The Burning Bush 2, issue #6

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The Burning Bush 2, issue six, February 2014

The Burning Bush2 issue # 6 Feb 2014


The Burning Bush 2, issue six, February 2014

The Burning Bush 2 issue six contents

Poetry John W. Sexton Michael Corrigan Laura Cleary Dylan Brennan Peadar O’Donoghue Lex Runciman Kevin Higgins John Ennis Erin Fornoff David Cameron Michael Loughran Kate Ennals Bernard O’Rourke Mike Catherwood Amanda Bell

4 6 7 8 9 10 11 13 15 16 17 19 21 22 23

Two Poems Wulf Nation (iv) Prayers of the Faithful Plastic Virgins of Xochimilco Time’s Arrow When the World Goes Husk & Ash Two Poems Two Poems Facepainting The Same Two Poems Retrospective Cutting the Love Locks The Bully Poet School Dark Days

Interview David Gardiner interviews Daniel Tobin 24 Fiction James O’Sullivan Doreen Duffy

27 29

Profiles Seeing Things

30 32 33 34 35 36 37

Del Cano’s Story Horticulture in Vienna Spanish Flu What he remembers of the drowning Let’s get out of the sea before we drain it Solo Whistlers Madrid Café

Poetry Colm Scully Nessa O’Mahony John Thomas Menesini Seth Crook Michael Naghten Shanks Alan Weadick David McLoghlin


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John Saunders Donna Sorensen Michael J. Whelan James O’Leary Derek Coyle Christine Murray

38 39 40 41 42 43

Art Nouveau 5AM Portal The Body I Belonged To Hotel Window Black Inky Waves Lap to

Michael S. Begnal


Doireann Ní Ghríofa Nuala Ní Chonchúir

49 52

Exteroceptive by Sarah Hayden The Architect’s Dream of Winter by Billy Ramsell Dream Country by Donna Sorensen Heimlich’s Manoeuvre by Paula Cunningham

About the Editors




The Burning Bush 2, issue six, February 2014

John W. Sexton Then Not salty depth-kisses from her seaweed lips … my mind air-locked forever the moon swells … grey moths patter the five-ton bell our dead the shape of birdsong … for a moment in the thrushdeep then not Eggs-a-Dozen, Captain Treacle, Dead Money, Ms Lemon ... fleet horse gods thruppence a soul their childhoods dissolved in acid drops with this ring I do thee ... snout-led a minotaur steps into slaylight a billowing flag … the cured face of the Fuehrer smothers Passover


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Trans-Dimensional Drains soon global swarming … undines awaking in Antarctica wee Jack's beanstalk springs up in the night … the giant's Mrs misses it the carpet ate mainly roaches and mice ... feet bare, his calluses trimmed invisible seas of Bikini ... the mermaids and their halfling calves asylum nightshift & bees the size of sheep … the Derangels of God lest slow-worm bite thee or ghoul-of-smoke smite thee o best be not-thee Mr What's-the-Time ... not a stick of furniture in his pigskin house trans-dimensional drains ... inside the plum stone a crystallized boatswain in his water Nostradamus feels a cloud ... the world falls in four lines

John W. Sexton is the author of five collections of poetry, the most recent of which, The Offspring of the Moon, came out last year from Salmon Poetry. He is a past nominee for The Hennessy Literary Award and his poem The Green Owl won the Listowel Poetry Prize 2007. Also in 2007, he was awarded a Patrick and Katherine Kavanagh Fellowship in Poetry.


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Michael Corrigan Wulf Nation (iv) Oh the glamour the clamour of those heady days expensive shoes on well-heeled feet forests of newsprint breathless about how much cake was eaten the sun shone even at night and magicians walked on water just because they could oh the thrusting salacious red lipped golden eyed belly busting gorgeous gorging of it all But Wulf was not kept from the pasture Wulf was not kept from the gate Wulf was not kept from the door Wulf was behind us in the house.

Mick Corrigan has been writing for several years and has been published in a range of periodicals, magazines and on-line journals. He lives in County Kildare.


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Laura Cleary Prayers of the Faithful A Middle-Aged Church I had stumbled across Held Kilkenny’s last Faithful Sitting up straight Humming rosaries, folded Worn flat in the center The better to stack Beneath upturned eyes For their sick, Bereaved, Perishing Waterlogged crops, snotty Seasideless tots, kids Abandoned at shops, Empty current accounts, for The Last Faithful, we, Heterosexual Good That stand with our Neighbour At Women’s Health Centres Proffering our pamphlets to Sinners – strangers Feeding them photos of Bare knitted cells Immaculate Hearts The Mother of God Buckets of blood

Laura Cleary is a Dublin based poet and writer. Her poetry has appeared in numerous publications including wordlegs, Outburst, The Poetry Bus, can can and the 2012 Bare Hands Poetry Anthology. Her poem “Breaking Point” was shortlisted for the 2011 iYeats Emerging Talent Award, and she was a featured poet in the recent Ash Wednesday series in Ranelagh, Dublin. She received first prize in the inaugural Heart in Mouth competition for her performance of her poem "Note to a Mislaid Friend". Her first play "And You Expect Me To..?" was featured as part of 10 Days in Dublin 2013 and is available to view here.


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Dylan Brennan Plastic Virgins of Xochimilco Living eyes and a soft belly – my first doll was warm and fleshy. She was taken by the water. Oh Blessed Virgin of the Wetlands! Oh Lord Acocil! Too long with things that squirm in water. Blue-eyed porcelain saints, madonnas and infants, they watch me while I sleep, plastic virgins their playmates. My plastic virgins protect me from harm. My plastic virgins will bring her back home. My plastic virgins prohibit my sins as their hair grows long. I’ve seen it entwine with the roots of bonpland willows, tezontle helps it sink low –down to soft beds of water-earth. Foetus-fingered tendrils curl around flora and pebbles – cross-pollinated anchors, tenacious and frail. Our Lady of the Axolotl! Amphibious Brother of Quetzalcoatl! Regenerator of Limbs! Make her flesh whole again. But no, this has gone on for too long and I am tired. The colour drains from their cheeks and rags. Hollow and dead, the carp-eyes of severed heads are blurred by translucent membranes of cobwebs – spinneret-gland silk, like myself, grown old and grey. The canals under the clouds of a violent August. I am as the wandering woman that I’ve feared since birth – a llorona of the daytime, visible trails of whispers in my wake. Lately I’ve seen the warm fingers of a siren beckon from beneath this seeable-down-into surface. She knows where my first doll plays. I will go to her. Dylan Brennan’s poetry has been published in Irish and international journals including Abridged, Poetry Ireland Review, New Binary Press Anthology of Poetry, The Penny Dreadful Magazine. He has also collaborated with the Fundación Juan Rulfo on two recent publications El gallo de oro (2010) and Juan Rulfo: Otras Miradas (2010). He featured in the Poetry Ireland Introductions Series. He lives and works in Mexico.


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Peadar O’Donoghue Times Arrow (after the novel by Martin Amis) For Collette.

.fight the for enough drunk I‘m now, backwards everything’s still and tomorrow everything's ,unticking clocks the hear we ,reels and jigs dance ,travel-time we ,dream a everything’s ,something or nothing ,bad or good ,worse or better For .silent so it’s, sound that ,traffic of lanes three, wall a up it pissed I ,failure our for (late too not but, late) ,tissue scarrred our ,cicatrice sweet our ,it of because not if -everything despite dreams my of depth the you to betrothe I ,soul my to ,soul my in ,soul my From

Peadar O’Donoghue is the editor of The Poetry Bus magazine. His debut collection Jewel was published by Salmon Poetry in 2012.


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Lex Runciman When the World Goes Husk and Ash When the world goes husk and ash and no one I remember remembers me, let me not think of that December night labor woke us and carried us new again. And let me not recall our first child first asleep an evening in July, so late we ate slowly that day’s first food, and looked at each other tired and looked at her. Let me not think of sea birds or tides. Nor creek water surprised and falling under a summer bridge. Let me forget the shape of her hand, unlearn the sad face my father wore. Let me forget Venus at dawn, and peonies crawled with ants, and dahlias, chrysanthemums and rose. No one in mind. Not bile but mint on my tongue. The work and hum of bees.

Lex Runciman has had poems published recently in The Gettysburg Review, The Cape Rock, Cloudbank, and New Verse News. A new collection, One Hour That Morning & Other Poems, is due out from Salmon Poetry later this year. He teaches at Linfield College, in Oregon’s Willamette Valley.


