A New Ulster poetry anthology

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ISSN 2053-6127 (Online)

Featuring the works of . Fran Mulhern, Strider Marcus Jones, ,Margaret O'Driscoll, ,Kate Ennals, Jack Grady, ,Maurice Devitt, Bob Shakeshaft, Helen Harrison, Glen Wilson, Owen Gallagher, Val McLoughlin, Omole Ibukun, Al Millar, Silva Merjanian, Chris O'Toole, Sean Smith, Adeniyi Johnson, John W. Sexton, Mary Bonina, Edward Power, ,Macdara Woods, Lieutenant Colonel Shyam Sunder Sharma, Shaurya Chakra ( Retired), Iseult Healy, Michael Sands, Mark Pawlak, Noel King, Maeve Heneghan, Mike Gallagher, Jenean Gilstrap, Amy Barry, Irsa Ruci, Arthur Broomfield, Peter O’Neill and Eileen Sheehan.

Poetry Anthology Centenary Voices April 2016

A New Ulster On the Wall Website

Editor: Amos Greig Editor: Arizahn Editor: Adam Rudden Contents


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Fran Mulhern: 1. The Men of My Family 2. Straining to Hear 3. A Body Was Discovered on the Border This Morning Strider Marcus Jones: 1. Forage in Me 2. When the Day Breaks Down 3. Become Transhuman 4. Fading Sphinx 5. Doing Nothing Margaret O'Driscolll: 1. One Speck of Blue 2. Shevchenko’s Spirit 3. Gearagh Roots Kate Ennals: 1. Travesty 2. Lower Derries 3. In the hands of White Men 4. Catfish Jack Grady: 1. Ejaculo Ergo Sum 2. Lust of the Bones 3. Lazarus and Loretta 4. Resurrection 5. Our Self-Hypnosis of Happiness 6. Mata Hari Meets Shiva’s Revenge Maurice Devitt: 1. And What, Miss Kennan, are you planning to do with your hair? 2. January Morning, Eagle Rock 3. Little Mysteries 4. A Speckled Life 5. Derby Day 6. The Man in No.41


Bob Shakeshaft: 1. Blind Shame 2. gobo 3. Poet’s Cell 4. Stairway 5. Chimerica1 Helen Harrison: 1. Compost Glen Wilson: 1. A God Sketch on Silver Plated Copper 2. The Planter 3. La Girona in a Bottle 4. The Lighter Men 5. Amber Flush 6. Surface Water Owen Gallagher: 1. The Work Ethic 2. Tic 3. The Dark Stuff 4. The Cure for Homosexuality 5. Straight Up Val McLoughlin: 1. Day Trippers 2. Belleek 3. Dispossessed 4. Early September 5. Stolid River Omole Ibukun: 1. Strait out of Gibraltar Al Millar: 1. Manchester Bar Belfast Agreement Silva Merjanian: 1. Saints in my Rain 2. Tonight 3. Doves of Beirut 4. September 5. The Irishman 6. Home Chris O'Toole: 1. Dandelion 3

2. 3. 4. 5. 6.

A Little Late Feet Half Full Shooting Star Sponge

Sean Smith: 1. Lamp 2. Orange Grove 3. Memorial 4. Regrowth 5. Outlaws 6. Race Adeniyi Johnson: 1. Elegy of Old Age 2. Nature Turned Sour 3. Jephthah’s Daughter 4. Gloomy Soul 5. A Lost Freedom 6. Warchild John W. Sexton: 1. Famous Mice 2. My Secret Witch 3. My Granda as Lama Tensing 4. Pulls Mary Bonina: 1. 2. 3. 4. 5. 6.

Sheep Shack Small Town, A Death Shrine in Cambridge Name, Address, Phone Number Drawer Soap Opera Guide to Soufriere

Edward Power: 1. Patsy Power 2. Nocturne 3. The Well 4. The Form 5. Aunt Haiku 6. Ardkeen Haiku 7. Grandad’s Egg Macdara Woods: 1. In May 2013: The Most Beautiful Woman in Dublin Lieutenant Colonel Shyam Sunder Sharma, Shaurya Chakra ( Retired): 1. The Poet 2. Temporal Beings 4

3. Meeting Point 4. A Deposit or Withdrawal 5. A Bird cannot birth an Elephant Iseult Healy: 1. 2. 3. 4. 5. 6.

The Porous Whorus The Kiss Museum Not I No Cuckoo My World Began Costa Thoughts about Mary

Michael Sands: 1. Checkpoint 2. Prince’s Street Mark Pawlak: 1. “Bold Coast” Idyll 2. With apologies to C.D. Wright 3. Adieu 4. Faith, Hope, Charity Noel King: 1. Kylemore Girls 2. Grounded 3. Black and Tan Maeve Heneghan Huang: 1. Sacrifice 2. Feet First 3. You Told Me 4. A Boy Mike Gallagher: 1. Mistle Thrush 2. Unblocked 3. The Utmost Truth 4. Flights of Fancy Amy Barry: 1. The Gardener 2. The Meditation Chinese Chime Irsa Ruci: 1. A place within the hearts 2. How I could have known 3. Being’s willpower Arthur Broomfield: 1. A Room of One’s Own 2. After ‘The Denial of Saint Peter’ 5

3 In commemoration of the one hundred and fiftieth anniversary of Joseph and Mary Plunkett’s Victory in the Algerian roller skating championships, 1911 4. We too have our Martyrs O' Neill Peter: 1. Ted Hughes Tales from Ovid 2. La Luna 3. Voicing 4. Nosey 5. Counter Discourse Eileen Sheehan: What of the Heart? Holding the Note What She Sings Of A is for Alzheimer, C is for Carer


Manuscripts, art work and letters to be sent to: Submissions Editor A New Ulster 23 High Street, Ballyhalbert BT22 1BL Alternatively e-mail: g.greig3@gmail.com See page 50 for further details and guidelines regarding submissions. Hard copy distribution is available c/o Lapwing Publications, 1 Ballysillan Drive, Belfast BT14 8HQ Digital distribution is via links on our website: https://sites.google.com/site/anewulster/ Published in Baskerville Oldface & Times New Roman Produced in Belfast & Ballyhalbert, Northern Ireland. All rights reserved The artists have reserved their right under Section 77 Of the Copyright, Design and Patents Act 1988 To be identified as the authors of their work. ISSN 2053-6127 (Online) Cover Image “April� by Amos Greig


“The sun was warm but the wind was chill. You know how it is with an April day ” Robert Frost 1926. Editorial

Welcome explorer to the April Anthology edition of A New Ulster this issue is crammed with poetry and haiku hard to believe but we have condensed the equivalent of three months submissions into one massive issue it is intended to tie into the National Poetry Day in Ireland. April is the cruellest of months as stated in the “The Wasteland”. On the one hand we have the tantalizing promise of warm weather and yet the delivery of wet, snow and gales April is International Write A Poem Month and the 28th is a date to keep a watch for as well. This April is a centenary of events and has the air of expectation about it. For the thousands who lost their lives on the Titanic to those who died in needless conflicts in the mud, blood and gas of the trenches and to the rebellion in Ireland. Finally we think about those who forced from their homes risk life to reach a tantalizing promise of freedom. I’ll keep this editorial short and sweet so as not to distract from the poetry and prose presented within this months edition. I hope you enjoy reading this issue it presents a taste of the poetry available from around the world.. Enough pre-amble! Onto the creativity! Amos Greig


Biographical Note: Fran Mulhern

Fran has recently graduated from Lancaster University with an MA in Creative Writing, and is currently working on his second novel. His first is currently at the query stage with a number of agents. Fran’s prose has previously been published in The Honest Ulsterman, and his non-fiction in The Belfast Telegraph and The Irish Times. Originally from Belfast, he moved to England in 1995 and has, sadly, been here ever since. It's bittersweet.


The Men of My Family (Fran Mulhern) One of my great grandfathers died On the last day of the battle of the Somme, Probably a bit annoyed that he'd almost seen it through But fallen at the last hurdle Killed by a Hun sniper who should have known better. My grandfather fought in the Second (The Nips in Burma after the Jerrys at Dunkirk), Cursing as the bombs dropped all around him The wet sand dampening their impact As the distant ships screamed and steamed to the rescue. My other grandfather stayed in Belfast, worked hard And thought the Germans no consequence Though that would have changed had they won: He in a labour camp, his wife grudgingly fucking As some German soldier grunted and breathed on her. My father fought no wars, save for the wars at home. Outmuscled and outgunned, my mother Bravely fought on Much like the men before her - until death, My father’s victories left hollow and rotting. And I. I do not know yet where I stand, or What my legacy will be. Smart, Kind, generous, perhaps. Or perhaps simply pointless. Very pointless.


Straining to hear (Fran Mulhern) And so we depart from each other, Flying nests not yet feathered And paths not yet worn. In time, the wind will clear the trees, The grass will cover The few marks we made And all about us will be gone. Each passing season will bring Us closer to pained forgetfulness, And if you strain hard and Listen intently to the wind and cup your ears You might still hear The echo of us calling As we grope and fumble, Searching for meaning in the Tidal feelings that once Lapped our shores Until erosion took hold.


A Body Was Discovered on the Border This Morning (Fran Mulhern) They had you for two weeks or more, Unknown to us, behind that door Where they beat you black and blue Until they put a bullet in you.

And left you in a field.


Biographical Note: Strider Marcus Jones Strider Marcus Jones – is a poet, law graduate and ex civil servant from Salford, England with proud Celtic roots in Ireland and Wales. A member of The Poetry Society, his five published books of poetry https://stridermarcusjonespoetry.wordpress.com/ reveal a maverick, moving between forests, mountains, cities and coasts playing his saxophone and clarinet in warm solitude.

His poetry has been published in the USA, Canada, England, Ireland, Wales, France, Spain and Switzerland in numerous publications including mgv2 Publishing Anthology:And Agamemnon Dead; Deep Water Literary Journal; The Huffington Post USA; The Stray Branch Literary Magazine; Crack The Spine Literary Magazine; A New Ulster/Anu; Outburst Poetry Magazine; Amomancies 2015; The Galway Review; The Honest Ulsterman Magazine; The Lonely Crowd Magazine; Section8Magazine; Danse Macabre Literary Magazine; The Lampeter Review; Ygdrasil, A Journal of the Poetic Arts; Don't Be Afraid: Anthology To Seamus Heaney; Dead Snakes Poetry Magazine; Panoplyzine Poetry Magazine; Syzygy Poetry Journal Issue 1 and Ammagazine/Angry Manifesto Issue 3.


FORAGE IN ME (Strider Marcus Jones) forage in me amongst the dunes still damp in sun and wind as the tide retreatsfor driftwood and strange shaped pebbles. where have they been, these abandoned voices, with colours and textures, wild and domestic, moving and rooted, sooting and scenting the airbeing engraved by beauties and conflicts, uncovering how love is only rented jumping ship when it sights new land. inner changes, have not changed anything out there; and when what moved in is all moved out, we can sometimes sit in this displaced time, with drifting belongings and pebbled thoughts, aware of strangers moving slower than the clouds deliberately doing the same.


WHEN THE DAY BREAKS DOWN (Strider Marcus Jones) when the day breaks down, i look rain drowned like that hole in the ground trapped road where i wait floating in the pool of fate. which way is sound. back is gone, and forward the unfound wild track moves on. sideways yours and my ways shout then separate out in pieces of broken pre-Raphaelite plate and coffee stained passages of forgotten Blake, now ornaments of visionary discontentsi removed when to begin again.


BECOME TRANSHUMAN (Strider Marcus Jones) mop my stain of thoughts from their existence, before they grow too old and follow me, into disrepair and rigid waysbut leave one drop of luminous ribosome to feed its reason if i choose to let mortality become transhuman, then i, so acting shaped to mime and mummer like a paradise peacock in a rainy coat of chaoswould delete myself born blind, gone wise.


FADING SPHINX (Strider Marcus Jones) another beautiful eye reflects lifes lie, when you look into its face and see a better place close by. without that circle round its dream, everything is seen to separate unequally in two and drift apart blown through old sky. the why, where and when does not matter then, as it dissipates into other fates making old orders die. in all the residue of what we knew, a fading sphinx, casting contemporary shadows, rises, temporary but still drops by elsewhere, in the flawed foundations of younger civilizations, building their own mountains of shaped stone where polished lenses spy.


DOING NOTHING (Strider Marcus Jones) doing nothing is a way of doing something with the day if you leave it open. just think, what was, has been a long drink from the same stream and you are not broken. love flown and fled shared who you are, happened, was said but only so far sound spoken.


Biographical Note: Margaret O’Driscoll

Margaret O'Driscoll is a very busy mother of seven and grandmother of eleven. Her poems have been published in various anthologies and magazines and one is reproduced for a current GCSE English Literature Exam Revision publication.


ONE SPECK OF BLUE (Margaret O’Driscoll) One speck of blue between dark drifting clouds a signal of hope appears. One word of reassurance when all seems so bleak helps to banish our fears. It's hard to see brightness when darkness prevails hard to see light in the sky. Keep your trust, keep believing that the sun will break through as all the clouds drift on by.


SHEVCHENKO'S SPIRIT (Margaret O’Driscoll) High rise blocks, high rise birches Obscuring, softening the scale, Yellow tulip buds in elastic bands Babushkas hoping for a sale. Trolley bus cable wires high above A row of flowering chestnut trees, The sweet scent of cherry blossoms Drifting in the breeze.

A statue of Shevchenko I feel his spirit in the air, The plinth that held Lenin's statue Toppled in Soborna Square. A memorial to Korolev Rockets by the museum, Blue and yellow flags flutter For the nationalists dream. Lime trees invite honey bees Beneath St. Michael's dome The hospitality of Ukrainians Makes me feel at home. 21

GEARAGH ROOTS (Margaret O’Driscoll) I went with him in later years To walk the quarry road He pointed out the heaps of stones Where once stood happy homes.

He showed me the bowling road Where crowds went after mass, Willows and alders grew All around the quarry cross.

Wild roses grew around the ruins He left with wistful thoughts, By the old bog road as we passed by There grew forget-me-nots.


Biographical Note: Kate Ennals

Kate Ennals is a poet and short story writer. Her first poetry collection, AT The Edge, came out in September 2015, published by Lapwing. She has been published in various literary publications such as Crannog, Skylight 47, Burning Bush 2, The Galway Review, Ropes, Boyne Berries, North West Words, and featured in The Spark. Her work was shortlisted (and performed) in the Claremorris Fringe festival, the Swift Festival, in the Doolin Short Story competition in 2014 and the Stephen King short story competition, 2015. A Londoner by origin, Kate has lived in Ireland for 22 years. In 2012, after working in community development at national andAlocal level for 30 years (London and Ireland), Kate did r the MA in Writing at NUI Galway (1:1). She now runs poetry and writing workshops in and around Cavan. a Kate also facilitates a regular literary reading evening and c open mic (AT The Edge), funded by Cavan Arts Office. Her blog can be found at kateennals.com.


Travesty (Kate Ennals) What you have heard is true. London imploded. In the British Museum, Egyptian mummies unravelled. Trails of white bandage streamed, like white eels, through the Chinese Ming Dynasty, down the steps Into Russell Square, breathless. The children, on a school visit taking rubbings of starry sycamore leaves and the Dorian Columns outside, were thrilled. The 46 route master travelling past, melted; its red paint dripping, its blue chequered velvet seats sticking to the skin of its screaming passengers. The dome of St Pauls, lifted, like Dorothy’s house in the Wizard of Oz, to settle precariously on the shine of the Shard. The Trafalgar Square Lions leapt to the clouds, fell back down, in Hyde Park to be reassembled and glued. Alarmed at this travesty of reality, I hailed a black cab for Scotland. We travelled down Pall Mall into Horse Guards Parade, saw Buck House in dancing flames, and a ‘Please no Politics’ demonstration taking place. Every protester and placard selfcombusted on the spot, the lot: SWP, Militant, Trots, People Before Profit. With his Knowledge, the taxi driver was full of spiel. He said it had rained raw shrimps on him in Frith St. At ten, he’d seen Big Ben floating in the Thames (it was trying to chime while drowning) and politicians had been scrambling like eggs, trying to reach Broadcasting House to mansplain the phenomenon. Apparently it was something to do with phase of the moon. “Mind you, Leicester Square,” he said…”well, it’s an improvement. Looks like the Jewish Memorial in Berlin. Ever been to Germany? Well, I suppose we’re all Krauts these days what with Merkel and all that but I don’t suppose we’ll bother with a referendum now, though I’d have voted out. I’m only going as far as Watford Gap.”


