibly moving evocation of the horrors of the Holocaust and it was one of the strongest examples of painting and poetry interacting with one another and strengthening each other’s message that I have ever seen.

Celan’s poetic influence on Kiefer can be seen not only in the Margarete sequence but also in titles of his paintings, like Poppy and Memory,  the title of a Celan collection from 1952, and Sand from the Urns,  the title of a poem in the book.

This subject obviously had a strong influence on Kiefer, because there are around 30 works in the series, created between 1980 and 1983.  There is an interesting  version of the Margarete picture in the Peggy Guggenheim Collection, Palazzo Venier dei Leoni,  Dorsoduro 701, I-30123 Venezia, captioned:-

“In 1945 Paul Celan composed a poem entitled ‘Death Fugue’ from the concentration camp where he was imprisoned. The poem contraposes two women: Shulamith, one of the camp’s Jewish workers, and Margarete, an Aryan mistress of the presiding Gestapo officer. In this sculptural painting Kiefer draws on Celan’s poem as a means to explore the complex relationships between German self-identity and world history. Here, the effects of war scar the landscape of Germany. Ash covers the flowers in the lower right corner while straw is set like jail-bars across the foreground. The canvas documents a process of transformation: straw disintegrates to ash when exposed to fire. Through this, the ghosts of Shulamith and Margarete are evoked: reduced only to their contrasting hair; made of the same element but set in opposition by the fires of history.”

In several versions of Margarete, there is a suggestion of a burnt shadow against the golden hair, for Kiefer felt that the extermination of the Jewish population also destroyed a huge element of Germany’s identity. A post war art and poetry had to be informed by the Holocaust, and the work of Kiefer and Celan shows how Germany’s art historical tradition could not be continued in its pre-Nazi form.

In the RA’s example of Margarete, the darkness has  gone, and Kiefer has used straw with burning tips to represent her golden hair, while the Peggy Guggenheim’s work marries together the light and the dark in one painting. However the whole sequence examines the dark juxtaposition with Shulamith.

The name Shulamith refers to the bride in the Bible’s The Song of Songs as well as to the victim in the poem. Her name is painted in the left hand corner, just as Margarete’s is painted across the centre of the preceding picture, but Shulamith is also represented by the seven flames of the candelabrum of the temple of Jerusalem at the centre of the picture. And this is, in its turn, placed in the funeral crypt of the Soldier’s Hall, Berlin 1939, so it also takes and uses Nazi architecture as a memorial to the dead of the Holocaust.

 

Your Golden Hair, Margarete – Midsummer Night incorporates words from Death Fugue: “we dig a grave in the breezes… and the stars are flashing”,  “death is a master from Germany…your golden hair Margarete”.

Daniel Arasse in his Anselm Kiefer,  Thames & Hudson,  2nd Revised edition  (29 Sept. 2014, p 146) says, “For Kiefer, continuing Celan’s work on his own account, Margarete – Goethe’s innocent, golden-haired Gretchen – has been contaminated by the Nazi cult of death: the mere mention of her is enough to pollute the starry midsummer sky of St John.”

 

 

 

DEATH FUGUE

Black milk of daybreak we drink it at sundown

we drink it at noon in the morning we drink it at night

we drink and we drink it

we dig a grave in the breezes there one lies unconfined

A man lives in the house he plays with the serpents he writes

he writes when dusk falls to Germany your golden hair

Margarete

he writes it and steps out of doors and the stars are flashing he

whistles his pack out

he whistles his Jews out in earth has them dig for a grave

he commands us strike up for the dance

 

Black milk of daybreak we drink you at night

we drink in the morning at noon we drink you at sundown

we drink and we drink you

A man lives in the house he plays with the serpents he writes

he writes when dusk falls to Germany your golden hair

Margarete

your ashen hair Shulamith we dig a grave in the breezes there

one lies unconfined.

 

He calls out jab deeper into the earth you lot you others sing now and play

he grabs at the iron in his belt he waves it his eyes are blue

jab deeper you lot with your spades you others play on for the

dance

 

Black milk of daybreak we drink you at night

we drink you at noon in the morning we drink you at sundown

we drink you and we drink you

a man lives in the house your golden hair Margarete

your ashen hair Shulamith he plays with the serpents

 

He calls out more sweetly play death death is a master from

Germany

he calls out more darkly now stroke your strings then as smoke

you will rise into air

then a grave you will have in the clouds there one lies unconfined

 

Black milk of daybreak we drink you at night

we drink you at noon death is a master from Germany

we drink you at sundown and in the morning we drink and we

drink you

death is a master from Germany his eyes are blue

he strikes you with leaden bullets his aim is true

a man lives in the house your golden hair Margarete

he sets his pack on to us he grants us a grave in the air

he plays with the serpents and daydreams death is a master from

Germany

 

your golden hair Margarete

your ashen hair Shulamith

Trans. Michael Hamburger

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The Poetry and Voice of Tom Hade

Tom Hade is an English & Film student at University College Dublin and still fairly new to the Dublin poetry scene. He has performed at slams and open mics around the city, along with competing in the 2017 InterVarsity Poetry Slam and having had his work published in UCD’s Caveat Lector. He rarely sticks to the same set of poems lest he get bored of listening to himself. His work generally represents whatever is currently most relevant in his own life.

 

 

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Early Injustice

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Do you remember the first one

Who prised open your legs?

The first scratches on your flesh

From a fight you could not win

The first handshake to be twisted

Into a sign of your submission

The first time you awoke

With the taste of him in your mouth

Do you remember?

 

The first time the name sweetheart

Became a gun to your head

The first uncle to leer at you with his

“You’re a woman now, love”

The first priest to avert his eyes

Shameful at the length of your skirt

The first warning from mother

Never to walk Dublin’s streets alone

Do you remember?

 

The first seeds to germinate

In nonconsenting fields

The first swell of your stomach

With a life besides your own

The first voyage beyond the sea

To become an anonymous statistic for your sins

The first time holy water

Became acid on your skin

Do you remember?

 

Or have you, like so many of us,

Lost count of these

Early injustices?

From birth to death,

Ashes to catcalls,

Rape kits to dust.

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holy state // expanding universe

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holy state // expanding universe EditThe blackened virgin faces the cornerThe blackened virgin dreams of stars

 

Cracked concrete to splintering galaxies

There are so many worlds in her mind

// so many worlds beyond her own

 

(their God cannot find her up there

cannot beat or cage or betray her up there)

 

every lash on her back in a lesson

“There Is Nought In The Stars But Heaven”

the holy sister’s whip carves the scripture

“Blackened Virgin, Face The Corner”

 

A man touch

/ filthy hand /

Brought her to this place (place without starlight)

 

The all seeing eye of their God

Sook out the space between her legs

“He Sees Your Sins, The Labour Will Cleanse You”

 

Penny for her hair, Tuppence for her baby

( (i hope my baby has known the night’s sky) )

Without virginity / without worth / “Earn Your Keep, Girl”

 

She faces the corner

turns Godless eyes skyward

dreams of freedom; interstellar travel

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Honeybee Boy

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You touch my cheek

And feel the soft fuzz of my skin against your fingers.

