FEATURING THE CREATIVE TALENTS OF EJ Mc Cann, Ed Lyons, Tony Abbott, Connor J Brennan, Aine Rose, Joyce Walker, Henry Hudson, David Hamson, Terry Brinkman, Fionnbharr Rodgers and Marco Escobar Trans Matthew Byrne, EDITED BY AMOS GREIG.
A NEW ULSTER ISSUE 105 July 2021
Copyright © 2020 A New Ulster – All Rights Reserved.
The artists featured in this publication have reserved their right under Section 77 of the Copyright, Design and Patents Act 1988 to be identified as the authors of their work. ISSN 2053-6119 (Print) ISSN 2053-6127 (Online) Edited by Amos Greig Cover Design by Upatree Press Prepared for Publication by Upatree Press
This edition features work by EJ McCann, Ed Lyons, Tony Abbott, Connor J Brennan, Aine Rose, Joyce Walker, Henry Hudson, David Hamson, Terry Brinkman, Fionnbharr Rodgers and Marco Escobar Trans Matthew Byrne
CONTENTS Poetry EJ McCann
Poetry Ed Lyons
Poetry Tony Abbott
Poetry Connor J Brennan
Art Aine Rose
Prose Joyce Walker
Poetry Henry Hudson
Poetry David Hamson
Poetry Terry Brinkman
Poetry Fionbharr Rodgers
Poetry Marco Escobar/ Matthew Byrne Page53
BIOGRAPHICAL NOTE: E J McCann E.J McCann - Irish Poet influenced by the Earth, the Universe, Life and Death. A poem about childhood growing up on the beautiful eastern coastline of N.Ireland.
CHILDHOOD BY THE SEA It is our secret coastline That fills us full of glee With crashing waves and stormy seas From Portavogie to Donaghadee The green leathered skin waves Twinkling in the morning sun Crash against the shingle sands and seaweed stacks With guinness stout heads clutching waiting to go back Crunch and crackle under foot Silver buried beneath the waves Oil tankers docked in the bay light up the evening skies Like fallen meteorites flickering out Each day a mystery for my young child To play upon Cloughey's golden sands Looking out upon the ocean wide And dream of foreign lands Skimming a stone and catching crabs Sing on swings and dance around roundabouts Drawing pictures and building castles to fallen Kings and Queens upon the dunes Eating ice cream and rolling jacks, never wanting to ever go back Ballyhalbert, Ballywalter Groomsport and Bangor Town In our heads Jupiter, Saturn, Pluto and Mars As we drive around It is our secret coastline That fills us full of glee With crashing waves and stormy seas From Portavogie to Donaghadee
BIOGRAPHICAL NOTE: Ed Lyons Ed Lyons has been writing and publishing poems for over forty years. He is a regular contributor to the Poems from the Heron Clan anthology, and has also appeared in Albatross, and written hymns for the Moravian Church. The last is the subject of Ed’s 2019 chapbook Wachovia, published by Katherine James Books in Chapel Hill, North Carolina. Ed lives in Winston-Salem, also in North Carolina.
And if you fly on brilliant wings Leaving your fear eight miles below Could you hear everything that sings? In open time that glides so slow
And candles light the road before: Although you cannot see the burning Of the secret you adore, It holds you while your life is turning!
And how it flows and how it glides And how you wonder what to do When your intention runs and hides And comes again on wings of blue
If I could dream a dream for you The colors would be gold and green The world would flow where you have been And lift you up on wings of blue
It opens out to be at peace It feeds you now and makes you strong And troubled thoughts may find release And a fair wind carries you along
Ed Lyons 4
Call it a winter’s day or call it new snow Call it a walk in the woods in the sunset glow Call it beauty or call it mind Call me up Ask me the time
I need something to do I need something to do Give me something to do
Call each other if you need a friend Call me anytime we’ll do this again Call it fire or call it love Call it the stars That burn so bright above
I need something to do I need something to do I want to be with you
Call it beauty or call it a good time
Call your words out and put them down in rhyme Call it a winter’s day, call it life and death Call me anytime We’ll do this again.
I need something to do Give me something to do I want to be with you.
Can you imagine a day? That brings everything into focus Envision your life as it is Without all there is to confuse us? The eagle that soars on the wind Follows the guide in his feather And there is a home in your heart Though you travel through rain and cold weather
So be it again If we can dance together It’s not a matter of when only a question of whether I remember a night like this When I was far gone on the highway I remember a face in the crowd And a hand that touched me lightly. So be it today Shine down upon me brightly Love again today With rays that touch me lightly.