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Kevin Higgins Plagued The dachshund smells something off you. You’ve become the bloke you met twenty winters ago, waiting for a train that wasn’t coming – with the cough his new inhaler should’ve taken care of – you’re desperate to share that your left pebble this morning swelled to the size of an enraged, bulbous orange. It’s either the nothing that, if it’s anything, they’ve caught it in good time; or the silent, embedded something that, within six months, will zip you up and drive you around the roundabout in a bag to be discarded. Money for next year no longer the worry. You’ve enough in the drawer that’s been too crammed to close for years, to pick up the bill and tip the driver nicely.


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To That Imagined Place Go. Where you can be sure the mincemeat contains no per cent mule; where you’ll not find even one rough white beard rattling coins in a stolen milk jug outside what was once the adult cinema; where we’ll knit for the world a new ozone layer; where ‘cancer’, ‘malnutrition’, ‘hatred’ will be ripped from the dictionary. There, look into the gelid eyeballs of the boy man who puts the mash into machinations and never forgets a name, who doesn’t believe in god because he’s convinced he’s him.

Kevin Higgins is co-organiser of Over The Edge literary events in Galway City. He has published three collections of poems: The Boy With No Face (2005), Time Gentlemen, Please (2008) and Frightening New Furniture (2010) all with Salmon Poetry. His work also features in the anthology Identity Parade – New British and Irish Poets (Bloodaxe, 2010). Mentioning The War, a collection of his essays and reviews, was published by Salmon in April, 2012. Kevin’s fourth collection of poetry, The Ghost In The Lobby, will be published shortly.


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John Ennis Óinsigh from the die-hard fans

With the clothes just shook on him, Jón, in some Hvítárnes his good eye startled as if by what sunlight there might rise it looks still early morning, and bleak cold, one for jumpers on in Iceland or wherever. It is our eyes that look through his, óin sigh, and back at us again, and we see ourselves in the daybreak mirror we’ve become with him, each day to wake, face the indefinable terror of clouds risen. He’s yet to collect himself in von, or words, engender something lava hot in us to heat the innards. Worlds fall apart in the vast fanlands. One more time those careful esker stones we’d raise the battering ram sees to them. Roofs fall in on people. He ransacks himself for us across the global fields of Heima. Chilling out in Portlaoise, walkabout at Snaefell, Stradbally, Vosslands east of Perth he is our god, he walks upon the earth.


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In Syria the lost city of Qatna

I’m a teenager in Qatna and I’ve lost my glasses in eternity. That is why this is not very legible, Then there are the motes of dust settling over me. Any words I’d write, more dust on a dust floor. I’m as full of life as a late tax return Gladdening the spent eye of revenue. I’m hiding in an alcove as the houses round me burn down This last street with a ferocity I didn’t think credible. Trees explode. Smoke blinds. Burning flesh. I can’t see. Can’t see, I’m younger than you will ever be For all your gigs. Male teenagers dreamt of me, It’s likely my entrails will know your rollicking member in me. My brothers ate their last bony supper with those ossaried before us, Shored up the tomb. Nothing left now but blazing timbers falling. Chaos and its chorus. Hittite, Israelite, Egyptian, our own, - what does it matter who wipes us out. My brothers, they scattered their last coins on the ground round our lot. I’m plucked by the hand from this alcove. . . I must be one of the last young slips. By now my brothers are dead, their heads severed. I find neither rhyme nor reason to this existence. Plucked by the hand, O yes. In other times It would be out to swathe the dance floor With my near nakedness. This tenderness, Dragged palm to palm can’t bloom long. Hittites this time are making a clean sweep of us all. If you’re interested, you’ll be lucky to find a bone of mine. After all These years I still haven’t found them, not even their scent, My five brothers who fell fighting one by one, or my parents. You, you’re not praying hard enough for me. I’ll never belong to your band, Your God channel. I’m so lonely. Can’t say I was great as a teenager. My tastes in sex were catholic. Yet (thank you for thinking of me) I reached out to, held whoever wanted close to me. But your scriptures say no. I can’t play in your game. What we’ve in common, commoner, after the war games, Is a human numbness close to the end, then the flames. John Ennis is the author of thirteen books of poetry. His most recent, Postponing Ásbyrgi (poems in response to Sìgur Rós), was published by Three Spires Press in 2013 and launched in Newfoundland at The March Hare Festival.


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Erin Fornoff Facepainting Her mother says maybe she could be a princess today, and I knock cloudy water off a brush and anchor her tiny chin with the pad of my thumb. The boys all want to be lions or pirates, predators and criminals-but she is my fifth princess of the morning. She disregards my thumb To ask what she’ll look like-we say so beautiful. I shellack her perfect face in white daub pink hearts on cheeks, dot a cupid bow mouth in red, arched flirting brows and over it all lashings of Las Vegas glitter. Sitting this still for this long is almost unendurable torture She’s as happy to be free as she is to sight the gaudy stranger where her face should be. She looks at us to tell her we love it. Her father shoots me a look I can’t quite meet. I’ve tarted up his three year old like a truck stop hooker and I wish I had skipped the Geisha routine and gone straight for the warpaint and slicked it thick, the kind that doesn’t smear with fast-melting ice cream or an arm wiped across a runny nose. She asks how she looks. We say so beautiful. I want to say honey A princess looks however they tell her. A native of the Appalachian mountains of N. Carolina, Erin Fornoff now lives in Dublin. Her work has appeared in Wordlegs, The Irish Times, Bare Hands, and The Cellar Door. She regularly performs at spoken word events and festivals around the country.


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David Cameron The Same I have stepped into the same river twice. You were there both times – were both times the same, Not quite surefooted on the stepping stones; Just as you were when I first spoke your name Afterwards, in my room again, alone. That double-edged river ran quietly Past the house-front. We watched it from the window The next time you came. Now you turn and say: ‘There is such tallness in my family,’ Wondering if our three could be as tall As we watch them run. This much water’s flowed. And so, as the night traffic starts to crawl In a city long left behind, we stare At the window-framed mountain peak above The town we’ve settled into, still the same Two people joined by time, a river, love.

David Cameron is a Scottish poet living in Leitrim. He has had poems published in The London Magazine, Stand, the Rialto, New Walk, Poetry Scotland, The Irish Independent (New Irish Writing) and elsewhere. He is also the author of two books of fiction, Rousseau Moon (11/9, Glasgow, 2000) and The Ghost of Alice Fields (Greenwich Exchange, London, 2013). He occasionally reviews poetry for The Literary Review, Poetry Ireland Review, and Dark Horse.


The Burning Bush 2, issue six, February 2014

Michael Loughran ARC The sign shouldn't be this red. It should be black, or plaster-cast white. The windows get it, either boarded up with rotten wood or vacant as skeletal eye sockets. I can't remember what it was like on Saturdays. I imagine there were badly dressed teens milling about, a busker strumming Johnny Cash and a godbotherer admonishing godlessness under the listed art deco glass roof. The roof is just a charred beam covered in bird shit now and it echoes too loud in there when pigeons or god knows what flap about. Bushes grow out of the vacant stores, one of which used to be Terri Hooley's Cathedral Records. I imagine the vinyl melting like treacle and dripping to create puddles of crude oil. Beeps from trucks and cicada-like drills hint at regeneration projects elsewhere. It won’t be long before something is done about this place. Back then it would be hard to imagine the state of it now while walking under the listed art deco glass roof, but then again it is harder to imagine absence.


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Culaccino Italian, noun: The mark left on a table by a cold glass.

The pint's lost its head but it's still cold anyway it's 5:30 and everyone's going home (it's the time of day Belfast slows to a halt for reasons best left to those with a history to say). If you sit and watch people long enough you get a sense of how time is subjective to experience; how it passes slower for those with a pint than for a those half-running with a phone in their ear. Earlier I sat by the old Army barracks (which is now a shopping centre) and thought of history and how exactly the past passes, not organically but always as the result of external forces such as a building getting a facelift after a bomb or how when you raise a cold glass on a hot day you leave a thin film of liquid on the table, and you wipe it away instead of letting it evaporate.

Michael Loughran is from Belfast. His work has been published in Crann贸g, inksweat&tears, The Poetry Bus and wordlegs, among others.