The happy buzzing of my heart,

Vibrating out from my chest;

Sweetening the air around us, sugar crystallising in our mouths and in our lungs and in your eyes.

You bloom beneath my lips as I kiss and kiss and kiss and kiss you —

And I wish this summer would last.

Would last until the sun swallowed the earth

And there was no life left without us to live it.

 

I was born into a cage.

Already encased in this sticky sweet thing we call Girlhood.

Forced feminisation, menstruation, castration, sissification;

Pupating in decay until they,

They who knew me,

Split open my shell and nursed me on dreams and laughter and poetry.

The men and women and neither and both

Who left a trail of blood and honey for me and you and us to follow.

Blossoming, morphing, growing, ascending–

One is easily lost without a colony.

 

Behind my eyelids winter comes

And I, droning,

Am cast out from your arms into the cold.

Coarse sugar granules scrape bitter in a once welcome embrace —

You’ll have no use for a man like me.

But hush, my love,

My sunshine sweetheart;

Here, now, today,

Lace your fingers through mine

And rest awhile.

Let me remain your honeybee boy

Just a day longer.

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don’t call me boy

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pretty boy girly boy

born in a pink blanket boy

face too round boy

never be a man boy

i’ll never look how i see

my skin is a prison

soft lips

perky tits

why can’t i breathe

when my chest is full

of slurred words

poison and spit and

grit

crunching of your jaw bones

learn to sleep alone

they can’t love you

can’t blame them

already a corpse in life

girl blood

and a bloated soul

old name

on a shiney new

gravestone

pretty boy girly boy

sugar sweet cunt boy

melt in your mouth candy boy

crush between your teeth boy

spit me out into the dirt

when im no longer of use

a quick fuck

ass up

face down eyes closed

don’t you fucking look at him

boy

see is

believing

and if you let the monsters in

they will chew at your heart

it’s easier

to forget

don’t let him touch you in your dreams

urgent tears silent screams

bury him

hands and sharp nails and drawn teeth

under lock and key they can’t hurt you

they can’t hurt

they can’t hurt me

what i don’t remember can’t hurt me

he

hurt

me

pretty boy girly boy

eyes wet with tears boy

weepy boy scaredy boy

don’t forget what mammy told you, boy

world’s too wide

to walk your own stride

please be simple

be standard

be safe

dry your eyes, boy

it’ll all be over soon

boy

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Poetry by Mike McNamara and David Susswein

Mike McNamara was born in  Northern Ireland but living in S. Wales,  Mike McNamara has had a collection of poetry ‘Overhearing The Incoherent’ published by Grevatt and Grevatt  in 1997. Mike is lead singer with Big Mac’s Wholly Soul Band.  His poetry has been published in Envoi, Orbis, Tears in the Fence, New Welsh Review, Acumen, etc. Mike also had a selection of poems published in The Pterodactyl’s Wing (Parthian, 2003).

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Once I Lived

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Once, I lived in a mansion but it was cold,

the servants whispered day and night.

In this hovel the avocado stone sprouts

on the windowsill. the silence

folds softly around me like

a shimmering sylvine cloak.

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That Unstruck Breve

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 That unstruck breve, soundless,

mocks the moon. A guttering candle

on a wrinkled Corsican sea.

The undrawn breath,

a beatless conquistador heart.

Stay the moment.

Stay.

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David Susswein

I am a writer from the South of England, right at the bottom. I have tried all my life to write well, to communicate, to talk to others; I cannot understand any other reason to write. Envoi, DreamCatcher, Picaroon Poetry, ShotGlass Journal, Tuck Magazine, Dissident Voice, an anthology in Farsi/English ‘Where Are You From?’  and others have heard my plea and answered.

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Eighteen Characters

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-some are so silent they are missing still-

 

Wrapped in the birthing blanket

 

a middle age man clings his comforter to his face sitting in the backseat of a stationary car

listening to the radio, a young man bites the feathers from a chicken flapping in his hotel room

watching a tv with the sound turned down, a housewife thumbs thru pages of a pornographic magazine

 

all trying not to heard by the outside, by the outside

 

an old man watches the American flag flap in the breeze at the end of television programming

laying on a couch a man retells the story of his childhood to a therapist listening, with empty notepad

a mother recites the verse of cleaning up your room, to a teenage daughter in the garden sun

 

all trying to be heard, from the inside, from the inside out

 

with headphones on, drumming out the world

hooked to the ‘net reading messages from strangers to be

sick and tired the young women, vomits into the toilet bowl

fish finger, peas, asparagus tips,

another room the soothsayer charts the course, tea leaves and furrowed palm

waiting for a train, the approaching glass mirrors his face, staring back into the waiting

 

running out running out, the tape machine clicks clicks, the computer screen fades off

 

looking up into the heavens, an astronomer keeps secret

his love of his wife, doubt of his children, the still active remnant

of a million year old supernova, with pressure of gasses, gamma rays

pulsing his eyeball still, still she lays motionless as he lays over her

thinking of a god, a religion, a country, a mother sleeping

a macrocosm of consciousness, watching over, mumbling forms

 

slowly as the realisation seeps in, marrow turns to fossil

 

watching naked a football game, the lovers seek

a myth they heard as children drifting to sleep,

a princess and a towered gardenscape, a dragon with the teeth of virgins

a necklace for his green fiery scale, a ladder to the tower

or a rope of her hair, laid out before, the prince in gleaming metal

his sword as strong as sun, his heart locked in muscle beating, climbing

 

gardeners tend the soil, surgeons tend the broken bone, remaking in a new image

 

the prophets of Mohammed reap a country from the soil,

St.John the Divine with a pebble in his sandal,

burning the Gaul in his own land, burning the witch the martyr

wrapping up a thousand histories into a moment

always to face the dark in the hour of the wolf,

a saint and martyr, a tyrant and murderer watches the dark

 

the original sin of murder carried on the head of all the blessed

 

I have wanted to believe,

we have all wanted to believe

we the brittle bones of ancestors

we the living flesh of past crimes

pass the chalice on,

to drink the blood of a saviour

 

a vain image, self-glorification, of seventy odd generation

of dying sweat and toil, a hard baked ground of half-truth

a salesman’s notion of eternity, the unloved heretic hermit returns

to his sacred cave, a backwards glance he may shine

on the man and women left facing, the wreckage of their lives

on the unlived promises and broken dreams of our race,

 

Naked savage, suave cosmopolitan, philosopher and dreamer all, to lay broken

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a pride of lions

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shame is in a flame

shame is in the beating steel of a knife that throbs unused on the table

shame is in looking in the mirror

shame is being afraid to look in the mirror

shame is being spat-on, begging in gutters

shame is wedding a bottle more than your wife

shame is not looking into the sky,

 

cloudless, a pretence when it’s blue it’s a trick of the human eye,

it’s just a field of chemicals preventing the sun from burning us all to cinders

taking in just enough genetic mutation to create us,

but not enough to undo us,

 

shame is breathing

when others can’t/

shame is spiting blood on a white page, unemptied

and making a difference when your shame makes you stop

shame makes us turn our back on our-pride

shame makes us war unintelligible with other prides’

shame makes us stop,

shame makes us grovel to a power we don’t understand

shame borders my life in actions I do not want to entertain

 

 

shame stops. starts. causes my.

writing, acting. feeling.

shame has sunk into the marrow of my bone

shame has made me write this,

shame has made me stop.

