ISSN 2053-6119 (Print) ISSN 2053-6127 (Online)
Featuring the works of Simon Ferris Gordon Ferris, Anne Britting Oleson Jak Laight, Peter Oâ€™neill, Steve Klepetar, Val McLoughlin , Jack Grady, Al Millar, Alistair Graham, Roisin Browne, Rehan Qayoom, Omar Baz Radwan and James Boyd Hard copies can be purchased from our website.
Issue No 43 April 2016
A New Ulster On the Wall Website
Editor: Amos Greig Editor: Arizahn Editor: Adam Rudden Contents
The Shepherds Call
Gordon Ferris 1. 2. 3. 4. 5. 6.
Portrait of an Introvert Dreamvisit Dream Tell Me Love is Waiting
Anne Britling Oleson; 1. Having 2. Handwritten 3. Imbolc Peter Oâ€™Neill 1.
Opening five verses of Mare Nostrum
Al Millar; 1. Run Close wee Sitka 2. Squelchy hip Jak Laight; 1. Greg Steve Klepetar; 1. Body of Knowledge 2. A Wintry Mind 3. No One Listens 4. No Bad Weather 5. When You Stop Val McLoughlin; 1. Day Trippers 2. Belleek 3. Dispossessed 4. Early September 5. Stolid River
Jack Grady; 1. The Respite 2. Why Good Girls Love Bad Boys 3. Adam in Search of Eve 4. Sacred and Profane 5. Emancipated Jonah Alistair Graham; 1. Prohibition Roisin Browne; 1. 2. 3. 4.
I am, Skellig Ballinskelligs The rearing being done Tim Green on asking my ancestry
On The Wall Message from the Alleycats
Round the Back Rehan Qayoom; 1 Smoke & Mirrors Omar Baz Radwan; 1. Beirut- City of Man 2. the Self, the Crows, the Stillness, the Bodies, the Other, the End James Boyd; 1 Remembering John Herivel 2 Entropy or $ 3 Walking to Breakfast with Philip Larkin 4 Going too far with Robert Harbison Sloan 5 Skimming Stones at Moelfre 6 Blue Moons or Quarks Ascending
Manuscripts, art work and letters to be sent to: Submissions Editor A New Ulster 23 High Street, Ballyhalbert BT22 1BL Alternatively e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org See page 50 for further details and guidelines regarding submissions. Hard copy distribution is available c/o Lapwing Publications, 1 Ballysillan Drive, Belfast BT14 8HQ Digital distribution is via links on our website: https://sites.google.com/site/anewulster/ Published in Baskerville Oldface & Times New Roman Produced in Belfast & Ballyhalbert, Northern Ireland. All rights reserved The artists 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) Cover Image â€œBaptismâ€? by Amos Greig 4
“Although only breath, words which I command are Immortal ” Sappho. Editorial
Welcome explorer to the April edition of A New Ulster together we will discover some of the amazing talent out there from haiku through to short stories. April is International Write A Poem Month and the 28th is a date to keep a watch for as well. Recently we have been inundated with poetry days which isn’t a bad thing. I’ll keep this editorial short and sweet so as not to distract from the poetry and prose presented within this months edition. We have prose and traditional poetry formats for you to explore I am just a gatekeeper and today the door is open once more. Enough pre-amble! Onto the creativity! Amos Greig
Biographical Note: Simon Ferris
Simon is a writer based in Donegal. He has previously had a piece of short fiction published in "A New Ulster" issue #39, and has had various articles published on several online publications.
The Shephard’s Call Nobody I know is happy, really genuinely happy…I can hear the skin crack when they smile, see the niggling look of vague disappointment in their faces. All kinds of people, lovely ones, bastards, generally confused and lost people like myself; not one of us is any better off than the other. Was that not the point? To climb as high as we could, be the best we can be and all that shite. Step over the competition, our own grandmothers if need be. For Christ sake that’s the Ireland I grew up in. Take what you can get and damn the rest. I thought if I did everything right than I would have what I wanted. So I did the whole ‘get a trade’ bit, carpentry being the trade in question. I assumed it was solid, necessary. But when I finished it turned out, actually, carpenters aren’t so necessary anymore. No thanks, Ikea will do. So I did odd jobs for a while and made ends meet. Eventually it became clear I wasn’t going to get what I wanted anyway, because what I thought I wanted was very little to do with me personally and more to do with external pressures. Family, friends, peers, and particularly the education system were set-up to further me down a road that I was neither sure I wanted, nor ready for. It turns out I don’t know what I actually want; and it feels like failure. I’m not the only one, in fact I sort of think we’re all in the same shit-swamp really, some swim better than others and I just happen to be one of the one’s sinking. That disillusionment and struggle breed’s desperation and in me an unmerciful envy, I would do anything to feel better than everyone around me. ***
Desperate times call for desperate measures. It struck me that maybe I shouldn’t fight against how backwards things are, maybe I should embrace it. My Uncle Jerry’s always thought he’s better than everyone else. He’s never been short a penny, doesn’t appear to want for anything in, he’s as backward as they come and he’s fucking loving it. So I’m going to take a leaf out of his book and join the Priesthood. If only I’d embraced this sooner. I gave Jerry a call; he’s a Parish Priest he’s bound to be able to pull a few strings. “I’ve been doing a bit of thinking Jerry, there’s always been something missing in my life and I think maybe its God, or rather a vocation…something bigger than me to give my life to. I want to do something about that while I’m still young enough ya know?” Oh did he buy it, “Well I can’t say I hear people of your age saying that too often, come around after lunch tomorrow Peter.” He said. “I have a meeting but we can have a cup of tea after, say hello to Dermot for me.” I will indeed, dad hates him. “That bastard’s had it easy, there I was getting pulled by the ear out of School to get a job and bring money into the house, but saint Jerry had ‘the calling’ so no work for him.” He once spat at me over stew and spuds. “Not two shite’s did he give about the Church, it was handier than what the rest of us had to do.” That sounds good to me, a sight better this feeling like a failure. The Priest’s escape everything, no matter what troubles came to my house the parochial house went untouched. Nobody ever asks a Priest “What are ya up to these days?” I somehow doubt my uncle has ever felt awkward or embarrassed about having to explain the value of him existing at all, or the helpless feeling of being judged a waster for not knowing exactly what you want to do, or worse still having what you want to do being judged a waste of time,
therefore making you a waster anyway. Being a Priest is like a vaccine against against social judgement. *** Its two o’clock, he’ll be back from his meeting. I catch a glimpse of Jerrys Mercedes as I push my bicycle up the parochial house driveway. He’s had an upgrade since I last saw him at Dad’s birthday. I can see myself in one of those. I knock hard on the towering white door, an old lady answers “How are ya? I’m here to see Uncle Jerry.” She looks me up a down, doesn’t look too impressed. “Come this way.” She says through clenched teeth. The grumpy so and so leads me through a high ceilinged hallway; the stairs are to the right. Fairly swanky digs, there are Grande paintings of himself on the walls, lugging the cross along on his back. Getting the thorns put into his head and all that, before the days of Panadol too. For a carpenter he didn’t seem too bothered by the state of the cross. The lady taps on and then opens a dark mahogany door, and leads me into the living room. Jerrys sitting in a sequenced armchair, left leg crossed over the right. Brendan, another Priest and ‘friend’ of the family is standing with his coat on. I remember the first time I encountered Brendan; or rather my retinas haven’t yet recovered. For he is a bright shade of orange, the staff working down in Boots would be put to shame. My father’s always been quite suspicious of his little brothers relationship with Brendan, not that he’s old fashioned or anything but you know, the whole Priest aspect of it. “It’s hard to separate those two, too hard if ya ask me. You rarely see one without the other. The way myself and your mother were years ago.” He once confided to me over soup and spuds. 10
“How are you Peter?” Brendan cries, cheery-eyed and slappable-faced; before I know it he’s in front of me with the big orange hand outstretched. “Not too bad now, how’s yourself?” “Oh fine, fine, can’t complain.” He nods and smiles towards Jerry. “We’ve just been doing a bit of shopping. It’s never too early to sort Christmas out. You know yourself.” I do in my hole; it’ll be deodorant sets all round this year unless I start shiting money. “Oh yeah, comes quicker every year Brendan.” He picks up a half dozen shopping bags from the couch, tidy little boutique bags, and the best of the high street shop brands. “Listen Jerry I’ll give you a wee call later.” Brendan again nods and smiles in his direction, then turns to me. “It was great to see ya Peter, great, say hello to your dad for me won’t you.” You’re a popular man today Dermot. “I will of course, see ya now.” As he walks out he holds the living room door open for ‘Old Hag’ to enter stage right, she must have missed me. “Now will there be anything else Father Cosgrave?” She asks politely while leaving a tray with a silver teapot, two cups and saucers and a plate of biscuits down on a small coffee table. The table is between the armchair and couch. “No thank you Bridget.” Bridget isn’t two seconds out the door before Jerry speaks. “Sit down Peter. I’ll pour the tea.” So I do, on the couch. At home I’d not be so quick to oblige but there’s something different when it comes to these feckers. “Thanks, long old ride from Blanch’ to Sandymount.” He uncrosses his legs and leans forward to pour the tea; he pours it slowly and raises the teapot even slower, no dripping this is a man used to entertaining the riff-raff. He ignores my attempt at small-talk. “I’m not entirely sure why you’re here. But I’m afraid you’re barking up the wrong tree. Whatever you’re after you’ll be disappointed Peter.” No use pretending now so. “Come on now Jerry sure you’ve got it better than anyone I know,
