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ISSN 2053-6119 (Print) ISSN 2053-6127 (Online)

Featuring the works of Michael Boyle, John Doyle, Thomas Larsen, Shauna Rose Raeside, Gabriel Eziorbo, Peter Nolan, Peter O’Neill, Neil Ellman, Dustin Pickering, Sharon Frye, Clare McCotter, Thomas Elson and Alex McMillan. Hard copies can be purchased from our website.

Issue No 52 January 2017

A New Ulster Prose On the Wall Website Editorial


Editor: Amos Greig Editor: E V Greig Editor: Arizahn Editor: Adam Rudden page 5

Michael Boyle;

1. 2. 3. 4. 5.

Beech Tree Planting Return of the Natives Boxes The Eleven Plus Who Was That Man

John Doyle; 1. Petrifyed Corpse, Los Alfaques 2. Western Pacific Caboose 3. Saving an Ant from drowning 4. The Enterprise roars through Balbriggan Station 5. Ag Éisteacht le Mary Bergin - Feadóga Stáin Tom Larsen; 1. 9/12 Shauna Rose Raeside; 1. An Apology 2. Libero Gabriel Eziorobo; 1. Hypocrites 2. Gone So Far Peter Nolan; 1. Remembrance 2. This Peace 3. Lincoln 4. Brother’s Voice 5. Archaeology 6. Neolithic Axe 7. Stone Circled Water 8. Animal Heart 9. A List of Sorries 10. Justiced Peter O’neill; 1. L'immense majesté de vos douleurs 2

2. 3. 4. 5.

The Stag’s Head Commute I Commute II My Dark Lady

Neil Ellmans; 1. The Archaeologist’s Rest 2. The Clown and his Flower 3. Love Song by the New Moon 4. The Rapidity of Sleep Dustin Pickering; 1. Playground 2. Angels in Mystery 3. A poetry workshop 4. Sticks and stones Sharon Frye; 1. Last Night in Dublin Clare McCotter; 1. Goyahkla’s Bones 2. Crossed Paths 3. Soul Music Thomas Elson: 1. Purgation Alex McMillan; 1. 2. 3. 4.

America Student Loans Childhood problems Circumcision On The Wall

Message from the Alleycats Round the Back Peter O’Neill:

1. On Words and Up Words


Poetry, prose, art work and letters to be sent to: Submissions Editor A New Ulster 23 High Street, Ballyhalbert BT22 1BL Alternatively e-mail: 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: 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 “Blackbird in Winter� by Amos Greig


“It is during our darkest moments that we must focus to see the light. ” Aristotle Onassis. Editorial Welcome to the new year and to the first issue of 2017 I’m hoping that the following months will be full or artistic endeavours and that we can continue to provide a platform for new and established artists. Next month I’m hoping to run the issue around the voices of ‘forgotten’ or nearly forgotten Irish artists exmples include Padiacc Fiacc, James Simmons and Adrian Fox to name but a few. We often overlook their work and influence while focussing on the larger names such as Heaney and Montague. This oversight often leads to some brilliant pieces being overlooked James Simmons for example started the original Honest Ulsterman and ran the Poets House first in Port Muck and then in the Republic. Padriacc’s work is often overlooked and yet he has such a strong poetic gaze. 2016 wasn’t a great year for celebreties or indeed for the people of Syria still caught in the horrors of foreign backed civil war a war which has developed into a three sided power struggle while innocents suffer. The streets of major cities see an increased rise in homelessness and related deaths. People have taken a stance against such inhumane treatment.

Amos Greig Editor.


Biographical Note: Michael Boyle

Michael Boyle is a native of Lavey in South Derry Ireland and he now lives in St John’s Newfoundland. In 2014 he won the Arts and Letters prize for poetry and his first poetry collection “Whins from the back Hill ” will be published next year. He operates a historical walking tour in St John’s Newfoundland. Michael is an Gaelic speaker and has written articles for the Irish language magazine “An t-Ultach


BEECH TREE PLANTING SATURDAY JANUARY 1 2000 For Maire Mc Crystal. (Michael Boyle)

Smothered in darkness Boulder clays melt into gravel and silt. Mesh into rocks, stones and bogs. First settled by early Celts. Today Gaels and Planters in an uneasy truce. saved only by weather talk and the price of sheep and lambs.

The old Drummuck of brambly moss lanes, loanings, rodens. moss banks and moss holes. Hidden underneath bog fir and butter. Silent echoes of the Great Auk and corncrake. No plaques on historic lint dams. No trumpet fanfare or chiming bells. Beech not a native tree but your symbol of wisdom, tolerance and understanding Your beech queen –a consort to the oak king. Today Hearts, Diamonds, Shamrocks and Spades all digging with the one foot plant the sapling. Afterwards a glass of Black Bush to celebrate. Going forward together and lighting a torch at the dawn of new millennium.


Return of the Natives. (Michael Boyle) Maghera Bus Stop is nowhere near the center of the town. A huge crowd waited for the Express bus to Dublin. My brother and I both live in Canada and we waited in line as the driver took his time packing suitcases and then he collected fares And everybody had a free pass or some kind special rate. We asked about a discount rate for seniors. Then in a loud Belfast accent. He roars out so everyone can hear. “Dere is a discount rate indeed but not for you pair of boyos. Yossuns are not from here.�


Boxes, Borders and Boundaries. (Michael Boyle) Our hen man was Andy Frew from Bellaghy and he drove a small blue van up our street. He bought our Rhode Island hens and then bound their legs tight with tape. Feet first, he put them into small dark cages. I grieved thenAnd it is only now that I mourn for my own tribe and all other tribes.


THE ELEVEN PLUS (Michael Boyle) Yes –I was a poor bet for the Grand National steeplechase. I didn’t even make the first fence at Beechers Brook. In Dreenan School I tried to do handstands like Mickey O’Neill. I could say the Hail Mary in Irish in one breath. I brought frog spawn and stickle backs to school. I got scolded for looking outside at an airplane in the sky. Our teacher my aunt Maggie had a stroke and to get a pension ws forced to come back to school to write on the blackboard with her left hand. I did not always listen and I did not learn Then - the three fateful Fridays. Our class of four students drove seven miles in Charlie the Mucker’s taxi to Magherafelt Technical School I had pencils and a ruler. My desk was one of five hundred I was in the corner alone with the birch pined wall bars. Instructions were given out by microphone. by strangers who spoke like news readers. The orders were intoned No talking…………Do not move from your seat……… Write examination number on the front cover….. Put down your pencil…… When I say time is up………… We will start the next section……. Don’t open your booklet…….. until I give you a command…….. Time is up………Do not write any more. Yes my time was up. At lunch time I went to the tuck shop 10

for Mars bars and gob stoppers. In the afternoon another intelligence test ticking answers in boxes Always trying to trick us like all of the above or none of the above. I wondered when this would be all over. Then in early June –the results. the thin stamped OHMS letter Delivered by the Culnady postman. The verdict was given to determine your life. In my case the envelope said: Horse and rider had both fallen at the first fence.


Who was that man? (Michael Boyle) Back then he looked like an old man I watched him at the parish sports at Willie Mac Gill’s field in Mayogall near the old quarry. A sizzling ,scorching sun fried farmers faces beetroot red. No shade or shelter here. And only a few cloth caps. No gaudy Yankee straw hats making people look like Toronto Orangeman home for the Twelfth in Garvagh. He took his Sunday handkerchief and double knotted each corner with great care and I watched him lower his small parachute on to the top of his shiny bald head. And today -I still wonder If there is anybody alive today who remembers that man.?


Biographical Note: John Doyle John Doyle, 39, from County Kildare has recently returned to writing poetry after a considerable absence. He was educated at N.U.I. Maynooth, and is influenced by a diverse range of writers, many of whom do not adhere to canonical peccadilloes.