For awhile was lost In an ignorant thicket I felt myself trapped in a forest of fear
There for awhile I was just like the others You yearn for a message they just can’t hear
So be it today Shine down upon me brightly Butterfly rise up today Love gently alight me Lover is an ocean today Consider her motion rightly So be it today Love gently alight me
BIOGRAPHICAL NOTE: Tony Abbott
After beginning his career in poetry, for the last three decades, Tony has written novels for younger readers — ((@FSGbooks, @HarperCollinsCh, @LittleBrownYR, @Scholastic)) — his latest title being the novel-inverse Junk Boy (2020). Tony has taught graduate-level creating writing, and has currently returned to writing poetry for adults. www.tonyabbottbooks.com.
I imagine Elizabeth O’Hare of Armagh in a food shop. She pushes out the door. It clatters behind her. Her layered clothing, shawls and folds I get from period drama, her face already windburnt.
Next she faces a sea of gray water. It says no. She shakes away the warning, tucks stray hair into what, a scarf bound loosely. It is winter.
The crossing is choppy like a long trying birth. Did she pack what she needs, will it be safe onboard to undress. So little to pinion her to solid amid the possibilty of wreckage.
Some vague worry simmers below deck, a hell or stink of misunderstanding. And after that, what cold streets, small rooms, the faces of more men. Flesh is a little broken. Her bag is lighter for all that.
Elizabeth O’Hare. She was a child once under the sun in Armagh. It was spring. Fields buzzed with insects and heat.
His father built for them curious machines depression toys of spool thumbtack rubber band matchstick candle.
First with a pocketknife he cogged little Vs into the wheels of an empty spool. Why? For traction. What will it — Wait.
He struck the match and softened the candle’s butt then blew it out and knicked off the sulphur with the blade. Next he rubbed the warm candle around one face of the spool and thumbed a tack into the other, but lightly.
Fixing the rubber band around the tack’s axle, he pressed it down tight with the heel of his giant thumb and taking the match
pushed the floppy open loop through the center hole. The brothers leaned in fascinated by this dexterity.
Threading now the matchstick through the loop, he wound the stick tight against the hardened wax then set the motor down and let go.
Like a leg the matchstick levered against the floor while the wheels turned, driving the toy across the carpet. Tony Abbott
The days grow small and sunlight comes minimally, usually with its opposite.
As if we live on an island and the ferries have sunk somewhere offshore and the sirens and boat horns, if you remember them at all, have been swallowed into the mist.
On your chest they have placed a plank and on the plank stones and more stones to stress the idea of not breathing.
Or maybe, if you are alone, there is no they. But your chest sinks under the weight, sinks under the weight anyway, and the island and the days and the light, but not the clouds, grow smaller.
BIOGRAPHICAL NOTE: Connor J Brennan Born in Belfast and studied Film Studies at Queens University in 2015. During his time at Queens Connor worked on developing his script writing with his final year film “The Mountain” winning best student drama at the N.I Royal television awards 2016. This went on to be selected as part of the Belfast Film Festival. After that success Connor developed their second script, “My Sweetest Sin” that was funded and produced by Belfast based production company Cinemagic. This was shown as part of their Dublin festival. Since then he has been working as parts of writer groups in Berlin, with a focus on continuously improving his writing.
We began to walk. One foot stretched in front of the other, leaving only delicate markings that future generations would follow. And upon these markings we imprinted a feeling of security and promise.
And we treaded bravely into the heart of the forest, Feeling the pulsing of life from within the moss-covered arteries below. But there is nothing to fear here for we only stand in the company of friends and fading ghosts.
And just like these once proud ghosts, We found connection in the rituals passed down on the falling of our ancestors’ leaves. Pausing only to observe the reenergised spirit of the forest floor.
So, there we stood, Proudly in the middle of all that once filled us with fear. Planting ourselves in the knowing that this place is what we make it, For this place is our forest and we, We the trees.