I’m only asking you to point in the right direction, you know, show me where to sign up and I’ll do the rest.” He leans closer to the coffee table again and puts a saucer in front of me, then the cup. He’s laughing. “It’s not that easy Peter, surely you suspected that.” He continues before I can answer. “This country has changed a lot in recent times, in both good and bad ways but for the Church I must say…it has been bad for the most part. The numbers coming out to mass have dropped significantly year after year.” “Ah right, and that affects you around the wallet area does it?” I take a sip of tea, not a bad cuppa. He ignores that comment, quite accomplished at selective hearing my uncle. “Spiritual life, the rewards it brings; are just not there anymore. This community and most others are getting further and further from the Church. When I started, society reflected the Church; community was important, vital even. Yes there were negatives, things I personally disagreed with but still, there was a community. That has all but gone from the Church. That dynamic reversed and the Church, frankly, has utterly failed reflect its society.” He’s smiling now, at the floor. “If you had come to me four or five years ago I might have been glad to help you. As it is I couldn’t even if I wanted to, which I don’t by the way.” Jerry looks up at me when he says the last part. I don’t want to say he looks smug but what other way is there of putting it, he’s glad to have said it because he thinks it hurt. “Brendan and I are retiring. Well quitting, walking away, whatever you want to call it. The world is changing and the Church simply isn’t, and for us at least that’s simply not enough anymore.” “What will ya do now?” I can’t see Jerry and Brendan behind the till at Lidl, maybe the make-up counter at Boot’s for Brendan but what about poor Jerry he’s never worked a day in
his life. “We’ve been planning this for a while, we’ll be fine. We have a nice little property out in Swords ready to move into…it was a holiday home but it will do just fine.” I shift about on the couch; that smacked my bollock a bit…a nice luxury to have. They were milking the holy teat for all it was worth, and there’s not a drop left for the likes of myself. Another thing dad once said to me, over boilin’ bacon and spuds, was “If the sheep are running for cover, bring your umbrella. But if the Shepherds packed it in its last orders for sure, and by Christ it is time to go.” “Right, it’s a bit drastic though Jerry don’t you think? I mean you’ve been doing this for forty odd years.” Part of me feels bad for him; he must be as lost as I am in a way. Then again I can’t help feeling what he’s not getting out of his ‘vocation’ anymore, is money rather than anything else. “Yes, I suppose it is. But in those forty years The Church itself hasn’t significantly adapted at all. Clerical abuse reports, refusal to let Women join the Priesthood, attitudes towards marriage and the many backward notions on that front have made me doubt the Church, not God you understand but the Organisation of the Catholic Church itself.” Well twist my nipples and call me sally, this man should have gone into politics. I don’t know what to say. “You calling me surprised me Peter; you’re part of an entirely new generation, a new world. A flawed one yes, but let’s face it a far less flawed one than the generation myself and your father are from. I can’t help wonder why you want to be a part of this old world when you have a new one at your feet.” He sips his tea; this isn’t going to plan at all. “Why did you invite me here then Jerry? I don’t understand why you’re telling me all of this.” Is he just trying to put me off, I don’t know what to think. “You’re my nephew, Dermot is my brother. We’re not close, he thinks I chose
this life for convenience and he may be right, at that time it was one of few options, and sure it was more convenient than most.” “I don’t know you particularly well Peter, and I regret that. But I want to tell you that realising at almost sixty years old that my choice of what to do with my life has cost me forty years and that has not been an easy realisation to come to. What it has cost, you don’t want to lose.” “Well thanks, I think. What has it cost though? Things are in the shit, excuse the French but they really are. I did what I was supposed to and I’ve gotten nowhere.” Jerry leans back into the armchair. “I did what I thought I was supposed to, and look where I am. I don’t know my brother, my sister in-law, you, my two nieces. The companion I’ve had in life the Church won’t, can’t…and as it stands, will never accept. I can’t tell you what to do with your life but this is not it, not now, not today.” I’ve never really spoken to Jerry. I sort of had this character in my head; probably from the way we talk about him at home. The person in front of me isn’t at all what I thought he would be. “I don’t know what I want, it’s strange but I’ve never thought about what I want. It’s mostly what I think I should want…you know, like I need to have what other people want for themselves, or what they want for me.” “You’re still young; at least you know this now when you have plenty of time to figure that out. I’m at a completely different stage of my life, I’m not thinking about ‘what to do’ with my life anymore. But I understand, I mean to say I remember what that feels like. Give yourself a break, never mind what anyone else thinks or wants you to do. You might think I’m mad but one day you may wonder why you were so hard on yourself about these things, why you didn’t spend more time pursuing a well-rounded life rather than focusing on one path, I know I wish I hadn’t been so obsessed with one-track.” 14
He has a point, I must admit. I came here expecting to encounter a robot who could quote the bible while picking my pocket but instead I’ve encountered a real human being, flawed and introspective. All the times I’ve spoken to my family, friends and career guidance counsellors I’ve come away feeling misunderstood, occasionally feeling completely ignored. Jerry’s watching me closely now; I think he can tell I’m surprised. “Listen Peter I’m here for two more weeks, then I’m moving out to Swords but you are welcome any time to come around for tea and a chat, I would like to help you, and get to know you better. It might do us both some good don’t you think?” “Yeah, I suppose it might, Thanks.”
Biographical Note: Gordon Ferris
Gordon Ferris, is a 58 year old Dublinman living in Ballyshannon in Co Donegal. Gordon has had a story in issue 41 of A New Ulster and poetry in a Sligo magazine called Hidden Channel.
The following poems are dedicated to my daughter Sarah â€“ Gordon Ferris PORTRAIT OF AN INTROVERT (Gordon Ferris)
You cut your steak into neat little pieces,
And eat your meal systematically one item at a time,
Meat first, potatoes next, moving them into neat piles,
And then on to the veg eaten with head bowed,
Never gazing across the table at your partner,
Everywhere but there,
Eyes darting from side to side,
To get a hint at how to behave.
With fingers brushing hair away
You glance at your inner mirror
Carried within you at all times
To see how you think youâ€™re viewed by the world.
DREAM VISIT. (Gordon Ferris) Itâ€™s always in these halfway places When night is not yet over Or day has yet began. When sense of ones departed Monetarily appears again.
It's in this dreamlike state When nothing yet seems real Unsure of where you want to be Familiar scent that canâ€™t be here. Yet seems for sure its She.
Dream. (Gordon Ferris) I must go and visit dad in hospital this evening Got one of his routine check-ups there God what am I thinking he's been gone five years He pops into my head now and then Anytime, anywhere, not even in familiar places or associated times But out of the blue he arrives, To warn of paths I take, are just dark alleys With broken stone and crooked way. And he has the only path to follow.
Tell me (Gordon Ferris) Tell me what direction youâ€™re going? What demons are going with you Is it just a way of not committing Keeping it distant, keep it within. Tell me why you shout at the wind And stand in cold feet waiting Is there no one for you to care for? Or no one to care for you? Just distant faces, only vague images. So green and pointed hill To Sea the river flows Takes life from land And back to sea to grow. A mothers silken tears From depths unknown they flow. Lest the erupting words of defiance From beneath myriad layers of conformity Appear like fiery lava Hidden by green mountains Out to meadows flow. Forgive me now my fall from grace. My souls dream of life gone by My sense of something fleeting A faint image of that familiar face.
LOVE IS. (Gordon Ferris)
Is love the lying in your arms Or you in mine while sleeping. Without cramp and discomfort Leaving us alone in solitary repose Is it being able to lay together? Without every time wanting to fuck, Fall apart exhausted drenched in sweat. Or does it come in the fall and winter of our age When shoulders fit, and arms are moulded around waist When two become one Itâ€™s the touch without touch Sensing each other The whiff of your scent The caress of your hair. The true nature of two who belong.