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Where The Moon’s High.

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-for two women that have to remain anonymous.-

 

where the dark room

where the dark forest

when the moon’s high

where she sees fairies

where the gown is mounted

 

her father swore oaths, covenants / broke bread with strangers at his table / taunting her / worshipped pretend gods / hid his erection until the time is right / for sacrificing hamsters in a golden vessel / blood as paint / and mounting pigs with concubines in the room next to her /

 

childhood fractured

 

the hidden obscene

to supplant your own hate

with father’s lusty dream

upend sex with loneliness

 

a borsondörf grand piano sits / waiting patiently to be played / blood is always the payment / for playing well / for living passionately / two women of differing natures whom never met, not once / two confused fantasies of creation / music and sex / delusionally wasting sleep of /

 

where the dark sells dreams

when the moon is high

where rationality, instincts collide

crushing lives to slowly burn

to never be able to, let go the past.

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Epic Poetry by Gregory Paul Broadbent

Gregory Paul Broadbent

I live in Melbourne, Australia, with my wife and two children. I have been writing poetry for over 35 years and feel like I’m only just beginning. I love symbolic language in any form and believe that poetry is more than just words. I believe in whittling and honing down from complexity to simplicity in poetry and that some things in life are just so complex that only a poem will get close to describing it, and poetry exists in all art forms. Most of my poetry I compose in my head nowadays, but I envision a day when I will be able to hone out a masterwork.

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Labyrinthine Invasion (From the picture cube)

.Per me si va tra la Perduta Gente 

Poseidon

 

Though we heard His scuffing, scraping hooves on soil

and saw breath steaming from His wide ballooning nose

we thought Him just show, a purple, painted, pot.

We built the Fresco’s.

We gave up our children to ceremony.

We settled in caves hallucinated and invoked the altered light of the serpent goddess,

for we were glad of bread and wine.

 

When the great booming bull bumped and thundered deep below

we were spared by the grinning matriarch gripping fearlessly His writhing tail.

We were grateful for technology, for pastime.

 

He gave us a pure, gleaming, ivory furred image from the bowels of his ocean.

He said “Boast possession but kill the idol, or die”.

So we let him graze and killed the moon.

 

Wrath is the dragon death blowing fire,

wrath comes from below mantle and crust,

wrath is kindled by expectation exposed in the fields

as the sun ripens on the Earth

trampling the freshly grown crops as ocean surge hugs the coastline into its belly.

The temples besmirched, villages emptied.

 

We could see all along that strange doom eating our children

in the intestinal wriggling of the labyrinth.

We could sense Pasiphae crying, though her wine stained teeth glittered.

We smashed her little bronze god for we baked our temples

and on the vitrified floor allowed our oppressors

vain-glory preening, pouting, pontificating

as they studied their image through endless mythologizing.

 

The herd gathers for stampede,

slight rumbles are hoar frost telling of winter.

Taurus may belch up rivers of ice and our enemy may swarm

but forget not the paintings, the pottery,

the gentle touch of sun on eaves,

the long winding away of sight and sound in the basking of ease at the end of labour,

the excited thrust of belief in discovery,

the initial motion to kiss.

 

Forget not we were bronzed , beautiful, civilized,

the mountains, seas; sharp, deadly,

Theseus and his captains, pitiless.

The alabaster oracle grazing in our paddock has eaten all the grass.

Minos, Minos, wilt not,

Theseus has won a mere desert for his children.

 

Theseus and the Captains of Operation Freedom

 

Into the blubber and flesh I hewed

hacking human from horn.

The sack, filled round, I held high.

Blood splashed on marble tile

as hoards of my captains spilled

into Crete singing for glory

and freedom…

 

Oh Freedom, we have freed

The noxious beast in his greed

Great Theseus, the deed is done

The tide is turned, the battle won

 

The secret pall kept deathly cored

at the heart of complex halls

had monstrous head.

It gored and  thrust as buffallo must.

I leapt, for choice, and kept hold of bone

mine eye to Orac’s own.

That horny head back tossed,

my legs crossed o’er my back

to turn intact across the heaving hide

of this evil infanticide,

landing fresco formed, sword raised

behind its upturned tail, crazed.

The sun upon my metal blazed.

In amazed cries I praised

freedom…

 

Oh freedom, we have freed

The noxious beast in his greed

Minos so your hubris done

The monster dead, the battle won

 

Europa carried by the will

of divine discord

did install her son, but he

upon a whitened throne relapsed

when offering, his will collapsed

the pure white Moby he collected

his disease reflected

and Pasiphae her will deceived

in Poseidon’s rageful creed.

He who topples kings and empires with

his noble seismic whip,

thus spake my starry thruster,

for whom ever knew Pasiphae would never trust her progeny.

Even she in death wailed

freedom…

 

Oh freedom, we have freed

The Minatorian super seed

Instincts do what instinct’s done

For choice, we kill; the battle’s won

 

Ariadne

 

As long as I am here

I might tell you the way back

along the dread-time road

for I do not do, daddy what you would.

 

You must not pass along the true pass

but hide inside.

Nor speak openly of trust,

nor ask what I would ask for you.

 

Speak to those you meet within, with my voice,

for I will say what they must hear

though they may not hear

what has been said by you.

 

I am the dark intermittent dawn

that knives the shallow flesh of peace

without being seen,

cries woefully at the gates

for all that has been lost

once they are down.

 

You shook and held my trembling hands

in pre-battle sweat.

You held my trembling hands.

Softly, you said, softly,

I will steal your father’s throne

and kill your mother’s seed,

 

and I let you in the gates

as easily as sun might steal

between the curtains of a lover’s tryst

so you could tap the heads of children and

banter out polemic

 

whilst your attention spanned

the vast corridors of my Polis for the secret door,

scanning my eyes for my heart’s revealing.

At the locked passageway

I would look an accused woman.

 

“Was it you”, my people would say,

“was it you that led the enemy

Through to Guernica?

For we have seen the limbs

of our children strewn

like a raven pecked carcass”.

 

I am not the re-known accuser

but my father’s cow-eyed darling

amongst your pyramids of torture,

the flesh of my family,

for I could always see

the way back.

