ISSN 2053-6119 (Print) ISSN 2053-6127 (Online)
Featuring the works of Patricia Walsh, Greg Geis, Michael McAloran, Peter O'Neill, Daniel Wade, Chris Murray, Linda Tavakoli, Michael Whelan, Jack Grady, Silva Merjanian, Neil Ellman, Sharon Frye, James Anthony Rooney, Shauna Gilligan, Gordon Ferris, Mel Waldman, Eoghan Joseph Totten and John Byrne. Hard copies can be purchased from our website.
Issue No 48 September 2016
A New Ulster On the Wall Website
Editor: Amos Greig Editor: Arizahn Editor: Adam Rudden Contents
1. 2. 3. 4.
Sugar free Mints Redundant Music In War of Time Insurrective
Greg Geis; 1. Ask A Tattooist 2. To Li Po Pissing on the Rainbow 3. I Google mapped the place you died 4. The Idea of Disorder at Key West Michael McAloran; 1. Extracts Peter Oâ€™Neill; 1. Four from The Gombeen Daniel Wade; 1. Romans at Drumanagh 2. Tauroctony 3. After the Bailey 4. The Liner Reina Del Pacifico During Sea Trials Chris Murray; 1. Morning in the Garden 2. Tabernacle 3. Mallards Michael Whelan; 1. Upon Returing From a visit to the grave of my parents 2. Something 3. Thomas Kettle 4. Wilfred Owenâ€™s Grave 5. Hurricane 6. The Five Thousand
Jack Grady; 1. Treebones 2. Striptease 3. Some and Others (transversion of Les uns et Les autres by Jean Follain) 4. The Secret (transversion of Le Secret by Jean Follain) Silva Merjanian; 1. Trompe Loeil Dreams Neil Ellman; Ekphrastic series based on the paintings of Paul Klee 1. Wall Painting from the Temple of Longing 2. Ravaged Land 3. Child Consecrated to Suffering 4. The Traveling Circus Sharon Frye; 1. Origami Smile James Anthony Rooney; 1. Lou poem – River Rafting 2. Lou poem – Friend 3. Lou poem – Spikes 4. Lou poem - Change Shauna Gilligan; 1. A Hesitating Heart feels the touch of a gentleman (prose) Gordon Ferris; 1. On the Way (prose) 2. Three poems Mel Waldman; 1. Four Poems by Dr Mel Waldman
On The Wall Message from the Alleycats
Round the Back
Linda Tavakoli; 1. Iran – Opening Doors
John Byrne; 1. Four Tanka 2. Who Helps a Mother 3. Complete 4. At Ease
Eoghan Joseph Totten; 1. Annalong Harbour 2. Amphion Vir Uladh 3. Palm Fronds 4. Elegy 5. Hatless Beckett
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€œSelkieâ€? by Amos Greig
“Every spot of the old world is overrun with oppression. Freedom hath been hunted round the globe. Asia, and Afrca, have long expelled her. Europe regards her like a stranger, and England hath given her warning to depart. O! Receive the fugitive, and prepare in time an asylum for mankind. ” Thomas Paine. Editorial September already it is amazing how time seems to fly sunset to dawn and back again in the blink of an eye. We have quite the spread for you in this issue a travelogue of Iran, Latin poetry, prose and tanka. I won’t be changing my editorial much this month as many of the issues I discussed last month are sadly still relevant my heart bleeds for those caught up in this chaos. I like to think of this magazine as a multicultural magazine our door being open to every culture and creed for myself as an editor I find that it is important to leave my politics and my personal ethnic and religious baggage outside. ANU will always be a neutral venue granted that isn’t an easy thing to do but poetry and prose have no borders, no religious barriers or at least it shouldn’t. I draw the line at hate speech or violence towards a culture or individual. I understand that that might burn some bridges or make things awkward for us in the future I don’t care I will not provide a platform for that even if I feel the same way it goes against the very reason for why I made A New Ulster and I will not abandon those principles even if it costs friendships. In saying that I do have to comment on something namely the recent attacks in Syria, Iraq and Normandy. Hundreds of people are being bombed every day in Syria for them it has become normal, in Iraq car bombings are nearly an every day occurrance and again this has become normal. I’ve lived through the Troubles and have experienced riots, bombings, shootings and beatings these became normal. That’s messedup no society should have to experience that ever its no way of life I remember talking with a Bosnian and for them dodging sniper fire to go shopping was normal. Finally the situation in Normandy is horrific I’ve seen people calling the priest a martyr and I believe that that is a mistake ISIL wants a holy war they are a doomsday sect and want nothing more than to fan the flames. We have to deal with them yes but the language we use needs to be treated with caution. May all those who have suffered in the recent violence find peace.
Amos Greig Editor.
Biographical Note: Patricia Walsh
Patricia was born and raised in the parish of Mourneabbey, Co Cork, Ireland, and was educated in University College Cork, graduating with an MA in Archaeology in 2000. Previously she had published one collection of poetry, titled Continuity Errors, with Lapwing Publications n 2010, and has since been published in a variety of print and online journals. These include: The Fractured Nuance; Revival Magazine; Ink Sweat and Tears; Drunk Monkeys; Hesterglock Press; Linnet's Wing, Narrator International, and The Evening Echo, a local Cork newspaper with a wide circulation. Patricia was the featured artist for June 2015 in the Rain Party Disaster Journal. In addition, she has also published a novel, titled The Quest for Lost Eire, in 2014.
Sugar Free Mints (Patricia Walsh) Exhausted, sleeping on borrowed time Humiliated difference remains my own Hitting on undesirable faulting for the taking Bald clapping on alighting the podium. Buildings scraping the sky at dinnertime All alone the watchtower, keenly seen Open windows for a bit of air, licking the wind Grocery shopping a gratuitious exercise. Concerned, yeah, right! Preserving socialising Photgrammeting pity on a telephoen informant Safeguarding social outlets, regaling stories Of good times not shared, but to one alone. Weeking news of collegeâ€™s delirium Spouted by an incessant desire for contacts Kissed by the ringleader, a badge of honour Intiated into inner squares, pregnant or not. Starving for glucouse, base sugar, carbohydrate Swigging Diet Coke in a normal glare Tabs on alcohol, concerned yet again Incidents treasures for censure later. Glad not to be seen, spoken or associated with Cupping fingers over coffee a poisonous act An education worth providing, a life foretold Not saluting the downfall of a joyous association.
Redundant Music (Patricia Walsh) It catches by the folds from my sleeve To dance from a static stance Iâ€™ve heard this music before Fulfilling purpose as itâ€™s supposed to do. I meekly acquiesce Being able to do wors is ever presence Scarred by bad choices in history Asexual ground hitting the ground running. Coming face to face with you. Do I like this? You breathe nothing, eye roll in contact With mine, an interesting blue sunburst Missing in action through this spectacle. Toying with permanence, if it be your will. The music slowly louder as I fall into Your universe, sun moon, stars Another planet that can support life. Cajoled in silence that is humdrum life Plunged into a kiss that goes on for an age Not excusing the time or ther appointments I remain in your arms, an open secret. The violins cease, the lights dim You still remain, oblivious to silence Hitting on decency, cracking the shell Of the impossible traveller on the merry-go-round.
In War of Time (Patricia Walsh) Form, like an endangered species Snakes past its way to bad handwriting Personal wars a staple for mockery. Emergence from ashes of politics Dirty, contemporary, used for points West Britain a portmanteau insult. Not that it is not right, but not possible Full employment a reachable goal More so, that barbed unity. Plagiarising sentiment, freedom in spades, Loyal to de Valera, frugal comforts Dead men talking about the next best thing. Singing the last post and chorus Underground insurrection a passive voice. Filtered through laptops, information secured. Paying through pennies, some noble act Teaching lessons on breaking knavery, Consensus on the impossible shattering up. Bloody days of the week fulfilled. Planting landmines and bombs at will Backs to the future, shoulders at the wheel, Persistently cleaning the bloodstains away, Gravity’s push compensates for lost senses A new look on life as we still know it. Reprobates’ memoirs, quoting the zeitgeist Of a redeemed past, a hireath forestalled Convention in the annoal of provincial talk. Claiming republicanism as one’s own, Boundary commission a course concelebrated An inbred insurrection, a freedom curtailed. This is the kind of country we fought for Wrecking the place for an astute truth Not sourcing the origins of conflict.
Insurrective (Patricia Walsh) A new day setting, on a promised land Navigating throgh the importance of a deed undone Marking words where planting at will Fighting the Brits on oneâ€™s own terms. The lion sleeps tonight, through the sound of rubbish, Bordering through division a genuine chore Not a good fit for publication now Analysing through dross for a perfect size. Memories of failure, insufficient street cred Sailing a virgin sea, a comparative mess Some ethical questions need to be asked Time and place still needs some sorting out. Contemporary revelation, history and society Comfortable focus on events at hand Being thanked for ideologies not oneâ€™s own Hitting soundbytes like stars pirouetting the sky. Frustrated politics in cities and provinces Not heeding the warnings on countless books Some private turmoil becomes the argument With which be beat ourselves with. Some endgame, disillusioned history Stalemate of sovereignity, self-same rule, Not governing enough to fulfill a purpose Not stringent enough to realise the present.
Biographical Note: D. G. Geis
D.G. Geis lives in Houston, Texas. He has an undergraduate degree in English Literature from the University of Houston and a graduate degree in philosophy from California State University. His first book,Mockumentary, is forthcoming from Tupelo Press (Leapfolio) in January 2017. His poetry has appeared or is forthcoming in Fjords, Skylight 47 (Ireland), Memoryhouse, 491 Magazine, Lost Coast, The Fish Anthology (Ireland), Blue Bonnet Review, The Broadkill Review, A Quiet Courage, SoftBlow International Poetry Journal (Singapore), Blinders, Burningword Literary Journal, Poetry Scotland (Open Mouse), Crosswinds, Scarlet Leaf, Zingara, Sweet Tree, Atrocity Exhibition, Driftwood Press, Tamsen, Rat's Ass, Bad Acid, Crack the Spine, Collapsar, Grub Street, Slippery Elm, Ricochet, Les RĂŞves des Notre Ours The Write Place at the Write Time, Steam Ticket, Razor, Origami, Matador, Cheat River, Euphemism, Two Cities, The Hartskill Review, Sugar House, Amygdala, Literary Orphans, Dash, Zabaan (Pakistan), Clare, Panoplyzine, Boston Accent, Silkworm, Drylandlit, Permafrost, Gingerbread House, The Writing Disorder, Marathon Literary Review, The Machinery. Forage, Eclectica, Off the Coast, Damfino, and The Naugatuck Review.. He will be featured in a forthcoming Tupelo Press chapbook anthologizing 9 New Poets and is winner of Blue Bonnet Review's Fall 2015 Poetry Contest. He is editor-atlarge of Tamsen and a finalist for both The New Alchemy (University of Alaska) and Fish Prizes (Ireland).He read most recently (July 20) at the West Cork Literary Festival in Bantry, County Cork, Ireland.