Waiting. By Gordon Ferris
The wind rustled loudly through the trees outside the back kitchen where Martha sat drinking black coffee and listening to the radio. It was a solitary tree grown in the back garden by the previous occupants when they moved from the tenements in the north inner city to the new house back in the late fifties when the estate was built first to alleviate the poor quality and shortage of housing in the inner city of Dublin. But Iâ€™m not talking about those people, interesting and all as they may be, no Iâ€™m speaking of the people who bought the house from their offspring after they had passed on, simply because Iâ€™m familiar with these people. Martha got up from her chair, opened the kitchen door which looked out into the hall , she did that to see if there was any sign of her husband coming home from the security job where he worked the nightshift . Where is he? She thought to herself, anxiously going back to her coffee,
was born on a smallish farm bordering Kilkenny and Carlow, she had mixed memories of her childhood, strict angry mother disappointed with her place in society, and a Father gentle by nature with a great capacity for love who lived in fear of his wife. She left for Dublin as soon as she did her leaving cert and secured a job in the civil service. She settled down in to a routine life living in a flat off the North Circular road, her older brother, who had moved to Dublin years before to work as a barman lived close by, was expected to keep an eye on her. She enjoyed her newfound freedom, and soon made new friends socializing one or two nights a week. She intended to go home every weekend, and did so for the first few months, going home on the button every Friday to be questioned enthusiastically by her dad, as he grabbed the bags out of her hands, and ushered her towards the car to be driven to the house. Where she had to face the cold 22
reception of the mother in comparison, but as time went on, her visits home became less frequent. She sat there in the kitchen with her head resting in one hand remembering the heated conversation she had the previous night with her husband Kevin before he went to work. She tried to remember what she said to anger him so; she recalled the conversation word by word, nothing heavy, just a casual chat about nothing important. They had been to the pub where they had met with his sister Anne and partner Alfredo, they had to leave early for Kevin to go to work, nothing exciting there, all in good form there, just the usual good humoured pub banter. It was when they parted company with the other couple outside the pub and got home that it started. She remembered the very words that started him off, If you could change anything in your life, what would you change? Martha had asked, in a distracted manner. Martha always hated her name, she remembered thinking, not exactly the name for a farmer’s daughter from the arsehole of Kilkenny, more suited to an American suburbanite homemaker off the telly, toiling in domestic bliss. She remembered Kevin looking up from the page of the newspaper he had been reading, ignoring her with a sarcastic grin on his face, saying, avoiding her gaze “Where do you get these stupid questions from? Will you try to come back down to planet earth sometime soon, I hope you’re not rambling on like that in your job, those kids you teach are half mad as they are without you driving them over the edge”. Why do you have to be so negative with me, I don’t seem to be able to open my mouth without you jumping down my throat” she had replied morosely. Where did that come from she thought, why am I feeling like the guilty party there? The more she thought about it the more she was convinced she was not the guilty party, oh I wish he was here now, she thought, hope he comes straight home, no detours, no phony excuses
to avoid the confrontation.. Maybe I am over thinking this, maybe it is only trivial, and maybe he doesn’t think he has anything to explain. She got up and headed out to the bathroom, her slippered feet making no sound on the solid wood floor, she caught a glimpse of her face in the mirror, her dark hair covering one side of her face necessitating the immediate quick brush back with the fingers of her left hand. Realizing what she had done, she smiled to herself. , conceited bitch, she thought. Just twenty minutes away, in an industrial estate on the fringes of Finglas Village, between east and west, a flurry of men were making their way out a factory gate, after a gruelling long nightshift. Among them chatting, well , let’s say, getting the odd word in, as his comrade berated there employers for the conditions they expected them to work, was Kevin nodding his head in agreement and saying his goodbyes heading off in the opposite direction to him towards the village, his pal heading for his car. Kevin didn’t drive, never having the need feeling his feet or public transport was quite adequate. Heading down around the corner past the Superquin supermarket, which used to be a cinema where Kevin used to go every Saturday, paying nine old pence in, and having three pence to spend on sweets, and also, for some reason, they had added to the main feature, an episode of batman featuring Adam West. It used to bring back memories to him every time he passed. But now he hardly noticed his surroundings as he walked on with head bowed passing by The Shamrock Lounge, where he and Martha used go every Saturday. Since the kids came along, that had stopped. Crossing the road at the traffic lights, Kevin glanced down at what seemed a very steep incline, to the stream flowing below, and steadied himself. He walked on in the direction of home; he walked on feeling the icy January wind and felt extremely tired and dejected. This feeling was exasperated by the stress of the row with Martha before he left for work the night before and the dread of going home to face her.
He noticed how silent it was at six in the morning before the normal members of society started there day. The walk along Mellows road seemed endless, he drifted into thoughts of times gone past as he glanced about at the fire station and the swimming pool, and he could see the field behind Them where he used to play football for WFTA when he was a teenage youth going to the local tech.. He felt extremely tired and wondered how much further he had to go, he watched the number 40 Bus pass, probably the first, or one of the first of the day. He concentrated on every little thing he could to distract him from thinking of the night before , he watched and listened to the birds, wondering what breed there were, he counted the spaces on the path, marked by lines , and decided to speed up as he felt he was going to slow. But hard and all as he might try, the night before kept popping back into his head, not the events in the pub, just the bit when they got home. At the top of Mellows Road he crossed the street at the community centre onto the row of shops he was so familiar, all closed at this time of morning, the butchers being the first in a line of about eight to ten shops. They included a sweetshop-newsagent-toyshop and post office combined in one shop, he remembered going in there as a child to bye his loose sweets for the cinema and his Victor comic every week. Last of all was the chipper that had greatly contributed to his massive build-up of cholesterol in his arteries over the years. He turned on to the Cappagh Road at the big church with the big spire, it was still known as the new church even though it had opened 24 years ago, its proper name is, The Church Of the Annunciation, he remembered making his confirmation there, wore his first pair of long trousers, and is reminded of the cringing when he sees the photos now. On he went facing into the icy wind and the light rain starting, he just had a short distance to go , he knew Martha would be waiting , fretting, wondering what she did wrong, it wasn’t right he felt. It wasn’t right her being so unhappy, it wasn’t right her feeling so helpless, it wasn’t right her self-medicating, should he have just said nothing?
He remembered the first time he had brought her home to meet his family. It was just after Christmas. A weekend day, one of those years when Christmas had fallen midweek, so he was expecting a quite house, but boy was he wrong. The two sisters, both in there mid-teens, were there with their mates, having a sly drink when no one was watching , along with them was the uncle Mick who was home from England with his wife, both very cockney. It’s said of Uncle Mick that he was only two weeks in London and he had a cockney twang. So that was the surprise he got when he opened the door to be greeted by his Mother in one of her tizzies, which happened when she found things hard to cope with, Who’s this , she said , with surprise and with derision in her voice. She was holding Martha’s hand and stroking it with her free hand at the same time; she didn’t wait for his reply before ushering her into the living room and introducing Martha to everyone. Next, she was sitting between the two sisters, both drinking bottles of Carlsberg, both making fun of Kevin saying they were beginning to wonder if he was gay. Martha had to go to the loo, and was directed to the bathroom upstairs. When she was away he father turned to Kev, and with a few drinks in him asked Kev if Martha had a good sense of humour. Kev said ‘ why what have you in mind, nothing to vulgar now I hope, No, no nothing of the sort, he replied, you know I’m not like that, and sat back down and waited. What does this fecker have in mind now, he always has to be the centre of attention somehow, Kev thought as he waited. Eventually, after what seemed a very long time she exited the toilet and descended the stairs. There was an air of expectancy as she re-entered the living room and sat herself down beside the two sisters. The Father gets her attention, smiling over to her and asking if she’s ok, she nods ok smiling. The father then asks, by any way, could you here all of us, pointing to all the people in the room, when you were upstairs, what do you mean she said baffled. He said, us talking and singing, could you here us, he said, No, she replied, not a sound. Well do ya know what, we could all here you down here he replied laughing, at which the hole room burst in to laughter. Martha was baffled at 26
first but then it sunk in what had just happened and although she was embarrassed, she laughed. I owe you big time for that, she said. Why in the name of jays us would you want that wan near the gaff, once she gets in you’ll never get rid of her.” His Ma said in disbelief that he could have let this stranger into her house. “You don’t know her but I do, she’s not a stranger to me, we know each other a long time, what do I have to do to bring a friend home, make an appointment.” He replied annoyed at the reception he received at bringing Martha home for the first time and annoyed at himself for still being afraid to stand up to his mother
Biographical Note: Anne Britting Oleson
Anne Britting Oleson has been published widely on four continents. She earned her MFA at the Stonecoast program of USM. She has published two chapbooks, The Church of St. Materiana (2007) and The Beauty of It (2010). A third chapbook, Counting the Days, is forthcoming from Pink Girl Ink, and a novel, The Book of the Mandolin Player, is forthcoming from B Ink Publishing--both in spring 2016.
Handwritten (Anne Britting Oleson)
Enormous satisfaction in the fractional movements of fingers which cause the patterns of ink across the page: whorls and curlicues, a flourish, the dash that flattens the miniature mountains of Ms and Ns. Each small shift a Herculean labor of love, a word, a phrase, a sentence telling of your day which would be complete if you weren't longing long for one who is absent.
What fullness of heart, blood into hand, ink onto page, feeling expressed: inside to out.
Having What are we having for dinner, here at the Italian restaurant on the deserted waterfront, while the February wind rattles the canvas awning
outside the windows? The waitress tonight brings the wine, recites the specials like the poetry they are: Becky is having the salmon
in blood orange balsamic vinaigrette reduction, Brenda the filet of beef in chianti demiglace, and I'm too befuddled by drink and company
to make a choice. Why can't I have it all? A tealight in a tulip cup flickers between us, having its way with the shadows, big plans falling
on the bistro tablecloth and bursting into flames after their own fashion, burning brightly like our own reflections in the glasses
we clink together now, toast after toast, to us. Later, we'll be having cannoli and gelato, the future flaring outward from there.
