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Featuring the works of Martin Burke, John (Jack) Byrne, Marion Clarke, MĂĄire Morrissey-Cummins, Nathan Elout-Armstrong, Mia Fey, Mike Gallagher, Oonah V Joslin and more. Hard copies can be purchased for ÂŁ5.00

Issue No 6 March 2013


A New Ulster On the Wall

Editor: Amos Greig Editor: Arizahn Contents

Cover Image by Editorial

Amos Greig page 6

Martin Burke; The Dreamhouse

pages 8-12

John (Jack) Byrne; Boy Soldier Falling Man Lions

page 14 page 15 page 16

Marion Clarke; Haiku from Bamboo Dreams Haiku inspired by the local area... Latest work

page 18 page 19 page 20

Máire Morrissey-Cummins; Saffron Moon Rize Tea Oak Dreams The Red Crayon Pink Lipstick Midsummer Morning

page 22 page 23 page 24 page 25 page 27 page 28

Nathan Elout-Armstrong; Belfast By Night Leptat Homeopathies Nsming Him

page 30 page 31 page 32 page 33

Mia Fey; Embers

page 36

Mike Gallagher; Dissonance Mc Gahern‟s Lake Jugglers

page 38 page 39 page 40

Oonah V Joslin; Conversion What not to wear on the 12th July Souvenir dans L‟avenir

page 43 page 44 page 45 2


Michael Mc Aloran; Six shorts

page 47

Chris Murray; Fossil 1 Fossil 2

page 49 page 50

John Saunders; A poem writes itself Rissoles Fulgarite Gone

page 52 page 54 page 55 page 56

Andrew Thornton; Pisheog

page 58 On The Wall

Message from the Alleycats

page 72

Marion Clarke; Marion’s work can be found Maire Morrisey-Cummins; Maire’s work can be found

pages 75-79 pages 81-82 Round the Back

Neil J Burns

page 84 -85

Manuscripts, art work and letters to be sent to: Submissions Editor A New Ulster 24 Tyndale Green, Belfast BT14 8HH Alternatively e-mail: g.greig3@gmail.com See page 52 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/

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Published in Baskerville Produced in Belfast, Northern Ireland. All rights reserved The artists have reserved their right under Section 7 Of the Copyright, Design and Patents Act 1988 To be identified as the authors of their work.

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Editorial "‎ Generally speaking, art is an expression of manâ€&#x;s need for an harmonious and complete life, that is to say, his need for those major benefits of which a society of classes has deprived him. That is why a protest against reality, either conscious or unconscious, active or passive, optimistic or pessimistic, always forms part of a really creative piece of work. Every new tendency in art has begun with rebellion." (Leon Trotsky) A friend introduced me to Trotskyâ€&#x;s writings and I have been devouring his works. For me as someone who grew up during a period of political turmoil I found the comparisons fascinating. During the third Intercultural Europe Conference we discussed the need to acknowledge harsh lessons from our past and to accept them rather than forget. Accepting does not mean to blame or to hate but to build for a shared future. Poetry is as ever about the individual, the artist and their place in society. It is a celebration of their work and a window into their techniques. A New Ulster is open to experimental and traditional poetry. This issue features a broad range of work from the established to the up and coming artist. We have gone over our page limit slightly however I take that as a good sign. We received so much work that I was unable to publish all of it in this issue. I have been in touch with the artists and let them know and most are only too happy to wait until the next issue. A question that has been debated is can poetry affect change? Can the written word evoke something other than an emotional response? I would like to think that it can. Why else would societies which have restricted freedoms see poets, comedians and critical thinkers arrested their works seized or worse? One of my poems had a positive effect I wrote a piece called Dream Spiral. It dealt with my struggle with depression and suicide. It was a personal piece written in an abstract form. I shared it on my blog and it had an effect: several people contacted me mainly teenagers who had struggled with similar issues. What surprised them was the fact someone had gone through the same thing they sought help and have found life is worth living. Enough pre-amble! Onto the creativity! Amos Greig

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Biographical Note: Martin Burke Though born and Ireland poet & playwright Martin Burke lives in Belgium from where he has to date published sixteen books of his work, the latest being BLAKE/LONDON/BLAKE by the Feral Press (USA) & IEPER by Lapwing Press (UK)

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THE DREAM HOUSE © Martin Burke 2013

1 Shades Dancers of shadow and wind Whose shadows shape our substance We dealers in ghosts where smoke and flute call To time‟s damask drum Yet at what sound will we wake for the dead As they visit our dreams We fragile beasts, breath and desire Who pass and leave no shadow If the storyteller does not tell it In the house of dreams 2 Active, happening, articulated Whenever you go there (And go there you will) It is active and articulated Hills undulating into otherness Transparencies shaping The wind waking poppies and vines The light exonerating what the dark claims Holding you to a centre that is off-centre A point you cannot pass beyond Where you are held Between experience and expectation For you are here A dream house where passage begins Pluck a branch from a tree (Be it golden, be it green) Do so and enter dimmer worlds Of which the tree is guardian Others have gone before you – Others have gone Some few returned (I have been here before And sometimes meet myself returning And almost call out (But I do not) And let myself pass in the opposite direction And then regret the choice I made of chance And try to catch-up with my receding self Though we are going in opposite directions And where one has been the other will go And perhaps there will be a reconciliation But if not I‟ll take my shadow where I go And watch that other make his found way home) The glittering branch (Be it golden, be it green) Is your sign to the world to enliven a world In which dark can glitter (To lie in stone for half a million years is one desire 8


To be its carver is another – Yet what‟s known beyond the clang of the hammer But what we attribute to a sound and its echo Echoing our speculations into the compact space To repeat in us its music Half a million years are nothing but a fraction Of time‟s fiction where there is no time There is now in the endless perpetuation of itself There is the here of silence and light And the dream within the dream-house dreaming There is no „we‟ in the dark The light goes out and we are alone Where our breath issues our faith in restoration) In the bed of which I cease yet am Where what I smother it speaks What I fragment it unites Death is unending silence Yet here comes a lyric With rights of affirmation struck against annihilation Death the sounding-board it bounces off And hurtles at again (And so Blake‟s rose outlives the worm) Where all is dark and death Yet nothing beyond us that is not ourselves And ourselves only As we come, pilgrims pacing a corridor With a candle in our hands Ascent, descent When you enter yourself go fully armed Or go fully naked “….and went down to the sea Drew our ship into water and rigged her mast and sails” Where the sea is a mirror and we are retained Water holding memories land has forgotten We hide from clouds and each other And language is our defence But the sea knows us for what we are Because the sea is a mirror and we are retained On Homer‟s shore we are Homer‟s heirs And nothing can disguise us Where waves are luminous But cast no judgement against us Like any man washed ashore We are without a name and nation Yet the sea is a mirror and we are retained And now the mirror is naked Yet the world is luminous beyond reflection or And memories are clouds passing out of view And the sea retains what we do not And what to us are shadows are to it living entities 9

imitation


For the sea is memory and all is retained On Homer‟s shore the self is cautious but also open-hearted On Homer‟s shore you skip a stone across the tide To see where it will drop Outwards or down, this beach or that Where the sea is a mirror and we are retained Our memories like clouds passing out of time To let new memories enter And the sea speaks familiar and unknown legends With the angels in triumph And the saint and whore side by side And the Ave Marie chanted And the commonplace magnificence of human lust Church and gypsy song comingling with Tranquillity, majesty, blasphemy and oration And the song of the world is a fire under which We do not fear to burn As if in snow a poem was written Which has melted back into the ground Or that the bright birds of Egypt Were seen in an average sky on an average day Or that something was imparted to the world Without which it would be incomplete Somewhere there is singing (Surely you hear it?) Shall we join the singing Or is it wailing Which like a malignant message Carries a virus intent on subverting our narratives and networks? Like troubadours or dervishes or those dancing men Of an itinerant order as odds with the world The birds ignore those questions which as Adam‟s child I ask “all day long the sails were full as we held our course, but the sun went down, darkness fell on the earth when we came to the place Circe talked of” A world other than ours Opposite to ours but never totally so Whole in itself and whole to itself Not for the living, not that, nor could be But with its own validity So Have you come as combatant or singer? Do you mean to question your advantage Or ask for guidance towards the living light? “I prayed sufficiently, I cut the throats of two sheep, the ghosts came trooping up” Pale Eurydice Pale Teirsias (Some say he was blind) Others you know of (Because of a poem) Lucid yet cold in pale light And you are either Orpheus or Odysseus So whatever you ask will be answered 10


But will you understand? “why have you left the light of day and come to visit the dead? Withdraw your sword that I may drink and answer your questions” Regardless of who you are, of who you would be Your steps towards the living are steps towards the dead You are where you are And there is a stairs to descend Remembering one thing because you remember another Recovering what was lost Fixing it in memory Making it part of tradition Making it different Making it the same Translating one word into another Granting it a new name Making peace with the past Adding something to the fragments Reconciling Christ with Sophocles “and after all these years, walking into my past – an old corridor with all the doors newly painted” The river under the earth Will not be denied “I will tell” (Exile already creeping into language) Remembering one thing because you remember another Recovering what was lost Fixing it in memory Entering tradition (Thus hail – the future is born!) When the light returns Your breath frictions Your thoughts to sparks

3 Intolerable – That such glory should be broken Dullness overtake splendour and a bland authority usurp the natural grandeur of the darkling globe And my eyes, sense-filled, kept vigil by stream and tree as if I had been appointed watchman and witness Night – Kingdom of stillness, proximity, and imminence Marvellous in the extreme Moon-washed to perfection and faithful innocence that the moon take its pleasure in us Light the beloved That enters to offer a glance from its eyes Healing, transforming, other than what I might, and did, imagine it to be Light the beloved tears of a chain Light the beloved that could not be put out Light that broke time into splintered glass to be walked, unharmed, over And I did -renewed in the finite but walking in the infinite Light the beloved that was balm and vision‟s bringer 11


Generations stirring within me I no longer a creature of misery I kissed its neck and my tears dried and transformed to testimonies As this also is of that moment –unspeakable yet I speak it Serenely amorous night in which I abided and yet abide What will remain? Nothing will remain Lustre will vanish Lustre will regain Out of night Its cooing dove Calls my heart To eternal love What will remain? Nothing will remain When love pure darkling dark Regains