Connor J. Brennan
BIOGRAPHICAL NOTE: ÁINE ROSE. The Donegal artist's fine-art practice and poetry focuses on the individual and how identity can become framed and re-framed; through exploring themes pertaining to memory, interpersonal relationships and communication. Particularly, she utilises her knowledge of these themes from a clinical background and contemplates them through contemporary portraiture and contemporary poetic work. Ultimately, creating introspective artworks and writing with a certain psychological charge are aims of her work. The artist hopes to continue exploring how communication and counselling skills from a Speech & Language Therapy background could be amalgamated within an evolving art and portraiture practice. More of Aine’s work can be found at her Instagram here: https://www.instagram.com/ainerose4/ @ainerose4
Untitled Charcoal & acetate on paper 29.7cm x 21cm
Boy with Claddagh Ring Charcoal on paper 2m x 1.5m 19
Aisling 60cm x 80cm Oil on canvas
Aisling Ink on paper 29.7cm x 21cm 21
Dandelions Ink on gessoed paper 29.7 x 21cm
Untitled Eco & sustainably hand-made ink on paper 29.7 x 21cm
Katerina Acrylic on toned paper 14.8 x 21cm 24
BIOGRAPHICAL NOTE: JOYCE WALKER Joyce has previously had work accepted by the now defunct Affairs of the Heart, New Fiction, Writers Cauldron and Voyage and have had some success in competitions, including taking 1st prize in the Writers Brew Short Story Competition in 2002, 2nd prize in the storyfeedback.com competition in October 2009 and more recently taking 2nd Prize in an EWG competition.
THE REFORMATION OF THE GREAT RONALDO
The Great Ronaldo; children’s entertainer by day, became something totally different at night; something that the mothers who engaged him for their children’s parties didn’t know about, for if they had, they wouldn’t have allowed him over their doorsteps and certainly wouldn’t have paid the large fee he requested for his services. For The Great Ronaldo, or plain Ron to his friends, was not only a magician who made people gasp at his slight of hand, he was also good at making antiques disappear and would, in fact, use his time in their houses to search out expensive items that he could sell on. His sole aim was to make enough money from both of these professions to retire a very rich man. One afternoon while waiting for the children he’d come to entertain to take their fill of jelly, ice cream, sandwiches and cupcakes, he slipped as silently as always through the many rooms of the Georgian town house, sizing up things he could come and collect from the owners later, when he came across a Victorian sewing box. Made of rosewood and inlaid with mother of pearl, it was exquisite, in perfect condition with its original lock and key. When he gently lifted the lid he discovered that it held a cornucopia of sewing items from the period including a boxed set of silver buttons, a rich haul indeed; definitely something to bear in mind, as, to the right buyer, it could sell for around three to five hundred pounds. There was also a small jewellery box containing several rings that might add to his haul. Yes, he thought, this might well be a place to return to, but not too soon after the kiddies birthday party, he didn’t want anyone to link his visit to the house with the burglary, and anyway, 26
there were quite a few properties on his list already. So it was some months later, while the family were away on their summer vacation that he returned to relieve them of their goods. It was a textbook break-in. No one saw him arrive and no one saw him leave. He’d learned over the years not to draw attention to himself, and although on that day he didn’t need one, always had a plausible tradesman’s story for being there and a set of keys to the house that he’d taken on his earlier visit, had copied, and slipped through the letter-box the next day while the house was empty. The unsuspecting householder, when searching for them, just thought they’d been dropped. Now, all he had to do was find someone to sell the items to. Preferably someone far enough away from the area not to recognise them for what they were, which is how he found himself travelling from his home town of Derby down the M1 motorway to the Capital, ending up in the antique shops and market stalls of the Portobello Road where he was considered to be a reputable antiques dealer. “So Ron, what have you got for me today then?” He showed the dealer the sewing box and made an opening offer of six hundred pounds. “No, I couldn’t possibly pay you that much, not when most of the rings are paste, I’ll give you three for the lot.” “You’ve got to be joking, have you seen the price of petrol these days? It costs me nearly that much to bring the stuff down here and the sewing box is worth that on its own.” “I’ve got a living to earn and a family to support.” “So have I! How about five hundred?” 27