Imbolc (Anne Britting Oleson) The dawn frowned with the threat of snow. And so I rose and dressed, and went alone to walk by the river, frozen as it was in midwinter. The world was silent. I lowered my head, chastised by the frigid air. Across the barren stretch of ice, trees encased in snow, the black hulk of a sleeping cottage, smoke from the chimney rising up and folding sharply where it met the low clouds. The winter birds lay hidden. Yet further along the bank, beyond the reeds standing at attention in the still morning, tiny tracks in the snow,
a tuft of fur, two red droplets. Hands in pockets, I looked up to see what might have me in its sights.
Biographical Note: Peter Oâ€™Neill
Peter O' Neill was born in Cork in 1967. He is the author of five collections of poetry, most notably the Dublin Trilogy comprising of: The Dark Pool ( mgv2>publishing, France, 2015 ), Dublin Gothic ( Kilmog Press, New Zealand, 2015 ) and The Enemy, Transversions from Charles Baudelaire ( Lapwing Press, Northern Ireland, 2015 ). In his review of The Dark Pool, the critically acclaimed American poet David Rigsbee wrote: Peter O' Neill is a poet who works the mythical city of Modernism in ways we do not often see enough.' ( A New Ulster )
He is currently Writer in Residence at the Loughshinny Boathouse, which was bestowed upon him by Fingal County Council's Arts Council. There he is working on his latest work Mare Nostrum, which is a poetic engagement with the ancient Roman site, discovered in the Loughshinny area. A The five poems published here are all taken from this work in progress. r
a c In May, later in the year, he will be hosting Donkey Shots 2, Skerries Second International Avant Garde Poetry Fest from the 18th to the 21st. He hopes to launch two more books at the festival: Divertimento, The Muse is a Dominatrix, soon to be published by mgv2>publishing in France, and Sker, soon to be published by Lapwing in Belfast.
From Mare Nostrum
I. If all of the imagined dead Were raised and could appear before You, out on the promontory at Drumanagh, what would you possibly see
Standing there on the headland gazing Out to sea, with the three martello At Sker, before you and Rush, acting like beacons, signalling to you from the XVIIIIth? Imagine, while looking at the fishing boats, The entrance of an ancient Roman warship, Or possibly two, come from ancient Briton. And, the arrival of Romans in Hibernia, As spoken of by Juvenal and Mentioned, at some length, by Tacitus.
II. Come Muse, pass through me now. Help me to chart the voyage as you did For both Strabo and Ptolomy, So that I too may see the way.
The Darkened cliffs of folded limestone Embrace Loughshinny in a diZZying And sweeping horiontality. The placid waters burnished in the bay. Below the great womb of cave, The broken rock from the cliff face Segmented into hewn, jagged slabs. Seagull overhead dive and shriek, The only sound, but for the lapping Waves, to break the monumental silence.
Burnished orb illumines placid shield in Luminence. Aqueous fields Negotiate in tow with scale, wave, And the tired, sea-worn hands of men. Anchoring battleships in the bay, Unloading century after weapon Heavy century, the pure Content of men, and calvary. Centurion couldn't believe their luck; Both climate and populace being in Complete accordance, pax romana! Yet, we in the legion knew such calm Could not hold out, and it wouldn't be long Till we were using sword, and bloody spear.
Crow clapped to thunder, a blanket of Sheer mercury out on the wing. Its silver balancing on the wave Westward, reflecting a still life, with fruit. The murder with hounds after the kill, Flesh ripped apart on top of the hill. Breaking through the wood, its growth Thick with oak, beech and alder. Quercus, betula et alunas. Servius Hears the litany of nouns enter, While his eyes recalled bark, leaf and bough. His leather sandals still wet from the beach; Jumping ashore up to his knees, the Pebble splashed like freckles on his skin.
The first thing which struck us was the colour Of the sea. The sheer aZure had Turned a cold jade. Then slate grey, Before changing again to almost black. Homer's wine was multi-coloured. Even the brine didn't taste the same. This sea was far less salty, almost Sweet to our palettes. The fish then tasteless. The land, in contrast, was deeply verdant. Although, Winter still had a hold in places, Despite the fact that we had set down for Mars. It was bitter cold. The men entered quickly, And just as quickly set to the beach. All that we waited for now was the natives.
Biographical Note: Al Millar
Al is from Donegal, lives and works in north Antrim. Loves English language used well. Keen interest in Scots vernacular poetry in Ulster. In 2014, edited with biography and introductions 'Frae the Causey to Apolaypse' the poems in Ulster-Scots and English by John McKinley of Dunseverick. Enjoy writing poetry and prose in English and vernacular, and both together. Outside of literature hobbies include climbing hills in Antrim, Donegal, in fact any beautiful hill anywhere, also politics, and eating nice food.
Run close wee Sitka, run close By Alan Millar Run free wee doggie, run free, On the path by the river, run free, Gambolling ahead, bounding ahead, Run free wee Sitka, run free.
So supple the trunks of our Alders, Slender sensations of sway Spritely she dashes between them, The Sitka dog is away.
What comes, wee doggie, what comes? Harsh growl frae the north, what comes? Novemberâ€™s blast, is closing fast, It comes, wee Sitka, it comes!
Blow, howling dreich frae the north, Hurling caule rain through the Cutts, Straight up the flooding grey Bann, To sporting wee Sitka, and us!
Run close wee Sitka, run close, On the path by the river, run close; Spooked by the trees, the thunderous breeze, Keep close wee Sitka, keep close!
Our Alder wood tree tops are roaring; The gale convulses the grove, The sleet howls in like a mad dog, Driving Sitka out of her rove!
Keep tight young Sitka, keep tight, On the path by the river, keep tight; Her tail driven down, by the ‘terrible’ sound, Keep tight wee Sitka, keep tight.
Our shared awareness of danger, Excites as we pass underneath, How easy these ‘swaying sensations’, Could crush our doggie beneath!
You’re safe young Sitka, you’re safe, The tholing young Alders stay safe, No cracks or breaks, just creaks and shakes, We’re safe, young Sitka, we’re safe.
Some blast swept in, in November, Twas pantheism majestic supreme, Run free our sitting room Sitka, Sport, with a touch of ‘extreme’!
Squelchy hip By Alan Millar
Hitting 50 with a squelchy hip, Soft corroding squelchy hip, Milk chocolate Aero hip.
Every step is squelchy pain, Or perhaps squidgy; Mild toothache of the hip, Mostly. Sometimes agonising!
I hirple, like Burns’s hare, As my GP and others now note. That’s ‘limp’ or ‘have a bad leg’, By the way.
I have progressed Someway into the NHS, For it is agreed That no good can come of Unregulated hirpling; Hobbling Further into the realm of the unwell.
A nurse has seen my X-Ray, “You can't cut your toe nails anymore.” She was so right. “The hip with the bubbles,” she remarked. No she didn’t! “Osteo not rheumatoid arthritis,” she did say; Adding - “lucky boy”, In as many words. “Life’s wear and tear,” she concluded.
“Hip replacement is for the elderly,” I explained. “O contraire,” she corrected. “You’ll need a second when you are elderly,” She added kindly.
Soon after that “tryst” I, an imploding right hipster, Overcome by choices – not, Formulated an appeal:
“Replace my hip, oh great NHS, Make me part android ASAP! At least grant me an appointment, Let me sit quietly, On an appropriate waiting list.”
Months passed, then – JOY I was invited into the consulting room, Where my ‘Mr’ not ‘Dr’ surgeon Quickly agreed To carve his way into me; Saw my femur, drill my hip, Fit my new ball and socket. Deadly! Being on the waiting list.
In a year’s time or longer, He will quickly make me un-squelchy again. YES!
Biographical Note: Jak Laight
Jak lives and works in Sheffield. His stories, currently, explore loneliness and identity. He can be contacted at email@example.com.