4 One year autumn comes early, one year it comes late A season gives itself to the world or holds itself to itself At the harbour ships are ready to depart “….and went down to the sea” as if we were troubadours or dervishes Heading towards the unknown except for what we knew of it By what old poems said or old songs sang Nothing else is needed – everything is already happening The boat is departing as you walk up the gangplank Singing of cities the old songs say are guarded by a tree 5 When the light returns Your breath frictions Your thoughts to sparks And there is neither Here nor there Neither then nor now But a thought‟s uncoiling In the corbelled dream-house Of a mind

Martin Burke 12


Biographical note: John (Jack) Byrne

John(Jack) Byrne lives in Co. Wicklow ,Ireland he have been writing for almost 6 years mainly poetry Traditional and Japanese short form and have had some published success in UK , USA, Ireland in Anthologies, Magazines ,Ezines /Journals http://john-isleoftheharp.blogspot.ie/

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Boy Soldier He was once a soldier protecting life’s peace a boy of only eighteen years sent away to the east to a foreign shore amidst the flow of his mother’s tears In the Afghan country he’d disembark laid down with the instruments of war a frightened young man far from home not knowing what all this was for A fight against terror his country said to protect his home from harm a country boy from West Virginia he’d no enemy there to disarm So why was he here in this hostile place? with his home far away to the west a question that he will never answer because he died by a bullet to his chest They brought him home to a family distraught a boy soldier of eighteen years he’s life extinguished on a foreign shore to the sum of a Mothers fears

John (Jack) Byrne

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Falling Man How elegant your form as you faced death that morn how terrifying your thoughts as you took the only way accepting not the alternative but the one of your choosing to be the” Falling Man “ But who were your loved one’s the one’s you left behind were those the only people who occupied your mind when plunging to the pavement on that September morn a graceful “Falling Man” To this day, almost ten years on your name is still uncertain on that list of many names just another lost soul in the dust of the horrendous act of terror which gave the world that vision of an unfortunate “Falling Man” You’re New York’s unknown soldier lying in an unmarked grave a casualty not of your making not of a righteous or just war but of a thirst for power and madness witnessed by the world, and the last action of a desperate “ Falling Man”

John (Jack) Byrne

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Lions

Those who took part in the war to end wars we should honour their names forever remember their sacrifice for the freedom we share and for the lives they had to sever Think of the hardships that they endured and their struggle to stay alive imagine the carnage day by day and their effort it took to survive Awake in a nightmare full of despair hoping to make it through with friends all falling one by one fearful that the next would be you It is said they were lions led by donkeys that their Generals just hadn’t a clue as we ponder on those white crosses we’re assured that this statement was true They couldn’t have known it was all in vain and that hell would come visit again twenty one years after the last gun fired the devil would rally his men

John (Jack) Byrne 16


Biographical Note: Marion Clarke Marion Clarke is a writer and artist from Warrenpoint, Northern Ireland, whose work has appeared in print anthologies, online journals and ezines. After falling in love with short form poetry several years ago, she began to study and write haiku and senryu, and has had her work published inFrogpond, The Heron's Nest, Prune Juice, A Hundred Gourds, Notes from the Gean, Shamrock Journal, theviewfromhere, The Linnet's Wings, The London Tube Project, The Poet's Place Anthology, Shot Glass Journal and, most recently, AHA – the American Haiku Association’s first anthology. Several of her haiku featured in Bamboo Dreams – the first national collection of haiku from Ireland. Marion is a member of the Irish haiku society and in summer 2012 she received a Sakura award in the annual Vancouver Cherry Blossom Festival haiku contest. Some of Marion‟s poetry and artwork can be found at http://seaviewwarrenpoint.wordpress.com/

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Haiku from Bamboo Dreams midge haze – a dragonfly skip jives with its reflection low tide at noon in the dry rock pool a limpet ticks wet pavement – upon meeting we stop the spider and I storm on the lough streetlamps on Seaview lit by sunrise end of day starlings blinking their return Bamboo Dreams is the first collection of haiku from Ireland, edited by Anatoly Kudryavitsky and published by Doghouse Books.

Marion Clarke 18


Haiku inspired by the local area... canal bank ‌ each cherry tree touching its neighbour The above haiku, inspired by the display of cherry blossom along Newry canal and celebrating the peace process, won a Sakura Award in the 2012 Vancouver Cherry Blossom Haiku Competition

coffee and Danish – the Mournes dusted with snow First published in The Linnet's Wings, Summer 2012 descending mist the Mournes unavailable for photos First published in Shamrock, Journal of the Irish Haiku Society early dawn down at the docks a mast nudges the moon broken lobster pot the old fiddler crab taps his pincer

Marion Clarke 19


Latest work tinkling notes my children‟s voices join the mountain stream illicit encounter in the hotel they drink Guinness during Lent unexpected snow this morning she decides on an unknown path morning after my empty glass full of dawn hotel break ... in the ornamental pond five daffodils float crows on the lawn – some Goths find themselves in a Paddy‟s Day parade

Marion Clarke 20


Biographical note: Mรกire Morrissey-Cummins

Maire is Irish, married with two adult children. She lived abroad for many years, working in Holland mainly and Maire lives between Wicklow, Ireland and Trier, Germany at present. She loves nature and is a published haiku writer. Maire retired early from the Financial Sector and found art and poetry and is really enjoying the experience of getting lost in words and paint.

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Saffron moon

At the fold of day a veil shrouds the hills as rising fog drifts over tapering fields. Drizzle falls softly dimpling the river, sombre waters swagger beneath a narrow bridge. Lofty ash line steep grassy banks. Moss mats the forest floor where ferns furl long slender fingers into tight fists, the earthy air damp as dusk slinks in. A murder of crows sweep the sky smothering the light. Squabbling, they swoop tall tree tops. Settling, a rustling murmur whispers softly, sweetly. They sleep under a saffron moon, stilled by a blackening night.

Mรกire Morrissey-Cummins 22


Rize Tea

Beneath the fire of a Turkish sun, we lie side by side in the shadows, listening to the whistling pine as it twists with the shift of the wind. You decorate my hair with scarlet hibiscus, adorn my ankles with jingling shells. I perfume my skin with stars of jasmine and paint my nails a startling red. We sip Rize tea from slender glasses, savour almond cake drizzled in honey, slices of mango and fat figs plucked from trees. We make love to the swish of the coconut fronds and doze to the scent of dust laden winds crossing the Arabian desert.

Mรกire Morrissey-Cummins

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Oak Dreams

Winter dusk by the lakeside, waters gently lap the shore. A whispering breeze stirs through reeds to dance with soft mountain shadows . A snow moon rises behind a forest of Oak. In the hush of midnight, bare branches reach to the stars, weaving the falling darkness into a night of dreams.

Mรกire Morrissey-Cummins

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Thick Red Crayons

The patter of rain was constant on the galvanised roof drowning out the Royal show band on the radio. It was a Saturday in summer, your baking day and Sean and I were on the dining room table, a sheet of brown paper between us, odd sized of crayons colouring our dreams. I drew our house with a curving avenue, an apple tree at the bottom of the garden. Chubby fingers struggled with a thick red crayon circling shiny apples on the tree. I watched you measuring flour, iron weights balancing the scales. I could hear the click of the latch on the door beneath the sink, twiddling of a bottle top clink of glass swish and swallow in rhythm with the rain.

Mรกire Morrissey-Cummins 25


Caught our eyes locked. Your caustic glare darted the pit of my stomach. I clasped my crayon tight gouging the driveway to the house. You snarled my name, snatched me from the table bruised me up the stairs to my room. I knew that atonement would be the only route to your love, and the path to our house was not blood red by accident.

Mรกire Morrissey-Cummins 26


Pink Lipstick She was gentle as she washed my hair in beer, rolled it in curlers for Sunday best. It was summer, she sat on the windowsill chatting with neighbours. She wore her pink lipstick smile, her grey dress with red polka dots and I had a matching dress made from the remnants. We were all things beautiful. I cannot recall when her smile faded, face nettled with anger gnarled by drink, her chain smoking, the bag of pills. In a drunken frenzy the dinner splattered the lino. She lunged with the ladle, slipped and fell, sliding in the thick slimy mess. Warped with fury she thrashed all around her. I ran with nowhere to go, hid for hours behind the Beech tree, rocking my sister for warmth. An old woman now, she remembers a life of regret, but I remember her pink lipstick smile.

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Midsummer Morning

Morning leaps through my window, curtains dance to the swish of the sea. Lemon fields sleeps beneath the mountains, plum purple with perfumed heather. Hedgerows pink with blackberry blossoms toppled with trumpets of bindweed. Pine cones scatter the path to the beach, the air infused with salt seaweed. Church bells chime down the hillside, the village stirs under a honeysuckle sky. Life peeps from geranium doorways as the blush of a new day blooms.

Mรกire Morrissey-Cummins

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Biographical Note: Nathan Elout-Armstrong Nathan Elout-Armstrong was born in Blackpool, Lancs. He took his undergraduate degree at the University of Ulster, Coleraine where he served as Managing Editor for Reflexion (the Universityâ€&#x;s creative arts journal) during its sixth year. He recently completed an MA in Modern Poetry at Queenâ€&#x;s University, Belfast.

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Belfast by Night

Amid the peeling light, among fluorescent shade, smoky hopes once rose like steam, and that was where I dreamt. I learned to forget the rain and the snatching cold beyond us, sleepwalking along to city songs. I crossed the Lagan on a noiseless train, overlooking the spot where we would drown ourselves in expensive spirit to live cheaply, and pretend to dance. The savage glare of moonlight broke whatever weekly reverie or heart was caught up in its myth. Somebody boked. And it was truly beautiful, the want that turned our taxi headlights into stars and strangers into friends. Flegs into gegs. The city takes itself seriously now. The clubs are loud, the buses warn of death. Shops open, close. Somebody stops for breath.

Nathan Elout-Armstrong 30


Leptat

As if to hold them up with frozen palms The rippled pond seems steeled by some force That though unseen is palpable, and sharp As the abrasive kiss that moulds a glass. A loosed shard shimmers in its wheeling arc. The frozen moment cools. Suspended leaves In seeming serenade against the dark Orchestrate convergence in the breeze. This chaos of two centrifugal selves Unwinds to stopping point, a distillate Of something subatomic, even soul – There, etched into the ice, a figure eight.