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Kate Ennals Retrospective Through the window, side by side, We lie and watch the world outside Shine and shrink, shape, and shift, We ghostly figures on land adrift. Across Dublin Bay, mountains fade, Evaporate into ghostly dusk Vanquished by the orange lamps Of Dublin Port that rise before us Mirrored in the water’s black, Cascades of rippling light refract, A wave of sodium fountains glitter Surfing on the Irish ocean, Like disco lights of natural neon Flashing colours of blue and red Dance from Three Rock to Poolbeg. Through the window in Clontarf where our bodies lurch and seep, Our passionate kisses, dark and deep Penetrate like Dracula’s. Your pale skin glistens, you draw red blood, then spent, together we lie still And across the water, Dun Laoghaire twinkles All is silent. All is well. Your hand rests upon my hip. Bone on bone beneath the flesh I take your shape. I am possessed until Night time black turns darkest blue Mountains rise and regroup The dominance of Port light fades As dark blue wanes into grey One by one fountains fall Wilt and shrivel Drowned and lost in dawn’s arrival Silver trickles from the east Sea tides lap upon a beach Darkened boats turn to sail and deck Gone are the lights of Three Rock, Poolbeg.


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Our spell is broken by song of day Sounds unfurl across the bay Night time rhythms turn intermittent. An Irish Ferry unloads its first shipment, Lorries rumble over East Wall. A car door slams. Sea gulls squawk, Swoop and dive, The harbour is now tinged with turquoise, Grass is green on the other side Where a man and woman jog the prom We now fade, our story’s done.

Kate Ennals has just completed the MA in Writing in NUI Galway. Her work has been published in Skylight 47, Crannog, and The Galway Review.


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Bernard O’Rourke Cutting the Love Locks Jo and Ro’s Lock Hangs in there still, Alone along the railing, A rust-encrusted barnacle. Even though They went on, Like, One date Aged fourteen. Thinking they were lovers, Until she shifted His cousin The week after. But their love lock lasts, A part of the bridge almost, Even after the corporation Came out and clipped The litter of teenage fancy. Their delinquent proof endures, A grain of set imperfection Upon a city’s sketchy face.

Bernard O'Rourke is a writer, blogger and freelance journalist from Dundalk, who currently lives in Dublin. His short stories have been published in 30 Under 30, Flashflood, The Linnet’s Wings, Outburst, and Wordlegs.


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Michael Catherwood The Bully Poet School We have decided to take our poesy outside and write witty poems about trashcans, mix in synaesthesia: the collard greens and cabbages will sing to Saturn’s lopsided moons. Our earthy fingernails wring out clouds and we drink buckets of sticky beer and fill playgrounds knee-deep with peanut shells. Our cars wick past fence posts at nervous speeds. We have demands: include some danger in your poems. Another nicety: lower those ribbons of light; forlorn those shadows; paint a few speckles of something other than what we’ve listed here: self, parchment, other-self, mom and dad, shiny keys, lovers, shiny lovers, sky, moon, sky. Follow us. We’ve dumped the egotistical pose, locked up our Sunday ruminations; the old confessional light’s stuck on. We’re tired of mushroom hunts, cuddly puppy dog musings, contrite pabulum. All those indoor trampolines are finally indoor trampolines, their oh so predictable flips and spins. Simple digression: clear the clocks jeer the masses count your rings poison the engines.

Michael Catherwood has published poems and essays in various magazines, including Agni, Aethlon, Black Warrior Review, Blue Violin, Borderlands, Briar Cliff Review and others. His first book is Dare from The Backwaters Press.


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Amanda Bell Dark Days (i.m. Savita Halappanavar)

Suspended at the end of Krishna Paksha, the moon is a sickle freeze-framed in the night sky. The fireworks have been cancelled, replaced by candles and a vision of you dancing on the cusp. These are dark days between Diwali and Advent, waiting for the moon to wax.

Amanda Bell is a freelance editor, and currently tutors in UCD where she is a doctoral candidate. Her poetry has appeared in The Stinging Fly, and was shortlisted for the Mslexia Women's Poetry Competition 2013.


The Burning Bush 2, issue six, February 2014

David Gardiner Interviews Daniel Tobin The first in a new series of interviews: Burning Bush 2’s David Gardiner talks to writers, critics and publishers in Ireland and the USA. Our first is with poet and critic Daniel Tobin. David Gardiner: In The Book of Irish American Poetry from the Eighteenth Century to the Present (Notre Dame, 2008: xlv), you wrote that you sought to “shift the question of whether there is a tradition of Irish American poetry away from ‘genetic templates’ and clearly identifiable Irish American contexts and toward an understanding of tradition that is flexible enough to embrace an inclusiveness and plurality that might keep alive the question of tradition in the ongoing process of seeking to define it.” Have you seen that template within recent Irish American poetry? (or) Are there any ways in which, since the publication of your anthology, you would think about modifying the template you discovered? Daniel Tobin: I think people assume that an anthology of Irish American poetry, like any ethnically based anthology, includes only those writers with the recognizable “genetic template.” While obviously so comprehensive an anthology of Irish American poets needs to include such writers—especially those who have made it into the wide canon—I think limiting the anthology to just those poets misses the point. It’s simply too difficult and indeed misleading to parse the reality that narrowly. The anthology I edited is a book of Irish American poems, and not only Irish American poets, and is far better for it (though apparently it upset some people). As I researched I discovered confluences, between Irish poets, Irish American poets, and American poets from other ethnic backgrounds often around the theme of history, emigration, the loss of roots, the encounter with others in America. And the focus was and is on America and not reflective merely of Ireland, which also upset certain individuals. Richard Kearney’s insight applies: “tradition is not just a homogenous totality; it is a multi-layered manuscript with each layer recording some new crisis, rupture or spasm that has altered the course of history.” While my own view is not quite so catastrophist I do see tradition, and the anthology that renders that tradition visible, as a multi-layered manuscript. It was never meant to establish a canon (“kanon”) of Irish American poets (who “measures up”), but as I said to render visible what has been “handed over” (“tradere”) and handed over in every sense, even across ethnic boundaries. I’ll stand by that view, since it’s in fact truer to life and history than the purist version of what might constitute an ethnic inheritance. DG: In your work, you have drawn a comparison between the emigration experience – one geographic; one class – between John Boyle O’Reilly and Lola Ridge. Do you see situations of geography and class playing themselves out in other arenas of Irish and American writing, scholarship or teaching? DT: This is a huge question. I would say that class plays itself out everywhere in American society, and no less so in academia, often less visibly than anyone is willing to admit. My own background is blue collar. Go back one or two generations and my forebears are hovering at the poverty line in Red Hook Brooklyn. Go back another and they’re digging ditches in St. John, New Brunswick, another and they’re crowding onto a famine ship in Cork, go back another and, well…. On my mother’s side it’s all


The Burning Bush 2, issue six, February 2014

subsistence farmers in Mayo. My own poetry is rooted strongly in that history, and The Narrows (my third book of poems) is really a book-length engagement with that past— a kind of mural in verse. I think the drive to enter fully into the privileged world of academia, to pursue an intellectually vital life, animates a good many Irish American writers and scholars, so I don’t believe I’m alone in this though I confess I had little sense of that connection even in college. I had to slowly uncover it, to see what was there: another reason for the anthology, and for the essays of Awake in America. A poet like Thomas McGrath thrives on the animus running just below everything he writes, as well as his far leftist politics—“farther left than anything alive,” or something like that he apparently said. Consequently he is still marginalized despite a rich and hugely ambitious body of work—looking in from outside as it were through the lace curtain. DG: How long have you been writing? DT: I began writing poems in high school at about the age of seventeen with really no precedent in my family for doing any such thing. There were few books in my house growing up, but I do remember a copy of Immortal Poems of the English Language edited by Oscar Williams. How it managed to get on the shelf next to my mother’s romance novels I have no idea. I was much taken at the time by Edgar Allen Poe, I’m a little embarrassed to say (though it reassures that Baudelaire and Mallarme caught the Poe bug), but I moved on to Donne, Wordsworth, Hopkins, Dickinson, Yeats, Stevens, Lowell, Bishop and Heaney. I read very little American Poetry until college, all the while accruing my own poems slowly in a spiral notebook. It’s at the bottom of a drawer now, along with the many notebooks that followed, which is where they’ll stay. DG: On that note, what was your first publication? DT: My first publication was a short “Imagist” poem entitled “Ireland’s Eye,” after the little island off Howth. I’d written it after a summer working for the Christian Brothers in Dublin after graduating from college—a friend and I had taken a small boat out to the island and spent the day. It was thrilling for a Brooklyn kid his first time in Ireland. The poem was published in Adrift, a small magazine out of the Eagle Tavern in New York which was a hotbed of Irish traditional music in the Eighties. I knew no one in the issue but was happy to have something out. About fifteen years later I picked up the issue again and to my surprise I found work by James Liddy, Knute Skinner, and Eamonn Wall—all of whom had become friends of mine since that first appearance. My first publication turned out to be a wonderful bit of serendipity. DG: What have been the most significant developments, negative and positive if you like, in poetry in Ireland over the last 10 years or so? DT: The history of Irish poetry is understandably island-centered, centripetal rather than centrifugal. That is still largely true, but with New Irish poets in the United States like Eamonn Wall and Greg Delanty and other more recent or younger emigrant poets like Aidan Rooney and Mary O’Donoghue there is a growing sense that Irish poetry is coming to embrace more fully what we could maybe call an experience of elsewhere. There also seems to be more poets from elsewhere publishing in Ireland, which can be invigorating. Both are positive.