Greg (Jak Laight) I have got a problem. I'm an ordinary man – extraordinarily ordinary, as it happens. Let me give you an example. You know when some people have one of those faces; a face you tend to see everywhere. My face is sort of like that but, rather than being seemingly memorable, it's utterly forgettable. My aunt did actually forget it last Christmas; no-one was altogether surprised when I had to remind her of its owner’s identity. The face in question has a flat nose placed above a pair of thin and dry lips that habitually rest about half a centimetre apart. At the top, there's a short mass of dark brown hair that leans uncomfortably on the forehead. A pair of square tortoise-shell glasses sit before the watery, grey-blue eyes that look like they haven't seen very much. Oh, how awful, you must be saying, you poor man! Well, I can't argue with that. But my face isn't the real problem. My real problem is so intrusive that I can't escape it for a single moment. I have been lumped with it as long as I have lived. It was before I was born, in fact, that my parents managed to inflict this atrocity upon me. It will even be etched in stone to taunt my memory while I lie in the cold, cold ground. Greg. Oh, that isn't so bad. What's wrong with the name Greg? Well, that's easy for you to say. You are not a Greg. To you it probably seems a harmless, inoffensive name. Yes? You’ve hit the nail on the head. It's a name so fantastically bland that it might as well be no name at all. Have you ever looked at it properly? Let me tell you, it's no pretty sight. Upon rudimentary inspection it becomes plain that, in fact, it isn't a real name; it's merely a clumsy collection of letters. Worse still, have you ever listened to it properly? I can't imagine you have – why would you? A sneeze would sound more carefully constructed. Tell me: what kind of name is that? It certainly isn't a name I would impose on anyone I care about. Just a series of unpleasant utterances bundled into one meaningless noise! Greg! Well, the misery ends today. This affliction will haunt me no longer. It's time for a new name. I'm not only going to give myself a new name, I am going to give myself a new life. If I’d grasped that it was this easy I would have done it years ago. But what name should it be – what name is really Me? I could be Ignacio, the imperious. Hawthorne, the heroic. Reuben, the rascal! How about Keith? Keith! I know anything is a step up from Greg, but Keith? I'm looking up at the stars here! A name that stands out. Do I really seem like a Keith? Anyway, I'm after the best name going. Oh, man! I need to go to work. But I can't go to work as a Greg; for now, you'll just have to call me Not Greg. *
Welcome to the life of a Greg. Every morning, for five days a week, I inhabit the rickety, sweat-filled 7.32 train across to Manchester for 62 juddering minutes. Surrounded by what I can only assume to be a plethora of Gregs in their uniform of a grey suit, grey tie, black shoes, we ride together solemnly and silently. Fidgeting now and again, we all jostle along with the train’s movements as one. But not me, not anymore; I am Not Greg. No longer am I one of these lifeless chumps by whom I now find myself surrounded. You fools! Can you not feel the tedium of your lives? Do you not see the meaninglessness? Wake up! Hang on. What am I doing here? This is no place for me, for Not Greg. I've got to be out there, in the real world! But I can hardly do anything about that right now; I am trapped in this numb, Greg-filled metal tube. Well, what should I do when I get off then? I'll have to plan it now – does Not Greg make plans? Maybe Not Greg is the spontaneous type. How should I know how to be spontaneous? This is all new to me. It's only my first day being a Not Greg! Okay: spontaneity. Spontaneity. Perhaps if I walk about a little something will come to me. Here goes. Take a good look everyone. Experience for a moment what it is like to be in the presence of a Not Greg. Steady now, Not Greg, keep hold of the chairs. Handy, these chairs. Where shall I go? There's not really anywhere to go on a train. Just get to the end. The automatic door is getting larger, closer. Click, hiss. Open, I can go through. It's calmer here. There's nobody about, no chairs – only a door to the outside world and a window through which to see it. Oh my goodness. I've never seen anything so green, so brown, so raw. Those hills, they're full! Full of gnarled trees, prickly bushes, gentle people – life! This is where I need to be – where Not Greg needs to be. It's all moving so fast and brilliantly. Now is the time. I can't wait another day, another minute. I can almost feel it on my skin. The real world. I am going out there. How do I open this door? Click, hiss. A roar! The wind's beating on my face. I can smell the hills; I can feel their cool breath. Greg, wait! It's Not Greg, damn it! Haven't you been paying attention? I am Not Greg, and this is what Not Greg needs to do. I've got to get to those hills. So long, Greg!
Biographical Note: Steve Klepetar
Steve Klepetarâ€™s work has appeared worldwide, in such journals as A New Ulster, Boston Literary Magazine, Deep Water, Expound, The Muse: India, Red River Review, Snakeskin, Voices Israel, Ygdrasil, and many others. Several of his poems have been nominated for Best of the Net and the Pushcart Prize (including three in 2015). Recent collections include My Son Writes a Report on the Warsaw Ghetto (Flutter Press) and Return of the Bride of Frankenstein (Kind of a Hurricane Press). His new chapbook, The Li Bo Poems, is forthcoming from Flutter Press.
Body of Knowledge (Steve Klepetar) They say my father owns hills lowering beneath clouds.
He lays his hands across my chest. His footsteps surge into lakes.
He bathes in great rivers. In the cold his hunger grows.
I make my home beneath oaks; my teeth grow acquainted with leaves.
My tongue sniffs mountain snow, my stomach burns with parables.
My tongue leaps, a leopard, a ferret, a shark in the deep. Call this a body
of knowledge, call it belly and lungs and heart. I make salads of watercress,
mustard and weeds, stir in apples and roots, whole baskets of fruit. I rub
down the tables, bring out oil for
the lamps, then candles and wood, chimes
and boats in moonlight. My snakes feed in honey rain; I swallow forests in my feast.
A Wintry Mind (Steve Klepetar)
That secret life won’t save you, or even leave you room to breathe under the stairs, where a small man waits, his red hands stretched towards dawn, where the river bends around an iron bulge in your town.
Have you spoken to the grass today or been civil to the dew? When you blasted by, did you nail your eyes to the horizon like a gilded ornament on the prow of a ship streaming west for the islands of the sun?
Is your memory shattered by that shadow life you lead? My friends agree: the way you slip behind those eyes, that’s not so good, it speaks of ice, a wintry mind. It’s time to wander where green birds sing and cages disappear.
No One Listens (Steve Klepetar)
to your endless fever dreams, though the kindest pretend to. You know your voice is like skates on the sidewalk, right, or scraping
ice off a windshield after it snows? But softer, harder to hear, a strain just to get at the hysteria. No, your son isn’t dead or sick or broken
on the pavement. Not yet. Your dreams pull apart, sticky webs that cling long after you wake. “So dark,” you say, because it’s been raining
for two days now and your blinds are closed. “I hate the dark. And the cold.” Temperature in your room pushes eighty degrees.
Your listeners strip layers; they could be bored pole dancers or wild bathers on the shores of a frozen lake. “The dream was so real,
I was terribly upset. Can you understand that? Can you understand?” Dreams cling to your shoulders, weave into strands of your thin hair.
They have faces of owls caught in a headlightâ€™s glare, before they smash into the hard grille and perish, gray wings fluttering on a country road.
No Bad Weather (Steve Klepetar)
Just the river, frozen now into a white ribbon after a week of intense cold, high temperatures below zero
for three days running, under mocking sunshine and frigid blue skies. We wrap up warm in layers of fleece and down,
repeat the joke about no bad weather, just inadequate clothing. Friends who live in more reasonable places say they canâ€™t imagine cold like this.
Well, think of a thousand ice hammers battering your body, ripping exposed skin like sheets of paper scribbled with discarded poems.
When You Stop (Steve Klepetar)
Today is the space between memory and the mountain before you –
its gorges and peaks piercing clouds. Every step brings you closer to the ocean
of light spread out before your feet. Keep the pace and don’t tire out now
as you drag yourself in awkward silence behind a sullen guide. He’s been here
before, but his home is in the valley far below, his vision occluded with familiarity.
When you stop to rest and eat, the food will taste of cold and mist and this thin air,
a phantom that will ache on your tongue, a strong breath won after labor of many miles.
Biographical Note: Val McLoughlin
Val McLoughlin, Painter, printmaker and poet, is a member of Ox Mountain Poets, based in Ballina, County Mayo. He studied Fine Art in Cork and attended writing workshops in the Munster Literature Centre with Gregory Oâ€™ Donoghue and Gerry Murphy amongst others.
Day Trippers (Val McLoughlin) On Enniscrone beach, walking to the estuary through a chilly corridor of fog, stepping on brittle crab claws in the grey sand, I reach the black water of the Moy as it glides between sun-brightened shores and slides into the green sea. Across the river, Osip Mandelstam sits on Barthra Island, fresh-shaven, dark-glassed, pinking in the sun his toes buried in the warm sand, a carafe of Orvieto, lightly chilled, with a wedge of Pecorino Romano to hand. Nadezhda, his wife, young again, reads Tacitus aloud. Osip smiles knowingly. Behind me in the fog, Stalin, dragging his chains, blunders deeper into the cold surf of Killala Bay, heading north.
Belleek (Val McLoughlin) The last of the night rain drips through leaves â€“ wet dreams of the forest slide into daylight.
Dispossessed (Val McLoughlin) Spring snow falls like ash from nicotine-stained clouds winterâ€™s grass is dusted mint green The river path, a black stroke on bright canvas, sparkles with ice. The gelid river, battleship grey, has flooded the reed beds and covered the riverbank where I went to paint in last summerâ€™s heat and two girls lay sunbathing. I slunk from the spot, an intruder.
Early September (Val McLoughlin) Evening, cool enough for a jacket, the swallows gone, the air empty of their swoops and scuddings, the river low and brindled. â€“ Trout have it, almost, to themselves, their gentle rise leaves fluid rings of sips and kisses. An angler flicks his fishing line onto the quiet Moy as it flows towards winter.
Stolid River (Val McLoughlin) Under grey sky the river is polished stone, crushing memory, from source to end of the taken, unwilling or willing. .