Nathan Elout-Armstrong

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Homoeopathies

– How strange it seems to see our temples turned to eateries, whose condensed windows curl the outside world into potential conversation – Someone rattled an old tin can and spun a coin, as, typically by chance, the strange lilt of your voice swam out, and I was struck by its off cadences, like half-familiar song or lines from an oddball comedy. – For once I wasn't swept up in the tide of what was being said, or hooked on fishing out an understanding from subjective nets of thought – Both of us buskers for a silver word (or Shamanistic chant) outside the boring, old exchange of too much cash for pretty pittance bowls of lukewarm gossip-false satiety: and so we talked to mend the broken tongue. – What could be caught we neither of us voiced although its likeness dallianced between us …my cowardice drank like tequila beer. –

Nathan Elout-Armstrong

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Nsming Him

(i) This plane is manned by different modes of men All vying for their kinds of Captaincy. I happen to be of those one-in-ten Who, by some quirk or odd discrepancy Has empathised too far with lovelorn lads And sought their human shoulder, or else turned From more iconic images of Venus To favour the affections of a spurned Sproutculture, fresh-green from the womb, That ought to be as green in its conceptions. Instead, we nip and tuck man for the tomb Mistaking carnal code for whole affections. If man is what I am, then who is he, This Eros figure so confronting me?

(ii) Even creatures in mythologies have names However far-fetched their biographies But here's the rub. How can we name a thing That has as many sides as eyes that look And looking, drag him back from nothingness? This much we know for certain: he is male. But more than this, he seems to stand for man. A vision in the glass of the perceiver Restoring him, in turn, in his own way As though a mirror can be glued together And still appear flawless to that eye. Perhaps that's why, knowing man to be cracked, He seems its whole - the sum of disparate parts That link together to compel a vision Of perfection, borne of sharded conciousness. He can be guaranteed to show a strength That manifests itself in various guises But crucially, the key lies in the eyes That seem to say "I'm broken, much like you... But Mother Nature is a bitch sometimes."

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Is there beauty in the separation That distinguishes the mythographic man From man himself, who never could live up To such resplendent pedestals of Art? So man reflects on man, both poles apart. Once separated, we can give him names That deify him. That which we are not Is ill-content to be classed temperate He must be irrepressible, and hot And wrought into a fiery, vengeful God. And how we hope, at length, for retribution, For callous cruelties and secret wrath That some aspire to be, and others fight, Or else accept, the point is still the sword, For nothing is so beautiful as pain. Inevitably, anguish flows like heat At the Vitruvian beyond our reach That we can neither love, nor be loved by. He stands astride a world whose greatest fear Is that man loves beyond his own compare.

Nathan Elout-Armstrong 34


Biographical note: Mia Fey Mia Fey is a University student residing in Belfast and this is their first time in print. Mia is a local up and coming poet who has made great strides in their poetry.

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Embers

Like the floor alone you walked/up and down all night/before you made the decision to leave/ I can hear your breath still/as you exhale from your oxygenate/the final breath/you extinguished it/like you did your love for me- when you saw her – the girl with the red hair. Like the glow of a cgarrette/your passion was re-fused by someone else. Her hair is unreal. Like the unreal air that you exhale when you smoke. It‟s dead. Our relationship- up in smoke. Your spark – no longer exists. Our love – exists only in my mind. Gone – Lke smoke. Extinguished – like a flame I try to reignite but the poison is gone. The pain of our lost love burns. My heart has been damaged by the toxins of the dead fires , and replaced and the embers of our love in my soul cannot be removed. Ashes and dust, in the hearth and ashtray full of cigarette ends. Embers

Mia Fey

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Biographical Note: Mike Gallagher

Mike Gallagher was born on Achill Island, Co.

Mayo but now resides in Lyreacrompane, Co. Kerry. His poetry, stories and songs and haiku have been published in Ireland, throughout Europe and in America, Canada, Japan, India, Thailand, Nepal and Australia. His haiku have been translated into Croatian, Japanese and Dutch. He won the Eigse Michael Hartnett viva voce contest in 2010. He was shortlisted for the Hennessy Award in 2011 and the Desmond O'Grady International Poetry competition in 2013. He is the editor of thefirstcut, an online literary journal

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Dissonance Drawn by dissonance I moved outdoors A host of starlings Converged on Casey's Field. The laurel, the holly, Telephone wires shimmered In speckled luminance. From the whitethorn hedge Emerged settled tribes. Robins, thrushes, blackbirds Scurried en masse To bare-branched battlements. Across Derra‟s scrawny bog Echoed the taunts, the gibes, The mocking mimicry: „Tis mine; it‟s not; „tis mine; it‟s not. I retreated indoors to scenes From Mesopotamia and Iraq; Across its ditches and deserts Re-echoed the taunts, the gibes, The mocking mimicry: It‟s mine, „tis not, it‟s mine, „tis not. Ancient chants beguile The common instinct Of bird and man; Our past, once more, becomes our present, But man learns nothing: There is no death in Derra.

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McGahern’s Lake

The alder screen is threadbare now, Its scant leaves hang in rags of gold Two swans still fish the shallow reeds, Three cygnets now long flown. November sun breaks through white cloud And casts a beam that‟s bright and deep It catches heron‟s loping flight, It lights on perch‟s hungry leap. What was he like, where did he live? The eager pilgrim asks; Who inspired the master‟s pen? Why did his ink run black With guilt in stories of the dark? The answers snarled in sullen tones Unveil scorched souls that strayed Too close to one at ease with truth, Too lucid, it is said. Pilgrim explores another viewThen turns to face the setting sun.

Mike Gallagher 39


Jugglers. (for Louis Mulcahy)

A scaffold tube, Twenty foot long, heavy gauge, galvanised; grasp one end, trap the other, strides three, four, five, mitts glide along cold steel. slide to vertical; stop; hand over hand, lift, stop: torso's slow swivel;stop; the slack between tick and tock while the pole skirrs awaysharp testing of the tyro wrist(nerve's wobbly plates awry); wrested back to hover over the spigot. DO NOT LOOK DOWN! Twenty floors below ants swarm, scramble, surge through Piccadilly Circus, oblivious of the fuss

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teetering above. His sole focus, the spigotsleeve that six inch pinlower..., lower...,.drop, with one hand, curb the sway, with other, reach for podger, engage, tighten, secure.

You ask, my friend, about achievements, accolades, applause. the taking of a prize; let me tell you, then, that poets - dabblers or laureates are mere shufflers of words, jugglers of the ethereal, we make nothing happen; will never reach the heady heights, feel the raw, real-life elation of that stripling scaffolder as he tackled and tamed his very first twenty.

Mike Gallagher

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Biographical note: Oonah V Joslin

Oonah V Joslin was born in Ballymena and lives in N. E. England. She is Managing Editor of Every Day Poets and three times winner of the MicroHorror competition. She is current;y working on a collection of short fiction. You can find out more atParallel Oonahverse.

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Conversion The crossing sign shows permanently stop along the long dead line; coal-blackened earth. Morning scatters fresh fungi among gravestones, sends shafts of Monday matins through stained glass and seeds the dust of renovation with multicoloured tear shapes, lights up a cross-bar of high scaffold, reflects onto the alter sorrow for the first apple. On an orange crate abandoned amid the aromatics of dark tea, pomegranate, neroli, sensuous and peppery, the workmanâ€&#x;s canvas bag betrays his trade; hammers, hand drill, a bright saw, spill; forbidden hip flask, his spirit level. He walks to work along the rusty rails. Just another carpenter trying with wood and nails to make this house of God a house of men. Born again.

Oonah V Joslin 43


What not to Wear on the 12th July

My church window dress green white orange black crossed lines in all directions such forms and colours as bodied forth not the proud emblems of my tribe.

Oonah V Joslin 44


souvenir dans l’avenir

our SacrĂŠ Coeur souvenir tea towel almost faded ghost of a cathedral dome indistinguishable now from liminal heaven-blue sky

our first time in Paris awash with wishes not yet worn out from drying thirty years of our dishes

Oonah V Joslin 45


Biographical note: Michael Mc Aloran

Michael Mc Aloran was Belfast born, (1976). His most recent work has appeared in ditch, Gobbet Magazine, Ink Sweat & Tears, Ygdrasil, Establishment, Carcinogenic Poetry, Primal Urge, A New Ulster, Slit Your Wrists, Turbulence Magazine, The Shwibly, Stride Magazine, Unlikely Stories: IV, Eratio 16, etc. A second full length collection, 'Attributes', was published by 'Desperanto' in 2011. 'Lapwing Publications, (Ireland), also published a collection of his poems, 'The Non Herein', in 2012 & The Knives, Forks & Spoons Press, (U.K), has recently released an ekphrastic book of text/ art, 'Machinations', with Aad de Gids. He also has projects forthcoming from Quarter After Press...He edits Bone Orchard Poetry, a webzine of the bleak/ the dark/ the surreal and the experimental

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* A desert‟s grip/ or the broken glass of toothish sunlight/ here or there another breathing/ silt of which the glint by design/ raging/ towards the naught * A labyrinth of solace/ here or there the laughter of the bone‟s light/ basking in the speech of winds/ or shattered glass silences/ or the onslaught/ of the none * Gardenias/ death‟s heads/ a serrated edge/ nothing much speaking so clearly as was/ hence life pissing blood laughs the leg off the sacrificial lamb * Endless ribcage of the sky/ the glut of blood beneath/ and a pulse of shit/ dry your eyes/ it‟s just beginning * A little less/ more or less/ the bite of the blade‟s shadow and the sting of steel/ (actual)/ all/ blood beneath the fingernails/ a butcher‟s hand and the love of… * Veil/ vapours/ whisperings of the dead dreaming ash/ till barricade/ no sense in that yet what/ the sedate eye‟s defection/ of broken glass/ of cataract *

Michael Mc Aloran 47


Biographical Note: Chris Murray

Chris Murray is a City and Guilds Stone-cutter. Her poetry is published in Ropes Magazine, Crannóg Magazine, The Burning Bush Online Revival Meeting (Issue 1), Carty’s Poetry Journal, Caper Literary Journal , CanCan The Southword Journal (MLC)andthe Diversity Blog (PIWWC; PEN International Women Writer‟s Committee). Her poem for three voices, Lament, was performed at the Béal festival in 2012. She has reviewed poetry for Post (Mater dei Institute),Poetry Ireland and Writing.ie. Chris writes a poetry blog called Poethead which is dedicated to the writing, editing and translation of women writers. She is a member of the International PEN Women Writer‟s Committee, and the Social Media coordinator and Web-developer for Irish PEN.