Ask a tattooist (D. G. Geis) about true love-all the Suzannes smothered under Yin-Yangs or Michaels devoured by butterflies; the Karens lasered off with no more consideration than bacon frying in a pan. Or the Jasons now stamped VOID, as superfluous as a bounced check. Ask a tattooist about the fickleness of human nature, the irresolution of erasure, and the palimpsest of regret. That the tendency of ink is to waver enduringly and the word made flesh to deliquesce. How everything reckoned to a certainty can so easily be crossed out; everything, that is, except your birthmark. About which he informs you, regrettably--
nothing can be done. 13
To Li Po Pissing on the Rainbow (D. G. Geis) O Li Po-I read you when Iâ€™m sad or buzzed and need to hide like smokers in Pompeii after Vesuvius molded them into ashtrays. The tip of my e-cig glows white and my new Hyundai has lane assist. Screw smoking. Even driving drunk is safer now! So forget about embracing your reflection on the riverâ€™s moonlit face. Those days are gone. Now our empty mirror is a selfie stick. For this bedraggled old Buddha, time drizzles on the windshield of life as water in the gutter sparkles so cleanly on its long way home through the storm sewers winding underground to the sea. 14
I Google mapped the place you died (D. G. Geis)
It was a dot. You were not there, of course. but blasted off to parts unknown, unlike the bullet in your head which had a known trajectory. The pistol you dropped demanded its own territory, The Peoples Republic of Blood and Brains, and a map of your unmaking. Now I am the one who looks down from heaven. An obedient satellite spying out your memory. How strange it is that the world you haunt is such a magic place! By one click of the mouse, see how I make it larger.
The Idea of Disorder at Key West (D. G. Geis)
Wallace swung first and missed. Ernest countered with a hard right. Wallace landed a softy on Ernest’s jaw. Ernest slammed two in the breadbasket. Wallace broke his writing hand on Ernest’s head. Ernest bragged to his sister about beating up America’s greatest poet. Wallace slunk home with his tail between his legs and wrote The Idea of Order at Key West. And did it with one hand--one fucking hand, tied behind his back.
Biographical Note: Michael McAloran
. Michael Mc Aloran was Belfast born, (1976). He grew up in Co. Clare. He is the author of a number of collections of poetry, prose poetry, poetic aphorisms and prose, most notably 'Attributes', (Desperanto, NY, 2011), 'The Non Herein' & ‘Of Dead Silences’ (Lapwing Publications, 2011/ 2013), 'Of the Nothing Of’, 'The Zero Eye', 'The Bled Sun', 'In Damage Seasons',(Oneiros Books (U.K)--2013/ 14); 'Code #4 Texts', a collaboration with the Dutch poet, Aad de Gids, was also published in 2014 by Oneiros. He was also the editor/ creator of Bone Orchard Poetry, & edited for Oneiros Books (U.K 2013/ 2014). A further collection, 'Un-Sight/ UnSound (delirium X.), was published by gnOme books (U.S), and 'EchoNone' & 'Of Dissipating Traces' were also released by Oneiros Books...'breath(en) flux', a chapbook, was recently released by Hesterglock Press. Black Editions Press recently released 'in absentia' & 'In Arena Night', 'bone silences', plus two 'Untitled' projects...
...utter falter fall/ refallen/ falter utter none/ snap bone what/ blind solace bite/ faltered knocked from stray/ align/ what done/ till matter unto stray/ become what will ever having uttered once/ faint light filter through/ absence of redempt/ collapse/ un-bite bite mark breaks skin/ bitten all what dredge/ collapse resurgent knock given unto/ nothing/ dried bones/ how still to linger/ bitter aftermath/ untaste recollapse denuded hollow cleft what white/ sheared/ bled/ from outlook onset climb/ till marrow of/ fallen utter claim refallen/ echo din/ recollect relapse dread sky unfold of chariot breath/ in seamless break/ stun point/ knotted flesh marred silent prayer offered up/ for razor/ breath-like/ foreign/ recoil what matter dense around it goes some what or of to where-to-fore/ alack terse raises up to tear/ light-stream bloody solace not said once more/ again/ lock till nothing more from nothing ever/ walls warp yes less said of it/ so sung aloft breaks apart bone drift/ eases as it may till what/ or/ fleshed sarcophagus of memory/ drag hilt what tongue steel echo/ trace of blood white sheet grating none/ says butcherâ€™s paper wraps raw skull/ as flock escaping/ bitten in/ sodden with/ here or there what if till matter no/ matters not knotted reclimb of/ forget/ tossed coin sixpence drift alack/ returns endless dredge unfathom return unto/ skied-black colourless of voice/ naked twitch/ skinned appeal/ falter no/ again refalter fallen utter/ in skin of teeth/ in/ aborted/ why abort when fashion nothing tributary/
outward/ spits spittoon of nowhere left until/ breaks apart valves of feel/ eye/ all a-lock till here a no/ never once having/ gnarled fingers when nothing comes/ coiled in darkness fathomless a light in midst of suffocate of fist/ silently as/ till dead stone laughter collage of breath till heard dead dense/ what claimed/ reclamation/ scattered arisen what collectively nothing of preceding more unto/ till knock/ rapture/ fury depth/ it-spun cool entity nothing there/ recollect what passage point/ seamlessly ingrained/ lung/ ever in/ lung snap/ scar tissue of benign tears/...
...dread neither/ follow breach of waver stillness of collected breath/ sought solace in other/ in maggot kiss restruct till absolution eye/ construct of which given unto trace/ (less)/ as of gallows scattered confetti a broke stone sky/ flesh glimmer tint out of which until unparry/ meat till dim of closure/ so it/ bone silence dealt from out of fleshed veranda/ (close fist)/ this broken jaw/ ramparts scattered shells of being/ in redemptive no/ fallen falters falls unfallen/ again/ struck dead/ lapse/ again/ again unto from fragranced silences/ ever from/ carrion lights a deft reclusion rotting voice bled vocal out unto dissipating surface as/ it spun undone/ unto naught as was said as if to be forgotte/ impossibility of night/ till ruptured skyâ€™s resolve/ drag kick of scream into forage flesh/ what of/ echoâ€™s din/ aloud/ cacophony of unsung bleed/ shit for sustenance/ echo knock solace yes or no/ it bitten foray till laughter breaks all absent claims/ silence tomb what close of end/ opulence/ disclosure of emptied wound stir of/ collapsed vein of central exigent design/ in body lack/ arisen dead memory blight/ sucks dreams from silent tongue/ strips down scarlet silences through marrow ache/ desire what of yet settled/ given unto teeth what stammer damage light/ shines upon/
corpselit/ fingers itch for shiv unclosure/ wallâ€™s surface slides to barren floorboards/ ooze of revealed pulse-ridden meat/ locked lung collapse it bite reclaimed/ fallen yes unfaltering nothing yet or of/ until/ until all trace forgotten solace haven no/ bit sting clear glass reflection desolate sands stretching out into/ some/ foreign distance/ nothing more to see of it unto/ what of lapse light collapse/ season itch what bite still damage unto nothing left but circus exigency/ until/ until again/ lights extinguished/ shimmer of reflective fades out/ clear cut steel tumbleweed discarded/ falter fall excise bone nothing/ silenced over yet or of/ long shadow fall/ static/ dressage of toothen walls of burning silences/ else yes what of till spillage dressed regalia unto/ what or none redressed butcherâ€™s paper/ till dream what vortice/ drips from silent fingertips/ said without/ until once more...
...minced pulse-bulb/ rotten/ undone/ fossil speech dredge of eye closure sudden in outcry/ trace desolate expiration sunk sung hollow overture brace of sky-pelt knocked from dead/ stun once/ out I in-forgotten/ process unto disappearance glorious inglorious/ scar tissue absent tears/ banquet yes to collapse in fields forgotten lifeless -1/ +2 or other of/ (the) reek fill lung/ from tissue bled/ doorway opening into/ as if once speech echo-trace all that was thought to be claimed/ no more/ nothing of/ dredged flung to (the) dogs/ scraps of inedible shit/ bone whispers/ whispers to caress silences/ outcry of naught beckoning rejection of/ goes not/ said without/ victorious no/ nothing of in ever what doubt as if to/ seeming to be what other wrenched from/ eyes torn out/ as if it were said/ solace rupture breath/ meat matter what/ endless/ remnants of/ faltering fallen fall utter of/ cannot yet calamity/ broke stone cold ice wither dreaming/ in-dreaming of/ what none I-ed to claim what longing for in/ longing from/ from zero point/ unto zero else nor fathom/ spatial sense of/ passage unto/ from lapse collect/ spied eye/ utter here to lack/ lapse dread/ butcherâ€™s paper drifting shit-stained in (the) winds/
closes eyes sucked down into voidal distance no end to follow on from/ falter no/ devour lung eye from out of prism/ graceless to trace of/ outrospect/ collapse lack/ then let it commence it is said/ as if it never had/ forward unto that which is/ unto why no or yes no matter/ bled out/ carcass swing in kick of nightâ€™s denude/ and all that sings/ unsung/ falters fallen/ refallen ever unto if/ collapses not a word/ respoke as if from silenced/ in-dreamt capacity/ says no no nothing of till final edge upon/ so it is said what left upon/ till spasm upon surface deliverance what terse/ till tragedia non collision purpose sidelong glances view of sudden to expire unto/ still skinned less of purpose yes yet no climbs no height bone weighted/ silent bones resting in foreign as if/ skin atrophate/ absent laughter echoing out/ stillness to close upon garrotted throat/ it/ what/ what/ solace of malignant tears/ I-drags what lapse/ play of (the) eye rapacious erasure/ turns inwardly into sharp red crimson ache/ burns black upon sight what endeavour/ close eye wound/ skull bare to barren skied/ rapture of reclamation barren hollowed out/ what lapse to follow/ final as/ stretches in cold blank desert edge/ cracked open/ unto...
Biographical Note: Peter Oâ€™Neill
Peter O' Neill is the author of six collections of poetry, most recently Sker (Lapwing, 2016) and Divertimento The Muse is a Dominatrix ( mgv2>publishing, 2016). A translator of Dante and Baudelaire, he has also edited two publications with his publisher, Walter Ruhlmann, in France for mgv2>publishing; An Agamemnon Dead, an anthology of early twenty first century Irish poetry and Transverser, issue 81 of mgv2>datura. The founder of Donkey Shots, a festival of avant garde poetry held in his home-town of Skerries in north county Dublin, and The Gladstone Readings. His background is in philosophy and comparative literature. He was the writer in residence at the Loughshinny Boathouse Project for a three month period at the start of 2016, a position that was awarded to him by Fingal Arts. He is currently working on his first novel.
The Gombeen (Peter O’Neill)
Pertaining to a furious intelligence, Obsessed by cock, power and the Eucharist. With a fundamental mistrust of all education; Having a megalomaniac’s aversion to all introspectionTheir knowledge of the world being totally obscured By the base instincts of the utterly crude. A life shared in the company of sycophants and primitives, Who’d drop you in it as soon as you can say Y fronts! And, oddly betraying an atrocious sentimentality, Their world being one of extremes - ranging from tears to bestiality. They suck you in using only their chin, Like spiders, though fabricating nothing but spin. Spending the money of others to finance their Lethe, Parasitically alive down to their very last exacting breath.