Petrified Corpse, Los Alfaques, 11th July, 1978 (John Doyle) You'll be in Heaven I suspect, when this horizon melts, your death-mask seared on miners in '34, those Asturian towns and coal rolled in blood, as your bones crack like union men, under Franco's ascending foot, and your blessings too lie charred in black and white, the scowl, the anguish, and nuanced disbelief, the ink of remembrance a sangria sipped, by a gutted baptism font, but as your soot-tint digits accusingly weld, remember Dante's licking garbs, or Gernika's encore untamed by this useless sea, your eyes frozen on shrouded teens, huddled by the smoke-cured showers. Your dance macabre is encircled by light to moderate showers, a lateness of rains, a tease for pointless police car lights - your eyes two moons on ebony skin, for astrologists to gaze at and weep


Western Pacific Caboose (Song for Franklin Delano Roosevelt, 1932) (John Doyle) Stories line-up in railroad tracks the hammered riff of iron, mothers who bathed half-naked in sun-blushed Chinese breasts. Navajo whisked dust in symphonies here, the howling winds from Oregon, further than the symmetry of God, and what I've seen I've surely seen, gritted through blue and reddened hands a tin shack bleeding Autumn fires on Winter's frosty bite, wishing I was a waxed-mustached stranger reading my bible on a Western Pacific Caboose, and the blood and iron seeping from breasts, Washington dimmed in symphonies of dust


Saving an Ant from Drowning (John Doyle) (I) Galaxies of them scurried last week, mother and me loosening clay-caked stones like teeth from the garden's tobacco-tanned gum; millions of legs, trillions of eyes bashing bumper cars at summer night fairs where the queen was the carnie's daughter, flashing her rose-painted lips, moonshine slid promises on her skin-tight pants, and the headless boys were already dead, their eyes filling up gardens like shilling-grey stone; (II) I move a chilled coffee, there's one bobbling for dear life, like Natalie Wood starstruck in caffeine skies; I poke my finger in, my hand a dinghy on nights of stone-cold souls, I'm thinking of the garden this week, mothers tobacco-brown like Mississippi sun, no daughters were lost in the cold chills of muck, nor the pimple-pressed boy, scurrying for his summer night queen; there will be one who makes shore, dear lord, let there always be one.


The Enterprise Roars Through Balbriggan Station (John Doyle)

Sail away, away/Ripples never come back Ripples - Genesis 1976

Chilly waters have calmed, sea and sand lock lips once more, like the moon-splashed bride un-grips her life, from numinous terrain, the gaggle of voracious gulls cackle in greys - splattered on beige, haunting clouds from day's scuffling hold; Balbriggan, 1:51pm ocean jewels me with tangs of salt, skeletal veils of maritime life, my footprints are a paper trail some dogs rally round, then abruptly discard, like the Guinness breath of her wayward love severed... in blades of Dublin to Belfast fumes


Ag Éisteacht le Mary Bergin - Feadóga Stáin (John Doyle) Faoi bhun, tá sé níos boige ná ceol, Baile Átha Cliath ag athrú isteach ina Chill Mhantáin ag cur báistí arís, ach báisteach bog, an áit ina luíonn craiceann isteach cruthanna sléibhe boga, ar an mbealach a ghluaiseann sí, an bean, agus a h-amhrán, an fuaim cosa fliuch, comharthaí ó mhóin, 1979, ar an lá seo chonaic muid na sléibhe ag lasadh go mall, ag canadh go deo…


Biographical Note: Tom Larsen

Tom has been a fiction writer for fifteen years and his work has appeared in Newsday, Best American Mystery Stories, Puerto del Sol and the LA Review. Toms novels FLAWED and INTO THE FIRE are available through Amazon.


9/12 By Tom Larsen

The day after the Trade Centers came down I drove my brother Rob to yet another VA hospital. Admission had been scheduled a few weeks earlier and in light of events, could have been postponed, but he was ready and I was anxious to get it over with. For the next six months he would wrestle with his demons in the foothills of the Adirondacks. The Bath complex offers intensive therapy and occupational training and is the showpiece of the program, according to the literature. How my brother came to be placed there is fairly miraculous. With no health insurance and a history of intransigence it would seem to be his last and best chance. I had reserved a rental car, but within hours of the attack there were none to be had. My own car didn’t look up to the trip and my wife had need of hers, so I did the only thing I could do. I borrowed my mom’s. I arrived at Rob’s house at 5:00 AM to find the lights on and the doors open. From the kitchen I could hear a television and a radio blaring upstairs. The usual images flashed through my head as I climbed the stairs, Rob hanging from the rafters or lying in a pool of blood. Scenes so familiar they seem predestined. When I reached his bedroom I could see him sprawled on his back, his face frozen in the TV light. I looked for the rise and fall of his chest then stepped inside. The TV showed the towers imploding for the millionth time. I watched the dust rising, the floors caving in on themselves, then a montage of people running from 20

a dozen different angles. Great rolling smoke clouds squeezed free of the buildings behind them. From the other side of Rob’s bed the radio played at the same volume. Words swirled around each other making no sense. When I hit the creaky floorboard he jack-knifed up and fixed me with those floodlight eyes. “Sorry,” I shrugged. “Is it time?” he croaked. “It’s time.” He rolled out of bed without a word. While he showered I sat in the kitchen scanning a newspaper open on the table, the same paper that was there on my last stop around a week earlier. A time so distant and inviolate I couldn’t bring myself to turn the page. Rob shuffled down and sat across from me lighting the day’s first cigarette. “You OK?” I asked, lighting my third. He fixed me with the look of the heavily medicated. “Never better.” “You know how to get there?” He handed me a two page computer printout with curb-to-curb directions, alternate routes, estimated times and mileage down to the second decimal. How to get there alright. We finished our smokes, gathered his things and left by the kitchen door. “Aren’t you gonna lock up?” “What for? The kids might need to get in.” “You’ll be gone for six months?” 21

“The front door doesn’t lock. Anyway these people are scared to death of me.” As well they might be, more than one tranquil evening shattered by sirens and flashing lights. Still, Rob tends to overestimate his impact and I made a note to buy some padlocks. While he loaded his bag in the trunk I checked the night sky making out the Dippers, the North Star. The trees appeared silver in the dim street light with lighter patches where the leaves had turned. It would be February when he returned. “You’ve got everything you need?” “I’ve done this before, remember?” “Right, OK then, …” We sat in the car for a minute listening to reports of Muslim bashing in Texas. The dashboard clock read 5:15 as we pulled away and I couldn’t help feeling we were being watched. I know I’d be watching. We approached our first intersection, maybe 300 feet. “Which way?” “Left,” he nodded without consulting the map. Checking right I eased out nearly clipping an old man and his old dog. The last person we’d see for thirty miles shaking both fists in indignation. We passed through unfamiliar towns with familiar names, countless flags and messages of consolation, the gray dawn of a different world. “What road is this?”


“This is route 313, … and this,” he gestured to a row of brick duplexes, “is Quakertown.” “THE Quakertown?” “The very one. Weird little burg. Full of Germans.” I tried to imagine a town filled with German but I had no reference. It’s the sort of little-known and unverifiable observation Rob is always making. We stopped for smokes at the only place open, a convenience store at the edge of town. The clerk spoke Russian into his cell. “How long have you been in this country?” I asked him. “Three months.” “Any problem with the Germans?” “I know nothing.” On the way out of town we passed a dozen “God Bless Americas” and one “Nuke Afghanistan” with Afghanistan spelled wrong. I hit the extension northbound and we were halfway to the Poconos by sunrise. “So tell me, how is this VA hospital different from the others?” I asked. “It’s farther away.” “From where?” “From everywhere. Plus there’s bears.”


“Six month rehab free of charge. A wonderful thing, the VA.” Rob said nothing to this. “It is free, right?” “It is when you don’t pay the bill.” “How did you get in?” “I told them I was suicidal, but salvageable.” Working the system, as my wife would put it. Veteran psych nurse, she’s played this game with the best, the ward being the last refuge of junkies and crackheads. If it isn’t suicide it’s hearing voices. Or both, just to hedge your bets. They say I should kill myself and shit. My wife calls it the voice of reason. “It’s no scam,” Rob said, almost to himself. “Hey, what do I know? You do what you have to do to get help.” He was drafted in the summer of 1969. We’d both been summoned for pre induction physicals and by Christmas he was in Seaside, California bound for Viet Nam. He was lucky though. His unit bounced around stateside ending up in Newark, Delaware, two hours from home. My own luck was even better. My draft notice never came.

The sun was just clearing the mountains when we stopped at Macdonald’s. We sat outside at a picnic bench swilling coffee and chain smoking, watching the shadow line 24

move across the valley. A day as perfect as the day before, whatever comes next still to come. “Look at it,” Rob studied mom’s Escort parked alone in the lot. “The prototype mom car.” “I’m trying to remember the last time we were in a mom car together.” “Might have been when dad died.” “You think?” “After that you were never around.” Possible, but unlikely. Our dad died in 1962. My brother recalls a deathbed vigil that never happened. The old man was gone by the time we got to the hospital. What he would make of all this is easy to imagine. You get out of life what you put into it, boys. Can’t means won’t. How a grown man could believe such shit is still beyond me. He might have changed in later years but not without a battle. The old man died when Kennedy was president. Reducing things to sophomoric terms was endemic with that bunch “ A 1962 Oldsmobile 88. Ragtop.” Rob closed his eyes. “White with cranberry interior.” “A godamn pimpmobile, for Christ sake!” “Definitely not a mom car.”


My father bought it for her 35th birthday. A year later he was gone and a year after that the Olds was stolen from the parking lot of the box factory where I worked. The same factory my father ran as regional sales manager. The thieves puked all over the seats then tried to set it on fire. My mother never drove it after that. Rob aims a finger. “A 1966 Chevrolet Corvair,” That one I ran into the garage wall.

