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The Burning Bush 2, issue four, January 2013



Bush2 issue # 4 January 2013


The Burning Bush 2, issue four, January 2013

The Burning Bush 2 issue four

contents Editorial Celeste Augé

Kate Dempsey John Stanizzi Danielle McLaughlin Conor O’Reilly John Ennis Dimitra Xidous Maeve O’Sullivan Barbara Smith Alan Weadick

4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 23 24 28 29 30 31 32 33 34

Quiet Weekend Alone Days Tiberius The Man in the Aisle Seat as the Plane Starts to Crash Passenger Mali or Somewhere The Grove The Mountain Shadowmakers The Temperature was X Degrees Sometimes I hear the clock speak On Light & Carbon Keepsakes Surf Talk in Bundoran A Portable History & Philosophy Kit Is That It Then? Californian Fruit Small Axe Fields with Asterisks are Mandatory Driving Close to the DMZ Deadly Calm I do not think my eyes are pretty from Madrid Haiku When the Rat Race is Run That Time

Christodoulos Makris Michael S. Begnal

35 38

Review: High Art & Love Poems by Keith Gaustad Review: An Unscheduled Life by Joseph Horgan

Patrick Chapman Christopher Locke Rachel Coventry Dave Lordan Tim Miller Michael Corrigan Hugh McFadden Lori Desrosiers Noel Duffy Stephen Murray John W. Sexton


The Burning Bush 2, issue four, January 2013

Editorial Welcome to issue number four of The Burning Bush 2. It’s been a while. In this issue we have the usual plethora of poets along with flash fiction from award winning writers Danielle McLaughlin and Dave Lordan and reviews from transnational poets Christodoulos Makris and Michael S. Begnal. Plans for the year ahead include a series of interviews with writers, publishers and translators from around the world; another Burning Bush 2 reading; guest editors and more. There will be two further issues this year (Summer and Winter); we’ll put out the usual call for submissions shortly. As much as I enjoy editing The Burning Bush 2, it's good every now and then to change things around a little and I’m delighted to announce that esteemed North American, David Gardiner, has agreed to take on the editorial duties for issue number 5. Keep an eye on our website for more details. Finally, thanks to all the contributors and everyone who submitted their work to us for consideration. Keep it coming. Enjoy.

Alan Jude Moore January 2013


The Burning Bush 2, issue four, January 2013

Celeste AugÊ Quiet When I am quiet I hear the birds pass their chirps to each other the wind graze the trees outside my window electricity hum through the fluorescent bulb your bare feet plod on the distant kitchen floor I hear your breath—I hear your chest rise and fall my ears buzz with the steady riff of you


The Burning Bush 2, issue four, January 2013

Weekend Alone You know you’re bored—even lonely, and don’t forget procrastinating— when some guy from Meteor customer service rings your phone, says his name is Musheer and you actually write it down. He sounds as if he’s next door, he sounds as if he’s far away. ‘Do you have a few minutes to discuss your experience of Meteor?’ And you do, you take your time answering, trying to be accurate. ‘Any other comments?’ he asks, but while you’re thinking how he could be right next door, he could be far, far away ‘Anything else we can do for you?’ pops out of the phone. Yes, you say. You aren’t waiting this time. ‘Where are you from, Musheer?’ A pause. ‘And where are you now?’ Silence. You guess this isn’t in his script. ‘It’s raining here in Galway,’ you add, ‘it’s lashing against the door.’ You picture him amidst the phones, thinking weather thoughts. The voices around him buzz away. ‘It’s raining here in Bangalore,’ he says, ‘it’s raining here, too!’ A grin beams from phone to phone, makes you feel he’s just next door, makes you feel far away.

Celeste Augé is an Irish-Canadian writer who has lived in Ireland since she was twelve years old. Her poetry has been short-listed for a Hennessy Literary Award and in 2011 she won the Cuirt New Writing Prize for Fiction. Her most recent collection of poetry is 'The Essential Guide to Flight', and her debut book of short fiction ‘Fireproof and Other Stories’ was published in 2012. She lives in Connemara.