Middle Age (Peter O’Neill)
Screw middle age! At least, that’s how I always Used to feel about it. You’re as old, or as young, As you feel. Or, so I used to think.
Then, like the dreaded furies, she left me With her calling cards, all three! Rhinitis, Thyroid dysfunction, and then just for good measure
She blessed me with an absolutely ghastly dose Of ulcerous colitis. Now, my life is governed by diets, Stress management and breath control.
I wait for my monthly meetings up at the hospital, To meet with my support group. Inside the reception Area I stop before the bakery shop
With its mountain of cream doughnuts and custard Tarts. There it stands like a fabulous metaphor for my Once mythic youth, when I could feast and gorge with impunity.
Mathew the Boatman Bid me come unto thee on the water (14:28)
By Bethsaida, near the Sea of Galilee, the boat came. Johnâ€™s decapitation seemed to throw a terrible shadow Upon the whole land. We were all frightened, restless, And so very tired. To be honest, we just wanted to sleep.
But, we left the crowds behind us and set sail. Jesus kept staring out upon the waves. For a whole day Peter just watched him, Sustained, no doubt, by the liquid luminescence.
How the light played upon the water, its solar power Unlimited, transcending all into unlimited credit. He must have thought about the pagans, who once loved it,
They who dwelt only in the tangible, Who put their hands out to touch it, Instead of waiting around for miracles to come.
L'homme et la mer-de (Peter O’Neill)
Sheep, a ghastly consommé, to the swirling form of cupcakes. These vertiginous constellations, floating like malignant nebula In the solid throne at the end of your hall... Shit, excrement, stools; Call them what you will. Yet, these grotesque floaters
Will be the very last trace of you. How apt, being a member Of a species which would appear to be shit-infected. Le mot de Cambrone; MERDE! Le merde qui est partout.
The shitty structures which we maintain and perpetuate. Up to our necks in it. Won’t be happy till we’re literally Drowning in it.
“Now man,” through these sweetened dumplings Nature seems to be whispering to you, “Embrace The imperium of your turbulent, khaki coloured oceans.”
Biographical Note: Daniel Wade
Daniel Wade is a 24-year-old poet and author from Dublin. His poetry has been published in Optic, Limerick Revival, Wordlegs (e-publication), The Stony Thursday Book (ed. Paddy Bushe), HeadSpace Magazine, the Seven Towers 2014 Census, the Bray Arts Journal, The Sea (charity anthology in aid of the RNLI), Sixteen Magazine (e-publication), The Bogman’s Cannon, Iodine Poetry Journal, Zymbol, The Runt, The Lonely Crowd and the Hennessey New Irish Writers’ page of the Irish Times. In Jan. 2017, ‘The Collector’, his first stage play, will be staged at the New Theatre in Dublin.
Romans at Drumanagh (Daniel Wade) So, did they arrive quietly with just a seaward breeze gurgling in their wake pruning the snap in their sails? Did they brace their swords before tramping ashore in lines as long and precise as the odes and stanzas they scratched onto vellum for their women back home?
Did they bring in olive flesh metal-snouted shields rusting helms coins of august silver, the entrails of empire? Did they wince at the cold hissing down from the cliff, louder than the bellow of spectators in an arena? Did they gulp on the limpid air, so free of dust and salt? Did they have a map or merely follow their noses? 30
And did they look their killers in the eye before dying as their honour codes required? Did their blood spill cleanly, thick and ripe as invasion? Was there a burial in evidence? Did the sky clear like a new page as torcs caught the light, clamping around each bladeriven neck? Did Hibernian rain and nameless clans fall before the russet vase, or the iron, narrowed eyes of islands?
In my hand I hold the earth, orbed by its luxuriance, a gilded carcass to flaunt before history and scrolls, the dust-eyed scholars murmuring together, all the fiery dregs of cities razed at my command, names like Latin pronouncements, brooches spiked as tusks, the centurions keeping watch 31
between dusk and daybreak to witness the sun-god spray his arrows over Romeâ€™s rooftops.
What we know of their forts is moot; legionary, citadel, promontory conjure enough blazing visions to keep the damp brain occupied. The shale crest of Lambay leaks a red moisture, drowns under its own hush.
There are men who will die rather than succumb to slavery; their encampments tier the cliffs where a rosy vexilla quivered in the baronial light.
But they will not be found here. No triumphal arch stands for them who dwell now in the laurel shade of soul-crowded Elysium.
Tauroctony (Daniel Wade) Here is the bull of antiquity, horns Whetted like pearly bone, whose holy Slaughter jolts the wall of the cave Like rapture. They have a name for it,
They call it Taurus, the wintry star. A drizzle Of blood, an elect hour on the sandstone altar, Its black, grunt-racked bulk lies supine, Tail wiggling crazily, hoofs like beer mugs
In a ruction of limb, as the cloaked god, Beardless, rock-spawned, draws his knife Out to finish. He has dragged the beast By its smoked hindquarter for miles now
To muzzle it to its death in this ante-chamber, Straddling it now, as he would a woman, Fingers curl-clenched into the hole of its snout, Glancing over his shoulder to a suppliant sun:
Let divine decree sink my reluctance. Hound and scorpion, raven and viper are all his aid, Chipping the chalice-rim, and the twin torchbearers, Their lampsâ€™ gold flicker, 33
Stand in an unmoved flank as he raises The blade to the snagged light, Plunges it down deep, planting it hard in the throbbing gullet. There is a sharp, crescent hiss. The bullâ€™s
Cowled eyes spring like sails, blood frothes and drools Over the altar, and the thrashing mass slumps Back on its bed of stone. The god savours his afterglow, Grisly salvation on his Roman hand.
After the Bailey i.m. Gerry Conlon, 1954-2014 (Daniel Wade)
After the Bailey, he walked the streets at sundown, inhaling death like a coal fume, his face bristly, boots scuffed to shreds, clutching a life he knew heâ€™d never resume.
Dawn smiled sadly on the Falls Road. He heard a drunkâ€™s red-raw laughter, worn out from dancing to the music of the spheres, the calm of hereafter,
the sprawl of a city in guarded remission. For all things, he felt he stood accused. He had to remind himself that, in prison, the sun and moon are easily confused.
The past is another country, they say. One he would never emigrate from. The last sound he needed to hear was the fateful echo of his own name,
chanted by protesters, spat by prison guards, or declared, at the pleasure of a judge, 35
as one more public enemy: an iron verdict, overseen from the altitudes of privilege.
He pushed invisible rocks from street to street, stooping against a bulk only he could feel, his nerve centre scorched by traumaâ€™s molten milk.
Another day to endure, Gerry Conlon. The sun rises for your trampled benefit, warming the blameless in a world where fortune favours only the well-connected.
The Liner Reina del Pacifico during Sea Trials The North Channel, September 11th, 1947 (Daniel Wade)
Like a beast’s airless belly, the Reina’s charred stokehold, a heat-slurred pyre weaving oil-mist to lagan one more fraught ship of a fraught state. Her gutted crankshafts boom in sight and mind scattering like motorized fanfare all the way across the North Channel to Harland’s.
The native gantries, poised as if forever above Belfast’s graving docks, stand quiet as a tug eases her upriver, a day after the fact. On slipway and wharf, yardmen pause at their work, doffing dunchers in sober respect for the newly dead and their ill-starred liner; silence briefly rules the deafening shipyard.
The war ended two years ago. Union flags fly at dutiful half-mast, drum and fife bang to tribal tempos, a sash of loyal flame fastens the city in two. lives are ruled by iron, the discordant opera of hammer banging off plate, crane sirens blaring on the Lough. 37
In that Mecca of smoker’s cough and craftsmanship, 1, 742 sturdy keels are laid all under the foreman’s scowl, and a shared Woodbine.
Work snowballs. Vessels that saw service in war return to their old functions, troopships converted back to liners, as if trauma can be so easily shakendown by a metal refit. Mild September: that it’s a day eminently suitable for sea trials cannot be contested. Once more, the Reina del Pacifico, aged but still with plenty of horsepower left in her, will ferry tourists to Latin America by way of Merseyside,
authorized for a full capacity of 886 passengers, powered on hydrocarbons. A floating shit-heap in her war years, she’s a great white titan again, one of Belfast’s proudest. Deep-water oblivion and failure in the bearings cross only the minds of naysayers. Yet, in sight of the shore, roughly seven miles off Copeland, raven-black smog gusts from her rear funnel. Overheating in her crank chamber has caused all four engines to explode, killing twenty-eight of her crew. Truly a perilous line of work to be in, not a vocation.
The accident seemed - and it is no exaggeration Of language - just impossible, but it happened.*
Measuring her miles in the Firth of Clyde away from the torrid sea full ahead, dead slow, half astern, stop. After today, she’ll be called a “hoodoo ship” - a vessel with bad luck riveted into her inboard and plating, her name a cautionary tale for marine engineers.
The escape hatch gapes, open as a secret: her engine room’s mined penetralia is more sewer than the motor auxiliary of a working ship, and a soonto-be luxury liner at that. A half-lit trove of arithmetical valves, control levers and shafts, where men are gathered, caked in dust, boosted on stale, whiskey-laced coffee… doing what, exactly?
Talking football, or shop? Slagging each other off or else getting on with it? Grumbling a work-song in flat unison, sweat oozing steadily on each brow as they brake the propeller shaft?
Brothers, boyfriends, husbands, sons, sons-in-law, 39
fitters, draughtsman, engineers, superintendents, chancers, drinkers, card players, amateur footballers soon-to-be-corpses each with a bone in his teeth for the job ahead. The motor thrums metrically above them. Shovels blunt and the fire room is seldom breached by daylight, only the pistonsâ€™ fiendish glow for visibility panelboards wire a crackly
transmission of hazard and hard labour, reeking of diesel and atomised air. It comes without warning.
A roar of glass shatters the routine, louder than the crunch of a rudder touching the water for the fist time. The men feel only the oilâ€™s toxic blast gorging on their jaws and sinews, flames dancing like locusts over heavy boiler suits, the smokeâ€™s acrid perfume swirling to their lungs, drowning screams in black overkill, its full thickness singeing them to cadavers. One writhes through the doorway of the water room like an effigy made sentient, his body engulfed, embers licking at his sleeve and eye, and another is crushed under a buckled stairwell, his wheezes stifled.
Some die instantly, while others have five more days to go before succumbing to their blisters. The rest 40
lie choked and stewed beneath burst pipes and lumps of steel in the flammable slurry, luminous spurts of arcing from where a light exploded in its fixture. Oil gushes contentedly as blood or mercy. They can wait only for rescue or death now.
* In Belfast, ghosts shuffle among dockside sheds toward the Queenâ€™s Island, nurtured from briny slag and sediment beyond steel plating, beyond ice-clause. Oily soot-stains on the funnel are the sole proof of an explosion ever taking place aboard the Reina del Pacifico. Work, wages, shipboard politics, all up in smoke. A cigarette case, stamped with the shipâ€™s name and image, is dropped over the side and down below, the engine room seethes like the belly of a whale wherein a man may find himself swallowed. The ghosts loiter in the fog. Freshly-cut flames ripple to their cores
(*Verdict given by Dr. H. P. Lowe, Belfast Coroner and chief identifier of the men killed in the Reina explosion)
Biographical Note: Christine Murray Christine Murray lives in Dublin. She has published a number of volumes, including a small collection of 'Cycles' and interdependent poems Cycles (Lapwing Press, 2013), She, a book-length single poem (Oneiros Books, March 2014) and The Blind (Oneiros Books, 2013). She has published two chapbooks Three Red Things (Smithereens Press, 2013) and Signature (Bone Orchard Press, 2014). She is curator of Poethead; a poetry blog. She is about to become an essayist.
