ISSN 2053-6119 (Print) ISSN 2053-6127 (Online)
Featuring the works of Clare McCotter, Aoife Reilly, Kushal Poddar, John Doyle, Simon Ferris, Christophe Bregaint & Peter O'Neill, Alistair Graham, Lynne S Viti, Marcus Strider Jones, Wim de Vlaams,Patrick Goodman and PW Bridgman Hard copies can be purchased from our website.
Issue No 39 December 2015
A New Ulster On the Wall Website
Editor: Amos Greig Editor: Arizahn Editor: Adam Rudden Contents
Clare McCotter; 1.
2. 3. 4.
Mary Magdalene’s Foot Saint Bernadette’s Ribs Saint Catherine’s Head
Hydrogen plus Oxygen Recycling June at the Cabin
1. 2. 3.
Kushal Poddar; 1. My Relationship With Light 2. One More Ghost To My Hallowed Evening 3. Space 4. Fragmented Family of Hope 5. Paradigm 6. Requesting The Source 7. Strangescape 8. Hobby House John Doyle 1. 2. 3.
External Affairs Soul Runners Tuone Udaina
Simon Ferris; 1. Stranger on the Waves (fiction) Christophe Bregaint & Peter O’Neill; 1. Christophe Bregaint Microworlds 2. From Arcadia 3. Ground Zero 4. Ugolino 5. Land of Ire Alistair Graham; 1. Maybe I’ll Strike it Lucky (Short Story) Lynne S Viti; 1. Felus Catus 2. Salad Days 2
3. 4. 5.
The Stone in Your Chest Early Morning in Kresson Inclined Plane, Pulley, Wheel & Axle
Marcus Strider Jones; 1. Babylon’s Bohemian Bougquet 2. In Maid’s Water 3. You Colour the Charcoal Sea 4. Sins and Angels 5. On Tonquin Beach 6. Beautiful Mind
Wim de Vlaams; 1. Wandering Souls
On The Wall Message from the Alleycats
Round the Back Patrick Goodman; Interview
1. P W Bridgman; 1.
Canyons of Shadow and Light Review
Manuscripts, art work and letters to be sent to: Submissions Editor A New Ulster 23 High Street, Ballyhalbert BT22 1BL Alternatively e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org See page 50 for further details and guidelines regarding submissions. Hard copy distribution is available c/o Lapwing Publications, 1 Ballysillan Drive, Belfast BT14 8HQ Digital distribution is via links on our website: https://sites.google.com/site/anewulster/ Published in Baskerville Oldface & Times New Roman Produced in Belfast & Ballyhalbert, Northern Ireland. All rights reserved The artists have reserved their right under Section 77 Of the Copyright, Design and Patents Act 1988 To be identified as the authors of their work. ISSN 2053-6119 (Print) ISSN 2053-6127 (Online) Cover Image â€œWanderersâ€? by Amos Greig
“There are no strangers here; Only friends you haven’t met ” Yeats. Editorial The past couple of months have been harrowing for the world in general I hope the work within this issue helps ease some of that burden even if only for a few hours. We have an interview with Patrick Goodman on his writing style his work looks impressive and the novellas are worth reading. We also have a review of In the Canyons of Shadow and Light a book by Emily Donoho. This is our December issue and once again I find myself putting the final touches n this issue while the situation in Syria worsens and the world still resonates with the attacks in Paris I found some solace reading the poems and prose which make up this issue. Of course A New Ulster wouldn’t be what it is without the poets and artists who submit their work each month and this issue features some very strong material as well as some first time writers we also have some established names for you. We have prose and traditional poetry formats for you to explore I am just a gatekeeper and today the door is open once more. Enough pre-amble! Onto the creativity! Amos Greig
Biographical Note: 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.
Los Descansos (Clare McCotter)
Descanso for Marie in memory of Marie Oliver
Cleaning corridor and classroom many a lesson you taught speaking barely a word. Never glad ragged for a dance or walking out even less said time cancer called. Plaster on the only walls you ever owned still not dry that night a fresh faced boy said nothing more can be done. For you Marie we will build a descanso of red oak and slate tall at the sheskin bridge. When the stream crosses
a moss moon your nieces will come with a letter and Byzantine icon. Leaving under slim eaves black bicycle bones blanketed with snow in summer.
Descanso for Alice in memory of Alice McGrath-Doherty
Not for you Alice a descanso on Belfastâ€™s Somerton Road. In a niche cut from white stone and glass passersby will keep your votive candle burning at the gate to Son Johnâ€™s Rodden. Placing there beside the stalwart ghost of an almond-eyed sight hound a book of Persian verse and carnation pink nail polish. 8
Descanso for Maggie in memory of Maggie McGill (nĂŠe McGiugan)
Three in the morning and the winter bird is pouring song over young ash boughs. In their supple shade opposite the house mother Mailya built we will fashion a descanso of cherry wood and shingle. Setting on its polished floor phlox after rain the Tuesday prayer a negginâ€™ of fire water and at its door one stout white candle. Lighting for you the tracks of small things 9
that passed in the night.
Descanso for Bernie in memory of Bernie Larkin (née McAtamney)
Some suggested Bann Terrace Drumard or Dullaghy. But really Bernie only one place will do the hedge at the end of O’Neill’s Lane. In an ambry cut from whitethorn photographs of five children will be spread on a kaleidoscope of thread. In the mouth of a multi-coloured fish a silver needle shining like a sickle in an orchard of stars will illumine hands gathering still for all the bare branches blue sheaves of wild blue silk. 10
Descanso for Katie in memory of Katie McGill
The stride they called strut your purple lipstick auburn hair menthol cigarettes and French flares caused a stir returning from England in â€™47. Freestanding on the Point Hill our marker for you like those on the islands will be glass set in bright enamelled blue. Stopping there we will offer in candlelight Frank singing Mack the Knife news of this or that war wedding funeral the Saturday crossword a Dubonnet on ice. 11
Leaving in an orchid box gritty with desert sand poems from the high snow fields and from the borderlands.
Descanso for Sadie in memory of Sadie McGill
In sodium light the ash tree is a basilica for the restless. Among its branches at Drumsaraghâ€™s road end we will fix your shrine in a locker of ivy. Laying in its glossy heart a wooden comb silver earrings a green pilgrim stone the old leather purse you brought from France decked with sprigs of lowland cloth. So the mistilan bird can bring to you 12
a pale blue speckled egg.
Descanso for Rose in memory of Rose McShane (née O’Kane)
Steadfast on the gravel bed at your roadside fence we will place a descanso of glass and wrought iron. Offering there all you offered Katie in the final years. Spring water from Donaghy’s well grapes and trapeziums of sweet melon nectarines and oil of geranium. Leaving open in a celandine moon one small portal for the true lover’s knot night butterfly of the north.
Descanso for Josephine in memory of Josephine McCotter (née McGill)
Your ways the quietest ones far from beaten tracks this descanso will be made for you at the old railway house on Martina’s Lane. Few travellers will notice in a small recess splitting the first pine’s coral olive wood beads evening primrose balm an hexagonal of cloudy sea glass hung to harvest sun. Over painted fields of iceberg blue wherein a black horse runs.
Mary Magdalene’s Foot (Clare McCotter)
They claim this reliquary houses your foot same witched by the beauty of the road travelled back in the day with Mary of Bethany Martha and Salomé. A myrrh bearer in eastern light casting off sandals before entering the fields of the forest your deep satchel in hazy dawn brimming pomegranates and Syrian spices.
Prophet preacher priest evangelist apostle wise woman of the black harp sea telling others all you have seen your footprint beside morning’s stone a weathered intaglio washed in wild hyssop and water. They could not know or you tell 15
what drew you out in quartz storms to the high bare places fingertips wired to a stour of stars wandering sole set on the dark red mineral earth.
Saint Bernadetteâ€™s Ribs (Clare McCotter)
She has a skylight in her side. They came for the heart
her listed body making them make do
with four right ribs. If only they had known
it was all about the bones. They were flutes
charming water up from field and forest.
Hearing its timbre in winter white or granite grey
mountain dialects her delving hands reached
deep down in mud drawing a corm of cloud
out from its own dark silks. Seeding translucence
in a stony foothill crevice one sprouted
into a kind of presence. Compassing in porphyry
a place of confluence for the sad the sick the insane.
All their lights and desperate dazzling dreams
stippling the snow meadows. A mandala of minds.
Saint Catherineâ€™s Head (Clare McCotter)
Times I wonder how it might be to lie down with a spine and arms and legs a pelvic bone spilling moon over reed beds where a crane pulls away to the stars. But the migrants have gone their white wings spread on thermal streams above the earthâ€™s panopticon.
