ISSN 2053-6119 (Print) ISSN 2053-6127 (Online)
Featuring the works of Jerry Vilhotti, Mark Young, Martin Burke, Darren Demaree, Eamonn Stewart, Martin Keaveney, James Anthony Rooney, John W Sexton, Will Daunt, Kevin Perkins, Alisa Velaj, Niels Hav, Gordon Ferris, Rosita Sweetman, Peter Oâ€™Neill and Gaynor Kane. Hard copies can be purchased from our website.
Issue No 51 December 2016
A New Ulster Prose On the Wall Website Editorial
Editor: Amos Greig Editor: E V Greig Editor: Arizahn Editor: Adam Rudden page 5
1. Prose Mark Young; 1. A line from Rembrandt van Rijn 2. Featuring women dancing 3. The Chi of Star Wars 4. Bucolic 5. Geographies: Faubourg St. John 6. Lacrima Martin Burke; 1. Blake Eamonn Stewart; 1. The Dream of Howard Kirk Martin Keaveney; 1. The Toys James Anthony Rooney; 1. Crash 2. All Night 3. Dating Site John W. Sexton; 1. Four Verses after Wang Wei (701-761) 2. Your Wife for Dust and Ashes after Li Bai (701-762) 3. A Moonlit Night after Tu Fu (712-770) 4. Dancers at the Enchanted Café after the painting by Rex Sexton Will Daunt; 1. It Was A Folly… 2. Burscough Curves 3. Midge Hall 4. Stop Here Too Gaynor Kane; 1. Bridging 2
2. Coupes 3. A poetry workshop 4. Sticks and stones Niels Hav; 1. Hunting Lizards in the Dark 2. In Defense of Poets 3. The Iceman 4. Epigram Gordon Ferris; 1. Overnight Rosita Sweetman: 1. The Cow’s Halleluiah 2. On Going to visit Aidan Higgins for the last time 3. Art is over 4. The daughters and their carpet beaters 5. The masters of war 6. Dublin my Dublin On The Wall Message from the Alleycats Kevin Perkins; 1) Drifters, Acrylic on Paper, 7.5"x11", 2016 2) The Mountain, Acrylic on Paper, 7x5"x11", 2016 Round the Back Alisa Velaj; Peter O’Neill
1. The Rhetoric’s of Modern Chaos in the poetry of Niels Hav 1. Gibbons Ruark review
Poetry, prose, art work and letters to be sent to: Submissions Editor A New Ulster 23 High Street, Ballyhalbert BT22 1BL Alternatively e-mail: email@example.com 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 Or via PEECHO 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€œSunset on Talboutsounâ€? by Amos Greig
“It is during our darkest moments that we must focus to see the light. ” Aristotle Onassis. Editorial I’ll not lie the editorial section of A New Ulster is for me the hardest part of the entire process I try to find positive things to share however from a personal perspective 2016 has not been an easy year. Watching the ongoing strife in Syria, Turkey and the rising tensions between Russia and the west all while waiting for treatment isn’t easy. In saying that this edition has some impressive work including pieces by John W Sexton Alisa Velaj and we’ve a special focus on Niels Hav a Danish poet. We have a range of poetry, prose and artwork for you to share and enjoy as well as an essay I stand by my belief that this magazine is open to everyone regardless of their history with being published or their religious or political background all we here at ANU ask for is that hate speech and personal attacks be left at the door. I like to think that we are a safe space without the over reaction that that term now generates. The social and political aspect of A New Ulster is still of importance to me I believe that poetry unites and brings together people from different walks of life and with the use of new technologies makes the world that much smaller. A New Ulster or ANU as some call it affectionatly has become a global phenomena with readers worldwide as well as submissions. I’d like to close this editorial by saying Happy holidays or Merry Christmas 2016. We’ve been really busy this year with the traditional 12 monthly issues we’ve also managed to produce 3 special anthologies no one knows what the year ahead will hold for us. I for one look forwards to the journey I hope to see some of you along the way.
Amos Greig Editor.
Biographical Note: Jerry Vilhotti
Jerry has had his collection of Tonepoems called: "Gods Depicting Pastime" accepted by a publisher and can be found on Amazon.
Prose (Jerry Vilhoti) Tom would call Johnny, his kid brother, and ask him if he could go up to their place in Connecticut to eat their Easter dinner with them as his wife said he couldn't go with her to the City of Brotherly Love since she suspected he was an anti Jewish guy sounding like that blowhard Trump playing a fiddle of hate on those who hated too and despite Tom saying he didn't hate all desert people for some of his best friends were Jews and A-rabys and so he couldn't go to Yom Kippur and Johnny would say despite all their past relationship throwing him out of the apartment twenty-one flights above Williamsburg when he was finishing his fourth years teaching at Bedford-Sty while his wife and one year old son were staying in Connecticut waiting for his coming back to their new home in the Litchfield Hills having been asked by their mother to do a "brothers keeper" over him and watch over Tom while he was searching for Christ and years after Tom would tell Johnny how sorry he was for all he had done on him and they became friends. Johnny told him he was welcomed to eat with him and his wife and their three children - a boy and two girls. He said as he broke bread that the world needed a cure. Tom began to cry.
Biographical Note: :Mark Young
Mark Young's most recent book is Mineral Terpsichore, from gradient books of Finland. An e-book, The Holy Sonnets unDonne, has recently come out from Red Ceilings Press, & another e-book, For the Witches of Romania, is due out from Beard of Bees.
A line from Rembrandt van Rijn (Mark Young) I can't watch videos, get error messages every time I try to download the latest free worst bear attack ever. I go out. My friends are astounded when my motor cycle, with its shelter, toilet, trail riding information & picnic tables, is not in its usual location. I'm trying to find a diamond heist in real time. No joy. No error messages, either.
Featuring women dancing (Mark Young) A pelican in a croptop Richard Sherman jersey is dancing on a Sherman tank. Nemo is to be given to Sherman's niece.
The Chi of Star Wars (Mark Young) In a galaxy far far away yin & yang are not in balance but locked in battle. Use the Force yin Luke. Come over to the Dark Side yang Skywalker.
Bucolic (Mark Young) Coincidence or indicative of intent â€” the bird swooping to pick the birdâ€™seye chillies from the bush has bright red patches around its eyes.
geographies: Faubourg St. John (Mark Young) It is rumored that the Welsh stoner metal band regarded as the pioneers of the genre actually began their career playing quadrilles at the St. Jean Fort in New Orleans some time in the early 18th century.
lacrima (Mark Young) Some style manual that I have never read but only seen referred to says Saxon before Latin words, just as an earlier style manual that was probably orally handed down said Greek before the Latin. So let me put this in a way that I might claim owes nothing to either but is intuitively influenced by both. Fuck you all. Lachrymose sings in the mouth much more than "tearful" or "given to weeping" even though derived from Latin.
Biographical Note: Martin Burke
Though born in Ireland poet and playwright Martin Burke lives in Belgium from where he has to date published sixteen books of his work including BLAKE/LONDON/BLAKE by Feral Press (USA) & IEPER by Lapwing Publications (UK)
BLAKE © Martin Burke 2016 -for Mary Angela Douglas I What now ye readers ye lovers of time’s epiphany on the golden mile As in those first visions when I sallied out on Broad Street Biblical world – and angels on London’s skyline Never doubting them nor doubting now the fire of my flame’s passion I the voyager, ferry and ferryman Journeyman of light threading words to a loom’s intent Tracing the deeper echoes of the age within this age Like a copper plate held up to the sun Then onwards, onwards towards the golden word O doubters I am confounding you! You who insist we live a few scattered hours on the earth Who are no more than an empty bell swinging in a blustering wind It is not so, it is not so I travel by inspiration and vital memory (The tribe’s true nature is my delight!) Yet reject this and you are living between the twilight and the darkness – an outcast from your heritage and then what have you to offer? Unbounded London appears to me the circuit of a world without limits London eternal in all its array in which my vision rooted but was not limited by its outer markings I have made of it a mandala Nor is this a subjective world which my eye alone is competent to access My brother saw the prophets where others only saw a naked tree
I do not ‘invent’, I have not ‘composed’, authors sing sweet songs and I transpose And the earth unwinding itself from disappointment into revelation An endlessness to my eye (Some descendent of my caste if not of my blood will justify this later in time) So flint the fire to brighter flame! Create a new genesis – cancel precedent so as to propose a new beginning Where no burnt ash sullies my eye or mouth With Christ the Imagination holding out the copper plates to me (By this alone am I justified) For I have a weaver’s soul Loom and shuttle-cock my means and act – golden thread from the city eternal to the city corporal from the spindle in my hands Where all, and by which, all is blessed and vision-drenched (O England I am set on your undoing!) Seeking the lost originals by which the past presses down on us with unchanging splendour Building a gothic house where prophet and patriarch may reside And the poets wrapped within by sepals of the cone (This is the landscape of the Master’s heart) So who now approaches with flame and purifying smoke? It is he with staff and book of fire – nor is he displaced from time or place He who is one with me in the workplace storm-cleared of Newton’s fallacy (This, o let this be your inheritance) For I have seen the splendid ones in all their splendid nudity out-tracing time and making death a plaything of the living As I wander in the landscape of their forms and meanings Seeing the changeless face behind the motions of the world 17
Seeing heaven long for the embrace of earth as if some dead king was exposed to light again But an art of vision and not of supposition â€“ (not out of nature but from my mindâ€™s eye) Validating the line which traces substantial images on the page at their discretion For I have heard its call and made ready to respond (O here is my signature) O beauteous forms! O singular ones in the firmament! O true authenticity! I come among you to know the intricacies of your ways No apprentice to the past but a lover of immortals (and I have seen Joseph among the rocks of Albion) Unyielding to a sordid rationality Who in the workshop of his soul caresses the strict austerity of stone with the alchemy of my mind Thus the ancients thrill within me Who even if the Sanhedrin of taste speak against me I will not cease to speak Walking towards the consummate vision Seeing and witnessing (Footprints leading where no footprints are) O fiends of the old duality how I batter you down! Not the fire next time but the blazing fire of now Composing as the bards did with the instruments and strings of inspiration Compiling all for the sake of the world and drawing my stock from your brightlyspun arsenal Nor lesser brightness blunt my pen and page O wild exuberance of vine, emblem of desire unmitigated! how my verse finds its foretaste in you Dissent! Dissent!, not the shackles of orthodoxy but the fiery wings on inspiration That I might kiss those lips which reach through flame to kiss my outstretched lips 18
O sweet incandescence of speech – how I have spoken it albeit not to the approval of the town Yea I am prince and fool to myself who longs to be no other Then offering myself to a quarrelsome world in which when I have been faithful to the poem the poem has been faithful to me Yea, even with closed eyes, the firewall becoming (all is in its becoming) yea, even with closed eyes Ah! the sweet thrillings of the songs of Jerusalem – sing them, sing them (It is Job who roams my mind to say what must be said to my impatience, it is Isaiah who adds the fire to my commands) And in the valley to have rested among the fecund shadows, and by this rightly justified to the nations O Albion, O people, I have come for your deliverance where prophets and bards of the smouldering word unto the rational chains O darksome abyss of wanton fury – I shall outface you in all my joyous pride and rightful wrath I see the ancients alight on solid ground as I also see them alight in the human heart I have laboured – even in the gloomy hours I have laboured as out of that dark intensity I have drawn my many colours On! On! On! – my trinity by which I shape, refine, remake myself to be what I must be as against all accusation I cast the image of an angel standing within the sun as I have seen in all his burning glory In man corporal the man divine takes refuge – I have no other thought to give the world Thus I sing the epical man and his journey through the mournful vale that he might enter the stars I cast my judgements against time and I have prophesied – now I will sing a good song having done my duty well