Biographical Note: Jack Grady Jack Grady is a founder member of the Ox Mountain Poets, based in Ballina, County Mayo. He is a past winner of the Worcester County (USA) Poetry Contest, and his poems have been published in literary journals in Ireland, the United States, France, and the United Kingdom, including Crann贸g,The Galway Review, Poet Lore, A New Ulster, The Worcester Review, North West Words, Mauvaise Graine, Outburst Magazine, and The Runt, among others, as well as in the anthologies AndAgamemnon Dead: An Anthology of Early Twenty First Century Irish Poetry, Voices for Peace, published by A New Ulster, and 21 Poems, 21 Reasons for Choosing Jeremy Corbyn.
The Respite by Jack Grady The Knight: You play chess, don’t you?....The condition is that I may live as long as I hold out against you. If I win, you will release me. Is it agreed?.... Death: Nothing escapes me. No one escapes me. – from Ingmar Bergman’s The Seventh Seal, 1957
Death reaps with sickles of plague the doomed in a knight’s castle, but the child of a juggler is safe and at play in the tall morning grass; and his parents are safe and at play with passion in their wagon to crown their escape; for, among those who travelled under the knight’s protection, only the juggler was able to see Death’s final move in chess checkmate and seal the fate of the knight and all his companions. That juggler had the gift of paranormal vision as reward for his love of birds chirping in morning sunlight, for his joyous laughter in the haystacks of desire and consummation, far from plague or the burning of sacrificial witches, far from whips and the selfflagellation of monks repenting the world’s sins. Death grants him this mercy of hope. Death has time to allow love to grow and to sow for harvest or drought.
Why Good Girls Love Bad Boys by Jack Grady Her door opens to the terrace. An incubus wind whispers in; purrs, as she lies there, a secret she will never forget. He is a serpent, a wire, an electric switch. He ignites the filaments of her hair. He departs in a hiss at the smoke of startled eyes, leaves unanswered her question, but leaves a scent never despised.
Adam in Search of Eve Upon Viewing Elle Hanley’s ‘All of Eden’s Apples’ by Jack Grady I have eaten the fruit, and at last I see Eve as she is. She seems sleeping, though she is dead. I thought she would be blonde, but her hair is more black than a night without moonlight and stars. Was it that darkness growing from her skull that made me so blind, that seduced me more than all the apples in Eden combined? Those apples are green, not red like I thought they would be, like her blush at my awakening tumescence or her placenta expulsed with each infant it fed. Rather, they are green as the Snake who uncoiled her from his tree and dropped her face-down on a shroud of snowcovered ground. He no longer required her; she no longer needs me. Now, lustless as a zombie, I must wander this world and seek her astral body through all the gallows of the globe while praying for a rebirth of innocence, a restoration of our garden, the return of our lost pet lion, our love and our lamb.
Sacred and Profane by Jack Grady I cross the tie bar to bask on my secret, secluded beach, guarded by sentinels of rocks, bleaching under sun and salt air. Here, outcroppings and cliff have the aspect of weathered bone, save the one towering hump of dark grey stone as high as the crag defending its back. Though I lie close to naked, this is my hermitic haven. To read here to the sound of surf breaking is my heaven. But tongues of waves licking closer to my toes remind me how I once profaned this place when I took a lover here and was entranced by the straps of her sandals as they clenched her feet with the hungry greed of constricting snakes and by her bold, amber eyes like those of a caged cougar keen on devouring a teasing fool trapped with food in her lockout. Though I relish now only the austerity of a book on my secret, secluded beach, the return of this profane memory is certain, unwavering as the surf.
Emancipated Jonah by Jack Grady Held in bondage for a third of life, drugged by the opium poppy of her lips, drunk on the absinthe that brimmed in the asserted fullness of her breasts; and my manhood stolen by her eyes' blue steel with lashes of fire from the forge that fashioned them, eyes of sapphire, alluring and hard, eyes that concealed like ocean depths claws of crabs and the ambuscade of the moray eel. And I, made as flaccid as a steamed clam drowning in melted butter, made dead to love, a helpless Jonah, swallowed into the gullet of her fathomless greed, burned by bitter acids of debt upon debt -but, finally, I am free.
Biographical Note: Alistair Graham
Alistair lives and works in Belfast. He has two published collections; War and Want Streets of Belfast Both published by Lapwing. He is currently working on a third collection which is approaching completion.
Prohibition (Alistair Graham) It happens every bloody year. Well, almost every year; this year, last year, not the year before that but the previous one. I cast my mind back two days to Friday when I counted the bottles; four red and four white. It should have lasted until Monday but we didn’t expect Julie and William to call last night. They did bring some wine but ended up drinking their quota and some of ours. I didn’t mind then and still don’t except that it’s Easter Sunday and all the wine shops are shut: the doors are locked, bolted, and it’s the law. If I had of remembered this last night I could have said, “Sorry, there’s no more wine; just enough for us tomorrow. Your welcome to a cup of tea, or there’s pineapple juice in the fridge.” No. I couldn’t have said that; even if I had remembered about prohibition. What to do? “Darling,” I said to my wife. “There’s no bloody wine in the house!” “Darling,” she said, “You’ll have to nip to the shop then, won’t you?” Clearly she’s forgotten prohibition. Last year we borrowed a couple of bottles from the next door neighbours but they moved away six months ago. The new neighbours are nice people but they are T-Total. Who’d believe it? It must be an act of God. God has passed prohibition in the land, moved our wine-drinking neighbours away, sent our friends over last night with an inadequate supply of alcohol and is now forcing us to stare into oblivion, sober, from Sunday to Monday. “It’s Easter Sunday, darling,” I said. “The bloody wine shops are boarded up.” “Oh fuck,” she replied. There was a short pause. “Sure we went to the wine shop on Friday night, darling, and worked out the likely consumption rate to cater for both of us. How can there be no wine?” “Yes we did, darling,” I said. “But you’re forgetting Julie and William drank the best part of a bottle each last night after theirs ran out. Phone them; tell them they owe us two bottles of wine and can they drop them over.” “We can’t phone them darling,” she said, “we can’t ask for the wine back!” “I’m joking, darling, of course we can’t.” I heard her sigh as she got up from the sofa and watched as she padded her way into the kitchen on her bare feet. “Out of my way,” she said, as she brushed me aside with her right arm. She knelt on the cold kitchen tiles as if to pray. 71
“There may be no wine in the house darling, but there’s a bottle of whiskey you received last year as a birthday present,” she said, as she rifled the bottom shelf of the larder.
Biographical Note: Roisin Browne
RoisĂn Browne lives in Rush, Co Dublin, a public servant, she is a member of the Ardgillan Writers Group in North County Dublin and is a new attendee at the monthly Gladstone Readings in Skerries.
I am, Skellig.
By Roisín Browne
She lands with swift aplomb and sockets her plumage into my spongy dense hide; burrowing into her remembered space. Puffed white breasts cloaked in jet, her settled flock are honeycombed in my side. Their tangerine sea-shelled beaks, elicit cantankerous grumblings, that buffet my sandstone slopes. From Blindman’s Cove, the droned moans, and pulsed sea, gargles. Uileann caw caws as Kittiwakes eek, screech, echo and reverb. The boundless ruckus, cracks off corbelled slabs, slapping the clochans into shape. A rolling rabble, rides along Christ’s Saddle, and whistles through the Needles eye. The rí rá and ruaile buaile dances in my salt hewn coves, which have been clapping time, since before the Pyramids. On my peak a man sits, fastened like a ballast, to the greeny grey. Out of air he strains to catch an intermittent puff. His bare, wet soles, that scaled my buttressed face, tip toed Cross Cove, are printed on my rocky stairs, and wearily splayed atop my Pinnacle. I hold him. Still-Nests Sub-Due I kiss him. 74
My songstress takes flight. Atlantic batters, rocks fall, Norse turn, currachs skim, oars plunge. She returns from Biscayne heat. He breathes me, In -Like a blessed place.
The island is grey â€“ Sheets of cloud glide slowly by Slate creatures shimmer
Freckled wind burnt men Reams of rosaries rhyme on Coal black currachs skim
Skellig Michael looms Cold and Passionate in stance Pyramidic soul
The Father drives on The Grandfather drops anchor The Connors encroach
Sons dreamt in black nights Capsized souls bore to selkies Fluid existence
Flags flutter wildly Seagulls swoop on the salt air 76
Lobster pots dive down
Harnessed blue tugging Sweeping pink lines, jewelled beads Remembered wise ways
Seven centuries Of this dark and wet hunting Would age any Man
By RoisĂn Browne
The Rearing being done (Roisin Browne)
The wooden windows are outstretched, welcoming in the bluesky air stealing Juneâ€™s light from the grassy boggy fields.
The slap and whoosh of a bristled brush works the yard outside, dancing off the moss scattering up the dust in easy rhythm.
Back the way the bank is speckled; a column of bodies, tilt and rise and throw with pulsing rigour.
Half a row scooped and tossed to trailer. Bog mould coats the arms and paints the nails as midges swarm 78
and cling to hunkered backs.
Sun red necks, salted eyes stifled breaths, in place of every shadowed year before, and before then.
Remembered rhymes return to room.
A shifting in the chair, his head tilts and holds a little, his gaze anchored to the wall, worked hands cup each worn arm.
Sheltered by the hearth the sweetened turf air lolls, careless of the heat.