The Burning Bush 2, issue four, January 2013

Patrick Chapman Days for Mairead Costigan For the salt, beneath a Madagascan moon, a moth Supping the tears of a sleeping bird, drawing Nightmare into his thorax; imagining an egg Of Newtonia ripping the walls of his own velvet body, Dropping as wings fall away, like an experiment Of Cayley’s gone awry. Does every flying thing Have tears and dreams? In this first moment That we meet, we cannot know. Your campus Holiday-quiet, the Palo Alto bar is hushed. You speak Of Nietzsche and the Kinks and your guitar. With Beefheart at the mixing desk it would be Quite the mad ensemble, wouldn’t it? Nearly shot at Ames for taking photographs; We later stand in wonder at The Gates of Hell. You overhear a traveller on the train to San Francisco Ask a beardy stranger if his axe can truly sing. Now The millennium – the real one – has not broken yet. Before it can, I’ll half-forget what tears are for And you will have remembered many dreams. Soon enough I must fly south to Christmas drinks and fish And chips on Manly Beach. On a clifftop veranda In Woolloomooloo, I’ll probe a vertical curtain of rain. At the observatory, I’ll murmur to Venus, bright as a spirit Lamp. Overlooking water with your sister and her friends I’ll welcome Arthur Clarke’s transcendent year As rockets fly – and from the harp of the bridge, A thousand fireworks spit in heaven’s eye.


The Burning Bush 2, issue four, January 2013

Tiberian No matter that the Emperors are dust, Rome will have its minnows. All the boyFish nipping at the wretched flesh of dull Tiberius, could not outshine the body Of one virgin saint for innocence and purity. Take this child-bride of the Nazarene. They say Here is a girl who chose to die before defilement. Martyred at eleven, she had not attained the age Even of Lateran consent. Maria we may venerate; From her beg intercession. Not Tiberius’s minnows. Submerged among the eye-teeth of the boy-fish, Displacing no more thought than you’d expect, Tiberius lives on. No matter that the minnows Come and go, Rome will have its Emperor And after him, the mad one with the horse.

Patrick Chapman is an Irish poet, writer and screenwriter, born in 1968. His poetry collections include Jazztown, (Raven Arts Press, 1991), The New Pornography (Salmon Poetry, 1996), Breaking Hearts And Traffic Lights (Salmon Poetry, 2007), A Shopping Mall on Mars, (BlazeVOX, 2008) & The Darwin Vampires, (Salmon Poetry, 2010). His most recent work, A Promiscuity of Spines: New & Selected Poems (Salmon Poetry) was published in 2012. His story collection, The Wow Signal (Bluechrome) was published in 2007. You can find him at


The Burning Bush 2, issue four, January 2013

Christopher Locke To The Man In The Aisle Seat As Our Plane Begins To Crash You came all the way from Sioux Falls just to die next to me and didn’t even dress for it: denim shirt untucked and beaten as you scream up at the cabin ceiling, at some god outside our plane. I can’t find my wallet, pull out the photo of my two daughters or the one of my wife, her old college I.D. I carry everywhere, as if to remind me of when we were poor but happy, lustful in a way only innocence can inspire. Shoes, glasses, and those little Mylar bags of peanuts are flying around the cabin like roses thrown on stage; but we are not applauding, we are all screaming, and I foolishly tighten my seatbelt, grabbing the strap the way my wife and I used to grab each other’s waistlines: aching, finally alone, pulling at our clothes if they too were on fire.

Christopher Locke's poems have appeared or are forthcoming in Southwest Review, Poetry East, The Literary Review, Adbusters, 32 Poems, Alimentum, The Stinging Fly, The Sun, Tears in the Fence, and Agenda among others. Chris has received grants from the Massachusetts Cultural Council, New Hampshire Council on the Arts, and Fundacion Valparaiso (Spain). His first full-length collection of poems, End of American Magic, is currently available from Salmon Poetry. Waiting for Grace and Other Poems is forthcoming in 2013 with Turning Point Books


The Burning Bush 2, issue four, January 2013

Rachel Coventry Passenger I'll pick you up and we will go somewhere although it doesn't matter the thing will be the soft slam of the passenger door the resealing of an egg the sweet car air, the iPod. You will choose the best of my suspect tunes the ones you've added yourself. I will drive unconcerned and you will tell me things that cannot be said face to face.