O Albion - not the homeland imperial but the homeland eternal Enter that void which is a womb-habitation The future awaits in the past though the future has never been fully imagined (It is here sung in a most mild manner) So wake from the land of the shadows to the land of the sun Where water gathers (the water is dark from the soil of the homeland) As if the Atlantic had come to court the mind â€“ and there is a dance of souls in this Shadows which are brother and sister to images and forms (Where else but in the niche of the mind does this reside?) Where from the sacred city they have been cast upon the floor of the world (Homeland into homeland gathering) Wake now and do not be perturbed â€“ (is it one soul in two bodies or two souls in one body?) Reside among the comely places, o reside Nor return to what has been a starting point but which is now no more Nor does the city hide its shadows from the light And for this there is rejoicing in the eternal homeland (O let it be so in your hearts) That your mind may move at the motions of my mind That your hand may move at the motion of my hand (it is the city which wills this so) With joy as recompense â€“ nor phantom voices follow us down the streets of our desires Where we are equal to each other and are one (it is for this the waters gather) And love as the binding And the spoken word its emblem Where from the Paradiso Dante drew his solace 20
Not the sullied soil of the imperial but the greening ground of the eternal And the bright shadows are hidden in the light (as are the dark ones among the dark) So, do you hear a canticle or does a dirge entice you to earth’s edge – o my dissipated generation? Sweet river flow softly flow softly Three barges pass led by the barge named Galilee And the awaiting harbours – no less the journeyman of each trade (for we are one) Where from auroral dark light emits (nor the linear line express the truths of this complexity) Where singing flame ignites my bones to delight (It is the fourfold I who sings this sings this for your delight so what now my cherished believers do you believe?) Yet the river is clouded So are these the shadows to which homage should be given And for a moment (which cannot be measured by time) even the city is obscured from view The ancient landscape overturned Smoke drifting across the fields into the eyes of those who watch As it is also on the pages of those who can scan Aye, there is despair among the citizens The love of black night is not measured according to the light of the day I see, I see the mental desolation of the land The naked trees at the onset of spring And hear the silence where there should be singing The world is in its winter It houses a desolate population
Yet among the silent nakedness I would sing Ah Shelley, we are one in this who are brothers in affirmation Nor do we see the ice on the hedgerow as ice on the mind Nor ice attend the hand upon the page which would be fecund to our brothers See them, lonesome and despairing Listless in the darkened valleys of Albion who should be roused So rouse with me the sleepers from their beds Who are forgetful of Jerusalem Who sing the song imperial but not the song eternal In whose name and for whose sake this verse is written That the city be the City as intended True inheritance of the druidic shore (it is said the ancients walked there) Not scattered but gathered (into the eternal) As into states archetypical and vivid O when will it be so â€“ not trembling hand upon the page (unless it be the trembling joy) But bright ink upon the velum As is charged us to achieve And the river singing of transpositions Spirit into flesh and flesh into spirit And the sleeping lord awakes! Meanwhile this state of cumbersome dark â€“ and the prophets excluded (The ink blotted out from the page) And the grinding of the mills to the rattle of the chains Ah brother (yes, I call you brother) be with me in this enterprise
The spirit would not have us mute nor blind who are that stuff the stars are made of Astonished at the selves we have become as was intended Nor incoherence blight our verse I see, I see – my double vision of is and will be Of the ancient porches in unbounded night Of the river in its flowing (it ushers time into timelessness) Where if there is the Inferno there is also the Paradiso (as Dante sang) Yet my generation rests in one and not the other O ye children and citizens of the mill! Why are your fears so wanting and consuming? Difficult times, difficult times – yet the land shudders at your disavowal Nor are the shrines visited Where Is and Will Be weave the shroud of Albion My vision not limited by the circumference of time but drenched in eternity’s dew Which I shape into a heritage for the generations Even as the clouds darken I shape and sing Reforming the rocks into the City eternal Calling to you to walk with me but you sleep, sleep, sleep Where the heart grows cold in its unremembering (winter residing where spring should arise) And the rose withers upon the barren bush (o see the rose in all its desolation as if the withering season had come upon the world) And the land is in confusion (has not Taliesin told us it would be so?) Yet gather about the rose-word of the world (it is living amongst you) And Shelley’s lark skylarking above us (o see the lark in his weaving – nor will time’s law unweave it) 23
Thus to Taliesinâ€™s song let us skylark into the heavens who are his true brothers Who were sky-born before the world was formed And he with hammer and iron has tempered us within the beautiful flame Thus I sing the fire in its scintillations nor will a lesser verb garnish my page That we achieve the sky-born in the earth-bound We brothers all O England, I am set on your undoing!
Dream now, dream on, onwards to a generations astonishment to where the stars hold their course above the world for this is the dreamâ€™s authority Even as the ever silent moon observes me as I walk (I have walked this self-same mile a thousand time where dreams are truths I do not yet have a language for) Where the self I am and the self I would be who as a colossus stride into the future with my shadow as an indispensable emblem for you and you to carry World shadows world, thus do I shadow the lines you write and those you contemplate for all your thoughts are known to me so do not hesitate The rose will wither but the rose will bloom and that is a consolation no ice can blight nor darkness shroud in unknowing â€“ the moment eternal embracing the moment finite (o when was it ever not so?) Then let your dreams exalt you past star-gazing at the stars not reluctance mark the footprints which you make as in the music we make having fashioned our instruments Let the singing self of the singing soul be our tractatus nor silence reign amongst us for that would be unbecoming who must become masters of the melody and the dance Ah friend, my friendship will guide you through the steps to take for I am a dancing master who has danced the golden mile 24
Then where the bells and chimes of city and town that England be Albion for which I have lit an Easter flame? Let them ring! Let them ring! Albion is amongst the heart of man who sings with winged words (O let there be singing) And now you are astonished at my utterance yet with what do I come among you but a burning word that it may ignite all tongues towards the inward verb resting in human imagination Annihilate the selfhood! – be one with me in this! See, the furnace of the fire-god glows with coal and flame whereas the wanton with fire and ice blaze only with a meaningless fury But enough! You know the burning of the flame then be renewed within the flame which sings the eternal verb In such astonishment I walk amongst you with my prophecies And do not say it is not so for it is so and all is bequeathed in flame into flame nor is it to be thought of as a fiction Ah but I would dance in the city and town that my words my take a visible shape before you – as real to you as they are to me and the starry wheel of heaven – nor am I boastful in a blustery wind but adamant in my paternal love As from the furnace a figure emerges who is human imagination personified dispersing factory fire so as to cleanse the eye and air of sullying ash Hear the paeans which greet him – sing with them also – be one with the bell’s cadence as is given to you as a birthright The hammer swings, the anvil rings – this is heaven’s music and command – nor does it mourn as it labours for such fire is the soul’s singing school O deathless verb consume me! O fire in which I may expire to full delight! O anvil which shapes and reshapes me! Where fire is the unbounded dream of the homeland cast by the feminine loom!
Earth trembles but the trembling of my hand is its joy at its work upon the page that the page be written beyond the limits of time Thus do I break the mills of death and cast the parts into the furnace that their true form may be fashioned and all things assist me in this labour Expel the bitter death that brightness may enter the eye of that man who is the purpose of creation (there are gospels of this among the people) in his speech and fire The hammer swings, the anvil rings with a fanfare of echoes and sparks – iron on iron with the burning metal between them in craft’s mystery of making Hail to such austerity and happiness out-doing the death-claims of death My thoughts condensed to a single point of joy Or that the loom was weaving all to its better self that it might see and be guided by the beauty of the eternal where against the forces of destruction the root of germination takes root and flowers even as I behold the afflictions of this my people Uncompelled but freely giving of my thoughts like a hunter setting traps and snares who in this manner that by this means his prey reach its perfection (Nor is this an abstract image of death which are the filthy rags which must be cast off as indignation spurs me to speak) Ah! I shall set freedom before you as a chain you may break and so achieve the prophesied perfection I will set the river’s ringing in your brains and of the earth’s good earth I will have you build a habitation which shall comfort mournful Jerusalem where is housed the core and outline of Flanders O see it for it is forever the rose that re-grows out of its own death as if it were a bird of fire born to eternal liberty Ah! how such fire renews even as it destroys and how the mind marks out the cubits of the perfection it is ever creating And do not call this the endless round of an endless wheel for it is the opening of the sepals of imagination to the sepals of inspiration which is that everlasting creation Jerusalem calls us to where even the starless night is alight with auroral dark (which is a glittering)
Thus to make the anvil ring I strike it again (the work of the loom is unending) It is to the constant re-building of Jerusalem that I call you You in your pristine thought that you may be free to walk where prophets have walked upon the golden mile! O England, that you be Albion is my desire For this I light the fire
Biographical Note: Eamonn Stewart
Born in Belfast 1964. Trained to be an advertising photographer. Worked in advertising as motion picture cameraman. Studied film history at University of East London. Extensive publication of poems and photos in magazines and anthologies. Presently, working pro bonoin student/indie films.
The Dream of Howard Kirk (Eamonn Stewart) Outside The Falls Library Magpies sound like sewing machines. Inside, mass typing Echoes their chattering.
One day, our messages Will arrive before they are sent. Then, Kirk The History Man’s Abolition of privacy Will arrive via Mercury Of the winged heels . With warp engines on his sandals . Nanometric drones will be More common than dust. Broadcasting every scintilla of us . Selfie pouts will evolve To be prouder still Than flies’ proboscides .
The Congo with it’s Coltan Will be the new world’s Omphalos .