Morning in the Garden (Christine Murray)
O heart ! My tree is full of small birds, red flowers. I am below the level of the bee, the wingbeat of the wren. A new robin dapples through his never-ending blue, green. My tree flowers beat red like hearts in warm rings. Morning in the garden is ÂŠ C. Murray
"Tabernacle" (Christine Murray)
gold-bodied a beetle dives into muck and dirt, a silica of glitter on his porch, his wing. there is no evidence of his home now it is vanished, small soil tabernacle he carried in the sun.
"Mallards" (Christine Murray)
This is the crossroads, this is where it is. Black cat has killed a male chaffinch. There are rusty feathers all over, feather blown they roll down the steps. Your freedom. robin heralds it, someone has put up bunting (even) You are caught on that first step of your descent in a pause of red and of white, in this absolute now.
Biographical Note: Michael Whelan
Michael J. Whelan is a soldier-poet, writer & historian (Curator – Irish Air Corps Aviation Museum) living in Tallaght County Dublin. He served as a peacekeeper in South Lebanon and Kosovo during the conflicts in those countries, which inspires much of his work. He was 2nd Place Winner in the Patrick Kavanagh Poetry Award 2011, Shortlisted in 2012 with a Special Commendation in 2013. He was 3rd Place Winner in the Jonathon Swift Creative Writing Awards 2012, shortlisted in the Doire Press and Cork Literary Manuscript Competitions and selected for the Eigse Eireann/Poetry Ireland Introductions 2012. His work has appeared in the Hennessy New Irish Writing 2013, Poetry Ireland Review, the Red Line Book Festival and other literary magazines and newspapers. New poems appeared in a new anthology titled ‘The Hundred Years War’ published by Bloodaxe UK in May 2014. He also has a collection called Peacekeeper published by Doire Press
UPON RETURNING FROM A VISIT TO THE GRAVE OF MY PARENTS (Michael J. Whelan)
To see things you have always seen – again but for the very first time – as if new, like the orange flowers hanging in the sun from the tops of long grass at the bottom of the garden or the tiny twig trapped by designs of a weathered spider web in the corner of a back garden chair, flying as if an aerofoil tested in a wind tunnel, the web - a wing, the twig - a rib, formed rigid like a child’s kite in flight, the sheets pegged to the clothes line above my head as if sails on white clouds journeying across the sky, the light and shadows on dancing leaves, the birdbath’s reflections flooding a sparkling river – everywhere, insects busy in their short existences, a seagull gliding high and the warm breeze - invisible as always, the trees playing its music softly like a distant ocean’s sound, bushes rolling as if waves along a shore are moments for life’s repair .
SOMETHING Michael J Whelan
Before you passed there was a place I wished for both of us to go, a minute in the past good enough for you and I to start over, a moment we might have identified, when both our hearts were listening. A place of common ground in the presence of your wife – my mother and we cared about an ending far off in the future when you died, a second’s sacred pulse when we spoke of love and I felt I knew you better than in all the years I couldn’t save your life – or mine.
So it happens still that I reach into your coffin to cut a lock of hair from behind your ear, 47
something tangible - of you that might somehow bring us solace, a lock for each of your children. And every time I do this thing it reminds me how your tears fell onto the face of my mother, when you saw her dead with disbelief, divorced but still you loved her. So we carry you now to her waiting ground on the shoulders of your grandsons and my brothers, where I hope you hear me whisper â€˜cheerio Dad, I love you, we missed our chance at finding each other,â€™ at the closing of your eyes.
THOMAS KETTLE (Michael J Whelan) (Irish poet, politician, economist, Author of ‘To my daughter, Betty, the gift of God’ killed in action WWI, listed on the Thiepval memorial to the missing, France)
I’ve been to Ginchy Tom, where you fell, like others I could not find you but, at Thiepval, there are strange silences that sweep along the green grass and through the arches. Stranger still, how your name – engraved among the lists of missing thousands on the grey Portland piers of this red monument reminds me how you once walked this same ground where now your bones are lost. You lived, fought for a future and died for it, 49
and ‘a dream, born in a herdsman’s shed.’ Surrounded by history your carved name speaks your last words to a daughter, like your poems, living, when you didn’t.
WILFRED OWENâ€™S GRAVE (Michael J Whelan) Ors, France - June 2013
I was not born then but I know that blood still gives meaning to the ground of wartime. So I stand at the place of your bones, youâ€™re still alive like your words in some other existence somewhere else, the cover portrait on your first book of poems you never saw, the pages of its verse I bring to you now to place upon your head, in the ether of the spoken words that spring you back to life each time I see through your dead eyes the last days of a distant Great War all those years ago 51
and I wonder if those lines you lived in were as close to the objective as they are now.
HURRICANE (Michael J Whelan) I tried to make it home in the hours before, but there was something electric in those trash blown streets, like a murder disturbed by warping trees. Dark clouds were already gathered up in mountains on the eveningâ€™s horizons when the sound reached my heart and I stopped to study a tornado of crows as their twisting petered out and they rested on the rooftops. The hurricane was coming and I wondered how the birds would survive when all the branches were breaking. The rain was how it touched my skin to make me feel alive.
THE FIVE THOUSAND (Michael J Whelan) Five thousand through the approaches of Ivernia, to the land of the Scotai we sailed, five thousand strong we were and the enemy met us there at Drumanagh where we rammed the Navis Iusora ashore
and I remember, yes, I Quintus of the 9th Legion, before I drew my gladius, before I jumped into the water, I threw my pilus ashore and in the name of Mars I swore, as it killed the first barbarian, to protect the aquilifer, I followed to keep the Eagle free, I would not betray it to this enemy,
and so in Ivernia we fought for Agricolaâ€™s glory, we lit the funeral pyres, built our palisades on the promontory, for while we held this foothold our soldiers died, 54
our tents were blown, but though the long grass was reddened and the winter that came was long I held my gladius strong!
*Inspired by a visit to the (supposed) Roman settlement on the Promontory at Drumanagh with Peter Oâ€™ Neill and Eithne Lannon - 2016
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 such publications as Crannรณg, Poet Lore, A New Ulster, The Galway Review, The Worcester Review, North West Words, Mauvaise Graine, Outburst Magazine, and The Runt, among others, as well as in anthologies such as And Agamemnon Dead: An Anthology of Early Twenty First Century Irish Poetry and 21 Poems, 21 Reasons for Choosing Jeremy Corbyn. Two other anthologies in which his work appeared were published by A New Ulster: Voices for Peace and Poetry Anthology Centenary Voices April 2016. He was the Irish poet invited to read his work at the third edition of the International Poetry Festival in Marrakesh, Morocco, an event in which he participated in April.
An earlier version of Tree Bones was published in issue 4 of The Worcester Review as Tree Bone #5.
An earlier version of Striptease of the Trees was published in issue 4 of The Worcester Review as Tree Bone #8.
Tree Bones (Jack Grady)
A gray day, and water drips from my capâ€™s brim while water soaks the dead wood: these tree bones I carry in my outstretched arms in groups of three, this final
and sacrificial fruit from a barren and chopped tree, whose bones I then arrange in the ordered ranks of a stacked battalion of body counts for immolation in my house.
They'll feed the wood-burning stove in the cellar, crackle and wheeze through the winter, as my lover and I, spellbound by wine, watch the ghost-dance of wood nymphs in fire.
We will listen to Debussy as tree bones turn to ash and smoke. We will kiss while our cat purrs in the warmth of our home,
and, under the skyâ€™s pillow-fight, snow swaddles this boneyard in a shroud of white. 57
Striptease (Jack Grady)
I hear the sounds of wood cutting, but I see no face near sockets exposed by the amputation of limbs from trees or triumphant over a freshly cut stump or beside the split and chopped cord, stacked neatly in back of my neighbour's house.
Only the sounds persisting from somewhere nearby: the whacking thud of an axe hitting wood or the whinging roar of a chainsaw while it spits woodchips like buckshot or a swarm of enraged bees.
They must come from that street I know is there but have never seen, these sounds of wood cutting, over there where the sun sets, where insistent hounds howl at house or moon and dog my sleep and my darlingâ€™s sleep,
over there where screening trees trip the Peeping Tom's eye. 58
But I hear the sounds of wood cutting, and I see leaves dropping in a slow tease like a dressing gown shrugged off shoulders to strip for my first glimpse of that street.
Some and Others (Transversion of Les uns les autres by Jean Follain) (Jack Grady)
Far from the worries of women the calm of an evening sometimes brings together the last small gardens on the curved road the profile of a man with open hands and the animal always sincere but others still in the grip of the oldest pain shake their fists around the candelabras shine a torch in the face of an imaginary host and search the darkness for the face of love.
The Secret (Transversion of Le Secret by Jean Follain) (Jack Grady)
Where do you hide, secret of the world, with your smell so powerful? Sometimes a gentle worker falls from a scaffolding and the wind still smells of lilac; misfortune and misery tenaciously possess the most beautiful bodies; hands in the evening tighten into fists while an animal falls asleep in the lodgings of men; peace is always spoiled, and war, ageless, always returns.
Biographical Note: Silva Merjanian
Silva Zanoyan Merjanian is a widely published poet residing in California. Her work is featured in anthologies and international poetry journals and read by Irish actress/narrator Eabha Rose. She has two volumes of poetry, Uncoil a Night (2013) and Rumor (Cold River Press 2015.) Proceeds from both books are entirely donated to refugees. Merjanian recently was the guest speaker at Ohio State University on the centennial of the Armenian Genocide. Sheâ€™s also been invited to read in poetry festivals and poetry societies such as the Austin Poetry Society and the ARPA Institute.â€¨Three of her poems have been nominated for Pushcart award this year, and her 2015 collections of poems Rumor was given Pinnacle Book Achievement Award for best poetry book for fall 2015 by NABE.
Trompe L'oeil Dreams (Silva Merjanian)
From time to time a vagrant breeze remembers a story it left behind in an alley,
where August sweats on charade bones and flies feed on tomorrowâ€™s bruised lips.
You said each street here, has its alley, cleaving a version of your story from memory.
Back home, we hung our dreams on clotheslines where they flapped and twisted on rooftops,
dodging every stray bullet, pretense and wink. These alleys are not for the faint of heart, here,
fragrant vines grow on drain pipes to windows painted on wide shoulders of stone walls.
Biographical Note: Neil Ellman
Neil Ellman is a poet from New Jersey who has published numerous poems, more than 1,000 of which are ekphrastic, in print and online journals, anthologies and chapbooks throughout the world. His latest chapbook, Of Angels & Demons, is based on the works of Paul Klee and will be available from Flutter Press in late September, 2016.