Lower Derries for Martin and Breda (Kate Ennals)

The lake swarms, whispering warm Teeters the edge of an evening shore Sky seethes yellow before a downpour White croquet irons pattern the lawn We sit outside, nibble blue and white cheese Lips become pickled with nasturtium seeds Red tomatoes hand-picked from the vine Yellow cucumber dressed with mustard and wine A toast with liquor Beetroot and raspberry mixed with apple and pear I settle on orange and elder flower Outside, wild pike smokes in black rising swirls Cooked in a freshly fallen branch of a birch Inside, by the fire, I am plated wild duck Home-grown potatoes served with spices and garlic We talk of poetry and pre-destination The lake swarms, whispering and warm.


In The Hands of White Men (Kate Ennals) Their power‌ You can feel it in process embedded in tracts in the bricks and mortar In the stacks of paper In the suits and shoes That tap out the tune of the big white men who prowl Behind soft slow smiles moulding and shaping manipulating working the facts the way that they are have always been Gripping and strangulating Ideas and dreams Tall, or fat, skinny, long nosed The keepers of custom maintain status quo with bureaucratic tools That inveigle and anoint Divide and rule pick and point According to scales according to whim According to him The regulations they impose To frame the world To give them control Means The hands of white men Embrace us all.


Catfish (Kate Ennals) The cat fish reigns Deigns to wallow fresh and fallow Slunken, drunken barbels mouthing braille Sluicing slurry through scales (detritivores with chemoreceptors) A troglobitic tendency to hide A beady golden circle eye Stares from hallowed cave Redeeming extant sovereignty His grace defies gravity He condescends The gas filled bladder sinks Feeds on black strings Of fish faeces Ray finned, delicate angel wings Undulate in slow motion Belly up, barbels twitch A skim of his arrowed tail, he flips A tart’s toss of the arse


Biographical Note: Jack Grady Jack Grady is a founder member of the Ox Mountain Poets, based in Ballina, County Mayo. He is a past winner of the Worcester County (USA) Poetry Contest, and his poems have been published in literary journals in Ireland, the United States, France, and the United Kingdom, including Crannóg,The Galway Review, Poet Lore, A New Ulster, The Worcester Review, North West Words, Mauvaise Graine, Outburst Magazine, and The Runt, as well as in the anthologies And Agamemnon Dead: An Anthology of Early Twenty First Century Irish Poetry, Voices for Peace, published by A New Ulster, and 21 Poems, 21 Reasons for Choosing Jeremy Corbyn. The poems Ejaculo Ergo Sum and Lust of the Bones were previously published in And Agamemnon Dead.

Lazarus and Loretta was previously published by The Runt. Resurrection was previously published in And Agamemnon Dead, Voices for Peace, and in 21 Poems, 21 Reasons for Choosing Jeremy Corbyn. Our Self-Hypnosis of Happiness was previously published in The Galway Review. Mata Hari Meets Shiva’s Revenge was previously published in A New Ulster.


Ejaculo Ergo Sum —‘Je pense donc je suis’ – René Descartes, Discourse on Method, 1637 —‘Cogito ergo sum’ – René Descartes, Principles of Philosophy, 1644 (Jack Grady) That old shaggy ram there still does his job well and lives. His master on the tractor feels as free as a lamb on a ramp to halal slaughter, as docile and neutered as his castrated bullocks, as penned in as piglets at their mothers’ milk. But, at night, the ram’s master counts no sheep to ease his way into dream. His bedtime narcosis is a bold, secret wish to possess the balls of a billionaire, where his bag of jewels could purchase Monte Carlo and a Princess Grace too; where he adorns his mistress of the moment with the Florentine diamond and treats it like a trinket; where he dispenses titanium, no-limit credit cards to his chorus-girls-in-waiting like boxes of chocolates and commands fleets of yachts, the smallest of which would humiliate the Titanic or any Sovereign Queen of the Seas. As for me, I am not so greedy, nor am I ostentatious. Give me a night in Zanzibar, the last light in Gouves, an ouzo in Heraklion, a saxophone’s lament in a caveau in the Latin Quarter 29

or even in the Seizième a block from the Étoile; pizza marinara in Sorrento or a bus ride playing chicken with cliffs on the way to Amalfi, the driver tapping rhythm on the steering with one hand while the other holds a lit fag out the window and waves it in time to horns of oncoming buses like a baton. How close to the edge can we chance it? I hear a peal of trumpets, a triple ratamacue of drums, or is that my wife’s scream and the baroque fugue of my heartbeat? Yes, give me some joie de vivre, maybe an erection in Juneau, Alaska, if I ever wanted to go there, which I would not …this year. Rather, I would prefer to plunge like a Viking into a harem in sacked Byzantium or a seraglio in Seville or Silves, when they were still Moorish, succulent and salacious; or give me a hot tub on the other side of Hades, or even on this side, or a thermal bath and massage a hundred kilometres from Reykjavík. I would rise to the task like that old ram, and tell myself I still am!


Lust of the Bones (Jack Grady) We bones who had flesh, who wish we had earth to warm us, empty and cold in our coffins, to fill us where once we had organs, to comfort us with memories of skin soft as the pulp of sweet melons and of joints fluid with motion. We bones floated with ease on flowing rivers of life, carried by buoyant boats of tendons, muscle, and meat. We too loved the lust and thrust of flowers in the spring, the joyous ejaculation of petals and leaves, bales of hay in summer’s heat buxom girls beckoning behind whispers of wheat. How we glided in moonlit water, naked and sleek as fish, with the phosphorescent glister of eager, jetting eels! How we ran manic with the joy of foals and the frolicking leap of lambs! Our silence now is the inaudible drum, our hollow in the earth that resounds beyond sound to the panic of flesh and its sex-driven thrum, its horror of bones and the gravestones of stillness, of Zimmer frames and canes guiding ageing skin, tightened like tanned leather, no longer an object of lust, no longer warmth that would clothe bones shivering to dust.


Lazarus and Loretta (Jack Grady) Loretta was the wife of Lazarus long before Martha and Mary called Jesus to revive him. Loretta had no need of Jesus, for she could raise the dead herself. Loretta ate fire ants for breakfast and spat out their rinds like rockets. God help anyone within range of this daily mania of missiles, especially Lazarus, her constant target, even ensconced in his coffin – not loud, no rumble of earth or screeching whistle of wind a neighbour would hear; but they nailed him just the same like a wriggling worm pierced in half by a plunging spade; quiet words, though they stung like startled bees and bedevilled like midges in swarms itching Lazarus to madness – until he ripped through the boards of his casket and kicked down the door of his cave to bellow with rage through the bowels of his house. The local men always grinned when they heard it, for their wives would know how lucky they were their husbands were not the same sort of dead as Lazarus.


Resurrection (Jack Grady) I have a dream that one day armies will shoot with songs instead of bullets generals will shed uniforms for the saffron hues of Hare Krishnas Buddha will hold conference calls between New York and Geneva St Francis will cradle again the birds of Assisi even insects will have no reason to fear us Lao Tsu will return to expound on mountains that freedom never crowns conquest never plants flags beyond borders The dead will rise to expose those who killed innocence and blamed the innocent those whose lies hatched our hatred and turned us into murderers those who will hear their sneering laughter silenced by their cries of spontaneous confession Machiavelli will erase The Prince as a fraud Wolfowitz will tell us all Neocons are trapped in the chaos of the clueless the Kennedys will unmask their assassins and spend a week granting absolution to plotters who never imagined it possible Isaiah will weep with joy as Israel abandons Dimona and its shell is claimed by sands of the Negev Wahhabis, spellbound, will intone the poems of Rumi; Shia and Sunni will greet each other with kisses of kindness while sabres of rage remain sheathed and the sacred book’s lions lie down and purr to the licks of lambs in a Kabbalistic Bride’s Reception of jungles, forests, and fields redeemed Nuclear arsenals will explode with a pop harmless and hilarious as clouds of balloons bursting we will at last hear the trees speak tell us why they are rooted and how their quiet peace resurrects flowers and leaves


Gandhi will walk with Jesus on water they will hail the resurrected dreamer – Martin Luther King – while he hauls into his boat constellations of fish with silken nets of starlight


Our Self-Hypnosis of Happiness (Jack Grady) Let us delight to be alive despite suicidal states and warring states, impoverished states and nanny states, and every intrusion of misery and madness. Let us indulge instead the hypnotic state in a self-hypnosis of happiness. Let us romp in a reel with the straw boys to bodhrán, squeeze-box, and fiddles. Let us dance at the crossroads and wear leprechaun hats for the amusement of Europe’s masters while they deny us fiscal relief and applaud us fools for ‘we’re not Greece’.* Let us nod at our wettest bog and reveal the secret of a golden reef that lies beneath. We will stop laughing when they find it and we mine it for the leftover grams they grant us; but, for now, let us declare to the world we can still lay claim to what remains of our sovereign domain: our whingeing wind and rain. *Quoting Irish Finance Minister Michael Noonan, 2011.


Mata Hari Meets Shiva’s Revenge (Jack Grady) “The dance is a poem of which each movement is a word.” ― Mata Hari He was, night after night, with his slut his slut who danced in the temple his slut whose grace could gyrate his lust and make him more drunk than his true loves – his gin and scotch And I watched her, my husband’s slut dance the gandrung in the village and the beksan putri for the Dutch though I never danced either myself I saw enough to invent my own dance to vamp something brazenly better something to put sweat on a man’s brow in winter something to put steam on his monocle melt ice on his boots Where I once had an unfaithful and brutal husband who battered me at his whim I traded him for a hundred men turned a hundred men into philanderers and slaves a hundred wives into cuckqueans a hundred rival dancers into a silent gamelan gong If the men weren’t mine when I began my dance with the fans they were as yoked and helplessly mine as the statue of Shiva when my body, nearly naked and dancing in Paris climaxed in its impotent arms Men of means lavished me with jewels Generals and marquises offered me mansions if I would dance for them privately if I would let them stroke me from legs to lips 36

if I would deign to fulfil their wildest wish while I lived in their homes or the homes they gave me Russians, Germans, Italians, French they were all mine, my humble retainers save the Frenchman I most trusted who framed me as a spy and I heard in the wind the forgotten laughter of my husband when I could no longer dance when I was still as an ovum and awaiting the firing squad’s aim the stiff bullets’ penetration the god Shiva’s revenge


Biographical Note: Maurice Devitt

In 2016 he was selected for the Poetry Ireland Introductions Series and shortlisted for the Listowel Poetry Collection Competition. Winner of the Trocaire/Poetry Ireland Competition in 2015, he has been placed or shortlisted in many competitions including the Over the Edge New Writer Competition, Cuirt New Writing Award, the Listowel Writers’ Week Collection Competition and the Doire Press International Chapbook Competition. A guest poet at the ‘Poets in Transylvania’ festival in 2015, he has had poems published in various journals in Ireland, England, Scotland, the US, Mexico, Romania, India and Australia, is curator of the Irish Centre for Poetry Studies site and a founder member of the Hibernian Writers’ Group.


And what, Miss Kennan, are you planning to do with your hair? (Maurice Devitt)

i.m. Pauline Devitt (nĂŠe Kennan) 1927-2014

Arnott’s Department Store, September 1945, you, in your first job after school, a sales assistant selling gowns to debutantes who will grace the ballroom of the Metropole Hotel, their blissful path already set fair, while you still second guess the future: whether you will marry and, if so, could it be to the handsome cashier you met last night at the National.

Allowed him to walk you home but, playing hard to get, never invited him in, sent him back to his digs on the North Circular, spinning on the possibility of meeting you again.

You slept fitfully, forgot to tie up your hair, and in the morning, as you rushed out the door, disguised your dizziness under a hat.


January Morning, Eagle Rock (Maurice Devitt)

Walking out, a noisy hush before the silence, mist clears and gasps of colour shorten our breath. We stutter on familiar steps, are surprised by the confidence of snowdrops, calmed by the monotony of sky. Shaken from the torpor of sleep, we chase the track as it rises, pulls us into the incline, where feet, not long out of slippers, stretch for the certainty of rock and soft bodies, warming to the task, gird themselves for capricious paths and stark choices, met with the blank expression of snow – then, after staggered seconds of unknowing, I am opening your door for the first time to an empty room.


Little Mysteries (Maurice Devitt)

Prompted by the gurgle of voices on the other line, burglars always know which wire to cut and trees, reduced to marking time on passing bark, never fail to shed their leaves. Yet we close doors that were never open, shred sense in the alchemy of sound, and lick our lips expecting pride, but tasting only shame.


A Speckled Life (Maurice Devitt)

i.m. Br. Terence Hilary Devitt 1918-99

In black soutane and slippers you slice the hazy emptiness of a Sunday schoolyard, hate the rattling silence of the big house, slip time with the clack of a sliotar cut shoulder-high and fizzed across the torpid evening sun.

It is Doneraile 1968, far from the pogroms of Marsden Gardens, the enclave on Chief Street, high-step cycle to St Mary’s on the Falls, for smoggy evenings spent on the dark art of hurling.

Standing on the fourteenth, Tramore Open Championship, it all comes back. Clutch 42

more than grip, fingers wrapped like twigs, you pull. Eyes rise as the ball climbs, eclipsed for seconds by the dark cushions of the Comeraghs, drops and rolls bashfully into the hole.

Sequestered in Marino you learned how your ear could steal the soul of a song and how, perched on a piano-stool, stud-collar open, you could read the keys like braille, listen as the notes purred into space.

This was your gift generously smuggled into the hands of others: Feis Maitiu in Francis Street, The Gondoliers in Monkstown Park and, year after year, the Silver Band in Mount Sion. You coaxed music from squabby hands and doubting minds, plucked talent from a thicket of voices, always without envy, without regret. 43

Caught in small rooms of cant and pessimism you would escape, Honda 50 grazing out the back, life stuffed into a brown duffel bag, skirt the capillaries of The Deise and break onto open road, neither knowing nor caring where you would land.

How your golf and driving improved when you lost an eye. A tenuous link for twenty years, the nerve finally snapped, a first sign of your loosening mortality. Blind-sided, cancer crept in, never to leave until that day in Ballygunner, the piano a blushing memory of you.


Derby Day (Maurice Devitt)

If nothing happens in the first race just reset your watch and try again because luck has a habit of turning up late or not at all, and the horse you backed in the 2.15 could still be running when you pack up the champagne flutes, the wicker basket and button up your gingham shirt. Don’t be surprised if, on the nine o’clock news, the same horse gives an interview riddled with clichÊ, his head turned from the camera as he explains, when the going gets tough the tough get going, but fails to answer when asked where he was the night before, who he was with and whether it was true that he twisted an ankle in a late-night dash from The Jockey Club.


The Man in No. 41 (Maurice Devitt)

Lives in the fear of self-service shops, checks his pockets as he leaves for contraband and unwanted gifts planted in the crush at the salad counter. Is suspicious of umbrellas since he read of the Bulgarian spy stabbed in the knee on Westminster Bridge or the cathedral of the same name? No matter, he knows it could happen to anyone at anytime, loves the oily innocence of fairgrounds, the beards of candy-floss, the sawn-off option at the rifle range, but afraid he might find himself rocking at the top of a ferris-wheel, waiting for others to board, only to remember he had left the iron plugged in, candles burning and, knowing that the neighbour two doors down, the only one with a key, would be caught up in the vortex of her daughter’s ballet, phone snapped silent, he would call his home number, be reassured to hear it ring, surprised when it answered, his own voice coughing down the line.


Biographical Note: Bob Shakeshaft Bob Shakeshaft has been a long time participant on the Dublin open mic scene. Bob has read at the Inchicore village festival in 2005, at Seven Towers open mic sessions, at the Glor sessions where he recorded his poem Why. ? Bob has also appeared in Seven Towers anthology 2012/2013.Bob is also published in the Curlew collection by writers from Dublin, and the Ardgillan writer’s anthology, where he has been a long time member of this group. Bob has poems published in the broadsheet Riposte, edited by Michael O Flanagan, sadly this broadsheet came to its demise in 2015. And 2014 had his poem” Butterfly” published in the Brown critique magazine, UK. Bob also appeared in an anthology,” And Agamemnon Dead “, published in conjunction with the Skerries poetry festival Donkey shots. Poems appearing in this Anthology, include, “A plague of uncertainty”, Auld Rope “, and “Gur Cake”. Bob has just recently appeared in the latest issue of the New Ulster Anu, the 40th. Issue. In this Anthology the following Poems appear.” Auld tripe”, “Ashen Sun “, Toddles”, A thin white line”, and “After Philomena.” Bob has recorded his poems on KFM radio, as well as Liffey sounds with host poet Eamon Lynskey, also on Dublin south radio. Recently I have read at the over the edge Galway, from the Anthology, “And Agamemnon Dead”. Bob is currently striving to complete a first collection, in the distant hope of been published.