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DG: What do you think needs to happen, and what would you like to see happen, in Irish poetry over the next few years? DT: I’d love to see a greater recognition and understanding of Irish American poetry in Ireland, given the extent of the tradition of Irish American poetry in the United States and the important place certain Irish American poets hold in the tradition of American Poetry. Robinson Jeffers intended Tor House on Carmel Point in California to be an American Thoor Ballylee, and Yeats was hugely important for Louise Bogan, a central figure in American women’s poetry who influenced Adrienne Rich who in turn influenced Eavan Boland. It would be good for Irish poetry to take a closer look at the imaginative DNA, the lines of inheritance and influence running across Irish and Irish American poetry. DG: Finally, if you had to recommend a poetry event in America to someone, what would it be? DT: For the sheer magnitude of it I would recommend the Associated Writing Programs Convention which is held in a different American city each year. Somewhere between ten and twelve thousand writers and poets giving readings and papers and networking. There is also a massive book fair. I recommend the AWP with caution, however — imagine some ten thousand writers in one place, manoeuvring through the hotel lobby to the bar and the sheer throng of themselves for another drink! On second thought, it might be best to catch a reading at the Program for Writers at Warren Wilson College in Swanannoa, North Carolina—some of the best poets in the country teach there at the July and January residencies and the readings are free and open to the public.

Daniel Tobin is professor in the Department of writing, Literature and Publishing at Emerson College in Boston. He is author of six books of poetry as well as works of criticism, including The Book of Irish American Poetry, Passage to the Center: Imagination and the Sacred in the Poetry of Seamus Heaney, Light in Hand: Selected Early Poems of Lola Ridge and Awake in America: On Irish American Poetry (2011). His work has received The Robert Penn Warren Award, the Robert Frost Fellowship, the Massachusetts Book Award, and fellowships from the national Endowment for the Arts and the John Simon Guggenheim Foundation.


The Burning Bush 2, issue six, February 2014

James O’Sullivan Profiles Robbie washed the filth from his lips. His hands ran over his face, letting the steam take the place of that odour – fair before but always foul after – deep within his nostrils. It was warm. It was cleansing. He almost felt clean. - You should change your picture back. That’ll do. - What picture? - Your profile picture; you’re hotter in the old one. Three fucking years later. But ya, change it. - Controversial. If I change it back it may imply that I value your opinion. - I am an expert on such things. - Well the fact that you appreciate my hotness in the first place proves your expertise in the area, I suppose. Dogs love their bellies rubbed. - Of course – I am a connoisseur. - So it’s decided, I’ll go back to the old photo, just for you. Four o’clock. Sorted. - Just for me. That’s not how it started for Robbie and Val, that’s how it continued. It started like it always starts, in a grubby two-and-a-half bedroomed semi-detached, with a cup of tea, crisp sandwich and the lingering taste of tobacco. - Just looking at your pic. I’d totally tap that. Savour the best bit. - Only ten? You just spending your days looking at photos of me? Can’t imagine how you get any work done. - I don’t. - I am very distracting I suppose. - I’d go to town on ya. - There’s a fine line between complimentary and sleazy! - Ye gals and ye’re lines. - What’s that supposed to mean? - Ye think everything sits on a fine line. The world would be a better place if people ignored fine lines and said what they were thinking. - Well there’s clearly no fear of you keeping your thoughts to yourself. - Nope. If I did, they’d die with me. Fuckin Spinoza here like. A stupid fuckin thing to say, but any chance for the one-liner. The one-liner. The coveted instrument of the unoccupied. The full words made up for it. We’re intelligent and sophisticated – full words intelligent and sophisticated. Fuck, we use whole fucking sentences most of the time! I didn’t even like her, but there was that draw, ya know? That fucking draw. Christ it makes me sick – before, during and after. You’ve an itch that you need to scratch, but you don’t like touchin skin and when ya do your stomach is fucked afterwards until you take a shower and be on your own for a bit. Your fucking fingers make ya gag. But when you’ve that itch, Christ it’s all ya have. Your bones itch, and that fucking screen is married ta ya.


The Burning Bush 2, issue six, February 2014

I could fuckin smell it. Pricks like him are the best. Happy behind some glass, thinking you’re wet because they’re a bit bold. Work flies by. Still though, it’s nice when it’s clear, no bullshit, no “can I try on your glasses”. Try on my glasses. Sure, here ya go, now will ya give me what I need? I’m just a little girl that needs her fill, and who better than a proper man like you? Fucking morons. What’s a profile picture anyway? Why not change it? I could use a change myself. She’ll be lookin now. Maybe he’s right. She’ll probably show her friends. Fuck it, there.

James O’Sullivan is a writer from Cork. His poetry has appeared in various journals, periodicals and anthologies, including Southword, The SHOp and Revival. His debut collection, Kneeling on the Redwood Floor, was published by Lapwing in 2011.


The Burning Bush 2, issue six, February 2014

Doreen Duffy Seeing Things I’d been on the bus for over an hour. The smell of tightly packed people wafted up into the small spaces. The man in front of me, I’d thought he was asleep; he had been so still, lifted his arm swiftly and with nails ingrained with black, knuckles curved, he smoothed the hair at the back beneath his hat. My elbow rigid against the rubber seal tensed. I cupped my hand over my forehead. It felt hot. I could hear my watch ticking. He turned; his head held low until with thick fingers he pinched hard the felt, shoved back the brim to reveal a layer of sweat above familiar watery veined eyes that bore into me. Bile rose, it burned. I wished again that I hadn’t gone to see that ‘Medium last night. She didn’t see my mother but there was a man. “He’s wearing a trilby, he’s nodding towards you.” She said he had a slow leg. I already knew. I remembered the feeling when I would hear the drag of his slow leg across the boards in my room. I tried not to think. I knew he could read my mind now in this place between life and death. Tell-tale letters absorbed by old walls bound together in black and white, strangled words escaped, gasping for air amongst the bodies of oblivious faceless passengers. The bus trundled up along the quays, the river Liffey black like a slick of nylon wound its way tightly around my neck.

Doreen Duffy writes short stories and poetry and was long-listed this year in the RTE Guide/Penguin Short Story Competition and shortlisted for the Fish Competition 2012. Her work has been published in various magazines and periodical including The Irish Times. She was awarded first place for her poem ‘The Word Caretaker’ in the Jonathan Swift Competition 2012.


The Burning Bush 2, issue six, February 2014

Colm Scully del Cano’s Story (A fictitious account of the life of Juan Sebastian del Cano. Captain of the 1st ship to circumnavigate the Earth. 1522)

On the night I was conceived the doorkeeper went into my mother’s bedroom in a drunken haze, mistaking her for his wife. My father unwittingly brought me up as his own. Teaching me the ways of a shipwright and indenturing me to a master shipbuilder in Seville. I was his third “son”, but he never took to me. The second year of my apprenticeship I was posted to the poor copiers house on Bartholomew Street where the last vestiges of a trade were diminishing. Suddenly the new world unfolded and there was a requirement for maps. There were few trained cartographers and I became the master printmaker for the shop. But the lust for the sea seduced me. One night I was dragging rolled up charts around, after the owner, from drinking hole to drinking hole. In a stupor he gave the maps over to a navigator from some ship in port. Scoffing, he threw me in as well for some Portuguese Ducats and the promise of land in the east. I had no choice, I had no other security. I followed this man Carmens to his boat, and slipped in under his quarters till morning. The ship was the Victoria, and I was twenty one. Assistant navigator, though I had never left land before. He buggered me most nights, until I slit his throat with a carver and squeezed him out the peephole. The captain, Magellan, assumed he had fallen over, as he was always supping wine. The Caravels, all five, had just left Madeira, and I was promoted to chief navigator. Reading the maps, I drew myself, of places unknown. I was officially commissioned as an officer in the Spanish Army, only recently learning the convoys purpose. ‘To seek access to the riches of the east, through westward passage.’ Three years we sailed, in which I learned my trade. Mostly from the boatswain, and lost two ships and thirty men to scurvy, strong winds and such like. I even learned the language of the sea.