Wall Painting from the Temple of Longing (Neil Ellman) (inspired by the watercolor by Paul Klee)
The image hanging on the wall as if it were of a woman in a yellow dress and an acacia bloom of light around her head is no more like her than my innocence lost on a bed of straw in a moment in the dark of a clapboard barn when I was yet to be a man. In the temple of my longing I kneel before her likeness less like the face I remember than the one that peers down on me (as she had done so many times her eyes wide open) with an indifference born of time. It is here in this hollowed place hung together, side by side I her equal, she my bride where we will never meet again separated by an empty space that I can never cross to touch her lips to mine.
Ravaged Land (Neil Ellman) (watercolor by Paul Klee)
My land is ravaged my soul my language reduced to an idiom monuments destroyed churches on fire the streets littered with the afterbirths of unborn dreams. It was not foreseen how it came to this a land, a soul shredded and torn by avarice perhaps the movement of the stars around the burning face of a god or of a thousand-year flood that consumed the land. My land is ravaged my soul for no reason other than my pride.
Child Consecrated to Suffering (Neil Ellman) (oil and watercolor by Paul Klee)
The child is so accustomed to suffering that it barely feels the pain or knows what hunger is. It is in its hollowed face and hallowed bones how it was meant to live and die. It is in its eyes, withdrawn, with their wonder gone and trust dismissed as just another promise to be redeemed for a life betrayed consecrated to the misery of its flesh and soul blessĂŠd be the child in all of us who wait to eat at the table of the gods.
The Traveling Circus (Neil Ellman) (mixed media by Paul Klee)
They go from town to town traveling the distances between reality and make-believe between the flim-flam of the ring and the there-and-now of the everyday pausing for an instant in an empty lot or clearing in a grassy field in a far-off place in a world unlike their own then moving on to another then another performing their acts always the same repeated so many times even the clowns seem bored with themselves and then disappearing in the middle of the night the clowns without their paint the animals boxed in cars with barely the air to breathe and the tents disassembled as is their lives always on the road and never home.
Biographical Note: Sharon Frye
Sharon is a poet from Northern Oklahoma. When not delivering the mail, she likes to make a few noisy scrawls across a page or take her camera and capture moments.
Origami Smile (Sharon Frye)
He sat in the diner, silver head down eyes half open like a screen door ajar waiting for a child or a wife to rush in words tumbling out like notes of a song
He slipped down bottleneck of years back to days when his ten-year-old-eyes widened at bee pollen blessings spluttered against a patch-work sky
Wildflowers and bird nests were traded for silver, Eden exchanged for asphalt and a Superstore. Wizened eyes gazed out the dusty window, spied a Heineken
bottle gleaming in summer sunlight like the fake emerald he gave his wife one birthday- reverie was interrupted by the server’s “What’ll you have?”
Her soft syllables dangled mid-air she a wore a crown of spiked hair a tongue ring glistened when she spoke 70
like Auroraâ€™s drops of morning light
This little withered man reminded her of the Velveteen Rabbithis body shabby, eyes nearly falling out and heâ€™d lost most all his hair
She saw no weapon in the old vessel just someone who might need a corner of their mouth to curve into grace so she offered her gift, beaming
And eight decades of seasons planted in pleats, from top to bottom well-creased cheeks transformed into patterns of petals- an origami smile.
Biographical Note: James Rooney
James Rooney enjoys writing poetry. He's short on friends and there's nothing much on television. He's not sure why he writes Lou poems, but he does. One day he'll try professional help to see if Lou is really himself projected, or someone he met on a bus. He has a collection of poems called Molly being published, about a septuagenarian prostitute, her clients, and a nun called Sr Agnes. He likes living in Skerries.
James Anthony Rooney.
Lou knew Reality was horrendous. How the everyday Tethers on disaster, When the gentle warmth From the God sun Is a mother touch Condemning you to melanoma, Or how the sweet man youâ€™ve met Who speaks in smiles, Waits for kids at the school gate. It was a struggle Keeping it all at bay. Lou kept going because Everyone else kept going. He compensated, by Dating Drinking a lot And watching black comedy.
James Anthony Rooney
Lou contemplated his breaths, How one desperately followed the other In a never ending chain of anxiety That the next, might not arrive. These breaths never stopped, Like the treadmill he used in the gym, When Lou struggling for fitness, would Surrender himself, As the rubber road under his feet Rolled out non-stop. He contemplated his heartbeats, His body heat, his digestions, Imaginations, and sex hankerings. But when he thought about it, Really thought about it, He relaxed. It was just business as usual.
Lou also attends a yoga class conducted by Sophie, Shapely dressed in black leotards Who in ballet motions expresses the body, In fluidity and grace, raising Her leg past her ear, creating A head to toe noir dĂŠsir thigh... And for Lou, a major distraction.
Then his breath quickens And the totality of the bodily machinery Combine.
James Anthony Rooney
Ambivalence was one word, Forced another, Which fitted his emotional equilibrium And mental capacity to Absorb meeting Susan and Her new “We moved in together last week” Jerk. When they were ‘joined’, She could only cook eggs, Smelled like an ashtray, And considered oral hygiene, optional. He hated seeing her so happy, with Jerk. At one point she patted the guy’s chest And grinned, which Lou recognised As being distinctly different, to smiled. Jerk was in finance, while Lou was waiting for a course. He waved them goodbye Managing to stay slack, Holding back from Stepping into the waiting Pit of fire. He knew she hide the fact She’d head lice. 76
James Anthony Rooney
It was airborne, A disturbance In the between. The essence though, was Not of something there, but Of something missing. The moon had pulled a tide And the boat Was now inert and stranded. Magnetic poles had flipped With only heat Drawing bodies together. Lou knew soon The earth would crack And one of them would disappear.
Biographical Note: Shauna Gilligan
Shauna Gilligan lives in Celbridge, Kildare with her family and a black and white cat called Lucky. She writes short and long stories and i sinterested in the depiction of historical events in fiction, and creative processes. She is currently working on her second novel set in Mexico and in 2015 received an Arts Grants for Literature and was awarded the Cecil Day Lewis Literary Bursary for Literature. She is 2016 Community Writer-in-Residence with AikDwA in conjunction with the Irish Writersâ€™ Centre and Dublin City Council.
A Hesitating Heart feels the Touch of a Gentleman (Shauna Gilligan)
It was the weather. He didn’t turn up because of the weather.
Now, Mona grips the steering wheel and stops at traffic lights just before the turn onto the motorway. She watches the reflective green glow diagonal on the wet road and decides this sheen is a memory to keep. In wide sweeps, the wind sways her car and joins with the rain to cloud her vision. Then she remembers her promise: that she’ll visit the Defence Forces Museum and stand, staring in awe at the Brown Bess musket before strolling over ground where all sorts of World War Two prisoners passed years of their lives. But each time she tries to visit, she finds she cannot. Tonight – now that Colin’s absence has freed her – she will. She owes it to her mother and her grandmother but also to her grandfather. She feels the shards of fear gathering momentum like a fugue, pushing into her arms, down to her thin hands hidden inside thick gloves.
Mona whispers the word: internment. It sits between her tongue and the roof of her mouth, a word filled with truth. It slips between her lips rich, bare, open. It has a hard, definite ending.
But yet again, Mona drives past the exit for the stretch of exposed land: The Curragh. The steering wheel slips from her grip and the car swerves, but she gains control as the wipers work hard, beating back the rain. A rubber strip blows upright as the wiper scrapes across the glass. She glances in the rear-view, noticing the reflection of hair, a slice of pale forehead, and a sliver of cheek – all hers – partly obscuring the road she did not take as it disappears into the blackness behind her. She stares ahead again as a car overtakes. In the dark it is difficult to make out the colour. She’s hopeful that it might be Colin’s, perhaps following her to apologise for leaving her to dine in that large empty restaurant. 79
In the station where she buys her petrol there is a special offer of black gloves that you can use with a touch phone. Only €5 once you fill your card. She’s two stickers away from a full one. So she runs through the calculations. You get a sticker for every €40 you spend on petrol. Tonight is bringing her nearer to filling up, completing the card, getting those gloves. She could use her phone without worrying that the cold will take hold of her. She could telephone Colin.
She knows her news must have been a shock. Neither of them is young, yet neither are they old. They have something. Together, they have created. Life doesn’t wait for the third date, or the fifth dinner. Colin didn’t not turn up, she thinks. Something must have happened. He lives near where she is driving. Her heart hesitates. How strange the road looks at night, alone. How difference presents itself within view, in all its glorious evidence. Then suddenly she finds she’s swerving off the motorway and is driving back over the flyover. As her small car shakes, she laughs again. Nobody wants to be different. Nobody wants change, or newness, or novelty. Mona shivers. Colin left her – a woman of a certain age – alone on a night like this. No. She is not going to contact him.
The windscreen fogs. The car signals an alarm. The petrol light is on. She is not disturbed; this is what she wants. She longs to be rescued. She no longer wants to be the one helping, saving, fixing. She does not need to please anyone. She considers her options as she speeds down the motorway. There are a number of towns within a few kilometres. There are hotels. Her lips curl into a smile. Yes. She has enough money on her to stay overnight. Have a spa treatment in the morning. She speeds up, switches the heating to red. Yes. She will sit in the bar. Order a Martini. And wait. There will be somebody else there. Alone, like her. She will not ask his name; will not offer hers. Their love making will be silent, beautiful. She will
not have expectations of permanency. She dressed well for Colin this evening; she should not waste that effort.
Mona slows to a stop at lights again, breathes deeply. She considers her fear as she moves off. When she connects with her past in the fields where the internment camps once were she’ll know where she has come from, who she is. A name given to you without the flesh and heave of emotions still makes you who you are, she thinks. But there is more; every story told has another behind it. It is not what she might find there, in those fields, amongst the ruins of the huts or houses or whatever they were. Her fear covers what she will not find. There will be no evidence of her grandfather’s existence; there will be no reason to believe he was ever in the west side of the camp. Our side, she thinks. The local side, treated the worst. Her grandfather had believed it was his duty to escape at the first available opportunity. She’s heard of his attempts, all failed, before his eventual, and natural release. She has carried these stories, like worries inside her. She smiles now at the memory of the time when she used his words as a break up line with a boyfriend who’d shouted at her, called her names, even hit her. He’d watched her carefully as she’d repeated the line loudly.
It is my duty to escape at the first available opportunity.
Now Mona shrugs off the biting cold, ignoring the beeping of the car. The heat must be on, but she can’t feel it. She slows, pulls in to the side of the road by The Curragh. It is nearly eleven o’clock. She gets out of the car pushing the door as the wind blows it back towards her. She slides and stumbles, aware of a pressure inside; she must push on towards feeling, towards something that might be truth. She feels her heels sink into the soggy ground; unflowering gorse bushes at the edge of the fields poke her with sharp spikes. The rain and wind beat at her face, whip her legs. She wonders if she will fall over. She squints, shades her eyes against the dark but she cannot make anything out. 81
She tries to picture the shapes of the barracks, or the houses, or whatever lies in this expanse of flat lands trying its best to stay still as the wind whirls. She closes her eyes, aware of the rainwater sliding down her neck. So she wraps her grandfather’s mud brown scarf around her. She has been told this was the scarf he wore on his release. As she breathes in the smell of age and wet wool, she feels that something of him has been transmitted to her. That he was loved, respected even, and that she also carries that ability to be loved. Most of his comrades had waved with hats in their hands on the day of their release, their smiling faces thin in the photograph. Her grandfather, taller than the rest, and hatless, his scarf hanging over his shoulder, wore an oversized dark coat. She imagines that after the photograph was taken he’d curled this scarf around his neck for comfort.