Biographical Note: Martin Keaveney Martin Keaveney's short fiction and poetry has been widely published in Ireland, the UK and the US at magazines such as Crannog (IRL), The Crazy Oik (UK) and Burning Word (US) among many others. His play Coathanger was selected for development at the Scripts Ireland festival in 2016. He has a B.A. and M.A. in English and is currently a PhD. candidate at NUIG.
The Toys (Martin Keaveney) He stands on the road, looking at the bungalow. He scratches his moustache. They should not have used this field for horses. He jumps over the ditch, guessing the height of it in the blueness. He plods around the fenced site, the ground squelching underneath. There is movement in the bungalow, a manâ€™s figure passes through a doorway. A woman towelling her hair. Childrenâ€™s laughing noises. At the ditch he feels around in his pocket for one of the staples. He finds one, takes it out, pulls the hammer from the loop on his belt. He drags up the barbed wire. He pushes the staple onto the crumbly bark of a hawthorn. He swings the hammer and hits his finger. He growls. He hits again, this time serving the staple squarely. He hammers in more staples along the fence. He gets back to the tractor, starts the engine and drives down the road, a single beam of light splitting the darkness. He arrives at the whitewashed cottage. He turns in the yard and parks the tractor beside the shed he has been building on and off for the past two years. Most lights are off in the house. Fiona wonâ€™t be back until half twelve. Ma is asleep. He knows this because her bedroom light is off. She goes to sleep between ten and twelve. She usually likes to hear the death notices at ten on the radio. She then sits on the sofa and watches TV until she starts to nods off, when she goes down to bed. He could go out for one but he is not sure if he feels like it. He turns the key and enters, hanging up his coat on the hook behind the door. The red light is still on under The Sacred Heart. Tonight, ma forgot to turn it off. It is strange this, because she usually says a prayer in front of it. He turns on the television, the noise soothing, and boils the kettle. He drinks sugary tea and eats a ham sandwich. He wonders should he hurry down for a quick one.
He normally drinks alone in the local. There is often a card game on Wednesday nights. Mostly he doesn’t play, he has two pints of stout and he leaves. He will nod if he catches someone’s eye, but he tries to avoid this. If there is someone selling lottery tickets for the local club, he will find something to stare at on the floor and remain fixed on it until the seller has passed. Occasionally he hears his name mentioned as a polite salutation. He prefers to converse at marts or while doing some work. He will chat about the weather, farm prices, village news, when there is some job to hand. Waiting for the next sale. Or putting up fence wire. In the pub, it is too much. He would need to change his clothes. In this weather, he wears a blue plastic jacket and yellow earphones as he drives his tractor, spreading artificial fertiliser over the recovering spring fields. He is content doing this. Sometimes he is jealous of bigger tractors, brand new farm machinery, shiny jeeps. He would like such things. But he has enough. Fiona earns a good wage at the factory. She puts all her money into the credit union. She uses the credit union when she wants to buy a new car. He does not have an account. Ma handles the money. He gets whatever he needs, it is not much. Twenty euros if he decides to go to the local. Everything at the hardware store he might need for repairs around the farm is on account at Molloy’s hardware store, paid for at the end of the month by his mother. No, he decides, there will be no porter tonight. He finishes his sandwich and turns off the television. He hears the distant looing of a beast. For some reason he wants to see is ma okay. He has never done this before at this time. Tonight he wants to do that. He goes to the door, bubbles of white gloss clung and dried to the brass knob, he turns it, it creaks as it opens. Within, smells of cigarette smoke, soap, washing powder, talcum. He stands at the picture of Our Lady on the bedside table. Ma’s eyes are shut, her face is contorted.
She has the blanket pulled up around her jaw. It is dark, but even so, he can see that she is not breathing. He knows she is dead. He feels her forehead. It is still warm. He stands for a moment, he hears the clock ticking in the front kitchen. He feels around in a pocket and takes out his phone. It lights up eerily. He goes out to the front kitchen and phones Pa Farrelly. Pa comes quickly. He shakes hands with him and looks at ma. Pa asks if he has called the priest. They ring Fr Flaherty. The priest gives her the last rites. They get the doctor to make it official. Fiona comes home from work. She says she knew something was wrong by the lights. She comes in and hugs her mother on the bed. A relation arrives from the next village. He is their auntâ€™s son, their cousin. The aunt has been dead for some years. The cousin asks them about the arrangements. The wake will be tomorrow, the funeral the next evening. He nods. It is probably the best. Fiona agrees. The cousin gets up to ring the radio station. Some villagers come down from the pub. The cousin takes on the role of host, pouring drinks from a cabinet, boiling the kettle. His daughter arrives and helps. Next morning, he gets up early. He had not slept much. Two men sat drinking whiskey in the front kitchen until half six when they fell asleep. Another dozes in a chair. He puts on his wellingtons and gets out. First, the ordinary jobs. Herding. It was just lucky it was early in the year it happened, he had no turf ready or hay cut. He goes around and checks all the stock. He had done a good job on the fence behind the bungalow. The horses are lined at the ditch, looking through to the meadow beyond. The young family are asleep, nothing stirs through the windows. He gets back to the cottage. Fiona tells him he needs to go to the graveyard. He cannot dig the grave, that wouldnâ€™t be right, but he can bring over the tools. Spades, galvanised sheeting. A barrow, maybe. A few of the locals will dig it. We can give them a few cans after, she says. He nods.
He goes into the half built shed and takes out the tools. He puts the trailer on his van and tosses everything in. The couple from the bungalow arrive. He shakes hands with them. He watches them walking to the door, side by side. He never got married. He doesn’t know why. The doctor asked him once. And he laughed. Sometimes, with a few cans of cider, on a hot evening, he might ask the barmaid about dancing and ceilis. Or even discos. He might dance with someone at a wedding, after a few hot ports, he might twirl her around, he might even jive. But it never goes further than that. At the moment he is content. In the future, perhaps. But not now. He hears Fiona offering the couple a drink. At the graveyard the lads are already there. Pa Farrelly has already taken a pick to the concrete over his father’s grave. It had been like that for forty years. His father had dropped dead from a heart attack. He drops in the tools. They say they have plenty, but the galvanised sheets will be handy. Don’t want any young lads falling in at night, Pa Farrelly says, his tone light. He leaves again without delay. He doesn’t want to be there as they hoke through his father’s bones. He drives slowly back to the house. People are arriving, even though it is only ten o’clock. Fiona says they have to go to Molloy’s to choose a coffin. The cousin and his daughter wait at the cottage. A couple arrive from across the country. Someone is flying in for the Mass. Molloy has a small range of coffins in a concrete shed. All oak, he tells them. He puts his hand on the blueish light fabric inside. The head rest is hard. It looks like a pillow but it is not soft, not comfortable. Some of them have figures, The Last Supper moulded in gold painted steel. Others are plain. She was a religious woman, Molloy is saying, standing by the coffin with the figures. Fiona agrees. Fiona tells Molloy that she thinks it will be fine. She looks at him. He nods.
Molloy follows them back to the cottage with the hearse. A number of cars are parked in the yard, some out along the side of the road. At the back door, Molloy slides the coffin deftly out onto a trolley, wheels it in through the back and front kitchen, past neighbours, into the bedroom. He helps the undertaker transfer his mother from the bed into the coffin. He feels her body is stiff, like a scarecrow he once made. Molloy wheels the coffin out. He helps him slide it into the back of the hearse. Molloy drives away to the mortuary. A sad do, someone says in the front kitchen. But she had a great age. Yourself and Fiona are a credit. You looked after her well. Sure what could you do, Fiona replies, lighting a cigarette. A couple of hours later, Molloy parks in the yard, slides the coffin out, angles the trolley through the house to the bedroom, closes the door. After a moment, the undertaker comes out, nods at Fiona. In the bedroom, the lid has been placed upright by the window. The bed has been pushed back, the coffin in its place. Two candles have been lit beside the picture of Our Lady. His mother is dressed in her best pink and ivory dress. Her fingers are clasped around the rosary beads. Fiona stands beside him in the bedroom. She weeps, the sound is tingling, drifting across them like the breeze. His mother has shrunk. He thinks he can see her breathing but he knows this is a common idea. The only movement is in his eyes. Her forehead is cold. He is relieved to be back in the front kitchen. People shake his hand, some eat a sandwich or cake, or drink a small glass of whiskey and go. Others spend a while chatting of a football game, whether the village sports will be held this year, the price of hoggets. The daughter of his cousin proves a great find. She keeps the kettle boiled and the whiskey poured.
That evening he checks the horses. They havenâ€™t broken out from the field with the bungalow. He examines the repaired fence. He scratches his moustache. He stands in the fading light, looking around the mucky ground. The morning of the funeral mass, the cousin and his daughter arrive at the cottage early. They all go the church together. He sits through the mass, listening to the prayers, twisting his neck in his collar and tie. He would rather be building a stone wall. His leather shoes are only worn to Mass and to the pub on occasion. They still feel new. They carry the coffin out of the church. It is light. People bow as it passes. The priest says some prayers over the remains in the graveyard. The grave was well shaped by the locals. He notices the coffin is slightly crooked as it is laid to rest in the ground. He leaves with Fiona when the graveyard is almost empty. Back at the pub, many people enjoy sandwiches and beer. The next day he checks the horses. It will be soon time to get them out of the field around the bungalow. They have sunk it into a sea of mud. They stand lined at the ditch, looking through the hawthorns to the lush grass beyond. A week later, he decides to sort through the hay barn behind the half built shed. There is a lot of junk within. Tools which he had bought hoping to do some job or other. A ratchet set, a pop riveter, seized up with rust, a Hilti drill, with the chuck missing. Sheep wool bags in a corner behind a box of plastering tools, busted bags of hardened artificial fertiliser. It is while he is up on the second mezzanine level, held above by a concrete pillar, under bags of last yearâ€™s crumbled turf, he finds a stained cardboard box. Within there are toys from when he and Fiona were children. A yellow elephant with golden bells on its ears. A train. Two raggedy dolls. A plastic spade. In the yard, he shakes his head and spits on the dry concrete. He goes inside and eats the bacon and cabbage that Fiona cooked before going to work. Halfway through the meal, he gets up and walks to his motherâ€™s door.