The Burning Bush 2, issue six, February 2014

When we pulled in as strangers to Sumatra, and saw first hand the riches and fine temples, we knew our fame was made. The first Christians to find a passage east. But Ferdinand, our leader, stayed on shore one night in the Sultans palace and tantalised his daughter. An Assassin’s blade struck him down, or so his aide said. We had to travel on, under our new commander del Rey. Slapping me on the shoulder as we headed through the China seas he told me “ You are second now.” The last officer standing, save for him. When we reached India we met our countrymen, in Calicut, We rested, stocked our lone Victoria with spices, and knew within our grasp we held the hope of circumnavigation. To cross the whole world’s oceans, always on new horizons But del Rey caught the smallpox and was quarantined. I took the helm, by default. Myself and twenty five others. It took four more months to round the Cape of Storms. Swapping a tonne of cloves for thirty slaves in Guinea and stocking with fresh water. When we arrived in Cadiz, the Spanish King sent envoys. Come at once to court. Magellan’s ship had circled Earth, Its size unimaginable. del Cano as its captain. Now nothing seemed impossible.

Colm Scully is a chemical engineer from Cork. He has been published in Cyphers, The Stony Thursday Book, Poetry Bus, Wordlegs and Boyne Berries. He was shortlisted for the 2012 Fish Poetry Prize. He has read in Cork and Limerick, and around Coventry as part of the Twin City Poetry Exchange 2011.


The Burning Bush 2, issue six, February 2014

Nessa O’Mahony Horticulture in Vienna Winter lingers like an unwelcome guest. There’s a hard frost in the Volksgarten, Burggarten roses pruned to a hare’s breadth, branches piled precisely in each mulched bed. In the grounds of the Belvedere, cuttings neatly tied with similar rigour. Inside, room after room of transience: names, births, the same date of death. 1942 was a bad year in Vienna. A painting catches my eye: the Jewish Cemetery, Prague 1933, the rubble of boxes arranged more chaotically than the ones I saw on the Mount of Olives. The artist, a youth when he painted it: he didn’t survive the decade. Forty years since you came here, tried your Omi’s recipe for knoedel; every menu sparks gastronomic memories. You stride down Praterstrasse like your grandfather owned it once, before an army marched in, officials came calling, repaying old scores and your mountaineer Opa paid the price of liberty: an NHS doctor sawed the leg a hard Dachau frost burnt black. You take home few souvenirs; some Manner, a fridge magnet from the Belvedere, a family tree of aunts, cousins lost, found, lost: branches pruned back in 1942.

Nessa O’Mahony was born in Dublin and lives in Rathfarnham. She has published three books – Bar Talk (1999), Trapping a Ghost (2005) and In Sight of Home (Salmon Poetry 2009). A fourth book, Her Father’s Daughter, will be published by Salmon in 2014.


The Burning Bush 2, issue six, February 2014

John Thomas Menesini Spanish Flu the boats what brought to harbour sinewy Celts silver speakers who migrated further than Ellis Island to The North Side of Pittsburgh still rock in slow lick waters of the passengers some caught cold while others died amid the pandemic of 1919 a bloodline of mine in Thomas O'Maoilchiarain Mary Ó Dónaill who on sooty streets left their children too soon while black skies draped heavy & bullied the black speck lungs of the throng

John Thomas Menesini has published three collections of poetry, The Last Great Glass Meat Million (2003), epit ap h (2007), endo (2011), and was included in the anthology Honeysuckle, Honeyjuice: A Tribute to James Liddy (2006). His work appeared in several issues of The Burning Bush.


The Burning Bush 2, issue six, February 2014

Seth Crook What he remembers of the drowning The damselfly, an unexpected brilliant blue, that for an instant caught the eye.

Seth Crook taught philosophy at various universities before moving to the Hebrides islands in Scotland. His poems have recently appeared (or are due) in various print and on-line magazines including The Shop, Other Poetry, Gutter, Northwords Now, The Open Mouse and Far Off Places.


The Burning Bush 2, issue six, February 2014

Michael Naghten Shanks let’s get out of the sea before we drain it we came to the water separately under the light of the supermoon you were warm & so was i we needed to shed our clothes we needed the look we gave each other as you stepped out of your blue dress it held your shape on the shore we soaked in the water & each other surfacing in time to see what was happening what would happen

Michael Naghten Shanks is from Dublin. His writing has featured variously online, including The South Circular, the Newer York, The Squawk Back, Bare Hands Poetry and wordlegs. He is one of the featured writers in the wordlegs anthology 30 under 30, published by Doire Press and the New Planet Cabaret Anthology published last year by New Island Books. He was shortlisted for the Fish Short Story Prize 2013 and was a finalist in the Uniquely Dublin competition. He has read his work at events including Shore Writers’ Festival, Big Smoke Writing Factory Presents: FLASH BULBS, 10 Days in Dublin Festival and at the London Irish Centre Young Irish Writers Showcase. He edits the online lit mag The Bohemyth and tweets @MichaelNShanks. For more information, visit


The Burning Bush 2, issue six, February 2014

Alan Weadick The Solo Whistlers Whatever happened to the solo whistlers? Threadbare-dapper and poised at the first light bus-stop, Or on an early evening stroll through a patrolled public park, They held, with a precarious vibrato sweetness, the whistled air Of some nineteen-fifties show-stopper, Signature tune of a forgotten radio crooner As, wedding rings in their pockets, They lifted their chins to the horizon, And cracks in the old road map vanishing, The cul-de-sac’s trees began To swoon away their dust, Sway in the roving searchlight Of a right- on- the- money moon rising behind Some mismatched, left-footed pair Striking out for those cool blue hills.

Alan Weadick was born and lives in Dublin with his wife and two children. He has had poems in Books Ireland, Crannog, Cyphers and in the online journals nth position, The Argotist, Roundtable Review and the Burning Bush 2. He took part in the Poetry Ireland Introductions series in June 2013. His short story "Floater" was short-listed and broadcast on RTE Radio 1 for the Francis McManus Short Story Competition 2013.


The Burning Bush 2, issue six, February 2014

David McLoghlin Madrid CafÊ City of sunsets at the end of avenues —chain of firestorms. A filament of light catches in my glass.

David McLoghlin is from Dublin and lives in Brooklyn. A graduate of UCD and New York University's Graduate Creative Writing Program, his first collection, Waiting for Saint Brendan and Other Poems, was published by Salmon Poetry in 2012. His work has appeared in Poetry Ireland Review, Southword, The Shop, and The Stinging Fly. He was awarded 2nd prize in the 2008 Patrick Kavanagh Awards. He is currently completing Santiago Sketches, a collection of short poems set in Santiago de Compostela, in northwest Spain, and is editing an anthology of young poets from the USA who have yet to publish a first collection.


The Burning Bush 2, issue six, February 2014

John Saunders Art Nouveau The night is a fist in my face, too late to escape the teeth of the dinosaur. Spray cans of paint show your precious colours, even if it is Art Nouveau. You are as beautiful as these fine lines and curves. I place my trust in you. Is there a C in spunk?

John Saunders’ first collection After the Accident was published in 2010 by Lapwing Press, Belfast. His poems have appeared in various magazines and journals including Revival, The Moth Magazine, Crannog, Prairie Schooner Literary Journal, The Irish Times, Sharp Review, The Stony Thursday Book, Boyne Berries, The New Binary Press Anthology of Poetry, The Poetry Bus, The Weary Blues, and Burning Bush 2. His second full collection Chance was published in 2013 by New Binary Press.


The Burning Bush 2, issue six, February 2014

Donna Sørensen Five AM This unwieldy sack of body parts we both live in – I heaved it down into the dark, lay it on its side and practised telling the story in my head – And then I lay down on my side with her – Sleep will not come through this retelling, reliving a hidden thing reawakening and no-one is waiting to hear how I woke to wake her – I couldn’t feel her – We should leave this world alone but we enter gripped tight to our mothers – empty-handed, together – She will not enter the world tonight and with me she’ll not leave it – she will leave alone – I will have held her hand, I will have lain down beside her to sleep – just not tonight.

Donna Sørensen has been published in journals such as Poetry Ireland Review, Southword, Cyphers, THE SHOp, Crannóg, Revival, Orbis, Bare Hands and Wordlegs. She appeared as the featured poet in the Spring 2012 issue of The Stinging Fly and received a commendation from The Patrick Kavanagh Poetry Award 2011 for her first collection, Dream Country (New Island Books, 2013). Donna was also selected to read at the Poetry Ireland Introductions Series 2011 and at the Cork Spring Poetry Festival 2012. She now lives in Copenhagen, Denmark.


