A New Ulster 117

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FEATURING THE TALENTS OF Caterine Kwalton, Nidhi Negi Bhandari, Fionnbharr Rodgers, Gordon Ferris, Rosemary Johnson, Stephanie Ni Thiarnaigh, Daragh Fleming, Marie O'Shea, Sydney Peck and Richard Brooks EDITED BY AMOS GREIG


A NEW ULSTER 117 2022



Prepared for Publication by Upatree Press

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.

Edited by Amos Greig

Cover Design by Upatree Press

ISSN 2053 6119 (Print)

Copyright © 2022 A New Ulster All Rights Reserved.

ISSN 2053 6127 (Online)

This edition features work by Catherine Kwalton, Nidhi Negi Bhandari, Fionnbharr Rodgers, Gordon Ferris, Rosemary Johnson, Stephanie Ni Thiarnaigh, Darragh Fleming, Marie O'Shea, Sydney Peck and Richard Brooks


Poetry Fionnbharr Rodgers Page 7

Editor’s Note Page 53

Poetry Sydney Peck Page 44

Prose Catherine Kwalton Page 1

Prose Daragh Fleming Page 25

Poetry Rosemary Johnson Page 19

Poetry Nidhi Negi Bhandari Page 5

Prose Marie O'Shea Page 30

Poetry Richard Brooks Page 48

Poetry Gordon Ferris Page 15


Prose Stephanie Ni Thiarnaigh Page 22


Catherine Kwalton is an American writer living in Ireland.


Glass old and weary wooden table now married to it with a ring between the two I won’t touch yet its only days old maybe three maybe more It could be drank

Air hot, humid A pearl of sweat cuddling my hairline the light from the window above glows green-clear into glass Exposing freckles of before

I twist, with pressure Divorce,Lift bringing to my lips Long (Catharinesip Kwalton)

The cup of water on my desk with fat bits of gnat and spots from drying wrong Uninviting unappealing I’m thirsty

Leftover Water

I reach, my fingers loosely holding the body


It looks tackily baroque

It sits perched on the desk


It is too heavy to be hung


Like it is trying to be an artifact, or heirloom.

The brassy, hollow plastic frame scratching the wood. The reflection shows nothing but the wall, and crack of the wardrobe door.

(Catherine Kwalton)

mirror in the corner of my room

You can still be the Clown with toes in a band

(Catherine Kwalton)

The heel of your foot

Avoiding pointy shards

Cracking underneath

You can walk on the shells

Please keep going

Big, red shoes

You squeeze your round nose

Scrambling Eggs


Yellow and sloppy

Walking on shells

Nearly bloody and chopped I tell you to dance

While trying to make us laugh

You are a carefully dancing clown

A single yolk

And bend at the knees

Feet flopping around

Like shores and beach sand



Nidhi Negi Bhandari resides in Texas, USA with her husband and two young kids. She loves to read and write poetry, trekking and to meet people.

(Nidhi Negi Bhandari)

Is that a crystal ball in the enormous gray ocean, or a nature's clock gleaming precisely over us? Toppling leisurely on this celestial landscape, the slaty moonlight embellishes the drizzles.

The bloom of tulips ornamenting our table, augmenting immensely this dusk's splendor, the gusting wind parts away the fuzzy clouds, restyling the murky shadows every now and then.

Having a sublime candlelight dinner with you, infusing ambient air with long lost romance, long harbored wish rushing to my senses, your embrace of me captivates my heart.

A Candlelight Dinner


I can hear somebody playing a piano afar, or is it somebody whistling a jaunty tune? All this majesty carrying me to a surreal world, I wish to freeze this moment for a little while!


Fionnbharr is a freelance writer who has contributed to the Northern Slant, Backbench and is a graduate from Queen’s University Belfast.


Fly, Fly, Fly


Sat in the square in Huemarkt, Köln; a book on Fr. Doyle, and a little glass of Kölsch. Sparkling language. Sun pours down hard and slow as only Sunday weather can. A wee fly fornens’t me, on the table, but in a world entirely his own, is struggling through a harsh desert journey in the only way the wee fellow can. On the hunt for… a scrap of dinner? A loving bride? A pint of Smithwicks? …whatever is on his mind, it’s merely to survive. . Battling the elements of the world turn and turning and it dwarfs him to a the merest ounce of a speck, but he carries on; and carries on, sure he must have some neck. To go on surviving in spite of all that commands he must ‘lie down.’ To go on surviving, because what else is there to

moves from table to table, as I may traipse from bog to town. From the cradle to the next dawn, there’s one choice: take another step, or cut your throat. And only every one in ten of instances is there a moment to rejoice. The fly on the table; the yeast inside the beer beside him; the bacteria in my gut, for which the latter will do it’s best to rot. All spokes, rusted or shining; turning and turning, in the hopeful hoping one might turn a bit of hope. From the last dying flake of skin on your callused little paw, to the far off distant flickers of some long dead dwarf star, there’s more world than our world and the world is mad, and harsher than a hymn. Take the the time to breathe easy and slow, and see the world within the bars, that those between the leaves (Fionbharrsing. Rodgers)


It’s no go the radio, it’s no go the telly, Give me any fried muck to sate a hungry belly, Let the guitar grow into deadwood and lose its tune

For no one lives here no more, least of all love

Out of Time


Headline writers and muralists may as well come together, Make wall and paper dressed in black for she has left forever, Fill the zoos with pigeons, and slaughter every holy dove

after Auden and MacNeice

She was my Ulster, my Munster, my Leinster, my Connact, Now I don’t have it in me to make this rhyme a sonnet. (Fionnbharr Rodgers)

There’s no song alive that’ll break open this lonesome, winter room.

The day is better for the dancing than for the dead, Though winter hardens and people come colder.

Don’t be smart, use your wit; And while you can, play. Though time will demand you cease, resist While you can see even a shadow of sun, you’ve got time in the day .