 

Daedalus

 

I am the half-intoned allegory.

I am the unravelling flaxen thread

that built the dungeons of the mind,

and I leadeth you through

the valleys of death

to the mountains of serenity.

 

I am the yarn spoken briefly,

loosely, longingly, remembered anciently.

Twisted sinews of skinless muscle

around bones in the desert

stripped clean by pen craft

to lineament and rhythm.

 

I am the spinning web spun wild by Clotho’s hand,

the master at the threshing pool.

My master’s wishes sport my gifts,

poetry or bestiality,

nobility or disdainfulness, reckless or fruitful,

cherry blossom or yew.

 

Who brought the message to Mycenaean lips

that Minoan culture must die?

Who told the stories of Theses

and gave Ariadne her imaginal tongue?

Who made the wooden box that hid Pasiphae

or told the Trojans ‘the gift is good’?

 

Who now stands tall on Pentagonal grounds

on another box selling proliferate stories round,

lets the Gods decide they’re well or sick,

according to their will,

builds what needs be built and accepts his payment then?

 

I am constructor not of truth but labour for a coming day.

I lead you all through the valleys of the shadow and suffer no fear

for meaning must by nature change when nature change her meaning.

 

I am the spool spun for weak and strong,

protect the gentle people till time moves on,

lead the butchers to the glorious throne,

stand erect and note the fearful throng,

emancipate, escape the battle of moon and sun,

die with the rest, when my time is done.

 

The Minoan Elder

 

Children, we are lost.

The gentle headed bull tossed

out of our gates, along with us,

by great Theseus, the invader’s cuss.

 

We are fragments of hide so scrapped

by his avenging sword, entrapped

against our temple pillar

as this vicious preconceptive killer

lopped the pride of Pasiphae to carve

bull from woman, our culture halved.

 

Yet not halved, for no human hand

Would do this to our land,

and children, in our timeless woe,

our council of equals blood did flow.

Debate and common marketry

butchered by idolatry.

The victor raises now his pitcher

to Poseidon with enchaining stricture,

hails their kings who now lie on us

and sayeth Pasiphae were ruled by Minos.

 

Great woman, wonton sceptre,

keep her pure from this common klepter.

Dear children, dearest future,

your mother’s dead, your fathers loot you.

Where among her broken horns

are the olives, milk and wild acorns?

.

.


 


Poetry by Queensland Poet, Mark Tarren

Mark Tarren is a poet and writer who has recently escaped the big city and now
resides in rural North Queensland Australia. He loves to read, write love sonnets
and drink red wine.

 

 

 

 

 

 

.

.


.

Sam Shepard Died Today

.

Sam Shepard died today,
And I can’t go to bed
There are too many lines unwritten
Beneath the sheets,

And too many lies in my head.

Sam Shepard died today,
With so many lives unsaid
With a youthful life remembered
In cowboy dreams,

And too many lines of dread.

Too many fears in the cracked seams
Hell bent and heaven sent
There is a sentence left unspoken
In blue creases,

Too many gun tongues with lead.

Sam Shepard died today,
With Shakespeare’s dust in his head
With typewriter snakeskin boots
Black T-Shirt and eye glasses,

And I can’t go to bed.

.

.

A Feast in the Shadow of Paradise

.

We are born from the same naked earth
You and I
Formed from the same clay
Two trees

Planted in unfounded spaces

A lifetime between growing

In this desert

I suckle at the drops of
what is
known
real
and loved

yet missing

It brings far more nourishment
than a feast

in the shadow of paradise.

.

.

The Boy and the Swan

.

The tender beak curls toward
the
long
slender
neck.

Full of purpose.
Full of dignity.

The large
white
powerful wings
hide his small
white
fragile arms.

You are very beautiful
Says the boy

You are my

Mother
My father
My brother
My sister
Says the boy.

Let us be one
together

Let us swim
together

Let us swim out
into the deep
together

Where the water is pure
Where the world is young again.

.

.


.


Northern Ireland Poet, Seanín Hughes

Seanín Hughes is an emerging poet and writer from Cookstown, Northern Ireland, where she lives with her partner and four children.She has been published by a number of literary journals, including Poethead and Dodging the Rain, and is currently completing her debut poetry chapbook. Further work can be found on her website.

 

 

 

 

 

.

.


.

Pretty Vacant

.

Wretched eclipse has ended

and you are a fragment, as before

with no place here

anymore.

See this space —

cooled by absent air, empty

of never-there,

vacant, wide open and gorgeous.

 

I’ll starfish in this glass

ripe for filling.

.

.

Not Rubik’s Cube

.

Not                   broken clock

 

doll missing              vital parts

 

sinking            paper sailboat

 

in bathwater                   not         slow puncture          nor         oil spill

 

 

 

but    tick-thud-tick       and   dolls

 

with teeth     thirsty     river mouth

 

and        music I am               slashed hearse tyre       and   wound sluice.

.

.

An Exorcism

.

Glass and her             in it

 

swan white              with knife.

 

Glass and her              swan

 

white                        with knife

 

and        neck.

 

Glass                          and her

 

in it        knife                       neck

 

knuckles       white           swan

 

skin                         stained

 

still               cold                lung.

.


.

.

 


New Poet, Marcy Clarke

I am new to writing- less then a year of poetry under this novice belt-It has become my mentor, where I write my whispers-a wise grief therapist sent me into this new land and I thrive…

 

 

 

.

.


.

Wages Of War

.

the tree outside my window

creaks in the breeze,

one skeletal branch stretches

 

tracing a message on glass…

the drought has left it withered,

too young

 

its roots scramble along the surface

trusting nature quench its thirst…

I watch the weather,

 

hear nothing whispered from the

clouds,

my tears, I know, will not stay its death,

 

I spare the laundry another day,

drench my tree,

watching it drink I pray for rain…

.

.

Four Quarters For The Dollar Beneath Your Bed

.

the house is dusty,

window and door locks

ignore smiles playing in

summer breezes,

 

sunbeams scatter dimpled blinds

searching entry to your quiet

bedroom tethered in

dim memories…

 

I sit rocking in the corner,

a duster rests on my lap, its

feathers twitching

rust…

 

I need only strip the linens

shake the hand-stitched quilt

wash the curtains,

dust lamp bulbs, polish the bureau

 

scrub your footsteps from the floor…

throw open those reluctant windows

invite lemon and lavender replace

your scent of honeyed loss

 

and light autumn tallow to bless my tears…

.

.