North of the border we picked up the Adirondacks, bluer than the Poconos, set farther off the highway. We passed stone farmhouses, fields of crops, hillsides mottled in cloud shadows. How is it I’d never been here before? I’ve traveled twice as far to places half as nice for my vacation! Rob seemed oblivious, lost in thoughts of extended confinement. Once they closed the door you may as well be in Coatesville. I felt I should cheer him up but I didn’t want him to think I was enjoying myself. I was doing him a favor, after all. Any other Wednesday I’d be in a graffiti scrawled print shop in North Philly. “Do the numbers 493-2005 mean anything to you?” I thought for a minute. “Calling Donald Tessien for a pick-up game.” “So it’s not just me.” “I guess not.” “The thing is, kids don’t play baseball anymore.”


“A damn shame.” “It was like, six phone calls and you had a game going.” “And you knew those numbers by heart.” “It wasn’t just the cool kids either. Everybody played. The jerk-offs, the fart smellers, the fat kids. It was democratic man.” “Of course off the field you didn’t know them.” “No, of course not.” I tried to picture Tessien today but got no father than an egg-shaped head. I’d heard somewhere he lives in Cincinnati. “You know what else you don’t see anymore?” Rob scratched at his beard. “The vertical hold knob. Nobody makes them.” “It has been a while.” “I used to love watching the picture roll up and down, then down and up.” “I seem to remember.” “It did me good. I don’t know.” “What about the horizontal hold?” “Horizontal hold did nothing for me. I was strictly vertical. Twenty up, twenty down. I had a system.” “For what?” 27

“The even keel. Life in the balance. I guess I was nuts even then.” “You’re not nuts.” We drove a mile in silence. “The thing about the vertical, it was continuous like a line. A never-ending parade. The horizontal was like a wheel. Maybe only three pictures going around.” That I could see what he was saying was no consolation.

Outside Binghamton the highway narrowed to one lane. We followed spewing dump trucks between concrete barriers, the steady ping of gravel off my mother’s paint job. To our left the city shimmered in the haze, home to Blue Cross, American Ladder and my wife’s former boyfriend, Ed. “So when does it get ugly?” I wondered. “It doesn’t. The VA has a certain aesthetic. Plus people out here work for cheap. “ “How come?” He gave me a look. “It’s the economy, stupid.” “Oh, right.” “Everybody has four jobs and nobody’s making it. Fucking Dogpatch, man.” “Like Pennsylvania, you got Pittsburgh on one end, Philly on the other and in between its Alabama. 28

His smile exposed glaring gaps. “Ordinary fucking people. God I hate ‘em.” I smiled back. “Harry Dean Stanton, Repo Man.” Rob laughed for the one time that day. “So it isn’t just me.” “Yeah it is.” We listened to jazz on the tape deck, previously unused. Rob refrained from smoking, in deference to mom. For this I was grateful. When he smokes I can see his hands shake. My guess is that cigarettes will kill us both if we live that long. We picked up the habit from our parents who eventually quit, Mom for her 50th birthday, dad for the obvious reason. We are the last of the breed. Lurking in the shadows outside work places and restaurants. Hacking our way into deep middle age. Were either of us alone now we’d be smoking our brains out. “Guess you won’t be getting the games.” “Not unless the Muslims bomb the WWF and NASCAR.” “Too bad. The Phillies are making a move.” “Turk Wendell is making a move? Get fucking serious.” “I like having a guy named Turk on my team.” “Just the kind of management decision that got us where we are today.” “Especially considering the name we’re getting rid of.” “Gomes? Biggest godamn lips in the major leagues.


We can do this for hours. The history of baseball circa 1959 to the present is our own history, the one true bearing, ten thousand games, the rise and the falls, sons of sons just hitting their stride. Above all, the minutia, entire phone calls over nothing else, a sort of telepathy the non-fan can never know. Rob may be the only other guy on the planet who remembers Bobby del Greco. Someone like me needs someone like him. “Fuck the Phillies,” he grumped. “Yeah right. Fuck em.” “When we get there you can just drop me off. I don’t want to hang you up.” “You got it,” I jumped at the chance. I had a fat joint and a fist full of Basie tapes. Roadwork not withstanding, I’d be home by dark. In Bath all roads led to the VA medical center. We drove through the gate, up a tree-lined entrance to a sprawling brick compound that could pass for a resort hotel. Rob grabbed his things from the trunk and we smoked one for luck. I, for one, could never do this. Not at fifty. I saw now why Rob wanted me to take him. In case he chickened out. “Any chance you might know somebody?” I asked him. “A good chance. It’s your basic revolving door.” “That would make it easier, no?” “Not really. No buds here. Turn your back they steal your Walkman.”


“Jesus, I hate to just drive off,” I lied. “Hey, I made the bed. Go watch your Phillies.” “You got any money?” “There’s nothing to buy. I’ll be fine,” he started off across the blacktop. “OK, See you.” I watched him listing slightly as he headed up the hill. I thought for a minute he would turn to wave but he never did. Then he was gone, the pines bleached blue in the stillness, the bricks beaming in the midday sun. Could be he’d get well there, but I had my doubts. He’d been down this road a few times too often. The resilience that marked his comeback years was no longer in evidence. The meds and the decades had taken a toll. I thought back to those days after high school, Rob and his buddies on their farm near Princeton, can’t miss college kids coming of age. My own friends seemed seamy in comparison, dopers and dropouts, low life losers. Thirty years later they’re still going strong while the best and brightest flamed out to a man. I circled the driveway and out the exit with a smart salute to the grunt in the gatehouse. Little fucker looked right through me.


Biographical Note: Shauna Rose Raeside Shauna Rose Raeside was born in Dublin in 1999. She enjoys learning languages, playing music, and writing poetry. She keeps her poems in her pink notebook and sometimes posts them on her Facebook page, “Shauna writes poems now�.


An Apology (Shauna Rose Raeside) I’m having an off day, well it happens to the worst of us What’s out of place fails to stay right where I left it, out of my mind. With glassy eyes and lids rubbed raw from calmly carrying on too long I’m not that strong, too gentle, hard on my own self

I’ve got my issues, it’s almost a talent, just nearly I’m stuck with me, do I love me? A bitter wife jilted by hubristic ambitions I trust myself with nothing, only cutting loss

Potentially could I fast burn out If I ever light up to begin Nothing but ashes, confusion and crashes Yet there must be some fire still within

Destined for doubt, deprecation of self Thanks but I’ll live, I’ve not earned your help My windpipe grasped by the unloving death grip of fear Fearful of what ever yet unclear Taunted by haunting, heckling, echoing words tossed lightly in mere banter, still They prowl like a panther through the yet uncharted jungle of my mind

A gorgon stare straight out from the mirror I jolt awake, come on, focus! I’m having an off day, it happens to the best of us


Libero (Shauna Rose Raeside) You tell me “it’s not you” another attempt to excuse yourself absolve yourself of sin, maybe this time I’ll give in. Not worth it anymore, your constant confessions of crimes we know you’re only waiting to commit again are not an honour much worth fighting for

There must be something that I’ve missed Pretending that forever could exist As you, drunk on lust and self-adoration Move further away from what we’ve formed.

A searing pain as the wall crumbles The world new and loud, as it is to a newborn. Taking first breaths, the pain dulls and disappears Sono libero.


Biographical Note: Gabriel Eziorobo

Gabriel-Eziorobo is from Nigeria, he is a poet. Gabriel started writing when he read a love poem titled So I Thought. He loves to write,because he can express himslef more than he can speak. Gabriel has one book now,named ''Revelations Of The Soul''


HYPOCRITES (Gabriel Eziorobo) Hypocrites holding us like babies teaching us the kindergaten alphabet, four years will be over everything will be fine building on an empty land, hypocrites will emerge on the high-hill of calamity, blabbing every four-years of grace watering the solid land with honey, all will be fine false hope is everything i wish,i wish the lay-man dreaming to walk again. GONE SO FAR (Gabriel Eziorobo) We have gone so far we are not kids anymore sucking the milk from the breast, let's face the things before us in this land, no-one knows how this four-years will look like, everyone wish is to live a better life not a life of confusion where to be or where to move, we live not for the leaders that have no wings to fly slowing us down when we need to fly, this is the land we fought for, this is our land,not for racism but to live in peace and unity.


Biographical Note: Peter Nolan

Peter Nolan aged but never matured in Laytown, Dublin and Drogheda. He is Luke’s Dad. He is considered sound and taught his son to play guitar. He has travelled and will do so again.