Get Laid, and Read a Lot after Herrick

As light hands darkness the keys to the room, Soon we’ll be away to bed, sigh and climbing.

That little toenail clipping in the sky, the moon, The higher it’s rise and rising;

Enjoy the blossoms, while you may Tomorrow, one at least, we’ll be dying: And the same colours that ignite today, Tomorrow will get the next lot smiling.


Though a good friend will bring a candle to light your way to bed; And remind, there are means of growing young as you grow older.

All happy sunshine evenings will be dusking soon enough And heart wrung pilgrims will be left Whisper singing bars of the well loved past

Whispers hang on to this sweetheart springtime breeze Of a dirty winter gale that’ll knock you to your knees

I was working well and working fast, and blackened pages showed the sun filled days State this testimony to time, Before Time comes in and says I’ve had my say I’ve always known I’m coming back again To the scattered days of foggy nights Nowhere is where I used to live When I lived estranged from feeling that felt right

Birds Sang on the Radio


That some other’s song might crack open the room. Some lonesome Nashville barfly

For which and whom his knees were sorely bent


Whose dreams have never seen a cent Was singing of a life and lover, not no Church

‘Delilah’s interning in a hair and nail bar, Salomé waltzes freestyle with a head;

But the pen wouldn’t get in tune

What is gone is shadows of what we hold While what will come will not be said

‘Love and death, ebb and flow

‘The hallelujah’s gone to history

Yeats’ drowns his melancholy in Behan’s pub, And Christ has gone to bed,’

As the tides of night and day Headlines scream to be noticed now While world and people keep rolling on their way,

I was writing to write my own song

The future is some fairy tale of old,

So I put my fist on SHUFFLE

I’ll live to hear you singing Til day kills the language in which our song is sung,

Is dead and dying, ashes that light a teenage dark,

Til day takes the breath from my last lung


‘I’ll love you, dear, I’ll love you

I’ll love you til that very last sonnet

Til the Mediterranean is a public park

They can only write their little stars

‘I’ll love you, dear, I’ll love you

While getting chucked from present bars,

‘The years will run like hound dogs

‘Mere mortals cannot shift the sky

No use betting, they’ll all be running after, still Take my hand in for this tiny, coddled moment This second is all that might be bended to our will,

Dreaming of future galas

‘I’ll love you, dear, I’ll love you

Til the sunshine is caked with snow, And as my mind and joints all wither me, know Love is The Last Thing To Go.

Only have to look around


Wine will be split The dawn has demanded The night must be killed.’

‘Blood will be drunk

Now I can feel the ceiling cracking

I know the summer’s ending The wind is howling fast So I scramble like the dying

‘All you looking for the future

And at the blood upon the ground

At the headlines in the paper

(Fionnbharr Rodgers)

And I can hear the water rushing in Its clear tonight is ending Please God, leave us a note of song to sing.

To keep a hold on the well loved past



Gordon Ferris was born and raised in Finglas, a North West suburb of Dublin. In the early eighties, he moved to Donegal where he has lived ever since. He started writing in 2014 and has had many short stories and poems in publications including Hidden Channel, A New Ulster, The Galway Review, Impspired Magazine, and Lothlorien Poetry Journal. He has also won prizes in the summer 2020 HITA Creative Writing Competition for his poem ‘Mother’, and won the winter competition for his poem ‘The Silence’. Gordon was awarded a Poetry Town Bursary by Poetry Ireland.

You Walk

You push an imaginary Strand of hair

To avoid any searching glance


You Walk In Headsilencelowered

Fingers fidget

Out of your eyes

You shake when someone speaks to you And nervously answer breathe in deeply And go on your way. (Gordon Ferris)

You look at the ground as if you can't see where you walk

it's in the way you explain things my lack of words to speak my thoughts it's just my lack of nerve to utter those defiant words my lack makes me cower in your presence.

I can't tell you anything about how voices sing on moonlight breeze how shadows dance on the backyard wall how dug up memories make our neck hair freeze

I can't tell you anything about

I can't tell you anything about when the wicket takes all we have I take the troubled track Because our loved ones are all we have left.

(Gordon Ferris)

I can't tell you anything about the way you display your truths the sound you make so convincing, so right


or is it just to be more loss of the innocents will more heroes be borne or blood lost on the battlefield to fill the coffers of suited men who presses the buttons and treat us all as pawns in their parlour games.


I look at pictures of a world gone of loved ones living in my heart in darkest times I call upon them when all begins to fade (Gordon Ferris)

did they once think It couldn't happen to them,

the worst thing about this war the worst thing about this war is how the people look like you and I how we can look at the sky and not fear what's falling on us how they all can leave except for men of fighting age

the way we think it will never happen to us would you volunteer to take arms and possibly die for your country

let your child become an orphan let your soulmate go on alone will these times bring forth more legends

Rosemary’s debut novella, Source, won the New Fictions Prize in 2020 and was published by Story Machines in 2021. Her short story, The Others, was published by MIROnline in March 2022. Rosemary has completed a debut novel, The Children of Angels' Eyrie, about a century of conflict as seen through the eyes of two families who live in the same house in Yorkshire, 100 years apart. Her short story collection, Dismantling the Catapult, is nearing completion. Rosemary is the editor of The Vixen, a magazine of art and lit. She is from Belfast but these days she is based in Harrogate, North Yorkshire, where she lives with her family.



It is distressing to watch this suffering Though still we drink as forests burn We absolve ourselves in a toast to rain.

Nature Morte

The roses are planted to signal the presence of fungus, But can a rose predict a hailstorm That a month before almost destroyed the harvest? Or this searing summer heat, breaking all records, Setting the pines to spontaneously to combust.

Awakened early in a smoky room, Half expecting evacuation. Coffee, brioche, The air borne wings the mercy dash Of fighter planes flying through acrid fumes.

The little sparrow flits from table to table Feasting on brioche, eating cake, Mocking the flamboyant chateau Which reigns above the slopes of vines. A horse drawn cart still ploughs the timeless furrows Bees hover over the casual beauty of yellow roses.