Gazing on this chalice of bone some will think the seat of consciousness fitting memento for in life I commanded crowds. Philosopher preacher partisan on the road with wayworn apostles feeding pope and peasant pearlescent seeds from rough cambric pockets.
They will say mine was already a body in pieces: scalped starved sundered before his spicy blade split a spasm of stars 19
tangled in silvery psalms. Little do they know of creamy myrtle mornings or green gold barley scythed at midnight in the place of my petition.
So return this stern relic to the burnt sienna hills burying it without marker in a forest of jasper. No more shall I remember implore be implored by the faithful unfaithful soul craving succour. All I want is the dark the deep adamantine dark.
Biographical Note: Aoife Reilly
Aoife is a teacher and psychotherapist living in Galway, Ireland. She attends poetry workshops at the Galway Arts Centre with Kevin Higgins. Her poems have been published in Crann贸g, Skylight 47, The Galway Review, The Lake, in other on-line magazines and on the Poethead website. Aoife was recently short listed for the Doolin Poetry Prize and long listed for the Over The Edge New Writer of the Year award and have been a featured reader at Galway City Library's Over The Edge literary event.
Hydrogen plus Oxygen (Aoife Reilly)
Yes, water laps like a lullaby but it also thunders and growls through crushed up stony river bends. Do you prefer to soothsay or scream?
My water sears the air, rips the lid off pristine streams down my back ,between my legs in and around the archipelagos of unborn plans and messy beds. Maybe you know this undercurrent stream.
His water is a sea stained cry for lost selkies, tunes for those who grab mackerel in silk ripple inlets, For her itâ€™s thousands of drops of sad for the broken people, the fixed people, the in-between people who imprint sweat beads and prayers tied to dis solvable wishes beyond control Once I felt the whip of it, crystal cold across my fourteen year old face right through the greasy kitchen window no one ever cleaned.
I have lived with the lack of you, water a rusty caravan and re-channeled puddles around potholes and scree til I knew the assorted ingredients of tears; amrita, onions, underwater luminescence, a half empty home on a rollercoasting love
Hydrogen plus oxygen. The lump in your throat and what comes after, make sure youâ€™re not quiet if you need to storm the well.
Recycling (Aoife Reilly)
Imagine a wand that takes you where it doesnâ€™t matter anymore.
Where you can put love back folded neatly and steam ironed into the red polished box,
that really fancy one, it pulls out reshaped facts and sparks of kindness
without ribbons or medals or claims to the Throne of First in your hall of fame.
Imagine a space that takes you beyond your boxes and your bones
where there are no more words when you walk and walk
till there is nothing left of you
between the sand and the sun but the exquisite truth of your invisible recycling.
June at the Cabin (Aoife Reilly)
Why should her life be worth less than mine? Because she has grey wings and a strange beat of heart?
Iâ€™d watched her for days the simple flight of her slight body slowing, I pull her up from the lane. They call her in grieving circles above.
Smoky eyes, still warm jackdaw body in my hands soft downy nape fine wings that carried her through days now slipping through the coming dark, suspended summer scent of elder to celebrate the going.
I trace the beauty patterns across her life and mine 25
gather up prayers offer passing tunes with some tobacco.
Two wings two legs life is what it is.
I carry her moment in my hand. Tomorrow she will carry mine.
Biographical Note: Kushall Poddar Born in a warm corner of India, a lone child and brought up with his shadow mates, Kushal Poddar (1977- ) began writing verse at the age of six. He adopted his second tongue as the language to dream on. Widely published in several countries, prestigious anthologies included Men In The Company of Women, Penn International MK etc, Van Gogh’s Ear, been featured as the poet of the month by prestigious Tupelo Press and featured in various radio programs in Canada and USA and collaborated with photographers for an exhibition at Venice and with performers for several audio publications, he once answered in an Interview- "This morning a stranger from his seat next to mine in a public bus pointed out toward the sky, Does not the blue look like a child in a cradle? This is the role of poetry in our society. Poetry is a tool to arrest the vast beyond within the canvas of personal experience. To limit the limitless so our thirst and longing for it remains unquenched. And hence I write." He was hailed by several authors as ‘the finest Indian Poets writing in English’. He is presently living at Kolkata and writing poetry, fictions and scripts for short films when not engaged in his day job as a counsel/ lawyer in the High Court At Calcutta. The forthcoming books are “Kafka Dreamed Of Paprika” and “A Place For Your Ghost Animals”.
My Relationship With Light (Kushal Poddar) Snapped this selfie with light, still holding its warm hand. See, everything is seen because I see, and it let me see them. My relationship with light follows a straight line.
One More Ghost To My Hallowed Evening (Kushal Poddar) What is one more ghost to my Halloween?
A leaf, pile, fence long waiting for cat.
In a sea of air I breathe and drown,
and it won't let me die, and it won't let me
survive. What is one more autumn to
this life? Sometimes I lie and rest supine
and see, instead of moon, assorted darkness
stressed by occasional lightnings. Let it rain.
You say. Oh shut up! Stay inside my head.
Space (Kushal Poddar) The drone spacesuit drowns in darkness.
Horizons. Horizons. One grain of sand
speaks to the other when storm comes.
And then I unclothe my eyes to light gloom.
Walls. Walls. One grain of loss screams to the other.
Today the boy forgot newspaper.
My meat suit still bends and tries to unroll the earth.
Fragmented Family of Hope (Kushal Poddar) 1 Innate, I am wounded and yet the idiot in me seeks ways to survive midst wrecks. 2 The pieces I gather and glue together to bring back my mother rest on my palms. Some for the house. Some for the home. One chip missing. A hole in the wall. I listen to the wind's whistling. 3 Inmate, I burble, our plans sunk, and in this cell we shall degenerate. The shadow says, I heard they will serve Fresh vegs in the gruel.
Paradigm (Kushal Poddar) Shadows of abundance, I slip into the dream abandoned midway and gybe according to the drift. Requesting The source Just because I exist I seek what I seek and today I see the mirror. Why don't you stand still? It says. I wipe the mist. Strangescape I know, no, I don't, that the things I say I see, don't exist. What is to one more high, one more low, sinking slowly in what I think but may not be a deep end of some water body?
Hobby House (Kushal Poddar) There stands my hobby house, happy road, clouds of light, clowns of grief making faces we know best to ignore. There her hand waves at me, and we own the copyright for waving, tilting heads, deleting bad snaps from the memory chip. There, I squint my eyes, stand I a thin door through which I must pass to touch everything.
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.
External Affairs (John Doyle)
I am a siren, my garden is my refuge; isogloss rocks define me from partial otherworlds. My captors have sirens too car horns they tell me someone has gotten married, are then there are the war cries junior b hurling champions carrying women over their shoulders from Clougherinkoe.
Some sirens meant war had ended "Tardelli... Scirea... Tardelli... GOOOOOAAAAALLLLLL!!!" nothing but watery Fanta-can sunsets for all of 1982 watch a child-siren sifting Bettystown sand, a single grain a black hole nudging his fingers on to a setting Sunday sun rocks sterlised by salty foam, isogloss speech baptised in translation.
Soul Runners (John Doyle)
Our muscles become roads tightened, hardened, on highways we mocked, our ages have left us, stamped as coffee-coloured muffled-leaves, as we encroach from mountains, Wicklow's limbs fall vitreously where Dublin's depths even out.
Air is taut; blue lakes chill our brows, we are like towns who know ranges of death falsetto - peaceful sleeping pensioner, baritone - retreating alcoholic with noose; We are ones who wash our mouths clean of city-killers, when afternoon snarls at our lapels, we cleanse our clothes from foundry smoke and we stop - briefly counting abacus beads of sweat;
Avanti - awaiting pines whisper our secret codes
Tuone Udaina (John Doyle) And rocks commence their crumble, grey-steel thunder pre-deceases speech, the water below you is breathless, chilly, mercurial-blue;
But it is dust that clasps your throat, hunts your penultimate expression under a paper-flat musing of flesh, paper without pen, black-red ink oozing for sea, land and memory are a biting descent of childless love;
Tumbling rocks soften days so precisely, archaic alphabets dry on your limpid tongue, motionless in pollen-like dust, no earth, no land can warm its spores, your speech you see, lighter than broken Autumn leaves, a brusque snowfall, 10th of June every flake melted in your choking tone
Biographical Note: Simon Ferris
Simon is a writer based in Donegal. He writes short fiction and feature sports articles. Simonâ€™s educational background is in "Film and Television production."