Blind shame (Bob Shakeshaft)

A hot violent breath stung my neck. My tender body violated. You entered Christian Brother, Till a spasm set free a trickle of dead seeds, Never suffer…little children come unto me. For heaven asks a heavy price,

In the name of Jesus, you abused my humanity. In childish trust you tore the seat of my soul, Screamed nightly upon deaf ears…blind eyes, Your shame…am I to blame?

I vomit the notion of calling you brother, No one rescued me…not even doctors Who tended my wounded rectum? My bruised body no hospital reported… The horror and degradation scarring my life.

Worst of all no one believed… Lies… shouted altar bended knees, Till a scream voiced evidence, That cut a deal, denying a trial, Gave way to a paltry recompense, Torments… bright dark days.


Gobo (Bob Shakeshaft)

The shell must be broken Before the bird can wing

Just as a chrysalis cracks The larva’s hard coffin

Shows its wings To the sun

Does it remember? Does it mourn?

For what It once was


Poet’s cell (Bob Shakeshaft)

In Kilmainham Gaol by invitation, Lord Mayor speechifying. Silent guests silently sip white, red, Ribbon-scissors Inchicore festival. In meandering time The cold dank caged my senses. Now I am free To imbibe, talk, laugh. An audience captive In the Governors quarters. Waiting in nervous thoughts, Michael calls my name. Sweaty palms, a pause Words set free… My mind wanders From rows of tiny cells, voices past emerge. My God would you look at this lot Celebrating indeed has our sacrifice been forgotten? Here we liberated our last breath. A fatal shot snapped us to eternity. Listen Our names are revered – respected even. The proud oration of these poets is testament Our deeds are rewarded by this freedom.


Stairway (Bob Shakeshaft) Mother! I sensed your presence On my way from my morning shave, and Cold water wake-up splash Causing a shiver. Long-time gone to your rest, I ponder what it is all about. Why now Mother Kate? Your attention In the past was so little, Perhaps you regretted my conception, Almost out of wedlock; I know now The cynical time you endured, church guilt Tormented family, threw you out. A hushed behind altar wedding, hiding The sin, to blame a natural act of joy Given by god; these priests in long robes Did not know I never felt your love. My guess… In blaming my innocence You could not love me. Now it’s long past forgiving, No longer berefts my heart Because, you know you raised me up, When I fell You patched my knees, Taught me right from wrong, and How to accept life As it tumbles along, so It’s not love cuddlesome, But still.


Chimerical (Bob Shakeshaft) It is beguiling this place is no place not really though then again it is I have some memories of that smell of blackberries picking them held me in the moment everything forgotten just now I noticed the bamboo stick I am one of three hunkering down on the bank of the silver-spoon river catching tadpoles for our jam-jar aquarium ephemeral of course like all it is destined to fizzle out when I dream out


Biographical Note: Helen Harrison

Helen Harrison was raised on the Wirral, seven miles from Liverpool, by Irish parents, and has lived most of her adult life in the border countryside of Co Monaghan, where she is married with a grown-up daughter. Her poems have been published in A New Ulster, North West Words and The Bray Journal. Her first collection of poetry ‘The Last Fire’ was published during 2015 by Lapwing.


COMPOST (Helen Harrison) I like all the worn things; The decay; old boats Rotting by the side of a lake Metamorphosis at sea Things becoming smaller Swallowed by larger things Wood rotting in the garden I saw a hedgehog climb out of some, Only, to be run over by a metal car; His decaying body; food for the crows His life of chewing insects; sheltered In a winter woodpile, gone A home; those materials That metabolize; the ruins of ships Where fish: roam among bones. The worn-out tales at Cobh, Cork Harbour Where the mighty Titanic sailed; sadly Turning; cheering crowds to tears. The aging leather skin of gypsy’s; Weather-worn, wild and free; the lines The tales: scars; and fights. I enjoy trodden paths, stone walls Where weeds have grown between The cracks; old railway tracks..... Apples rotting on the ground My love for old things, know No bounds. I love The things that once were free, that Maybe now; docked or anchored. It’s Worn things I hanker after.


Biographical Note: Glen Wilson

Glen Wilson lives in Portadown, Co Armagh with his wife Rhonda and children Sian and Cain. He has been widely published having work in The Honest Ulsterman, Foliate Oak, Iota, Southword and The Incubator Journal amongst others. In 2014 he won the Poetry Space competition and was shortlisted for the Wasafiri New Writing Prize. He was shortlisted for the Seamus Heaney Award for New Writing 2016. He is currently working on his first collection of poetry.


A God sketch on Silver Plated Copper Boulevard Du Temple 1838 by Daguerre (Glen Wilson) The Boulevard bends out of view, theatres staged to left, quiet in composition, trees like painters smudges, saplings held like rifles to the posts, bollards to give diminishing perspective.

The cobbles a stone river, the sky freckled by the process, fingerprints, permanent dark lines, a man stopping with a bootblack, the only sign of people.

All the others too fast for the exposure, this is the first capture of people on film, an act of serving, a silhouette of Christ washing the disciples feet.


The Planter (Glen Wilson) After John Hewitt It was someone with my name who sowed these seeds long ago, as their body entered earth, leaving the heir everything; marked fields, ploughs in mid furrow. We came to dig deep in the green, this rain sodden Canaan of the west, We bore our young, the stake increased, we settled enough to call this; home.

Accusing voices call us weeds, wish to uproot these tendrils, twisted like lovers. I break new ground, my hands familiar with the dirt I hoist and hold; How much deeper must I go for my spade to disturb the founds?


La Girona in a Bottle (Glen Wilson) The ocean is all around, the sky a glass ceiling, these sails billow out without movement or feeling. I watch the waves hoping that they will wash me through the bottleneck out into the open sea. I have no crew to call mutiny, no cargo to manifest. No one to check the mainsail is pointing us to the west. A cross of a knight of Santiago reaches for the shore A ring clutching a heart Inscribed ‘I can give you no more’ The coast detached watches our mottled grandness struggle in the rolling waves, frozen never to progress. The unalterable course to the rocks at Lacada point, ready to smash matchstick intricacies of joist and joint. White horses rise to always wait to fall in muted moan, a purgatory with no backstar big enough to guide us home.


The Lighter Men (Glen Wilson) The water sluices black marked only by the moonlight weaving through the trees. We light the lamps of the gas candle. The oar digs deep in the current, the grained wood etching itself in my palms, my fingerprints are left on the handle. We heave and haul the casks and boxes, empty the barge of cargo. The horse whinnies as she bears the load, I stroke her ear and grip the bridle. We shift the locks to let the barge move on downriver, everything passes through or is washed away paraffin burns, the moon waxes idle. In the distance Lake Ontario swells, taking in our dark, transfiguring it to light.


Amber Flush (Glen Wilson) You know these paths better than I do around Lady Dixon park. The petals have begun to brown and curl, save the ones already on the asphalt path. This here is a Himalayan Musk Rose, I know it says so on the sign, You laugh. Yes But I did know it without the sign. Father David’s Rose, What made Him so special? Maybe it they found it in Churchyards? All the world is based on maybe Isn’t it, everyone just waiting for a yes I see a rat near a bin, trailing off a half finished packet of cheese and onion crisps, you don't notice how close the creature is to your sandalled feet. I begin to wonder if you are a good guide for love, lost as you are among what you know,


I've never been here before, I've assumed you are the experienced one. Here these are the damask roses , no one ever comes this way. I catch a line of the description '...intensely fragrant and come in white, pink or red colours. Some repeat-flower, some don't.' You take my hand and pull me into the undergrowth, this I know, the mystery is always after the bloom.


Surface Water (Glen Wilson) The dawn after the rain leaves more reflections in the puddles on Belfast streets in February. The refuse collectors are an hour into their work, the baristas warm up the machines, wipe the counter tops. His body doesn’t react to the sound or bristles of the automotive sweepers and their mechanical cleansing. A sleeping bag is curled in a ball, The outturned label says Ultra Lightweight, Skin Friendly Lining, Synthetically filled. Natural causes the paper says, nothing suspicious, bouquets are strapped to the railings again quenching thirst with sheared roots.


Biographical Note: Owen Gallagher Gallagher

Owen Gallagher’s poems have been published widely in the UK, Ireland and abroad. He has awards from The London Arts Board and The Society of Authors. His previous publications are: Sat Guru Snowman, Peterloo Poets, Tea with the Taliban, Smokestack Books, and A Good Enough Love, Salmon Poetry.


The Work Ethic (Owen Gallagher)

Democracy is vulnerable to viruses, health problems, cancers; to having its legs blown away, its tongue severed.

It can be seen on crutches at demonstrations, on Zimmer frames in workplaces. It never applies for a sick-note

or a chance to doss on a beach. When depressed it thinks of its childhood in Greek states, teenage years in communes.

You’d think it would seek a pension but it wakes daily to a bowl of porridge, goes off to work whistling.


Tic (Owen Gallagher)

Whilst he covets the attention of the TV interviewer, and being considered as a Government front-bench runner, his mother, Lady Paris Smith

notices a facial tic not inherited from his father but of a prominent Cabinet Minister she once cross-partied with.


The Dark Stuff (Owen Gallagher)

It’s in a crossroads village like this Kavanagh said poetry is made, and just as I was about to fade

into the darkness of Biddy Jack’s for a pint of black and open a fresh pack of cards with the boys in the back,

a tractor spilled its load of turf onto the road, revealing a gun hoard and,

this being where it was, three onlookers made the sign of the cross, loaded the trailer and, with a nod, the old fella drove off,

forcing me to sit at the bar, absorb the shock, and ponder whether poetry is made or not.


The Cure for Homosexuality (Owen Gallagher)

I confessed to the priest about a boy who made me light-headed, and prepared for a stint on my knees but had to attend hospital as my penance. Mother knelt while electrodes were placed on my thighs and I was shown pictures of naked men.

From Fourth Form, I was ‘ the poofter’. Someone who, at playtimes and during PE, would report to the medical room. I’d piss myself rather than go to the BOYS. At home-time I was released first. My name was chalked on walls. Masses were offered to save my soul.

It was always winter in our home. Two single beds replaced the double I shared with my brother. Since then we’ve never spoken. I slept with my hands above the blankets. 67

The sheets were checked daily. For fear it might aggravate his heart father was kept in the dark.

I reported to the priest in his room after school. He’d insist on exorcising the devils. Had a crown of thorns tattooed on his back, made me swear a vow of silence. I was sent to a House of Correction. It was a House of Wrongs. I made it out to the streets.


Straight Up (Owen Gallagher)

When she grasped what I considered big, stuttered Is that it? I fumbled with the zip.

For a decade I thought myself unfit, destined to drift with lads unable to get onto the pitch.

Until I was referred to a page-turner for the inadequate, What men can do with or without it.

If things for us go amiss, let us persist with this artificial aid – which I believe is strapped on like this.


Biographical Note: Val McLoughlin

Val McLoughlin, Painter, printmaker and poet, is a founding member of the Ox Mountain Poets, based in Ballina, County Mayo. He studied Fine Art in Cork and attended writing workshops in the Munster Literature Centre with Gregory O’ Donoghue and Gerry Murphy amongst others.


Day Trippers (Val McLoughlin) On Enniscrone beach, walking to the estuary through a chilly corridor of fog, stepping on brittle crab claws in the grey sand, I reach the black water of the Moy as it glides between sun-brightened shores and slides into the green sea. Across the river, Osip Mandelstam sits on Barthra Island, fresh-shaven, dark-glassed, pinking in the sun his toes buried in the warm sand, a carafe of Orvieto, lightly chilled, with a wedge of Pecorino Romano to hand. Nadezhda, his wife, young again, reads Tacitus aloud. Osip smiles knowingly. Behind me in the fog, Stalin, dragging his chains, blunders deeper into the cold surf of Killala Bay, heading north.


Belleek (Val McLoughlin) The last of the night rain drips through leaves – wet dreams of the forest slide into daylight.


Dispossessed (Val McLoughlin) Spring snow falls like ash from nicotine-stained clouds winter’s grass is dusted mint green The river path, a black stroke on bright canvas, sparkles with ice. The gelid river, battleship grey, has flooded the reed beds and covered the riverbank where I went to paint in last summer’s heat and two girls lay sunbathing. I slunk from the spot, an intruder.


Early September (Val McLoughlin) Evening, cool enough for a jacket, the swallows gone, the air empty of their swoops and scuddings, the river low and brindled. – Trout have it, almost, to themselves, their gentle rise leaves fluid rings of sips and kisses. An angler flicks his fishing line onto the quiet Moy as it flows towards winter.


Stolid River (Val McLoughlin) Under grey sky the river is polished stone, crushing memory, from source to end of the taken, unwilling or willing.


Biography: Omole Ibukun

Omole Ibukun is a Melancholic poet. An activist. A civil engineering student.


STRAIT OF GIBRALTAR --18+-(Omole Ibukun) (A RIDDLE TO BE SOLVED BY FEMALES ONLY) An oasis of peace An ocean of passion A stream of steam A lake of fire . A candle light melting my candlestick A burning bush that lost me in the thick . Melts for the meek, Wets with the milk. Health for the sick, Strength for the weak. . A taste to savour like sauce and sausages, I pledge my service to the saviour of savages . How well you devour my fruits! Carrots to banana, Plantain to cucumber; For bringing forth fleshy fruits. . As red as Europe As black as Africa I can't go straight to the matter about the Strait of Gibraltar. As hot as the Sahara Yet, not barren like a desert. As wet as the Mariana, Yet it's deeper than a trench. As tight as the Nuptial, Yes, Is it not the Nuptial Knot? . I can't live without you, I can't speak about you without encrypting my mouth. Does anybody know what I'm talking about? ?????????????????????? O.I gueVara 77

Biography: Al Millar

From Donegal, lives and works in north Antrim. Loves English language used well. Keen interest in Scots vernacular poetry in Ulster. In 2014, edited with biography and introductions 'Frae the Causey to Apolaypse' the poems in Ulster-Scots and English by John McKinley of Dunseverick. Enjoy writing poetry and prose in English and vernacular, and both together. Outside of literature hobbies include climbing hills in Antrim, Donegal, in fact any beautiful hill anywhere, also politics, and eating nice food.


Manchester bar Belfast Agreement (Al Millar) Written in April 2005, about a small occurrence that took place in April 1998, unearthed for A New Ulster’s anthology marking Irish National Poetry Day, April 2016. In a day of killing an hour we enter a musty old pub behind the campus late afternoon and almost empty. A middle-aged woman sits on a high stool at one end of the bar. She rises and goes behind as we approach asking our pleasure. Southern Irish she is. “Where are you from?” I ask curiously. She pulls our pints. “Meath…the Royal County,” she replies in a proud friendly tone. Her answer surprises. I have never heard Meath referred to as ‘Royal’ before. There are no ‘Royal’ counties in Ireland, come on! King’s County and Queen’s County are now Offaly and Laois surely? But I say nothing.

Drink served and money received she resumes her seat. The bar falls briefly silent. The man seated opposite her also southern Irish and of similar age asks for my thoughts on the newly signed Good Friday Agreement. I say that it is a good thing. I mean it. He nods sceptically, “Ah shur Clinton got on to Trimble…” he starts... The rapid fire verbal outburst is instant. The barmaid’s voice is shrill and commanding “Mylie O’Donnell*, there’ll be no talk about religion or politics in this bar!” 79

Mylie falls silent, eyeing his glass, cowed. I smile inwardly probably he’s well used to her. And there is to be no wags eye view of the historic agreement. No sniping across the invisible interface. Perhaps it would have been an interesting exchange of views or banal. Adrian and I find seats and sip our ales returning to the language of aspirant writers doing the Novel Writing MA at Manchester University. Roughly a week later the penny drops – she meant Irish Royalty Gaelic Kings and Queens on the hill of Tara going back a thousand years and longer! How preposterous is that!

*Not his real name


Biography: Silva Merjanian

Silva Zanoyan Merjanian is a widely published poet residing in California. Her work is featured in anthologies and international poetry journals and read by Irish actress/narrator Eabha Rose. She has two volumes of poetry, Uncoil a Night (2013) and Rumor (Cold River Press 2015.) Proceeds from both books are entirely donated to refugees. Merjanian recently was the guest speaker at Ohio State University on the centennial of the Armenian Genocide. She’s also been invited to read in poetry festivals and poetry societies such as the Austin Poetry Society and the ARPA Institute.
Three of her poems have been nominated for Pushcart award this year, and her 2015 collections of poems Rumor was given Pinnacle Book Achievement Award for best poetry book for fall 2015 by NABE.