On a terrace by a man made lake Otters at leisure in the tricking water, moorhens peep We sip our wine. Last year’s vintage sings its song Of minerals, stones, petals, pines, As tendrils of smoke drift in from the forest.

The sparrow flits, its beak apape, gasping, Panicked, seeking purer, cooler air.

No flitting wings, no innocent thieving, Over the lake, white ashes falling Like Pompeii, preserving in still life what should be living.


It is only the hare who rises up in the vineyard, Fists fighting in vain the flaming sky. The evening sun sets scarlet, bloodied, crimson, Falling like the end notes of earth’s evensong.

Rosemary Johnston

Let the one sparrow speak for all sparrows

For all forests

For all living things.




Stephanie Ní Thiarnaigh is an Irish writer who lives in Drogheda, Co. Louth. She has just finished performing in the StrongLanguagepoetry show as part of the KickUptheArtsFestivalin Louth. You can read her work in PilePressand Splonc.She co-writes and presents the IrishMythologyPodcastwhich has been nominated for BestFictionPodcastin the IrishPodcastAwards2022.

23 Bad


Or I thought, while Cathán did as Cathán was requested and buried you standing up draped in all of your gold in the manner befitting a chieftain but unfortunately you were only sequestered, Abhartach, for a single day and when you returned demanding more I said Cathán, stop, maybe he is not so bad? And held out my wrist, as if it was an offering to assist you, and you drank and drank and drank without stopping to ask if I needed a sup myself so I cried out in my own thirst out that the gods would dispatch you while you drank what was left of me, Abhartach and I called for a druid and asked how do we rid ourselves of this terror and put the droch fhola underground with what was drawn from our veins in order to sustain, my dearest Abhartach? And the holy man looked me dead in the eye and said you must slay your Abhartach with a sword made of yew wood and leave them buried upside down with their feet toward the sky top to tail in their bed

a year you came demanding blood from our wrists, Abhartach, but from mine in particular, for some reason, to drink in your marbh bheo and although it felt good to be needed it wasn’t particularly sustainable to be considered drainable or amenable to your demands for a gory tribute to make a relish cake made of every last drop that runs through me So I stood in your wake and when I just could not take it anymore I went to a warrior named Cathán and asked for him to slay you so I would have one day intact. A hard request, but one for the best I think?

It is true when they say that the dearg diulaí can never be slain, only restrained, and I cross and uncross my legs on top of the dolmen stone again and again, knowing, Abhartach, my love, is underneath all the while, waiting for me to absent mindedly stand up and stretch and hold out my wrist because we only ever suspend our demons, we never really kill them.

(Stephanie Ní Thiarnaigh)


by the holy well for it is the yew tree, you see and I said to Cathán bring me a sword made of yew and a large stone to place on the dwelling cave of my darling Abharthach, and I will surround it with hawthorn and rowan So I place this stone carefully and tenderly on top of my darling Abhartach Give me a necklace made of hawthorn and a dolmen to sit on where I will stow you MyundergroundlovelyAbhartach, for safekeeping in thorns and ash and twigs

Daragh Fleming is an author from Cork, Ireland. He currently has two collections of short stories published by Riversong Books as well as work appearing in several literary magazines including The Ogham Stone and Époque Magazine. Fleming won the Cork Arts ‘From The Well’ Short Story Competition in 2021. His debut in nonfiction, Lonely Boy is due for release in November with BookHub Publishing. Daragh is also the Faberlull writer in residence for October 2022 in Olot, Spain.




The Empty Man

When he was many years younger he used to get up early and go for runs to the beach. Life found his legs. The sun would bleat down and he’d glide across tarmac. At the beach then he’d swim around in the cold saltwater before running home. He hasn’t done any of that in years now though, and can’t remember ever being the type of person that would. And yet he’s not old enough yet to be longing for his youth. The central heating is ancient in the house. Only half of the rooms ever really have heat. The radiators creak and moan as the hot water seeps through the pipes. The house is never as warm as he’d want it to be, but now his bones are used to the numbness.

Feverish is the house which sits quietly on the end of the road next to a cornfield. A single occupant now, although this has not always been the case. There is a stillness. Not the comforting kind. A stillness like death. The old wooden benches in the front garden rot slowly, red paint chipping like pastry. The grass knee high and wet. The boundary wall gasping for a lick of fresh paint, too. Mornings when he can’t seem to get himself out of bed come more frequently now. The tauntssunlighthim through cracked curtains, stabbing at eyes that are unwilling to open. No alarm clocks ever ring out. There’s always the sourness of sleep in his mouth. Limbs are stiff and his brain rattles with the darkness of the night. Excerpts of dreams flee from recall. The dog paces in the living room waiting for his rise. She’s the only reason he eventually gets up.

There are weeds coming up through the patio in the back garden. They appear malicious, all green and angry. The bird feeders are empty, always. He can’t remember the last time he spoke aloud to something that wasn’t a dog. In the mirror he spots himself. The mirrors eyes meet his own without compassion. Greasy hair in need of washing and a face that suggests there was no

On Thursday mornings he visits the mother. Hungover and by purpose. Her grave is a 25

sleeping done at all.

There are four bedrooms in the house. Three upstairs and one downstairs. He rarely goes upstairs at all. He sleeps downstairs in a room that used to belong to someone else. There’s a fireplace in the room which still works. It’s an old house. Often he lights it and falls asleep by firethe

walkminutefrom the house and he brings the dog with him for company. He never puts her on a lead,

On Wednesdays he gets drunk alone. Out in the back garden regardless of weather and only in the afternoon. In wintertime this means drinking cans of cider quickly in the pouring rain. He’ll lean against the house with his hood drawn up, listening to the soft raining stepping around him. In the summer months it’s a less grim affair. He sits on one of the abandoned outdoor chairs and drinks cans of beer or bottles of wine and listens to grainy music from his phone while throwing a ball for the dog. She doesn’t ever seem to mind what weather they have.