He does not feel pain exactly. He thinks of the vet telling him once how the tapeworm they inject cattle to kill attacks the animal, devouring the gut wall, consuming blood, causing anaemia. There is no pain in the bullock only a gnawing. They get a letter one day advising them the will is ready and they are to make an appointment. He should wear a shirt that day he thinks, it will be like listening to his mother speak. He shaves in the morning. They go to town in Fiona’s car. The solicitor is a podgy man in his fifties. He has only ever met him a few times. The family have used this solicitor and his father before him. The will is read. It does not sound like his mother. He hears ‘that the land and properties forthwith shall be equally divided between my son and daughter’. They get home and he feels sluggish. It is difficult to spread fertiliser but the weather is right and the time is right. Only he is not right. But that has never stopped him before and it will not do so now. He lifts a bag of 10-10-20 onto the rim of the triangular drum of the manure spreader, draws a sharp little stone across the plastic, the white pebbles flow into the spreader, a synthetic grey dust rises. He folds up the bag, neatly slides it into another in the corner of the hay barn, ready for bagging turf later in the year. It is evening when he finishes. He stops at the field with the bungalow. He walks across the muck to the far corner, opens the gate. The horses gallop around the fenced bungalow, into the fresh meadow. At the cottage, Fiona has gone to work. He unhooks the manure spreader in the yard. The half built shed is nearly finished; he just needs a few more slates. Cast two barges and fit a door. He should heat up his dinner, but he goes into the hay barn. The golden strands from last year’s cut line the sides like a golden hotel. The toys lie tossed on the floor beside a loose
bale, the stained cardboard box still above on the mezzanine level, empty. He sits on the bale. The elephant had landed upside down, its short yellow plastic feet in the air. It is much later when he hears the noise of Fionaâ€™s car. She stops at the back of the cottage. He can hear her get out, open the door. She drops her keys on the table. He enjoys the idea of him being missing, not in the half built shed hammering something, or in the yard welding, working on another project, another idea. He had many ideas when he was a boy, making wooden carts for the boreens, or boats for the river at the bottom of the hill. He had built huts in the fields behind the cottage, imagined his own country, his own little world. He wonders when Fiona will realise he is not in the house. He recalls a game of hideand-seek they used to play when they were ten and eleven, around the yard, enjoying the excitement of searching, the feeling of concealment. The element of surprise, of wonder, when will one be found, where is the other? And the ecstasy at finding and being found both the same, he never preferred one above the other, neither did Fiona, he thinks. A dog barks somewhere and brings him back to the night. It is cold. Fiona passes the kitchen window and he knows by her movement that she is looking for him. She hasnâ€™t called his name but she will shortly. It is her way to look before shouting. He tries to prepare what he will say when she gets to the barn, to explain his sitting there. He fights an urge to go to the wall of the half built shed and take up the yard brush. Sweeping up, he could say. She would nod, and go back into the house. In the morning, he will get up at half past eight, boil his egg, do the herding. He will return to the house before ten and listen to the death notices. He will talk to Fiona about farm and house business. A sort of cabinet meeting for the small farmer. He will go out at half ten and do some job or other. This will be over. It is just a strange day for him.
The month’s mind will come, he will go to it, he will pay the priest, he will drink a pint in the pub and eat a ham sandwich. He will talk with the cousin and the cousin’s daughter. He feels like he is falling, like the world has been taken away from underneath his boots, like he is suspended in midair, in a cartoon, running off a cliff and from whence he realises that there is nothing below, he will plummet. There might be something, something else he could do. Maybe he could go up the country. He is almost sixty but what about. He could do that. He could move to the city and fit in and work like others have before him. Perhaps there would be a new life there. Why didn’t he think of this before? he wonders. How had he not seen it? For a lot of the time he is content. When he does the herding in the morning there is something, some comfort. An idyllic paradise, a tourist called it one day, walking along the road. But they look at the scenery, like you would look at a postcard, a flat surface, glossy and shiny. They don’t see around the image and see onto the land, the silence. He doesn’t know if it would be better or worse somewhere else. He thinks of the men that left the village and came home in boxes. Others got rich, successful. Some were grandfathers now, their grandchildren spoke with distant, smooth accents. Something might happen; maybe he will be able to tell her that he must leave. There must be a way. He begins to believe it. In the seconds that he sits on the mouldy bale in the hay barn, waiting for Fiona to find him, he decides he can do this. It will take an hour to put some clothes in a suitcase. He will get Fiona to bring him to the train. He might even go abroad. He could start something new, something different. All those opportunities in a big city. The excitement boils up in him, as though he was six years old again and the travelling shop had arrived outside on the road of a Friday evening. The bottle of Lucozade and two snowballs. The anticipation. Now, he remembers. Where had that memory gone, tucked away in a distant corner. More pictures come, like when the ropes broke across the load of bales they
used to bring home on the big trailer. Tumbling down, zigzagging across the road in all directions. Nothing for it but to wait until they stopped rolling and survey the damage, let all these images wash over him like paint masking him, hugging his form, consuming him. Coffins, graves, masses, handshakes, black ties. Tea. Whiskey. Beer. Standing outside the whitewashed cottage, smoking a cigarette on a hot summer day in 1967. He stirs, involuntarily. His vision becomes dull, foggy, glassy. Like looking at life through a jam jar. He doesnâ€™t know which vision he prefers. Fiona nears the barn, he hears her footsteps crunch the ground. Time is running out, he feels that when Fiona arrives, it will be all over, this way of life. He has never been moved like this, not even when rain was imminent over a field of knocked green hay. Simpler to use the phone and ask for a load of lime, or a pallet of 10-10-20, or a trailer of straw than to have to talk on those helplines. He had the number in his van for a long time. He had tried to call it years ago, in his twenties, there had been a service. But he had always hung up. He takes a deep breath, turns his head toward the yard. Fionaâ€™s silhouette emerges, then her face, pale from the assembly line. Everything crystallises for him. He knows what happened, when he was a child, he knew it always. It is done. It is like a field of hay cut, once it is knocked there is no rising it. If the weather breaks, it is too late. He does not know how Fiona will react to him leaving. They have always lived there in the whitewashed cottage, just the three of them for the past forty five years, since his father died, a sickening release. He will set up a new life in the east. These revelations will, he hopes, die away there in the concrete swamp, long wide roads, busy footsteps, millions of people, noise, movement.
Suddenly the silence of the countryside for him is deafening, screeching, he feels guilty, a man going to the gallows, crowds goading him. He feels rooted to the spot, the heating bale underneath him, the strands of old hay blow around him, it is as though he is combusting, lighting into a great ball of fire that will self devour. Maybe he is having a stroke, his breathing shortens more, his legs tremble. His fingers make a fist and he feels his ribs are pushing at the corners of his torso, he imagines they are shooting off sparks of friction. He feels as though he will explode at any moment, time is running out. Now he sees it all clearly like he has never seen it before. He need not leave. It would not solve the problem. He will say nothing tonight, he decides. He will sit down with Fiona at the kitchen table and ask her about what happened, she was older. He will survive this, his breathing has become normal again. He can see the stars between the girders of the hay barn, the moonlight shining off the golden bells on the elephant’s ears. As Fiona approaches, he sees something in her eyes, calm. As though she knows. As though she knew always and never said it. As though it might have happened to her as well. He can smell her perfume and the strange plastic factory odour on her clothes. His eyes water again. She sits down beside him, puts her arm around him, murmuring, ‘It’s alright, Paraic…it’s alright.’
Biographical Note: James Anthony Rooney
Living in a field cropped with twenty acres of rhubarb has shaped, in some mysterious way, the flavour of his poetry. He has been resisting it, but words like deliciousness, succulence, luscious, Arrah!!!! and custard, are always vying for attention. For anyone who wants to know more about the wily nature of rhubotic poetry, please contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org. In the forthcoming collection of Molly Poems, about a septuagenarian prostitute, her clients, and a nun called Sister Anges, he has carefully edited out all unsavoury uses of rhubarb. Jim Rooney resides, in all weathers, in Skerries.
James Anthony Rooney
The lorry missed them. Articulated trucks crashing from bridges Tumbling cab first onto the road below Is outside the general experience, Unless the scene is a scene From a tiresome ‘action’ movie. Lou was stunned. Joe beside him, driving, didn’t believe his eyes As the blue container trailer fell off the bridge Twisting and crashing earthbound. The cars below raced under Like the spin of a roulette wheel. The lorry dropped. Ahead cars ploughed into each other, Thud, thud, thud, thud. Steam and smoke rose from the crashed vehicles. Lou and his friend raced to the devastation, To the piercing screams, With raised mobile phones, set to video.
James Anthony Rooney
The darkness went in and out of focus Occasionally bursting into a cinema of thought To be replaced by the blackness of the moment. Lou, in bed, had The blankets up to his mouth, His breath was shallow. Almost dawn, He felt himself drowning In a rushing tide Of sleep deprivation and exhaustion. The day when it came Would be uninhabitable. He was the turtle Swimming through the nothingness of space, In a never ending fall. The cause, Heâ€™d been seen by Lucy When out with Celia Unknown to Melissa. Melissa began snoring.
James Anthony Rooney
Dressed in black lace her curvature Matched the frame of the oval mirror. With the hand held mobile Raised not to interfere With the view of her breasts Or the astride of her hips. Lou was impressed, the short hair The sensuous pout, the profile. “I’m available, on a night by night basis. Tired of men bossing me.” It hit a chord, for his father was loud, His anger an oppression. Lou had described himself jauntily, “I’m a rabbit who loves the dark.” He thought it was a match, who’d Ever heard of an aggressive Roger? He was on the VIP package, and active. Lou covered his bet for the weekend And propositioned the tits only photograph Of the woman who said, “I’ll try anyone.”
Biographical Note: John W Sexton
John W. Sexton lives on the south-west coast of Kerry and is the author of five poetry collections, the most recent being Petit Mal (Revival Press, 2009) and The Offspring of the Moon (Salmon Poetry 2013). His sixth collection, Futures Pass, is also forthcoming from Salmon. Under the ironic pseudonym of Sex W. Johnston he has recorded an album with legendary Stranglers frontman, Hugh Cornwell, entitled Sons Of Shiva, which has been released on Track Records. He is a past nominee for The Hennessy Literary Award and his poem The Green Owl won the Listowel Poetry Prize 2007. In 2007 he was awarded a Patrick and Katherine Kavanagh Fellowship in Poetry.