Mona stares into the night, imagining her grandfather’s hands, cramped with the cold, writing letters full of love to the woman who was to become her grandmother. And, before the end of the War, together on his one evening of freedom at the weekend dance in Newbridge. Then he put her in the family way. She thinks of these two people, how they are nothing but stories passed to her; everything of them evidenced in two photographs. Her grandfather surrounded by men who have become ex-prisoners; her grandmother in a studio portrait with a high-necked lace blouse, a solemn beauty.
Her grandparents: people who made the mistake of loving.
Mona blinks. History repeats; silence ensues. And she realises as she slides back into the car and switches the ignition on that she will not make it home, or to the garage with the little petrol that’s left. There’s a hotel in Newbridge where the reception stays open until midnight. Mona arrives, ten minutes before closing, wet, and with stains of mascara down her face. She does not check the bar to see if there is a match for her there. Someone equally wet, as devoid of happiness as her. Instead, she thanks the woman at reception who gawks at her, 82
then tells her to enjoy her stay. She walks up the stairs, slowly. It is a nice staircase. Not grand, not fancy. But neither is it ordinary. It has something.
She pushes the key card in and out of the door slot. The green light does not appear. Her glance turns to the floor, the thick pile carpet where she might yet sleep. She thinks of how earlier that night the staff in the restaurant had apologised, embarrassed for her, as they asked her to leave. They needed to shut up before the weather – now classed as a storm, according to the radio – worsened. Nausea slides up towards her throat.
The green light suddenly blinks and she pushes the heavy door fully open. Mona slips the do not disturb sign on the door handle, sits the key card into the slot in the wall. She turns on all the lights in the room and bathroom. She wants to be illuminated, to feel radiant. She strips off her soaking clothes, leaves them in a wet pile on the floor. Then she washes her face, slowly and carefully with the warm water and soap that smells of summer.
As she dries her face, an image of a red hut from the east side of the camp slides into vision, and with a thud of realisation she knows that her grandfather was held on the foreign side. She thinks of his name and all its possible spellings, how her mother could never get it right because nobody really knew. Once he was free, he was gone from the country.
She lies down on the huge bed with startling white linens, and stares at the ceiling. The sickness starts to subside. Shades of green blink across her vision. She squeezes her eyes shut and red appears. Mona feels she is cocooned in this room. Or perhaps, she thinks, not wanting to open her eyes, in the face of danger she is corrugated – yet protected as her grandfather once was – in this box of a bedroom in the heart of Kildare.
Though she feels these people with their separate pasts – and futures that were to be even more separate – never wanted to create, she believes that together they discovered what 83
it meant to love. And so she decides that this baby inside her comes from love and not from want. Her heart skips a beat. Her heart hesitates; she still wonders what it means to want, feels a lack in herself.
And in the silence Mona waits for sleep, hoping it will pass its hand over her lids with the touch of a gentleman.
Biographical Note: Gordon Ferris
Gordon Ferris.is a Dublin writer and poet who has lived in Donegal for almost thirty year's. he has been published previously in several magazines.
On the way. (Gordon Ferris) Standing at the entrance to Connelly Station, looking down from the top of the escalator over the Luas line. The ticket office and ticket vending machines are to my left. I’m squinting my eyes trying to look up the hall at the timetable above the gate in the distance to see how long I had to spare before the train to Sligo was due to depart. I wanted coffee, strong coffee, one of those little leprechaun cups of pure energy you see in foreign films, I was bollixed from overindulging the night before in Stoneybatter. Couldn’t see the figures on the clock from where I was, so I moved closer dodging the numerous commuters of every ethnicity, colour, creed, speed of movement, from infuriatingly snail slow to, like a rabbit on speed. Thanks’, a nun said to me as I let her past with her huge suitcase making sure she wasn’t going to lash me across the back of the legs with the long leather belt thing that hung around her waist. Ah school memories, they can pop up anywhere. Over in the corner, looking on to the gates where you insert your ticket there was a little coffee shop, I asked the woman for one of those little cups of coffee, she said back to me “expresso” No, no hurry, I have an hour to spare”, I said in reply. I moved off wondering what she was smiling at and what she was saying to her co-worker in Italian I sat down at the table and soon became engrossed with the coming and goings of all the people putting their tickets through the machine at the turnstile type gates. The number of people who put their ticket in the wrong is amazing, they should colour the different ends of the tickets for egits and gobshite’s. Coffee had the desired effect, cartoon like in the way it hit you, and the suddenness of its effect. Eyes wide open, with invisible matchsticks holding them open. Suddenly feeling the urge to start moving. I headed to the shop just across from where I was sitting to get some munchies and something to read, for the journey. I was feeling full of beans, had loads of energy, maybe getting that coffee was a mistake, I thought, perhaps it would have been better to just get the head down for the three hours on the train and, God I hope I get a seat to myself. Didn’t want a repeat of the chatterbox I had on my last train trip experience. 86
He was ex-Private Wogan, he had entertained me with the fascinating story of his several disciplinary hearing and eventual discharge from the Irish Army. Something he joked, thought was imposable until he was kicked out himself. To cut his story short, apparently, he had been disciplined numerous times for drink related instances and insubordination to his superior officers, “officers, maybe, superior, the man doesn’t exist. “He said. The final straw came during his time stationed at the army camp in Finnar Camp in the late seventies. The army camp is positioned between Bundoran and Ballyshannon in the south of Donegal. He Moaned how it was that he lived in Ballyshannon, but Solders weren’t served in the pubs anywhere there and had to go to Bundoran to drink. At this time the troubles had brought bitter hatred to our little island, one of the potential targets in Ballyshannon was Cathleen Falls, the power station on the Belleek Road. It had already had one attempt at blowing it up, this would have been devastating to the town, releasing all the dammed waters of the River Erne on to town leaving a trail of destruction. The man who tried to plant the bomb failed miserably, blowing himself up in the process. Is any cause worth the loss of a life, no matter how unjust or downtrodden you feel? Anyway, ex Private Wogan was on duty this weekend and of course, it being the weekend he couldn’t stay out of the pub. What he hadn’t expected was an inspection by some visiting dignitary, accompanied by his own commanding officers who were checking the security of the power station and asking, in his opinion, silly questions, Private Wogan took offence at this, I’m in the army from boy hood, he thought, he would deal with this in his own manner. The commanding officer and his entourage came to where the two sentry’s were standing guard. They went to the first private, looked him up and down, asked some question which the nervous private answered with loud emphases on the Yes Sir. They came to Private Wogan now, they looked him up and down, when their head was bowed looking down, he mocked looking them up and down, to which the sergeant in the background nearly chocked. They came to the questions now, the commanding officer dressed him, Private Wogan, he began. “In the event of an enemy attack on this power station, what would your first reaction be?” “Well SIR, that would depend on the nature of the attack.” He replied.
“Well, suppose there was a submarine coming up the estuary to blow up the power station, how would you stop it.” The General asked, looking around, proud of himself.
“Well” He began. “I would reach down and grab my hand held rocket launcher and blow it out of the water” Everyone was silent at this, trying to hold in the laughter. “But” the officer, furiously snapped, “Where would you get the rocket launcher from, tell me that, will you” To which Wogan looked him straight in the eye and said, “I would get the launcher from the same feckin place you got your SUBMARINE. “And, that was how he got kicked out of the Irish army. Believe that or not, but stranger lies have been fiction and of course stranger fiction has been lies. In the shop, distracted by my thoughts, I didn’t notice at first the bit of commotion going on at the back entrence. Apparently, some junkie, off his face on whatever the trend for getting ones face off at this time, maybe, dog biscuit or Oxo cubes for all I knew. He was stuffing his pockets with Crunchies and packets of Rolo. Hardly objects that will get him the price of a fix, can you picture him going to his dealer, “Hey what kind a bag can I get for three crunchies and a mars bar” “Ye’ll be getting de-bagged if ye don’t get away from me with that shite” he would be told. Last I seen of the incident, was of the junkie being approached by two security guards and him trying to dump the bars in what he thought was a discreet manner, but in fact was really plain for all to see. He was unceremoniously thrown out and I went off to platform four to get my train.
1. (Gordon Ferris) That’s long enough, I’ll leave now Sitting here all night can’t wait any more can’t wait for the change to come can’t continue to turn the other cheek or have you turn your cheek as I try to kiss you, so blind. Are you going to avoid me for much longer there’s more I could be doing Instead of waiting here like a spare tool I could be elsewhere staring out of windows Onto city streets With strange people rushing past to be somewhere by six in time to let the dog out.
2. (Gordon Ferris)
There in the half light of a morning in November Frosty mist rises From spectral white streets. Stray mongrel passes, stops, looks and goes on. Dancing feet move from side to side to warm the frozen toes Calf's ache from keeping balance On the slow trek for the thirty-nine
3. (Gordon Ferris)
Dance crazily like shedding imaginary ticks from your body Talk incessantly like your head was overflowing Which is the easiest, words, images, or sound. Ask yourself stupid questions That’s what they all say! It’s not their world Live in my world for a while You might know me then. Wearing a blindfold doesn’t show you what it’s like to be a blind person.
Biographical Note: Dr Mel Waldman
Dr. Mel Waldman is a psychologist, poet, and writer whose stories have appeared in numerous magazines including HARDBOILED DETECTIVE, ESPIONAGE, THE SAINT, PULP METAL MAGAZINE, and AUDIENCE. His poems have been widely published in magazines and books including LIQUID IMAGINATION, THE BROOKLYN LITERARY REVIEW, THE BROOKLYN VOICE, BRICKPLIGHT, THE BITCHINâ€™ KITSCH, CRAB FAT MAGAZINE, SKIVE MAGAZINE, ODDBALL MAGAZINE, ON THE RUSK, POETRY PACIFIC, POETICA, RED FEZ, SQUAWK BACK, SWEET ANNIE & SWEET PEA REVIEW, THE JEWISH LITERARY JOURNAL, THE JEWISH PRESS, THE JERUSALEM POST, HOTMETAL PRESS, MAD SWIRL, HAGGARD & HALLOO, ASCENT ASPIRATIONS, and NAMASTE FIJI: THE INTERNATIONAL ANTHOLOGY OF POETRY. A past winner of the literary GRADIVA AWARD in Psychoanalysis, he was nominated for a PUSHCART PRIZE in literature and is the author of 11 books.
MY TRAVELS WITH HEMINGWAY’S CATS By Dr. Mel Waldman
Beneath a tropical sun, I met Marilyn Monroe & Charlie Chan, Marlene Dietrich & Othello, Katherine Hepburn A.K.A. Sunshine & Spencer Tracy, Liz Taylor & Mark Twain, Gertrude Stein & Edgar Allen Poe, Ginger Rogers & Smokey Robinson, Billy Holiday & Colette, Sarah Bernhardt & John Dos Passos, Zsa Zsa & Hemingstein, & U.S. #1.