People used to say he was handsome. Briefly. He was liked. There was like a three year period of being sexually viable and then he piled on the weight as he began to drink more heavily and his face kind of began to cave in on itself and that was that. His looks withdrew from him as he withdrew from the world.


On the rare morning that he feels somewhat motivated he starts doing push ups as soon as he brushes his teeth. He can feel his outgrown stomach kissing the floor and this makes him feel even worse. He stops with the push ups after something like ten.

imagining that he was in a cave that existed long before he had to.

As a child he was terrified of the dark. He used to imagine hands reaching for him from under beds. Some nights he wouldn’t sleep at all. Now he feels most comfortable in the dark. Funny how that often goes.


There was never a wife. There was never even someone close to a wife. His hidden worldly misery eventually sprung up in such ways to scare lovers away. The low hum of despair radiated from him, despite his best efforts. When he thinks about this he isn’t sure if it makes him sad but sometimes tears do fall quietly in the dark.

The dog died as dogs do. He buried her in the back garden next to the tulips in the wild grass. It wasn’t a Wednesday then but he drank anyway, out there in the garden. He threw the ball and it just landed uneventfully in the long grass. The loneliness seeped in with the mist. There were no tears shed but they were felt. He didn’t get another dog after her.

When the better weather came and the fruits ripened you’d often see him out on the country roads picking blackberries for jams. The neck would be bright red and the back of his t shirt darkened with summer sweat. He’d stay out there right until dusk filling bowls and buckets with the bitter berries.

There was mould all over the ceiling of the only bathroom in the house. It was built before ensuite toilets came into fashion. The mould was black and presented in tiny circles which made him feel sick if he stared up at it for too long. Which he often did as he stood to attention for a piss, and on several occasions ended up getting sick into the toilet mid stream. He began drinking on Fridays as well as Wednesdays after the dog died. Now he rarely speaks out loud. There is no need to. There are no dogs to call in out of the rain. He watches late night TV in the dark alone and rarely wonders about anything in particular. The

which frustrates many of the surrounding neighbours but no one ever mentions it directly. When he visits her, he brings a small camping stool to sit on. He can’t remember whether he sadwaswhen she passed.


He never moved out of home except for college. When his father died, long before his mother, he stayed to look after her. She’d never asked him to. He knows he could have left the way the sister did. It was easier not to. It was easier to use his father’s passing as an excuse to stop living himself.


Before there’d be days when life felt more full. Before they all went away the dogs and the parents and the rest. There was hope laced in terrific sunshine across the cornfields. There were people who were happy to see him and who called often. He doesn’t know why it all changed. His back is always sore. It has been for some years. He wakes each morning with a sore jaw, and there’s always the whisper of a headache in his skull. There used to be silver in his pockets but now all he can feel is the emptiness. (Daragh Fleming)

past is locked from him by design. He just sits and eats and gets ready for bed and sleeps, over and over again. The days whirl together like some drumline march to the end. When he thinks deathof he feels nothing. Once a month he meets some old friends in a pub in town. Not on a Wednesday but he makes exceptions. These meet ups usually take place on Saturdays when there’s some sort of match on so they can all stare up communally at a TV rather than sit in awkward silence and converse face to face. He smiles and is careful only to drink as many pints as his old friends. When they ask how he’s getting on he lies. They talk of families and careers and he sits and continues to smile and listen while the void inside of him grows quietly bigger. The shower in the bathroom is so old that you can’t hear the radio when it’s turned on. An electric droning hum fills the entire house the way some smells do. It can’t keep the temperature of the water very well. Sometime he turns it on just to scream aloud in peace.



Marie is a short story writer living on the Beara Peninsula in Kerry. Her work has been published in Popshot, The Galway Review, The Blue Nib, Trasna, Spelt Magazine, Storgy and other places. In December 2021, Marie was awarded a residency at the Heinrich Boll Cottage in Achill. During her time there, she started work on the present story.


Swallows dip and swoop in sweet heart pairs but Eileen does not look up. She does not have time to look up. Speed walking past the picnic area with its scattering of sun bleached tables and chairs, she approaches a cluster of white holiday apartments stacked like dominos on the tarmacked slope overlooking the bay. A large woman in a linen shift dress appears from behind the boot of a rental car. Next to her, a boy of eight or nine years cradles a rubber shark.

‘Sure thing,’ says Gaela gazing out at the conical peak of Slievamore. ‘We’re super excited to be here. Driving along these twisty bog roads really takes me back.’

The Greenland-Shark

Bradley glides his toy shark along the garden fence then force dives it into the plastic planter, ‘Ask her now,’ he growls.

‘You must be Gaela,’ she says. ‘Welcome to Achill Island! I’m Eileen.’

‘Gaela Mc Kenzie from Portland, Oregon,’ says the woman, pumping Eileen’s hand. ‘And this here is Bradley, my grandson. I stole him away from his Mama. Honey, I said, Bradley’s going to learn far more from his travels than he’ll ever learn at school. Isn’t that right Brad?

‘Coffee?’ says Eileen, flicking the switch of the kettle.

‘Later, honey, later,’ says Gaela following Eileen into the newly cleaned, air freshened entrance hall of Fuchsia Cottage.

‘You’ve been here before then?’ says Eileen pouring milk into the blue cow creamer then

‘What about you?’ says Gaela, eyes fixed on Eileen, ‘What have you got on your bucket list?’

Eileen blows out her cheeks. ‘That’s an amazing story,’ she says. ‘I hope you’ll be very comfortable here, Gaela. All the houses have been newly decorated. The wifi pass word is written in the book. We have a café on site and there’s a pub in the village.’

‘Girl,’ says Gaela, tossing back her mane of silver hair, ‘when you get to our age, you got to kick loose, follow your own dreams.’