Remembrance (Peter Nolan) Visiting a concrete garden Near that hospital where I was born Hushed relentlessly as we run Skirting the pool with no fish Its bottom dirty with brown and silver coin Towards still black giant swans They were children like us we were told Sadly they’re now swans forever But for a day each year In exchange for pagan hearts Asking why being a swan forever is sad When you can fly anywhere anytime you please

This Peace Another Good Friday of shrouded shelves and statues Withering tortured structures decaying surrounding This peace that’s been won With nothing more complex than a willingness to forgive A wish to gift our children their chance to forget To rejoice in their confusion at our past They’ve made swings and slides from these remains Nothing, nothing will ever outshine This peace we’ve passed on to those who follow


Lincoln (Peter Nolan) Driving to the white memorial He told me this religion was the threat To his country heavy with creeds, enemies, ceaseless migration His fear, beyond logic, of invasion Forgetting this planet weak from greed justified by belief He never heard that all human greatness is rooted in kindness That no one loved ever wants to leave home Brother’s Voice Brother, you’ve cowered too long before the voice You listen to every moment of your day It’s booming propaganda Overpowering any protest of your worth Convincing you of its judgements Eviscerating forgiveness from this church at which you pray Most damaging of all it has made you believe By the subterfuge of strong will That this voice you’re listening to is you Brother, you have other voices We know because we’ve heard their song

Archaeology No more than a sense of object Beneath this sand & soil heaped high by time My confusion passed down by pain Begin by sitting on this ancient mound Stroking the grass beneath my palm That lies above the boxes of letters The keepsakes from forgotten lovers and friends Choose to dig and sift through evidence Develop a schematic of why and how I am here Or choose to sit for a while until I understand That I can walk and that There’ll never be a better drawing of me than now


Neolithic Axe (Peter Nolan) Long had it laid there On the path leading up to her cairn Tens of thousands must have passed it Blamelessly blind to its ancient touch Until you saw, recognised and stooped Brushed soil and dust and held it again As it once was held before you called me Look a neolithic axe, see how it was used You handed it to me, it fit eager and true We climbed on to the tomb of the Queen Made wicked by falsehoods of man You looked and found a piece of glassy chert And reignited ancient axe energy knapping a shining sharp edge I brushed back your black hair in the winds See this is what they did, see? We rested on cushions of moss Encircled by green and blue sky, earth and sea Walked around what they’d built for her Looked out over a tomb on every distant hill Then you buried the axe deep and safe Making a wish for you and me

Stone Circled Water In our place beneath shading trees Turtles have laid their eggs Within this sacred spring Bubbling dreams born, die, reborn Lightening this stillness With the green, black and silver song Of stone circled water Bearing sorrow & joy beyond Our gifted time


Animal Heart (Peter Nolan) Love, thank you for the joy we created As we shared this road to now Your kindnesses, caresses and soothing songs Sweetened my food and water I am sad we parted and I know that you are too Please be as gentle with yourself now As I was to you and you were to me All you brought me is with you and for you Our animal hearts know our healing is within I felt it in you, you felt it in me Our lessons are in our care

A List of Sorries I am sorry to me for believing them when they told me This is what a man is, this is who he fucks and what he buys This is what he does For my constant forgetfulness I am sorry for losing my temper With those who tried to help me I am sorry I walked away from my brother I am sorry I stole For leaving her unkindly I am sorry I didn't pay attention To the reality of loss beyond the Artificial flowers in my heart Sorry that I didn’t learn sooner That beneath what they told me to be Beneath what I believed I was There was a me intact and ready to heal


JUSTICED (Peter Nolan) ‘You stopped seeing magick the moment you saw a horse for what it could carry and not for where it could take you.’ His face turned to look up at me, weathered by life on the road with a voice graveled by drink and tobacco. His brown eyes still twinkled and his smile was quick. He’d arrived less than an hour ago, driving his battered wagon into the rain-drenched courtyard. I’d walked with him as he led his horse to the stables. He hummed a merry tune as he brushed her down and she munched the oats he’d brought her. I watched as he put his arm under her thick cob neck, rest his forehead to her mighty brow and I just about heard his whispering chant over the clattering raining night. Horse and man closed their eyes until his song was complete, then he wished her a peaceful night and turned to walk into my inn. ‘That was the moment we divided and your lot stayed to grow food. You asphyxiated our stories with your writing. You built your religions and ran your wars. ‘ I placed another mug of tea before him and he gripped it with both hands as he slugged down its hot sweetness. ‘Thanks Son. Well done you. We carried our stories with us. But the places they still breathe freely are few now. Soon they’ll be gone. This used to be one of those places.’ ‘Here? Shrawee?’ I asked. ‘Oh Yes.’ ‘What do you mean ‘used to be’?’


‘It must be five hundred years since we last justiced here.’ ‘Justiced? Here?’ Memories of the old tales reawakened within me. Grand-father telling us stories of mermaids and mermen, giant otters, of a time when the hearts of men were balanced. I placed a large damp log onto the fire behind him and the wood crackled and sparked. ‘Oh Yes. Here. These ancient stones.’ ‘What did they do?’ ‘They?’ He paused on the word, smiling a little more, one eyebrow arched. ‘They killed a horse. One of ours.’ ‘Killed a horse? And what did you do?’ Somehow I knew it was him even though five hundred years had passed. ‘Yes boy, it was me. I brought each of them a gift. These here beauties.’ As he spoke his left hand swept across the table and when it had passed there were four silver knives on the table. Each blade shone, heavy and balanced. I could tell by the way they reflected the firelight that they were nightly sharpened. In each handle a single gem the size of my thumbnail was embedded. ‘These blades are brothers, once taken from my jacket one must fly within the hour or...’ ‘How did you…?’ ‘Find you? I have always found your sort. I always will.’ Pushing the table forward he stood up, picked up a knife and handed it to me. ‘You know what to do.’


I did know. I was to throw the knife high and if it fell before me he would release me. But if I was guilty its magick would embed the blade deeply into my skull. If I didn’t throw, or my throw was untrue, he’d use that blunderbuss in his belt to blast the life from me. I had a chance if I threw the blade. ‘But we didn’t kill a horse … I … tried to … she …’ ‘She was one of ours.’ He whispered and his hand moved slowly to grasp his gun. ‘Throw it or you’ll die without a face. Throw!’ The knife silvered upwards, spinning in the firelight. My heart cried for forgiveness. Yes, I was there but I had tried to stop them. I had pleaded with them to leave her alone. But they were too big, too many for me and would have killed me too. I heard the blade embed itself into the wooden floor before me. ‘So you tried to stop them, Lad?’ I nodded and began to weep. I stood crying like a child before him. ‘Bring me more food now. Then prepare me a bed for the night.’ I did as he bid and after cleaning up I went to my bed, leaving him smoking his pipe by the fire. For the first night in many years I slept easy. He had left by the time I awoke. Later that day I heard the news of the deaths of three men in the village, each with a single deep knife wound through the skull. I would sleep easy for all my nights to come. END


Biographical Note: Peter O’Neill

Born in Cork in 1967. Peter O' Neill is the author of six 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, Belfast, 2015). If Baudelaire is the unifying theme of his Dublin Trilogy, above, in which O' Neill attempts to transfer late 19th century French aesthetics onto contemporary Dublin, than Beckett is very much the unifying figure of his Gombeen Trilogy; the first instalment of which More Micks than Dicks is to be published by Famous Seamus in London, 2017. His work has been translated into French, Italian and German. He is currently working on his 13th collection Commuting with Baudelaire.


L'immense majestÊ de vos douleurs (Peter O’Neill) The immense majesty of your suffering Finds some parallels high in the inter-space Above Houston Station, and continuing Down the serpentine descent of the river to Saint James Gate; two addresses wonder- bound Through their unique perspective's proffered. You but a glaZed pedestrian, faltering out of the Outbuilding housing the Asgard, its great wooden Hydro-dynamics cutting through the spume of cloud. The November light a winter epiphany. Your feet held steady now only by the iambs. Ghosts of history assail after your visit to Collins Barracks; Franco-Irish not Anglo your passport To escape the nightmare of history.


The Stag's Head for Sam Allen & Laura Norder (Peter O’Neill) No doubt, when you came in here, elk head Hovering antler-ward above the granite counter, Thoughts might have turned to Cooke, his Resurrected mammoth conjured ghostly above your shroud. The first, and last time, I saw you Was up at that same counter. The place packed, Not a stool for the taking, but next to yours. Undaunted, I took it and sat down next to you; the Nobel-Prize winning poet. Famous Seamus! Yet, I still hadn't made up my mind about you. Upon taking the stool, I shielded you from sight with Le Monde Like some prat. And then, after some time, you turned on me. Horrendous encounter, to be caught like a rabbit then between the lights. The face on you, searching for blaggard. And I, for once speechless, Kept staring at your hands, which could rip the bloody life right out of me.


Commute I (Peter O’Neill) Ephemeral cloud fixed above you in the firmament, Great November fires the sun resplendent. The atomic furnace encases the mercury tinted Morning, causing it to glow like embers in Winter's midnight hearth. Beneath the cosmicity of this quiet tableau The stoic figure of a young woman is seated, Her cool elongated limbs are enveloped in boots and hose, Finger nails varnised, digits extended like a liZards, Scrolling up and down the keys of her iPhone, Reading banalities posted by some clown, While inside the carriage there is almost absolute silence. The electric train shunts along the tracks hypnotically, And the only voice punctuating the journey Is the recorded one, announcing the passing towns, over the intercom.