Rachel Coventry lives in Galway. She has had poems published in Boyne Berries, The First Cut and Bare Hands Poetry. She was short listed for the 2012 Over The Edge New Writer of the Year Competition.


The Burning Bush 2, issue four, January 2013

Dave Lordan Mali or Somewhere They were discussing the international significance of forthcoming Irish revolution, the two revolutionaries, in a bar overlooking Dublin Bay. One was doubtful. In fact, not really listening at all but instead staring out the window at the Irish Sea, at the calm and dull enclosure of it. It was fit for nothing, he was thinking, this minor sea. Not for myths or voyaging or warfare. Not even for drowning. It went hardly deep enough to drown in. Though fishermen drowned in it, occasionally, and drunks out swimming, and suicides. Mostly suicides. The idea of drowning himself in the little grey-green piddle of the Irish Sea was insulting. He would have to have drama, majesty, the clamour of high winds and waves, thousands of gigantic white steeds of foam rushing towards him, rushing towards him and his death. He would have to have the Atlantic, the merciless, thundering king of the seas. His comrade was elucidating: It’s a result of our geo-political situation. Our position midway, ideologically and economically and somehow metaphysically midway between Boston and Berlin. What happens here has knock on effects on the two decisive imperialist blocs. Also, now, because we’re a Trojan horse for the entry of rampant neo-liberal capitalism into the social-democratic citadel of old Europe. A weather-vane for the future. An experimental proving ground for the new order of privatisation, deregulation, and securitisation. I’m telling you, if we defeated neo-liberalism here, if we overthrew it, it could set the entire hemisphere aflame with revolt. The speaker took a sip from his pint of Carlsberg and continued after a brief reflective pause: I mean it’s not as if Ireland is like Mali or somewhere. If there was a revolution in Mali noone would take any notice. Ireland is important. The other, the mental drifter, who enjoyed very much confounding and contradicting his comrade, hit back wackily: But what if right now, in another planet, far more important on the galactic-historical scale, two interplanetary revolutionaries are having a similar discussion, different only in scale, in which one of them says ‘I mean it’s not as if our planet is like somewhere totally insignificant like planet earth or something. If there was a revolution on Planet Earth it wouldn’t even make the In Brief column'... His comrade rolled his eyed and smiled an unamused, slightly contemptuous smile. Ah C’mon, said he, I’m trying to be serious.

Dave Lordan is the current holder of the Ireland Chair of Poetry Bursary Award and a previous winner of the Kavanagh and Strong Awards. His collections The Boy in the Ring (2007) and Invitation to a Sacrifice (2010) are published by Salmon Poetry. A new collection, Discover Ireland is forthcoming in 2013, also from Salmon. His website is


The Burning Bush 2, issue four, January 2013

Tim Miller The Grove, from To the House of the Sun, Book 32 & at a small grove, I saw people standing high in trees: & each of them had bows & an endless cache of arrows: & they each took turns shooting them at a different part of the sky: & the arrows of those who’d just begun this seemed to disappear into the sky, so that I couldn’t see them anymore— but those who’d been at this longer proved something else: & they shot one arrow into the previous arrow: & another into that: & I saw a speck in the distant sky beginning, where all these arrows had stuck— & I saw those who’d been at this even longer, whose chain of arrows was quite long: & I saw those who’d been at this even longer, whose chain of arrows nearly reached them: & I saw the luckiest ones whose chain of arrows was complete— & they were already climbing across it & heading for the clouds:


The Burning Bush 2, issue four, January 2013

The Mountain, from To the House of the Sun, Book 33 & the mountain I ascended came from heaven: & the rock I walked on broke away once long ago from the vault of heaven— & so as I walked, I was walking on heaven: & a night passed, into morning: & the morning star drew beauty from the sun as the morning star drew the sun up from its sleep: & as I walked, I realized even though it wasn’t the highest mountain I’d ever seen, it was this mountain that would never be covered, when another flood should come, when the waters would swell again upon the earth: & I knew the stone I found my steps on, was a place that could never be submerged: & as I walked, I watched the peaks of that place spar with the sun— & as I walked, I was walking on heaven: & as I walked, I didn’t have the sensation of walking: & there was no difference between managing the steepest incline, & a flat path: & the way up & was the way down: & there was no difficulty & no ease—I simply moved: & as I moved, I climbed but never got tired: & as I moved, I crawled or I squeezed between sharp stones—but no energy was spent as I did this: & no fatigue drained me as I went—& I never stopped to rest: I never stopped for anything: I was only aware of my prayer—& my easy ascent was no more strange than the stream that fell from the mountain’s top— & as I went, I was walking on heaven: & all down below, were the many worshippers I’d seen on the ground: & now I was as high as many in the highest trees: & in their ecstasies, they still saw & took the moment to give of themselves to me, with their looks: & as I climbed, it was as if my feet never touched the mountain: & no rocks or dust of stone were ever disturbed by my feet: & it seemed as I went higher, that I wasn’t moving at all— perhaps I was still, & it was the mountain that moved: perhaps I was still, & it was only my mind that moved: perhaps I was still & the mountain was still & the entire world was still: perhaps all things were still, & only some greater glory made all this stillness appear as movement, & all this movement appear as stillness— & as I climbed I asked myself


The Burning Bush 2, issue four, January 2013

What have I left undone: what else should I have undertaken: & as I climbed I said Nothing:

Tim Miller's other poetry, and his blog, are at His next collection, Book of the Sky & Hymns & Lamentations, will be released later this year.


The Burning Bush 2, issue four, January 2013

Michael Corrigan Shadow Makers - The Christian city of Nagasaki, August 4th 1945, 11.02 a.m.

We bought yuko fruit and summer oranges amber moons against the paleness of my daughters skin we bowed our thanks to Lady Subiko of the market as we turned away the air went white the moment frozen forever in the stillness between breaths our souls fused in to our shadows our shadows fused in to the earth.

Mick Corrigan has been writing seriously for past two years, prior to that he wrote frivolously. He has been published in a range of periodicals, magazines and online journals. He was shortlisted for the Doire Press Poetry Award 2011 and is on the longlist for the Bradshaw Books/Cork Literary Review Poetry Competition 2012. From Dublin, he lives in Kildare with Trish his lifer, Molly the wonder dog and Bandit the gin drinking dowager cat. He likes a well-made porkpie hat and regularly has ideas well above his station.


The Burning Bush 2, issue four, January 2013

Hugh McFadden The Temperature Was X Degrees (i.m. The Unknown Shadow)

The Enola Gay pilot sits wrapped in his fur-lined leather jacket to keep out the cold of upper space: his co-pilot reads the zoned map of the city doomed to be consumed in the inferno of blinding light the plane breathes out a plume of fumes. Soundless, the ‘Little Boy’ device falls in slow motion, receding in space and, like a star, it implodes-explodes far below, the atomic base surges. II Paul W. Tibbets was no Dante: the shades he left behind were shadows of human persons, stamped on stone steps.

Hugh McFadden is a poet, critic, and literary editor. Born in Derry, he lives in Dublin. His poems have been published widely in literary magazines in Ireland and Britain. He is the author of four collections of poetry, including Elegies & Epiphanies (Lagan Press, Belfast, 2005). Salmon Poetry published his most recent collection Empire of Shadows in 2012. He is the executor of the literary estate of the writer John Jordan, and edited his collected poems and collected short stories, as well as John Jordan: Selected Poems (Dedalus Press, Dublin, 2008). He has reviewed for a variety of papers & journals, including Hibernia, The Irish Independent, The Irish Press, The Irish Times, The Sunday Tribune and Books Ireland.


The Burning Bush 2, issue four, January 2013

Lori Desrosiers sometimes I hear the clock speak a knock and sequence, hands unsuccessful, reach for numbers twelve hovers atop a round white mountain long sweeping curve of shrug a gesture in one direction the hiccup of a second the thousand spins of a life.