SAINTS IN MY RAIN (Silva Merjanian) I learned the rain in cursive slants I learned 
lying on doubts 
 spread on the sacred and not
 spread on my bed, my pillow, my exhale
 the crust of every lie I loved tainted with silver sliver of your tongue

I turned that night on its back after you went to bed your streets indebted to shadows of restless dreams bruising on its replaced ribs where trash collectors compress disposed remnants in the ruble life’s severed limbs an envy here a longing there a nothingness holier than my prayers

and I add that face without the lips under the face with muffled shame under the face I used to have 82

on heaps of unfinished poems where a lemon tree and jasmine blossoms promised mornings colored and scented at my fingertips

I learned the rain in every lie in stammer of your pavements where Saints gather in line at rock bottoms stacked between my howl and a crow’s black squawk wrists dripping prayers on St Rita’s solemn face she sympathizes but says tonight she owns the ledge

there’s always mad laughter at the foot of beds where Saints sleep on their sides facing the drapes that catch the city’s quieting breath misting under street lamps that catch impelled compromise in bourbon shots and blues on a clarinet as lonely as you that time when you asked my name sometimes I tell you long after you’ve gone to bed


TONIGHT (Silva Merjanian)

Tonight a thousand eyelids will close on beautiful lies and quivering lips will sleep unkissed untouched by sultry blue jazz in the dark tonight lust will blister on menopausal gritty tongues and blind vultures will circle parameters of a man’s heart tonight middle aged men will look for love in midtown bars and women selling artificial flavors to the tune of hallelujahs will sharpen their knives

tonight poets will find the words to color their hell and dip their pens in wounds that aren’t even theirs

tonight somewhere it will rain on wingless birds their love songs mending broken pillows in high notes

tonight she will step out with her hair down, in new stilettos she’ll blow a kiss with naked lips through the door left ajar

tonight, tonight’s no different than any other night the walls are thin, the moon is skinned, blindfolds handed free


DOVES OF BEIRUT (Silva Merjanian)

Doves were arrogant in those days feral, territorial of ledges I hadn’t snapped their necks yet through grind of metal on bone, stone through air sharpened on greed hones no scream left in punctured lungs fate duct -taped to fetal nights barricaded behind shadowed ribs that hardly rose for a fight underneath rubble of lord’s prayer and adhan

they pecked at concrete heads bobbing, waiting waiting they knew I’d come they knew I’d tire of walking your curved dead -end streets

I knew those ledges well gravel and loose feathers wet with rain 85

stuck with white droppings to my young toes curled on grit

but I knew your streets below better lick of diesel on asphalt grief's iron reek in gutters rising damp alleys breathing breathing the way the old do those who’d seen the blade cut through flesh

a sigh every third inhale a pause before funneling jasmine and mold laced gasps into patched veins tied to the stone tied to throbbing ground with historical claims to the sea breeze that couldn’t cool their burns still rummaging for life as they used to remember it


I walked on sweat of fig trees on your sidewalks bleeding at cracks when you had the pigeon for dinner and I starving, gnawed on bones where I’d tied my message pleading for your unclutched claws on my debt

I hear you like your whores younger these days and you rather have your sons as killers blind and foaming revenge at mouth darbouka between their knees dropped for guns

streets mapped in bite marks on time I served now dyed ash blond I look away the way the old do eyes on the distance to your bleeding ledge


SEPTEMBER (Silva Merjanian)

September's the new lover in my bed we snort new lies and hold, in sweet breath till eyes accustom to the dark and scent of potpourri is lost between us

September is my summer matured into a harlequin mĂŠlange of elegies

it’s my sleepwalk to the street-lamp 'round midnight in a city that loves smell of the rain in my hair and there's the man under its hazy floodlight with a 3 day scruff, grinding a cigarette he promises is his last

I tell him I love him and I mean it for a while

September's inure to absence of you now svelte femme fatale flirting winter or second fiddle to a protagonist it depends on parried questions of the day


September breathes in your gaping mouth but don't hold it to its promises they’re idle rain on rooftops


THE IRISHMAN (Silva Merjanian)

There's a sadness in Irish eyes harboring comfort in anguish thousands years in the making a secret code in their laughter ‘round incessant toasts macerating in Celtic rain

chagrin in steel blue eyes dusted with late night dry sighs burden of fathers hauled from calloused hands of their fathers and theirs drool of life bartenders wipe off their counters in local pubs

and courage in Irish veins flows as Liffey gurgles its Viking source on grey damp mornings as death daunts and scandals emerge from humid stones

love of country and family rouse the lymphatic Dublin night 90

and an Irishman in moonlit melancholy grief squeezing his pen’s throat rattles cage of fate and more


HOME (Silva Merjanian)

Words on an epicure's tongue that subtle bitter lost on an audience 
 handpicked from chorus lines while I savored buoyant questions 
 to the edge of your mind
 knowing there will be no answers
 in suburbs graveled white

but on this night the universe is crawling on skin soft with expectation and I have untied silk rhymes lifting the bluebird’s cleavage you might as well have caged it between your colored doubts

are you listening at this moment or are you asleep spooning spines bent where you have dotted all I ask is for hail in December 92

charting my hiding sanding raised eyebrows I will lie in your embrace and deal with the aftertaste at first crack of dawn in absence of verse hygiene graffiti clinging to your sunken chest because the universe is crawling on skin soft with expectation and I am lost in a blizzard that resembles your voice

you see there is no one at home and home is everywhere in the vast distance in memories' dead weight in winter’s renewal act in promise of my eyes and in your empty palms where I pressed my face fearing my many names but one I left on rooftops


Biography: Chris O’Toole

Chris O'Toole is a Head Chef in County Wicklow. Poems have been running around his mind for many years and so he has finally taken up the pen! He says his job is a highly creative one for self expression but that in poetry, he can express deeper feelings - in poetry he finds a way to explain life and things that happen to people.

Chris enjoys exploring language, punditry, absurdity and the human condition


Dandelion (Chris O’Toole) Seed grows Along with its fellow world Bends and flows in the wind

A flower blooms Pushed aside Pulled apart

New season, new bloom Expected disappointment Still a weed Still a dandelion


A Little Late (Chris O’Toole) Emotion shown is rarely true Truth in reality is greatly received Gladly embraced What price on time A cost of repair Waiting on you for my piece Left open a second is too long When it fits Its presence is outlined


Feet (Chris O’Toole)

Finding my feet Tracing my steps Repetition breaths safe An unfamiliar knock The night all around Deeper into the grey darkness A voice reaches in, touching Scraping me back To haunt my dreams


Half Full (Chris O’Toole) Two different views Half full Blinded by optimism Ready to become one

Half empty Enough is never enough Crippled by doubt Looking for the other half

How much is enough To empty your soul Piece by piece To make one, one


Shooting Star (Chris O’Toole) Black and gold Still air and full moon Contemplation sets in A shooting star

It explodes the mind The enormity of the experience Fills your soul with excitement Briefly extinguishes any doubts

Your company is unnoticed In the company of excitement Make a wish! Why, in your insignificance


Sponge (Chris O’Toole) Travelling in orbit At great speed Seeing all, feeling all Soaking up everything

Soon in company Spinning in happiness Or crushing disappointment Maybe a different cause

A brief eclipse Heavy gravity released Spinning free now To be and just be


Biography: Sean Smith

Sean Smith tries not to let his work as a civil servant interfere with his writing time and is supported by his beautiful wife Carmel, his soon-to-be-a-teenage-boy Noah and a pair of 53 year old legs. He has been published in The Poetry Bus, Skylight47 and Boyne Berries and recently came second in the Ballyroan Library World Poetry Day competition.


Lamp (Sean Smith) The old oil lamp, pumped into light by fingers gnarled and rooted in wood, that he planed, shaped and turned. From pharmacists bench to mahogany table. Here children sat, planted like saplings and listened to tales as old as the earth, of fish slipping the hook and grouse flushed from gorse. The wick dimmed and the light was breathed into darkness. And knotted, wood-stained fingers loosened their grip on the lathe


Orange Grove (Sean Smith) Line on line, a Republican guard for this Valenciano grove. A green regiment with leaves untouching. Where sun-beaten earth grasps thick stemmed trees, sucking thirsty roots deep into parched soil. She waits, listless, a roadside negotiator. Bottles of water pool round her chair, a bead drips at every passing truck and car. Each pressed client met with the promise of pulped, dimpled flesh. But this flesh is sun-tainted, leathery, old before its time and left unplucked on the bough. All future promise dried up leaving a bitter husk to face the day long heat. The fake smile; a red slash matching over-tilled soil. And as the sun calls the fruit to harvest it peels away innocence, segment by segment.


Memorial (Seans Smith) They chiselled my name upon a wall and within an arching granite surround, there echoed a single bugles call. Later the stagnant ground triggered a blasted seed’s recall; a red petal and the sound of my name chiselled upon a wall. Were you there to see me fall and are you one that was not found? Not stirring on that final trawl but left in mud and blood to drown and lying still beneath it all. As others marched all around to chisel my name upon a wall. If only you had caused a hand to stall before it wrote a great renown and covered the world with a pall like some suffocating eiderdown. That left us lifeless within a shawl or buried, unknown, deep underground: Then no need to chisel my name upon a wall.


Regrowth (Sean Smith) The winter sun slinks low, its light shaded by grey garden walls The trees turn, green bleeds into red and the cherry tree, blossom long since wind-kissed, covers its leaves in grave dust; a memorial shroud to those pink pollen days. The world turns. Lemon yellow leaves, jaundiced with age, flicker bright and drop in a carpet of burnt orange whose flames sterilise the mountain side. And in the blackened embers, two green shoots, arms aloft, lift themselves from a blanket capturing a lost youth in their embrace.


Outlaws (Sean Smith)

Those desperadoes, whooping and a-hollering, riding bareback down the mean streets of Crumlin. Tying up their horses outside the Village Inn saloon as they mosey on over to Borza’s corral. And after running the Drimnagh posse back over the badlands they rest their horses on the communal green and let them graze as they dream of being the last gunslinger in town, facing down the bandit pistoleros from Dolphins Barn: this is their patch, their Law to lay down. These boys becoming men; start out on the outlaw trail, end up as drug mules, dead, or banged up in jail.


Race (Sean Smith) The cheering had stopped, all sound sucked out of the bowl that seemed to slowly turn as if on a potter’s wheel. The tension inside matched by the suspense of the moment as the world watched, motionless. The shaping of a symbol from a base medal began with the crack of the starter’s gun that echoed down the track to a cotton field where crosses burned surrounded by white sheets and slaves were bred for sport. A mere nineteen seconds, but the victory wasn’t complete until a gloved hand pierced Aztec air and, with its power, took away the breath of the world.


Biography: Adeniyi Johnson

Adeniyi Johnson Is a poet from Nigeria


ELEGY OF OLD AGE (:Adeniyi Johnson) The pains of time is all I feel the joy of aging, in toddling days lost The keen guard of ticking clock to remind always: You’ve got little time left The pains of time is all I feel nostalgia of youthful days in fading mind resides. rigors of ages past, left me on feeble limbs. reiterated echo of reality: You’ve got little time left. The pains of time is all I feel, constant glowing of the sun, unrelenting in its glory, yet older than my failing sight, more radiant than my toothless smiles in starry skies of every night. chirping birds of daily dawns, whistling same familiar song: You’ve got little time left. The pains of time is all I feel, blots on history’s linen, rises of empires and falls of kingdoms. The Tears of war and betrayals of love. Life had shown me the heart of men, You’ve been here too long, You’ve got little time left.


NATURE TURNED SOUR (:Adeniyi Johnson) In the beginning, the flowers blossom in summers and dance always in playful gesture at buzzing noises of bees that never get wary of playing the happy music to cheer the hospitable host. The flowers never worried of winter their natural spell, for there will always be other summers to welcome the bees. For all was perfect at inception, an Eden we had and we gladly toil the pastures and later gather the plenty harvest. Man later grew wiser then nature got poorer, trees were cut down to make man a shelter to make the birds unsheltered, and make the earth uncovered. Man’s greedy wants of conquests, tussling in the quest for power. we’ve made shells and cannons to fall all that stands our way. our bombs are nuclear and deadly to guide the home we live. The helpless earth keeps weeping of ruins we’ve brought on her. her unending raining tears, flooding our fields and barns.


JEPHTHAH’S DAUGHTER (:Adeniyi Johnson) Bless thee victory, you’ve brought her father fame, he led Israel in battle and fought his foes fiercely, pierced through their heathen hearts with his blood-savoury sword. street of merrying men rejoicing the birth of freedom conceived in belly of war. Cursed thee war! Cursed thee!! you’ve brought her father fame and left her in pains to weep for her unborn children for the will die yet unborn. Jephthah’s grand children forever lost in her virgin womb for she is the price he paid, the bargain for bitter victory destined to die the day Israel was free.


GLOOMY SOUL (:Adeniyi Johnson) Oh! Weary soul wake up from despair and fight that mortal foe within, He strangled you while you slumbered on the bed of your own artistry. He plundered your mind with illusions of hopeful ending that miraged as you tread closer into abyss of non-existent future. Wow! a lethal blackmail. Arise and fight back Oh pathetic soul in gloom. The damage is done already And the pitcher broken beyond repairs Like ashes of a cremated hero Blown away in scattered dust From his memorial vase into oblivion, depriving him a befitting burial. Oh! Gloomy soul in despair, It’s time to submerge the load That’s pulling back your feet. It’s time to wipe-off the sour tears And agonize never again.


A LOST FREEDOM (:Adeniyi Johnson) The taste of freedom should be like honey; we thought at first as the aroma we perceived from distant lands where every man’s king, void of shackles and thrive their souls with the dews of heaven like that mount of bliss that will outlive their spirits and their sons’. We summoned courage before our slave masters to plead our share of the paradise we believed was hidden in their closets so as to grieve our spirit that once knew joy when we wore masks each man in his cottage until they fell barricades and everyman was thereafter made his neighbour’s brother. Though our skies adjust so quickly, our birds mingled their nests from oak to oak and our beasts interbreed in unholy matrimonies, yet our hearts can hardly stand side by side. Though we shared same stream for drink but in opposite ends many footprints depart. Our forced union deprived us oneness like a river of many children that agitate at confluence aftermath each leaving with scars and bruises in the same number after the violent fight. For once we’d agreed to a common goal, a synchrony of our heartbeats that spoke freedom was unprecedented-we were unfriendly folks about to turn friends when foes afflict. One vision- to at last be happy together… A dream of freedom a viable resolve, echoes of freedom filled the air. To the camp of our colonial masters hoisted were banners of independence; we really meant business this time.


Alas! Stamp and paper declared‘Henceforth this is a free country…’ (Gbam!) But the freedom flag lamented in the air waving reluctantly to an unseen music like a dance to a sad opera That sings only gloom and elegyA people that hate and starve in freedom will only prey itself back to slavery.


WAR CHILD (:Adeniyi Johnson) I wasn’t born to know war; echoes of bomb blast or deafening gunshots aren’t supposed to mimic thunder. I was born to nurture flowers like the birds build their nests in trees; I was born to sleep in peace and snore to lullaby of the night’s crickets; I was born to fear and panicFears of spiders like gory vampires not barrels of pistols or riffles; Fears of ghosts in moonlight folklores not witches with stuttering gun machines. I wasn’t born to age so fast to knowledge of the dreaded tempest that ravages lives- both old and young, to decipher so fast witty ironieshow to fight to buy a peace and kill a man for me to live. This budding tree that still thrive in nursery is fruiting already hate and evil like a mirror that sleeps in darkness I have no clue how to reflect an image even in a flood of sunshine. For all I’ve known my whole lifeto kill or be killed.


Biography: John W.Sexton

John W. Sexton lives on the south-west coast of Kerry and is the author of five poetry collections, the most recent being Petit Mal (Revival Press, 2009) and The Offspring of the Moon (Salmon Poetry 2013). His sixth collection, Futures Pass, is also forthcoming from Salmon. Under the ironic pseudonym of Sex W. Johnston he has recorded an album with legendary Stranglers frontman, Hugh Cornwell, entitled Sons Of Shiva, which has been released on Track Records. He is a past nominee for The Hennessy Literary Award and his poem The Green Owl won the Listowel Poetry Prize 2007. In 2007 he was awarded a Patrick and Katherine Kavanagh Fellowship in Poetry.