Stranger on the Waves (Simon Ferris) A small boat drifts along in the open sea as waves crash against its weak frame. On the horizon a cluster of lights flicker in and out of sight. They are a glimmer of hope for the stranger close to death inside. Amongst the lights a young boy stands by the shore. He stares out into the sea, dreaming of what lies beyond the waves. *** Rian Sweeney is twelve years old. He spends his days exploring the forest or on the shore beside the sea. He plays with the neighbour’s dog and even talks to him sometimes. On weekdays the school bus collects him and travel’s thirty kilometres to where he has friends. Sometimes he has nightmares in which he misses the bus and all his of friends forget him. Every weekend he dreams of a friend coming to him from the forests or the ocean, one he could see anytime who would never forget him. His father Diarmuid is known as a strong, brave man. Rian just knew him as his dad. Nonetheless he grew up with stories of his father putting his life in danger countless times to protect others. These stories inspired Rian; he wanted his own to tell someday. So he asked his dad how to be like that. Diarmuid told him “If that’s who you are then that’s how you will be. But instead of all that just be yourself; that will make me more proud of you than anything.” One hundred people make up the inhabitants of the town. They are a close knit community. Everybody knows everybody else; apart from Rian who knows next to
nobody. Every Saturday evening they gather in the local community centre for tea and a town meeting. Usually to discuss what they can do to bring more tourists to town; which was fine by Rian because the current crop just wouldn’t do. One of those inhabitants is a widowed man named Avery. Rian got to know him when he was seven, his mother had just died and Avery was kind to him. Diarmuid was distraught. The strength and bravery he was known for waned and in its absence numbness grew. Rian had taken to visiting Avery ever since, a habit that grew on the old man with time. His wife had died a long time ago. He would tell Rian about all the places he and his wife had travelled while they drank juice and ate biscuits. On one of their visits he explained the towns name to Rian. “This place like every other place in the world started out empty. People came from everywhere and nowhere for one reason or another.” Avery took a big gulp of his juice, which was in a smaller glass than Rian’s. It was the same colour as apple juice but smelled like paint stripper. “Evangeline and I came here after the war. There were only five other families living here then.” He put down his glass. “So we called it Hermitage, do you know why?” Rian was after scoffing a chocolate biscuit whole. He just managed to squeeze out the word “No” before choking. Avery cracked a half smile, “We had all come here for the same thing. To build a life somewhere safe; where we could let ourselves hope for better. Hermitage just so happens to mean haven, so we thought it was poignant”. He paused, “in hindsight we should have chosen something catchier. But we had consumed quite a lot of this
delicious juice that particular evening”. Avery let out a chesty laugh before he too choked. *** Rian stood by the rocky shore skimming stones into the water. It was Saturday so he wouldn’t get back here until tomorrow. His father would be expecting him at the community centre soon. In the town shop doors crept closed. The barber flipped the sign on his door from ‘Open’ to ‘Closed’. The butcher took off his apron, which did indeed have more meat on it than Mrs. Barrett, as Avery once remarked. The people of Hermitage made their leisurely way towards the top of the hill. Rian was about to join them when he heard someone shout, “Help please.” He glanced behind him towards town but nobody was there. The voice was unfamiliar to him. “Here, in the water!” He looked towards the sea. Beyond the waves rushing into shore he saw a small raft, or was it a fishing boat? He had never cared to learn the difference. It was trapped behind some rocks about twenty or so yards from shore. The light was fading fast as dusk crept in. He strained his eyes and could see a head peeking out, barely visible. “What are you doing out there?” Rian shouted to the waves. “Help me please.” A ladies voice replied clearer with desperation in her voice and the young boy felt scared. He turned on his heels and ran for the town. His father would know what to do. The Main Street was small, narrow and on a hill, at the top of which was the community centre. Everybody from town would be there. They could all help the lady in the boat. Rian was sure of it. He danced over the cobblestones, his shadow appearing and 41
disappearing with the street lights. He slammed through the doors into the community centre and whipped his head from side to side in search of his father’s face. He was near the front with his head bowed forwards speaking to Avery. An empty chair sat on his father’s left where Rian would be sitting by now any other Saturday. “Dad” he did his best to whisper as he got closer to his father, “Quick, there’s a lady trapped in a boat down at the water. We have to help her.” His father looked towards his son with a less concerned expression than Rian had hoped for. “Who is trapped?” Diarmuid asked scanning the room in search of an empty seat, there were none. Rian pulled at his dad’s coat “Come quick.” Avery leaned across Diarmuid and looked Rian in the eyes, “Calm down lad I’ll talk to Mr. Barrett.” Avery stood and made his way towards the front. When he reached Mr. Barrett he began to whisper something to him. He turned and pointed towards Rian which made the boy shift in his seat uncomfortably. Rian wondered if he was in trouble and why they hadn’t just gone to help the lady. Mr. Barrett was a stout man with a generally vacant expression. Diarmuid once said he was the self-appointed Mayor of Hermitage. “Nobody else wanted it so it was just easier to let the poor sod have at it.” He had said smirking. Diarmuid made a hushing motion towards Rian when Avery sat back down, anticipating that his son about to start asking questions. Everybody was glancing from Rian to Mr. Barrett. Rian’s feet were tapping on the wooden floor impatiently. Mr. Barrett cleared his throat and started speaking, “A stranger has got, eh, stuck on the rocks by the water. Do any of you here know this person?” he asked. Rian couldn’t
believe what he was hearing. He couldn’t understand why nobody was doing anything “We need to help her!” Rian shouted. He was standing now, he hadn’t consciously shouted or stood up but there he was doing both. His father tried to pull him by the arm back onto his seat but Rian pulled back and glared around the room once again. “Why are you all just sitting there?” He roared, his words echoed back to him undisturbed, still they did nothing. He looked to Avery who was talking to his father and was certain they would make them help, but they didn’t. Mr. Barrett spoke again, “We have to be cautious here. We don’t know this person, where they have come from or what they want. Just the other day I read in the newspaper…” Rian felt the blood rise through his body. “Shut up you wingebag! What does that matter; we have to help her or she’s going to die.” Rian’s father was startled. He heard his wife Alice, named for courage, in his son’s words. She had always said that Mr. Barrett was an ‘insufferable wingebag’. He couldn’t believe Rian would be able to remember that. Diarmuid stood and grabbed his son “We have to hurry.” Alice would never have sat by and done nothing, not with her son watching. Together they ran through the front door and down the steep hill of the town. They passed by the closed up shops as the lights above guided their way. Behind them Avery followed as quick as he could, “We don’t know this person, be careful.” he shouted after them. Rian’s stomach sank as he ran. “Not Avery too” he thought. The hall had emptied after them as the others
followed with caution. Rian and his father reached the shore-line out of breath and gasping for air. They began searching the waves for signs of life. “Hello? Are you there?” Rian shouted to the darkness. He heard the boat’s rhythmic thud against the rocks. The lady’s head was no longer peeking up. Rian began to panic “No! We waited too long. Why didn’t you come when I asked?” He hit his father as hard as he could across the chest. Avery sat down on a rock and tried to reassure Rian. “The boat’s still there. We can have someone fetch it in.” Rian couldn’t look at him. The rest of the people slowly reached the shore and looked curiously towards the water. “Why didn’t you help?” Rian bellowed at them. Most people stared at him with looks of mild insult. It wasn’t there responsibility after all, “We didn’t make this stranger come here.” The butcher said. A few others stared at the ground looking embarrassed. Avery struggled to his feet and walked towards Rian. He had told this boy that everyone had come to this town for safety and hope, including himself. He put his hand on Rian’s shoulder and could feel the boy shake with anger at him, at his father and at this place. Avery felt ashamed of himself and his neighbours. Suddenly Rian bolted into the water. He forced his legs through the waves. When he got out far enough he dived forwards and began swinging his arms and legs as fast as he could. He had to get to the boat. Maybe it’s not too late he thought desperately. He heard his father roar after him “No! Wait!” Diarmuid followed his son into the water. He dove straight in and began swimming as fast as his body would allow. He saw Rian reach the raft, fling his arms towards it 44
and cling to the edge. He had to reach his son. Rian’s fingertips inched away from the edge. He was falling back into the water when Diarmuid caught him by the collar and hoisted him into the boat. Rian struggled for balance as the raft swayed back and forth. His father grabbed onto the side “Check if she’s alive” he said. Rian leaned over the lady and whispered “Hello, Are you okay?” She whispered “My baby”; he looked in her arms and saw that she had a baby wrapped in a rag. The woman was soaking wet and shivering as the baby lay still in her arms. Rian couldn’t tell if the child was breathing. “We have to get them to the shore.” He said to his father. Rian jumped into the water and grabbed the front of the boat. His father joined him and they started trying to pull it free from the rocks. They struggled against the waves and pulled as hard as they could. They couldn’t make it budge. A few others from the town were in the water now. They reached Rian and his father. They all started heaving at the boat until finally they dragged it beyond the rocks. At crawling speed they made their way towards the shore. Some people screamed when they saw the woman up close and cried when they realised she had a baby. The butcher slipped away as unnoticed as he could. Most were so shocked they seemed to be frozen solid. Mr. Barrett had gone to the town and brought back some dry towels. He had also called for an ambulance. The last part he announced as loud as possible. ‘God forbid nobody hears that he the brave and valiant Mayor Wingebag had called for the ambulance’. Diarmuid thought as he rolled his eyes towards Avery.