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Fossil 1

press-to drop-by-drop raindrop-and-sinew the whole woman

not tamp-in onto the still-living-soil a new shape

embed-in the bone and the living-sinew-of the still-warm blood

slowly-so and infinitely blue the milk-flow from crystallising breast

a stone-dress material as silk-soft (as) caul or veil can be sweet as silk or rain or

blue

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rain sinews against and into chalice of womb. half-into the wall and often not

still a lone bird night-sings

Fossil 2

tremor of rain runs liquidly down the bodice and gather as gradual operation of hand-upon-hand hand-on-stone

make a pleat a stitch a fraying thread on bodice-sequinned for silica-plinthing

Chris Murray

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Biographical Note: John Saunders

John Saunders‟ first collection „After the Accident’ was published in 2010 by Lapwing Press, Belfast. His poems have appeared in Revival, The Moth Magazine, Crannog, Prairie Schooner Literary Journal (Nebraska), Sharp Review, The Stony Thursday Book, Boyne Berries, The New Binary Press Anthology of Poetry, Volume 1, Riposte, and on line, The Smoking Poet, Minus Nine Squared, The First Cut, The Weary Blues, Burning Bush 2, Weekenders, Poetry Bus and poetry 24. John is one of three featured poets in Measuring, Dedalus New Writers published by Dedalus Press in May 2012. He is a member of the Hibernian Poetry Workshop and a graduate of the Faber Becoming a Poet 2010 course. His second full collection Chance was published in February 2013 by New Binary Press.

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A Poem Writes Itself

A poem writes itself or it might need help.

A poem is a beggar, knelt on bony knees, untangling tangled words, straightening crooked lines.

A poem is a cacophony of meaning and understanding, that wants to be a symphony.

A poem is a jumble of stanzas, each one a room full of wild birds flying here and there, looking for a perch.

A poem is a storm on a page, gales of ink tormented by hail that organise themselves into dance.

A poem tells its own story as a fleeting thought, a family saga or a parable.

Occasionally it is a prayer.

A poem is a bankrupt printing fresh notes without security.

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A poem can irritate, until you write it then disappoint.

When youâ€&#x;re vulnerable, a poem will whisper solace.

At times a poem throws insults, protests the state of the world, though it never stopped a bullet.

a poem can be bare, show without embarrassment what makes us blush.

A poem speaks for itself. Sometimes it shouts.

John Saunders 53


Rissoles

That comfort of deep fat when I open the condensation covered glass door, slip into the harbour of scent. A putty of spice and mince bread crumbed to a tangy crunch, its punch on my palate an explosion of visions -Stamps of John Street, Wrights of Bride Street, Reddyâ€&#x;s shop, top of the Crescent.

John Saunders 54


Fulgarite Knurled sculpture – surreal image of the unsettled, shape of the mythical, mystical and mysterious burnt into immortality. Phantasmagorical scene of the macabre, raised above ground a flying demon of the mind.

John Saunders 55


Gone (for Liz)

Not even a life half lived and she‟s gone without a text to forecast her future. There are so many explanations for what seems beyond reason, a spit in the face of life‟s promise, a permanent solution. The present becomes past in a flash, is forgotten in the crush of time. She did it at home – with her own weight, left behind unlived years where the question will always hang.

John Saunders 56


Biographical Note: Andrew Thornton Andrew Thornton has provided us with a short fiction piece entitled Pisheog or superstition or myth.

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Pisheog The house looked uninhabited and Old McGuirk seemed little more than the shade that haunted it. Brown tufts of newspaper sprouted from cracked window panes and the corrugated iron that had replaced the thatch was speckled with spots of rust and moss. Clumps of ivy hung under the eaves. The door, cobbled together from thin strips of unvarnished pine, rattled in the gales that hurled headlong over the hillside. The winds had peeled the whitewash away in places, leaving the unhewn stone exposed and lending a psoriatic appearance to the cracking paint on the gable end. He had seen a brother off for the farm and out lived a wife and son and he lived alone and largely forgotten. A curiousity for the parish children. It was Old McGuirk who told Padraic that they were going to kill him. „What do you mean? For what?‟ „They say you‟ve been spending too much money. Talking too much when you‟re drunk.‟ It was damp in the cottage. A damp that settled in the creases of Padraic‟s clothes. A mean, sweetly scented fire flickered in the hearth. The old man sat next to it in a tattered linen shirt unaffected by the cold. His mouth, set in a thick beard, moved as he mouthed words, muttering and whispering to himself. He had been staring out the window when Padraic arrived squinting his eyes like an old dog tethered in the rain.and hadn‟t looked at him once After a time Padraic said: „McGuirk, what are you looking at?‟ McGuirk had sighed and remained silent for a moment but just as Padraic decided that it was time to leave he said: „I‟m waiting for Jamsie.‟ He nodded towards the window. „He‟ll be coming up the lane any day now.‟ McGuirk was born and bred in Killtianna and in Killtianna that was the way of things. Broken men and strange rendezvous. Marriages and relations. Grudges and feuding. Who sent a daughter to the laundries. Who drank a farm of land or whispered the words that set a neighbour‟s thatch alight. Who left their brother bleeding dry in a ditch or crossed the border at night. A residue had settled like ash after a burning. The weathering of the years. It had leeched through the soil and seeped into the waterways. It had invested itself in the character of the place. It was rough country, rush choked and hilly. But it was easy enough to scheme and plot your way through with diesel to be washed and fradulent assistance claims to be made and a border that had proven so lucrative that even the local republicans knew they‟d miss it when it was gone. It didn‟t inspire what you would call a sense of community but there was a closeness in the parishioners‟ complicity. As Frankie Dolan had said one night as they were moving cattle over a hillside „It‟s like old times.‟ They had had a tip that there was going to be an inspection in the morning. Everyone was trying to hide cattle. „What do you mean?‟ Padraic had asked him. „Well, you know. Everyone helping each other out. Like they used to.‟ „Fiddling you mean.‟ „Aye, fiddling,‟ timid Frankie had said. „You can fiddle or you can dance to the fucking tune.‟ Padraic had agreed with him. You take what you can when you can. There hadn‟t been much of a fiddle during the lonely years after the Brits left but be God men had got teary eyed when the EU had come along. The EU was the golden fiddle. On the evening of his visit to McGuirk Padraic considered the parish and how it bred dishonesty. How it had bred dishonesty in him. He had known that his pilfering and petty scheming would get in him into trouble and now it seemed it had finally caught up with him. He arrived at MacMahon‟s at six, settled himself in his usual stool by by the bar, opened a paper and ordered whiskey. „He‟s gone to get obliterated,‟ his mother would say when his father had a turn of bad luck and headed for the pub. Obliterated. It had sounded poetic when

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he was a child. The syllables tumbling out in his mother‟s broad Monahgan accent. She‟d had a way of finding the right word for things, rolling them around her mouth. The thin haired, curmudegeonly publican, MacMahon, avoided converstion with his usual circumspection. He had no taste for his patrons‟ company. „What do you think of our chances this year, Mick?‟ Padraic asked him as he expertly handled the cap on a bottle of seven up. „Well it all depends on whether or not they get it together at the start of the season. I hear Shiels‟ lad is handy though,‟ he said before slipping out the back. Arthur Traynor and the Wither McCabe sat in a corner talking. „They came down from Belfast to train up there at Carraigdool,‟ McCabe was saying. „Fifteen, twenty lads. City boys with Belfast accents. They would have stuck out like a wart on yer face.‟ „Yes, and someone squealed on them.‟ „It could have been anyone. That‟s what I‟m saying to ya. After this lenght of time you can never be sure.‟ „Ah fuck. I‟m telling you it was yer man Turner, black protestant cunt that he was. Why do you think Dinny Rudden and the boys plugged him afterwards.‟ „Well, everyone knows what Dinny Rudden was up to.‟ „What the hell do you mean by that? The man was a first cousin of my mother‟s.‟ It was an argument that they‟d been having for years. Lynch and McKenna were sat at the bar, talking lowly. One or two of the older lads sat alone nursing their drinks. They watched the news at nine o‟clock on the television above the bar. The Irish Farmer‟s Association was going to war over plans to control cattle prices. „That‟s the problem with Brussels,‟ McKenna declared loudly, „they have about as much sense as a bag of sprouts.‟ The boys laughed and Lynch slapped him on the shoulder. With the news over they returned to their conversation. Padraic ordered another whiskey. He was on his fifth when he stumbled out to have a smoke and relieve himself. When he returned the television had been turned off and Lynch and McKenna were talking to McCabe and Arthur Traynor. „It‟s an awful thing to happen,‟ McCabe was saying. „How old were they?‟ „Ah, he would have been thirty odd and her not far off it.‟ „An awful shame it was.‟ „Aye, an awful shame.‟ Padraic returned his attention to the paper but he was intrigued. „She was a fine looking lassy.‟ „Aye she was. Took after her mother that way.‟ „And they went off the road at Lavey?‟ „Aye, that‟s it. On the straightest stretch of road between here and Navan.‟ „Had he drink taken?‟ „Wasn‟t the sort of gasún to be driving with drink on him.‟ „Just went off the road?‟ „What did the guards say?‟ „Not much. Freak accident,‟ Traynor said. „Quare.‟ They all mumbled agreement. They were silent for a moment and then McCabe spoke in a low voice. „But I was talking to the young fella a week before and there was something wrong with him.‟ „Ah, whist, would ya,‟ Traynor said. „No, I‟m telling ya now. There was something wrong with him.‟ „And what was that?‟ Lynch asked. He sat high in his stool in a deliberating pose, his arms crossed on his chest.