Famous Mice (John W. Sexton) the one my father trapped in the stainless steel kitchen sink and drowned under the hot tap / the three-quarter moon a cut coin through the net curtain / the one whose bite I nibbled from a half biscuit breathing in its rank whiff / a coconut macaroon a sweet moon / the one who stopped the washing machine for a week and then the man came in a blue bib-and-brace and the mouse was a pulped splodge in the works / the one I cornered in the skirting board and set free believing it was me / the one I imagined curled in the grey right eye of the moon / the one our neighbour’s cat brought live from the railway embankment / the day-moon’s face inscrutable in the afternoon sky / the one I never saw but heard the pattering of / the one yet to be born / the one yet to be caught / the one in the broken moon of my skull when I die / the grey one / the brown one / the dor one / the grass one / the field one / the hazel one / the one

First published in The Big Bridge #15, Edited by Jason Braun


My Secret Witch (John W. Sexton) Her grey hair glitters under the moonlight as she flies above the sea. Whales’ fisted heads part the waves below her. Storms fester on the tip of her tongue. She seeds the air with her presence and men turn in their sleep. She is the nightmare of every child. Women fear her for they fear they’re her. They’re right to think that way. The woman who falls asleep beside you is part of her dream. She dreams that she flies above the earth, made from the dreams of every woman who sleeps. Sometimes she awakens in a strange place. A frying pan is in her hand, egg and sausages sizzling in fat. A child is screaming in its cot and her husband is shouting for no reason. Then she’s asleep again, storms festering on her tongue, the nightmare of every child, every man’s suspicion of who his wife might be. I know she is there, see her in the shot of grey of my lover’s hair. Await the day when she stands before me in all her magnificence, withers me with a single word, and catching me by the ear carries me high above the earth.

From the collection Vortex (Doghouse 2005)


My Granda as Lama Tensing (John W. Sexton) Lama Tensing stops at the river and grasps his chest his disciples panic, fuss around him, but already his chest has opened sparrows are exiting from the wound twenty-five sparrows in all the disciples count each single one and every one of them made of smoke as they swoop down into the grass are absorbed by the earth Lama Tensing Twenty-Five Sparrows journeys through the bursting heart of the world comes out through a wound in the yard where my grandfather stands by the spigot Oh Granda, you grasped your chest and twenty-five sparrows flew out but no one saw them for they were made of smoke I’m only twelve, Granda, and too far away I cannot hold you as you fall I know only that the sparrows fly over the yard over the galvanized roof of the shed the feochadåns are ripening in the field their spoked seeds floating up each becomes the heart of a sparrow and all is healed

First published in The Hiberno-English Archive, Edited by Terence Patrick Dolan From the collection Petit Mal (Revival Press, 2009)


Pulls (John W. Sexton) The spawn of snags that laid no eggs but waited in untended points or nails, teased secretly the threads of sweaters, scarves, knitted hands, drawing loose worms of wool. Catch us by the heads and we’ll bring the bound world out with our tails. Best not to nip us at the root, or else we’ll hole ourselves whole. Instead, force our fronts through seamstress’s eyes and send us back down through our own ends. Left unattended we’ll lengthen in time and unravel our own beginnings. The stuff of accident we wait to happen until that moment when we do. So when you see us hanging from your clothes know we were meant to be, for we’re the in that’s supposed to be out and out we’ll come.

From the collection The Offspring of the Moon (Salmon Poetry, 2013)


Biography: Mary Bonina

Mary Bonina’s poetry collections are Clear Eye Tea (2010) and Living Proof (2009). She is also the author of the memoir My Father’s Eyes (2013), all from Cervena Barva Press, Somerville, Massachusetts. Her poem “Drift,” an UrbanArts winner is inscribed on a granite monolith, a permanent public art installation outside Green St. subway station, Boston. She has collaborated with composer Paul Sayed, commissioned to write a suite of poems, which he then set to music for piano, cello, and soprano; the piece premiered at the Longy School of Music of Bard College, Cambridge, Massachusetts (2012). Link to the SoundCloud recording: https://soundcloud.com/paulsayed/sets/graceinthewind Bonina earned her M.F.A. at Warren Wilson College. She is a member also serving on the Board of the Writers’ Room of Boston, Inc.


The following poems are excerpts from my most recent collection of poetry, Clear Eye Tea (2010) Cervena Barva Press, Somerville, Massachusetts.


Sheep Shack (Mary Bonina) At dawn the sheep put fake noses up against the window screens looking into our bedroom. I don’t know what they want. I do know that I am awake, that this is no dream, not the vacation I planned, falling for the idyllic narrative, the enticing cove, pinpoint on the map. It’s not just their gaze, but their odd odor, too, fills the house, sickens my stomach, so at night I rest my head on a pillow of pine needles. It’s a backwater, where an old woman loved her sheep, the ones of the flock who couldn’t make it through winter where she was raised, the lighthouse keeper’s daughter. I picture her motor-boating back home to that island, her road, the necessary sea, her life with these animals. I picture her herding some into a vulnerable boat, driving them back to the dock, the ones who wouldn’t survive in rough elements for long, like me in this house. The wind at night makes whatever is upstairs rattle around like my worries wanting resolution. One small black and white framed 122

photo on the wall next to the bed, a scruffy ewe named Sassafras. Maybe that one was the first who wouldn’t nurse, refused to give up its wool for someone’s blanket, insisted on coming home to stay with her. The neighbor who inherited the place offers no explanation for how she could advertise a subsistence life, as if it were a tourist destination.


Small Town: A Death (Mary Bonina) The commuter train this morning on the track that runs behind the school blows its whistle as it passes by, for the girl who was killed the afternoon before, crossing over, taking a short cut home, a hole in the fence patched up from time to time. The train sounds its whistle, too, for the others who’ll repeat her action, the whistle to warn them: Careful, it’s coming. Last night taking a wrong turn somehow I came upon her street, the neighborhood of small and simple ranch houses, the one in the dark unmistakable and not for the funeral drape above the door or a huddle of neighbors bearing casseroles, flowering plants, cakes. I remembered when my father died a friend who carried on the custom of bringing something living and something sweet, left on the porch a feathery fern and a jar of lavender honey. But at the girl’s house, a police car was posted, out front the vans with wired poles and lights; reporters, photographers parked their cars a few houses down, while others searching for a story gathered around the corner. How cruel the piled up fallen leaves coloring the driveway, blanketing the front lawn.


Shrine in Cambridge (Mary Bonina) In this city of scholars and artists here is where one young friend shot another by accident. In this place, faithfully tended: a cauldron of sentiment. I see a man or sometimes a woman, planting a reflection of whatever the season or holiday. Notice in autumn some yellow and rusty chrysanthemum. Then a small evergreen tree or holly and berries strung with garlands of battery-operated lights. At the first of the year, a miniature rose in the clay pot and a champagne bottle beside it. I can’t tell as I drive by if it’s been uncorked. The occasions keep coming: every year a birthday cake and candles and a balloon on a wooden wand, stuck in the soil with whatever is left from Valentine’s Day. Yet no one makes wishes, and no one is served. I used to walk past the place, so I know friends of the boys come, carve messages with knives all along the aluminum railing at the nearby footbridge. I remember one: Seanie Pooh – Hollah Back, it said. What on earth were they doing with the gun? They were friends and it was an accident. That’s what everyone heard. They were coming up out of the woods surrounding the reservoir, had been walking along the railroad tracks. They’d been below the avenue of million dollar houses, just down the street from the soccer field. It was Friday night so there were no games for the children’s league, the teams not named for pirates, patriots, pioneers, or guardians – but for colors like teal, ivory, fuchsia, and lime.


In this city of scholars and artists one friend shot the other by accident, and the one who did dragged his friend’s body and his grief up the hill, under the hemlocks and pine, to the sidewalk, and he held him in his lap and they were a Pieta while evening rush hour passed them by. One friend kneeled over the other, wailing, showing what he’d done, while the other bled into the traffic jam



Name, Address, Phone Number Drawer (Mary Bonina) Last night going through a drawer full of corners torn from envelopes that held birthday cards and letters, and written on them and on grocery slips, phone numbers, too, not just the names of streets where the now-dead used to live. In a cabinet meant for good china, linens, shelves of crystal glassware, in the room where we still sit for the old-fashioned evening meal, I’m clinging to those long gone. I imagine them in ghost paradise, strolling, watching me sifting through the pieces, fretting I won’t weed their scraps of paper, hating that I continue this sort of life list, as if I’m some birder, keeping a record of all my sightings. I may never sort out what’s in this drawer along with the self-extinguishing candles, the plug to recharge the phone, the “double-life” replacement bulbs for the lamp. I choose to let it be, my way of remembering, a house and a street lined with trees or the apartment building in a tough neighborhood, and the voice I would hear on the other end of the line. I keep refusing to discount numbers now owned by others, the houses full of people I don’t know.


Soap Opera (Mary Bonina) The hasty dinner and running out after to the music hall, late for the concert. Home to dishes left in the sink. The women of the orchestra who had such presence, have come into the kitchen, too, and the wife considers them while soaping the glasses, their long dresses of silk velvet and such interesting shoes. The attic vent opens and closes. “You need work,” the husband says. “Money would be good.” There’s wind tonight, the wife thinks. Then the clink of forks and knives in the stainless steel sink. Kitten, spike, wedge heels of the women’s shoes, their feet stayed still in them while they plucked the strings. The wind was singing at the birdfeeder. The house, not warm enough this winter, the apartment below vacant, the floorboards cold. The women’s cheeks glowed in crescendo more rosy as the weight of the music accumulated.


Guide to Soufriere (Mary Bonina) The path you take leads up the hill above the beach, cuts right between the two seas: the Atlantic will look rough and cold, and this is where you come from; the Caribbean is not grey but blue, like a swimming pool, and it will invite you in. In lush Soufriere a man on the beach in a fruit tree with his machete is not a criminal. You can take a handful of coral like chalk but you won’t need to write anything on a dark, flat stone. Colored boats adrift like crayons or like fingers splayed, showing a perfect hand. You will see as you come and go that the card players at roadside in front of small tin shacks listing from rain or wind, the weight of everything in the blistering sun, will have nothing to lose. And a woman in a long skirt will walk barefoot down the road, jug of something on her head, 129

elegantly stubborn in Paradise, sweeping her body down a dusty way.


Biography: Edward Power

Edward Power is a Waterford based poet the following poems have all been published before and he is currently working on more.


Patsy Power (Edward Power) He smiled with the shine of sugar beet leaves after rain. He stood in the living room and held his hand behind him, his son's twelve-yeareyes wide with expectation. He milked the moment to its last drop, then whipped his hand round and thrust a book towards the boy. He swung his beet-knife in the winter air. The squat blade sang a little. He was 'crowning' the beet. Dressing it up for the train journey, sugar-class, to Thurles or Ballinasloe. Rats ran for the hedges. Some didn't make it. He read aloud by the fireside, rustling the ’paper, breaking long words up like his plough broke a sod. He sat in his chair and looked in the mirror his son angled towards the back of his head. The best haircut he'd ever had, he said. It was white and soft and silky and fell around him on the floor. He stood in the yard at midnight with rain in his eyes, and watched an animal die. He stood in the railway station and watched the six-fifteen pull out from the longest platform in Ireland. His son stopped in London, but the train was non-stop in his sleep. He went to the lower field and tumbled a cow's carcass into the deep hole he'd dug all day. Clumps of clay landed like fists on a bodhran. He leant on his bike at crossing gates closed for the boat-train, looking for a face in magic lantern windows. The train had a long dark sound. He stood on the green bank of a stream and saw a little brooch of bird feathers. Blood for grass and daisies. One less song in the world.


Nocturne (Edward Power) When I was a long time six but not yet seven and because I’d been in hospital, I slept in their bedroom, heard them sleeping, dreaming, and when I cried I slept between them. On her small bedroom-lamp the words ‘Empire Made’ survived : only the words. A small fount and wick-winder dead with rust. No wick no glass globe. I know it was pink once like the paraffin, and her pink fingers reached to dim or brighten. Smell of pink paraffin is strong when I let it be, the light when I think of it soft yellow nervous on walls and curtains, on her face, on the prayer cards she collected like cigarette-cards. Mother Mary Aikenhead Martin de Porres. Their sacred relics. Once and no one looking I rubbed them like Aladdin to see what might happen. When she turned her lamp off, he turned off the Tilly. I listened to his stockinged feet, heard the bedclothes yawn; them sinking in their mattress in the dark. 133

If the Tilly lamp shone now where I’m looking, where corn-reeks used to stand, I might see him come swinging light among his golden temples, might see our house standing there yellow hem showing under the front door, and darkness spreading down to the hollow fields and meadow-bog where a vixen taunted far-off dogs. In the out-shed, our last ass, Jack, took a sharp deep sob of breath then changed his mind and didn’t bray. Maybe he knew something. I remember his dark taut belly, how clay drummed on it the day Jack was buried in the ragwort field, how clay-lumps sickened a dead eye and stone knocked out of him one last un-living cry. The ground and grass took weeks and months to hide Jack’s terrible grin. We never played there again. I loved old broken things better than toys: a Swiss pocket watch forever losing time, an old gramophone playing too fast. To have and light now that little pink lamp on its bedside table in the midnight room, and she praying or reading, 134

waiting for him to turn off the wireless, finish-up and come to bed, would be the world.


The Well (Edward Power) My father dipped his pail into an ancient well cladded with pagan stone long before Patrick, and raised water. He showed us a flat stone with a hollow mark in it ‘where a saint prayed’, and knelt to show us. His knee was a perfect fit. But when I knelt and looked in its deep mirror, brickeens and weevils were in my nose and mouth and my knee hurt. Neighbours sang the praises of our spring water at a hot day’s harvest: ‘You could bottle and sell it!’ Only the praise is left. When the land was’reclaimed’, drained and re-seeded, nothing was spared. A yellow earthmover buried everything. The meadow bog is gone, and my father’s with the saints. Somewhere under my feet a choked well awaits the kiss of his lipped pail.


I hate the bland green grass and want to peel it back like astro-turf, find the flat stone, see if my knee would fit.

The Form (Edward Power) One Sunday a hare sprang from its form in the New Road field, ran off with our heartbeats. I put my hand down but even as I touched it the magic thing was turning back to grass. Later, I couldn’t find it. There’ll be others, you said, but it was the only one. Yours I look for now.


Aunt Haiku (Edward Power) Derelict and gaunt, The old grey Infirmary. Snapshot of my aunt. Mary Reid. Her name Near the end of the ledger Translates into pain. Marry. Die. That’s it. She hadn’t much of a life. Broke with her blacksmith. Sing love and marriage? He was a runaway horse, She the wrecked carriage. When she spoke to us Her lungs were full of dead leaves. She went without fuss. Derelict and gaunt. The old sad Infirmary. A snap of my aunt.


Ardkeen Haiku (Edward Power) Hospital café. Morning papers, telephones. How are you today? The elevators Go up and down up and down Like hope between floors. Giant ‘get well’ cards. Words are too heavy to fly. Don’t mention the SARS. The long ward closes. It’s time for the ash of sleep. Scent of old roses.


Grandad’s Egg Edward Power) He brought home an echo of the shell that blew him off his feet and came out in egg-shaped relief on his forehead. There it was half-buried in the furrows under his hat-rim like some unexploded thing Out in the garden he straightened his shoulders inspected sweet williams counted the rows talked to them in secret language of the shell-shocked He took a stick to coils of briar that began next door. Shuffled among the laying-boxes face honeycombed by chicken-wire I wondered about the egg on his forehead— was it all white and yellow like the ones we ate for breakfast?— but didn't dare to ask. One day they put grandad and his egg in a box. I sneaked a look at him before they put the lid on. It was bigger than ever on his smaller face. I wanted to reach out and touch it but I was afraid his eyes might spring open, the shell burst.


Biography: Macdara Woods

The following poem is taken from Macdara’s new book Music From the Big Tent published by Dedalus Press, which will be released at the Strokestown Festival.