(Previously published appeared in Contemporary American Voices)

Lori Desrosiers’ first full-length book of poems, The Philosopher's Daughter is forthcoming from Salmon Poetry in March 2013. She has a chapbook, Three Vanities, 2009, Pudding House Press. Her poems have appeared in Contemporary American Voices, BigCityLit, Concise Delights, Blue Fifth Review, Pirene's Fountain, The New Verse News, Common Ground Review, and many more, including a prompt in Wingbeats, a book of writing exercises from Dos Gatos Press. Her MFA in Poetry is from New England College. She is editor and publisher of Naugatuck River Review, a journal of narrative poetry.


The Burning Bush 2, issue four, January 2013

Noel Duffy On Light & Carbon ‘Where did it come from, the tree?’ I asked. ‘It came up from the ground,’ the teacher said. I believed him. Later I read in a book that it also grew in from the air, the light trapping the carbon from the atmosphere and nailing it to each leaf in turn through photosynthesis. I was surprised. ‘Where did it come from, the world?’ I asked. ‘It was born of God’s Mercy and Love,’ the priest said. I trusted him. Later on TV, I saw that it was made of stardust, the elements scattered through the heavens in supernova to gather in a ball of light and fire that gave us each our lives. I was spell-bound.


The Burning Bush 2, issue four, January 2013

Keepsake She moves close, places a shell in my hand, whispers, ‘Do you remember the sea, the waves lapping at our feet, the call of the gulls from above the dunes? Our words?’ I press the shell close to my ear but hear only the sound of the door closing gently behind her, the faint murmur of cars outside in the darkness, the distant voices of our happiness lost like the sea’s echo in the shell’s chamber.

Noel Duffy was born in Dublin in 1971 and studied Experimental Physics at Trinity College, Dublin. He co-edited (with Theo Dorgan) Watching the River Flow: A Century in Irish Poetry (Poetry Ireland/Poetry Society, 1999) and was the winner of the START Chapbook Prize in 2003 for his short chapbook The Silence After. His debut poetry collection In the Library of Lost Objects was published by Ward Wood in summer 2011 and was shortlisted for the 2012 Strong Award for Best First Collection by an Irish Poet.


The Burning Bush 2, issue four, January 2013

Stephen Murray Surf Talk in Bundoran And as for those men whose words ping-ponged off walls of foam Heroic belly scratchers great pouting chaps, hallelujahs of mankind statuesque on the elbows of Atlas. In the rattle of whose heads catastrophic brains cells joust for territory over oceans of skull-space vast and roaming wind-breaks bronzed words rip-curled into gold insights spectacularly formed breaking like white water in the shallows of the blue-eyed mind.

Stephen Murray was born in Ireland in 1974 and moved to London in 1975. He currently lives and works in Galway. His debut collection, House of Bees, was published in 2011 by Salmon Poetry.


The Burning Bush 2, issue four, January 2013

John W. Sexton

A Portable Philosophy and History Kit moth-shaped love-bites / a week to fade into my skin helping the crippled child / this way to Belsen Tetragrammaton counts for nothing here omni tumour Elohim unthought the void big bang Henry the Eighth / one by one six wives said yes sinking into the earth he puts it on that self inside the mirror is never me semen just a stain in the sheets your mind her mind / Queen termite swollen with eggs of you you you ants perfect millions of years / mankind nil offering each other the comfort of lies guessing how much of the dust in this room is me stub of blue crayon running short at the sky through Buson's pages specks of mould small as full stops Jesus too / the pattering of piss on the thistles


The Burning Bush 2, issue four, January 2013

Is That It Then?

when we are gone ... the jack pines will bleed a literature of resin for mimicking the human brain this year's award goes to ... the walnut the Speak My Apocalypse machine 10 dollars no change given his beard ingrown and out again ... grazing horses share his mind seeing there is not being there ... distance still in our face gone now but magnificent even as smoke ... the anthracite tower a sough in the reeds ... moonlight, the toads bleed penumbrae (safe in a parenthesis) ... a lexinaut enters the subplot the scummy bathwater stood upright and walked ... the house woke in downpour coat of many dolours ... sometimes sorrow is our only heritage


The Burning Bush 2, issue four, January 2013

moonless night ... the auras of sleeping cattle signal into darkness turned to ON ... the dial of the snail's shell

John W. Sexton is the author of four collections of poetry: The Prince’s Brief Career (1995); Shadows Bloom / Scáthanna Faoi Bhláth, with translations into Irish by Gabriel Rosenstock (2004); Vortex (2005); and Petit Mal (2009). His fifth collection, The Offspring of the Moon, is due from Salmon Poetry early in 2013. 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.