Four Verses after Wang Wei (701-761)
Bird-Singing Mountain a man lazes osmanthus flowers drop nightâ€™s silence falls on the vacant mountain the rising moon startles a bird its song breaks in the mountain stream
Magnolia Entrenchment above the magnolia canopy magnolias become lotus a red calyx unlocks the centre of the mountain the white gate of the stream maintains a solitude numberless and without order magnolias open and fall
The Hall in the Bamboo Grove alone I sit deep in the bamboo grove sometimes I speak through the lute sometimes I shout a bamboo hall so deep no one can hear no one reveals me only the knife-faced moon
Mountain Within white rocks protrude from the Jing Stream in the dulling cold red leaves are scarce though rain not visible on the mountain path merely the colour green dampens my clothes
John W. Sexton 47
Your Wife for Dust and Ashes after Li Bai (701-762)
When first my hair grew lush to my forehead I broke flowers in play before the gate; and there you came riding your bamboo horse: a circled path your kingdom, greengages a game. And here we grew up in Changgan county, two children too young for grown-up guile. At fourteen I became your wife, so shy I kept my face a secret, bowing my head towards the shadowed corner; when called even a thousand times, not once I turned. At fifteen I began to lift my head and swore to be your wife for dust and ashes. Your faithfulness was a stone pillar; no need had I to climb the lookout hill. At sixteen you went far away to Yanyudui, far away to the Qutang gorge. In the fifth month I prayed that you had not run aground, and from the sky the monkeys shrieked my weeping. Before the gate my back and forth had bared a patch, and little by little the green mosses took hold. Now the moss is too deep for the broom and the leaves fall at the first Autumn breeze. This eighth month the butterflies are yellow and a pair fly over the western meadow.
I feel they have flown straight through my heart; from worrying my face is lined and russet. If one day you come downriver from Sanba, send first a letter to me here. Weâ€™ll meet each other. Without declaring distance Iâ€™ll come up as far as Changfengsha.
John W. Sexton
A Moonlit Night after Tu Fu (712-770), written during his imprisonment at Châ€™ang-an
This moonlight spans the distance to my love and bathes her in her chamber at Fu-chou; and as she gazes through the silken night our children sleep, not knowing of my plight. In the sweet mist my loverâ€™s hair is fog, her arms are blue and cold as moonstone-jade; and till our bodies fill our wedding sheets the moon displays the tear-stains of our grief.
John W. Sexton
Dancers at the Enchanted Café After the painting “The Enchanted Café” by Rex Sexton Cakes made of starlight prove by the open window. A comet scatters its trail of ancient futures. The husband’s suit is made of weeping: a clear blue of splendid tears. From his bracelet of gold dangle the stars. He is joined by the wrist to the sky. His wedding ring is a braid of his partner’s hair; she dances with blood in her glass. A gypsy’s ghost with a violin keeps them nimbly stepping. John W. Sexton
Biographical Note: Will Daunt
Will Daunt lives in Ormskirk, and his sixth collection, Landed was published by Lapwing in 2013. He has reviewed for New Hope International and Envoi, adjudicating poetry competitions for Sentinel.
IT WAS A FOLLY... (Will Daunt) staked to scars in scrabbles of crow, blown from the Hall, that stoked it, coyly. Flames and old sparks sputtered there in lust and rubble, decades let the mortar fall and brick dust brushed the wheat, like hares or larks. Its bones were bought and told to overmake each speck from old to now, dress up the trash and seal its frames and battlements, to mask this branch line, veil our view.
BURSCOUGH CURVES (Will Daunt) Imagine a delta of right-angled railways, its flooding and shore linked by levee-like spurs. In satellite view, the ends of its camber join junctions but tender no track, while scrub-slopes and weed bend a path through the scratchy trash, hiding the moochers. From these sleepy metres, some rail at the gaps and gaffs, wishing the buried stones back on a steamy beach. They lay green allegiances, signalling how we should dream of what good might be done if these ghost lines were rolled out with stock.
MIDGE HALL (Will Daunt) Stop right here, where the crossing arrests a motorcade. This withdrawn halt begrudges trains, pausing for the dud exchange that moves you on, its token dropped from cab to trackside, leaving you leaving cycle bugs and signal box. A forklift whirls while colts run, spared, and smokers gawp as you clank north.
STOP HERE TOO (Will Daunt) Equinox shifts come thick and cast indifference with folly, November’s breached by daffodils, and some bad birds lunge after lust. December clasps its apples fast, nothing’s cold and skies are stuffed with half the sea. As torrents race the streets, long main lines clog like storm drains, highways shear and where’s an end to wind?
Biographical Note: Gaynor Kane
Gaynor Kane recently graduated from the Open University with a BA (Hons) Humanities with Literature. Mainly a writer of poetry, she has had work published in the Studies in Arts and Humanities (SAH) Journal and the Galway Review. Recently, Gaynor was a finalist in the annual Funeral Services NI poetry competition.
Bridging (Gaynor Kane) It falls off the tongue as easy as a river rolling over rocks. I can sense the roll of his eyes the pinch of wrinkles the slow shake of my Hubby's head in despair. Itâ€™s six, of, one, and, half, a, dozen, Of, the, other he will say, in the way you talk to tourists but the warmth in his words could cut clouds. No matter how hard I try, it always spills out as six to one. So, itâ€™s our little joke and acts as a reminder to me, when sometimes I need one, of his endurance and patience. If I was a gambling man like my father, I would bet that he taught me the proverb. In the same way he showed me how to spot birds. Thrush, Wren, mummy and daddy Blackbirds. Imparting that, Starlings 58
murmuring at dusk, darkening clouds, whirring on airwaves and swooping under the Albert, like cotton gliding through the eye of a needle, was them getting ready for bed.
Coupes (Gaynor Kane) A stag's head looks down through soulless sockets, focuses on fuschia, Mother-of-pearl sequins; a gown self-spun from fifty yards of net. Black gloves, holding a single daffodil at the Floral Hall. In champagne coupes baby bubbles bounce; reflecting light like a mirror ball. A hand reaches over, pulls a puff of pink across the dancefloor; they spin laughing and talking until birds sign. Then you were caught, contained; the net trawled in, constrained. Fifty years on, you are silent, stagnant, unspun. A poetry workshop A collection of strangers, in a room; a view of a river, sprinkled with glitter. Seeking inspiration from bountiful books, bound pages opening our minds to words. We let assonance, alliteration, rhythm and rhyme baptise us like candyfloss kisses.
Sticks and stones (Gaynor Kane) The rhyme is wrong, words do hurt. Flesh is burnt by wicked tongued aggressor. Splintered sentences, bones broken smashed to smithereens, crumbs of calcium. Lessons not learnt. Parents enforce illegal restraining orders on grandchildren and grandparents, when contact is forbidden. Daughter who put poison in the needle? Blood curdles, wounds fester, limbs numb. Family relationships become so disjointed, lies and insults become routine; forgiveness not reflected. But my voice won’t be silenced. I will continue to write greetings cards and weekly letters, that won’t be sent. I will do everything in my power to put things right, to have you in my life; you shouldn’t be absent. Grandchildren know that I am always here for you. Grandchildren know that I will always love you too
Biographical Note: Niels Hav Niels Hav is a full time poet and short story writer living in Copenhagen with awards from The Danish Arts Council. In English he has We Are Here, published by Book Thug, and poetry and fiction in numerous magazines including The Literary Review, Ecotone, Exile, The Los Angeles Review and PRISM International. In his native Danish the author of six collections of poetry and three books of short fiction. His work has been translated into several languages such as Arabic, Turkish, Spanish, Dutch, Farsi and Chinese.
Raised on a farm in western Denmark, Niels Hav today resides in the most colourful and multiethnic part of the capital. He has travelled widely in Europe, Asia, North and South America. “... Niels Hav's We Are Here... brings to us a selection from the works of one of Denmark's most talented living poets and is all the more welcome for that reason….” - Frank Hugus, The Literary Review
Hunting Lizards in the Dark During the killings unaware we walked along the lakes. You spoke of Szymanowski, I studied a rook picking at dog shit. Each of us caught up in ourselves surrounded by a shell of ignorance that protects our prejudices. The holists believe that a butterfly in the Himalayas with the flap of a wing can influence the climate in Antarctica. It may be true. But where the tanks roll in and flesh and blood drip from the trees that is no comfort. Searching for truth is like hunting lizards in the dark. The grapes are from South Africa, the rice from Pakistan, the dates grown in Iran. We support the idea of open borders for fruit and vegetables, but however we twist and turn the ass is at the back. The dead are buried deep inside the newspaper, so that we, unaffected, can sit on a bench on the outskirts of paradise and dream of butterflies.
ÂŠ Niels Hav Translated by P. K. Brask & Patrick Friesen
In Defense of Poets What are we to do about the poets? Life's rough on them they look so pitiful dressed in black their skin blue from internal blizzards. Poetry is a horrible disease, the infected walk about complaining their screams pollute the atmosphere like leaks from atomic power stations of the mind. It's so psychotic Poetry is a tyrant it keeps people awake at night and destroys marriages it draws people out to desolate cottages in mid-winter where they sit in pain wearing earmuffs and thick scarves. Imagine the torture. Poetry is a pest worse than gonorrhea, a terrible abomination. But consider poets it's hard for them bear with them! They are hysterical as if they are expecting twins they gnash their teeth while sleeping, they eat dirt and grass. They stay out in the howling wind for hours tormented by astounding metaphors. Every day is a holy day for them. Oh please, take pity on the poets they are deaf and blind help them through traffic where they stagger about with their invisible handicap remembering all sorts of stuff. Now and then one of them stops to listen for a distant siren. Show consideration for them. Poets are like insane children who've been chased from their homes by the entire family. Pray for them they are born unhappy their mothers have cried for them sought the assistance of doctors and lawyers, until they had to give up for fear of loosing their own minds. Oh, cry for the poets! Nothing can save them. Infested with poetry like secret lepers 64
they are incarcerated in their own fantasy world a gruesome ghetto filled with demons and vindictive ghosts. When on a clear summer's day the sun shining brightly you see a poor poet come wobbling out of the apartment block, looking pale like a cadaver and disfigured by speculations then walk up and help him. Tie his shoelaces, lead him to the park and help him sit down on a bench in the sun. Sing to him a little buy him an ice cream and tell him a story because he's so sad. He's completely ruined by poetry. Translated by P.K. Brask & Patrick Friesen ÂŠ Niels Hav
The Iceman Homage to Seamus Heaney Where was he heading, the herdsman from Tyrol? The first tourist, dressed in a deerskin shirt and a cape of braided grass. Yet he carried articles of quality: A yew-wood bow and arrows of shaped flint fitted with feathers. A European embalmed by the frost with his axe and dagger, when he lost his way in a snowstorm back in the Stone Age. There he crouched when the Celts of Stonehenge dragged monoliths across the breadth of England and raised an observatory to watch the stars. Caesar’s elephants must have passed his cave on their way north - the alarm of war. He missed that. Sat sheltered with his ears stuffed with snow thinking his thoughts in the enormous silence. Found. They hacked him free of the ice block, strapped him tight to a helicopter and flew him down to Innsbruck to meet the Press. That’s when he died. Note: The Iceman, Homo Tirolensis, was discovered in the Austrian glacier Similaum, where he lay preserved in ice for 5300 years - the oldest human being ever found. © Niels Hav - Translated by Heather Spears
EPIGRAM You can spend an entire life in the company of words not ever finding the right one. Just like a wretched fish wrapped in Hungarian newspapers. For one thing it is dead, for another it doesn't understand Hungarian. ÂŠ Niels Hav Translation: P.K. Brask & Patrick Friesen
Biographical Note: Gordon Ferris
Gordon Ferris , is a 58 year old separated Dublin man living in Ballyshannon, Co Donegal on and off for the past thirty years. He has had poetry published in a Sligo magazine as well as A New Ulster.