Commute II (Peter O’Neill) Trembling, the snare rolls to the astonishment of mornings, The taut images pour outward from the sluice, All the loving languor of the enjambment of limbs, Their soft, pliant, unbreachable plasticity. God's dolls! But that the other relative particle Is bouncing close beside within the walls of the not so Distant stratifications, such as the moving picture Opened like a chest, upholding the sky. The cropped backdrop of a Durer, Or some other from the Northern School, All mortal movement froZen in the the Baltic light. Liquid fields your vista with the the white cuts Of a lone sail mon beau navire and suddenly Your bathrobe is blowing Pythagorean.


My Dark Lady (Peter O’Neill) Nothing's had, all's spent, When our desire is got without content. Lady Macbeth – Shakespeare

For you I will be that sainted figure of a man, If you will but accept him with all his equal quirks and perversions, As I will, in turn, accept the base bitch in you, The one who, through necessity, spurs the basest need in me. For, are we both not but the conglomerate parts Of our most extreme opposites; Bitch from hell, base bastard from beyond? And such is only half the tale! But I would accept the sainted figure of you too, Long after the pots have been steaming till all is boiled And your southern temperament has finally cooled. O woman, diabolical. You are why I read Baudelaire, For only Shakespeare, and he, seem to have your proper contours Measured and set, in unholy printed atrocity.


Biographical Note: Neil Ellman Neil Ellman, a poet from New Jersey, has published more than 1,250 poems, many of which are ekphrastic and written in response to works of modern and contemporary art, in print and online journals, anthologies and chapbooks throughout the world. He has been nominated twice for the Pushcart Prize and twice for Best of the net; and most recently, he was the winner of the SPANK the CARP Annual Poetry Contest.


The Archaeologist’s Rest (Neil Ellman) (after the lithograph by Giorgio de Chirico)

After discovery leaning on the artifacts of his pursuit with the pleasure of a kill and the taste of conquest and victory in his mouth licking clean the jewels, canopiic jars and bones, the mortar that bound the stones that built an artifice of spires and pyramids; after the runes and hieroglyphs have yet to speak, the archaeologist rests on his pride as if he himself had conquered Troy.

The Clown and His Flower (Neil Ellman) (after the watercolor by Paul Klee)

Every clown has a flower of its own every flower a clown to plant it in the ground make its bed and prune its leaves; without a clown a rose could never reproduce its blush and bloom; without a rose a clown would live and die alone.


Love Song by the New Moon (Neil Ellman) (after the watercolor by Paul Klee)

If not love, then what— which is not a question but a lamentation. What is the choice if not between the moon and you impossible and probable a miracle and its truth or the distance between your faith and mine? When the moon is new concealed behind itself like a secret hidden in a cloud it sings: Call to me and I will answer you and I will tell you great and might things which you would never know.


The Rapidity of Sleep (Neil Ellman) (after the painting by Yves Tanguy)

It comes upon them when they least expect it without a warning or a sign when the air is thick with indifference and the sun shines like a golden falcon about to strike. It hovers for an instant out of sight spreading its wings to block the light and numb the pain of their waking lives then dives upon its prey with the ferocity of the day turned night. How swiftly, how surely the eternal bird brings unexpected death to they who seek only to sleep and live another day.


Biographical Note: Dustin Pickering

Dustin Pickering is founder of Transcendent Zero Press, a publishing house based in Houston, Texas. He is author of The Daunting Ephemeral, The Future of Poetry is NOW: Bones Picking at Death's Howl, and Salt and Sorrow (Chitrangi Publishers, India). His upcoming release is Knows No End, also from Chitrangi Publishers. He is published both on the net and in print anthologies. In his spare time, he is a songwriter and visual artist as well.


Playground (Dustin Pickering)

Ferris wheels are atlases to the sky, like scavengers for the lost. We are not lost as long

as we fill this merry-go-round with our memories, full fragments of being. We do not sing to the trees.

The smirk of Time hides at the playground gate— where do I place my thoughts in the seriousness of Fate?

As I am lost, lost as a dove. Cooing in the fragile empathy we call life and also love.


Angels in Mystery (Dustin Pickering) Sometimes an angel will knock at the door and leave mysterious notes for the sleeper. Talk is worship for the silent salient, but a meager wrath will not open the meaning of secretive words. Bedchambers of the heart are forbidden to those who want to experience the difference between night and day. I grab the heartache from the sky and clinch its possessiveness, wanting to love God until I cry. His ocean of splendid tears draw the moon into gravity’s rainbow.


Biographical Note: Sharon Frye Sharon is a poet from Northern Oklahoma. When not delivering the mail, she likes to make a few noisy scrawls across a page or take her camera and capture a moment.


Last Night in Dublin (Sharon Frye) High above the River Liffey, I searched below, scanning the torch-lit Grattan Bridge. I observed zipping cars, weary pedestrians with gritted-teeth gaits who survived on respirators of hair-triggered busyness.

I’d been pondering the presence of angels, spirits who stream supernatural strength into needy, worn-out veins of workmen, panhandlers and buskers or the tired mother, who needs to wash her hair, whimpering babe planted on her hip.

I raised my hands to send a summons ‘O Ancient Guardians: Guide my feet in rapid waters for I fear all Evil.’

Cries of the Banshee sliced air above me, bouncing from seabird wings in a raucous echo. White syllables tumbled, dripping down my chin like mother’s milk, in a language I once heard.


Biographical Note: Clare McCotter

Clare McCotter’s haiku, tanka and haibun have been published in many parts of the world. She won the IHS Dóchas Ireland Haiku Award 2010 and 2011. In 2013 she won The British Tanka Award. She has published numerous peer-reviewed articles on Belfast born Beatrice Grimshaw’s travel writing and fiction. Her poetry has appeared in Abridged, Boyne Berries, The Cannon’s Mouth, Crannóg, Cyphers, Decanto, Iota (forthcoming), Irish Feminist Review, The Leaf Book Anthology 2008, The Linnet’s Wings, The Moth Magazine, The Poetry Bus (forthcoming), Poetry24, Reflexion, Revival, The SHOp and The Stinging Fly. Black Horse Running, her first collection of haiku, tanka and haibun, was published in 2012. Home is Kilrea, County Derry.


Goyahkla’s Bones (Clare McCotter) for Jerome McGill The moon was shedding its horns when the train rattled into Albuquerque. Prisoners of war leaving their dry mountain country the last of the Chiricahua bound for Florida and pulmonary consumption unloaded for a rest-stop on the slopes of the Southern Pacific railroad. Hunkering third from the right his hands seem at a loss since lying down the Winchester lever-action in Skeleton Canyon. Later they would hold hoes and melons and at the World’s Fair autograph books signed Geronimo. Letters they could decipher but not the lines in a face made inscrutable by the sun. His dark seasoned stare almost riven with bones intent on rising through soft sepia tones. Restless now beneath the ancient piñon the ghost grey sycamore they shift and turn. Toward a woman alone out on the mesa placing one white bead on a coyote’s tongue.


Crossed Paths (Clare McCotter) in memory of Bernadine Small Thinking no place I would rather be than this lane glissading bog stirs a guilt of sorts vexation too: my bolt of joy knocked off course by the little click of saline drip. The night is brimming moon its dark blue rimmed with frost enough to quicken the bark of wild birch casting shadows across the track like an alphabet no one will decipher. Did our paths cross at the wedding your sister my cousin perhaps an introduction I cannot remember and doubt if such is in your head lying on the endless hum of a profile bed . Close as the firmament covering an MRI scanner these skies full of crystal show no attrition only the knowledge you are in this place where the universe or the gods have shaken out a blanket of stars.


Soul Music (Clare McCotter) after The Mission Wading waist deep through emerald green the girl lifts an injured violin from the shallows. Held high she carries it back to the children their silent faces a string of jasper beads. They have parted with their pinafores falsetto flutes and white oval souls the god men gave and the Portuguese took away. Needing slaves to work plantations thus is the world they say. Paddling their pencil bark between the roots of stars and grasses they travel upriver far away from powder and shot and ants in tricorn hats. Making a new home among great trees in air thin and teal they lay the bleeding violin on a plinth of stone. Their oblation to the spirits of hummingbird lily, glowworm, hyacinth. And to the forest’s faithful floor an offering sprinkled at each night’s rise. Diffused downward melodies of pan pipes.


Biographical Note: Thomas Elson

Thomas Elson lives in Northern California. He writes of lives that fall with neither safe person nor safe net to catch them. His short stories have appeared, inter alia, in the Pennsylvania Literary Journal, Red City Literary Review, Clackamas Literary Review, The 3288 Review, Perceptions Magazine, and Literary Commune.