Now Rian had his own story to tell. Not of bravery, it was about how the lady on the boat needed help and was instead met with hesitation. He tried to imagine how he would have felt if the people he had turned to wasted so much time deciding what to do. He was afraid the lady and her baby wouldnâ€™t survive, and frightened if this happened again nobody would do anything different. What scared him the most was how easy it was for so many to do so little.
Biographical Note: Peter Oâ€™Neill & Christophe Bregaint
Christophe Bregaint was born in Paris in 1970. He is the author of two collections of poems: A l'avant-garde des ruines, (Recours au Poeme Editeurs, 2015) and Route de
nuit, ( LA DRAGONNE, 2015).
The Micro-Poetics of Christophe Bregaint, By Peter O' Neill
For a couple of years now I have been transversing the micro poems of the Parisian based, and born, poet Christophe Bregaint. Christophe posts his poems on a daily basis on his Facebook page, to which I am subscribed to. Needless to say, his output is prolific. It is the daily nature of Christophe's 'micro-events' , his poems, that I firstly wish to address here.
Parce que rien ne dérange le quotidien Inéluctable Raccord des crânes en mouvement dans un curieux vertige
The above is the first part of a poem Christophe only recently posted on Fb, and it is the term quotidien which I wish to remark upon, the everyday in English. As it is a word which is so essential in Bregaint's
lexicon. Quotidien in French, of course, so much better describes the day to day annihilation which takes place in Paris, on Parisians who commute to and from work on a daily basis. It is this most exacting, specific engagement of Bregaint, with the quotidien, or everydayness, which I find so utterly compelling about his work.
Voila vers quoi tu cours à travers ta grille de déchire Jour après jour tu vas et viens sur ta méridien du non-étre si violent mensonge de ta vie
it is this towards which you
strive to circumscribe behind the grill which destroys day after day your comings and goings under the meridian of such non-Be-ing!
This violence which lies against all life
I told Christophe recently that I considered him to be the most quintessential of Parisian poets, I used the term terroir as oenologists, or winemakers, would use, in relation to his work, as it refers to the certain specific socio- geographic qualities which embody the make up of his microcosmos. Le quotidian is one essential ingredient, as is the colour grey, or gris. Everything is grey in Bregaint's universe, comme a Paris. Anyone who has lived for significant periods of time in the French capital will recognise this world which Christophe Bregaint writes about. It is the monstrous soul destroying grey which, like Nabokov with his butterflies, he nets and pins down for us. So that we may inspect the little micro beasts, which are sent down to destroy us, daily. 50
Bouche sèche tu as depuis longtemps rencontré en vertue de ton dépérssement ce cavallier de l'apocalypse
sur son monture noire il a peaufiné le travail du mauvais sort
dans son sillage ne reste pour toi que dénuement l'épuissement de tes forces
dry mouth for a long time now you have known by virtue of your encounter with decay the horseman of the apocalypse
upon his black mount he has raffined the labour of his bad kind
in his wake there only remains for you the extent of your finite powers
In fact, so compelling do I find Christophe Bregaint's micro-poetics I use them as a template to my own cycle, which I am currently working on.
FROM ARCADIA for Christophe Bregaint Prayer
stealth death the ice of it inhabits now you must dig deep for the morning to be ever so secure
catch the illicit warmth through acts of sheer devotion and possible blindness
enrapture the rose cloth of dull habit
there's your plough now furrow
your graft now with the old thoughts the body too swinging into blue bloody ruin
the environment also to consider all manner of pungent manure weighing heavy upon the air
while below the strata of fauna with an eye too on the kill
and the contradictions of the palate the rose of taste on the tongue to the flesh
how to reconcile your scripture to it the great Bibleless night all Rembrandtean storm
O holy Samaritan but the hammer of the claviers so thrills to the fever of such matters
Land of Ire esse est percepi ( Berkeley)
state of negation the self annihilated piecemeal and on a daily basis
weather too as if in on the conspiracy boycott by water piss on 'it'
image of a little stony wall erected in small fields spread out like a patchwork throughout the country
no stone left unturned such is the nuomenon that is perceived masonic advancement
Biographical Note: Alistair Graham Alistair lives and works in Belfast. He has two published collections; War and Want Streets of Belfast Both published by Lapwing. He is currently working on a third collection which is approaching completion.
Maybe I’ll Strike Lucky (Alistair Graham)
Now that his wife was gone, it was Karl’s responsibility to water the house plants. He carried a glass jug into the kitchen to fill it with water from the tap. The flow of water began to splutter then it stopped. Karl looked at the tap. He took a sip of his whiskey from the glass on the counter then turned the tap off and on, but still no water. “God damn it,” he said. “How’s a man supposed to keep his plants alive if he can’t give them water to drink? There are plants in every bloody room demanding my attention, staring at me, watching me drink my whiskey while they sit gasping in their little deserts.” Karl set the glass of whiskey on the counter and tried the tap once more. The water began to flow faster, the jug filling up quickly until another splutter, a loud plop and gush, then a tiny little man shot into the jug and down through the water to the bottom. The little man waved his arms at Karl and shouted through the glass. Karl lifted an old wine bottle cork from the shelf and dropped it into the jug. “Use that to float,” he said. “Save your strength.” The little man folded his arms around the cork and began shouting but it was difficult to understand what he was saying. Karl picked the jug up close to his face. “I have plans for you,” he said. “You will be the headline in the newspaper. Everyone will want a piece of you.” The little man spoke again but Karl could not understand; he took a mouthful of whiskey from the glass. “Fear not, little man,” he said. “I will take care of you and provide your every need.” Karl looked at the two large plants sitting by the kitchen window then turned to the little man in the jug. “You will eat three meals per day and you can have the small bedroom at the back of the house. It’s a quiet room, away from the traffic noise. I will teach you about the finer things of life and what it is to live like a human; not like the Philistines. I will teach you to sew and knit and how to grow all manner of plants and flowers and things to eat and I will show you how to make clay pots and paint pictures of your favourite things.” The little man looked at Karl through the jug. “Don’t worry, little man. I’ll give you instruction on everything and I’ll teach you the whistle and guitar. I’ll find you a partner to share your bed and if she can’t be found we’ll use one of your ribs to create her.” The little man kicked his legs and moved across the water. He put his face against the glass. “You’ll not even know the rib has gone,” Karl said, taking a large gulp of his whiskey. “And when I breathe into her nostrils she’ll be ripe and ready and the pair of you can run off to a bush for some fun and when you return I will have your new clothes laid out on your bed and towels for after you shower and that evening we’ll throw a party.” The little man looked up at Karl. Karl smiled back to reassure him. “Let’s get you out of the water, you must be tired.” Karl put the little man into a deep sided roasting dish with folded kitchen paper for him to lie on. Karl wondered if the little man was embarrassed by his nakedness. He searched the bottom drawer and found a lace doily which he wrapped around the little man’s body and gently tied it with a small piece of string. “You can stay in this dish for now while I check all the taps for your friend, the girl, I mean; the one you’ll spend your life with.” 58
Karl knew the little man would be lonely without a partner and would find it difficult to survive on his own. He lifted the glass jug and walked back to the kitchen tap. The water flowed at normal pace. He let the water run for a minute then turned the tap off. He ran up to the bathroom and put the plug in the bath and in the sink before turning on the taps. Karl watched the water run then turned the taps off and sat on the side of the bath to think. He knew there would not be another little person. Why should there be? One little person from a tap was crazy, two would be unthinkable. I’ll make him a wife, he thought. Yes, if I can’t find a wife, I’ll make him one. Karl began to imagine the great new life he would make for the little man and what name he would give him. I can’t make plans for his future, his security and happiness if he doesn’t have a name, Karl thought. He’s nobody without a name; a man with no name is nobody. Karl stood up and looked in the mirrored doors of the wall cabinet. “Of course,” he said out loud, “his name shall be Alan, after my father; Alan is a fine name for the little fellow.” From the wall cabinet he took the razor he would use to remove the rib. The plastic piece surrounding the blade came away easily. He poured a little disinfectant into the cap of the shaving gel can and submerged the blade in the liquid. He carried the cap with the blade down to the kitchen taking care not to spill the contents. Alan was asleep so Karl left him alone and made a cup of coffee. The little man would need all his strength for the operation, thought Karl, and to make a speedy recovery. It will