The sweeping has ceased. A soft settling. Nosound wraps its strong embrace about the room.
Tim Green on asking of my ancestry (Roisin Browne) He cut the engine and looked at me his snowy head split the horizon a whole face raised in question Did ye get the stories? He dropped to his knees, bending his long elastic body over the side of the frayed red punt. I did, I nodded the bay shuddering our wooden frame between Garnish and Whiddy. Two large pallets of hands sunk beneath the charcoal water as sea - sinews cranked the New Zealand rope from down under, hauling the mussel-mottled line over the port beam. A deposit of bejewelled ocean stone landed on our puddled feet. You have to get them, he gasped. The blue- black hard shells winked up at us, catching Augustâ€™s aurous light -entrancing us. He wiped his hands off trouser sides the bay quietened to a hazy hush. By God you do, he said to no one in particular, not even to himself.
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March 2016’s MESSAGE FROM THE ALLEYCATS:
March has arrived and with it the storms perhaps a petition to change Spring to winter and winter to OMG where’d all the rain come from? Well, that’s just about it from us for this edition everyone. Thanks again to all of the artists who submitted their work to be presented “On the Wall”. As ever, if you didn’t make it into this edition, don’t despair! Chances are that your submission arrived just too late to be included this time. Check out future editions of “A New Ulster” to see your work showcased “On the Wall”.
Biography: Rehan Qayoom
Rehan Qayoom is a poet of English and Urdu, editor, translator and archivist, educated at Birkbeck College, University of London. He has featured in numerous literary publications and performed his work internationally. He has published 2 books of poetry and several works of prose. www.rehanqayoom.weebly.com
Smoke & Mirrors
So long as men can breathe or eyes can ſee, So long lives this,and this gives life to thee, William Shakespeare. Shakespeare’s Sonnets. (Thomas Thorpe, 1609).
Sans toi, les émotions d'aujourd'hui ne seraient que la peau morte des émotions d'auterfois. Hipolito. Can we only love Something created in our own imagination? Are we all in fact unloving and unlovable? Then one is alone, and if one is alone Then lover and beloved are equally unreal And the dreamer is no more real than his dreams. T. S. Eliot. The Cocktail Party. (1949).
Henry Holiday, 'Dante & Beatrice', (1883)
So you were your own Church Your religion was Love.
Its sacrificial murder – That killing in heaven – Was flow of passion here on earth Where your kiss, your real lips, And your words Were the blessing. Ted Hughes. ‘Religion'. Collected Poems. Edited by Paul Keegan. (Faber & Faber, 2003). ... Tu se' ombra vedi. ... Puoi, la quantitate Comprenderde l'amor chi temi scalda, Quando dismento nostra vanitate Trattando l'ombre come cosa salda [... "For shade thou art and look'st upon a shade" "... Now thou'lt know How large and warm my love about thee clings When I forget our nothingness, and go Treating these shadows like material things."] Dante Alighieri. Divina Commedia: Purgatorio. Translated by Dorothy L. Sayers. Dante - The Divine Comedy ii: Purgatory. (Penguin Classics, 1955).
Love answers all the ogress' grave questions Offering even as counter-question (a salve), itself in a frisson Saying "Silence and I speak the same language, share one quiddity I, knowing my incapability Interlock fingers on Imagination Road But if holiness is a mystery Corruption is a mystery Sin is a mystery You and I are history" Love does not question Love does not reason It survives The headaches, the worries, the vague, the vogue It is all there is or ever was or will be It is everything I know It is what remains of us It is God Behind a caboose It is death, haunted by hostile shadows (And death is not the enemy Time is the enemy) Lives, the Life-in-Death, an antevasin When the tongues of flame are in-folded The fire and the rose are in symbiosis as one Sometimes love is unable to share
Is delicate and vulnerable Cannot show wishes, tell desires, touch Nor share a joy to the senses Far greater than makeshift individual pleasure to the spirit Though living with oneself does not make one less human So you are a gazelle of light all by itself Your own muse Your most beautiful poem Yesterday's dream Was love Too much love In every sacred place Of your ‘Jour-Nuit’ I am not going anywhere Because I am already there. Love is you You and me Love is what we cannot be ‘I am you, you are me. I am a tree. We …’ Love you love me Love is lonely Love me and give me Life - Its poison - Love me or kill me Only love Can justify the art in verse The just and the unjust The intended and the intent Jackknife at the diabolical form Of the devil's opus in Pandemonium I know what it is Did nobody tell you? This is what it's all about, what were you expecting? It is the only way to go, you know Echoic: the music playing The screen flickering And our first meeting. Awaits (from profundity) with baited breath Its turbulent exertion welcome To the garden In the garden Under the rose-garden
As the Earth's axis tilts towards the sun, tilts away
Biographical Biographical Note: Omar Baz Radwan
Is the author of two books, full collections of poetry and ponderings about dreams, insanity and love, things that make reality a bit more bearable (for himself at least). Omar’s newest book, My Poetry Room (Published in Beirut by World Book Publishing, 2011) is an experiment with language, creating images and portraits inspired by his travels in Ireland, Beirut, Istanbul and Africa. It’s about the people, places, experiences and emotions captured along the way. He has currently completed a PhD dissertation in Comparative Literature in Dublin City University, Ireland on Contemporary Arab-American Poetry. Omar likes to read, and when not reading, he is writing and when not writing he gathers antiques, a gentleman’s occupation (just kidding). Mostly, he likes to daydream. Contact info.: email@example.com
"Beirut - City of Man" (Thy rowers have brought thee into great waters: the east wind hath broken thee in the midst of the seas. Thy riches, and thy fairs, thy merchandise, thy mariners, and thy pilots, thy calkers, and the occupiers of thy merchandise, and all thy men of war, that [are] in thee, and in all thy company which [is] in the midst of thee, shall fall into the midst of the seas in the day of thy ruin.)
Ezekiel, "The lament of Phoenicia" 27: 5-7
In the city of unspoken remorse where we live by the lighthouse, waiting for a thousand ships to return having set sail on the waves of history. In the city with no name, a thousand and one identities, and hope. The Shiaar1, a great word to transcribe in a nation of transcriptions, (noun) - a slogan, or a large piece of fabric (usually canvas fabric) by means of which wind is used to propel a sailing vessel. We are all sailors, in a city desperate to re-invent itself. We all turn to bad alcohol walk in and out of identities, searching for the right Shiaar, finding it in hangovers, in strangers' beds. Let it be in the West, let it be up Ghandi's skinny hole, let it be in the promise of return, in Mother Teresa's soiled wrinkles, let it be in Che Guevara's cheap 2 $ shirts, Scheherazadeâ€™s cunning prudence, rich oil piss from the Gulf, Andy Warhol wannabe pubs, stuffy rooms and more cheap alcohol, let it be in search of the force that is direct pure sober, 1
Arabic for sail of a ship; also a political slogan. The root of the word (Shiâ€™ir) in Arabic also means poetry.
UNIQUE. We are in search of NOTHING we affirm the VITALITY of every dead INSTANT, let us burn the lighthouse, re-assemble the Shiaar, this time with the voices of the living. No more waiting, let us set sail again into the GREAT UNKNOWN,
For The sea is never still. It pounds on the shore Restless as a young heart, Hunting.
ÂŠ omar baz radwan, 2016
"The Self, the Crows, the Stillness, the Bodies, the Other, the End: fragments and fragmentations"
Debauchery! An intrusion of some kind an other Other a borrowed moment in eternal flux renounced, rejected intimately appropriated by a grinding knife in the side of the limbs of the exalted One. Covered in snow and forests, banished by insipid notions of approval, the Self is abject, the Self is sovereign.
There is no one left to blame. A sordid canvas of endless prophecies precipitating in the dreariness of timeless indeterminacies, negotiations of gluttonous
foreclosure, sexless and motionless and hanging there. Perturbed, haunted and numb to the point of affliction the wayfarer, in black wind desperate enough to search for love in re-invented fads, the more the merrier! The crows parade the corpses those single-handedly murdered and hanged, in (a)historical convictions, proud and designated. Same noise, different side of the spectrum, hanging in broad daylight for all to see. The rivers of time have buried the dream of the pure state of Man.
Still, at night, in the stillness of autumn nothing returns of the formidable echoes, the madness seems to seep through
the pores of existence. A sort of antithetical resurrection. "All hail the Beast!" According to the Book of Revelation, “the greater the concentration of power on earth, the more truth is stripped of its power, the holiest innocent, in eternity, is „as though slain . . .‟”
In other words, "All hail the Beast!"
Mass. Collective consciousness of inequity in the stillness of rhetorical justification Sexless and nameless, endless negotiations of form and fashion and fusion. Hanging, like sour grapes, around the decayed spine of civility in spiral motion in endless political enunciation of discourse/counter-discourse/reverse-counter-analysis more, much more. Twisting and turning in serene anguish, a pitiful excuse
of existence, Its so claustrophobic at times, they find themselves caught in rare moments of meta-physical debilitations.
In very rarely recognizable individual inclinations of being. Stagnation breeds pestilence.