“Three fifty.” “Four fifty.” “I can perhaps stretch to four, but if I give you any more there’ll be no profit in it.” “Make it four twenty five and you’ve got a deal.” “OK four two five, but I still think I’ve been robbed.” Ron permitted himself a wry smile, not you, he thought, but the woman with the ankle biter who lived in the Derby town house definitely was. After doing the rounds with his contacts and off-loading more stolen goods, he decided he’d enough money and time, to treat himself to a ride on the London Eye before returning home. What he didn’t know was that while he’d been travelling down from Derby and doing his elicit trading he was in fact being followed and had been for some time. Stan, a security guard by profession was a former victim who’d long had his suspicions that Ron was responsible for the burglary at his home that had resulted in the loss of several family heirlooms soon after his mother died. Although he mentioned it to the police, they were unable to find any evidence to support this, so Ron was never convicted. Stan, however, having heard that several other people who’d hired The Great Ronaldo had also been burgled, began to realise he was right, so, with the police unable to help, decided to set himself up as an amateur detective and armed with a camera, notebook and a series of hire cars to prevent Ron recognising the vehicles that were tailing him, began collecting his own evidence. With his notebook nearly full and a file bulging with photos in the briefcase he was carrying,
he’d finally decided that today was the day that Ron should be confronted. So, while Ron was queuing for his tickets, Stan, too, took up his place four people behind and when Ron stepped into his pod on the London Eye, so did Stan. Ron, of course, while taking in the view from above the Thames, was totally oblivious to Stan and his thoughts that if the pod had not been enclosed he might well have just gone up to him and pushed him over the side into the water below, but being a fairly philosophical person, he also thought that having waited almost two years to get his revenge another forty minutes or so, wouldn’t make much difference. In fact, if Stan was being totally honest, he wasn’t sure how he was going to deal with Ron when he did confront him. So he used the forty minutes to try and formulate a plan of action. When they returned to ground level it was Stan who disembarked first, positioning himself so that his foot jutted out just enough to trip Ron up and send him sprawling face down on the ground. To the other passengers and any bystanders it would appear to be an accident and his offer of help to get Ron to his feet, the right thing to do. Stan’s tight grip on Ron’s arm didn’t look unnatural either, after all, the shock of falling can make a person feel faint and he could easily be supporting him to prevent another accident. “I’m so sorry,” Stan said, “Let me buy you a coffee to settle your nerves.” “No, thank you, I’m fine, really, I have a long drive ahead of me and I should be on my way.” Stan’s grip on Ron’s arm tightened, “Yes, it is a long way to Derby, all the more reason to make sure you’re fit to drive before you set off.” 29
“How did you know I was going to Derby?” “It’s a long story and if you value your freedom, I suggest you come with me and listen to what I have to say.” Ron swallowed hard, could this man be a plain-clothed policeman about to make an arrest? He doubted it, he was very aware that with all the recent government cuts, money for surveillance was tight and even though he’d been successful for many years, he was sure he’d be considered small-fry in comparison to robbers who not only stole, but were violent too and he thought that cross border operations, were more expensive than one that stayed within the same county. His musings were cut short as he was led into a coffee shop and to an empty table. “So,” Stan said, as coffee was delivered to them by a waitress in an old-fashioned black dress and white apron. “How long has the Great Ronaldo been selling other people’s antiques and how much a year does he make doing it.” “I don’t know what you’re talking about.” Ron replied. “I think you do,” said Stan, “in fact I know you do.” He opened his briefcase and produced a large envelope full of photographs, showing Ron entering houses, coming out with armfuls of goods, then entering antique shops with the same goods and coming out empty handed. There were even some that showed money changing hands. He pushed the pictures back inside the envelope and took out the notebook. “It’s all in here, dates, times, places, for at least the last year. Now I can either take it to the police, or we can come to some arrangement about compensation.”
“You mean, you want me to pay you commission on future transactions, but wouldn’t that make you an accessory or something.” “Do I look that dishonest? No, all I want you to do is mend your ways, and use your honest earnings as a children’s entertainer to repay your victims.” “And if I don’t?” “I’m sure the local constabulary would find this notebook very interesting reading, especially as I have pictures to back them up.” That’s how over the next few months manila envelopes filled with banknotes found their way onto several doormats in Derbyshire. The more honest of them went to the police fearing that they were forgeries, but while it remained a mystery, no law was being broken and it remained a mystery. A mystery that is, to everyone except the reformed Great Ronaldo and the ever vigilant security guard, Stan.