‘In a manner of speaking,’ says Gaela, her eyebrows shooting skyward. ‘I was married to John Joe Casey, a tinker man from Clew Bay. We had ten children. Imagine that? Ten children all born by the side of the road whilst we travelled the length and breadth of the country.’

‘Ask her about the sharks, Grandma,’ says Bradley.

32 replacing the carton in the fridge.

Eileen reaches for the coffee pot, piling in scoops of the discount brand she buys in bulk. ‘I’m not sure I’ve got a bucket list,’ she says.

not strictly true,’ says Eileen, ‘We have a few basking shark, nothing to worry about though, they’re not dangerous.’

Gaela pulls an amused face. ‘Honey,’ she says. ‘This is Ireland. They’re not going to have any sharks.’‘That’s

She gives a slow motion shrug. ‘I found that out the first time I did a past life regression. Ever since then, Ireland’s been top of my bucket list.’

Eileen fakes an indulgent smile. ‘Better dash,’ she says, rinsing the coffee cups. ‘Have a lovely stay. Call reception if you need anything.’

Bradley cracks a chubby fingered knuckle. ‘One time, Marsha took me to a pool with killer sharks. I was there when they threw in a dead seal and the sharks ripped it apart.’

‘Greenland sharks,’ says Bradley, making pincers of his fingers and snapping at the curtains.

‘What’s so special about Greenland sharks?’ says Eileen, straightening the cushions.

‘Yea, Marsha says they smell real bad.’


‘And they’ve got worms hanging from their eyelids which feed on their blood and turn them blind,’ says Bradley, draping himself along the back of the sofa.

Gaela gulps some coffee. ‘Marsha says they live up to five hundred years. Imagine that? Five hundred years swimming in the deepest, darkest waters on the planet. Weeks and months spent without food, without company, endlessly circling the same frozen waters. Keepers, according to Inuit legend, of the Goddesses very own piss pot.’

Eileen imagines an immense weight of water bearing down on her, squeezing the air out of her lungs. ‘Really?’ she says, giving herself a shake.

‘That’s gross. Eileen doesn’t want to hear about parasitic worms.’

‘She does too.’ He swings around to face her, retracting his eyeballs, eyelids fluttering.

‘That’s his Mama,’ says Gaela, ‘she’s writing a book about North Sea Sharks.’

‘Your rose coloured glasses,’ says Gaela, dangling Eileen’s pink glasses case in front of her ample bosom. Then she laughs, this big, outrageous, happy laugh.

‘Eoin,’ she calls to her husband, ‘Come quick!’

A speedy glance at her phone confirms she is running late. She must switch on the hot water in Number Three and there’s something else. She’s sure of it. Something she’s forgetting.

As she spins around, the heel of her shoe slips sideways shooting pain up through her Achilles tendon. She grasps the fence post sucking air as Gaela’s full moon face swims in an out of focus.

It occurs to Eileen, in that hazy split second, that Gaela has hacked into her mind.


‘What?’ she whispers.

She’s halfway down the gravel path when Gaela calls from the window. ‘Hey Eileen, wait up!’

‘Girl,’ says Gaela, ‘you’re forgetting something.’

Later that afternoon, as she’s gazing out the window at reception Eileen sees something the size of her neighbours guinea pig slink along the back wall.

‘What is it?’ says Eoin, emerging from the toilet cubicle, hair dishevelled, clutching hold of an electric drill.

‘There’s a rat!’

‘Calm down Eileen. There’s no rat. All the bait boxes were topped up last week.’

‘Oh for fecks sake,’ he barks as the drill shoots a screw off sideways.

‘Hey lady,’ says Gaela, breezing through the door. ‘I thought I might find you here! How about a crazy night out? There’s a session in Clancy’s bar tomorrow evening. I’m going buy me


‘Cause I am your lady, you are my man. Whenever you reach for me, I’ll do all that I can.’

In her mind’s eye, Eileen sees the girl some six months later. Dressed in cream lace, hands clasped over the swell of her belly as she waddles up the aisle. She remembers the occasion well. Waving goodbye to her school friends as they headed off to college, with this smug sense of satisfaction that she had her man, her life was sorted.

There is a flaw in his logic. Before she can point it out, he’s darted off in search of a bigger drill bit. She sinks heavily into the office chair. When the radio plays a song from her youth, she sings along.

Closing her eyes against the glare of the sun, she listens to the drone of voices on the radio, the whine of Eoin’s drill as he mounts the new toilet roll holder in the jacks.

Swallowing two pain killers with the last dregs of tea, Eileen allows herself to wonder, for a brief moment, what might have happened if she had simply missed the disco bus.

An image swims to mind of herself at eighteen; stubborn chin, smoky eye liner, straight hair tonged wavy for a night out in Westport. Squeezing her solid, country girl thighs into her sister’s denim mini then tearing down to the Sound just as the bus was pulling away.

‘Eoin, stop,’ says Eileen, feeling her stomach contract. ‘That’s a horrible story.’

‘Let him be, Eileen,’ says Gaela, with a delighted bellow, ‘He’s connecting with his inner hunter.’

On her way home from work, Eileen picks up some mince from Supervalu on the Sound. As she’s chopping onions, a waft of something nasty hits her airways. Thinking it might

‘You should bring him over to Keem,’ says Eoin. ‘Shark fishing was huge there in the 50’s. They’d pay one of the young lads to keep watch from the cliff, then when he spotted a shark the men would row out in a curragh and stab it to death. There was big money in shark oil.’

one of those cute Irish drums and beat the hell out of it. What do you say?

‘Likewise,’ he says, shaking plaster dust off his pants, ‘Is that your son I saw at the boat pond?

‘That’s my grandson,’ she says, ‘he’s taking his shark for a swim.’

‘Why not,’ says Eileen, flushing with pleasure. ‘I could do with a night out.’

‘Gaela, this is Eoin, my husband,’ says Eileen, as she glimpses Eoin hovering in the door well.

Gaela looks him up and down. ‘Wonderful to meet you sir,’ she says.