In May 2013: The Most Beautiful Woman in Dublin: (Macdara Woods) In the Park today They are speaking In Russian -- I hear them Muscovy people to Muscovy ducks And the homeless man Who sleeps here rough Is pumping weights By the ton One hand at a time All doing our best To try and get fit And some are too old And nearly bet -On the circular paths Around the lake Self-serious pigeons Posture and strut While outside the gate The singing adventists Of the seventh day Spilling out through The Saturday Temple doors Are instantly turned Into banks of flowers And the Persian owner 142

Of the Carpet Bazaar Across the way From Village Books Up in Kutubiyim -Marrakshi street Of a hundred Cluttered bookshops -Waves at me To come on over Have you been ill He whispers - You Haven’t been round As much as you used Solicitous too He sells me a cane Too short for purpose And says I’m to mind myself For these days even Seventy Is still too young… Too young too old Too old too young Until I behold In the Ranelagh delta The One Most beautiful Woman in Dublin Toyin Odelade Carrying a ladder 143

Arrayed and clad in Fabulous light Bathing the glittering Whole of the SPAR INSOMNIA and What was the CENTRA Outshining the waves And rays of light Reflected - even with ice ice baby advertising White on blue Commercially lettered Across her breast: Today I’m a slogan She smiles – Putting things right Before they go wrong -But isn’t the Sun Today Magnificent? And just for a while It is summer in May And nuts in May And all the way And years Of summer to come For just that moment As every year We again discover All May beginning And ending never 144

Biography: Lieutenant Colonel Shyam Sunder Sharma, Shaurya Chakra

Lieutenant Colonel Shyam Sunder Sharma, Shaurya Chakra ( Retired) A decorated and War wounded veteran, single parent to two daughters and two dogs, Shyam is an avid birdwatcher and nature lover. He holds a Master’s degree in English Literature. Published in number of anthologies and magazines in India and abroad, such as Poetry in the Park Collection No 3 - A poetry collective in Athlone, Ireland, Lakeview Journal, Camel Saloon, Mad Swirl, The first cut, Earthen lamp journal, Episteme, Hans and more. Shyam was a Guest Poet at Fermoy International Poetry Festival at Ireland in August 2013 and the event coordinator of the Delhi Poetry Festival 2014. He goes by the alias Driftwood Ashore on Facebook, where he also runs a vibrant Group Poets, Artists Unplugged.


The Poet Give me words, undisguised, unpretentious verse, Hang metaphors! Give me words that cut deeper than knives shorter than feelings, cut down to size. Words condensed, brevity fits like compact ice! Meandering feelings trapped, circumcised and downsized. Cut, cut, cut and cut to fit! Rambling thoughts unfrocked caught, wrought and surmised! Shredded love, discarded threads. Rags to Bag! A standing ovation! Poetic Justice? Naah! A Spoof? A Jest on Life? The heart is a labyrinth. Unplugged, oozing undammed. The Poet bows tripping over his clown’s hat! Applause! (Shyam) 146

Temporal Beings How many lovers have you had till now, asked the gray cloud that danced around the moon? I have no fingers to count on, and I don't keep books, the moon whispered. I do know that I die each time, losing myself till I am no more. And then I am reborn again for the next cycle. When do you think you will settle down or settle up? Find your berth or get a bearing? You cannot be a heavenly body if you are so inconsistent; angrily the cloud swirled around the moon. The moon shone through the cloud and gently hummed... Hush! Come bathe with me before I lose my magic. Leave heavens for Gods. You and I are mortals. This night, this life, my light, your flight,


all these things are not forever. We are just temporal beings. (Shyam)


Meeting Point (My version of " Meeting Point" by Louis MacNeice). Time waits on its toes, hiding behind doors, waiting to pounce Ah! There are so few moments to seize. The waiter leans on, tripping over privacy, so damn eager for his bloody tip. The tables are filling, the table are full people are waiting people are always waiting waiting impatiently for you to vacate your seats. Would you like another coffee? How about some cookies? No, thank you! She flicks the hair off her cheeks; he silences his constant mobile beeps, time waits eagerly, to pounce upon an opportunity. The coffee? Ah, the coffee is sugar-free God died long ago from diabetes. The small talk is over, eternity sits tepidly in the coffee mugs that sit silently, as silently as them while the camels wait in the lounge they fart and squirm, kick sand under their feet,


and the sand blows blows by blows blowing to smithereens this meeting. The eyes, it is always the eyes, eyes that salvage, eyes that treasure the spoken silence they carry it, with them as they depart, knowing well, there may be no future meetings! (Shyam)


A Deposit or Withdrawal? Did he come here for a deposit or withdrawal? I will never know. I hope it was a deposit because if it was a withdrawal, it would break my heart to see him mugged. Could it have been a huge withdrawal? It is so hard to guess. Just how much did he need? No, it is so defeatist to quantity such valuables. I hope it was a deposit, I am foolishly optimistic that notwithstanding his violent death and abuse of his carcass, this was just a random cruel act of this universe. Yes, I hope he was not robbed, and then left to be run over. His carcass, covered in mud, now fully visible, washed off with the rain that poured last night. Breast open, uneaten carrion, at the doorway of the bank, embanked to the pathway, a dead pigeon.



A Bird Cannot Birth an Elephant Suppose one is pregnant, what are the possibilities? Either one delivers or aborts, it may also happen that the entire labour goes waste and you are left with a still born. Right gestation is the crux, so is delivery, and then there is common sense, that a bird cannot birth an elephant. Poems are birds, that flit from here to there, swoop or perch, and once in awhile take on long migrations on an urge, or plunge deep to fathomless seas, but poems have a wing span. Such is a writer's dismay, when you have a story so big, so sensitive that it overwhelms the poet in you, it is crying to be told, and as a poet you know, it won't fit. It is huge in dimensions, it has strength and fortitude, all the hallmarks of an elephant so it must have a trunk, a tail, tusks and yes teeth that masticate. It calls for a giant leap, to break forms, for a bird to become an elephant


for a poem, to turn into a novel. The thought, so tempting and challenging, I dismiss it again and again knowing that a bird cannot birth an elephant yet it keeps returning back again and again. (Shyam)


The Poet Give me words, undisguised, unpretentious verse, Hang metaphors! Give me words that cut deeper than knives shorter than feelings, cut down to size. Words condensed, brevity fits like compact ice! Meandering feelings trapped, circumcised and downsized. Cut, cut, cut and cut to fit! Rambling thoughts unfrocked caught, wrought and surmised! Shredded love, discarded threads. Rags to Bag! A standing ovation! Poetic Justice? Naah! A Spoof? A Jest on Life? The heart is a labyrinth. Unplugged, oozing undammed. The Poet bows tripping over his clown’s hat! Applause! Shyam


Temporal Beings How many lovers have you had till now, asked the gray cloud that danced around the moon? I have no fingers to count on, and I don't keep books, the moon whispered. I do know that I die each time, losing myself till I am no more. And then I am reborn again for the next cycle. When do you think you will settle down or settle up? Find your berth or get a bearing? You cannot be a heavenly body if you are so inconsistent; angrily the cloud swirled around the moon. The moon shone through the cloud and gently hummed... Hush! Come bathe with me before I lose my magic. Leave heavens for Gods. You and I are mortals. This night, this life, my light, 155

your flight, all these things are not forever. We are just temporal beings. Shyam

Meeting Point (My version of " Meeting Point" by Louis MacNeice). Time waits on its toes, hiding behind doors, waiting to pounce Ah! There are so few moments to seize. The waiter leans on, tripping over privacy, so damn eager for his bloody tip. The tables are filling, the table are full people are waiting people are always waiting waiting impatiently for you to vacate your seats. Would you like another coffee? How about some cookies? No, thank you! She flicks the hair off her cheeks; he silences his constant mobile beeps, time waits eagerly, to pounce upon an opportunity. The coffee? Ah, the coffee is sugar-free God died long ago from diabetes.


The small talk is over, eternity sits tepidly in the coffee mugs that sit silently, as silently as them while the camels wait in the lounge they fart and squirm, kick sand under their feet, and the sand blows blows by blows blowing to smithereens this meeting. The eyes, it is always the eyes, eyes that salvage, eyes that treasure the spoken silence they carry it, with them as they depart, knowing well, there may be no future meetings! Shyam


A Deposit or Withdrawal? Did he come here for a deposit or withdrawal? I will never know. I hope it was a deposit because if it was a withdrawal, it would break my heart to see him mugged. Could it have been a huge withdrawal? It is so hard to guess. Just how much did he need? No, it is so defeatist to quantity such valuables. I hope it was a deposit, I am foolishly optimistic that notwithstanding his violent death and abuse of his carcass, this was just a random cruel act of this universe. Yes, I hope he was not robbed, and then left to be run over. His carcass, covered in mud, now fully visible, washed off with the rain that poured last night. Breast open, uneaten carrion, at the doorway of the bank, embanked to the pathway, a dead pigeon.



A Bird Cannot Birth an Elephant Suppose one is pregnant, what are the possibilities? Either one delivers or aborts, it may also happen that the entire labour goes waste and you are left with a still born. Right gestation is the crux, so is delivery, and then there is common sense, that a bird cannot birth an elephant. Poems are birds, that flit from here to there, swoop or perch, and once in awhile take on long migrations on an urge, or plunge deep to fathomless seas, but poems have a wing span. Such is a writer's dismay, when you have a story so big, so sensitive that it overwhelms the poet in you, it is crying to be told, and as a poet you know, it won't fit. It is huge in dimensions, it has strength and fortitude, all the hallmarks of an elephant so it must have a trunk, a tail, tusks and yes teeth that masticate. It calls for a giant leap, to break forms, for a bird to become an elephant


for a poem, to turn into a novel. The thought, so tempting and challenging, I dismiss it again and again knowing that a bird cannot birth an elephant yet it keeps returning back again and again. Shyam


Biography: Iseult Healy

Iseult Healy is a poet and a member of Ox Mountain Poets


The Porous Whorus (Iseult Healy) She waited in her wraparound in the cool but sunny summer for her lover as she liked to call him but he was just in a line that invaded her generosity, supped and ate and danced in it all the while she loved the attention, admiration and sharing thinking erroneously it meant true understanding but finding in the end she was just a see-through, rest-in, splurge-in woman that men enjoyed. This poor Porous Whorus doesn’t know how to stop pouring all that she has into the lives of others. Impossible for her to pour into herself for herself. When she does for that brief time it sends them even crazier for her. What is a poor Porous Whorus to do?


The Kiss Museum (Iseult Healy) Tomorrow I go to the Kiss Museum, part of the curriculum: what is a kiss, why did they do it, wasn’t it infectious? Was it ownership? A musking? Hideous activities of man so long ago. Best forgotten, the book says. The only archive shows in black and white the camera so close on their faces lips to lips, swaying bodies, dreamy eyes, then eyes closed, loss of will. What idiocy. Animalcy. The book says. I wonder about my dream a time, this man invaded my space leaned his head close put his lips on mine then my world was his, his mine. I would trade my time now to be back when kisses were free. To a time when kisses - so the books says were between all humans regardless of age. When mouths were not just for food and obedience. I lick my lips. I want him now - my dream man - to kiss me like the museum kiss, long, slow, deliberate. And then… whatever comes after… I am tired of what the book says. It never kissed.


Not I (Iseult Healy) His eyes belie the truth of what he’s seen; passing flesh that could not be eaten, pockets that could not be raped, skin that could not be licked and hearts that would not bleed for him. His bum long since numb on the cold stone bridge, snot trickling in the icy wind, pee burns on scalded legs, fingers stiff as pokers as he holds his cardboard cry for help. Who wants him? Not I, said the farmer, politician, wife, slut, policeman, beauty, priest. Who wants me? Not I Not I say they


No Cuckoo (Iseult Healy) I took a look under Ireland’s green carpet where she hides her shames She remembers the famine and 1916, accepts cripples and Downs Syndrome, even wedded gays but our lost souls, Jesus, what does she do with them? I took a look under Ireland’s green carpet: Where the unbelievable terror of invasion occurs in white halls, white coats, whitewashed ethics Where Evil smiles and rides free under the guise of therapy Where the unconfrontable become tame, Xanaxed against reality, locked inside their heads Where they release the time-bombs into the streets awaiting a trigger Where citizens fear the ‘new terrorist’ ignoring their own home grown, home-fucked kiddy killers Where the tests are done on imaginary machines Where the cry to God is silent and unheard Where childhood nightmares of abandon become real to all the 10, 20, 30, 40, 50 year olds Mammy, mammy, help me! Where Dr Fruitcake is brimming concern over his glasses at mammy Where mammy sits in dumb parental failure, cracked conscience sticky-taped by professional puked palaver Where the politicians roam free, never a white coat near them, as they infect the people with the pox of tax Where they made a sandwich spread of my mind and plastered it in their reports on success 165

Where manners and prayers are learned all over again; please, please, stop, please and yes I’ll be good, yes I’ll be good Where the shit-backed dress of the empty beautiful girl stank as she Japanese-shuffled by Where there’s no cuckoo, no nest, nor wings to fly away on Where even Nicholson would have died Where the Pied Piper of Psychiatry leads the over-active children to his rainbowbaked lair. Children never again Where muscle is valued over kindness, used to subdue souls whose only crime was to be in the wrong place at the wrong time, or that their hormones ran wild Where the tax man pays his millions for the 50 cents that buys the electricity to pump into their heads, sort these nervous fuckers out Where we’d have lost Ginsberg, Pollock, Cohen, Picasso, King had the fuckers been here Where Santa Claus cries and politicians never kiss and birthdays are hated Where I cry, show me an honest man, show me a man without pain and I’ll show you a liar or worse, death talking. I will not go to hell. Where no one says look there and there and there, to pictures new – break free the chain of hamsterville Where minds are smashed, the remains a stew of senses and synapses Where the idea of comfort, home, care, consideration and T I M E to heal are the ignorant ideas of yesterday, losers to colourful circles or oblongs of instant numbness Where minds go loop de loop de loop, can’t find new roads Where they won’t believe now what I say because I’ve been swept to the darkness Where they slammed my mind’s doors shut and kicked at them Where all this was done for my crime. And what was that? I can’t remember… oh yes… I’d been sad for a while and cried too much… they said.


My World Began (Iseult Healy) My world began at the kitchen table; he helped himself to a second serving of meat while she counted eggs on the upside down dresser. His dessert would come but the service was slow, when he’d forgotten he’d ever been at that table, when he’d eaten elsewhere at a table of his own. Twenty years he’d forget that meal of my mother, that meat cooked under a hot roasting man, the dessert in the oven. My mother scrubbed the table each day; hot, sudsy water and hard bristle brush till sprinklings of wet sawdust fell to the floor and a new table lay bare, scrubbed till my father tsked her to stop, 't’would serve God himself'. She laughed till the doctor came and washed his hands; she laughed till the priest came and she told him all. The table scrubbing stopped when I was ten. And she started on meeach day a bath and a scrub till I was red till I was fifteen and ran away her molten words melting my mind 'he’s not your father'. My mother died, her putrid brain useless from sedation. My father’s new woman has a glass table of her own where they sit on Sundays, read the papers and tsk tsk their displeasures, safe and secure, sealed in their immaculate world. But my kitchen is spotless.


Costa Thoughts about Mary (Iseult Healy) Pity the poor virgin denied natural birth and all the hormonal love that would’ve flowed. She inherited statues and sightings and novenas, blasphemies and plastic bottles of holy water she never touched. Never had the violent sex needed for seed to create the Son of God. One wonders why she was needed at all? Was he then the first goats’ milk child? No formula of any kind back then. But she got the nappies and vomits and sleepless nights. Did anybody ask her permission to use her so? Was this just another act of supremacy? Couldn’t the kid have just appeared? She’d no stretch-marks or stretched anything else so my pity is less except they won’t let her rest. They dig her up for sightings and moving statues on damp roads or in sweaty churches, for the half mad, the other half so desperate they’d see a wart grow on a leprechaun. All in all I’m glad I wasn’t her. No rest for the wicked, they say. Not that she got to be wicked. As cover-ups go it was genius. Get some horny gobshite* to take her on after she’d gone wild. Her insipid smile of beatific pity pocks the rest of us women who’ve been birthed, born and bled to keep us all going.


Couldn’t you have been more like Germaine sodding Greer, Lizzie the First , Meryl Streep or even me? Virgin birth, yet he was in your womb. No one gets out of there without push and pain. So don’t pretend you didn’t part those legs and moan and stretch and shove out the Son of God. *Gobshite is Irish slang for a fool


Biography: Michael Sands

Michael Sands is a poet who has two books of poetry out with Clachan Publishing.


Checkpoint (Michael Sands) I had to be in town for nine thirty to sign on, the ‘up early’ from bed. (It’s early on the dole). My shirt and jeans in a heap, bit like my head. We’d had tins last night and had a laugh; a gang of us, rebels for Erin’s cause. After eight I’d have carried Ború’s staff, after ten I wanted the world to pause. Quietly I borrowed da’s car and went via Fathom Park. There they stood and crouched and aimed, Queen lent to this country, the bastards. I could hardly look at him as he slowed me. “Where are ye goin’ mate?” he asked, leaning in with his gun bigger than he. “To sign on,” I said, despising his task. And then something not the norm. He offered a little of his mind becoming real, not just boots and uniform. “Aye, I’d be doin’ a similar kind of thing if not this.” We were same aged and illustrated the glory of chance. We could’ve been the other but war raged around and so designed our circumstance. Nothing further spoken but met his eye with mine as our paths uncrossed. He lingers still and I often wonder why he came and what to him the cost.