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„Well,‟ McCabe began, savouring the audience he had drawn. „The night of the heavy snows they were asleep in bed when someone arrived at the door. One o‟clock in the morning and the roads blocked and someone was hammering on the door.‟ Traynor hissed and McCabe turned to him and said: „Shut up would ya.‟ Turning back to Lynch and McKenna he continued. „So young Gillespie climbs out of bed and opens the door and there‟s this quare fella. Starts on about his car breaking down and how he needs to use the phone but I ask ya, if you were living up there on a lonely hillside would you open your door to a stranger in the night? So young Mick tells him no and closes the door on him but yer man tries to get in. Puts his foot in the jamb and leans his shoulder against it.‟ „Jaysus,‟ Lynch exclaimed. „They were scared after that.‟ An atmosphere of conspiracy and the unspeakable had inveigled its way among the company in the bar. „It‟s a strange place that,‟ McKenna said, scraping his boot on the bar on the unoccupied stool beside him. „What would a young couple be doing living up there.‟ Padraic knew what they were thinking. His family had owned that house and the land it was built on, beside the rocks at Carraigdool. Everyone in the parish said the place was cursed. The door opened and Gallagher and Reilly sauntered in. Padraic cursed under his breath and when he raised the glass to take a draught his hands were shaking. McCabe continued. „A few days later and they were getting over it until Margeret Timmins having heard the story turns up shiting on about the quare fella. How he‟s come back, how he‟s loose in Killtianna.‟ „Now, what was it happened her?‟ McKenna asked. Gallagher had paused in the middle of the bar to listen to what they were saying. Reilly walked over to the counter and leaning against it nodded at Padraic. „Have you not heard about the dance at Drum. When she was a young girl . . .‟ „The devil himself visited Killitianna and danced with her all night and when the clock struck twelve he threw open his over coat and showed her his hairy legs.‟ Gallagher laughed, a great bellowing laugh. McCabe pursed his lips, disappointed and ashamed. The others turned away in embarassment. „Jaysus,‟ Gallagher continued, „I remember her when I was wee lad and touched though she was if I‟d been a grown man I‟d have wanted to dance with her, throw open me breeches and shown her something that would have given her a fright.‟ He laughed again. „Jaysus Jimmy,‟ he said to McCabe, „I wonder do you believe half the shite you talk.‟ He joined Padraic and Reilly at the bar and seeing Mick said: „A pint of Beamish there Mick, and . . . what are you having?‟ „Carlsberg,‟ Reilly replied. „And a pint of Carlsberg.‟ He patted Padraic on the shoulder as he shuffled his stocky frame onto the stool beside Padraic‟s. „Well Paudie, what‟s the craic?‟ Padraic felt like jumping out of his skin at Gallagher‟s touch. „Damn the haet, Gally.‟ „It‟s a cold one tonight,‟ Mick said as he pulled the pints. Gallagher and Reilly mumbled in agreement. Mick served up the pints and lingered for a moment to see if Gallagher would offer to pay. It wouldn‟t do to ask him outright. It might embarass him and he could be a dangerous man when he was embarassed. He was a big man with a bricklayer‟s build, greying hair and a sort of brutal charisma. His father had been known as the Bull and a witty schoolmaster had dubbed the young Gallagher Tarbhín, a name that he

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had delighted in. A former provo and the personality of the parish, he had the runnings of the place tied up nicely. Reilly was a different matter. He wasn‟t a local. Some said he was originally from Dundalk, and known to be prone to fits of distemper. He was slim and a good bit younger than Gallagher but all the same there was something menacing about him. He rarely spoke and still when he fixed those grey eyes of his on you, it made you feel exposed and vulnerable. „We were up in Clogherhead tonight,‟ Gallagher said when Mick had given up and disappeared. „Oh aye?‟ Padraic said. Clogherhead meant business. „Aye. We have a load of stuff coming in a few days. We‟ll need to stash it up at Carraigdool.‟ „What is it?‟ Gallagher smiled and tapped his nose. „We‟ll need a hand,‟ he added as he brought his pint to his lips and took a swig. So it was true. Padraic had been entertaining the notion that McGuirk was mistaken. Gone mad from old age and loneliness but there it was. There was no mistaking it. On the border judgement could be passed in the breath before a pint touched a man‟s lips. They drank in silence. Gallagher enquired after McCabe‟s brother who had been imprisoned for stashing a trailer load of contrabrand cigarettes. McCabe said he was doing grand and that he should be out in the next few months. Those cigarettes had belonged to Gallagher, Padraic knew, and asking after McCabe‟s brother was a reminder that mouths should be kept shut. After a while Gallagher necked his pint and said to Padraic: „Wednesday evening around eight. We‟ll meet you with a van at the lower gate. No fucking around now Paudie.‟ He waved to MacMahon. Said, „See you know Mick,‟ and they left. With Gallager gone conversation resumed. „Mick, give us a whiskey,‟ Padraic snapped. MacMahon grumbled as he poured a measure and planted the glass on the counter in front of Padraic. He disappeared out the back to watch a western tormented by thoughts of his warm bed and the heating and electricity being wasted on the shower in the bar. That night he hadn‟t slept and when morning came, a sobering light breaking over the snow covered hills, Padraic had lit the stove and boiled water for tea. He hadn‟t been to mass since his mother died five years before but somehow he knew the schedule of services. At eight he got into his 94 C reg Toyota and slipped out onto the ice covered lanes and headed for Killmanha. It must have been a day of obligation. In the amber interior of the Church a dozen or so people were kneeling in prayer, reciting the rosary. Padraic could make out a few familiar faces twisted in sombre piety as they wrung beads through their hands. Nearest the altar a stout woman led the prayers, her hushed voice lending a musical quality to the prayers. As Padraic watched the ritual from the wings he found that there was something comforting about the gentle rhythms of the devotions and the unison of the responses. He was reminded of his grandmother. He hadn‟t been inside a church in many years be he had suspected that he would never be rid of his peasant superstitions. There was something about these places and the collared men. They said it was a cultural thing, that it would take a few generations to adjust to life without the church. But, Padraic thought, there must be more. Hadn‟t the churches been built on places of worship considered sacred thousands of years before the church arrived with the wells and mountains given over to saints who were mothing more than the old turncoat gods? And wasn‟t it strange how he had never felt the need to step inside the shady chapel at Killmanha until now? Padraic slipped into a pew as the rosary concluded. „Ah there‟s Paudie,‟ Shamie Gillespie said, waving from across the aisle. When Father McLoughlin appeared the consumptive rattling died away and the mass goers heaved themselves to their feet. Padraic studied him as he said mass. He was small and slim and his neatly kept hair was grey. There was a boyishness to his features but his eyes were a shade of

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grey that almost matched his hair and in them Padraic could see a cold, glaring clarity. They were the eyes of a stoic. They said that he had been a Jesuit but had been banished by the order. A staunch nationalist, he absolved the sins of republicans fleeing south during the troubles. When the mass ended Padraic stood at this parent‟s grave and waited for the last of the gossiping parishioners to disperse. He was impatient. He didn‟t have the time. In a day or two he‟d be dead and having never given death any consideration there were questions to be answered. Finally, Mrs Traynor, having seen the congrergation off, pulled a shawl around her shoulders and made for the church gates but as Padraic turned for the rectory he noticed the Shiels‟ lad was walking up the drive. He darted behind one of the great old conifers that stood among the graves and watched as the boy disappeared around the side of the church. Padraic cursed him and waited. He smoked a cigarette and considered his options. It wouldn‟t do to speak in front of the lad. Eventually, reluctant to leave and reluctant to stand in the cold any longer, he decided that he would find the priest and get him to send the boy away. If it came to the confessional then so be it although the thought filled him with dread. When Padraic knocked on the rectory door and entered he heard a scampering movement from within. His mother had tried to get him to mend his ways, to teach him some manners and Padraic wished, as he stood in the rectory doorway with the priest glaring at him and the Shiels‟ boy looking at him curiously that she had managed it. McLoughlin had shed his robes and was wearing a grey sweater and black slacks. He was red in the face, his chest was heaving and the the look he was giving Padraic made him wonder if somehow he owed the priest money. „What?‟ he barked in a thick Ulster accent. South Armagh or close to it. „Eh, father, I was wondering if I might have a word,‟ he replied. He looked at the Shiels‟ boy and then at the priest‟s vestments that lay discarded unceremoniously on the floor. The boy quickly bent down and picked them up. He was flustered. Padraic hadn‟t seen the lad in a few years. He had at one time been friends with his father and he‟d heard talk. „Howa ya Daragh?‟ Padraic said nodding to him. „Paudie,‟ he responded curtly. Padraic remembered him as a child. He had always been slim and preened and effeminate. He had never thought anything of it. „I hear you‟re down in Dublin studying?‟ „That‟s right.‟ „Good on ya.‟ He looked back the priest. „Well,‟ he said, clapping his hands together, „father. I was wondering about having a mass said up at the house for my mother. She‟ll be dead five years next month.‟ The tension in the room eased a little. Padraic had learnt to play the fool and the blindman early on although he was decidely neither one or the other. McLoughlin‟s shoulders relaxed and he uncurled the hand he had clenched into a fist. He stepped towards Padraic and throwing an arm across his shoulders turned him towards the door. He spoke quietly and directly and in a friendly tone. „That should be no bother. Give me a ring next week and we‟ll sort it out. Just at the moment I‟m counselling this young man who‟s considering the priesthood.‟ He motioned towards the Shiels lad. Padraic smiled and nodded and then with as much convicition as he could muster he said: „It‟s a good thing young men are still going into the priesthood in this country. A blessing, I‟ll tell ya. Otherwise, where would we be? Over run with Trocáire cases trying to be priests.‟ He wished them good luck and left. In the car he sighed and leaned against the steering wheel, pressing his face against the cold panel. If McLoughlin suspected for one second that Padraic had realised what was going on it would mean another name added to the list of people who wanted him dead. He felt exhausted. The strain was playing on him. That afternoon, worn out and bitterly tired though he was he couldn‟t sleep. He lay down on the sofa in the sitting room near the stove and began to drift off, but every time he did so he would awake with a start having half dreamt that he had heard a