‘Wonderful!’ says Gaela. ‘Back home, I started up a women’s drumming circle right after I divorced Marcia’s father. You won’t believe the transformation…’

‘EEEKKK!’ says, Eoin, creeping up behind her and squeaking in her ear.

Drifting in and out of a fitful sleep, Eileen hears the scrabble of bats under the eaves, footsteps leading down to Silver Strand. Tomorrow she’ll call the plumber, best ring him early

be the compost, she swills out the bin with bleach. But then, as she loading the dishwasher it’s there again, stronger this time and more putrid. Peering into the cupboard under the sink, she removes two tins of dried up polish, a rusting can of air freshener, a box of soap flakes which crumples in her hand and an assortment of rags. Once the shelves are empty she’s sees the backboard is black with mould, a small platoon of wood lice feeding on the rotten wood. Her thoughts drifts to Gaela. What would Gaela make of this dank, dirty cupboard? She pictures Gaela shaking her head from side to side and feels herself shrivel.


‘Stop Eoin,’ she says, scrambling to her feet.

‘That’s tomorrow night,’ she says. She considers telling him she’s sick of house work, cooking, watching other people enjoy their holidays whilst she herself cannot manage a day off. That Gaela, crazy Gaela might just be the one person in the world who can spark her back to life, then she bites her lip.

‘What’s for dinner?’ says Eoin, oblivious to the well spring of emotion bubbling under his wife’s‘Youcardy.can heat something up yourself,’ she says, swallowing her pills. ‘I’m all done in.’

‘I thought you were heading out with the crazy lady,’ he says, throwing himself down on the bench.

before he leaves for the job in Castlebar. Really, she should set a reminder on her phone only she hasn’t the energy to peel herself from the sheets. When she shunts onto her back, her lips emit a gentle snore, bubbles stream from her nostrils. Transfixed, she watches them shoot upwards like a volley of sparks. She watches for some time then her thoughts veer off. She thinks of the geometry set she had at school, the set square, compass and ruler all kept in a dented tin

After breakfast next morning she pops two pills, buckles her sandal a notch looser then makes her way to the car. Some twenty minutes later she finds herself standing outside the front door of Fuchsia Cottage. She knocks, waits an appropriate length of time, then knocks


that she now finds herself at the centre point of a circle, that a radius of twenty odd metres connects her to this hideous gape mouthed creature swimming slow rotations. Transfixed, she watches the beat of its tail propel its lumpen body round and round. It veers nearer. She sees its eyes glazed over, the battered, pock marked marbling of its carcass. Recalling Eoin’s words, she imagines the slick of oil in its liver, the stink of its spilled guts. How long, she wonders, has this poor creature been swimming in these frozen waters? Since she was a baby? Since her mother was a baby and hers too? Pondering the futility of its endless circling, she feels an immense weight of water bearing down on her, pushing her deeper and deeper into the sandy bottom. Surrendering herself to the force, she listens to the roar of the ocean, the rush of water in the cistern. Some minutes later, her husband emerges from the en suite and stumbles into bed.


Instead, she takes the master key from her handbag and lets herself in. ‘Anybody home?’ she calls, her eyes adjusting to the gloomy half light cast by the closed curtains. A book on the coffee table reveals passages highlighted in marker. Eileen peers at the cover picture of a woman with rattlesnake hair. Someone, whose name carries weight, urges women everywhere to embrace the dark goddess. Whatever that means, Eileen thinks, stumbling over the rubber body of a prostrate shark. Whatever that means.


again. No response. At this point she knows she should simply post the sea life brochure she’s dug out for Brad and walk away, that this is the logical, rational thing to do.

Slowly, deliberately, she makes her way to the staircase, standing on the first tread, then the second, then the third. Before she knows it she is sitting on the edge of Gaela’s unmade bed. The linen dress Gaela wore when she arrived lies crumpled in the corner. Eileen resists the urge to fold and put it away, to plump up the pillows and open the window. Instead, she sits on the bed looking out at a configuration of grey clouds shot with the occasional burst of sunshine. She thinks of the years she’s spent cleaning rooms like this. How the money she’s earned put Eoin Junior through college, how this is something to be proud of, an achievement.

On the bedside locker there’s a deck of cards with skulls and shovels on the box. Without thinking very much, she gives them a shuffle. The card she eventually pulls out reveals a moonlit tower. In the foreground, heads thrown back, two dogs give vent to their misery. But no, on closer inspection, she’s not convinced they are dogs. There’s something shaggy and unkempt about the creature on the right. Might the shaggy, wolf like one be Eoin and the other herself?

Hobbling back to reception, she’s overcome with an intense longing to bathe her swollen ankle. Before she can talk herself out of it, she is back in the driving seat puttering along the track to the shore. Pulling up on a grassy verge, she turns off the engine, and looks out at the headland. A heron charts a solitary course across the open sky, the beat of its wings amplified in the stilly morning air. Winding her way through dune grasses, surrounded by the chirruping of crickets, Eileen has the odd sensation that she is free floating, hovering somewhere above her actual body.Asshe

Go away, she thinks. Whoever you are, whatever you want. It rings again. She sees that Eoin has left three voice messages. At 9.20, ‘Eileen, what’s going on? Twenty minutes later,

approaches the foreshore, the sulphuric stench of egg assaults her nostrils . A cloud of black flies hang suspended over a carpet of rotting sea weed. Sidestepping the wreckage, she scrambles over an outcrop of barnacle encrusted rock. When she reaches the water’s edge, she rolls up her trousers and takes off her sandals. Edging forward, she feels the shock of cold as the waves roll in, sucking the pain from her ankle, drawing it out to sea. Then her phone rings.


Her ankle throbs. The throb comes in small, dizzying bursts pulsing to the rhythm of her beating heart. Closing her eyes, she rests back against the pillow raising her left leg on the bed frame. Through the open window she can hear birds singing, the smug, self satisfied voice of the woman from Number Eight giving out about phone reception on the island. Catapulted to a more prosaic version of the present, Eileen jolts herself upright. What the hell is she playing at? What if Gaela were to return and find her stretched on the bed?