Prince's Street (Michael Sands) The union flag holds tight the pole and symbolises aged defiance of change. It is the status quo of royal rule, native compliance. In these environs it is suited; a loyal heartland of the crown. But hear a sound now un-muted from rivers deep underground. For in the breeze before July a fiddle freed meets a bow and where the flag flutters high an Irish tune, soft and slow. The circles of my inner tree number such that I remember when neither shared a destiny and both as distant as December. But melting months offer signs upon the hill in Prince's street that comes a blurring of the lines where friends unmet may yet meet.


Biography: Mark Pawlak

Mark Pawlak is the author of nine poetry collections and the editor of six anthologies. His latest books are Reconnaissance: New and Selected Poems and Poetic Journals 2005-2015 (Hanging Loose Press, 2016) and Natural Histories (Cervena Barva Press, 2015). Pawlak’s work has been translated into German, Japanese, Polish, and Spanish, and has been performed at Teatr Polski in Warsaw. In English, his poems and prose have appeared widely in anthologies such as The Best American Poetry, Blood to Remember: American Poets on the Holocaust, For the Time Being: The Bootstrap Anthology of Poetic Journals and in the literary magazines New American Writing, Mother Jones, Poetry South, The Saint Ann’s Review, and The World, among many others. He supports his poetry habit by teaching mathematics at the University of Massachusetts Boston, where he is Director of Academic Support Programs. He lives in Cambridge, Massachusetts.


“Bold Coast” Idyll (Mark Pawlak)

So much depends upon this lobster boat anchored between islands sporting piney crowns, too small for habitation, each no bigger than the boat itself. Gentle breezes, dimpling the bay; incoming tide nibbling the pebbled shore. * Not wasps: bees; bumblebees not yellow jackets nuzzled deep in jewelweed horns: fluted, orange skirts snugly fitted around fat black bellies; bobbing as one on slender, green threads: bees and blossoms. * Hen-of- the-woods, chicken-of- the-woods, old-man- of-the- woods; turkey-tail, fairy cup, witches' butter. Not tipler's bane, lawyer’s wig, a.k.a. shaggy mane;


monarch, not viceroy; mourning, not morning cloak. Black Point, Sandy Point, Long Point, Otter Point; Fairy Head, Eastern Nubble, “Bold” Coast. * Lazing on rocky beach, book open on lap, my only companion all afternoon, the sea, shuffling its deck of cards. Idyll, not idle.


With apologies to C.D. Wright (Mark Pawlak)

Every year the poem I most want to write, the poem that might in effect allow me to stop writing, stands at the edge of a field shrouded in mist-- human apparition or tree misshapen by harsh elements. If I invite it to sit beside me on the porch, it takes a tentative step forward, pulling fog’s hem with it, then retreats. The field between us is grown up in thigh-high grasses, wildflowers, thistles, pink beach roses with yellow centers. Closer, the mown lawn is flecked with white clover florets and green blades wet with dew. A foghorn blasts at regular intervals; clanking buoy keeps time. Lupines have given way to black-eyed Susans in the rock edged garden. Smell of strong back coffee mixes with pine scent and salt sea air, for it is always August, Maine, a simple, boxy, pine cottage with clean lines and wraparound porch, overlooking tidal marsh, sandbar, bay. No coaxing will entice the poem to inhabit its form, step across the distance, occupy the seat beside me. And if I should get up to approach this poem, hand extended, it backs away, shape-shifts, vanishes into the haze.


Adieu (Mark Pawlak)

Goodbye gray smudge of headland masking the horizon. So long thin chalk line of fog drawn along its margin. Auf wiedersehen slate-blue sea marked with imperfect erasures. Sayonara moss-thatch skullcaps atop granite outcroppings. Au revoir dripping firs whose needles tickle moisture from windblown mist and sea spray. Ta-Ta boggy riprap trails meandering along cliff edges, surf pounding below. Do widzenia white-knuckle tree roots gripping rock fissures against onslaughts of wind, rain, and gale-tossed waves. Shalom stand of sun-bleached, wind-burnished, silver-white tree trunks, impersonating wrathful Tibetan deities. Ciao chorus lines of roadside grasses whose shaggy hangdog heads on long slender necks nod and sway in unison. Bis spatter silver and white birches trading gossip in stage whispers about the prickly pines. Fins aviat purple-verging- on-pink fireweed standing in pools of brackish water. À bientôt discarded beer cans flattened on road shoulders where truck tires have left their impression. Adios mowers, chippers, bush-hoggers, weed whackers . . . advertising services on sandwich boards lining the highway. 177

Hasta luego tree fellers, clam diggers, purse seiners, oyster shuckers . . . Salaam scrub trees and bushes whose leaves turn giddy with every breeze. Salut wind whistling through wires strung between utility poles. Sale kale scudding billows above white-capped sea swells. Cheerio channel ferries straining to make headway against Fundy tides. Arrivederci white clapboard house at shoreline dazzling in early morning light. So long intermittent foghorn; clanking channel buoy. So long, farewell, auf wiedersehen, goodbye. Adieu. Adieu, to “yieu and yieu and yieu.�


Faith, Hope, Charity (Mark Pawlak)

Street corner morning, sidewalk littered: soda bottles, candy wrappers, aluminum cans— flotsam after yesterday’s snowmelt. When the light’s red, a man (paper cup in hand, winter coat unbuttoned) steps off the curb into the sunlit lane between stopped cars. Cradled in the crook of his arm an improvised sign: SEEKING HUMAN KINDNESS, ALL MAJOR CREDIT CARDS ACCEPTED. Inside the coffee shop, a line of patrons stretching from counter to threshold waiting for pastries and morning java. Just outside, three anxious sparrows twittering beneath the bench where a young man sleeps, stretched out, duffel bag for a pillow, face turned away from us passersby. Beside him some Samaritan has left a lunch sandwich, neatly wrapped in clear plastic, homemade.


The ever cheerful Metro hawker greets me as I descend to the subway station. At the Dunkin’ Donuts kiosk, a dark-skinned man— West Indian?—curly gray hair under the knit cap he wears in all seasons, cargo bags at his feet, hunched over his Bible open on a pedestal table, his “lectern.” Some days he scribbles in a notebook—sermons?— other times, lips moving, eyes turned inward, he recites passages to himself. Today, he lifts his head, casts his gaze over the multitude, hand extended, and, citing chapter and verse, silently preaches to his congregation entering, exiting through the turnstiles— all of us sinners and no one in particular.


Biography: Noel King

Noel King was born and lives in Tralee, Co Kerry. In this his 50th year, he has reached his 1000th publication of a poem, haiku or short story in magazines and journals in thirty-eight countries. His poetry collections are published by Salmon:Prophesying the Past, (2010), The Stern Wave (2013) and Sons (2015). He has edited more than fifty books of work by others and was poetry editor of Revival Literary Journal (Limerick Writers’ Centre) in 2012/13. A short story collection,The Key Signature & Other Stories will be published by Liberties Press in 2017.


Kylemore Girls (Noel King) sneak out through a copse – meet boys, giggle, smoke fags, sip cider and court. *** Attracta married a farmer, has nine kids – two twin-sets, in Connemara. Ciara became a nun, nurses as Sr Benedict in remote Japan. Joan joined the Bunratty Singers, got spotted by an American who only wanted to take her for a ride. Katie waitresses in the Kylemore Bakery, 35/37 O’Connell Street, Dublin, is single, but seems to be the happiest.

* Kylemore Abbey, Connemara, was one of Ireland’s most exclusive boarding schools for girls in the 20th century. The last pupils graduated in June 2010.


Grounded (Noel King) His Granny always said they didn’t let him out enough and she was right ’cos one day, aged twenty-five, jobless and still living at home, he took a notion and stayed in his room. The mother thought it just a sulk and at the end of her bottle, the low-life she fucks in her room, it suits her. He’s twenty-eight, the mother’s out all day, he could be out all day; but no, he pisses in the wash-hand basin, never washes, his caveman hair falling over the cheeses he scurries from the fridge in the middle of the night, eats whatever else he finds, sweet-cake, biscuits, dry bread, Mars bars, all down together. Their semi-detached is derelict on the other side so his turntable revolves at volume 9 all night, Genesis, Black Sabbath, The Darkness album his sister sent from New York last Christmas and Zeppelin – always Led Zeppelin; until one day, the telly in his room packs it in, and somehow he knows, he’ll have to get the repair man in.


Black and Tan (Noel King) My grandmother knew the opening scrape of her front gate was not a friend, told us she remembered staying perfectly still, his hard steps crunching through her. She didn’t remember his face, how long he stood in her kitchen, what lies or truths she uttered while my infant aunt gurgled in her cot. She did remember his words: I have a little girl like this at home, myself. For sixty-three years she stepped over the spot on her flagged floor where the Black and Tan had stood.


Biography: Maeve Heneghan

Maeve Heneghan is a native of County Dublin. After a number of years teaching English in China, Maeve returned to Ireland and is now living in the Midlands with her husband and daughter. She has been writing poetry and short stories for a number of years now and has had some of her work published with First Cut, Verse land, Static Poetry and Every Day Poets.


Sacrifice (Maeve Heneghan) Salty tears bathe, raw, blistering feet. A cloth, upon an anguished face, catches the crimson print of mingled sweat and blood. Gentle hands, touch, pray for him. This day on Golgotha, silent tears fall upon parched earth, as ravens perch, for their feast of rotting flesh. Later, the women come, with perfumes to anoint him. With him till the end.

The women, two thousand years on. Still carrying his cross.


Feet First (Maeve Heneghan) In the searing heat of a Beijing afternoon, when I liked you, but didn't love you, we took a taxi to my flat, you, always the gentleman, wanted to see me home. On arrival, acting on impulse I kissed your cheek, waved goodbye. In three days, you would return to your life, I, to mine. My room-mate, Miss Zhang, raised an eyebrow at that kiss. In Chinese society, she scolded, women, especially Western ones, kissing men in the street, was strictly, taboo. On our final day together, you and I, I took your hand. Shook it firmly. Miss Zhang would be so proud. A week crawled by, the dring dring of the telephone, cut across my gloom. I was surprised to hear your voice again, so soon. We settled into easy chat, 187

when with a shy edge, you hinted at my error, that last day in Beijing. I asked what that might be. “You forgot to kiss me.� You said. I think I loved you then.


You Told Me (Maeve Heneghan) On a warm June evening, as we raised a glass in your brother's memory, you told me something I will never forget. The night he passed away, though the news had yet to reach you, Unsettled, you couldn't sleep. Lying on your bed, darkness shrouded the room, until tiny veins of light sat threadlike on the window.

Shifting and dancing its brilliance across the pane, you were paralysed in radiance, beauty alone moved you.

Colours of no earthly hue, merged, then settled as a butterfly, above your bed, gently enfolding your grief.

You knew then, not to be afraid. Only to embrace the light, and set it free.

Some years later I asked you 189

to tell me that story once more, "I don't remember." you said.


A Boy (Maeve Heneghan) My finger traces a sepia toned image of a little boy. He has his mother’s mouth. Seated beside him a stoic faced old woman, in a straight laced Mao jacket. Her daintily bound feet, no longer show the agony of gnarled and broken bones. Red chillies, drying out, hang on a dusty porch behind him, so near, to almost sting my nostrils. The photograph unnerves me, brings a confusion of thoughts, Is it jealousy, not to have been part of this boy’s life? Is it joy, to have found him as a man?


Biography: Mike Gallagher

Mike Gallagher, writer, poet and editor, was born on Achill Island and worked in London for forty years before retiring to Kerry. His prose, poetry, haiku and songs have been published in Ireland and throughout Europe, America, Australia, Nepal, India, Thailand, Japan and Canada. His writing has been translated into Croatian, Japanese, Dutch, German and Chinese. He won the 2009 Samhlaiocht Slam, the 2010 Michael Hartnett Viva Voce competition, he was shortlisted for the Hennessy Award in 2011 and won the Desmond O'Grady International Poetry Contest in 2012. His poetry collection Stick on Stone was published by Revival Press in 2013.


Mistle Thrush (Mike Gallagher)

Drop your pen. Give in. Draw close to the window. Savour the master's phrasing. Out there in the smog of a damp April evening A mistle thrush sings of pleas and urgings, of broody clucking of soaring joy.


Unblocked (Mike Gallagher)

But I did try; I tried to engage your mind. I watched you flounder, traipse from A to B, from C to Z in Oxford Concise, The Oxford Advanced, Fowler's Usage, seeking out what you were looking for; Roget's Thesaurus of Word and Phrase thumbed, again and again, with growing frustration; imposters imported; verbs, nouns cuckolded; clever phrases, by pride cocooned, hogging space and time, finally dragged, scrawling, from the page; and then, that moment of recognition, of intuition, when you saw me for what I always was: the word, without which, the poem could not begin, without which, you would not reach ... the end.


This Utmost Truth (Mike Gallagher)

A solemn gathering – the earnest poets, philosophers and theologians versed in weft of word and erudite discourse, the rudiments of life and death obsessed; pet theories threshed, pet propositions flashed, fresh theses so politely sent to bed, old certainties dispatched with such panache. And yet, was aught of import really said? The more that we are shown, the less we see. Nothing that we have learned is absolute and reason is but leave to disagree – gut man has known for long this utmost truth – just like the ass, the ape, the stupid fly, survive to sally forth and multiply.


Flights of Fancy (Mike Gallagher) Silly poet, the moon speeds not into the clouds, nor the sun traverse the Milky Way.


Biography: Jenean Gilstrap

Jenean C. Gilstrap is the author of two books of poetry: Words Unspoken and Gypsy Woman Words. She is a featured poet/artist at both Yareah Magazine and Plum Tree Books and her work may also be found in numerous literary publications. Some of her poetry has been narrated and musically interpreted - and recorded and may be found on youtube. Currently she is working on her third volume of poetry, Willful Words, and is also collaborating with a noted artist in Ireland for a book of her poetry inspired by his paintings. Credits for previous publication: the poem - Words Unspoken by Jenean C. Gilstrap irish lace - Yareah Magazine 03/01/2015 my name is huda - Yareah Magazine 07/27/2014 the poem and the prayer - Yareah Magazine 07/06/2016 tangerine rising - Yareah Magazine 06/07/2014 the dream - Yareah Magazine 06/16/2013


the poem (Jenean Gilstrap) he was no longer there no longer with her no longer a part of her could it perchance a dream have been she could will herself never to wake instead she was lost left alone as if he had died no longer existed now forever gone he must have been a poem unwritten


irish lace (Jenean Gilstrap) with eyes seamed shut i dreamed a dream of irish lace amid a sea of words unleashed in waters deep i dreamed a dream of an irish song spun round and round and heard the sounds of sirens’ sobs i dreamed a dream of an irish dance the waltz of chance a dreamer’s dance of two made one i dreamed a dream of an irish poem cast faint upon the winds of life gone wrong that nothing can defend i dreamed a dream of an irish poet words woven in the heart a dreamer’s dream from the start i dreamed a dream of love’s sweet song spoke soft and sweet upon his lips not knowing all was gone i dreamed a dream an irish dream and woke to find blinding white reality 199

with eyes that now could see i dreamed a dream of irish lace threadbare soul of spider web and see the truth upon his face i dreamed a dream of irish lace ~ my name is huda (Jenean Gilstrap) my name is huda i am the child you waited for i am the hope of your tomorrow the dream of your today i am the sparkle in your eye your love come to stay my name is huda the daughter you would die for i will bring you grandchildren whose sweet faces you never will kiss i will sing you sweet songs that can’t be heard above the hiss of silver vultures shredding skies raining down grief upon those left behind and those who are to die my name is huda i am your sister i will dance barefoot in the sands of time as time is shattered by death’s firing lines and darkness swallows this life of mine while the world looks the other way evil here has come to stay how might it all be held at bay 200

my name is huda i am your cousin i will take care of you when you are old give you shelter from the cold i am neither brave nor bold it is simply that you are my loved one whom i cherish most under the sun and i will be with you when this is all done my name is huda i am your wife my father is gone my brothers my sisters my cousins too i have no one now save for you i am yours i am you we are all one our name is huda ~ the poem and the prayer (Jenean Gilstrap) hail mary full of grace women in black edged in white gowns flowin’ free in the night men in gowns goin’ down outta sight blessed are thou amongst women virgin women ain’t no lie they all married an invisible guy ring of gold they wear with pride thinkin’ all their acts they can hide we fly unto thee o virgin of virgins 201

takin’ on the church’s name just addin’ more to all its shame don’t they know it ain’t no game before thee we stand sisters countin’ others’ sins an’ that’s how it all begins countin’ love as sin of the skin ever’body loses nobody wins sinful and sorrowful bishops cardinals priests they all partake of the devil’s feast and ride the ugly satan’s beast pray for us sinners then comes god’s confessional day eatin’ a wafer keeps hell at bay sippin’ some wine lets ‘em all stay to do dark biddin’ their own way turn thine eyes of mercy toward us holy mary mother of god little ones’ care just a facade they never once spared the rod despise not our petitions in the name of the father the son the holy ghost they each played lucifer’s host which one did kill the most but in thy mercy and which will bear the guilt for the house of horrors religion built where wadin’ the pools takes more than stilts and the straight and narrow is at a tilt hear and answer them


where the stench of galway waters deep is filled with the bones of little lost sheep skeletons all in a sewer’s keep o holy holy forgive them for they have sinned amen ~ tangerine rising (Jenean Gilstrap) she rises o’re the eastern shores her face hidden from the storm ridin’ in on jagged bolts to the chant of ancient drums and terra firma is no more she lays beneath blankets grey her face buried in clouds of dreams rollin’ in on silken threads that weave their way round her heart and terra firma is no more she slips into the soft horizon her face turned toward indigo blue wrapping her in velvet robes deep in the cloistered night and terra firma is no more then once again she slips above the eastern shores her face lighting the way giving us another day of tangerine rising and terra firma is


the dream (Jenean Gilstrap) i can’t seem i can’t seem to find i can’t seem to find what it is i’m lookin’ for it’s one of a kind like a night bleached star sparklin’ all pretty from afar i can’t seem to find what it is i’m lookin’ for all my hopes now resigned to love behind closed doors all my dreams now swept from shore i can’t seem i can’t seem to keep i can’t seem to keep what it is i found it all washed away in the ocean deep makin’ its way all hell-bent bound like ever’ thing else just gave up and drowned i can’t seem i can’t seem to find to keep what was only a dream in my dark dark mind did it all float downstream like vanilla cream did i leave it somewhere behind all laid out for your lecherous kind i can’t see i can’t see didn’t nobody hear me scream it was only a dream