all be worth it; yes, Alan will be happy with his new wife and the house will be full of life again. Karl walked out to the garden table with his coffee and lit a cigarette. He looked up at the kitchen window to the roasting dish on the worktop. This could be a fresh start for me, he thought. The house has been so empty. A writer needs solitude but being totally alone all of the time was the road to madness. This could be the inspiration I have been searching for. It could be a new beginning for my writing career, a chance to make my name. Karl stubbed out his cigarette and got up to go back into the house. “How are you?” the voice said. Karl turned around. His neighbour was across the fence. “I’m fine,” Karl said, “it’s a great day isn’t it?” Karl thought of Alan in the kitchen. He wondered if his neighbour had spotted Alan through the window. “Smashing day,” said the neighbour, “what’s the craic, anything new or strange with you?” “No, nothing strange with me today; I’m just enjoying a lazy Sunday morning.” “Back to work tomorrow then?” his neighbour asked. “I’m afraid so,” said Karl, “have to give the man his pound of flesh. Maybe I’ll strike lucky, win the lottery or something.” Karl thought about the lottery. He thought about Alan on the worktop. What if his neighbour had spotted Alan? What if he calls the police and they cart them both off to the mad house? “I’m away in to watch the football,” his neighbour said, “speak to you later.” Karl walked to the kitchen to check on Alan – as he closed the kitchen door the bells from the church up the hill began to ring - Alan was asleep in the dish. This is crazy, Karl thought. If I was to tell my neighbour that I have a two inch man sleeping on my kitchen counter he would call me a crazy fool. But I’m not crazy; I’ll be famous before long. Karl took a mouthful of whiskey and looked at Alan lying in the dish. He was like an ordinary human being in miniature form. His proportions were all correct; his head, his shoulders, his torso, his limbs; all in proportion. His hair was dark brown and he had a thin line for eyebrows. Alan had pulled his arms up to his chest and was lying in the foetal position with the kitchen paper over his shoulder. Karl wanted to pick him up and take him outside. Take him 59
to meet his friends and maybe to the pub. He would like that, Karl thought. The smoking room in the pub was always great craic when the right ones were there. Karl walked into the living room and looked out the window. The traffic was light and the usual Sunday dog walkers were strolling up and down the hill. He would take Alan out for a drive and have a chat, after the operation. I want him to know I’m his friend, Karl thought. He can sit in the little plastic dish on the dashboard. I will remove the loose change and place a glove inside to make a comfortable seat. He can watch me drive and we can talk and have a laugh. Karl got excited again. He was thinking about all the places he would take Alan; the people they would meet. Karl looked at himself in the mirror on the wall. “Hello young man,” he said to himself, smiling. He thought again about Alan and the operation; he had promised him a friend for life. He could not let him down. He needed Alan to be happy. If he’s not happy he may leave. I can’t let that happen, he thought. Karl was feeling stressed, exhausted. He decided to take a nap as he would need all his strength, a clear head and a steady hand to perform the operation. He propped the cushions on the sofa, took a gulp of whiskey and lay down with his head at the far end, out of the sun. He lay for some time staring at the sky through the window, thinking of his wife and the life they had shared. He fell asleep. Karl slowly opened his eyes. The room was in darkness except for a little light near the window from the street lights. He noticed the luminous hands on the clock on the fireplace and jumped to his feet. “Alan? Christ, I’ve left the little man all this time!” He ran to the kitchen. There was a lamp in the kitchen on top of the fridge. Karl fumbled in the dark to find the on switch. It was after 7pm and Alan was not in the oven dish. He had left Alan alone for more than six hours. Karl switched on a second lamp on the counter and searched behind the jars where he stored his tea and coffee. He lifted the large pile of unopened letters wedged between the wall and the empty fruit bowl and spread them out on the counter but there was no sign of Alan. Karl felt a sharp pain in his chest. This can’t happen again, he thought; I can’t lose Alan too. “Please let me find Alan.” Tears flooded his eyes. “Alan, Alan, where are you Alan?” Just then, Karl noticed a little hand waving from between the counter and the cooker. Alan had slipped down into the small gap and had become wedged. Karl smiled and wiped the tears from his eyes with the back of his hand. Using his fore finger and thumb, he gently eased Alan up and out of the gap and set him back into his dish. He looked to be unharmed. “How are you feeling?” Karl said. “Are you ok? Alan looked at him as if he was a curious sight and then spoke. His voice was so gentle Karl struggled to understand. Karl moved closer to the counter and leaned over. “Are you hungry? Would you like something to eat?” Karl put his hand to his mouth and made a chewing motion. “Eat, would you like something to eat?” Alan spoke a few words then stretched out his tiny arm and pointed across the room. Karl spotted the blade on the counter in the sterilising liquid and remembered the operation. “Of course,” he said. “You want your new wife, just like I promised.” Karl glanced around the kitchen for a suitable spot and decided the small counter to the left of the fridge would be perfect. The space was cluttered with dirty dishes and empty wine bottles so he moved them to the other side of the sink. He wiped the counter surface with a damp cloth and covered the area with two sheets of the Belfast Telegraph. He looked over his shoulder at Alan; he looked excited, Karl thought. Alan was kneeling inside the dish with 60
both hands on the ridge, watching Karl’s every move. It’s a good job I didn’t give him something to eat, Karl thought. An empty stomach is required before an operation. Karl walked back into the lounge to get his glass. He finished the remaining whiskey and looked at the clock. It was almost 8pm; he was feeling hungry. It was a quiet evening; the church bells had stopped ringing. Maybe I should have my supper first, he thought. It wouldn’t be wise for me to perform an operation on an empty stomach. Yes, I will eat first then concentrate on Alan’s needs. Karl opened a packet of noodles and placed them in a pot with water. He took the sharp knife from the top drawer and placed four mushrooms and half an onion on the wooden chopping board and roughly cut at the onion and clumsily sliced the mushrooms into large lumps. Using the flat of the blade he crushed two garlic cloves and scraped all the ingredients from the board into the pan to fry. He half-filled his glass with whiskey and drank it down. When the noodles had softened he tossed the mushrooms, onions and garlic into the pot and mixed them through with a pinch of chilli flakes. He carried the plate of food to the small table in the corner of the kitchen and placed it at the single seat. He took a knife and fork from the second drawer, lifted a glass from the cupboard and filled it with water from the tap. He held the glass close to the light form the lamp and studied the contents. This is my last supper, he thought. It’s the last supper of my old life so I shall drink wine with my meal. Karl poured the water out of the glass into the sink. In the cupboard under the stairs there were seven bottles of red wine. Karl picked up a bottle and unscrewed the cap. The wine glass was sitting beside the sink with a hardened red ring inside at the bottom. He washed it under the tap, dried it with a towel and filled it to the top with wine. Alan watched Karl move around the kitchen and stared at him as he ate from the plate and drank from the glass. Karl finished his meal and put his plate with the other dishes beside the sink. He filled his glass again and looked over to Alan. “Right little man; we’re good to go. It’s time to get the show on the road. I’m going to get you a beautiful new wife, a lover, a friend; someone you can spend all of your days with. Her name will be Neave. Together you will be Alan and Neave. “ Alan looked at Karl as if he understood the words. Karl took the blade from the liquid and placed it on the newspaper. He took the medical box from the third drawer and found the smallest plaster which he would place over the small wound once the rib was removed. He placed the plaster on the newspaper beside the blade before pouring another glass of wine. He felt confident; knew things would turn out fine. He gently picked Alan up. “Don’t worry little friend. Everything is going to be fine. You have my word.” Karl moved his hands gently onto the counter and watched as Alan climbed off and lay down on his back. I should wash my hands before the operation, Karl thought; can’t risk infection. He rolled up his sleeves and washed his hands and arms with soap from the dispenser. Alan lay on the newspaper staring at the ceiling. Karl shook the water from his hands and walked over to where Alan lay. Just then the doorbell rang. “Jesus, Christ,” Karl shouted. “Who-da-hell wants me on a Sunday night?” Karl walked slowly into the lounge taking care not to be seen through the window. The bell rang again. “Christ,” Karl shouted. “Why can’t they just go away?” Karl moved his head slowly to the edge of the curtain to see who was at the front door. “Oh God,” he said in a low voice. The next door neighbour was standing at his front door. He must have spotted Alan on the kitchen counter, Karl thought. What does he want? It’s none of his business. I’ll open the door and tell him so.