‘Exciting news!’ says Gaela, ‘I got a call from a TV network back home. They want to


She waits for her diaphragm to contract, the pressure to build in her chest. While she’s waiting she wades deeper letting the sea soak the roll of her pants then creep higher, caressing her bottom the way Eoin did that first night. Some distance ahead, a seal breaks the surface then dips back under. Its gleaming grey body puts her in mind of the dream she had. Being suspended like a baby in the womb, whilst this vile piss pot creature, this aberration of nature swam circles around her. She casts back in her mind for the terror this must have provoked and draws a blank. Clearly the dream meant something, but what? The question buzzes in her mind like a troublesome fly then flits away.

‘Eileen, where are you?’ Then at 11 o’clock, ‘Eileen, my darling girl, are you OK?’

Eileen turns to see the long stretch of water that now separates her from the shore. A glint of light from the top of the dunes catches her eye, making her blink. A man with binoculars raises his hand by way of salute then shuffles off. The indignation she feels at this surveillance carries her as far as the car then falters. Recalling the sight she must present alone, fully dressed, edging out to sea, she resists the urge to shout and tell him she’s OK. It’s not what heDrivingthinks.past

‘Everything OK?’ says Eileen, pulling over by the kerb.

Fuchsia Cottage on her way back to work, she sees Gaela struggling to squeeze her suitcase into the boot.

‘Eileen,’ she shouts, waving her hand. ‘The very woman!’

Gaela slams the boot closed. ‘Brad, honey. You want a last minute pee pee?’

‘Thank you, lady,’ he says, not bothering to look up.

‘You got something to say to the lady?’

Eileen watches the white Fiesta disappear over the brow of the hill. The two bags of rubbish left outside the front door have not been tied. She observes this in a distant, disconnected way, as if it doesn’t hugely matter whether dogs or even rats go at it. Then she

‘What about our night out?’ says Eileen, in a small, hollow rasp.

‘No ma am,’ he says.

Gaela heaves herself into the driving seat. ‘Well Eileen, I’m real glad you drove by. Eoin called around looking for you. Seems to me like you got a good man there, hon.’

Gaela shrugs her shoulders. ‘I guess it wasn’t meant to be,’ she says. ‘I’m sure we’ll be back real soon though.’‘Notthat soon,’ says Bradley. ‘Next year she’s taking me to India. They got river sharks swimming in the Ganges.’

‘Gaela,’ says Eileen, her face impassive, ‘What does the moon card mean in the skull and shovel

her nose, ‘Honey, the moon tarot means you got to trust your intuition, plain and simple. Ain’t no one else going to show you the road home!’

feature me in a show they’re running on psychics.’




(Marie O’Shea)

thinks of the shark swimming endless circles in the depths of the ocean. Drawing the dream shark to her heart like a secret, golden talisman, Eileen considers the day ahead. Will she ring Eoin, suggest they drive over to Keem and get a bite to eat? Yes she thinks, her hands fluttering as she taps in his number, high time she kicked loose, let her hair down. She can’t remember the last time she took a spin around the island.


Sydney has been teaching high school for 30 years and his main hobbies are writing and playing folk music. He has lived in several different countries in Europe and America.


Wind is from the north at last Changed from summer’s soothing balm. The leaves resist the icy blast Stubborn stalks with fiery charm.

Of laden yellow leaf

Each little golden pinnate shakes

Fall Leaves

As wind bites sharply at its shape, And to the air it wildly takes, Flying, trying to escape Tumbling, spinning for a while, Rises slowly, drops like tears.

Spreads a sorry carpet now Of summer come to grief. (Sydney Peck)


A final fling for another mile Then falls to rest with all its peers.

Widely under this fall bough

Who hasn’t watched boats bobbing in the shallows Restlessly pulling at their slack tethers in the softly breaking waves? They are live things with souls that stretch out to the horizon, And feel happiest with the splash of deep saltwater against their cheeks. Their boards shrink with dry sun and shelter, paint peels, For they need to swell their flesh in life giving pitch and roll And fill their sails with hopeful energy, their tillers leaning hard Against the tide, and ropes taut as bowstrings, heading home,

Arrow straight, as geese in a late autumn sky, before sunset. (Sydney Peck)


Flock of Boats

People appear and disappear for a moment

Fog Grey fingers soft as a pickpocket’s Kingdom of the blind

Ghost visitors to the realm

Steal in and out, And are lost.

With no one eyed man

Are the only assurance

That sooner or later

Feet pressed to the ground

The robbed land will reappear

And the abdication of the sun will end. (Sydney Peck)


Five books of Richard’s have been published by Lapwing Publications



Our world but a grain until death

Amongst all that there is Harbours precious breath

But amazing Earth

Stars and planets

Magnetic fields and poles

Understanding the strands


In deserts and sands

Sinister mega black holes

My early writing (but I didn’t start writing until after age 50) tended to be a little insular, reflective, based on dawning realizations and tinged with degrees of sadness and bitterness. Amongst that writing was this poem taken from Metaphysical Flaw (ISBN 978 1 907276 81 1) about our relative insignificance as human beings in the vastness of the universe.