Overnight. By Gordon Ferris. The front door, solid mahogany varnished recently, looked brand new. There was a letterbox but no door knocker, I rapped the glass with my knuckles and Dave, the brother-in-law, came to the door in overalls and socks. “ah Georgy how-ya, why-an-ye use the doorbell” He said in his barely audibly, but strong Dublin accent, walking in reverse to his right into the living room as he spoke. To the left the stairs led to the three bedrooms upstairs. Straight-ahead the kitchen is where I could see my sister Mauve stirring pots and reading the paper at the same time, I said hello as I closed the front door behind me and followed Dave into the living room. My thirteen-month old niece Dora was going around on her bum, planted herself at my feet when I sat down. Arms in the air pleading with those big brown eyes to be lifted. How could I resist that rosy-cheeked smile, a smile that seemed perfect. Before this time, I often wondered what all the fuss was about, babies up until then looked alike to me, all ugly and to be avoided at all costs. I guess Dora was the first baby I had any close up experience of, the first I had ever really looked at. She pulled herself on to her feet gripping the leg of my jeans. So I stooped and lifted her on to my knee. Where she immediately made a grab for my hair. “Stop that” Dave said to her in a half-hearted cross voice, ” She’s going mad after people’s hair lately; she took her first steps last Monday too” Dave said, completing Dora’s progress report. Mauve stuck her head in open door dividing the living room from the kitchen-dining room, smiling and saying.
“Agh, I see ye made it, Derek left the pools there for ye to do yar round, a hundred and eighty it is, ok, He ell collect the money in the morning. Howyas all do-in out there in Finglas, any more horses on the street “. She said laughing. She was always in good humour, even when times were difficult and she hadn’t a penny to her name, she kept a smile on her face. “All’s well out there, Ma was asking for ya, She told me to tell you something, and warned me not to forget, I didn’t forget, it will come to me in a few minutes. Oh and there’s no horses on the street except when Angies mate visits her.” I said trying to avoid the subject. Angie is my older sister, bossy boots. “Ah ya bugger, would you say that to her face, would ya, what did Ma want you to tell me anyway” Mauve said, jeeringly, knowing rightly I had forgotten. “I’ll tell you when it comes to me, I’m trying too hard to remember at the moment, it won’t come to me when my brain is under pressure” I answered , staring at the floor. “Ah I believe you, thousands wouldn’t, dinners ready, did you have any yet, there’s plenty here, sure yall have some.” I Did have a bit before I left but I wouldn’t say no to a bit more, it smells delicious” I replied trying to ease Dora’s grip on my hair without upsetting her. I released her ever tightening grasp by tickling her proceeding to stand up, carrying her in to the kitchen. Dave was dozing on the chair, “Get up you dozy git ya “ Mauve scolded from the kitchen, she could see in through the open door. Dave jumped up with a start, saying. “I wasn’t asleep, just resting me eyes.” “I can see that from here you. Here I’ll take her off you in a minute,” 70
She said, answering Dave with a smile, and speaking to me at the same time. I often thought how perfect the two of them were matched; they seemed to bounce off each other with ease , like two parts of the same person, you could tell by the furtive glances they gave each other without thinking, this was how love manifested itself in my eyes. These were strange thoughts to be having before feasting on mushy peas and smoked cod. Dora was taken off me and put into a bouncy chair with a Liga biscuit to distract her, or as Mauve would say, to shut her up. Dinner eaten with casual chat between mouthfuls, and with attempts to get me to retrieve from the lowest depts. of my memory, the message Ma had given me for Mauve. She questioned me and questioned me but to no avail, I just couldn’t remember. I said I was sure if it was important, I would remember, so it must just be some kind of casual remark, like, hello or how’s it going, must meet for a drink some night. Then it came to me, this is exactly what it was, she was coming out on Sunday for a drink. Now, do I say anything or not? I asked myself, no ill keep it to myself for a while, didn’t want to admit my guilt yet, I thought, keep this going for a while longer. But Mauve was way ahead of me. ” What are you like, your heads away in the clouds half the time, empty the rest , Ma rang me allready and told me about Sunday, said you’d forget”. That was me caught out, always one step ahead, typical women. “I knew that all ready, I was just winding you up.” I said with my giveaway half grin. “Ye I’m sure” she said distractedly reaching down to wipe Dora’s snotty nose and liga covered chin. “Are you watching the time there Georgy boy, we are heading out at eight” So I got up saying id better be off , grabbed my pools sheets and the list, and went on my way.
The grey cement path on the street outside had chalk markings where girls played hop scotch and other such games. I tried to clear my head of any thoughts of how far I had to go until I was at least half way through my round. Then I knew the distance and length of time I had to go and counted down accordingly. I adjusted my gaze, now that I’m crossing the main road, don't want to be getting rushed to hospital without having a clean pair of underpants on, now do I? What difference would it make, the first thing that happens when your hit by a bus is you shit yourself. On now straight across the Old Bawn Road, the main road in that part of Tallaght, it leads to a very short road with one house on each side, this in turn leads to a cul-desac left and right with ten houses on each side. This is where my round started, I had eight customers here then it was out on to the main road again and continued on my way through the Seskim View’s, the Tynon’s, the Groves, the Way’s and the Old Bawn’s, all the road names I passed until at eight thirty I was returning with hands in pockets holding on to the bundle of coins I had accumulated. For once it was an uneventful journey. No dogs attacking, or skin heads in there black Crombie coats to avoid looking at, or you’ll be asked, “What are you looking at”, the last thing I wanted was to be stopped and hassled by them. Not when I had cash on me, and especially when the cash did not belong to me. No excuses if I didn’t come back with the money, Derek may be a quiet, unassuming, even shy man, but when it came to money he had tunnel vision, absolutely no reason to lose or be short of money. If something cost a pound, you are paid a pound, put it in your pocket and when you get home, you have a pound, very simple. “You should have been more careful, you shouldn’t have walked past them scumbags drawing attention to yourself”, all my fault if it happened of course. Anyway, it didn’t matter now, I was home and dry, and Mauve and Dave were busying themselves upstairs getting prepared for the night out. Dora was in bed all ready, chatting away to herself in her own happy little childhood world.
I bagged the money, took my commission, which amounted to 1 pound 60 pence, that added to my babysitting money and pocket money should leave me with a fiver in my pocket for the weekend. I could hear Dave and Mauves' shuffle down the stairs, they both came into the room Dave smelling of Brut and Mauve smothered in her fancy named perfume, both which were Christmas presents and usually lasts the year when there refilled. That were both dressed casually, Dave in navy slacks and open check shirt with a prominent red colour in it. His hair was short and tidy, but not skinhead, showing his permanent smiling face. Mauve wore a purple three-piece trouser suit and white blouse, her blond hair flowing over her shoulders. Mauve told me to help myself if I wanted tea and that there was cake and biscuits there if I wanted some. She also told me that there was no Late Late show, which I was glad to hear, Gay Byrne, that voice makes me feel like he was giving out to me, he has that scolding tone. Thank god that there was a film on instead. “Right that's us, were on our way, behave yourself, see ya later." Dave said exiting the living room door. Dora should be all right, she'll sleep now right through. You know what to do if she wakes anyway." Mauve said making her exit. “I knew what to do all right, biscuits, give biscuits, that'll keep het quite”. I said as they departed, “don’t you dare, see ya later" she said closing the door.
Biographical Note: Rosita Sweetman Rosita Sweetman is a Dublin based poet who has contributed to Broadsheet â€“ participated in readings in Skerries and wrote a commissioned piece for Culture Night Dublin
The Cowâ€™s Halleluiah (Rosita Sweetman
My little calf is snug beside me, her body sleep warm, her soft breaths tickling the hairs on my flank, her sweet dished face lit by the moon.
High in our little fields, sloping together, hammocked between the huge navy sky, Christmas lit with a bazillion stars, and the blueblack silhouetted hills, the heavens exhale back halleluiahs, love, love, love.
On going to visit Aidan Higgins for the last time 75
The sky is translucent milk, the bare hedges and telegraph poles black after last nightâ€™s downpour; in winterâ€™s long rays low hills steam in the distance, as I am rushed towards you.
Empty fields, the grass a churned green carpet with pools of platinum water; in the lee of a ditch a group of young bullocks, chew the cud, arranged in a circle, like friends.
As the train rocks its way from me to you, inside is a fug of central heating, instant coffee, crisps, strangers.
What words will we use to say goodbye?
Art is over 76
Art is over now that the grants have come in.
Now that the Arts Councils, Bursaries, Writers Retreats, Tax Breaks, have arrived, Art is up in the attic blowing on her fingernails.
When the first forms click-flopped through the letterbox Poetry died on the spot. - What age are you? - What sex? - What do you intend to do with the money we sincerely hope we do not have to give you? Poetry hot blushed, and ran into the park.
Writers, their teeth bleached for the cameras, accept gongs wearing full evening dress, their sponsors logos splattered across swimming pool size screens above them; their sponsors questionable politics, their human rights records, buried in the gluey yellow mud far, far away, along with the child solders, plantation workers, zero hour contract workers, trafficked and indentured semi-slaves. (Semi my arse). 77
- Have this! say the orange haired orangutans, the Alpha Males of the bear pit, - And this! leaning down out of their digital omnipotence to proffer sweeties.
The artists and the poets and the writers stampede forward. Me! Me! Me! Yes! they gurn into the giant faces of the shellacâ€™d ones, the sunglass wearing ones, the serial adulterers ones, the disaster capitalists ones, o particularly the disaster capitalist ones!
- You are just fab.
Delightful in every possible way! So handsome! So generous! Possessors of such incredible fucking charisma!
Back home the muse has slung her hook. Weeping with rage, sheâ€™s headed for the hills.
the daughters and their carpet beaters (Rosita Sweetman)
Brandishing newly purchased carpet beaters the daughters pick their mothers up, heave them over the washing line, and set to: thwack! thwack! thwack!