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footstep or a hand drawing the latch. He considered going to MacMahon‟s but the thought of drink curled his tongue and drew the taste of bile into his mouth. At four o‟clock he got up and drove back to Kilmanna. „Have you lost any weight recently?‟ Dr. Sexton asked as he prodded Padraic‟s tongue with a gloved hand. Padraic shook his head. „Any diarrhoea or vomiting?‟ „Only after a feed of drink.‟ Sexton removed the gloves and wandered over to the wash basin. „Well, you can put your trousers back on.‟ „You know,‟ he continued as Padraic got dressed, „it‟s not very often that we get any of you lot coming in here for a checkup.‟ „I told ya, I just want something to help me sleep.‟ Sexton ignored him and continued. „Most of ye think that we‟re some sort of bad luck. That we‟re the cause of disease and death. Most would rather suffer in agony for years rather than go to the doctor. Do you know John Reilly?‟ „Auld lad who lives over the other side of the cross?‟ „Aye.‟ „Aye, I do.‟ „Well he fell in a ditch a few years back and fractured his legs in three or four places. Shattered his thigh. Wouldn‟t go to hospital and wouldn‟t let anyone send for a doctor. He was laid up for days and do you know what he was doing? Rubbing iodine on the break. “The iojine‟ll clear it.” It‟s made from seaweed and the country people for some reason have great faith in seaweed. Jaysus, they‟re a terror for the seaweed.‟ Sexton laughed as he took his seat and studied Padraic. Padraic crossed his arms over his stomach and rocked gently in the chair. „What‟s wrong with you Paudie?‟ Padraic took a deep breath and stuttered: „What happens to you when you die?‟ Sexton was thrown for a minute. „Well, that‟s a bit of a strange one Paudie and if I‟m honest I couldn‟t tell ya. That‟d be more Father McLoughlin‟s line.‟ Padraic nodded. „But, you‟re in perfect physical health.‟ Padraic looked out the window. Sexton‟s garden had been conquered by briar. „And have you felt like that for a while now? Is that why you‟re not sleeping?‟ Padraic shrugged. Sexton sighed and sat back in his chair to gather his thoughts. „What I‟d say is that you‟ve been spending too much time alone up in the hills. Probably not eating right and drinking too much. Things like that can get you down. Half the lads in the parish are the same. They get tired and then they start to fret about things and before they know it they can‟t think of anything else. I‟m not going to give you anything to help you sleep. Not yet. Give it a few weeks. Cut back on the drink and get some exercise. Spend some time in company, especially in the company of women and start eating properly. Do you hear me?‟ Padraic nodded. The whole thing was beyond Sexton. Colds, cancer and flu where things he could deal with. Death was something else entirely. „But make sure to come back and see me if you‟re still feeling this way in a couple of weeks, alright?‟ As Padraic stood to leave Sexton scribbled something on his pad and with a flourish tore a sheet free. „And take this,‟ he said handing Padraic the note. Padraic took it and stuffed it in his coat pocket.

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„It might help you out a bit.‟ That evening Padraic drew a bottle of póitín that he made the previous year down from the loft and sat drinking it in straight measures from a little chipped glass tumbler that he kept for such occassions. He had never been much of a farmer. Farmer‟s dealt in death and he had found it hard not to grow attached to the cattle. Often, they had been his only companions for days at a time. With póitín, however, he had been born to it, nothing short of an artist. He didn‟t make all that much anymore. Business had dried up with competition from the supermarkets. He made enough for himself and whatever was left over he gave away. It was sad to think that with him dead and gone there wouldn‟t be a póitín maker within forty miles when once every family in the parish had distilled their own. The póitín had been the cause of much of his family‟s misfortune. His great-grandfather had made it and stashed it in the old house on the rocks and to keep his neighbours away had spread rumours that the devil resided there at night. Then people began to say that they were in league with the devil. That the póitín could not have been made by ordinary men. They had never been able to escape the shadow cast by those stories. Perhaps it was one of the reasons why Padraic had found himself where he was. Why not just leave? He asked himself that question a dozen times. He could run, he supposed, but where was he to go? The parish was all he had ever known and the world beyond was a frightening place. His uncles had gone to England to lead pointless miserable lives of hard labour, loneliness and cirrhosis like all of those who had been pushed out by the favoured. And that‟s what it was all about. Petty fiefdoms of briar and ditch. All the ferocity and blood lust of the Irish peasant had boiled down to this. A breed of lonely, old men dying out on the hillsides. Three measures in and he had the urge on him for a smoke. He began to search the pockets of his coat which he had slung across the chair next to him and when he drew the pack of cigarettes out the presciption slip that Sexton had given him fluttered to the ground. He lit a cigarette and bent over to retrieve the paper, cursing as a curl of smoke stung his eye. When he brought it up to the light he saw, written in Sexton‟s unruly handwriting, the words Bridget Maughan, Tinker‟s Hollow, Tuomy. He had to marvel at a world of border parishes with sodomite priests, pimp doctors and whoers called Bridget. He poured another measure and imagined her as a soft bodied woman with curly red hair and freckled skin. An earthy woman who spoke the words of someone used to cattle when she lay with country men who found such things comforting. He drank the measure and another in quick succession and felt that he had drunk enough to make up his mind. It was dark when he arrived in Tuomy. One of the locals out walking directed him out of the village and said it was the first right after McCabe‟s pub. The lane was close and over grown. Padraic was wondering if he had taken the right turn when he came to a gate. Beyond, in an open field, he saw a light burning. A caravan sat nestled against the hedge, overhung by the boughs of an oak. From its windows an ominous yellow light was cast across the snow covered field. Smoke billowed out from a tin chimney set on the roof and as he drew near Padraic could see that it had been there for some time. Lichen clung to the rubber seals on the windows and grass grew thickly about the deflated wheels. „Who‟s that?‟ a voice called out when he knocked. „My name‟s Padraic,‟ he replied, feeling a little foolish and hoping that she had not engaged the company of another. „I‟ve come from Killtianna. Dr. Sexton sent me.‟ When the door opened he was shocked to find an elderly woman standing in the threshold. She wore a long skirt and the boots that country women had worn once. She held a knitted shawl about her shoulders. Padraic could not guess at her age. Her face was wrinkled and loose and her hair was thin. There was something about her that implied beauty that had long since waned. Her features, gaunt though they were, still had some grace about them. She looked frail and underfed and her eyes had a bluish, milky film over the pupils.

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„Sexton, you say?‟ she said, frowning and unable to see him clearly despite the short distance between them. „Aye.‟ „Well, you‟d better come in.‟ A wood stove was burning in the corner and the caravan was pleasantly warm. A teapot sat atop it simmering. Bits of sewing and knitting lay discarded on the table that occupied one end and the benches that sat on either side. Photographs, grainy and blurred and older than Padraic cluttered the shelves and the counters and a fat, long haired black cat drowsily stirred from atop a set of presses when Padraic appeared. „This snow is a terror,‟ the old woman said as she cleared a space on one of the benches, tossing her knitting into a pile. „We need a good sup of rain to clear it.‟ When she moved she did so slowly and awkwardly. A stiffness in the hip Padraic supposed. „Go on, sit down there,‟ she said, motioning towards the bench. „Would you like a cup of tea?‟ Padraic answered that he would as he slipped into his seat at the table. A pair of rosary beads lay coiled beside an ashtray brimming with butts and ash. „Do you take sugar?‟ „Four,‟ Padraic responded. „Four. Mary mother of God,‟ she mumbled. She set about making the tea, dragging her right leg behind her awkwardly, talking as she did so. „What was it you said your name was?‟ „Padraic.‟ „And your people?‟ „McGintys.‟ „Ah, I see. The McGintys from over in Killtianna?‟ „That‟s it.‟ „I knew your people. It‟d be some time ago now. My father used to sell horses to your grandfather, I suppose it would be, and I remember your grandmother well enough. She was a lovely woman. Your great-grandfather, he was shot during the times of the troubles around these parts. I never knew him myself but I heard the stories. I would have spent alot of time around Killtianna when I was a girl. We used to spend winters there and follow the markets across the west in the spring. That was before I got married and me husband, God rest his soul, took me off to Scotland and then England. The best part of forty years I spent there living on roadsides and waste grounds. England had good pickings after the war.‟ She placed a cup of tea in front of Padraic and sat down opposite him. „I‟d offer you a biscuit but I don‟t have much.‟ She pawed the table until her hand alighted on her pack of cigarettes. „Smoke?‟ she said, offering the pack to Padraic. They lit up and sipped their tea in silence. Eventually the old woman asked: „What was it had you down with Sexton?‟ Padraic swallowed a mouthful of tea and said: „I was worried about my health.‟ „Oh, I see. Well there‟s no better man for it than Sexton. He‟s a grand fella. Stops by here every couple of weeks to make sure I‟m alright. Free of charge you see. I don‟t get any assistance or a pension or any of that because my birth was never registered. Not on the books. Never owned a house or a plot of land or paid a penny to the tax man and never would. Sexton‟s always at me to get it all straightened out but as I keep telling him I‟ve been grand getting along all this time. I‟ve got me health and at the end of the day that‟s all that matters. He‟s always at me to give up the fags but apart from my eyes I‟m as fit as a fiddle.‟ The old woman stubbed her cigarette out in the ashtray on the table. „I‟ve heard a lot of things over they years,‟ she said after a pause. „Tell me, do you still own that house on the rocks.‟