The infinite Other, the other Other's self, a sort of return journey. an intimidating corpse-like thing rooted in broad daylight for all to see for all to bury.
ÂŠ omar baz radwan, 2016
Biographical Biographical Note: James Morrow Boyd
James Morrow Boyd grew up in Larne and near Glenarm. He lives away, but his heart is in The Glens. He is a physicist, who has spent inattentive hours at seminars, colloquia and conferences, writing verse
Remembering John Herivel Last week, at Bletchley Park, I saw John Herivel remembered; This dryasdust man, who lectured on mechanics, The tear in the sleeve of his gown never mended; Lectured with precision but no passion, Chalking Hamiltonians in that squat round hand, No wonderwhy, no wherefore, nor even when; Just spelt out, Ulsterspare, Tuesdays, Thursdays, Saturdays at ten. He was my tutor, one short term; I remember asking once, too unpreparedly, What Carathéodory and his Pfaffian forms Were all about—and leaving none the wiser. Away, back in Belfast, I saw him just the once, One finger-numbing January morning, Dublin-bound, Boarding the Enterprise at Great Victoria Street. A nod, the only glimmer of shared memory. It came as no small surprise, years on, With the unshuttering of Bletchley Park, To learn what Herivel had done. This boy, not long out of Methody, Hailed Wunderkind, for Herivelismus, An insight—more psychology than cryptology— That could puncture Enigma, distilling Ten thousand rotor settings down to double figures; All from insinuating himself into the psyche Of an idle Ringstellung operator. Herivel, this will not be forgotten, they told him, And showed him off to Churchill, Exhibit H. It took this Edwardian longer than some To breach the Bletchley code and tell his story. Reading Herivelismus is to hear him again, In those long-ago days of Dynamics at ten; A hearing that tells me more of the man I never knew, And wish, too late, I had; This man, who had recognition early, if fame left it late. Herivel, this will not be forgotten…. John Herivel, neither.
Entropy or S I wrote a kind of apologia once, Musing at Snow's Two Cultures take On the discomfit of Literary Men At assay by the Second Law of THD. Entropy, I wrote, one might as well confess, Was something not well known. In physics, it’s called S. Now it seems, it’s everywhere; Black holes exude it. It’s known to all, A presence clamant, a poetry its own. Even Faber and Faber allow it. It’s pain, I read, it’s beauty and it’s life; It’s force, a spark, it’s emptiness besides; It comes in bursts, accelerates; it rules, It’s all of these, and more; it does all that, betimes. The writing was on the wall Once Yeats let things fall apart And anarchy was loosed upon the world. Then, last summer, it dawned on me. Maybe they’re right. They have the words. écoute-les s’ajouter les mots aux mots. They’re never done. They own it now. It’s little more—little more than Beckett, at the end, Wondering, Comment dire? What odds! Go with it. Glimpsing the wilderness that was my mother’s rockery, A thing of beauty in her time, Order that would have done Kobe or Kyoto credit, Sixty years she had battled, held it at bay— With fork and trowel and knowing fingers, Scaling The Roddens’ limestoned heights— I saw its hydra head, skulking there. Pain? Emptiness? Anarchy? Old Endgame? All of those, maybe.
Till, turning, I saw again her Acer palmatum, Graceful in leaf, the siege withstood, Still, in disdain at the rank metastasis about; And understood fond memory has an entropy its own, Something of more embrace than S.
ÂŠTJM Boyd Email:firstname.lastname@example.org
Walking to breakfast with Philip Larkin Larkin, strigine, light-macked loose Sloping to breakfast in Belfast drizzle; Out of the Chambers, rounding a Stranmillis bus, I catch him up and head breakfastward, awkwardly together. I think of thanking him for undoing An Issue Desk embargo on an interlibrary loan— Landau’s take on Landau-Zener’s level-crossings, Quantum-obscured in Phys. Zeits. Sowjetunion— But let it pass, as too contrived a politesse For after eight of a dreigh November day. We had the Bibliohalle abeam By the time we found a wavelength to tune to On God knows what. Within, alreadying the day, Miss Megaw, unbending sentinel of the Issue Desk, To whom books were not so much a load of crap, More a source of fines for late returns. On, by the glassblower’s shop now, The umbrella of my staircase neighbour, Visiting Professor, Litt. Latinitatis, kyotensis Passes, breakfasted, ungreeted. Familiared, It was said, Tojo sum, in Larkinscoff. Had he, I wondered, a familiaring for Miss Megaw? We take the McMordie Hall steps twoatatime To beat the deadbreadline of halfpasteight, With Sadie, gimlet-eyed, ladle swilled, Primed to down the hatch. No porridge for Mr. Larkin. Late again, to me. Tay, Mr. Larkin?
Going too Far with Robert Harbinson Sloan, I remember arguing with one of my professors, a Dr. Sloan about that— the Uncertainty Principle—and accusing him, more or less, of dishonesty. He was getting heated too and said, ‘You’re going too far.’ John Bell, in Jeremy Bernstein’s Quantum Profiles, Princeton (1991)
Robert Harbinson Sloan has come to late notoriety At the hands of John Bell. Forty years on, A taped remembering of their dispute about Uncertainty, Revived my own memory of Sloan’s Spectroscopy, Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays at nine. I have his notes, their intermittent blanks accusing still Of Saturday mornings overslept. I had issues of my own with Sloan. But my uncertainties were not Bell’s deep doubts, More a wearying at his tireless panning The Periodic Table’s spectral silt. Grey Belfast dawns, Unlit by his unpacking multiplets in manganese; The incomprehension of his rendering Of those spectroscopic runes, LS-coupling, and JJ, Pens grafted to his fingers— God knows how many pens the man kept pocketed— LS-finger-splayed, before some sleight of hand Contorted to JJ. Pushed forward once, unlikely shop steward, I ventured the impertinence that this cat’s-cradle Of fingerpens was hindrance, more than help. I see those pale eyes still, unblinking in affront, Giving no quarter, eyes that said, You’re going too far! R.H.Sloan was, maybe, the only man I ever knew Who read the Physical Review on holiday. I watched him at it once, in his caravan Over Carnlough strand, scouring hot pressings From Lamb and Retherford, Rabi, Kusch, The unforgettable Polykarp Kusch, Nuggets for his RF Spectroscopy in the new term, Lectures, like no others, that took us to the front. For glimpses like those, you could forgive a man His multiplets in manganese.
I think back now, how, away from Queenâ€™s, Loosed from that dais, From the fond garrotte of his Honours Lab. He might have been a player on that park. For, at the bench, fingers shorn of pens, He was a man transformed, a Magus touch That never failed to breathe new life Into circuitry, dead to all other coaxing. He never forgave me for once shorting His valve electrometer in that Honours Lab. Bloody fool, those pale eyes said, and turned away. Not a man for going too far, Robert Harbinson Sloan.
Skimming Stones, Moelfre Beach, August, 2003 For Haydn and Evan
The mackerel had gone offshore, So we took to skimming stones On a flat sea, from the beach at Moelfre, My grandsons and I. I told Haydn, nine, and Evan, seven, That a fellow called Steiner—who other!— Had skimmed a stone across a river, Forty bounces. A record. In Pennsylvania. Having watched my attempts at double figures Unavailing, Haydn pronounced it impossible. Evan wondered who first skimmed a stone. Who indeed? Were stones skimmed In that long wait at Babylon? Or here, at Moelfre? Legionaries patrolling from Caergybi, A day’s march across Mona, Idling a summer evening, this same armory at their feet, Flints, flat-faced from aeons milling in the Irish Sea, A Steiner in the ranks? So—double figures, what’s the secret? Flat, for a start. We had those aplenty. Fast, that too; flat and fast cast. How you throw it—this from Haydn; It had to stay on top of the sea, he said; So alignment, tilt, whatever we call it, That as well. Grip? Or did that happen anyway? We thought maybe it did, The curl of index finger, somehow intuitive, Guaranteeing spin. Spin, for stability. We had enough—shape and speed And tilt and spin. We hand-picked a pile of flats and set to. But never did make double figures, That August afternoon, On Moelfre beach.
Blue Moons or Quarks Ascending? Thoughts after holding vivas for the Granville Prize1
These kids can tell you more Than you may ever need to know About the thermodynamics of black holes, Or anyon you care to mention. Their history is sound. They speak with assurance of what took place In that first zillionth of a second after Big Bang. They’ve heard the latest tunings into CMB2, Neutrino flavours, what’s keeping Higgs’? Dark matter, energy darker yet, All these, mysteries to me. Pressed, they might even put a name To Schrödinger’s cat. So, instead of risking the latest take On some nuon I’ve never heard of, I invite them to wonder Why the harvest moon’s the size it is? Or ever blue? Why flags flap? What fixes a tides’ ripples on the sand? Stretches the skimming of a stone? Why rain rills down a slated roof? Or CDs rainbow, radial, in the sun? The kinds of thing Einstein told his barber. Such unconsidered trifles may help decide Which of this quartet gets the Granville Prize Than hearing over and again, The sounds of quarks ascending. 1
Awarded to the top First in Physics in the University of London. 2 Cosmic microwave background radiation, the “echo” of Big Bang.
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