They beat so hard the mothers’ teeth fall out, their wigs comes off, their clothes are flittered Ow! they cry No! they sob Please! they whisper
The daughters will have none of it; their time is precious, they are NOT having whining, alcoholic, useless corn dollies for mothers, NO WAY! They set to again. Avalanches of clichés clatter out of the mother’s mouths, the daughters stamp them under their boots, so many sparks from a poorly made fire.
Excuses like snakes fall out of the mother’s ears, the daughters laugh, look at them! poisoning themselves! Snakes become shriveled brown threads; 79
the daughters don’t even notice them. Special pleadings sneak out from under the mother’s shoes, - I’m so tired! I’m so poor! I’m so old! - So damaged. No! the daughters go, swiping right then left then right again - Nonsense! they shout, - All just more ways of pretending!
Punch drunk, the mothers tear up, pink and hot around the eyes, - For god’s sake! exclaim the exasperated daughters, - Always the same bloody melodrama! When it’s all over, the daughters take the mothers down so tenderly, both Mary and Magdalene, laying them on the white bed, pillows softer than summer clouds for their heads, chamomile tea for their nerves.
The daughters, certain of a job well done, lean in to kiss, - See you soon Mum! - Love you Mum!
Gently, the mothers watch them go, the latch on the wicket gate clicking to, their boots going snap down the road.
Outside, the leaves are turning ochre, a low sun shooting beams across an emerald lawn, the autumn world respiring acclaim, Glory! glory!
The Masters of War (Rosita Sweetman)
How quickly the â€˜Rapid Response Forcesâ€™ rush to the scene once the catastrophe is over.
How heroically the police, armed to the teeth, ready for anything, stand over the bodies of the fallen; how cinematically they stare into the middle distance, gleaming machine guns cocked, barely registering the bags of guts and skin at their feet, innards spilled like raw mince onto the sopping pavement. Out on the roadway armoured cars skid to a shrieking stop; doors fly open, multiple sets of boots, ringing like iron, clanging like death itself, hit the ground.
How poignantly, from under the emergency services covers, peep chic little black ankle boots, orange red kitten heels, a large belly, its plastic shroud mountained up as if for a pregnancy. Girlfriends. Sisters. Mothers. Husbands. Brothers Daughters. Sons. The dead bodies donâ€™t make a sound. 82
Next morning, the President, Buttressed on all sides by young men in sunglasses, bristling with machismo and guns guns guns, well fed, sleek, smiles smugly for the international media, promising war, more war!
In far away Syria, in Gaza, in Sudan, the Congo, the children eat grass, the bodies of their parents spattered across bullet ridden walls, whole neighbourhoods shoved into mass graves.
Oblivious, the Masters of War, in bombproofed air conditioned rooms in the desert, in the white house in the big city, in ancient palaces, in dusty shacks, rattle their shibboleths, their military advisors salivating, dreaming of the riches, the mayhem, 83
to come, their girlfriends, plush with gifts, lounging on vast soft beds behind them.
All agree how easy it is to get desperate young men from slums and bayous, and send them to their deaths, explosives belted around them.
Even easier to persuade their own young men, in good suits, white shirts, laundered by loving wives, to press buttons in Nevada that will wipe out entire families thousands of miles away.
Dublin, my Dublin (Rosita Sweetman)
My Dublin is black and white; grey and sepia. It’s Georgian buildings dark with rain, and ruin, it’s seagulls, whippet thin young lads from the flats diving into the canal in the choppy sunshine, a green Morris Minor proceeding down the empty road.
My Dublin is 1965. It’s The Beatles and The Rolling Stones ‘crowds of girls screaming damply’; an atmosphere hot and sharp; full of powder and perfume and a frightening excitement. It’s big navy policemen from the country looking on astounded: what is it about them English boyos that’s driving our young ones crazy?
My Dublin is artisan cottages in Portobello for sale at $6,000; another $4,000 to do one up; it’s a slaughterhouse on Synge Street, one of the first Well Woman clinics beside it; 85
the pigs screaming in the summer afternoon. An abattoir stench.
My Dublin is Bewley’s coffee and sticky buns on Saturday mornings; The Bailey, Davy Byrne’s, McDaids later; Patrick Kavanagh, Tony Cronin, Eddie Maguire ruled.
It’s ‘Broadsheet���, with contributions from John Behan, Seamus Heaney, Michael Kane, John Heath Stubbs, Michael Hartnett, Paul Durcan, YevgenyYevtushenko, Leland Bardwell. Me!
My Dublin is the Pope’s visit, walking to the Phoenix Park with Hattie (daughter of Evelyn), Adrian Kenny, Mum, Adrian waving a white handkerchief as the helicopter circled steeply.
My Dublin is mini skirts, hurrah!, boots, massive mirror shades. – Eh, Is that a pelmet you’re wearing, asks Dad, - or a skirt?
My Dublin is Bloody Sunday, THIRTEEN DEAD IN DERRY! It’s being crushed in Merrion Square two days later as the British Embassy is burnt to a black shell amidst roars and cheers.
It’s Mrs. Gaj’s restaurant and the Women’s Liberation Movement. Fuck you Patriarchy – secular and religious Yeah!
It’s consciousness raising making friends with our vaginas in hand held mirrors Jesu!
It’s the Contraception Train to Belfast. It’s marching for freedom of choice. It’s invading Neary’s snug. Invading Sandycove’s MEN ONLY! premier swimming hole, the old fellas running for cover as twenty somethings demand equal access. Oh yeah; it’s a young activist spray painting Gloria Steinem’s battle cry on the plinth of the (hideous) Papal Cross: If men got pregnant abortion would be a sacrament. The powers-that-be marshaled every JCB in Ireland and earthed it up prontissimo. A metaphor for their general approach to cries for change; hence the terrible revelations to come.
In my Dublin Alfred is on the bridge at O Connell Street offering polaroid’s, it’s pre-celebrity, (largely) pre global capitalism, pre the ‘Super Rich, pre the Dart, pre the Luas, pre duvets, 87
pre the internet, pre mobile phones, pre Facebook.
Weirdly, itâ€™s (mostly) pre-drugs, apart of course from sensational amounts of alcohol, the smell of hops all over the city, the Guinness barges with their tilt down funnels, sliding under the Liffey bridges, the pubs rammed to the rafters, everyone penniless, smoking their heads off.
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December 2016’s MESSAGE FROM THE ALLEYCATS:
December already? Where does the time fly? It seems like it was only last week when we were busy making the January issue meow!!. 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”.
Biographical Note: Kevin Perkins
Kevin Perkins is a painter living and working in Dallas, Texas. He received his BFA in Communication Design from Louisiana Tech University. Perkins works with synthetic polymer paint on canvas, cotton and paper. Using vibrant color, rich textures and the rhythms of life and death found in nature, Perkins' paintings intend to evoke a dialogue with the natural landscape and an attentiveness to the present moment.
Drifters, Acrylic on Paper, 7.5"x11", 2016 by Kevin Perkins
The Mountain, Acrylic on Paper, 7x5"x11", 2016 by Kevin Perkins 93
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: Alisa Velaj Alisa Velaj was born in the southern port town of Vlora, Albania in 1982. She has been shortlisted for the annual international erbacce-press poetry award in June 2014. She was also shortlisted for the Aquillrelle Publishing Contest 3 in January 2015 and was the first runner up in this contest. Velaj’s full length book of poetry “A Gospel of Light” is published by Aquillrellle in June 2015. Her works have appeared in a number of print and online international magazines, including Blue Lyra Review, (USA), The Cannon’s Mouth (UK), The missing slate (UK), The Midnight Diner (USA), Poetica (USA), Time of Singing(USA 2014 and 2015), Canto (USA), Enhance (USA), Ann Arbor Review (USA) The French Literary Review (UK),SpeedPoets (Australia), LUMMOX Poetry Anthology 3 and 4 (USA), Erbacce (UK), FourW twenty-five Anthology (Booranga Writers' Centre, Australia), Poetry Super Highway (USA), Knot Magazine (USA), The Otter (USA), The Journal (UK),Phenomenal Literature (New Delhi, India), The Brighter Light Poetry Anthology (CANADA), The Atherton Review(USA), Section8Magazine (USA) Miele 1110(Belgium), WritingRawPoetry ( USA), Three And A Half Point 9 (UK), Cafe Dissensus Everyday (USA), and in the Anthology by Mago Books. (USA), The Dallas Review (USA), See Spot Run Magazine(USA), Eunoia Review(USA), LANGLIT (INDIA), The Creative Mind (Australia) Angry Manifesto (UK) The Linnet's Wings (UK) She also has poems to publish in the forthcoming issues of Of/with Journal, Harbinger Asylum ,The Seventh Quarry, Indiana Voice Journal (USA), Clockwise Cat (UK) and Ink Sweat & Tears (UK)
THE RHETORIC OF MODERN CHAOS IN THE POETRY OF NIELS HAV In the Greek mythology, prior to anything else coming into life, there was chaos. In his “Thoegony”, Hesiod reveals how, out of chaos, other titans and gods came into being afterwards. It seems that we are dealing with a kind of core structure which multiplies other existences. Over the following centuries, a totally different signification was attached to chaos, wherein the structure relates entirely to exteriority and is converted into anti-structure. In the eyes of today's man, chaos is a state of vagueness, confusion, distraction, misguidance, a crushing loss of direction, balance, faith, hope, etc. etc. To dare outline such a messy and confounding anti-structure through poetic narration, and to furthermore penetrate into its very essence, seems a challenge that Niels Hav the poet has met by a miraculous feat. Here is how he himself put it in an interview to Sander de Vaan: “The world is on fire. Politics, bombs, ideology and religion are ravaging the globe. This is what the adults are talking about - and in its innermost core the challenge for art is to join this conversation. To find out and understand what’s going on, and, if possible, to say things as they are.”
The Danish poet defines the artist's mission in society with singular clarity. An artist is the soul who should never keep silent in front of social dramas; instead, he should try to dig into their causes and warn his readers accordingly well ahead of time. Thus, poets become true actionmen and not mere onlookers, while “their skin bruised from the internal storms" must be the first prophecy in red-flagging and preventing social dramas. The modern man, while taking pride in having created the most sophisticated social and technological structures, simultaneously and inadvertently, falls victim to the same spiritual anti-structures which humanity has been suffering of since its genesis. Politics, bombs, ideology and religion, aren’t these a cluster of causes that have ruined humanity all the time? Out of the modern chaos are born titans of anxiety and fear; gods are born who have nothing in common with godliness. Truth resembles a mine-field and, to Niels Hav, searching for the truth is like hunting lizards in the dark. Between what we can and what we cannot change there is a boundary, which we – the modern humans - must know how to reflect in our action-maps.