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„Just about.‟ „What‟s this it‟s called again?‟ „Carraigdool.‟ „That‟s it. Carraigdool. That place always was bad luck, pure bad luck. Our people never stopped there even though it‟s out of the way and the local people stay clear. It‟s been bred in us. To trust your gut about a place and that place was out of bounds. It spoils the whole parish. Spoils the people.‟ Padraic laughed. „What‟s so funny?‟ „Why did Sexton send me here? To talk voodoo?‟ The old woman‟s upper lip curled into a sneer. „I‟ll tell you,‟ she spat, „I‟m a lifetime past caring tuppence what you lot think.‟ They sat in silence. Padraic crushed the butt of his cigarette in the ashtray and said: „Can I have another?‟ „You can,‟ she replied. He dragged deeply on the cigarette and ran his thumb across his forehead. „They were just stories.‟ „What‟s that?‟ „About Carraigdool. They were making póitín up there and they spread the stories to keep people away.‟ „There was a story though, wasn‟t there, about the two boys who snatched the priest?‟ „Aye, people say when their auld lad was dying the boys grabbed a priest out of the seminary at Armagh to sit with him. They say a lot of men go queer when their time arrives and those boys were rough.‟ „That‟s true enough,‟ the old woman agreed. She cleared her throat and picked up a pack of cards that lay on the table and began to shuffle them. „I read them,‟ she said as she placed a five of clubs face up on the table. „People come from miles around to see me. Women who are worried about their sons or because they‟re afraid that they‟ll never conceive. It‟s women mainly ut then again I do get a few men who want a bit of reassurance when it comes to business.‟ She turned up more cards, the Queen of Hearts and the Jack of Spades. „It‟s strange,‟ she continued, „that even in this day and age people are still interested in what I can tell them. A lot aren‟t. They try to convince themselves that they‟re modern and intelligent and they want nothing to do with superstition but they read those wee horoscopes in the paper and they‟re frightened enough by queer noises in the dead of night.‟ She laughed and added: „It‟s easier to believe things at night.‟ There were seven cards laid on the table. Padraic studied them trying to divine what meaning if any there could be in them. „Well?‟ he said eventually. „Well what?‟ „What do they say?‟ She made a great show of studying the cards, bringing them each close to her face one after the other, mumbling to herself as she did so. When she was finished she sat back and said: „Well, you‟re in trouble, there‟s no doubt about it. Unpaid debts and the possibility of death.‟ „The possibility?‟ „Aye, it‟s only a possibility. Nothing has been set out yet. One course of action means death, another could mean salvation but then of course every course of action leads to death eventually.‟ She peered down at the cards. „I see a journey. Something about a journey. But no, wait, it‟s more than that. It‟s abandonment. An abandonment. The death of an old way of life, I think. But it‟s very confused.‟

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She lit a cigarette and offered the pack to Padraic. „Would you like another cup of tea?‟ she said after a while. „I would thanks,‟ Padraic replied. When he had finished his tea Padraic stood up and said: „Thanks for the tea and the cigarettes.‟ „It was no bother.‟ „Do I owe you anything?‟ „I usually charge twenty euro.‟ „Will you take ten?‟ „Jaysus,‟ she exclaimed. „I‟ll tell you what, give me twenty and I‟ll make a prediction.‟ „What?‟ „You‟re doomed.‟ He slept most of the following day and took this to mean that in some way he was resigned to his fate. At six he sat down to a meal of boiled cabbage and corned beef. He ate tinned apricots and rice pudding afterwards. He was fidgety. He retrieved an old bottle of Jameson from the kitchen press that he had kept for visitors. There was a good measure in the bottle. A good measure that had sat there for the best part of five years. When he had drank it he felt calmer. He considered praying but what use would it be to him now? Just before eight he pulled on his coat and looking the house over for the last time he went out to the shed to retrieve the oil lamp he used when he was abroad at night. The cattle lay peacefully in the straw and he whispered soothingly to them the way a mother would with sleeping children. He wondered what would become of them. He left the lamp unlit as he made his way down the lane into the hollow. When he stepped over the spring that ran across the lane he could see the headlights of a van down in the hollow beside the rocks. He stopped. The physical strain of knowing what was about to happen made his legs feel as though they couldn‟t support his weight. He wanted to lie down on the ice encrusted lane and go to sleep. The distance he had to go seemed to be too great and he could feel the simmering terror was about to boil over when he realised that someone was standing at his shoulder in the ditch. „What the fuck?‟ he cried as he nearly lost his footing on the ice and flung his arms out desperately to steady himself. „Howa ya Paudie,‟ a familar voice said. Padraic bent over and rested his hands on his knees. He felt like getting sick. „Jesus Ned, you scared the shite out of me.‟ Ned murmured an apology and turned again to look at the lights in the hollow. It wasn‟t unusual to find him standing on lonely roadsides at night, in a grey coat jacket, rotting boots, trousers held to his slight frame with baling twine and an old meal bag on his head. He lived across the crest of the hill in an cottage after the manner of McGuirk‟s and as a boy Padraic would often see him in the distance walking or lying in the fields picking at the grass. He wandered the hills at night and this, coupled with the fact that not a living soul had ever seen his face or glimpsed him without the meal bag on his head had been the cause of no little amount of rumour. Padraic had always found him a personable enough fellow though. He had given Paudie a hand when he found him trying to shift a heifer out of a ditch one winter‟s night some years before and since then whenever their paths crossed they would exchange words. Paudie had come to form the opinion that he was a gentle soul and, despite his crippling aversion to human company, saner than most. „What‟s going on down there?‟ Ned asked when Padraic had recovered his breath and straightened up. „Something that‟s best avoided.‟ They stood shoulder to shoulder looking at the headlights burning dimly in the hollow. „Listen Ned,‟ Padraic said, „it‟d probably be best for you if you forget that you saw me tonight and that you make yourself scarce when I go.‟

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Ned had turned to look at him. When Padraic had finished speaking he looked back at the hollow. „It‟s a bad business then?‟ „It is.‟ „And there‟s no avoiding it?‟ „No.‟ For the first time in years Padraic felt in danger of losing control of his emotions. „And Ned?‟ „Yes Paudie?‟ „Can you do me a favour? Can you take my cattle? Most of them aren‟t registered and they won‟t be missed. Take them over to your place as if they were your own. McGuirk knows a solicitor in the town who can sort it out so that you don‟t have to worry about the guards. You might have to throw something his way though.‟ Ned had turned his head to look at Padraic as he spoke. He looked back to the hollow and said: „Traynor‟s sheep have broken out. They‟re down in the fort by the road.‟ „Go on, now, Ned,‟ Padraic said sternly, motioning with his head. Padraic wanted to stay with him. There was a strangely comforting aura of peace about him. As he walked tenderly down the lane he heard him calling softly. „There‟s always time, Paudie. There‟s always time.‟ As he slung his leg over the gate and he considered how in many ways he envied Ned and the beautiful world that he suspected he inhabited, a strange thing happened. The sky had cleared. When Padraic looked up he caught sight of a great band of lavender light shimmering over the hillsides in the star speckled expanse. He paused and then awkwardly sat on the gate as he had done when he was a boy, the cold steel sticking to his skin. Snow lay in dustings on the hedges. It lay thick and unsoiled on the fields and a thought crept like deer through a silent wood into Padraic‟s head. Perhaps, there were worlds byeond this. Worlds of such beauty and enormity that the petty squabblings and the drama of men‟s hearts meant nothing. When a car door slamming shut in the hollow caught Padraic unawares he fell off the gate. There was no sign of Ned as he scrambled back up the icy laneway. It was for the best. There was no way of slipping away unseen. Once he started the motor they would know what was happening. They would try to cut him off at the end of the lane. Even if they didn‟t the chances were that he‟d go off the road sooner or later and they would be on top of him. As he turned the corner where he had met Ned he could thought he saw a figure darting across the headlights in the hollow and sure enough when he reached the road and peered in that direction a van was tearing towards him. He lost control for a moment and the car plouged into the verge of the ditch opposite and cut out. They were barely a hundred feet away and upon him and Padraic was cursing himself for having thought that escape was possible when a flurry of sheep appeared breaking out from the road side ditch. In a heartbeat the road was blocked with dozens of the animals, frenzied and panicked. The van slid to an abrupt halt and Padraic turned the key in the ignition, cursing with relief when the engine started. He pulled out of the ditch, his bumper torn clear by the verge, turned and headed in the direction of Cootehill. When he reached Tullyvin he doubled back in the direction of Cavan town. There was no sign of anyone following him but it was better to be safe. When he reached the town, he decided, he would take the Dublin road south but on the outskirts he took a roundabout too fast and went off the road leaving his car overturned in the marshy ground where the Travellers grazed their ponies. Padraic hated the town at night. The bawling drunks. The sinister cars lurking past. Doors locked and bolted for the night. The curtains drawn and the odd lit window high in the gables or under the eaves. He scurried through the streets dashing into the shadows whenever he heard a vehicle approaching. Johnny McIntee, a second cousing, lived in terraced house off Market Street. He finally managed to rouse Johnny after waking a neighbour with a Dublin accent who shouted at him

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from his bedroom window. When Johnny opened the door Padraic stalked passed him into the hall. „Paudie,‟ Johnny exclaimed, „what time is it?‟ „Shut that fucking door.‟ Johnny prodded the fire in the narrow kitchen as he waited for the kettle to boil. He was a rubicund man with greasey white hair and a pot belly. He sat on a stool close to the fire in his vest listening to Padraic‟s story. When Padraic finished he yawned. „So Dublin is it?‟ he said. „Well I don‟t know where else to go.‟ Johnny shook his head, stood up and stretched. „What are you going to do with the farm?‟ he asked as he busied himself making tea. „What? Oh, I don‟t know.‟ He handed Padraic a mug and took his seat. „I‟ll keep an eye on it if you like.‟ „I hadn‟t thought about it. – I suppose I‟ll sell it.‟ „Ah, there‟s no need for that. I‟ll keep an eye on it. If you don‟t want to come back I‟ll put it up for auction for ya but it would be a shame to let it go just because of a wee falling out with Gallagher and the boy.‟ Johnny threw him a cigarette and lit one himself. He tried to think who the farm would go to. Padraic chewed a nail and wondered if it was wise to try for the bus in the morning. After a while Johnny slapped his knees and said: „Well, I‟m off to bed. You‟ll be alrigh where you are won‟t you?‟ „Aye, I‟m grand.‟ „Righ‟, God bless and goodnight.‟ „God bless.‟ That night Johnny dreamt of a slow girl as pink as a breeding sow. He had given her Daddy a couple of Padraic‟s heifers and he got drunk every night on the money he made from renting the hollow out in spring. He wandered into the kitchen the next morning still trying to remember if there were any cousins on the far side who might have a better claim to the land when he realised that Padraic was gone. The tow thrummed in the oppresively cold morning. Tractors and heavily laden lorries roared passed Padraic as he made his way to the station. Apart from the creased boots, his scarf and the starched fiddler‟s coat he wore he carried the sun of his worldly possessions in his pockets. A packet of Rothmann‟s. His wallet and his post office deposit book. A half empty box of matches. Some baling string. A blunt pocket knife. A holy medal his mother had given him and his father‟s broken pocket watch which had lost its chain years before. A timetable informed him that there was bus at five to eight and there were already a number of people waiting. Three young girls, probably students. One or two older women and an odd looking middlge aged man with a tattered sports bag at his feet. Padraic knew the sort, on his way back to Dublin after coming home for a funeral. Padraic pitied him, dumped undecorously at the station in the early hours by a relative glad to see the back of him. He had walked out onto the pavement and was smoking a cigarette when a small van trundled to a stop at the curb in front of him. It was belching thick, diesel fumes and the back doors where tied closed with fencing wire. „On your way to Dublin, are ya?‟ a voice called out. The little bearded man sitting in the cab was Roy Gillespie, a neighbour from Killitianna. „I am,‟ Padraic replied. „I‟m on my way there too, hop in man.‟ Padraic was unsure but feeling that it might be best to put the country behind him sooner rather than later he slipped into the passenger seat. „What has you going to Dublin?‟ Roy asked as he drove the car on out the Barracks Road. „I have a cousin in Beaumont.‟