Believe

.

on an ordinary day

end of summer

a box came special delivery,

 

ink strokes whispered her name

against a pedestrian brown wrapper

held tight with promise…

 

it leaned against her front door

free of any ornaments,

an ordinary box on an ordinary day

 

sighing to an ordinary girl,

her dog breathed a sniff, its wag inviting the box

inside…

 

beneath its drab exterior rested another

box, pale as moonlight with silent

ribbons glinting stars,

 

an extraordinary box on such an

ordinary day for this ordinary girl

and her dog…

 

she and the dog pondered its beauty

this splendid box bathed in soft magic,

basked in the wonder of its

 

mystery,

shy tremble she reached out

tugged fragile ribbon feeling it drift

 

free to wander, a gentle breath lifting

the cover and she and the dog

peeked inside,

 

on that ordinary day, that ordinary girl

smiled ’til she wept and her dog

threw back its head and howled…

.

.

The Private Color Of Quiet

.

my fingers trace a spine of

evergreen,

feel dappled light ‘thru piney boughs

 

breathe the stillness of our souls…

birch and maple’s whispered proffer

leafy bungalow

 

clouds damping the forest bosom

weeping dreams buried deep in decayed

sorrow…

 

a thousand seasons shadow our silhouettes,

mist’s verdant canopy

the flush of heartache’s dew,

 

forest’s secrets cradling our loss

soft silence

in limb’s tender forgiveness…

.

.

Twilight Serenade

.

twilight’s wither he sits in his rocker

on the front stoop

enjoying his earl grey and the first of two

 

cigarettes he smokes each day…

veiled behind two billowy hydrangeas

he awaits the soft tread

 

his ghost out to mend her garden…

it never varies, a sigh past dawn she

appears in worn denim and a cotton tee,

 

garden gloves and broad brimmed straw,

bending in first light to snuggle weeds

from her flower beds…

 

there is a reverence to her labor, her lips

whispering prayers and blessings

each stippled floater caressed gently from

 

its rich domain, placed in a blue bucket

the color of his hydrangea blooms…

he smokes and sips while she plucks

 

and whispers,

’til the sun begins to climb…

a ritual never missed by either, she stands

 

cheeks smudged teardrop earth, and

nods a broken heart to his tender wave,

then disappears until tomorrow’s daybreak…

.

.


.

.

 


Poetry by Lorraine Carey

Lorraine Carey was born in Coventry, England and moved to Greencastle, Co. Donegal where she grew up. Her poetry has been widely published in the following : Vine Leaves, The Galway Review, Olentangy Review, Dodging the Rain, A New Ulster, Quail Bell, Live Encounters, ROPES, North West Words, Sixteen, Stanzas and Poethead and is forthcoming in Atrium, Picaroon and Launchpad.
A past winner and runner up of The Charles Macklin Poetry Competition, she was a runner up in the 2017 Trocaire / Poetry Ireland Competition. She has contributed poetry to several anthologies. Her artwork was featured as the cover image for Issue 15 of Three Drops From A Cauldron and six pieces were featured in August’s issue of Dodging the Rain. Her debut collection From Doll House Windows – Revival Press is available from www.limerickwriterscentre.com. She now lives in Fenit, Co Kerry.

 

 

.

.


.

.

In Bloom

.

The snip, snip of hedge clippers
sent me hurtling
into your well kept garden
as you mowed lawns, clipped back
the mammoth hedge that bordered
the gorse lined stream.

One year I painted border fences,
feathered with firs and shrubs,
the creosote splashes,
stubborn streaks on my clothes,
the oily tar a stoking memory,
smoking, never burns away.

The lush green, gentle
river’s rush. The whins,
the broom, hydrangeas in bloom,
rhubarb sprouted in patches
like high kings.

Yet indoors, the dark mould
formed dot to dot clusters,
squatted in ceiling corners.
Skirtings home to years
of neglect, velvet dust
and spider webs.
Radiators yellowed
with each new year,
the smell of must
and brokenness,
permeating each and every room.

.

.

Crab Claws

.

They lay scattered,
broken on the marina path.
Splintered shards of claws,
still salty,
the sweet meat torn
from limbs, cracked open
like Christmas Brazil nuts.

Pincers tipped a burnt umber
gulls arched overhead
with their shrieks of disapproval
as I crouched to check
for leftover flesh
and walked off
craving seafood salad.

.

.

Legs Eleven

.

She brought you to bingo
to slice through numbers
with a black marker
on Monday nights
to keep you sober
and from the vodka
slumber.

For company,
for your own safety,
to keep you out
of the kitchen drawer
and the cold, blue bathroom
that didn’t have a key.

You collected the bottles
maintained your nails and
highlights, everything else
on a landslide, slid away
and your only break
from those four yellow walls

was into a big book
and two fat ladies.
The wolf whistles pierced
pensioner concentration
in the musty parish hall.
Kelly’s Eye, key of the door,
and all the others.
The call lodged in throats
waited to rise and shout,
the black slashes
marked a full house.

A sneaky trip for mouthwash,
then back to front seat denial
and another bag search.
The yellow walls heard
the coughs to muffle the breaking seal,
the broken spiral of a new litre
to where it all went wrong.

.

.

Shoal

.

.

 

 

 


.

.

 


Beth Kilkenny, Poetry

Beth lives in Dublin. She writes a feminist parenting blog, and is also an MA student of Gender Studies. Her poetry is on the themes of motherhood and womanhood.

www.themotherhub.ie

 

 

 

.

.


.

Mine 

.

Not his, not theirs, not ours,

not yours.

No papers, no vows, no book,

no belief

bestowed upon you ownership

of me.

Mine.

..

Repairs

.

How odd, I thought.That they would use red string to repair me.

It was my blood, your heart, our hearts

Passed through me.

.

Advice 

.

People you don’t know will stop you in the street

and tell you things you didn’t ask to hear.

“Maybe he’s cold? He should be wearing a hat”

People you don’t know will look at you in the street

and give you sympathetic looks,

“Perhaps he’s hungry – I’d give him an extra bottle.”

and consoling smiles

“ Are you getting any sleep, love, you look tired.”

And you will look at them, (timidly,

through glassy eyes, made weak

through tears, and love, and uncertainty)

you will look at them, the people on the street,

that you don’t know, and wonder why,

they can’t keep

their goddam

opinions

to themselves.

..


 


Poetry by Dorothy Dickinson

Poet. Translator. Dreamer. Newlywed. Previously featured in such journals as College Green and Banshee, she can currently be found in Dublin, Ireland, working away madly on her dissertation. Wish her luck.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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.


.

Helen Reimagined

.

.She pops a pill while doing the dishes,
swallows it without water,
allows her eyes to wander to
Paris, plopped before a screen,
grown fat and more than a bit
obscene, as all the brats
she birthed by him
play at war in the parlour,
their chubby fingers plunging swords
into the hearts of imaginary Greeks.
.
.
..Persephone’s Danse Macabre

.
Her curves,
used to freedom,
threatened to burst from her
dress, green and earthy, into a
full bloom.His hands,
as black as fire,
struggled to spin her round,
let alone unzip her dress and
love her.Their teeth,
sunk deep into
bitter pomegranates,
having bitten flesh and sucked seeds,
shatter.
.
.
.
.
Touch
,
,
These nights, after you’re dead asleep,still here with me and yet gone ahead,
I reach out to stroke your face.
I am hesitant as a foal to stand on its own,
but my fingertips quiver with their memories of you,
of nose, of philtrum, earlobe, neck.
I reach out, reach out and touch you
the way I touch everything:
the drooping lilies in their tabletop vase,
the shoes our daughter has begun to outgrow,
my grandmother’s furs still hung in their place,
as if I were a monarch or a saintly priest,
as if I could anchor us both to life....