BIOGRAPHICAL NOTE: HENRY HUDSON
Henry Hudson was born in Dublin. A graduate of the Samuel Beckett Centre in TCD he is a former winner of the RTE PJ O’Connor Radio Drama Award, The Heinrich Boll Award for Literature, The Listowel Writers Week Playwrights Award and The Best Play Award at the Cork Arts Festival. He has written collections of poetry and short stories, stage and radio plays. His novels Pulditch and Poor Lamb, Poor Lamb are available on Kindle Books.
SALLY ANN BAND
At the corner of O’Connell Bridge
Abide with Me rose soft and low As a band began to play anew Hearing, my father took my childhood hand “Come, there is something I must do.”
We walked the length of Dublin’s longest street I knew the story well, Belfast 1940 When the British Army spurned my father’s crippled hand His one-way ticket left him bereft A Catholic in a Loyalist land
Salvation came from an army of that name They freely gave him bed and board Unquestioning of which god he cared about And in the morning, a Sterling pound To take a Samaritan train back south
We paused when we came band-side Then my father emptied his pockets Surrendering every note and sou To pay yet again a sacred debt That forever would fall due
Six decades on Abide with Me Still soothes my childhood soul Hymn embalmed by that Sally Ann band And the gentle fall of grateful coins From my father’s crippled hand. Henry Hudson
BIOGRAPHICAL NOTE: DAVID HAMSON David Hamson lives in south London, and has been writing for several years. His work has previously appeared in Agenda Broadsheets and Marble. He is soon to be published in Dream Catcher and has three poems appearing in the next edition of The High Window.
Poem 1: Being children, we didn’t know Being children we didn’t know things can change rapidly we knew only routine a route travelled time and again in slightly different fashion the same way we watched tensions grow and grow and then be resolved. So when, through our huddle around a closed bedroom door we heard you say you wanted something more we had no idea what that could mean. Although in the end you stayed for those long drives, the drab holidays so perhaps neither did you.
Poem 2: New Zealand Sun and sea tight on morning skin, labradors shaking themselves happy to be alive the bay a swollen surf of light, overrunning its edges dripping from a sun poised to dive. All is clear, bright and guiltless where whatever it means to live might have fallen as a clean rain in the night or washed up in golden sand rounded by tides that left no fingerprints. We could live here like this, you and I, be bright and guiltless too the way you thought about doing with someone else, years ago. David Hamson
Poem 3: April coast Dunes of horse parsley and kestrels hunting high above the fields nothing better to feel than sun on the chest after a long winter and nothing more a relief than to sit in the lea of wind-beaten rocks where afternoons have stopped to close their eyes, and lower heads beside daisies and thrift. But there is nothing to dream of here but ragged cliffs and their missing teeth or how they run like the back of a hand against flashing breeze and spray. Spring’s passage blown over in budding grass and the salted air of our disappointment at life returning and nothing more, no different hanging there still an inch above what we’ve always been close to saying, above what is blent and locked in April sun, that great tightropist 38
dangling out over the sea, balancing its cold sprawling weight allowed only ever a half-step forward or half-step back on its thin wire of grace. David Hamson
Poem 4: The new world Hair covered, cheeks grained with dirt the white teeth of a few grins. Only women of course caught in a moment of reprieve washing clothes together no need to blend in here kneeling by the water we imagine them chatting through difficulties with a husband, a daughter our eyes trace a certain hardness in the faces of some, a mealy poverty stretched thin over daily decisions, lessons hard learnt to act swiftly when needed and after, a final shot of the clothes hung out across the street side by side like aspirations for children wrung and spread high up there for a whole neighbourhood to see.
Poem 5: Hummer Remembered like a reflex, the songs he hummed next to you in class. Never a chorus or enough of a verse to identify, a shrugged ‘nothin’ if asked. Only evasion, distraction, until he went missing for a whole term, and your teacher sat you all down, told you his mother was very sick, that he’d have to change school maybe move towns. And you thought about him afterwards and those abortive songs of his and how maybe the full round scale of human experience can be sung just as well from any starting point or hummed. David Hamson
Poem 6: Waiting rooms We sit in off-white suspense unsure of what to say, do not want to give away where thoughts tend to calculation of likelihood, or - worse - costs and aftercare, slump with guilt in yellowed chairs, certain we are doing no good. But the flowers we bring to cover our absence speak with more sense here, where nothing begins: ears to the violent hope and loneliness of spring which we’ve all once known they fill the silences of quiet rooms, unashamed of weakness looming like wayward moons and say honest, brutal, beautiful things. David Hamson
BIOGRAPHICAL NOTE: JACK STEWART Terry Has been painting for over forty five years. Has Five Amazon E- Books. Poems in Rue Scribe, Tiny Seed. Snapdragon Journal, Poets Choice, Adelaide Magazine, Variant, the Writing Disorder, Ink Pantry, In Parentheses, Ariel Chat, New Ulster, Glove, and in Pamp-le-mousse, North Dakota Quarterly, Barzakh, Urban Arts and LKMNDS.