Hemingway adored his glamorous cats as sweet as strawberry shortcake and apple pie with whipped cream, and notorious asHollywood movie stars.
Beneath a sensuous tropical sun, I discovered Papa Hemingway’s polydactyl cats, sixand-seven-toed exotic beauties, at his Key West house 20 years ago; lost time, unreal & surreal, those days are gone; only the rest of my vanishing life, a poetic romance of dreams & visions sometimes crushed by adamantine reality, remains.
Hemingway’s cats winked at me. They stole my soul, a bouquet of divine imagination.
Now, I look through the oval mirror in my secret room. It exists in inner space. And on this labyrinthine August night, I leave my Brooklyn home and return to Key West. I see Papa’s conch cats again and together, we saunter off to Mallory Square Dock. We watch the mystical sun, a red sphere of glory perched above the Gulf of Mexico, sink into the chimerical horizon.
After, we drift along Duval Street, a magical passage from the Atlantic Ocean to the Gulf of Mexico. I search for a past I can never touch again, a rainbow-time of turquoise promises, dazzling-white dreams, and gold visions. But Hemingway’s cats distract me. We dance in the circle of dreams and I forget the past.
And soon, I travel with Hemingwayâ€™s cats on a fantastic journey.
Farewell, old life. Hello, Marilyn Monroe & Charlie Chan, Marlene Dietrich & Othello, Katherine Hepburn A.K.A. Sunshine & Spencer Tracy, Liz Taylor & Mark Twain, Gertrude Stein & Edgar Allen Poe, Ginger Rogers & Smokey Robinson, Billy Holiday & Colette, Sarah Bernhardt & John Dos Passos, Zsa Zsa & Hemingstein, & U.S. #1.
Toss me a bouquet of divine imagination.
HOTEL NOWHERE By Dr. Mel Waldman
At Hotel Nowhere, Narcissus, the cocky hypnotist of the Catskills, performed every night, on a circular stage, circumambulating around his subject, grimacing and gesticulating, and swinging a glittering gold watch in a whirling arc, a pendulum of enchantment.
He commanded the swirling space and captured his audience and subjects. Or did he?
I drifted off, watched an old time cowboy twirl his magical rope at the rodeo and lasso the bull.
The night he subdued me, I faked being under his spell, even laughed hysterically on cue, as I transmogrified into a docile bull mercifully saved by the Master.
At Hotel Nowhere, nothing was real except my need to escape and pretend I was still alive.
THE SECRET ARTIST By Dr. Mel Waldman
I am an artist, but Mr. X, my unknown landlord, does not know my true identity. Not even Mr. Shamus, my nosy super, suspects.
(Ulysses, my original landlord/super, left town at the end of the 20th century.)
Half-a-century has passed since I moved in. Yet even now, my sacred paintings, covered in old wrapping paper, do not hang on the cracked walls of my ancient home.
I am an artist. But no one knows. Sometimes I forget too.
My secret paintings sit in my crumbling, crackling closets and against my discolored and decrepit walls.
Iâ€™m not supposed to be here.
(My ideal self warned me to move away in my youth before leaving me behind. Reluctantly, I remained in this pauperâ€™s home.)
But I am.
I never really moved in. This can’t be my home, is it? Do you know? Why am I still here in a wasteland of naked, moribund walls?
Perhaps, one day I’ll find a proper home with pristine walls where I’ll hang my paintings.
And throughout the labyrinthine night, alone with my lovely creations, I’ll listen to the susurrations of a familiar, distant voice whispering the whirling words, Welcome home, again and again, in a merry-go-round of magic, Welcome home.
NIRVANA ROAD By Dr. Mel Waldman
(on reading Gregory Corsoâ€™s poem-Poets Hitchhiking on the Highway)
On Nirvana Road,
in the high country,
I breathe celestial air,
a heavenly blend of hallucinogenic bliss, intoxicating & bestial, exploding with ecstasy
& bursting with an eerie Eros, I stroll along the cosmic highway,
stop by the side of the road & gaze at a glowing opalescent sign-
The Garden of Dreams, &
a soothing seductive voice, oozing from the Void beyond, whispers,
Evanescence, vanishing flower in the Garden of Dreams,
where do you go after the red sun flows above the Gulf of Nowhere &
disappears below the horizon? Where do you go?
& at this serendipitous moment,
the Beat Poet Gregory Corso comes out of the bushes, saunters to me, & grinning wickedly says,
“the sky chases the sun.”
& suddenly, a wormhole swallows the beautiful glittering sign
& Corso whispers in my ear,
“the ocean chases the fish.” 99
& so it goes & now, he sticks to me like a Siamese twin
& immersed in comic visions of the cosmos,
we baptize each other in a torrential downpour of existential silliness &
Gregory yells, “Let’s catch a ride in a pink Cadillac to Cloud 9.”
“Don’t like heights, Corso. High up my laughing gas brain swirls & staggers. High up on Highway Vertigo is too high. So come with me, come, down this Yellow Brick Road to...Dorothy & friends & pink-haired angels.”
“News flash, fellow poet, Nirvana Road is turquoise, silly dreamer.”
“Am I color blind or a free thinker? Really, this is a revelation!” “It’s a fantastic fact!”
“I’m giddy on truth, Corso.” “I’m just plain giddy.”
“Let’s blast off.”
“We’ll have a blast.”
“Shall we jump into the wormhole?” “And fully embrace Nirvana?”
“Off into inner space, Gregory Corso.” “Off to see the Grand Poet in the Garden of Dreams.”
“Countdown, to destiny, Corso, begins now-1-2-3 & jump!”
If you fancy submitting something but haven’t done so yet, or if you would like to send us some further examples of your work, here are our submission guidelines:
SUBMISSIONS NB – All artwork must be in either BMP or JPEG format. Indecent and/or offensive images will not be published, and anyone found to be in breach of this will be reported to the police. Images must be in either BMP or JPEG format. Please include your name, contact details, and a short biography. You are welcome to include a photograph of yourself – this may be in colour or black and white. We cannot be responsible for the loss of or damage to any material that is sent to us, so please send copies as opposed to originals. Images may be resized in order to fit “On the Wall”. This is purely for practicality. E-mail all submissions to: email@example.com and title your message as follows: (Type of work here) submitted to “A New Ulster” (name of writer/artist here); or for younger contributors: “Letters to the Alley Cats” (name of contributor/parent or guardian here). Letters, reviews and other communications such as Tweets will be published in “Round the Back”. Please note that submissions may be edited. All copyright remains with the original author/artist, and no infringement is intended. These guidelines make sorting through all of our submissions a much simpler task, allowing us to spend more of our time working on getting each new edition out!
September’s 2016’s MESSAGE FROM THE ALLEYCATS:
There’s an accidental theme in this months edition post on the Facebook Group if you can find it. 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”.
We continue to provide a platform for poets and artists around the world we want to offer our thanks to the following for their financial support Richard Halperin, John Grady, P.W. Bridgman, Bridie Breen, John Byrne, Arthur Broomfield, Silva Merjanin, Orla McAlinden, Michael Whelan, Sharon Donnell, Damien Smyth, Arthur Harrier, Maire Morrissey Cummins, Alistair Graham, Strider Marcus Jones Our anthologies https://issuu.com/amosgreig/docs/anu_present_voices_for_peace https://issuu.com/amosgreig/docs/anu_poetry_anthology_-april
Biographical Note: Lynda Tavakoli Tavakoli Lynda Tavakoli lives near Lisburn, County Down where she teaches special needs in a local primary school and facilitates a creative writing course at the Island Arts Centre. Her literary successes include short story and poetry prizes at Listowel, the Mencap short story competition and the Mail on Sunday novel competition. Lynda’s poems have been included in a variety of publications including Templar Poets’ Anthology Skein, Abridged, The Incubator Journal, Panning for Poems, Circle and Square, The Honest Ulsterman and Live Encounters magazine. She was selected as The Irish Times Hennessy poet of the month for October 2015. Lynda’s poetry and prose have been broadcast on BBC Radio Ulster and RTE Sunday Miscellany. She has written two novels Attachment and Of Broken Things and has been the recipient of both the Tyrone Guthrie and John Hewitt bursaries.
Iran – Opening doors
‘The sons of Adam are limbs of each other, having been created of one essence. When the calamity of time affects one limb the other limbs cannot remain at rest. If thou hast no sympathy for the troubles of others Thou art unworthy to be called by the name of a human.’ (Persian poet Saadi’s poem became a motto on the entrance of the United Nations building)
The Foreign and Commonwealth Office’s advice against travel to Iran has quite recently been lifted for most parts of the country. It has been long in coming but welcome nonetheless by those who may have previously been dissuaded to visit (Iran’s foreign visitors having been confined mainly to the most intrepid of travellers). That is unless, like me, there are family ties - my Persian husband having relatives still living and working in Tehran. For those holidaymakers who seek something different, something exotic and certainly something edifying then I would not hesitate in recommending a visit to a country that I have visited now on numerous occasions and learned to love. There is much work to be done however in terms of attracting tourism back into the country, not least of all the modernization of hotel accommodation, improved facilities at tourist attractions and so on. But these can be facilitated over time and with better understanding of what most modern travellers now demand. For me though, it’s about Iran’s history, geography and people, and in order to offer an insight into some elements of these let me tell you something of the Iran I know. We mainly fly into Tehran at night when the city lights twinkle below like a million candle flames in a black Persian sky. There is no hint then of the breathtaking location in which the city cradles itself - that pleasure is only revealed when the first vestige of daylight arrives the following morning and you catch sight of the beautiful Alborz Mountain range enfolding Tehran in its arms. On the ground the airport arrival lounge heaves with expectant relatives bearing posies of fresh flowers. This is hospitality Iranian style and a taster of the kindliness and generosity of a people who have a genuine desire to please. A mixture of pride and respect permeates Persian society, evident in almost every aspect of their daily lives and refreshingly contradictory to the images that have generally been portrayed on our television screens back home. Nothing prepares you for the traffic though. Tehran, with an estimated population of eight and a half million people, swarms with cars at almost every hour of the day or night. For the bravehearted visiting motorist road signage is good, written in both Farsi and English; road sense is not and drivers adhere to one rule only and that is that there are very few rules. I will never forget the first six lane junction negotiated during rush-hour traffic on my first visit. Iran has a complex climate ranging from subtropical to sub polar, thus dispelling the common belief that the entire country (roughly three times the size of France) is hot and covered in desert. Tehran enjoys all four seasons and on our visits, usually at Easter time, the weather is not dissimilar 3
In some respects spring is the best time of year to visit, coinciding as it does with the
Persian New Year or ‘Nowruz’ (the equivalent to our Christmas) when a holiday atmosphere prevails. Social gatherings between relatives and friends are common place thus satisfying the Persian partiality for small talk and discussion when a genuine show of interest from the visitor elicits a like response. Particularly fascinating for me are the views of my female counterparts regarding their religious dress and customs. But I find that, in the main, my probing questions are answered with both refreshing honesty and good humour. Persian cuisine offers a huge variety of culinary tastes. The national dish is of course basmati rice which is served in vast helpings with a wide assortment of complimentary sauces or several types of kebab. Tea (cha–yee) is regularly served black in see-through glasses and is an integral part of the hospitality of any Iranian household, but to the western palette may prove more palatable if taken with milk. Fruit is always readily available and offers a healthier option to the highly sweet confectionery that is preferred by the natives particularly during the New Year. Tehran itself is a city where history and heritage oddly collide with the twenty-first century. For me the lure of the bazaars and museums is hard to resist; the former proving mercifully free of the constant harassment that is often the trademark of many such Middle Eastern markets. The latter exemplifies the sense of national pride that is palpable wherever you go; not least of all in the National Carpet Museum of Iran which has on display some of the most beautiful and oldest Persian carpets in the world.