Dust and gas

Mighty galaxies

Molecular clouds

By commander or killer

Men mindlessly ordered

Into a


No mercy shown

To charge blindly


Most of my writing is probably intense. The third collection contrasts various differing lives on Earth and explores ideas on afterlife. From Will Your Spirit Fly? (ISBN 978 1 909252 10 3):


And said "There's every chance you're going to be strong"

Time for a few basic checks

That her mind and heart should care

She hoped he'd pass by again before long

He removed his medical gloves

Tossed them into the clinical bin

That she'd noticed his very qualities

With a smile, "You're doing well"

Assured and relaxed as he went about his work

The fourth and fifth (sequel) collections together comprise a fictional story in verse, centring on a woman who encounters some bad luck in life which shatters her happiness and then how her life develops. From Touch Wood (ISBN 978 1 910855 29 4):

A sensitive man under a weathered face

With a sense of humour befitting a nut case

His eyes were kind and well meaning

Beside her vital readings he made some notes

A male nurse pulled back the curtain

Her sense of the morning's gift reinforced

She found it amazing given her state

Her spirits soared above her wretched infirmities

It was time for a heart to heart

(Richard Brooks)

He was stood by the window

She walked in with trickles running down her cheeks

He'd done the impossible, he'd made her laugh

From the sequel Wood For The Trees (ISBN 978 1 8384398 4 2):

A yellow bucket below technology's graph

To find out what's going on and how she feels

The episode had made her cry

Maybe restore their positive vibes


He wouldn't be swayed by her tears though

To see if she knew she'd been unkind

Then said, "I'll kick it because you can't"

To relax, allow the problem to unwind

All he wanted to know was why

To see what's on her mind

Staring towards the sky

Happy reading, good health, and keep creating,

The cost of living crisis caused by many factors from war, deliberate manipulation of prices, crop failures and delays in shipping has affected us all even we are feeling the pinch. Prices have gone up across the board from out electric to our website as well as the cost of our hard copy editions these are all factors outside our control. PEECHO which covers the hard copy issues has managed to keep its prices the same for the entire time we’ve used them but due to the rising costs they’ve had to increase prices as well which meant our prices went up. If these issues continue, I may well have to consider the future of the hard copy edition as we’ve tried to keep it as cheap as possible.



Still this issue has some amazing work from poetry to prose and a great range of voices, every time I think I cannot learn something new I’m disproven, long may that continue. I’m deeply troubled and disappointed over the death of Mahsa Amini, a Kurdish Iranian woman, we’ve published several Iranian women as well as Turkish Kurds, Syrian Kurds and Iranian Kurds, some of those used their work to address how women are treated and seen in places like Iran.

Amos Greig (Editor)

Due to cost factors Lapwing cannot offered authors ‘complimentary’ copies. What we do offer is to supply authors with copies at cost price. We hold very few copies in the knowledge that requests for hard copies are rarely received.

Lapwing, being a not for profit poetry publisher has likewise had to adjust to the new regime.


The figures given a few years ago were: we had 5000 bookshops in the UK Ireland and at the time of the research that number had dropped to 900 and falling: there was a period when bookshops had the highest rate of ‘High Street’ shop closures.


Over the past number of years technology has transformed poetry publishing: shop closures due to increasing operational costs has had an impact, to put it mildly, shops are releuctant to take ‘slow moving’ genre such as poetry and play scripts among other minority interest genre.

It has been a well known fact that many poets will sell more of their own work than the bookshops, Peter Finch of the Welsh Academi noted fact that over forty years ago and Lapwing poets have done so for years.

Another important element is our Lapwing Legacy Library which holds all our retained titles since 1988 in PDF at £4.00 per title: the format being ‘front cover page full content pages back cover page’.

We had a Google Books presence until that entity ended its ‘open door’ policy in favour of becoming a publisher itself. During that time with Google, Lapwing attracted hundreds of thousands of sample page ‘hits’. Amazon also has changed the ‘game’ with its own policies and strategies for publishers and authors. There are no doubt other on line factors over which we have no control.

Poetry publishers can also fall foul of ‘on consignment’ practice, which means we supply a seller but don’t get paid until books have been sold and we can expect unsold books to be returned, thus ‘remaindered’ and maybe not sellable, years can pass! Distributors can also seek as much as 51% of cover price IF.they choose to handle a poetry book at all, shops too can require say 35% of the cover price, which is ok given floor space can be thousands of £0000s per square foot per annum..In terms of ‘hidden’ costs: preparing a work for publication can cost a few thousand UK £ stg. Lapwing does it as part of our sevice to our suthors.

Email: 9781916345775_Somervillemcgrath.niall@hotmail.comLargeGILLIAN LAZY BEDS

9781916345782_Gohorry & Lane COVENTRY CRUCIBLE

Mr.Halperin lives in Paris France



Email: 9781838439842_Email:Mr9781838439835_Dillonlennonfinbar@hotmail.comPaulTWHISPERDillonlivesintheRepublicofIrelandptjdillon@gmail.comBrooksRichardWOOD

Thanks also to our authors from ‘home’ and around the world for entrusting Lapwing with their valuable contributions to civilisation.

All titles are £10.00 stg. plus postage from the authors via their email address. PDF versions are available from Lapwing at £4.00 a copy, they are printable for private, review and educational purposes.

Email: 9781838439897_Murbachbernidwan@gmail.comEsther

This format is printable as single pages: either the whole book or a favourite page.

Email: Mr9781916345751_McGrathesther.murbach@gmx.chNiallSHEDMcGrathlivesinCountyAntrimNorthern Ireland, UK

Esther Murbach lives in Switzerland though she also spends time in Galway

I thank Adam Rudden for the great work he has done over the years creating and managing this web site.

9781838439828_Lennon Finbar NOW

9781838439804_Halperin Richard W. DALLOWAY IN WISCONSIN


Mr McManus lives in the Republic of Ireland


If you wish to seek publication please send you submission in MW Word docx format.

Email: halperin8@wanadoo.fr


Email: 9781838439880_Dwankevinmcmanus1@hotmail.comBerni

9781838439873_McManus Kevin THE HAWTHORN TREE

Mr Brooks lives in England 9781838439866_GarveyEmail:richard.brooks3@btinternet.comUKAlanINTHE

Berni Dwan lives in the Republic of Ireland

9781838439811_Halperin Richard W. SUMMER NIGHT 1948 9781838439859_Halperin Richard W. GIRL IN THE RED CAPE

Mr Lennon lives in the Republic of Ireland




Mr Lane lives in England UK and due to the recent death of Mr Gohorry Mr Lane will be the contact for this publication:

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