 


Poetry by Linda Stephenson, Christopher Moore and Wanda Morrow Clevenger

Linda Stephenson is a founding member of Melbourne Poets Union, facilitator of poetry groups in gaols and community centres, contributor to anthologies. Chapbook “The Tipping Point”, a collection of eco-poems published in 2015, feature guest poet on Radio 3CR “Spoken Word”. Active as a poet within the online poetry sector, hosts regular Salons at her home in Frankston, Victoria.

 

 

 

.

.


.

Penult

.

Comrade, walk to the water’s edge, a grab bag

of all you possess dragging over wet sand.

Red light frays the surface; see, it splits,

a trough of loaded syntax, a drift, apostrophe’s

belonging, where we’re headed now.

 

I thought you might like my company.

Remember, we gathered shells,

listening for omens. Remember, inundation dreams

woke us early mornings,

but we shelved them away with old books,

proceeded to the day, its repetitions, editing.

 

I don’t have much to say, no point, you know it.

Hold on to something, this horizon even.

Our feet sink into wasteland,

grit, erosion, we’re stumbling.

No remedies, no life rafts. But stand. Wait.

 

One last thing…

I know why you suddenly screamed,

seeing, on the instant, the arc of our travelling,

the startled flight from the orchard,

future tenses hanging, like ready fruit,

from the branching out of our birth.

.

.

Diarising

.

All rumours of my solitude

have been wildly inflated.

It’s simply that today was a chilled depth

of indecision, its winds finally calling

heads or tails. I stayed home. Though

I had planned to go,

do an open mic spot if allowed.

 

I have done these things instead:

a quick chicken dish,

portions needful to be taken

from raw to readied plate,

several poems, also raw,

but they will succumb later

to my seasoning, last preparations for

forthcoming joint art show,

hopes re competition, ( I’ve “run it up”

twice prior ), and I’ve finished the antibiotic,

stopped coughing, except for sometimes.

 

That’s all.

Apart from thinking.

Apart from hoping that you’d find your car keys,

apart from keeping company with the cat,

apart from remembering and thinking.

 

Rumours about my thinking are rife, inflated,

quite apart from the ones about my solitude,

my memories, and my relationship

with the weather. I think you know that.

Just hope it’s a nicer day tomorrow.

.

.


.

Christopher Moore has been writing poetry since 2012 and has been published in his college’s magazine, The Laconic several times since 2015.  He loves to express emotion within his poetry and his poems often times make people learn something interesting once reading them. He grabs inspiration from wherever he can find it.

 

 

 

.

.

The Time Traveling Poet

.

Born in the early Internet age, she seems a bit out of place.
Her words, her thoughts, very untypical for her generation.
Almost like she got sucked into a wormhole
and ended up close to the third millennium.
She longs for the daring American poets
who stayed in Paris after the Great War was over.
Elaborate swing halls,
sharing music that goes against their parents and grandparents.
Flapper culture suits her well as the jazz music plays on.
Like Alice down the rabbit hole,
she somehow got sucked into a wormhole
and ended up in the early twenty-first century.

.

.


.

Wanda Morrow Clevenger is a former Carlinville, IL native.  Over 443 pieces of her work appear in 155 print and electronic publications.  Her flash fiction “Roses and Peppermint Candy” won the 2014 Winter Short Story Contest in The Holiday Café.  Her poem “corsage” won the 2014 Black Diamond Award for Excellence of Craft in The Midnight on the Stroll Poetry Contest. Her nonfiction “Big Love” was nominated for 2016 Best of Net by Red Fez literary journal.

 

 

.

.

the first poem in weeks

>

 

.when Mom passed

unexpectedly

my meds for PTSD

effectively blocked

the confluence of

the customary emotions

leaving me venerable

to any number of potential

crooked eyebrows

and tongue lashings

 

we had spent

the entire day

with her

the week before

scraping hard

at the bottom

of the barrel

for fresh conversation

 

I am grateful

for that

at least

 

when she passed

I wrote the first

poem in weeks

 

—though

not this one

,

,

14,035 days

.

legit for

14,035 days

he says we have

nothing in common

as though he’s been

scientologized

morphed from

dead Koa wood

rendered rain-man

as to how we

got together

in the first place

 

I ignore the remark

a sinless observation

he’s maybe right

he’s maybe wrong

 

as is my way

I beg to differ

.

.

enough

.

Mom tried

to play cupid

between me

and a boy

down the road

 

kept pushing

and pushing

but he was very tall

I was very short

she didn’t see

how I saw

 

she said

‘he goes to church’

and that

was enough

.

.


 


Spotlighted Poet, Geraldine O’Kane

Geraldine O’Kane is a poet, creative writing facilitator, arts administrator and mental health advocate. Her work has been published in numerous anthologies, journals and zines in Ireland, the UK and the US, most recently Arlen House, Ascent Aspirations, Eyewear Publishing, FourXFour Poetry Journal, Flare Magazine, The Galway Review, Poethead, Lagan Press Online and Poems in Profile. She is founder and editor of Panning for Poems, an online and print micropoetry journal (currently on a short hiatus due to personal reasons).

 

Geraldine is co-host of Purely Poetry a monthly poetry open mic night run in partnership with the Crescent Arts Centre and is working on her first full poetry collection. In October 2015 she gave a TED Talk for TEDx Belfast on poetry and mental health and read at the Poems Upstairs Series in association with Poetry Ireland Feb’ 2016. Currently she is working towards her first full collection of poetry and was a recipient of the Artist Career Enhancement Scheme (ACES) 2015/16 from the Arts Council of Northern Ireland.

.

.


.Venus in my Living Room

I was wearing the creativity bracelet you bought me,
the night that Venus and Mars were visible alongside the moon,
and a girl wanted to sing ‘Strange Fruit’ to the President Elect.

 

The same night a butterfly came into our living room,
and a single speck of glitter was caught hanging
on the tail of a cobweb –
twirling visible and wondrous.

 

Moon Mother

If they ask, “looking past you,
to the moon gearing itself for
the night ahead; showering in
the setting rays of the sun
just behind your head.”

Not looking at the vintage handbag
tethered to your neck by a friend
its handle short, leaving it to rest
on your full-bodied chest as a giant necklace.
Nor the blue blanket with the white stars
adorning your knee, already beaded with rain,
another kindness.