PURGATION by Thomas Elson

Friday, February 19, 1982. Berdan Daily Tribune. The Ninnescah County Sheriff’s Department reported a Roads and Bridges employee discovered a partially nude female body near a ditch seven miles from Berdan. Her name has been withheld pending investigation. The preliminary report stated the cause of death as hypothermia.

I. Two days after Walter T. Andrews received his prognosis, he sat with his second wife, Shirley, and detailed for the first time both his lymphatic cancer and the extent of his estate. “Here’s what I set-up for you,” he said, then listed her imminent ownership of his large four-bedroom house with its three-car garage, surrounded by an expansive open area, grassed pastures with healthy oak and cottonwood trees. It exuded the feel of a gentleman’s farm on the outskirts of Berdan, a town named after a Civil War Colonel all but forgotten except for reenactors. His remote lakeside cabin, several life insurance policies, proceeds from a healthy buy-out agreement from his business partners, and a fully paid life insurance policy on her life accompanied the house and land she would inherit. As did a new 1982 Pontiac Trans Am. She sat with her hands in her lap and uttered not a word. Three weeks after their dinner, Shirley, twenty-six years of age, tall, erect, well-coiffed, her lithe body sheathed in custom-tailored clothing, walked into the


mortuary and the mourners saw precisely why Walter T. Andrews, dead at age fiftyseven, divorced his wife of more than a quarter of a century to marry Shirley. She walked behind Walter’s coffin as it was carried from the wood-framed church Walter’s grandfather helped build. The dust from the wheat fields hit her face, and worked into her nose and throat. She coughed, and the smell of wool mixed with funeral incense merged with the stale hay in the fields and clung to her hair and clothes. At graveside, Shirley knelt to kiss Walter’s coffin. When she stood, she looked into the freshly dug six-foot hole with its deep parallel walls, and recoiled as if punched in the chest.

She lived as a widow a few months, then without notice, married Seán Tyler, a five-foot, eight-inch seasonal carpenter whose youth, eyes, and strong hands attracted her. “Why do you do it then?” She asked one evening, after he was laid-off from his seasonal carpentry job. “It’s what I know,” Seán said. “You need a better job. I could get you a job at Walter’s factory,” she said, referring to her deceased husband’s old company. Before her father had died, Shirley was taken on shopping trips to the largest city in the state; she received royal attention from the dressmakers of Henry’s Clothing Store with its polished brass elevators and raised marbled fitting rooms set amid multi-mirrored alcoves, which enhanced her sense of being a princess. After shopping, Shirley and her mother crossed the street to the Innes Tea Room – for ladies only – and ladies with shopping bags from Henry’s were especially welcome. Seán was from a more diminished world with days of macaroni and cheese, followed by days of goulash, followed by days of spaghetti. His clothing came from 66

south of town at Farmers Service and Supply with bare cement floors and dusty parking lot. The walls of his family home displayed no photos or prized drawings from school, whereas Shirley’s family home resembled a shrine to her development. Their arguments continued. About his taste in clothes, “I could get you an appointment with Walter’s tailor.” About his table manners, “Here’s what Walter showed me.” His diet, “Don’t eat that. It’s full of saturated fat.” His truck, “I could buy you a new one.” His family, “Why don’t we skip going over there this Christmas. Maybe next time.” Seán never counterpunched. When her jabs continued, he only glared; and in that glare, she recognized another person gradually emerge. Within months of the marriage, her emotions slid from cleaving intensity deep into intense resentment.

After two years of marriage and six weeks of separation, Shirley awoke alone to a Saturday morning wind that did not blow so much as gasp, and when it gasped, sounded as if the world had been sucked through a straw, then, like a shotgun blast, scattered the detritus against the double-paned bedroom windows. She turned her head to the right toward the gray-tinted sunlight so common in that part of the state. Drenched in perspiration, Shirley remained in bed, her eyes alert, her mind raced. The day stretched before her like a gauntlet. She reached for the clock – 7:30 a.m., almost dropped it when the alarm sounded, followed by the announcer’s shouted weather report. “The temperature will drop to twenty degrees below zero this evening due to a mass of arctic air sweeping down from Canada,” then slid into his local sports voice to read the Friday night scores. She calculated the hours until dinner and smiled. A little cold never hurt anybody with a heavy coat and a warm car; besides that, she had a mission.


By ten that morning, Shirley was in her Pontiac Trans Am driving west. She arrived early for her appointment with Walter’s attorney. Seán watched from his truck as she walked into the building.

II. Shirley’s notebook pages detailed incidents of Seán secreting himself in the bedroom closet, and his attempts to tape record her activities. One evening as Shirley and her friend – whom she consistently described both in gender-free and fictionladen terms - sat immersed in her warm bathtub among bubbles, candles, and shadows. She heard the garage door open, pulled back, sat erect, grabbed a towel, and rushed into the hallway. Seán was at the top of the stairs. He brushed past her toward the bedroom, and shoved the wet, naked man against the wall. “Seán, come here.” Her voice like a command. He backed from the bedroom into the hallway. “You and I are separated, Seán.” Her voice was precise. “You have to go.” “I am not leaving you with him,” his right arm extended accusingly toward the bedroom. “You can’t be sleeping with other men.” “You need to leave, or I’ll have to call the police.” “Go ahead.” “They’ll arrest you. You can’t just walk into this house at midnight.” “You can’t be sleeping with other men.” “I can, and I will,” she turned, reached for the phone, and walked away. Escorted from the house by the police, Seán’s words, physical feints, revengeful stares meant nothing to Shirley. She repeated to herself, “Poor guy – 68

hallucinating – some sad male fantasy.” She no longer cared. She was young, financially independent, and bored as hell.

III. It was twilight when Shirley applied make-up and selected a dress. As she backed the car from the driveway, snow was on her front lawn. The field next to the restaurant was flat - so flat and level Shirley felt that she could scan past the horizon to the corner of the earth. On her right was the remaining wheat stubble that had turned from green to gold, then to dirt gray. The wind burned as it shot past her bare legs. She sneezed, then sneezed three more times. The restaurant’s fame rested on dinners of fried chicken served family style – meaning that the waitress placed bowls of food on the table and the customers served themselves while seated inside one of the multiple smaller rooms at one of the tables of pine or oak veneer, on chairs as varied as cane back, ladder back, or plastic Windsor. On walls of blue and white flowered wallpaper hung cast iron skillets and decorated ladles, which reminded Shirley of the chipped cup that rested beside the pump handle next to the horse trough near the windmill at her aunt and uncle’s farm. She walked around the bar to avoid the smokers, and said to herself, “Why don’t I let the Sheriff’s Office do this? They can serve these papers. I don’t need to do this by myself.” Then she saw Seán, so she pasted on a smile, patted her purse with the documents the lawyer prepared, and glided to the table. She noticed a light blue box with a bow rested in front of Seán. She intentionally ignored it. “This is not going to be a celebration,” she repeated silently. Under the restaurant’s bright lights, she felt as though she could wrap herself in waves of warm air, then summoned, what Walter called, intestinal fortitude.


During dinner, Shirley aligned the serving bowls, rearranged the corn and the chicken on her plate, finally gave up, turned her fork upside down and placed it on the upper edge of the dinner plate. She watched Seán eat while she ruminated over her prepared lines, watched as his eyes did what they always did when he had a plan. It was as if his eyes belonged to another person. She saw his jaw muscles contract, and knew his danger – early on had been attracted to it. Seán set his fork on the plate and reached for the blue box. Shirley slapped a tri-folded sheet of paper on top of the box. “What ‘s this?” “Read it,” said Shirley. Seán pointed to the top of the page. “It says it’s a waiver of service for a divorce.” Shirley remained silent. “Well,” he said. She watched his eyes. “Well,” he said once more. “Well, what?” “Why?” “You know very well why. I’m not going over it again.” He stared at the empty plate, then turned toward the window, “Good Lord, look at that snow. It looks like it’s rolling toward us.” She inhaled deeply, cleared her throat, and began, “Seán, this is going to happen. I can’t live with-” She inhaled as if for courage. “-with you hiding in the closet and tape recording me in my own bedroom.” 70

“Our bedroom.” “No. My bedroom,” she said, noticed his eyes, then his clenched fist. “We’ll be okay if you just stop sleeping with other men.” “You are in no position to tell me how to live my life.” She stressed the first word with a slow emphasis on the ones that followed. “The hell I’m not,” he said in a voice that combined a growl and a whisper. “The hell you are,” she said, then resumed her original position, “I refuse to do this. Here are the papers. Either do it, or don’t. It doesn’t matter. There will be a divorce.” “And I’ll get alimony,” he said. Shirley did not bother to respond; instead, she placed her hands on her lap, and said, “I need to go,” picked up her purse and scooted her chair back. “Let’s take a ride before we say goodbye,” Seán said, “Just tell me what you want.” She heard the exasperation in her voice. Seán smiled, “Let me go home with you tonight. I can drive. We’ll pick up your car after breakfast tomorrow.” She looked at him, “I’ll be right back,” and walked toward the restroom. She had decided. “Alright,” she said when she returned, then paused for effect, “I’m leaving.” Seán gripped the arms of his chair, started to push himself up, stopped, placed the blue box in his coat pocket, and slowly turned his head toward the windows.