Karl walked out to the hallway and up to the front door. He unlocked the top and bottom bar and pulled the door open a little to put his head out. “Yes, what is it?” he said. “I don’t like opening the door when it’s dark.” “Margaret sent this for you. It’s beef from today’s roast. Too much for us to eat and it would be a shame for it to be wasted.” “Oh, thank you. Tell Margaret I said thank you.” Karl took the parcel from the neighbour and closed the door. He locked the top and bottom bolt and walked back into the kitchen. “Excuse me for the interruption, Alan,” he said, as he placed the parcel of beef in the fridge. “That will make us a nice dinner tomorrow night. You’ll need to keep your strength up after the operation.” Karl carefully leaned over the counter and gently untied the lace doily to expose Alan’s torso. He picked up the blade in his right hand and then froze. Beads of sweat covered his face and neck. I can do this, he thought. He reached for his glass and gulped the wine. With the blade, he gently cut into the flesh with a forward movement to make an opening. Alan showed no sign of discomfort. With his thumb and forefinger, Karl gently prised open the wound. It was difficult to see were the ribs began and ended as they were so tiny. “Don’t move Alan. I will be back in a minute. Just stay still; everything will be fine.” Karl knocked his glass over as he pulled away to run upstairs to the bedroom. “The magnifying glass is in the bedside cabinet” he shouted. “Two minutes Alan! Lie still, I will be back in two minutes!” Karl searched the bedside cabinet and under the bed. He ran into the bedroom at the back of the house; it was a mess of boxes, clothes piled high and books stacked in rows. “I won’t be a minute Alan; hang in there buddy.” Karl swiped at the rows of books and flung clothes to the back of the room. “Where’s the bloody magnifying glass?” Karl was on his knees riffling through the mess on the floor when the magnifying glass appeared to him. It was sitting on the window ledge just behind the curtain. “I found it!” he shouted. He jumped to his feet, snatched the object and ran down the stairs into the kitchen. Alan’s outstretched body lay at the edge of the newspaper in a pool of blood. He must have walked a few steps then collapsed. Karl leaned over the counter and looked into Alan’s eyes. He starred at the figure and sobbed like a child. His tears fell onto Alan’s tiny body. “Alan, Alan, don’t leave me Alan!” The eyes didn’t move; Alan was gone. Karl picked up the wine glass beside the newspaper on the counter. He wiped the tears from his eyes with the back of his hand. He opened another bottle of wine, filled the glass, and walked into the lounge to think.
Biographical Note: Lynne S Viti photograph by Richard Howard Photography
Felus Catus (Lynne S Viti) There were never such green and wide Catseyes as our cat’s eyes. The hearing went. Those eyes stayed big and wide, attentive. The ears were dappled pink and black inside. She loved it when you grabbed them gently, Squeezed, then released them. She’d shake her head, then come back for more. She climbed on your lap each night rubbed against your book, your laptop. We joked she thought you were her mother. She cried all the way to the animal clinic. She couldn’t hear herself. Her weight had fallen by another half-pound. We could see her skeleton under her three-colored coat. We remembered when she was plump, when she deposited voles and small rabbits on the back stoop, little presents. Lately she slept, made a running start for the bed, Grunt-growling as she catapulted onto the quilt. She cried for reasons we didn’t know, peed where she shouldn’t, made two-minute visits outside twice, three, four times a night. Today we laid her on the handmade quilt Light green and white, plump with batting. She rested on the cold steel table in the examining room. The first shot sedated her. Those bright eyes stayed wide open. We stroked her head, her back, her pink and black black paw pads. The vet gave the second shot. We waited, teary. He slid the stethoscope onto his ears, touched it to her middle and said, “She’s gone.” He gently closed her catseyes. She lay as if napping. You bent to kiss her small head, then turned, picked up the empty pet carried. We slipped out the back door. 64
Salad Days (Lynne S Viti)
We lived at home, were always home for dinner. We thought we dressed like women when we peeled off the school uniforms and slid into plaid kilts, blouses with Peter Pan collars and circle pins, loafers, on Friday night, for a church hall dance. We thought we knew everything, though we only knew everything about the things we read in books or heard on the bus, or the street. We read magazines to learn how to flirt. Being sophisticated meant smoking Benson and Hedges— we wondered how old we’d have to be to drink at a cousin’ wedding. Our mothers thought our world was crazy. Too much Orbison and Presley, then in a whirr, James Brown, the man in the orange cape, and the Beatles, who made us scream, or the subversive Dylan, who questioned us, How does it feel, to be on your own? --when our mothers wanted us safe— Take the bus to school, be home on time. No drinking, no smoking, study hard, go to college. Find a nice boy. Get married, stay in town. Our town, which changed and burned, changed and burned again. Some of us left, and those who stayed didn’t always follow the playbook. We are neither who we were when we were sixteen nor are we different from who we were, inside, even though we’ve tried like crazy to: speak up, grow up, let go, not judge, relax, achieve, kick back, question, breathe, believe, not believe— Now we size ourselves up against the dreams and goals and fantasies we had as girls, the plans we spoke of, the ones we hid. Back then, we didn’t say It’s all good, but it is, all of it— The paths and detours, all good, all worth something, the living of it, the becoming, never stepping into the same river twice. 65
The Stone in Your Chest (Lynne S Viti)
I never want to walk through the black door you’ve negotiated, Into the place where mothers bury their sons. --You didn’t want to, either. You deserved years of bonding, smiling at the way things turned out well after the hard years, the impossible maze your adolescent traipsed.
No matter the cause, it’s the backwardness of it that Makes no sense. It’s the years that knit us to the children, Then the final rift that drains away all hope. All reason.
If the end is drawn out, hours at the bedside, Your child on catheters and tubes, fighting a good fight, The end might mix relief, fatigue and endless loss, A bitter cocktail at best.
If death is quick, unexpected, it could be worse—planes fall Out of the sky, a user takes enough of the drug to feel heroic, exceptional, and then takes more, falls into the arms of Thanatos, son of Night and Darkness, The shock, the sequel of the overdose stuns.
Or the intentional, planned and executed death— 66
it strips those who loved of all feeling, then guilt, anger rise up— there’s no way to put a good face on any of this.
You never forget, a woman told me years ago, but with time it gets softer—around the edges of memory, you forget how sharp the loss. Our mutual friend had ended her life, as the obit writers say these days.
Clichés, trusted rituals, maxims, prayers—is there Anything that works, gives succor or peace, or even Something to numb you for a while, lull you into Thinking you can shoulder this, someday remember The face you loved, recall without tears, without the stone That sits in your chest where your heart used to be?
Early Morning in Kresson
In my mind’s eye I see it—the stub of a macadam road Dead-ending into Blue Diamond Coal, its trucks Lined up each morning for the long hauls. To the left, the junkyard, heaps of metal and rubber, hard by An Italianate house, rust-brown, coated with years Of dust and cinder ash, facing the junkyard cranes instead Of a lawn. A porch swing, always vacant even on summer 67
Evenings. Only the metal cranes noticed. The folks who lived in the house, white haired, plainly dressed Bespectacled, came and went together, but mostly stayed home. My father’s tavern sat amongst these places, the last In a row of houses. In its former life, the bar Housed a bakery, we heard—and the baker’s family Lived upstairs in the cramped rooms, their kitchen The bakery itself. I used to pretend I could smell Bread baking, the sweet fragrance of airy White loaves turning golden in the long-gone ovens.
I went along with my father there before dawn, the half-light bathing the block in sepia. I sat at a small table in the back bar reading comics— my father rolled kegs of beer up from the dank cellar. Up on the ragged sidewalk I stood peering down As he slid the keg into a handtruck, up a plywood Ramp, and into the tavern. Light crept in through the glass bricks in the storefront. I leaned around the corner of the darkwood bar, Watched him roll the keg from handcart to its station, Waited for the hiss when he tapped the silver barrel.