Juxtapose this with the state-of-the art electrical and computer equipment, satellite
television, ultra modern furnishings and décor within many homes, and you have the rather appealing dichotomy that is Tehran. Shiraz, Mashhad, Tabriz and Rasht are favourite cities offering diverse cultural insights for the traveller but my own favourite is Esfahan which according to Persian proverb is Nesf–e Jahan or ‘half the world’. It is a green, relaxed cosmopolitan city boasting the second largest square in the world (after Tiananmen) where ancient polo matches were once played under the eye of the residing Shah. The magnificent Masjed-e-Eman and Jame mosques, along with the Si-o-se pol and Khanjoo bridges crossing the Zayandeh River are only some of the must see attractions within the city. Back in Tehran and heading north over the Alborz Mountains lies the Caspian Sea, the largest landlocked body of water in the world. The journey across the mountains can be precarious but with views of Iran’s highest peak Qolleh-ye-Damavand standing at nearly 19,000 feet, it makes the trip wholly worthwhile. En route, the Persian penchant for picnics is greatly in evidence with cars parked at every conceivable space on the roadside necessitating the need for relaxation and social discourse even on an eight hour journey. Alcohol may be banned in Iran but it does not in any way prove to be a prerequisite for having a good time and one of the most appealing qualities of the people is their sense of fun. The very heart of Iranian society hinges on the importance of family and consequently entertainment tends to revolve around get-togethers that are not unlike the Irish ceili. But instead of toe tapping fiddle tunes there are
haunting Middle Eastern melodies often accompanied by displays of spontaneous dancing where no one, I soon discover, is exempt. For those wishing to visit Iran without the benefits of family contacts there are some fixed programme organised package tours available but these are limited in their range of choices. However, for the more independent traveller there are a reasonable number of travel agencies capable of organising a more customised service providing information on reservations, visas and interpreter guides (a necessity). Once you arrive in the country then, generally speaking, it’s sensible to adhere to the rules of common sense that should apply to all of us when we travel abroad – don’t carry wads of cash, keep your passport safe, respect the local laws and customs, or in the words of the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, ‘any behaviour that doesn’t have an obvious explanation can put you at risk, no matter how innocent you believe it to be,’ (in other words, don’t be stupid). It would be so easy to visit Iran with a closed mind and preconceived ideas and certainly there are aspects of its culture and religion that seem at odds with our more liberal beliefs here in the west. But I can only speak as I have found and that is of a place where the people have a deep respect for both themselves and others and where the visitor is welcomed with a sincerity often belied outside its boundaries. The green light is on – don’t miss it.
Biographical Note: John Jack Byrne John [Jack] Byrne lives in Co. Wicklow ,Ireland he has been writing for almost 6 years mainly poetry; Traditional and Japanese short form and has had some published success in UK , USA, Ireland in Anthologies, Magazines ,Ezines /Journals his blog can be found here: http://john-isleoftheharp.blogspot.ie/
Playful Wind by John Jack Byrne
Winter by John Jack Byrne
Tears by John Jack Byrne
Wee Folk by John Jack Byrne
Who Helps a Mother (John Jack Byrne)
Who helps a Mother as she weeps in the dust who affords her protection when the sword is thrust
Who hears her cries when sheâ€™s all alone for all her dead children who will atone
Once she had loved ones jewels of her heart then a bomb from the sky ripped them apart
She calls on her god for a reason why he choose to do nothing and allow them to die
Who helps a mother distraught in the dust what hope for tomorrow when her god she canâ€™t trust
Complete (John Jack Byrne) Joy in the rain smiles in the sun calm in the wind when our love begun Love in my heart the key to my dreams always to stroll In bright sunbeams Holding your hand compliments paid strengthening our love commitment made Together forever complete in our love under the night sky and stars above
At Ease (John Jack Byrne) On summer days when the skylark sings and a red kite circles on copper wings when tall pines dance and sway to the breeze these are the days when my mind’s at ease When the white surf breaks on the harbour wall the wind lifts the sea then lets it fall I walk with my dreams as calm as you please these are the days when my mind’s at ease From the mountain top to the valleys below through wild flower meadows I long to go with my heart’s true love to kiss and tease these are the days when my minds at ease From the bank of the river I watch life flow In happiness fast but in sadness slow without your love time would freeze you’re the reason my mind’s at ease
Five Poems By Eoghan Joseph Totten
Bio A County Down graduate scientist, he is a regrettably late discoverer of Greek and Latin classics. He seeks to affirm his identity through cultural expression, inheriting his great Grandfatherâ€™s legacy, active playwright in the 1930s BBC in the North of Ireland. He is very much in awe of the endurance of the written word over millennia, from The Bible to Cicero. Repetition delivers robustness: this is exhibited by language, a medium of resistance, as explored by Ezra Pound. As such, he has turned his hand to writing in poems in (poor) Latin, in order to observe its impact on the English. He appreciated Robert Gravesâ€™ views on poetic myth and the need to venerate primal emblems of poetry, from gorse through to fish. Above all, he seeks salvation in the work of Marcel Proust: that in the subconscious memory, one might find clarity.
Footnotes are numbered in order of appearance. For citations see bibliography.
Suffering is part of your training; God is treating you as his sons. Has there ever been any son whose father did not train him? -Hebrews 12:7
Annalong Harbour Driving that coast road south is like Crossing a threshold, whereupon We encounter errors set right, All modern redundancy gone, Overshadowed by unassuming Industry of men. They go About their business extolling Poise, timeless method that they know Will see them through. Towering harbour Walls with an entrance facing north split Choppy waters from calm. We fear For a quivering tug that flits On the horizon with her load Making for harbour’s haven, yet Dicing with the fathoms below: No choice but to stay the course set. Two men onboard, one captain, one Fisherman, ready themselves to Risk all at harbour’s mouth and gun Towards it. We lose sight now, glued Gazes on the gap. Make or break? The mast emerges, the tug’s rear End loaded with catch, its stake Split between the men, no fear Evident from their gait. Captain Draws on his cigarette, its glow Pulsing with the cadence of the Motor, earnest as a fetal heartbeat. The other casts anchor as Though indifferent to the lapsed Moment beyond the wall, where there Was a chance he might follow it Down below. Eoghan Joseph Totten
Amphīon Vir Uladh Lux arbores lavāt. Umbrae adytum tradis ad Hortī curatori. Lux mutat. Ergo mutant omnia. Nihil scandet. Scrībo cum linguā nova Verba peregrina rigus caedent Captivitate. Ferrarius faber cuprum et Stannum novellum utitur. Figurae gladiī itero. Virī cadent in aeternum. Poeta Apollinem et Dionysum fundit Et sicut Amphīon Dominus parat Perpetuas Cineres Thēbās. An Ulsterman’s Amphion Light bathes the trees. Shadows give sanctuary to The garden’s custodian. The light changes, Therefore everything changes. Nothing changes. I write with a new tongue. Foreign words thresh form by confinement. A blacksmith uses new copper and tin. The sword’s form repeats. Men falter recursively. The poet fuses the Apollonian and Dionysiac …And like Amphion That master rejuvenates endless Theban ashes. Eoghan Joseph Totten
Palm Fronds Contiguity evolves visibly with nature as The palm trees quiver in the wind. It suffers, it molts, it survives Therefore it endures but We forsake, forget our timeless laws, We distil the written word: Having killed out brethren Man, therefore, molts too. I stoop and pick up palm fronds In atonement. Eoghan Joseph Totten
Elegy I. St. Dominic’s, Belfast, 1970-71
The nuns in a flutter. Blackberry picking, a poem we Actually liked…and the one with knelling bells: friend’s sister Lost the same way. Canteen’s lunch racket. Seated at the staff Table. Long hair, bell-bottom trews. Poor man, having to eat Our school meals. Rice pudding like frog spawn. Mr. McLaverty Explaining later in class; workings of the new Queens guild, His understated books, quietly proud of something we Did not understand. We knew naught of him, yet remembered. II. Ulster Museum & Kilkenny Arts Festival, 2016 Pacing his portrait, I too fret over wide, seceded 2 Chasms between without and within. Later, another Gives voice to his Trojan verse as we descend Avernus 3 With him . It hits: now we have our own Misenus to mourn, 2
An omnipotent, timless artist as witness, passenger 4 On the Stygian ferry, attuned to bardic rhythms . Shedding light on Salmoneus, his pen set pine torches Flaring, venerating in tandem Greek, Trojan, spirit. 4
III. The Mantle of Duty, 2016What right have I to write of him? I know naught of him, yet His words coax my will, as I suffer my own labyrinth, my Impassable Avernus. In this world of ‘so-cial Med-i-a’, they guide us to Italia, as Anchises Did Aeneas, balancing keels in transcendent waters. Through which gate have we taken leave, true horn or false ivory? No way of telling, it’s beside the point: it’s up to us 5 Now. Greater men have struck out the ore of self in words to 5
Make an anvil. If left unused it rusts and wanes. We must Take up the pen and beat this, our language, back into shape. Eoghan Joseph Totten I.M. Seamus Heaney 1
Through the eyes of my Mother, aged twelve.
2 !(Heaney,!1995)! 3 !(Heaney,!2016)! 4
Hatless Beckett I’ve worn a sun hat pacing the garden With a book in hand, clawing for clarity In Proustian catacombs, searching for gold In the idleness of the past, driven To emulate Nestor before my time. That tantalising, linean prospect Of buoyed memory is struck down upon 16
Finding that Minihan’s Beckett, enshrined In that Parisian photo, in fact, Did not wear a hat, the very reason I donned my own in the first place, symbol Of musings running. Daphnes from Apollos … They are all utterly intractable Without hope of laurel sanctuaries. 7 Like Moran, I am done for . !
! Eoghan Joseph Totten th 25 April 2016 6 7
!John Minihan, Irish photographer, b. 1946 (Beckett and Jospovici, 1997)
Bibliography Beckett., S. and Jospovici., G. (1997). Molloy, Malone Dies, The Unnamed. London: Alfred A. Knopf. Graves., R. and Lindop., G. (1999). The White Goddess: A Historical Grammar of Poetic Myth, The Unnamed. London: Faber & Faber. Heaney., S. (1989). The Government of the Tongue. London: Faber & Faber, 91-109. Heaney., S. (1995). The Redress of Poetry. New York: Farrar, Straus & Giroux, 103-124.
Heaney., S. (2016). Aeneid, Book VI. London: Faber & Faber.
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