IV. Shirley walked around piles of snow toward the Trans Am. She started the engine, pushed the heater far into the red, and within moments felt the warmth. She needed to be alone. On Highway 54, she abruptly turned onto county road 64, and then stopped at a turnoff north of the river about one-hundred yards from Walter’s hidden cabin. She had walked this path many times, and, despite the drifting piles of snow, needed the time to get rid of her anger. Inside the car, she heard the crunching sound of gravel. A hand slapped the top of the car door, then pulled it open. Another hand clenched her left shoulder and pulled her. “Out,” was all she heard, and felt a sharp sensation against her back. “That way,” he said, and shoved her toward a ditch near the small grove of trees, sparse remnants of a 1930’s W.P.A. windbreak. She had grabbed the top of the door with her bare hands, and her flesh stung. Within a few seconds, the capillaries of her hands constricted and sent blood deep to warm her vital organs. The palms of her hands were a painful 60 degrees Suddenly she was pushed, pulled, and then punched. She heard what she thought were gunshots. Quickly realized the sounds were familiar – as if from an old truck. Distracted by the scratchy snow packed down her blouse, she failed to notice a thin line of blood. She fell on her back, felt a harsh pain in her spine, followed by complete numbness in her legs. Moisture trickled, then poured down her face. She heard a voice come from a shadow, “Happy now?” She attempted to kick, but could not. In about ten minutes, blood seeped back into her fingers, her body temperature rose; sweat trickled down her sternum, cold air bit at her. She heard the sound of leaves crackle. The brittle crunch was trailed by the fading sound of a car driving over a gravel road.


Frigid air pressed against her body and sweat-soaked clothes. The wet clothing dispelled heat into the night. As the cold crept toward her warm blood, her temperature plummeted below 98.6. Another ten minutes passed. Her hands and feet ached with cold. She tried to ignore the pain. A clammy chill started around her skin and descended deep into her body. She was unable to stop shivering, and trembled so violently her muscles contracted. Too weary to feel any urgency, she decided to rest. “Just for a moment. Only a moment.” Her head dropped back. The snow crunched softly in her ear. Forgetfulness nibbled at her. An hour passed. Her body heat leached into the enveloping snow; her temperature fell about one degree every 30 minutes. Her body abandoned the urge to warm itself by shivering. Her blood was now as thick as cold crankcase oil. She watched helplessly as the snow covered her. At least she had her coat. If only she had worn lined slacks instead of a dress. If only she had worn boots instead of heels. If only she had gone home. If only. Her breath rolled out in short frosted puffs. Within minutes her heart, hammered by chilled nerve tissues, became arrhythmic, and pumped less than twothirds its normal amount. She thought only of a warm car filled with furry animals and a fireplace that awaited her – she could not remember where. Then she thought of saunas, warm food and wine. When her initial hypothermic hallucination ended, there was dead silence, broken only by the pumping of blood in her ears. Her body drained, she sank into the snow. The pain of the cold pierced her ears so sharply she rooted into the snow in search of warmth and comfort. Even that little activity exhausted her. She slept and dreamed of sun and sunflowers carrying warm, furry animals to snuggle close to her. Her night did not last long. She lifted her face from her soft, warm snow pillow, and heard the telephone ring from inside the cabin. She heard it again, but this time it sounded like sleigh bells. Gradually, she realized these were not sleigh bells, but welcoming bells hanging from the door of Walter’s cabin just through


the trees. The jingling was the sound of the cabin door as it opened. She attempted to stand, collapsed. She knew could crawl. It was so close. Hours later, or maybe minutes, the cabin still sat beyond the grove of trees. She has not crawled an inch. Exhausted, she decided to rest her head for a moment. When she lifted her head again, she was inside the cabin in front of the woodstove. Walter held her while he spoon-fed her warm soup. Secure and safe, they watched the fire throw a red glow. Walter caressed her face and carried her closer to the fireplace. She felt warm, then warmer, then hot. She was unable to see flames, but knew her clothes were on fire. The flames seared her flesh. Her blood vessels dilated and produced a sensation of extreme heat against her skin. In an attempt to save herself, she ripped off her blouse.

The winter storm continued for many days. When the wind subsided, and the temperature rose, the crews were able to clear the roads. Motels emptied of stranded travelers, eighteen-wheelers resumed their western treks, and a county maintenance worker discovered a partially nude female body near a ditch seven miles from Berdan.

--- THE END ---


Biographical Note: Alex McMillan

Alex McMillian is a prolfic poet who grew up in Livingston, Scotland and now lives in Lima, Peru. When not teaching English he reads and writes poetry.


America (Alex McMillan)

She was a preacher’s Daughter and twenty when I met Her at a bus stop in Cheshire. She studied drama and Jesus and Wanted "a sexual relationship" but Wasn't sure I was sure and Tried to say all the things and To hold her The way she'd want to be held I must’ve done something Right it was all I wanted later she went Back to “Whitinsville, MA", I'd work then visit and walk Roads in Boston parks and beaches, anywhere She led me It never ended we'd pack a picnic basket then stop In a motel rented by the night For an hour I remember listening to men Drilling Tarmac outside as we lay Laughing we'd leave and go To Scarborough beach or firewater Providence a drive In dinner Her grandparents in Cape Cod the Celtics a Film nowhere. Everything was Nothing unless it was Her and it was her For a while though it Ended. We didn't know but in my Memory she knew and Perhaps she did. I did See her Walk Away, tears, hair Behind her reaching back At 76

Me I Thought and I turned for some Reason And boarded that flight and Life Carried on without Us. Nothing was the same world Again there were better worlds, but none Where nothing was Anything Unless it was Her


Student loans (Alex McMillan) Years ago I worked In factories - different Factories, filling time Sheets and boxes With various things: adverts for Holidays or bank accounts, Trainers, contact lenses Broccoli. Though the Factories were in different Places, the people and the Boxes never changed Forever broke, especially In the days before Salary it seemed a Protest against my work station to Dismiss the money so Quickly, gambling drinking A gift for someone Nothing left and back to Those boxes, a week or two Longer There's little to be said for Rising at 5am walking Penniless to a big hut full of Things you don't want Without coffee money Or cigarettes or anyone caring To ask what you think about what You're doing or why it might be You Doing it I remember deciding if I Ever got something going I'd take a little money and some of those Trainers out their boxes 78

And walk the earth and just breathe and see and think and Rejoice at not being There in that hut again sometimes the Difference is About five or ten quid just The idea that when you Finish you can sit alone Or with someone if you've Better luck, a coffee a pint a glass of wine and Feel like it's not Such a struggle sometimes There's room for you in the world Too Nobody cared to offer the fiver, far Less the tenner in those days there Was Nobody Buying coffees or beers sending Messages about Friday or the boozer or poker nights that are really just about having a few drinks and some banter When I did ask for a loan they'd Squirm a bit thinking I'd waste it, the uniform and those boxes left something on me - A smell? That marked me out as the risk The bad example what not To be doing at 24 when others were Studying to be Doctors and had driving licenses and good prospects at The bank In desperation I went to University to talk about Blake and Jaws and Dostoevsky and spend Money I'd never had on Pills and cocaine and women and more gambling and computer games and books by people who tried to get by without working and those fiver and tenner loans Seemed to flood in from family and New friends and I spent them on dog 79

Races and ecstasy and - once – A can of whipped cream to eat Off an American student's body at 2 On a Monday afternoon And while I did All those boxes were still In the hut with People like me Filling them with things They don't want, With no cigarettes or ecstasy or cans of whipped cream No fivers or tenners Or better Luck


Childhood problems (Alex McMillan)

We are making Every Negative Experience A cause for trauma and Telling our kids That every sadness, Every non-smile is a problem That must be Discussed And Dissected And Accounted For And taking Away their freedom to Feel All the things that make them The them they may become Without Our Interfering.


Circumcision (Alex McMillan) It had been a problem for some Time and when I whipped it Out and he saw the Scars the Chinese fella agreed with My diagnosis and Set the date. I got the most I felt From the foreskin we Fought to a standstill both Punch tired though neither Quitting he was cut Up and had taken more really Than the corner should have Allowed but I'd blocked a lot Of his own work my feet never Quite in step with his Appetite. Nayya had just been KO'd and the last night - fittingly She tore into it the last it was a Hell of a state when I presented it 1:40 Thursday and the Chinese Fella took the needle and what was Left of the cock and stuck one on The back of the head a real Rabbit punch I Reached out, missed and Apologized. That's fine he said Reaching for the scissors had you Connected I'd have sued. He Set about the foreskin with a pair Of scissors you'd wrap a present With and a concentrated scowl my phone Rang, another apology No go ahead he said "Guess where I am?" I asked He stitched me up and ushered me 82

Away another cock Broken, better Nayya had no time For the new style but determined To punish me did ensure We were at it too early and Filled a couple of condoms with Blood before she'd let Me stop. The Chinese Fella, on my return, was far less Understanding.