The Burning Bush 2, issue six, February 2014

Michael J. Whelan Portal It is the quiet time. We have disturbed a hornet’s nest. Sandbags give shape to the sand. We fill them in pairs, one holding the mouth open the other bending into a bridge over the Earth, the spade lifting grains of time as they pour away, escaping like blood from an open wound. The rest is just history shovelled down the neck of a hungry war feeding on souls, a monster that’s never satisfied. We rest now and then, catch our breaths, switch tasks, wipe silver beads from our foreheads with burnt forearms, stretch our backs, curse the gods and warmed bottled water. We fill sandbags with the erosion of time. Pile them, shape them and square them off around the bunker. Life is shorter for the hornet. I think of its shiny green body, remembering how it dug into the sand, pushing with its legs, as we are digging now with shoulders arching in the sun. The hornet is dead. The bunker has a doorway in the shade, a portal to the underworld when the sky is filled with lead and we become creatures of the dark.

Michael J. Whelan is a poet and historian living in Tallaght, County Dublin. He was awarded 2nd place in the Patrick Kavanagh Poetry Award in 2011 and selected for the Poetry Ireland Introductions Series in 2012. His poems and short stories have been published in various journals and magazines including Cyphers, Crannog and The Moth. He served as a peacekeeper with the Irish Army in South Lebanon and Kosovo and is currently Curator of the Irish Air Corps Military Aviation Museum.


The Burning Bush 2, issue six, February 2014

James O’Leary The body I belonged to Love always wants more, like a fifth letter. The comfort of a d, the bend of an r. Love always has an out. The second letter is itself a perfect noose. Resting against a shoulder blades stretch, turn away: love giving up the ghost.

James O’Leary recently adapted two of his poems into short voiceover-based films. The film-poem Afraid of what I would write screened in 2013 at Filmpoem Festival in Dunbar, Scotland, and I thought I was more memorable, like the beach at midnight was selected and screened in 2013 at Dare Media Underground Short Film Festival in Cork, Ireland, the O’Bheal International Poetry-Film Competition (as part of the Indie Cork Festival of Independent Cinema), and the Visible Verse Festival at Cinematheque in Vancouver, Canada. Both videopoems can be viewed at James writes poetry, short stories, and stage and film scripts as a member of the VirginSlate Writers Group in Cork.


The Burning Bush 2, issue six, February 2014

Derek Coyle Hotel Window after Edward Hopper

The blackness of the night draws her out, she wonders how she spent her days, horse riding, coffee mornings, holidays, commanding her black maids to get the house in order, imperious as Cleopatra she snapped them into shape. She shivers, pulls up her cape oblivious to the comfort the hotel provides, a sofa, carpet, lampshades. Awaiting her chauffeur, his white eyes blinking in the dark will signal time for home, when she’ll speak in pithy phrases, and he’ll breathe in deep, clench his fists and hum a diminished tune.

Derek Coyle was born in County Kildare in 1971. He has been shortlisted for the Patrick Kavanagh Award (2010), the Bradshaw Prize (2011), and in 2012 he was selected for the Poetry Ireland Introductions Series Readings. He has published poems in the U.S., Mexico, Britain and Ireland, in Irish Pages, The Texas Literary Review, The SHOp, Wordlegs, Revival, and Cuadrivio. He was runner up in the Bradshaw Books Manuscript prize in 2013. He currently lives in Carlow.


The Burning Bush 2, issue six, February 2014

Christine Murray black the inky waves lap to black the inky waves lap to and black they suck the shale and if birds swoop they are the mere shadows of birds there are hands there to disembark you to hold you over the rocky black those hands that will arc you onto the comfort of stone this is the sea this inky black it does not smell of sea that gap between the boat and shore is awesome wood laps water laps wood dragging it out bobbing it back again the chasm at the heel and one step forward to land you onto the comfort of stone

Christine Murray is a City and Guilds Stonecutter. Her recent publications include the chapbook, Three Red Things, published last year by Smithereens Press and her collection Cycles, published by Lapwing Press, also in 2013. Her poetry is published in a variety of magazines and e-zines and she has reviewed poetry for Post (Mater Dei Institute), Poetry Ireland and


The Burning Bush 2, issue six, February 2014

Michael S. Begnal: Two Reviews Exteroceptive (Wild Honey Press, 2013) by Sarah Hayden I first began reading Wild Honey Press chapbooks (pamphlets) back around the year 2000, when I reviewed some for a print issue of the old Burning Bush. (One such essay was reproduced on the Wild Honey website and can be read here.) This small press, published by Randolph Healy, is one of Ireland’s (and the world’s) most interesting and innovative presses, and I’ve continued to read many of its poets since then. So it is fitting, I think, and certainly a pleasant task for me to review one of the latest Wild Honey publications, Sarah Hayden’s Exteroceptive. This 29-page, hand-stitched collection contains some of the most remarkable poetry I’ve read in a while, actually. The title, which I’ll admit I had to look up, means “pertaining to exteroceptors, the stimuli acting upon them, or the nerve impulses initiated by them” (exteroceptor: “any sensory organ or part of the body, such as the eye, able to receive stimuli from outside the body”). Thus, Hayden purports to examine through poetry the workings of the senses. However, the senses can be deceived, and perhaps more to the point here, deranged. Hayden is more interested in simulating exteroceptive disruption, through language use, than straight-forward, “accurate” description/imagery, which quickly becomes obvious in the first section of “Optic”: “this exhibit has been removed from view / but pulses still in its tang in a high-chem vibrato”. That the “exhibit has been removed from view” in a poem titled after the sense of sight should clue the reader in that his/her expectations ought to be left at the door. A little further on in this poem, the speaker notes, “my eyes itch”. “Optic” ends with two beautifully hallucinatory sections, the latter of which employs unconventional typography and a heavy dose of parataxis. The next poem, “Auditory”, engages in some interesting soundplay, including rhyme and alliteration, foregrounding the poet’s ear for language. Then, almost contradictory to its own title (though then again perhaps not), shifts into some remarkable visual images. For example: Itching up against each other shifting calf tendons taut from boot to boot they are a herd of twitching deer. . . . Even here, though, there is a conciseness in diction and sound that makes this scene sing. Then we find “A double-membraned egg” that “is thick / but sensate / perversely mapped with hot / wet nerves”, which is ultimately seen “hissing in foul puddles.” At this point (if not before), the astute reader notices a heavy-duty Surrealist influence on Hayden’s work, and then sure enough, in the poem “[Proprio]”, there is an allusion to André Breton (with the name “BRETON” appearing in block caps). The poem “Olfactory” seems to faintly echo James Joyce with its portmanteaux and especially resembles Finnegans Wake chapter II.2 in the use of cryptic footnotes. Joyce is not exactly a Surrealist, of course, but the Wake does deal with the subconsciousness.


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Remember that Surrealism does not mean just any old thing that is bizarre or unexpected. It is instead defined by Breton in his 1924 Manifesto of Surrealism as “Psychic automatism in its pure state, by which one proposes to express — verbally, by means of the written word, or in any other manner — the actual functioning of thought. Dictated by the thought, in the absence of any control exercised by reason, exempt from any aesthetic or moral concern.” (Breton further elaborates: “If the depths of our mind contain within it strange forces capable of augmenting those on the surface, or of waging a victorious battle against them, there is every reason to seize them — first to seize them, then, if need be, to submit them to the control of our reason.”) I happen to love Breton and Joyce, as well as Mina Loy, who could also be a touchstone here, and it is good to see a contemporary poet picking up where they left off. But Hayden has her own concerns and speaks to her own contemporary moment — in one clever aside, she refers to herself as “the artist autophagically cheerleading / signing her hyper-alliterative aphasia from the acropolis of the last-ever occupy camp”. “[Proprio]” is something of an artistic manifesto, in which such depictions of “the artist” appear in different forms throughout. Also notable is “the artist as an unsentimental collector. remember this as she truffles through your waste / paper”. The enjambment here puts something of an emphasis on the word “waste”, and it reminded me of a scene in the 2008 documentary film The Examined Life (by Astra Taylor) where Slavoj Žižek walks through a garbage dump asserting that garbage is in fact the perfect metaphor for the contemporary world. (As Arthur Vafin interprets this scene, “The waste deposit is an example of how man escapes from garbage, in a wider sense — from the thing one is most afraid of. It seems as though the thrown out garbage disappears from our world. However, it disappears only from the world of illusions, but still exists in reality” [International Journal of Žižek Studies 6.1]). What Hayden’s poetry suggests is that we need to see our world as it really is, even if it means that it is a decadent world, and even if therefore we approach it through sense perspectives that are themselves skewed or compromised. On the one hand, she seems to say, we must artistically embrace the world as “waste” even while, on the other, we must highlight, respond to, and oppose the financial and other forms of corruption that led to the Occupy movement. The final three pieces in this collection, “Olfactory”, “Haptic” and “Hypogeusic”, therefore further the sense of decay and confusion posited in the first half: “This is the smell that blinds” reads a line in “Olfactory”. In “Haptic”, with its “vegetal reek”, there is the image of scoliotic youths loung[ing] among the wider branches jaded panthers feeling themselves there more aptly aligned they sigh hotly, abrading petulant mouths “Hypogeusic” describes a landscape of “leaf litter and curdled splatter” and “rusted pools”. A dream, our reality in some way, or both? It is not just in her images,