I am staring past the pink rain sheet
and the coffee-to-go mug in your good steering hand.
I am boring right into your centre,
to the place your courage lives,
cupping my hands for scraps, for I know You.

I have helped unstick your wheelchair
from disability unfriendly places.
Have listened to your creativity wiggle
its way beyond your paraphernalia.
I have witnessed you arriving and departing
in a flurry of unabashed inconvenience.

I have never asked your name
or anyone else’s, in case my enquiry
be misconstrued as a hand of friendship,
that is the length of my courage.
I will say, “I was looking at the grace of the moon.”

 

My Faux Angora Fur Hat

You were serene as a blanket covering ears;
as feet disturbing first drift of snow;
as a barricade for eyes against first blush of light.

A comfort-muffler to the background of my day-
hum of radiator, harmonising with breath;
rumble of kettle rocked by its boiling;
pit-a-plop, trickle of rain on hood;
bleep of mouth at beep of horn;
chirrup and buzz of uninvited calls, birdsong;
unfailing reverberation of overhead planes,
rustle, sniffle, achoo – restless shuffling before bed.

You were a tea cosy for the sun
aping midnight with a round diamante brooch
giving luminous shift to mohair threads.

You could have been a pair of Ragdolls
curved into each other upon my head,
ruched elastic; snug against my nape
ouroboros – a tail.

Your peak lifted my face higher than Tibet,
took me past Everest, it was like God held a hand
close to my mind fashioning a static charge of creativity
every time you bedizened my head.

 

Definitions

Perched on a hospital bed opposite a doctor

resting easy in the high back visitor’s chair,

he hands you a clipboard and paper having drawn

a simple square asking “can you copy the shape for me please?”

You contemplate the pen he gives you

like it was just plucked from the back of a crow,

you always had beautiful handwriting

I tried often but could not mimic its soft cadence.

Concentration lines take shape on your face

as you try to comprehend how you might

make the pen move on the paper.

Eventually you mark the page with a barely perceptible squiggle,

present it back to the doctor with a triumphant confusion.

Unsure if what you have done is correct but the relief

of your shoulders from having produced something defines the moment.

I want to enfold you in an embrace

transfuse back into you all the knowledge

you poured into me from my very first breath

but you aren’t finished giving, so I meet your eye

smile and proclaim “well done”.

 

I’m Sorry…

I’m sorry I came to your poetry reading.

I’m sorry I came to your poetry reading,
straight from my works dinner.

I’m sorry when I came to your poetry reading,
the room allocated had changed,
from auditorium to a cabaret style affair.

I’m sorry when I came to your poetry reading,
you were dressed scalp to heel in Black,
reciting the horrors of your home country.

I’m sorry when I came to your poetry reading,
I sat right at the front, where it got so hot
I had to take my puffa parka coat off.

I’m sorry I came to your poetry reading,
dressed in a neon green novelty Christmas jumper
complete with baubles, tinsel and flashing lights.


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Poetry by Lucia Salvato

Born in Italy, living in Dublin (Ireland) for 10 years, I enjoy writing poems about the greatly unknown universe of the mind.

I am a mature student of Mathematics and Physics at the OU, mother of one boy, I love travelling to let myself be surprised by the beauty of nature and by the different cultures humanity has produced.

 

 

 

 

 

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The flexible trail of my breathing

.Slow,up tothe limitfor supporting

life.

 

Quick,

as my thoughts are quickly

galloping harnessed by the reins of my

Emotions.

 

Imperceptible,

like an idea

not yet embraced

by my awareness.

 

Deep,

more and more in depth,

from the dimensions of

comprehending, of remembering

to my dreamless sleep.

And in the middle,

the heavy loads of all my

never breathed breaths

float weighting my conscious

and yet distorted mind.

 

Apneas,

– the longest and the shortest ones – during which

the story of my life is written on

these no more blank pages of my mind;

 

My breath, a precious and flexible

trail of all the jobs of my unknown mind.

 

And what I use to call

“Emotions, Reasoning,

Memory, Dreams

Consciousness,  …”

could be just

brief or longer,

weak or stronger,

alterations

of the dance of my breath with

what I use to call

“Me”.

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The city has no more tears to cry

.Windows
look at me,
so blindEyes caged
in iron grates
– expressionless –
They stare at my eyesCarved
into the concrete
they have the
breath of the wind
and the tears of the skyTheir eyes
so dark
probably
strive for lightImpotent
I listen to
their deaf cries

Behind
the wet glass
of my window
I wipe my eyes
– they are dry

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Snapshot of the birth of an Emotion

.On the lunar landscape
of my brain
the microscopic fuse
of my thought
fires emotions
in slow motion.
The time dilates
to the extreme,
the past rises,
a memory revives.
An emotion
again is born,
intact.The brain becomes mind...

The puppet of my dreams

.The dark spaces behind my eyes
– closed by the heaviness of the sleep –
are full of life; the time-line of my memories
is broken, fragmented in pieces; it is
recomposing with no care about what present,
future, past or possible, impossible mean.My will betrays me and – at the same time –
it breaks me free. An emotion is bouncing
all over my senses; the echoes of my mind
attract me until I find myself at the centre
of my dream, moving, talking, living as a
living puppet moved by another piece of me.There is that puppet, surrounded by my memories
and thoughts; a passive viewer who takes in
the front part of the scene of my dream at a glance;
some directors who dictate the incomprehensible
rules: I am them all, and it seems to me that
I can anytime choose who of them to be.I am that living puppet now in my dream, and in the
appearance of it, I discover a kind of freedom I never
thought I could have. As soon as I start to believe
that everything is real in my dream – even me –
a silent voice – like a silent thought in a place made
of thoughts – whispers to me “it is just a dream”.And like fingers touching a soap bubble,
my awareness touches my dream and makes it
disappear. Narrow spaces now are in front of my
wide-open eyes; my memory – divested of my dreams –
is full of life. The beautiful colours and shapes of the
world shape my senses and overturned my mind:

What previously was the living puppet of my dream,
now it is my consciousness and will; and what
previously was the background of that puppet of me,
– included the passive viewer of my dreams –
now – as my body – a new puppet it is, gracefully
moved by different and opposite strings.

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What is the mind made of?

.What is the mind made of?Of silent musics and voiceless speechesof liquid words and plastic dreamsof cut off reasonings and unbreathed breathskeeping together the tiniest bits of me.

 

What is the mind made of?

Of trails of codes

curled up as spirals of love

quiet forests of trees of thoughts

shaken by warm breezes and big storm of

air, tears and blood.

 

What is the mind made of?

Of space-times permanently or reversibly deformed

– An immeasurable Alter-Universe inside a cranial box –

Mind, son of the Universe, which is in turn your son

And here I am, like an hologram sprung from

the temporary embrace of all the natural laws.