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„Oh aye?‟ „Aye. I would have driven down but I wouldn‟t chance the Toyota in this weather. She‟s a bit a long in the tooth.‟ „The bus is a comfortable enough journey. – What has the cousin in Beaumont?‟ „Cancer.‟ Roy crossed himself and muttered that it was a terrible thing. He explained he was working for his brother in Dublin during the week. „Fuck all work about these parts,‟ he commented dourly. Just outside Virginia he pulled the car off the road. „I just have to make a quick stop,‟ Roy said as they pulled into the yard of a two storey farmhouse. Padraic leaned against the bonnet and smoked a cigarette as he waited. He was anxious to be clear of the hills. He would feel safer in Dublin. After some time Roy appeared again at the door of the house with another man. As they drove off he said: „That‟s Arthur Denahey. Good lad is Arthur. Did a wee stint with him at Loughlan.‟ „I didn‟t know that you‟d been inside,‟ Padraic said. „Aye, I was. Six months for giving a neighbour of mine a hiding.‟ They passed through Virginia and drove onto an empty stretch of road. After about ten minutes Roy pulled the van over into a small laneway. „I just have one more stop to make before we motor.‟ Grass grew in the middle of the bare laneway and briar swept across the windscreen. Some distance from the road they came to some buildings clustered around an abandoned farmhouse. Its roof had collapsed but the outbuildings looked to be still in use. Someone had roofed them with corrugated iron and Padraic supposed they were used for storage and cattle. „Here we are,‟ Roy said. „Could you give us a hand?‟ Tufts of grass grew where the flagstones had cracked and ivy clung to the facade of the old house. Roy nodded towards one of the sheds. Padraic couldn‟t see anything in the darkness of the interior. For a moment he hesitated. He could hear the distant hissing of cars on the Dublin road and above him the limbs of trees creaked in the wind, their bare boughs rattling like bones. „After you,‟ Roy said. As Padraic bowed his head to step through the doorway he caught the odour of smoke and aftershave. He straightened up and hit his head on the door frame as Roy launched a shoulder into his back and he fell forward into the soiled straw on the floor. Two pairs of hands held him by the arms. He lifted his head and sobbed, „Lads,lads‟ but was cut off as a plastic bag was slipped over his head and fastened around his neck with an elastic band. A cable tie was used to bind his hands and when it cut into his flesh he tried to cry out. He lay on the floor, breathing shallowly, the bag rippling and throbbing as he breathed. Condensation was gathering on the inside of the plastic. The four figures standing over him in the darkness surveyed their work. One flicked a cigarette into the wet straw and said: „Righ‟.‟ They went to work with the casual deliberation of men erecting a fence or digging a drain. Padraic was pulled to his feet as one of them took a pick axe handle in hand. The first blow caught Padraic above the knee. His leg buckled under his weight and as he fell wild, lashing kicks struck him in the ribs and the stomach. The pick axe handle rose and fell, the figure who wielded it grunting from the effort. With the job done they paused to catch their breath. One of them lit a cigarette. „Now that‟s a fucking lesson, hi?‟ „What was about anyway?‟ „Fucked if I know.‟ „Ah sure it doesn‟t take much these days.‟

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They walked outside and leant against the stone work to let the sweat cool in the wintry air. The one with the pick axe handle threw it aside and peeled off the latex gloves he had worn. „What do they want doing with him then?‟ „We‟ll take him over to Stranlough and feed him to Reilly‟s kesh.‟ „Jaysus, another one for that kesh.‟ „Well, if she ever get sick of them we can feed them to Reilly‟s wife.‟ They laughed. A fresh packet of Carroll‟s was produced and they each took one. „A cold day for it,‟ one of them offered. „Aye, a cold day for it,‟ the others agreed. A wind was rising. It was going to snow again. Nearby a lone bird cried shrilly as it wheeled over the bogs. It was getting dark already. The sun never really rose over the hills in winter.

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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: g.greig3@gmail.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! You can also order hard copies of “A New Ulster” signed by the Editor himself for the bargain price of just £5.00 per copy for black and white, £7.00 for full colour (plus P&P). Watch out however, as numbers will be limited. If you would like to purchase a copy or three (hey, I’m feeling optimistic today!), then please contact us with the details of your order via e-mail at: g.greig3@gmail.com and title your message as follows: Purchase request (name of customer here). Yearly subscriptions are also available, for £79.99 each; which includes 12 full colour copies and all P&P.

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MARCH 2013'S MESSAGE FROM THE ALLEYCATS: And the month of the lunatic rabbits is finally upon us! We have had a glut of material to choose from this edition, and have actually exceeded our usual page limit! Amongst the work included, are several haiga: haiku which represent a matching piece of artwork. 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”.

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Biographical Note: Marion Clarke Marion Clarke is a writer and artist from Warrenpoint, Northern Ireland, whose work has appeared in print anthologies, online journals and ezines. After falling in love with short form poetry several years ago, she began to study and write haiku and senryu, and has had her work published inFrogpond, The Heron's Nest, Prune Juice, A Hundred Gourds, Notes from the Gean, Shamrock Journal, theviewfromhere, The Linnet's Wings, The London Tube Project, The Poet's Place Anthology, Shot Glass Journal and, most recently, AHA – the American Haiku Association’s first anthology. Several of her haiku featured in Bamboo Dreams – the first national collection of haiku from Ireland. Marion is a member of the Irish haiku society and in summer 2012 she received a Sakura award in the annual Vancouver Cherry Blossom Festival haiku contest. Some of Marion‟s poetry and artwork can be found at http://seaviewwarrenpoint.wordpress.com/

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Blues on the Bay 1 by Marion Clarke

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Blues on the Bay 2 by Marion Clarke

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Blues on the Bay 3 by Marion Clarke

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Carlingford Lough from Warrenpoint by Marion Clarke

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Twilight on the Lough by Marion Clarke

Winter Landscape by Marion Clarke

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Biographical Note: Maire Morrissey-Cummins Maire is Irish, married with two adult children. She lived abroad for many years, working in Holland mainly and Maire lives between Wicklow, Ireland and Trier, Germany at present. She loves nature and is a published haiku writer. Maire retired early from the Financial Sector and found art and poetry and is really enjoying the experience of getting lost in words and paint.

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Bluebells by Maire Morrissey-Cummins

Cherry Blossoms by Maire Morrissey-Cummins

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Evening Swim by Maire Morrissey-Cummins

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Biographical Note: Neil J Burns

Neil J Burns is a 31 year old blogger. His blog, titled Belfast is my Mojo, was short-listed for the Ireland blog awards 2012 for the category for best Arts/Culture blog. The blog receives on average, 300 hits a day. One blog post was published on Blackstaff Press's website. Neil writes in all genres, and has recently been published in 30 Under 30; with his short story To Chapel Haven. He has also been published in The Open Ear Journal (May 2011). A former QUB Master's degree student in Creative Writing and erstwhile attendee of the QUB Writers' Group, Neil is currently homeless but hopes to move into own place in January 2013.

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The Full Stop: „The Alpha and the Omega‟ . Four years at university and no one could tell me the actual weight of a full stop .

However, now - I know. I‟ve looked into it. Such is the pedant within me. To respect this punctuated singularity. To love this peculiar lonesome, tiny, perfectlyround, dense dot - is to love all aspects of writing, and all technical devices too. Which helps you support the wall of your of work. A prop, then. A punctuated brick to build upon. A full stop - in all its dark, rounded glory does not signal „just‟ the end of a sentence. No. It does indeed symbolise the end of a train of thought, the clause, the ending of a sentence. Finality then. Death? Immorality? Silence? The bladed guillotine fall?

Yes, the full stop is, in one sense, an ending of a train of thought but it also signifies the beginning of a new sentence. A new idea. The full stop is the alpha and the omega. The full stop is revolution.

The birth of the full stop can be traced back (with a very good marker pen) to Greek scholar, critic and grammarian - Aristophanes of Byzantium. Born in 257 B.C. Byzantium, a Greek city where modern-day Istanbul is today. Latterly, Aristophanes moved on to Alexandria in Egypt becoming the head librarian at the Library of Alexandria. Aristophanes was dedicated to improving pronunciation of language; he was credited with the invention of the Accent System used in Greek to denote pronunciation. As the old system of Classic Greek was in the decline and had gravitated to the modern Greek Konie: a stress-based system. This was a time shortly after Alexander‟s conquests and Greek was becoming the lingua-franca in the Eastern Mediterranean. The accents were initiated to assist the pronunciation of older Greek texts.

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Aristophanes, in addition, is heralded with inventing - single dots (distinctiones) which we know today as full stops. These single dots were employed in „verses‟ to denote the amount of time the reader should breath between each line in the verse. It did not have the same relevance as in signifying the end of a clause/train of thought as the pronunciation mark as we know it now, in the modern, academic world.

In a short passage of verse, a „media distincto‟ dot was placed at mid-level and is the origin of the comma mark. For a longer passage, and for very long pauses (periodos) in the text - a „distincto‟ dot - the perfect, full stop.

I always enjoy a good analogy. They are pertinent to whatever your collective of references to what is relevant to you. I once read that the density of a neutron star was so big that one teaspoon worth of its material, would weigh 900 times the mass of the Great pyramid at Giza. That is pretty special. In writing - the air maybe thick with the what ifs. But attentiveness to grammar and punctuation, implementing devices, such as the heavy-weight full stop - you will, hopefully, realise the mantra „Less is more.‟

.

Neil J Burns Jan 2013

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A New Ulster issue 6  

The latest issue of A new Ulster features the works of Martin Burke, John (Jack) Byrne, Marion Clarke, Máire Morrissey-Cummins, Nathan Elout...

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