Biography: Amy Barry

Amy Barry writes poems and short stories. She has worked in the media industry as a Public Relations officer. Her poems have been published in anthologies, journals, and ezines, in Ireland and abroad. Trips to India, Nepal, China, Bali, Paris, Berlin, have all inspired her work. She lives in Athlone, Ireland.


The Gardener (Amy Barry)

His voice lowered to a whisper, identifying names of each plant. I listened, noted his pride and affection as his mighty fingers caressed orchids, lilies, jasmine, lavender, magnolias, daisies-

Charmed, they stretched. Everything that grew reaching out to him like tentacles, looking for his approval.

Very much the trained observer, he leafed slowly, one by one with careful attention, analysing it afterwards like the veriest of scholars.


A dreamer and a poet, I thought.

His mind is sealed, alone in his thoughts. Here, he has his whole life. Here, he is at home.


The Meditation Chinese chime (Amy Barry)

In the early morning, as the breeze blows rhythmically,

relaxing Zen sound around the yard,

I will sit and listen to its soothing tones-


the neighbour starts to work at his workshop.


Biography: Irsa Ruci

Irsa Ruci is an Albanian writer who works at the Office of the Prime Minister of Albania and is also Lecturer at University of Tirana his books include Trokas mbi ajer (poems and essays), 2008 and Peshjellim (poetry) 2010, his work has also featured in the following anthologies Antologji, 2007, I kërkoj agimit vesën, 2008, Antologji poetike “kushtuar dashurisë”, 2014, Antologji poetike “udha”, 2014, Antologji poetike, 2014, “Malli dhe brenga nga distancat”, 2014, Antologji poetike “qyteti”, 2014, Porta e fshehtë e një gruaje, 2015, Sling Magazine, Issue 5, Ann Arbor Review, Issue 15, Poeteca Magazine, Issue 35 and Aquillrelle Anthology, 2015, etc.


A place within the hearts (Irsa Ruci) I have learned that somewhere is a place Where words cut wisely the queue, like beads Which permeate the thread. A place which carries only the big hearts Which relish the love like angels the heaven The seasons are not afraid to naturally come and the air is conveyed as breath, ensouls the eternity in journalists’ lines are only poems and the war is a were distant thought. I want a place where people die for ideals And live in the myth of the generations to come While the years challenge theirselves, but not the time The humans move away from perfection, but know how to forgive. Tears weigh on the eye, everywhere with the some pain One ray lightens the universe I need to believe that there are still human beings Following the virtue‌ Let me hope that there is some place Where the human is willing to act as HUMAN‌ And let this be an unreturned dream! (Translated by Silva Daci)


How I could have known? (Irsa Ruci) How could I have known That you created love out of dreams Which belonged to the birds’ nests up in the infinite skies? You brought spring with your eyes, with your breath you springed the trees Your words were manly silence While prayers for life explode like a volcano in the heart From which feelings are conveyed like songs In that ritual of angels where eloquency was held with sights. You kept love like the mornings the light, with your soul’s sun you Warmed my lines You turned my rhymes into storms, metaphors build dialogues Like the look in your eye betrayed from the flowers Poets betrayed between the stanzas! The man’s heart is measured with the frailty of his child His weakness, inspiration in the insemination of the women While he find strength in himself Deeply in him, where all his beloved are made in one The son of a mother The brother of a sister The husband of a wife The father of a daughter The grandfa of a niece … and life repeating itself all over again. How could I have known That you love was god-like divinity? (Translated by Silva Daci)


Being’s will power (Irsa Ruci) There will always be someone envying you And the rancour of his poor self-cast at you To throw dirt over the image that he projected to have But couldn’t… Be patient and forgive Let the silence speak, the will beyond you will judge. There will always be someone to betray you Lost in the insolence of the consciousness Will ask for shelter in your own kindness… Forget and give compassion, Only a heart like that how painful it is the emptiness And in what kind of darkness lives each day. There will always be that the evil of spirit imposes on you Without finding reconciliation in the vileness that he vomits In cynicism will succumb to the urge of time. Avoid and give understanding For small people, love is a great word! But, there will always be someone to give magic to your life So, don’t anguish; there is always someone behind you From where you could see the reflection of your eyes. (Translated by Silva Daci)


Biography: Arthur Broomfield Dr Arthur Broomfield is a Beckett scholar, poet, novelist and short story writer.He edits the on-line journal Outburst. His most recent publication is The Empty Too : language and Philosophy in the works of Samuel Beckett.Broomfield's poetry has been published in Ireland and the U.K. His poem 'Snowdrop' was voted joint second by readers of Orbis 166, in which it was published. He lives in County Laois, Ireland.


A Room of One’s Own (Arthur Broomfield)

Sometime round December he’d stopped believing the myth; patchwork duvet, excess in the pictures, drapes that struggled to justify the ever climbing sunflowers, he now saw as erogenous clutter to be questioned and purged.

He marked a window in the north wall, so he could commune with the crows, studied the paint stores till he lit on a tone beyond black, that shadowed discord in the blankets, the vacant picture frame.

In the clarity of now the dim world had a tale to tell, discreet, if the truth be told.


After ‘The denial of Saint Peter’ (Arthur Broomfield)

Salvation army jacket frayed Shoulder thread bare A few follicles resisting The high lights. The fabric that held His body together ravels. She rips through him, As devout disciples do In times of spin.

‘You stitched him up With your “ I know not the man “ Not even a hello out of you’.

The crafted sermons, The indulgent rage in the porch, The ego trip on the lough Weave a tapestry in flesh That looms over him


In commemoration of the one hundred and fifth anniversary of Joseph Mary Plunkett’s victory in the Algerian roller skating championships, 1911. (Arthur Broomfield)

In this year of memory; we query the champ who roller –skated to glory in the dusty grit of distant Algeria.

Skaters of fame, though born to the stirrup may be nurtured by myth round the fireside, passions hot from past deeds cultural – a prize set of skates, glammed up and gleaming hanging in pride from crooks in the ceiling – drive a man to be star of the era.

With Plunkett J.M. ‘twas bred in the bone a sweet body conceived for a mission explodes ‘cross rinks to the whirr of the quad, buzz of the toe-stop, will to be top dog.

Algeria was Plunkett’s nation of choice weather was good though the sand didn’t help his skating or damned tuberculosis. dear was the lexis spoke by those tribesmen, that he studied each day before practise Arabic. Their old tongue, long lapsed, is Amazighte.

Did he write poems ‘bout inline skating


aggressive or not; or know the Kingbolt was coming ? Did he pen ‘I see his blood upon the road’ for a smashed pal victim of combative collision, or dream it ?

Laugh you at home in crazes of history Plunkett’s gift, august in North Africa – no act of deceit to insular Ireland – the skater hailed in song and in mosque , others failed holily, his stands remembered – is loved by skaters throughout Algeria.


We too have our Martyrs 1234 (Arthur Broomfield)

We have reduced the grand narratives to our elder’s irritation– passed to us from Israel and Greece, to an a la carte way of doing that frees us to delight in a meal with friends, a rock concert, or a football game.

We elect our rulers. When they betray our expectations we exercise our right to censure them in a free press, If we feel the urge to torture we express our feelings through satire.

From time to time the tediously intense among us believe they can correct the defects in our system. We smile and shake our heads, knowingly. Our ways accommodate such vagaries. We call them Western Values.

Our menus and match programmes are as sacred to us as your scriptures are to you. 218

Though we do not feel the need to sing it from the rooftops we too, the people, are believers.

You who grieve for your martyrs of long ago, you of a heightened sense of your persecution carried down the ages, best be aware of who you are taking on. We are not the pampered, guilt ridden liberals, you suppose us to be, soft targets on a night out in the decadent West. We too can match hurt for hurt. We too have our martyrs, those who died by your hand not in the heat of battle, but in the savagery of cold blooded slaughter.

They inspire us. Our hearts bleed with their hearts. They died because of what we are, their beliefs live in us.


Biography: Peter O’Neill

Peter O' Neill is currently the Writer in Residence at Loughshinny Boathouse where he is working on Mare Nostram, an epic account of an ancient Roman incursion into Hibernia during the first AD. He is the author of The Dublin Trilogy, comprising of The Dark Pool, Dublin Gothic and The Enemy, Transversions from Charles Baudelaire, and The Elm Tree. His is fifth full Sker is due out by Lapwing very soon, and a sixth, Divertimento-The Muse is a Dominatrix (mgv2>publishing ), is due to be published in May.

He co-edited And Agamemnon Dead, An Anthology of Early Twenty First Century Irish Poetry with Walter Ruhlmann ( mgv2>publishing, France, 2015) and organised Donkey Shots, Skerries First International Avant Garde Poetry Fest last spring, and event he will be hosting again this year; 18th21st May. He has also been hosting The Gladstone Readings, again in his home town of Skerries, inviting writers to come and meet from all over Ireland.


Ted Hughes Tales from Ovid (Peter O’Neill)

In nova fert animus mutatis dicere forms corpora. Ovid

You have a first edition of it just a year away from its twentieth birthday you bought it in Dublin in 1997 a year back from your stay in Paris it like you is in reasonably good condition the cover is perfect the spine although a little cracked in places still holds the thing together the pages emit a mild aroma from their slow baking by the sun their colour a little jaundiced from the light you were a young man when you bought it in your thirtieth year now your young daughter sits beside you entering already her seventh


La Luna For Laura (Peter O’Neill)

Satellite of burnt out rock peppered with waterless seas orbiting the earth like some sterile offspring whose gravitational pull magnetises the tides into lunar prophecy bloated now the cobalt orb illuminates a pair of quietened fossil lying upon a bed of earth the madness catapulting all of thought’s projections into dark phases and the spatial expansiveness of utter un-reason hovering above the milky way of your nipples emblazoned with the corpse of light listening to the litany of history howling


Voicing (Peter O’Neill)

We have all done this at some point held each particular body part of the beloved up to the light as if seeing the thing for the first time voicing the word then a sign... la bouche... les lèvres... etcetera voicing the object onomatopoeiac the sound of the object resonating in the word – la b o u c h e – the mouth lips moving to the sound of the thing so that lips and words conjoin as both your lips would do labial folds moving their microcosmic movements unfolding with all the momentum of infinite stillness


Nosey (Peter O’Neill)

Shit encrusted sphincter the entanglement of the pubic hair impregnated with musk urine and all the other delectables the beloveds' twin moons shining spheres of fleshy bounty offered up to you as upon a dish sublime presentation; porte derriere your nose of a pyramid inserts into the intoxicant of sweet corruption breathing deep... the hallucinatory heights and depths... the fresh air then of delirium excrement is but a word for all manner of both foul and wonderful things


Counter Discourse (Peter O’Neill)

Condolences are offered the litany of carefully chosen phrases are proffered from the snug of the high chair here Cerebus keeps watch she stands mid-aisle nodding while he drones on about his own loss each tombstone chalked up by him in his deadpan another notch of world matter even in death not to be outdone! the ravenous triple maw till eventually she takes her leave of him thank the dear heavens skipping almost quickly to the door Minos the judge presides and shakes the urn


Biography: Eileen Sheehan

Eileen Sheehan is from Scartaglin, now living in Killarney, County Kerry. Her collections are Song of the Midnight Fox and Down the Sunlit Hall (Doghouse Books). Anthology publications include The Watchful Heart: A New Generation of Irish Poets (Ed Joan McBreen/Salmon Poetry), TEXT: A Transition Year English Reader (Ed Niall MacMonagle/ Celtic Press) and Winter Blessings by Patricia Scanlan (Hodder Headline Ireland).Her senryu and haiku are published in many journals including The Heron’s Nest, Frogpond, Acorn, Paper Wasp and Shamrock.

Her work is featured on Poetry International Web's Irish section. Her third collection, The Narrow Place of Souls, is forthcoming.


What of the Heart? (Eileen Sheehan) so, the heart found a calm cave to retreat to, so, it was a home of sorts, a haven, if you will, so, there was a certain comfort in the song of insects, the predictable wind, so, there were tasks to complete, a daily round, some small achievements, so, heart learnt to make-do, expected nothing, was not disappointed, so, tiny creatures succumbed to the night, she counted bones, furred corpses, so, when he tracked her there, she had forgotten his face, his darkening features, so, she ran towards him, kissed him, full on the mouth, so not what she thought she was about to do. First published in Sixty Poems for Haiti (Cane Arrow Press)


Holding the Note (Eileen Sheehan) Singing class began with me being asked to sing the scale. The class would laugh. I never laughed because I already knew I could not hold a tune, except inside my head. For almost half a term I dreaded Thursday mornings, until I told my mother how I was used as an anti- tuning fork to demonstrate how now not to climb the scale. My mother simplified it all with her advice, Girl, on Thursday next, don’t sing. So, next class I met her gaze dead on, sealed my mouth tight shut. No matter how many times she ordered me, I allowed not one sound escape my throat. Silence spread across the room like a held note. I knew I had her then for silence was my realm, not hers. She rammed the tuning fork against the wooden desk and instructed the best singer in the room to lead the group. My mother never asked a thing when I got home but she sang, around the house, a song that had my name in it: and the girl inside the song could sing. I carry every word and turn to The Spinning Wheel: Inside my head I sing it still. first published in Speaking for ScÊine Vol 11 (ed John W. Sexton) 228

What She Sings Of (Eileen Sheehan) Once in a time he was the sky clothing me, the warm earth supporting me, the all-in-all of every night and day to me. He was salt waves washing me, he was wind caressing me, fire igniting me, the first and last of every cause that moved me. He was fish that jumped for me, bird that sang for me, beast that nourished me, the craving and cure of every need inside of me. Now he is a bright ship pulling away from me, white sail gone from me, his rough wake drowning me, he is shimmer of scales growing out of me; soon I will sing to him, comb out my hair for him, draw him back to me, lure him down to me.

first published in The Watchful Heart : A New Generation of Irish Poets (ed Joan McBreen/Salmon Poetry)


A is for Alzheimer, C is for Carer (Eileen Sheehan) Nights you thought me your teacher I was thin-lipped, all old school chiding Nights you thought me your nurse I was all starched efficiency tapping my watch face inflexible on time Nights you thought me your mother I was angular all elbow and hip and wagging finger Nights I kept myself stronger than what ailed you, to get us through. Then tonight under a hunched moon, years too late to reach you, catching me unawares this tenderness. First published in Ten Years in the Doghouse Anthology (Doghouse Books)



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