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The Poetry of Mícheál McCann

Mícheál is a student in the Queen’s University Belfast, between the School of English and the Heaney Centre for Poetry. Enamoured with queer art & American visual culture, among other things (foggy mornings, dogs, etc.).

 

 

 

 

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A Birthday Card

 

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Documenting June 23rd – September 20th

He gave me Birthday Card in June.
Not my birthday. The only thing he had lying about.
By bedside for summer, a scroll to promise sailor’s safe return.
No birthday, more of a goodbye-for-now.

In a month my faithful Birthday Card had companions – Postcards.
The colourful portraits and tattered ends were subject
to wear and tear and re-wear and re-reading.
I remember the photo he sent of a beach-fire

Benched in pearly Samoan sand, dusky waves, stars in the sky.
It was those little goodnights, little crosses that helped.
The time he visited Robert Louis Stevenson’s grave
and sent me a verse because he knew I would like it:

“Home is the sailor home from the sea”, something like that…
Seeds planted in my Birthday Card,
blooming in my Postcards like lemongrass.
He wished I was there, he promised it wasn’t the same.

Months later, ephemera is grasped.
This is realised at a round fire, much like his Pacific one,
except mine is set in reliable, rocky Irish muck.
The Postcards are dropping into the fire

One by one by one by one;
Samoa, Argentina, Peru, Arizona.
Watching the elusive places and landscapes scorch and scream
like Earth is burning up; gnashing of copper and bloody teeth.

In and up, fire and ash.

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Passacaglia 

.

Its 6pm in the kitchen or
maybe time is gone but
the rosy sun
bends through
white gauze curtains &
plastic & glass rosary
beads hang
off the heating dial
above her head &
the wind sneaking
in the white back door
makes them ring
like wind-chimes &
they clack &
they chime &
they sing &
we sit together &
sip the last
cup of tea
in the most
comfortable
warmth &
quiet.

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Scenes from an Automat

.
After Edward Hopper’s ‘Automat’

Her quiet, thoughtful face
brought back in the surface
of brown, smelly coffee.

Is the coffee warm
or cold? For how long
has it been so still?

Bawdy white light fixtures;
only one glove to hand;
less heat from the heater;

less warmth from her white cup;
she doesn’t seem to notice,
less, less.

*

(i)

A mother,
a night shift
that (gladly)
does not end.

(ii)

Made-up,
break-up.
Sit down,
breakdown.

(iii)

A female body
absorbing the
androgynous
mind.

(iv)

A person who is tired,
and doesn’t care for thinking,
just wants a fucking
cup of coffee

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Wiegenleid for the Sleepless

.

I asked you to describe
to me what you were seeing
through the phone.

You said just
a white candle,
burning in the dark

to the right
of your bed,
and a futon.

The flickers of a candle
against a futon
in the dark

Rang through the rustley static
of wires and electricity
from you to me

.

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Poetry by Alfred Booth

Alfred Booth is an American professional pianist who lives in France. He folds origami; its patience often inspires poetry. When he not at the piano learning new arcane repertoire to stretch his horizons, he teaches would-be amateur musicians to put enough bread on the table. He has studied extensively harpsichord and the cello. Currently he has an 82-poem volume journaling a recent dance with cancer and a 34-poem chapbook of ghazals looking for a homes in the professional world of rhyme. A large handful of his poetry can be found in the e-zines Dead Snakes, I am not a silent poet and Spring Fling. He keeps an online portfolio at: https://www.writing.com/main/portfolio/view/troubadour.

 

 


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pleats between words that have always failed

.

now watch the pen soar, hear it scratch
blue miles of words from the night

Ursa Major fills the void of black holes
with hieroglyphs and mathematical

symbols, then honed into Postmodern Jukebox jazz
or kitchen ware to sustain eons with peace

that squeezes out cancerous ulcers feeding
on hate, that power-hungry demon present

because every god second-guessed
its creation, so let only rain and thunder

release hailstone-sized balls of smudged
paper to clear stratified layers towards discovery

imagine the death of uncountable sonnets
never outlived by as many unique voices

.

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months before the last housewarming 

.it’s that season
we can sweep away
the dead wasps
old pots of dried honey
rotten beams holding out
unexpected storms scattering
early dying leaves
the lark, a melancholy soundtrack
dwindles, both have no more to say
many aftermaths of this disease
daunt my light with dark painted veils
they beg to creep on my skin
and allow these unusual times
to slow
what will replace my youth
if not longing?
.
.
Full moon, August 2017
D
Dearest Cat,
We watched the full moon impersonate the planet orange looming over the Alps with friends. I drank apple cider, which did not swell the slow-receding sensitivity in my throat. The tonight’s shimmering helped me forget the after effects of radiation. Momentarily is becoming addictive. The list of things I have not begun draws out like early morning mist on the mountains. I joke, calling it snow. Pure childishness. I think often of you and The Asking Boy and wonder if he would refine my questions. Writing Petrarch sonnets will wait. As will memorizing Rachmaninoff. Here I have 360 degrees of never ending awe. Suggesting occupation is senseless. I’ve discovered healing starts with the eyes. The work of an archaeologist.
~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ words drown
~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ in weeping summer beauty
~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ frogs croak
Yours always,
le souris bleu.

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photographing people as they leave

.

.elevator music
lost its over-ripe sincerity & now
found in vending machinescaustic blue atmosphere brakes
health, rainbow bright pills
jog sporadic memories of weather& offer sensational honey-coated cures
radio continues to pedal ultimate realities
brainwave implosionarrhythmia & cancer, all have
finally conquered love dreams
we force life’s ooze from cracksamble among throngs of the dying
the umbrella people, spin-doctored
from the final Asian importfashion a trendy Geisha-like praise
for slowness, cocooning
themselves inside each shellfabric screens
broadcast an airtight list of whatever
used to soothe, poetry

fairy tale cartoons
& reruns of Every Country Has Talent
personalized playlists value Nashville

or New Orleans
freedom & gimmicks
exploded knowledge

in mass destruction, vexed
it has retreated & refuses to barter
metamorphosis

birds don’t whistle or hover
no one knows if whales
still exist

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Ekphrastic poem based on the cover of The Blue Nib n°9

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a slight introduction to fur and beards

>

.I am one
(undoubtedly
there are thousands of us)
a man with a cat
like linguini and Italian
not to be defined
as his human
any more than Joyce
a writer of haiku, naming
a cat Ulysses needs gumption
(he had no suggestions
many opt for “meow”)
every morning
puffed in red and gray
pillows and relentless glares
anticipating the day’s
non-Morpheus activities
we pose for self portraits
twenty-two hundred wallpaper
the bedroom walls, autobiographies
of odd assorted lovers
(I have a second who goes beyond
the foreplay of subtle purring
and kneading)
one carnivore, one vegan
one prefers butterflies and swallows
one Mozart and Mahler
we agree TV and writing
poetry was better
before we bonded
..
Ekphrastic poem based on the cover of The Blue Nib n°4...