The Burning Bush 2, issue six, February 2014

however, that Hayden embraces decay, but in her language as well. Like many progressive contemporary poets, she is of course aware of the mediated nature of language, and so there are lines like “phonemes coagulate / whole sentences compose themselves in a slow ear”. But I also find her individual word choices to be quite interesting. Throughout this chapbook she utilizes “flowery” and/or Latinate words, not only in her titles but all over the body of her poems: “infructuate”, “excrescence”, “indexicality”, “vitrine” “osteoporitic”, “automata”, “agglutinative”, “farinaceous”, etc. There is a view held by some English-language poets, often put forward as the conventional wisdom of writing poetry, that such diction is “weak” and therefore undesirable and decadent, and that basic Anglo-Saxon words are “strong” and therefore better. Hayden deliberately turns this notion on its head and thereby suggests, rightly I think, that the English language in itself is decadent, sullied and mixed up, and that therefore a good writer can do whatever the hell s/he wants in it, if s/he can pull it off. In Exteroceptive, Hayden pulls it off. The Architect’s Dream of Winter (Dedalus Press, 2013) by Billy Ramsell The Architect’s Dream of Winter (Dedalus Press, 2013) is Cork-based poet Billy Ramsell’s second collection. In it, he argues that our humanity is being subsumed by the technology to which we have given the task of regulating the contemporary world. The opening poem, ‘Secure Server’, contains the lines, ‘Connect yourself via the ports // in your face to the system’, implicating the reader as cyborg. But wait a second, someone might say, we the people cannot be implicated in this; we didn’t agree to live in this dystopian society; we are merely victims of the elite and the corporations! Not so fast, Ramsell might reply to that — we tolerate it by literally buying into it: Then I’m asked for my PIN and the transaction transforms into light flickers through the fibreoptic’s pristine filament, traversing in a beer-sip vast acres. . . (‘Present Fears’) In the poem ‘Memory House’, the speaker ‘outsource[s] all my memories to machines’, echoing the current real-life obsession with more and more all-encompassing technological devices. Interestingly, though, the poem then takes a weird impressionistic turn and veers away from the satirical and didactic. There is one last memory saved, of two women ‘Aisling’ and ‘Saoirse’, the latter dancing to the former’s piano-playing: ‘Her shoulders are pulled back and golden. She shapes a taut arc of enfolding, / extends her arms sunward, turns on her toe tips, goodnight.’ Perhaps, the author suggests, there is something human left to grasp onto after all. Though the women are individualised in these images, their names cannot be accidents, Aisling meaning a vision or a dream (in Ó Rathaille, a vision of Ireland struggling free from oppression) and Saoirse of course meaning ‘freedom’. This human thing is fleeting, though. Ramsell offers a ‘Lament for Esbjörn Svensson’ (a contemporary Swedish jazz musician recently dead), which vaunts music and therefore all art as redemption, but redemption which exists under the shadow of death: ‘Or if dying translates us into the condition of music; // leaves us weightless,


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melodious, floating bars of thought / uploaded like data into the mind of God.’ The poem itself also gestures toward music in its utilisation of slant-rhymed couplets (rhyme, slant rhyme and near-rhyme occur in a number of poems throughout this collection). Less contemporary heroes too offer a way out of present-day dilemmas, as in ‘Lament for Christy Ring’ (Ring, the great hurler, described here as ‘aboriginal’). Ring is depicted first in action, carrying the sliothar ‘on his stick of ashy liquidity / that’s rippling, eel-flexible, alive’ — these are great lines. Later, he is figuratively carried into a neolithic passage tomb, connecting him to Ireland’s ancients. Ramsell, however, does not dwell on the mythic past. The humourous ‘Half Time’ renders the Greek pantheon as an ordinary Irish household watching a hurling match. Numerous cúpla focal of Irish-language words punctuate the book, but this is not a gesture of historical reverence; rather they are reminders of Ireland’s postcolonial present, of what has not been lost but struggles under the weight of political and corporate indifference. Even silence has been commodified and in the poem ‘The Silence Bar’ is marketed as offerings on an expensive menu: MARK AND AMANDA €20 An old-style post-orgasmic silence that manages to be languidly insouciant yet vibrantly crisp. An intense blend of slowing heartbeats, breaths and nothingness. [. . .] GREEN DOLPHIN €30 This season’s musical special: Bill Evans’ famed 1959 solo rendition of ‘On Green Dolphin Street’. Every microsecond of silence from this exquisite recording has been isolated, segued and looped. There are other such inventive moves; ‘Section 3: The Unseen Poem (100 Marks)’ is a prose-poem set in Russia followed by a series of exam questions, one of which refers to Ramsell himself, or a version of himself. As the 80-page The Architect’s Dream of Winter moves towards its end, Ramsell continues to focus in on our current plight/s. ‘What normal people do’ deals with surveillance and paranoia, and, while partly satirical, ends with a grain of truth: Yeah you oughtta be shaking, charlie. They know. They remember everything. I can almost hear your locks unbolting one by one to let them in. Their eyes. It never finishes. Their blank magnetic faces. The series ‘Distant Fears’, about money, provides this comment on the Irish bailout: THE MEN IN THE GREY SUITS She remembers the day the money went south. Níl rud ar bith tógtha ná curtha ar ceall.


The Burning Bush 2, issue six, February 2014

She remembers the tide still came in and went out though the men in grey suits were at the airport of the capitol. She remembers forced and muted conversation in the bar as if a final or a trawler had been lost. They poured like any other night, the wine, the beer. She remembers that no rum could get them locked. It brings to mind the work of Kevin Higgins, who is also able to render contemporary politics in poetry in such a way as to avoid banality. Harry Clifton’s blurb for the book claims that ‘Billy Ramsell is one of the younger poets who has most fruitfully brought into Ireland the best influences of a British generation including Don Paterson, Michael Donaghy and Ian Duhig. . .’, and this is probably true. But he is just as much in the mode of Irish contemporaries like the aforementioned Higgins. In his cosmopolitanism, Ramsell also has much in common with Alan Jude Moore. In the cyborgian, almost sci-fi aspects of this book (further iterated in poems like ‘For the Bodiless’, ‘Still’, ‘Reel’ and ‘Code’), he could easily sit alongside Patrick Chapman. Ramsell himself name-checks Trevor Joyce and Ciaran Carson in his acknowledgments, along with Ilya Kaminsky. Cross-pollination is always a good thing, and poetry knows no borders. But at the same time, Irish poets need not feel that they must only look abroad for models of innovation. Indeed, Ramsell now provides one version of it himself.

Michael S. Begnal’s latest collection is Future Blues (Salmon Poetry, 2012). His blog is here.