“The holists believe that a butterfly in the Himalayas/ with the flap of a wing can influence the climate/ in Antarctica. It may be true./ But where the tanks roll in/ and flesh and blood drip from the trees/ that is no comfort”. “The dead are buried deep inside the newspaper,/ so that we, unaffected, can sit on a bench/ on the outskirts of paradise/ and dream of butterflies.”
(From “Hunting lizards in the dark”)
Hav's poetry carries a scream for the torment subconsciously coming from the anxiety of nothing – the kind of anxiety on which his fellow countryman, Soren Kierkegaard, comments: “If we ask what the most exact objective of anxiety is, we must respond that it is nothing. Anxiety and nothing are adjusted to continuity. As soon as the reality of freedom and soul sets in, anxiety disappears” (“The Concept of Anxiety”, Tr 2002, f.100). A kind of anxiety that possesses us for totally unnecessary things without which we can freely live and breathe, while, on the other hand, for other things which we can live without, but not breathe or rather vegetate, we don’t have eyes to see, nor ears to hear. The dead are us, the poet proclaims full of pain and sarcasm.
“Isn't it an uplifting thought/ that in a few decades we/ and this whole confused epoch/ with its cynical presidents,/ worn-out arguments,/ mawkish TV hosts, dim journalists,/ and the cepitalustic jubilant choir/ will be gone?/ For all time!/ We will disappear./ They will disappear./ I will disappear./ You will disappear./ It will all disappear./ Hurrah!” (From “Encouragement”)
Alain Bosquet would describe Federico García Lorca's creativity as his death departing every day on wedding trips. A similar message is served by the Danish poet via the verses of his collection “We are here”. To be means to exist and to exist means to have the power to strike a note on the sorrows which chaos rolls in and out. Humanism is conceived of action and encouragement; otherwise we do but contribute to dehumanizing our own lives, being both insensitive to and unaware of what we are doing. For as long as we may be unable to stop the cause [of evil], we should at least strongly oppose being the consequence [-sufferers]. In the realm of silence, where everything transpires, as the poet notes, we should be able to separate angels from demons. Let both sides keep on arguing in their cacophonic choir. The choir is specially created to serve the chaos, whereas the poet’s mission is to teach us to detract darkness from chaos, and thus have it completely dissipated, for chaos cannot exist without darkness, same as no energy can be generated without an ignition source.
About the author's English collection, Frank Hugus, professor of German and Scandinavian Studies at the University of Massachusetts, in Amherst, notes (The Literary Review): “Hav's poetry is characterized by an economy of expression, disarmingly straightforward language, gentle humour, irony — which is often self-directed — arresting imagery, and a subdued, but persistent undertone of existential angst”. The existentialistic anxiety is often felt in his philosophic verses, in the lava of his cold sarcasm, wherein connotations are perceptible only to an elite readership, as the borderline between 97
poetry and philosophy is but a transparent veil and the shared ground demands for sharp skills regarding both philosophical wit and poetic sniffing. In this respect, Niels Hav’s poetry reaches the borders of surrealism and – referring once more to professor Hugus, who highlights that there is no shortage of absurd surrealism here - we draw the conclusion that it must be Wittgenstein's Cat [in philosophy, it means to philosophize endlessly without any certain conclusion], the one that entangles in the same bed the absurd with the surreal. Wittgenstein's Cat appears in its ideal form in the poem with the same title, but it is also present in other poems such as: “Epigram”, “The Hawthorn”, “The Anaesthetists Discuss Astronomy”, “When I Go Blind”, “Blind Man’s Bluff”, “On his Blindness”, “Institute for the Blind”, “Doomsday", etc. When these poems are elliptical, absurd surrealism unfolds via chaffing the poems off any guesswork offered by Big Bang explosive moments. While in itself and at first sight Big Bang is misperceived as a single-moment shot, it actually contains a multitude of such moments. In longer poems, however, absurd surrealism is composed in acts of a linear drama, where images replace eachother in a certain way that makes encrypted messages similar to poetic palimpsests.
A question arising naturally is why images in Niels Hav's poetry hover in suspense? Who/What is such suspense due to? Since these poems do “structure” chaos, nothingness, or outline an entirely structurefree “structure”, the suspense condition of the poet’s restless soul relieves anxiety through verses, holding readers in suspense over their poetic observation. The soul is totally missing here; hence, no other matter can possibly embody the translucent realities. The existentialistic angst, the absolute reign of nothingness, is precisely an offspring of this limitation. Such generating properties make Hav's nothingness even more productive, intriguing, and impressive. The over-flapping realities “suggested” by the author are, likewise, floating horizons that broaden the fluttering dimensions of suspense in Hav's poetry.
In the poem “Doomsday”, the poet announces that he is turned into a naked stone in the wind. It reminds one of the phrase "I was stoned with pain." The inverted stone metaphor essentially conveys endless pain and, at the same time, the challenge of confronting adversity [winds]. The bare stone symbolizes Prometheus, chained in the mountains of Khvamli - the first martyr sacrificed for light and truth, the first titan to open the eyes of blind men to see. Hav strips truths bare from any monologue of oracles, for truth cannot inherently run in two opposite directions. It simply cannot exist as such, yet be invisible; or cannot be visible and, yet, nonexistent. The symbolic stone's torment may also be read as a messianic message found in this key-line of the collection “We are here”. The stone's torment is an anti-lethargic burst, a flood over a desert of thoughts submerged in impossibility from top to bottom. “The Dipper” is a poem that follows the poetic credo originating in “Doomsday”. If the latter conceives the hero character, the former proclaims his Gospel. “Having begun with humility,/ you come to know the water” (From “The Dipper”)
Same as in the Bible, where, prior to the commencement of the act of creation, the spirit would drift above waters, the symbol of water in Hav's poems, too, floats around amid a transparency, or catharsis, that is soaked in blood because of pollutants and deadly agents in the social environment, which the 98
poet has to share along with the rest of humanity. Transparency is nourished with Socratic humility and it equates spirit and liberty. It needs a Slobo Legendo-type of vertigo, in the sense that human beings may well have their very existence put at stake, their freedom outlawed and murdered, their identity stolen or counterfeited, their pursuit of happiness reduced to a grinding illusion, while hope and dreams only feed their mental hunger. It’s the same process that Soren Kierkegaard describes, when he writes: “Anxiety may be compared with dizziness. He whose eye happens to look down the yawning abyss becomes dizzy. But what is the reason for this? It is just as much in his own eye as in the abyss, for suppose he had not looked down. Hence, anxiety is the dizziness of freedom, which emerges when the spirit wants to posit the synthesis and freedom looks down into its own possibility, laying hold of finiteness to support itself”. (“The Concept of Anxiety””, Tr 2002, p.70) “Far from abysses, forward to freedom and truths!” is the message resoundingly voiced throughout the poetry of Niels Hav – the realist, the optimist, with the morning sun as his modest testament to the human breed.
Copenhagen, Autumn 2016
Translated by: Vasilika Papa, English Lecturer, The Albanian University, Tirana
Biographical Note: Peter Oâ€™Neill Peter O' Neill was born in Cork in 1967. He is the author of five collections of poetry, most notably the Dublin Trilogy comprising of: The Dark Pool ( mgv2>publishing, France, 2015 ), Dublin Gothic ( Kilmog Press, New Zealand, 2015 ) and The Enemy, Transversions from Charles Baudelaire ( Lapwing Press, Northern Ireland, 2015 ). In his review of The Dark Pool, the critically acclaimed American poet David Rigsbee wrote: Peter O' Neill is a poet who works the mythical city of Modernism in ways we do not often see enough.' ( A New Ulster ) He holds a degree in Philosophy and a Masters in Comparative Literature, both awarded by Dublin City University. In 2015 he edited And Agamemnon Dead, An Anthology of Early Twenty First Century Irish Poetry with Walter Ruhlmann for mgv2>publishing, and mg 81 Transverser. He also organised Donkey Shots; Skerries First International Avant Garde Poetry Fest in May, this year and he is currently hosting The Gladstone Readings once a month in his home town of Skerries.
The Road to Ballyvaughan (Peter O' Neill )
Gibbons Ruark Jacar Press, 2015 Gibbons Ruark has been travelling to Ireland for the majority of his adult life, after meeting Benedict Kiely in 1976, in Delaware University where he taught, he eventually made his first trip to Ireland two years later. Kiely must have left a huge impression on Ruark, The Road to Ballyvaughan is dedicated to both Kiely and his other great literary friend, Seamus Heaney. There are poems to both poets in this very fine collection of poems, which represents the remarkable profundity of the poet's engagement with Ireland and Irish culture. A native of North Carolina, Ruark's original journey to Ireland, as his name would suggest, was at first provoked by the need to fathom the poet's historical, and so cultural, origins. In this his is a kind of pilgrimage, as is so often the case with poets and their kind. One gets an immediate sense of what kind of a poet Ruark is on reading the very first poem in this collection. It is called Words for Unaccompanied Voice at Dunmore Head. This is the rock where solitude scrapes its keel And listens into the light for an echo. Behind the disarmingly simple plaintive voice, making use of established literary forms such as sonnets, tercets ( always a staple for pilgrims ) and couplets; resides a highly acute mind engaging with both the people and geography which surrounds it. In Ireland, as indeed in other countries in Europe, we are well used to meeting citiZens of the so called new world returning to the country looking for their â€œrootsâ€?, and in general we accept them with, no doubt, a mixture of genuine respect and cynicism. Ruark is the kind of writer who encourages more of the former, rather than the latter. Respect, of course, is earned. And, it is a dual process. For we, as readers,regardless of whether we are Irish or not, need to bring as much of ourselves to Gibbons Ruark as he brings to us. The ferry shudders and scrapes against the stone quay And we are moving, churning crosscurrent on the river Nearly estuary, the gulls a billowy Chaff of white above the whitecapped backwash, lovers Young and old with their hair all windblown at the rails, Histories little and long entwining their hands. The above is the opening six line verse of the sonnet which gives the title to this 101
whole collection, and it is indicative of the whole range of mastery on display. To be able to sustain a solitary sentence in this way underscores the very nature of the poet's essential task, and yet which so few are capable of doing, which is to prolong the moment of ecstasy for just as long as they possibly can. Of course, at the mention of ecstasy one thinks of visions, and Ruark does conjure them, whether they are fuelled by history, local history as in Late Word from Corcomore Abbey , or personal, as in Words Full of Wind from the Poulnabrone Dolmen, one thing is for sure; all visions conjured within will be crystal clear.
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