I inhaled the faint yeasty smell, which oddly, offended— And pleased me. Sounds of traffic began to flow in From the bar’s back door, still propped open. I was 68
Sent to pick up the paper from the doorstep, laid it On my father’s work table near the curved jukebox. It wouldn’t be switched on till lunchtime. Hank Williams’ and Jerry Lee’s wails issued from it. But by then I would be back home— quiet streets, Small green lawns, lolling on an old quilt spread in shade.
Inclined Plane, Pulley, Wheel & Axle
I studied the euthanasia coaster, the Lithuanian artist’s drawings, the steep first stage of the steel thing, the sharp drop meant to cause hypoxia to the brain, seven inversion loops, clothoids designed to drive passengers into brain death.
At the end of the ride, said the artist, they would unload—Unload!—the bodies then do it over again with fresh comers. Strange to think that coasters that thrilled generations of those four feet or taller 69
who climbed into the toboggans for a night of fun, could be made into death machines, for euphoric and elegant death, said the artist— to solve the problems of life extension. We used to call that, long life.
We rode the old wooden coaster once. When the bar was secured We gripped it hard, shrieked and screamed, which made it all the more wonderful. My hair blew out behind me and my stomach leaped up into my heart, which jumped into my throat.
Your father came to the front door for his weekly visit, his old car parked in front of your handsome house. We were off to Gwynn Oak Park with him— your brother, you, and I. Did we ride the Deep Dipper or the Little? I dreaded both, but you said your father would sit between us. We’d be tucked in safe and we could yell as loud as we liked. 70
The ascent scared me far more than the fast drops towards earth. I hated the creaking of the toboggan train as it made its way to the crest. But the plummeting was a joy, then we curved around a bend and it started again, the slow climb. Three times I felt pure bliss, heard my a scream shoot out of my head. Your father was solid between us, he laughed and hooted. It was the only time I ever saw him happy.
You were a brave girl. I was uncertain about such things as roller coasters. You stayed in Baltimore, married, had kids. I left as fast as I could and kept moving You died before you were fifty, leaving me to reconstruct my memories.
You wouldn’t like this Lithuanian artist’s notion, his good-death coaster, the 24 passenger trip through euphoria to quick death. Hearing him, you’d tug at 71
your blond hair, turn, walk into the sunny afternoon, far from the black toboggans.
Biographical Note: Marcus Strider Jones Strider Marcus Jones â€“ is a poet, law graduate and ex civil servant from Salford, England with proud Celtic roots in Ireland and Wales. A member of The Poetry Society, his five published books of poetry http//www.lulu.com/spotlight/stridermarcusj.... reveal a maverick socialist, moving between forests, mountains, cities and coasts playing his saxophone and clarinet in warm solitude. His poetry has been published in the USA, Canada, England, Ireland, Wales, France, Spain, India and Switzerland in numerous publications including mgv2 Publishing Anthology:And Agamemnon Dead; Deep Water Literary Journal; The Huffington Post USA; The Stray Branch Literary Magazine; Crack The Spine Literary Magazine; A New Ulster/Anu; Outburst Poetry Magazine; The Galway Review; The Honest Ulsterman Magazine; The Lonely Crowd Magazine; Section8Magazine; Danse Macabre Literary Magazine; The Lampeter Review; Ygdrasil, A Journal of the Poetic Arts; Don't Be Afraid: Anthology To Seamus Heaney; Dead Snakes Poetry Magazine; Panoplyzine Poetry Magazine; Syzygy Poetry Journal Issue 1 and Ammagazine/Angry Manifesto Issue 3.
BABYLON'S BOHEMIAN BOUQUET (Marcus Strider Jones) i like the way some words you say go against gravity and linger in the air when you've gone. sad or fair, they blow away this dungeons dark oblivion, and water me with wisdom like a soft shawl with scents and sounds that i wrap around my senses come what mayyou give it all, and love abounds in Babylon's bohemian bouquet. like butterflies in druid grey skies, the fragility of eternity ripples with uncertainty, but doesn't woo, then waver in your eyes. it's steady gaze seduces praise, then fondles and savours loves succulent flavours, like innocent alibis.
IN MAID'S WATER (Marcus Strider Jones) we've left the well-footed road, the rutted and rebutted road of shadows cast by towered glass. opened closed curtains for fusty moths, chanted white spells with Wiccan's goths; left pictured rooms and hallsbecome un-scriptured hills and squallsin maid's water pouring down her erect chalk man, like a wild gypsy, love tipsy partisan, smelling of cinnabar and his cigar, swirling like whirling clouds while the changed wind howls.
YOU COLOUR THE CHARCOAL SEA (Marcus Strider Jones) When I,am in pieces, You talk,to me So the tempest ceases, And thoughts flow free. Where I,see doubts and demonsYou color the charcoal seaWith lilting love and reasons, In your soliloquy. Without you,I suffer, In solitude and silent voice; But deep down discover You within me,and rejoice.
SINS AND ANGELS (Marcus Strider Jones) why do memories become our enemies, flooding through the weir we use to block out fear, when the past meets that in front and circles in its font with sins and angels sifting voice and smells. how fast the foam soon builds, from what is seen and known and talked about by strangers on its journey in and out. these beads and threads, that banquet and burden in our headslike doors to rooms on broken hinges for crowds of smiles and lonely wingesturn silent further down the bank, where river reeds and thought stand blank behindhand on this watch of time, that moves old memories out of mine.
ON TONQUIN BEACH (Marcus Strider Jones) moods turn with seasons shades and sounds; thoughts walk through reasons ups and downs. come sit by the fireside close to me, soft fit and confide, watch the seasplashed feet break blue water on Tonquin beach, tall firs fill a quarter of sight and reachwaves wash over shoreline, a soothing sound, combing thoughts out before time gives them ground to mingle and mischief the mind into mire, like a selfish thiefthat plays with selfless desire. Time speaks to his daughter through this release, while loves lore restores her masked belief.
BEAUTIFUL MIND (Marcus Strider Jones) cover me with loves lips and beautious breasts out of satin lace, and look at me with longing on your fabulous face; feel the race and rhythm in my sensuous skin where my love rests with you belonging. tease and tour the contours of my beautiful mind, and discover your true colours embroider everything you find. in celtic swirls my cloak of passion covers you, like ink that whirls in each elaborate tattoo. you soak all my senses in the river of your dreams, and disolve my defences to roam my secret scenes.
Biographical Note: Wim De Vlaams
Wim de Vlaams has been living in Lille (north of France) since 1961. Wim loves The Stooges, and Robert Doisneau, and Charles Bukowski, loves writing short poems, and mukihaïkus (he is a litlle bit lazy, isn't it?). You can find 47 of his tiny stories in the magazine "Le Cafard Hérétique" #7.
Wandering souls (Wim De Vlaams)
There Where high were the walls And the skies so red When we had No beginning And the stories No end We walked among the graves (We had grown up among the graves) Wandering souls
If you fancy submitting something but haven’t haven’t done so yet, or if you would like to send us some further examples of your work, here are our submission guidelines:
SUBMISSIONS NB – All artwork must be in either BMP or JPEG format. Indecent and/or offensive images will not be published, and anyone found to be in breach of this will be reported to the police. Images must be in either BMP or JPEG format. Please include your name, contact details, and a short biography. You are welcome to include a photograph of yourself – this may be in colour or black and white. We cannot be responsible for the loss of or damage to any material that is sent to us, so please send copies as opposed to originals. Images may be resized in order to fit “On the Wall”. This is purely for practicality. E-mail all submissions to: email@example.com and title your message as follows: (Type of work here) submitted to “A New Ulster” (name of writer/artist here); or for younger contributors: “Letters to the Alley Cats” (name of contributor/parent or guardian here). Letters, reviews and other communications such as Tweets will be published in “Round the Back”. Please note that submissions may be edited. All copyright remains with the original author/artist, and no infringement is intended. These guidelines make sorting through all of our submissions a much simpler task, allowing us to spend more of our time working on getting each new edition out!
December 2015’s MESSAGE FROM THE ALLEYCATS:
December has arrived and it has been unseasonably warm not that the alleycats are complaining. Well, that’s just about it from us for this edition everyone. Thanks again to all of the artists who submitted their work to be presented “On the Wall”. As ever, if you didn’t make it into this edition, don’t despair! Chances are that your submission arrived just too late to be included this time. Check out future editions of “A New Ulster” to see your work showcased “On the Wall”.