The Burning Bush 2, issue six, February 2014

Doireann Ní Ghríofa Dream Country (New Island Books, 2013) by Donna Sorensen Dream Country is the début collection of Donna Sørensen. Born and raised in the UK, Sørensen has been living in other countries since 2005, including some time spent living in Dublin. She is now based in Copenhagen. As one might imagine, a sense of exile, of searching for one’s place in unfamiliar surroundings permeates much of this collection. These are poems that juxtapose the familiar and the foreign, the past and the present, childhood and adulthood. The title poem vividly illustrates the speaker’s experience of settling in a new country, a feeling that will resonate with many readers of Sørensen’s generation: I am here and in my dreams, I am there leaving the trail of crumbs, the pieces of my own puzzle, my life, one night at a time. Many poems in Dream Country touch on different constructions of home, of conflicts between the homes left behind and the drive to create a new home. Sørensen explores this theme effectively in the poem ‘Wind at the Zeppelin Hall’, where the speaker is suddenly reminded of England by a fleeting smell so familiar and evocative of her childhood that she imagines herself returned to those days. This poem is concluded deftly and poignantly: I could walk here a thousand times, could step on and through my own footprints, imprinting them on this city – indelibly – and still it would never be home. This is familiar ground in Irish literature, yet Sørensen succeeds in turning the old stereotype on its head; she renders it freshly through the voice of an exile, a ‘foreigner’ based in Ireland. We have become used to assuming the role of the emigrant and it is with interest that we read from this perspective. Here is a writer who relates with empathy, depth and intelligence to issues that hold relevance for a generation. The idea of Home is one which Sørensen interrogates again and again throughout these poems. In Murmurations, the speaker reflects on the spectacle of a flock of starlings in flight and considers the universal desire to create a home: This common search for nesting places, the desire to shelter together


The Burning Bush 2, issue six, February 2014

As one might guess from the title of this collection, many of these poems veer through themes of dreams and nightmares, of beds, of sleep. Perhaps the most effective of these is the exquisite short poem To Bed: Perched as a paper crane at the only still moment of the day, waiting to unfold myself into a blank sheet, ready to be written on by dreams. The imagery of these poems often evokes the twilight between sleep and wake; Sørensen is at ease in explorations of liminality. Here, sudden realisations strike on thresholds: A jolt – on the front step, head tilted skyward. Mortality was on top of her. Gateways, dunes, canals, clouds, rain are motifs that the poet returns to again and again in her evocations of the opacity of liminal moments in life. Perhaps it is in her evocation of these thresholds moments that Sørensen is at her strongest, as in the poem Knives, Forks and Fathers where the speaker is emerging from a post-university haze into an acceptance of her life as an adult: Without looking up, we talk of this and that and it happens – that each of us carefully places our worries for our fathers upon the table between us, amongst the glasses and hands clutching slightly warmed metal and I only know then, finally, that we are no longer children. Other poems cover familiar ground for a first collection including the obligatory moon poem (Iris). There are many moments of poetic radiance here, poems that delve into surreal and dark matter and delighted this reader (There Could Have Been Sparks, Evergreen, The Puppet Son). However, there are a few of the poems that come across as a little overwrought and might perhaps have benefited from a firmer editorial hand. The poem ‘Misery’, for example, veers a little too close to teenage angst: There is a doomed spirit – it crouches in the dark and mutters, misery… misery…


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That said, these rare missteps do not topple the collection, and the bulk of Sørensen’s debut is strong enough to overlook the weaker poems among them. Dream Country guides the reader through a series of dream-like, often liminal landscapes. These poems work as well on the page as they do aloud. Indeed, Sørensen’s deft handling of rhythm and language lend themselves to a certain poetic musicality that complements the dreamlike tone of this collection. Donna Sørensen is a poet of substantial dexterity who tackles issues of our time with a voice that is measured and distinct. In Dream Country she marks herself as a poet of intellect and empathy, resolutely of our times.

Pushcart Prize nominee Doireann Ní Ghríofa’s poems have appeared in many literary journals in Ireland and internationally, most recently in France, Mexico, USA, Scotland and England. Doireann’s Irish language collections Résheoid and Dúlasair are both published by Coiscéim. Her pamphlet of English poems Ouroboros was recently longlisted for The Venture Award (UK).


The Burning Bush 2, issue six, February 2014

Nuala Ní Chonchúir Heimlich’s Manoeuvre, (smith/doorstop, 2013) by Paula Cunningham Paula Cunningham is a poet and part-time dentist from Tyrone, living in Belfast. Heimlich’s Manoeuvre is her first full collection – she previously published a chapbook with smith/doorstop, A Dog Called Chance. A winner of several awards, Cunningham was recently placed second in the 2014 Gregory O’Donoghue International Poetry Prize with a poem entitled ‘The Weather in the Mournes’. Paula Meehan has said of Heimlich’s Manoeuvre: ‘When her eye is on her native Ulster, magic and frightening things happen.’ There is certainly magic in Cunningham’s childhood poems about sweets and bombs and the whole business of being Catholic in Northern Ireland. Childish wonder and wiles are brought to the fore as the children in the poem ‘Geography and Sweetshops’ contemplate life inside a cottage that straddles the border: We imagined the little old woman ... Waking each morning in the South and having eggs For breakfast in the North. Cunningham has a wonderful, wry way about her when dealing with important topics. In a poem about breasts, she leads us deftly through first bras, to fumbled teenage sex, on to breastfeeding and mastectomy. All of it done with empathy and humour: My mother’s mother made a pact with cancer whose chop and change concession cost her breast, returned to the consulting room and gravely pressed the surgeon – lopsidedness felt loathsome – to remove its blameless fellow how gamely he’d obliged. Cunningham’s drollness runs through the collection, asserting itself in poems with subjects as various as losing keys, to rivalry with an invisible twin – perhaps an alterego – who is styled variously as ‘a dance/at a crossroads/that’s mined’, ‘my seductively chain-smoking gun’ and a ‘succubus bastard’. In ‘Broken Couplets’ the narrator examines a failed relationship and the man who has moved on; in a pleasant voice she wishes the new couple well, with the killer final line: ‘I wish you well. I swear. I do. I wish the lady thrush.’ And there is a Durcanesque feel to the humour, and use of refrain, in ‘Aubade’ where the poet states:


The Burning Bush 2, issue six, February 2014

...I’ve never heard any sound quite so erotic as the sound of a man squeezing oranges. This is a poet of specifics and the odd details Cunningham gathers make for rich, engaging poems. As a medical professional, she is interested in science as well as illness, particularly the human side of those things. In the poem ‘The Chief Radiographer Considers’ we get Pierre Curie – husband of Marie – ‘his femurs already aglow’ carrying radium in his breast pocket and dreaming about ‘the powder Marie kept at her bedside’ and the leukaemia she died of ‘accruing slowly like a debt//the compound interest in the body’s bank’. The poet also adds the fascinating fact that Madame Curie’s notebooks, letters and cookbooks are ‘housed in lead’ at Paris’s Bibliothèque Nationale and researchers are ‘required to sign a disclaimer’. Who could argue with poetry that offers up such information? The poet turns to her own profession – dentistry – in the wittily titled ‘Amalgam’ where she tells us, in the opening line, ‘I know eight hundred and sixty-seven people orally’. She continues: I scrub and glove, stand on my hands and walk the wire with them. sometimes they bite and spit. ... ...To compensate I sugar them with pieces plucked from me. Part prose-poem, part essay, ‘The Hyacinth Under the Stairs’ explains an earlier poem in the collection ‘Hats’ in which the poet’s father’s car is hijacked in Derry/Londonderry. It raises the question of whether it was necessary to include the explanatory piece, but it is a tense read and welcome for that. Paula Cunningham is that clichéd thing ‘a new voice to watch out for’. But with her love of specifics and her wheedling out of strange subjects, coupled with humour and adroit word-play, there is the sense of a poet who is in it for life.

Nuala Ní Chonchúir is a novelist, short story writer and poet. Born in Dublin, she lives in East Galway. Her fourth short story collection Mother America was published by New Island in 2012. A chapbook of flash Of Dublin and Other Fictions was published in the US in late 2013 by Tower Press and Nuala’s second novel The Closet of Savage Mementos will be out in spring 2014 from New Island.


The Burning Bush 2, issue six, February 2014

About the Editors Alan Jude Moore is the author of four collections of poetry: Black State Cars (Salmon Publishing, 2004), Lost Republics (Salmon Poetry, 2008), Strasbourg (Salmon Poetry, 2010) and Zinger (Salmon Poetry, 2013). He lives in Dublin. His website is Dr. David Gardiner is a writer and editor who has lived and worked in Manhattan, Dublin, Coleraine, Chicago and Boston. He has been visiting scholar at Boston College, New York University and the University of Ulster. From 2006 - 2010, he was founder and editor of An Sionnach: A Journal of Literature, Culture and the Arts (New York / Dublin) as well as Director of Creighton University Press where he published the works of Pat Boran, Gerald Dawe, John F. Deane, Theo Dorgan, Eamon Grennan, Seamus Heaney, Derek Mahon and Paula Meehan, among others. He has written five books, edited ten and authored over sixty journal publications. His poetry publication Downstate was published by Salmon Poetry in 2011. His poetry has been featured in publications throughout the U.S. and Ireland. His most recent collection is The Chivalry of Crime.


The Burning Bush 2, issue six, February 2014

Thanks for reading issue #6 of the Burning Bush 2. If you would like your work to be considered for a future issue, please read the submission guidelines, available on our website, Please send all correspondence to


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