Sonnet CCCXXVII How many broken hearts criticizing Weak grasp courting death’s ball The shadows of the tomb’s brawl Clock on the stroke of twelve appetizing Meek smile shiver in the sun baptizing Polished Chalcis with nose rag with all Skimpy blue canvas shoes fall God’s love twilight sleep apologizing Cherry ripe lips happy speech blessed Pint to wet her whistle first Self-willed unshed tears pest Ivory alabaster kiss outburst With black eyes beautifully dressed When you fail your worst
Sonnet CCCXXVI Waist coat pocket cajole criticizing Raindrops spat on her ball Under the railway bridge we meet to brawl Stumping around the corner appetizing Must be her death say baptizing The Devil breaks the hasp of all Lord forgive me for her fall Drink like the Devil never apologizing Vain gestures on the air blessed Cemetery gates to saloon dining room first Stained with dirt and tears best Mary a good-man’s outburst Toad’s belly dressed Her name on the alter list worst
Sonnet CCCXXV Well known stains in the face criticizing Mastodon tic pleasure ship playing ball Gail priest and ghost woman brawl Eager anticipation so appetizing Naught and Crosses baptizing Wet Irish face cloth for all Lonely silence entering fall Almost human eyes apologizing Beheld uncouth Violet night blessed Lighting of the intellect first Bristles shining wirily in her vest Sun nearing the steeple’s outburst Mehmet psychosis transmigration dress Nicked my self-shaving the worst
Shake Don’t Stir II Shake don’t stir your Pinwheel until done Scour like a Polecat stuck in the mud That’s the letter to the father’s son The last swig out of the Bud It was casting shadows over his carriage Girls will be Girls to compare Training ship at port Amiss
Blood Gin Good old Irish Rose Blood Gin My moon and my sun still cajole Cat sitting beyond her dog’s control Wide brim hat hides the sun from her alabaster skin She’s play a Black Forest Violin Climbing under the bed for what’s not there patrol Snotty nose Nun climbing the Maypole Juices of the Olive Press lost in Berlin
BIOGRAPHICAL NOTE: FIONBHARR RODGERS Fionnbharr is a freelance writer who has contributed to the Northern Slant, Backbench and is a graduate from Queen’s University Belfast.
There’s Craic in Everything after Leonard Cohen No matter how you wish them Best laid plans Often come undone By way or fate of badness Shattered parts Won’t make the sum That is not to say your Match is made Every pup will have his day Darkness is not your enemy It moves along by the light This everlasting waltz is an antidote to fright The fact is what you make of it Whether good or bad You have the cards you’re dealt And you let them make you sad One cannot shift the course of stars You can only change what is your own Like sunshine through a broken window This realisation, will be a comfort In those nights you spend alone
Lookit, Would you fuck away aff With those tears What are you losing? We paid our rent, We had out little fun Waltzing horizontally When all is said and done I couldn’t ask anymore from only you and me.
Always Leave Before You Go
There was a young fellow from Donaghadee On a trip to the theatre, he found himself needing to pee To save causing a muddle, he caused quite a puddle And now he finds his evenings free
BIOGRAPHICAL NOTE: MARIO A. ESCOBAR & MATTHEW BYRNE Mario A. Escobar (1978-) is a US-Salvadoran educator and poet. He is the vice chair in the Department of Global Languages and Society at LA Mission College. Some of Escobar’s works include Al correr de la horas (1999), Gritos Interiores (2005), Paciente 1980 (2012). His bilingual poetry appears in Theatre Under My Skin: Contemporary Salvadoran Poetry (2014) and in Poetry of Resistance: Voices for Social Justice (2016). Matthew Byrne is a queer writer and translator who holds an MA in sociology from the University of California, Riverside. His work has appeared, or will soon, in Guernica, The Brooklyn Rail, Ezra, MAYDAY, Truthout, and other outlets.