If you fancy submitting something but haven’t done so yet, or if you would like to send us some further examples of your work, here are our submission guidelines: SUBMISSIONS NB – All artwork must be in either BMP or JPEG format. Indecent and/or offensive images will not be published, and anyone found to be in breach of this will be reported to the police. Images must be in either BMP or JPEG format. Please include your name, contact details, and a short biography. You are welcome to include a photograph of yourself – this may be in colour or black and white. We cannot be responsible for the loss of or damage to any material that is sent to us, so please send copies as opposed to originals. Images may be resized in order to fit “On the Wall”. This is purely for practicality. E-mail all submissions to: and title your message as follows: (Type of work here) submitted to “A New Ulster” (name of writer/artist here); or for younger contributors: “Letters to the Alley Cats” (name of contributor/parent or guardian here). Letters, reviews and other communications such as Tweets will be published in “Round the Back”. Please note that submissions may be edited. All copyright remains with the original author/artist, and no infringement is intended. These guidelines make sorting through all of our submissions a much simpler task, allowing us to spend more of our time working on getting each new edition out!



Welcome to the new year? 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”.


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


Biographical Note: Peter O’Neill

Born in Cork in 1967. Peter O' Neill is the author of six 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, Belfast, 2015). If Baudelaire is the unifying theme of his Dublin Trilogy, above, in which O' Neill attempts to transfer late 19th century French aesthetics onto contemporary Dublin, than Beckett is very much the unifying figure of his Gombeen Trilogy; the first instalment of which More Micks than Dicks is to be published by Famous Seamus in London, 2017. His work has been translated into French, Italian and German. He is currently working on his 13th collection Commuting with Baudelaire.


on words and up words AnamarĂ­a Crowe Serrano Shearsman Books, 2016. At her best AnamarĂ­a Crowe Searrano makes me think of the stalwart Polish poet, and Nobel-PriZe winner, Wislawa Szymborska. For she too is alive to myth and metaphor, and like the polish poet, Serrano's is a gently provoking and sometimes humorous voice. Take the second poem in her recently published fifth collection. up the hill stars point pentagonal in a language of their own

so you say

though I'm lost in minor variations of jasmine lady of the night


by mythologies in the sky Like other poets of her generation, and I am particularly reminded of the great Christine Murray, Crowe Serrano spurns such norms as capitalisation, punctuation and prefers to align her text dotted with gaps in an attempt, perhaps, to remind us of other possible insertions. For, as the title would suggest, this is a collection that is particularly self-conscious about the use of language, and indeed the many kinds of language which abound, such as the constellations witnessed above. ( in the beginning ) is a wonderful example of the poet's artful play on mythologies, Biblical this time, and how they must be subverted in playful and engaging ways, so that they may be given new life. you stood obscured at the top of the stairs troubling through me in the dark

-cryptic- it's how I remember particular particles

of your face lights out because of the solar flare what it does to the powder grids


There is a refreshing playfulness in the way Crowe Serrano sets the text on the page, reminiscent of certain French and German writers during the last century; such as in the placement of the pronoun in the text above, mirroring the content. These touches are light, and poetic. In part two, the collection is divided into three parts, the delightful take me by the foot reveals Crowe Serrano's willingness to engage directly with themes such as sex, always a very tricky thing to pull off; no pun intended! you could carve your crimes on my thigh, those dreams of piracy brushing curls of public coastline and I wouldn't tell as long as it was a story good enough to bury deep inside me treasure hidden with the sweat of flesh on flesh, rhythm dripping over me echoing in the cavity of your chest The very pleasurable use of rhyme, encased in such a modern idiom, is beautifully 89

judged, as is the treatment of the subject matter and of course it all helps to further consolidate the reader's trust in the poet as guide through the ever expanding labyrinthian nature of this collection. However, it is in the third and final movement, or section, of the book Crowe that Serrano really comes into her own. The tempo is heightened immediately in the opening poem playing messiaen, a poem dedicated to the Irish pianist ThÊrèse Fahy. Birdsong rushes morning to the tips of her fingers quivering through trapeZium tapping from the trapeZoid capitulating to the capitate the hammering of hamate how to tap a sound bend its bones to breaking tame the thrush in the hand worth two nightingales still chirping in the bush subdue through orchestration deft manipulation in order to rework, replay, release Indeed, the issue of metaphoric flight, through art, is a constant thread running through the whole collection, bringing the title into better relief. It takes a lot of graft to get to the top of the mountain, but as any trekker, or mountaineer, will tell you the view from above is worth the effort. And the immense vistas which Crowe Serrano finally supplies are simply sublime. what is the moment suspended on geometry of emotionthe line between this 90

and that now and then supporting the weight of the walker one foot rising cajoling oxygen, hydrogen the nytric toe searching blindly for the tension as vision vibrates ( from high-wire ) But the culmination of Crowe Serrano's art, in this collection, is surely the poem on first reading Stuart Kendall's Gilgamesh. I remember telling her, when editing the anthology And Agamemnon Dead with Walter Ruhlman, that this poem which we included, and which is kindly acknowledged by the poet, was to quote Roland Barthes the moment of climax in the anthology. And so it is here. It must be one of the better poems I have read by a contemporary Irish poet in the last ten years. And it is so typical of Crowe Serrano's art and skill. The playful use of intertextual elements... i'm off to ride the bull if not slay it before hunting your gods who said love is like a red red rose To which she attaches a footnote, the third no less, in which she berates Neruda's poetry which she finds, 'over-rated', 'clichĂŠd'. And instead offers... the silken milk-and-honey bollocks in the later paintings of the maenads burns the painter's brush their buttocks is worthy of more 91

more realism rubbing off Bacchus' godly stubble proper burlap chin

rubble upper lip

red red real To which she adds the sixth footnote love doesn't come into it. Girl after my own heart. Would that there were more hearts girls Crowe


In this world! :) Peter O' Neill


LAPWING PUBLICATIONS RECENT and NEW TITLES 978-1-909252-35-6 London A Poem in Ten Parts Daniel C. Bristow 978-1-909252-36-3 Clay x Niall McGrath 978-1-909252-37-0 Red Hill x Peter Branson 978-1-909252-38-7 Throats Full of Graves x Gillian Prew 978-1-909252-39-4 Entwined Waters x Jude Mukoro 978-1-909252-40-0 A Long Way to Fall x Andy Humphrey 978-1-909252-41-7 words to a peace lily at the gates of morning x Martin J. Byrne 978-1-909252-42-4 Red Roots - Orange Sky x Csilla Toldy 978-1-909252-43-1 At Last: No More Christmas in London x Bart Sonck 978-1-909252-44-8 Shreds of Pink Lace x Eliza Dear 978-1-909252-45-5 Valentines for Barbara 1943 - 2011 x J.C.Ireson 978-1-909252-46-2 The New Accord x Paul Laughlin 978-1-909252-47-9 Carrigoona Burns x Rosy Wilson 978-1-909252-48-6 The Beginnings of Trees x Geraldine Paine 978-1-909252-49-3 Landed x Will Daunt 978-1-909252-50-9 After August x Martin J. Byrne 978-1-909252-51-6 Of Dead Silences x Michael McAloran 978-1-909252-52-3 Cycles x Christine Murray 978-1-909252-53-0 Three Primes x Kelly Creighton 978-1-909252-54-7 Doji:A Blunder x Colin Dardis 978-1-909252-55-4 Echo Fields x Rose Moran RSM 978-1-909252-56-1 The Scattering Lawns x Margaret Galvin 978-1-909252-57-8 Sea Journey x Martin Egan 978-1-909252-58-5 A Famous Flower x Paul Wickham 978-1-909252-59-2 Adagios on Re – Adagios en Re x John Gohorry 978-1-909252-60-8 Remembered Bliss x Dom Sebastian Moore O.S.B 978-1-909252-61-5 Ightermurragh in the Rain x Gillian Somerville-Large 978-1-909252-62-2 Beethoven in Vienna x Michael O'Sullivan 978-1-909252-63-9 Jazz Time x Seán Street 978-1-909252-64-6 Bittersweet Seventeens x Rosie Johnston 978-1-909252-65-3 Small Stones for Bromley x Harry Owen 978-1-909252-66-0 The Elm Tree x Peter O'Neill 978-1-909252-67-7 The Naming of Things Against the Dark and The Lane x C.P. Stewart More can be found at All titles £10.00 per paper copy or in PDF format £5.00 for 4 titles. In PDF format £5.00 for 4 titles.

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