Biography: Patrick Goodman
Patrick Goodman has been involved in Star Trek RPGs and also the Shadowrun revival he is the author of several novellas
Patrick has got two novellas currently on Amazon and Barnes & Noble, ANOTHER RAINY NIGHT and SAIL AWAY, SWEET SISTER. He has a short story called “Thunderstruck” in an upcoming SHADOWRUN anthology entitled A WORLD OF SHADOWS, which is at the printers now and should be available in the very near future (perhaps by the time this issue releases). And he is wrapping up work on his next novella, RED RAIN, which should be out early next year
Organic Writing â€“ An Interview with Tom Benson This issue, Arizahn and the alley cats have been losing themselves in the mists of time, with author Patrick Goodman.
ANU: Who do you feel has been your inspiration for writing?
My inspiration for writing...wow. That's one with lots of potential answers. There have been any number of horrible writers out there who caused me to shake my head as a youth and say, "I can do better than that!" There are the works of Edgar Allan Poe, who made me want to be a poet. Isaac Asimov and Jules Verne and H.G. Wells all filled me with awe. As I grew up, and began to take this whole writing thing more seriously, I became enamoured of the works of Steven Brust and Neil Gaiman. Currently, I'm greatly enjoying the Harry Dresden novels of Jim Butcher. Those are the ones who inspire me AS a writer. There's a couple of non-writers, though, who I think inspired me to BE a writer. One was my father, who had the works of Poe and Asimov, etc., on his shelves for me to devour. The other was a man called Dan Johnson, who was my English teacher in the ninth grade; he taught me that our language, odd a duck as it might be, could also be beautiful if you knew how it worked, and he showed me the way it worked.
* ANU: What are the best and worst parts of writing?
The worst part of writing is sitting there, staring at a blank screen, trying to convince yourself that you're not a fraud for long enough to get some words on the page. The best part is getting an email from out of the blue from a stranger saying, "I read one of your stories today, and you made me smileâ€?. It makes all the pain of thinking you're a fraud whilst waiting for words to come together in your head completely worth it.
* ANU: Why did you choose your particular genre?
Why did I choose my particular genre? Sometimes I think it chose me. It was completely a matter of what I read and watched on television as I was growing up. My father liked science fiction, and a lot of the books in his house were SF. My earliest memory of a favourite TV show was STAR TREK, followed closely by the Adam West BATMAN. Those are the things that moved me as a child; I can't imagine myself writing something else these days. 86
* ANU: Which – if any – of the characters and themes in your writing do you identify with?
I think the character I most identify with in my work, at least at the moment, is my current protagonist, Thomas McAllister. He's basically a good man in a bad situation, trying to make things in his world right again. He makes mistakes, some of them willfully, along the way. I see a lot of me in Thomas. Now, themes. I've noticed the idea of redemption has been cropping up a lot lately. It certainly seems to be one of the central themes in my work-in-progress, RED RAIN (the other being vengeance; I find it interesting how the two turn up together so often in literature). I very much believe in the notion that nobody is beyond redemption, if they want to be redeemed. I like to explore the concept of justice versus vengeance, the lines that separate them and the places where they blur together…but I identify most with the quest for redemption. * ANU: When can readers expect to see your next book released?
I've got two novellas currently on Amazon and Barnes & Noble, ANOTHER RAINY NIGHT and SAIL AWAY, SWEET SISTER. I have a short story called “Thunderstruck” in an upcoming SHADOWRUN anthology entitles A WORLD OF SHADOWS, which is at the printers now and should be available in the very near future (perhaps by the time this issue releases). And I'm wrapping up work on my next novella, RED RAIN, which should be out early next year
Biography: P W Bridgman
P W Bridgman is a Canadian writer of literary fiction living in Vancouver, British Columbia and has been at it for over 20 years. "Standing at an Angle ..." is his first book. His stories have appeared in various literary magazines and has won or placed in competitions in Canada and abroad. In recent years he has been publishing quite extensively in Ireland and the UK. Since 2011 he have had stories appear in anthologies released in Ireland, Scotland and England. His most recently published story, entitled "Win, Win: A Miniature Vancouver Tragicomedy," is a piece of satire that appeared last October in the online version of Litro, a London-based magazine with a print circulation of 100,000. Here's a link to that story:http://www.litro.co.uk/2013/10/win-win-aminiature-vancouver-tragicomedy/. You can learn more about PW Bridgman, his writing life and "Standing at an Angle to My Age" by visiting his website at www.pwbridgman.ca.
Review of In the Canyons of Shadow and Light by Emily Donoho (Upatree Press, 2015) I am not, typically, a reader of crime thrillers, police procedurals or mysteries. This is not to say that such writings are, in my estimation, unworthy or inferior. Many people—and many people whose taste and insights I admire—have a consuming interest in crime fiction. It is simply a matter of individual preference. I have never been drawn to the genre. Reading Emily Donoho’s In the Canyons of Shadow and Light has made me realise that perhaps I have been inadvertently denying myself some reading pleasures. I am the first to admit that my lack of experience with crime fiction calls into question my fitness to serve as a reviewer of In the Canyons of Shadow and Light. To be sure, I have fewer signposts to follow and comparators to invoke in assessing how the novel measures up to others in the genre. And I lack an ear that is well tuned to the nuances and stylistic flourishes that are expected in this particular type of writing. To the extent that I do not bring those qualities and attributes “to the table” in reviewing In the Canyons of Shadow and Light, readers of this review should treat my judgment of it with a measure of caution. All of that said, I am a voracious reader of literary fiction. I can recognise a wellconceived and deftly executed narrative arc when I see one. I can distinguish welldeveloped and believable characters from two-dimensional, unconvincing ones. I can appreciate a well-turned phrase and dialogue that rings true. In the Canyons of Shadow and Light is a long, but well-written book. If I have a criticism of it, it relates mostly to its length. The story could have been told in many fewer pages. (I cannot tell you how many pages it comprises because, oddly, it is unpaginated.) An editor with a careful but suitably ruthless blue pencil could likely get this novel down to about two-thirds of its existing length—maybe even half— without inflicting mortal damage to the story that Donoho has sought to tell. The characters—most importantly, Det. Alex Boswell—are complex and they are rendered by Donoho with sensitivity to their many intersecting character traits. Their dialogue is rich and colourful. The inevitable profanity and street-hardened forms of speech they employ are neither excessive or gratuitous. The people who walk the pages of this book are believable and as one reads along, one becomes interested in them and in what will become of them. The plot line sustains interest throughout, although I will say again that if less detail were suspended from it, the plot line would be less at risk of fraying and breaking under its own weight. Donoho supplies a lot of gritty detail and, without doubt, she evokes the atmosphere of New York’s seamy underbelly when doing so. But a novel less freighted with detail would be a better novel.
Former Mayor Bloomberg’s New York City is, rightfully, a character in its own right in this book. I know something of that character from personal experience and I consider that Donoho has done credit to NYC’s infinite convolutions in portraying them so deftly. NYC is a city that, as the cliché goes, one loves and hates simultaneously. Donoho’s NYC amply gets that across. The tone and content of the writing is pleasingly Raymond Chandleresque without degenerating into pastiche or becoming unforgivably derivative. I offer but one example: “The victim’s body, bloated, mangled, discolored, hardly even humanlooking, looked the way bodies are when they have been floating around in the water for some time. Those images never leave your mind. His brain must be a catalogue of thousands of them. The East River spat it up near a small park underneath FDR Drive, in the Two-Three Precinct. No way to identify the body until the ME did the autopsy and morbidly identified the victim by her teeth using dental records …” You can almost smell Bogart’s cigarette smoke rising up off the page in Donoho’s writing; you can almost see it curling up and around the brim of his fedora, and him leaning back with his feet up on his desk. Crime fiction presents the new writer with many shoals and hazards. One is the temptation to create a plot so complex that one needs a flowchart and a basketful of coloured highlighters to follow its serpentine path. Another is the unconscious adoption of a voice that is encumbered with the clichés of the genre and apes the voices of other well-known crime writers. Still another is the creation of cardboard characters who are parodies of good and evil and bear no resemblance to real people with all their many contradictions. Happily, Donoho has avoided all these pitfalls in In the Canyons of Shadow and Light. It is to be hoped that with the involvement of a more aggressive editor, Donoho’s next novel will jettison some unnecessary verbal ballast in order to show off her talents to better advantage. In crime fiction, as in most other writing genres, a nimble Gypsy Moth of a novel is generally preferable to a well-constructed but still unwieldy dirigible.
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Published on Dec 4, 2015
The December issue of Northern Ireland's monthly poetry and arts magazine featuring the works of Clare McCotter, Aoife Reilly, Kushal Poddar...