Time flies maladroit glum detonating my spirit and I a paltry no one
I can’t I’m fed up I won’t play the game won’t erase so much scar tissue
So for today right now this time ‘round I reside in the sole of my shoe with furor aplenty inside and so much love in my nails for these people
It’s already ten in the morning 54
I don’t want to get up with nostalgia here lapping at the air
I’m lying in bed without Miller’s tropic and I see myself strewn with excuses no homeland and no return in sight yearning for a dance among the wild, the damned, the barflies
but I’m just a grubby modifier a far-off man in a place that isn’t mine mulling over the flag and the café’s patrons that helped extricate me from the lush foliage from my prerogative to scream
for those who closed their eyes mulling over the propagandists eager demagogues bereft of common sense 55
new, frustrated Men those who bequeathed me chaos and tremors
Con artists hawking wares for their daily bread bequeathed me the dread of infancy and a nightmarish row of boots that spook –even today– my extraordinary normalcy
Time flies and I still don’t see the white doves mid-flight in the plazas
What am I to do with this fury? May no one reply Leave it as it is please better to bury my face in the sheets
That space over there isn’t mine either I’d rather sleep 56
don’t wake me up at least for today don’t do it
Delete my number erase my address
I have the same prerogative as the nautilus to wind my carcass in a cocoon of my own brittle guise of inertia
El tiempo pasa torpemente negramente detonando los ánimos yo un cero a la izquierda no puedo no quiero no voy a jugar el juego a borrar tanta cicatriz Así es que por hoy en este momento a ésta hora resido en la suela de mi zapato tanto odio aquí adentro y tanto amor en mis uñas por ese pueblo ya son las 10:00 de la mañana no quiero levantarme aquí con la nostalgia salpicándome el aire me ubico aquí en la cama 58
sin el trópico de Miller y me veo lleno de excusas sin patria y sin regreso deseando bailar en los charcos de mi puerto entre locos, putas y borrachos pero soy un adjetivo mugroso hermano lejano en un espacio que no es mío pensando en la bandera y en los dueños del café que ayudaron a sacarme de mis verdes follajes de ese derecho de gritar por los que cerraron los ojos pensando en los propagandistas demagogos de la esperanza carentes del sentido común Hombres nuevos frustrados esos que me dieron el caos y los espasmos Estafadores véndelo todo me dieron por pan los pavores de la infancia 59
y las pesadillas de una fila de botas que espantan hasta hoy día mi extraña normalidad El tiempo pasa y todavía no veo las blancas palomas volar en las plazas ¿Qué hago con esta rabia? Que nadie conteste Déjenlo así por favor Mejor meto la cabeza en la cobija ese espacio de allá tampoco es mío prefiero dormir no me despierten Al menos por hoy no lo hagan pierdan mi número de celular olvídense de mi correo electrónico tengo el mismo derecho del caracol de enrollarme en mi propio pellejo en mi propio frágil pretexto de mi desidia
EDITOR’S NOTE We are always learning new things, adjusting our preset mindsets and preconceived cultural ideas. This happens in literature art, physics, history and geography. Ultimately nothing is set in stone, just because something we used to believe is disproven or overwritten by new thinking doesn’t mean we should ignore or discard it entirely as those opinions and theories are part of the journey to discovery and further enlightenment. From questions in regards to the Ulster Cycle, the changes to the Odyssey by the Romans and later scholars to the discovery of fragments painting a very different picture indeed. Who would have thought the Romans would change so much of the original text from adding Achilles’ invulnerability, to changing the personality of most of the Greek characters into caricatures and even location? Sadly, most translations were based on the Roman texts a more accurate translation is now in print and the abuse aimed at its author is both terrifying and fascinating in equal measure. The most recent findings in Archaeology are also interesting the Cerne Abbas Giant wasn’t a Prehistoric creation but a late Anglo-Saxon creation built around the same time as the local church the prevailing theory is that it was used to drive people to convert to Christianity. As for its famous fertility ritual phallus? That was added during the time of Oliver Cromwell probably as a mockery of the man, the giant is clearly based on Hercules and that was one of the nicknames for that man. One final thing there is a very good possibility that Ireland was one of the islands that Ulysses landed on during the Odyssey and was the home of Calypso I found several early Roman and Greek geography texts which imply that fact and the link between those texts and Ireland is fascinating for me. Happy reading, good health, and keep creating, Amos Greig (Editor)