The Burning Bush 2, issue four, January 2013

Kate Dempsey Californian Fruit Blue, blue sky, hazy horizon sturdy pylons straddle rusty fences brown dry scrub at the side of the freeway vast flat fields soak precious Sacramento water tough, man-trucks haul melons and peaches south to the city to the halls of the chill supermarket piled high by a new immigrant with eyes dark as earth. She polishes the smooth ones, discards the imperfect sells them cheap.

Kate Dempsey’s poetry and fiction is widely published in Ireland and the UK including Poetry Ireland Review, The Moth, Orbis and Magma. She won the 2011 Plough Poetry prize for a short poem and her first book of poetry, Some Poems, was published by Moth Editions, also in 2011.


The Burning Bush 2, issue four, January 2013

John Stanizzi SMALL AXE Whoso causeth the righteous to go astray in an evil way, he shall fall himself into his own pit: but the upright shall have good things in possession Proverbs 28:10 Whosoever diggeth a pit Shall bury in it - shall bury in it. Bob Marley Small Axe

moon set dawn when I heard those words the first time weapons of mass destruction imminent and threatening the morning’s blessings beaten by arrogance and everything became a metaphor for dementia Jesus had become fictional the big lie my father’s brain was shattered but he would force the pieces John McCain World War I hero was his man he would end this war right now one dropped bomb to clean up house a message to the world about U.S.A.! silver and gray rain hit the windshield – the sound of running--


The Burning Bush 2, issue four, January 2013

fleeing a bully or gunfire— maybe both grainy satellite photos tiny gray objects circled this is the way the brain must look unfocused grainy bits of memory in a field of gray chaos dialogue? out of context words this is proof? in the end Elektra knew that she had not gained a thing the black dawn was deepened by clouds haughtiness the wind banged against our homes— a sound of desperation no measure of compliance would be enough what chilling egotism to forget the taste of fear to shrug off the rising voices with a smirk to give an ultimatum you’re either with us or them missiles filled the air that first day of springtime and it needed to be named a pro-wrestling kind of phrase


The Burning Bush 2, issue four, January 2013

to erase the line between truth and fiction Showdown with Saddam: Target Iraq. Smackdown! Game of Thrones! half-mast flags and hero ghosts rose from the bush liberation and freedom a lexicon for the blind the thumbnail of the moon was bruised behind clouds a photographer of war took close up shots of the dead if we saw what war does close up we might stop propaganda custom made to be acted on a ship we waxed ‘em mission accomplished haji dead there are no large solutions truths are momentary things and sadly flags were raised half staff in the rain optimistic confidence the General’s abstraction casket rows draped with stars and stripes disappeared as if we weren’t aware that illusion is illusion


The Burning Bush 2, issue four, January 2013

the crocus pushed up through the snow tiny prayers not some shady sleight of hand that everyone knew was fixed they were there actual flowers air of spring bittersweet crept through the heart of everything that could grow and this too would become the past way back there setting at O-dark-thirty too late to begin again too early to quit though 10 years have gone by 10 years watching my father erasing his own body 10 years of telling myself that every thought is a thing to be recalled the lies the bombs the coffins even the aphasia with its empathy

John L. Stanizzi is the author of Ecstasy Among Ghosts, now in its fourth printing, Sleepwalking, and Windows. His poems have appeared in The New York Quarterly, Tar River Poetry, Rattle, Freshwater, Passages North, The Spoon River Quarterly, Poet Lore, The Connecticut River Review, and many other publications. Twice nominated for the Pushcart Prize, in 1998 Stanizzi was named The New England Poet of the Year by The New England Association of Teachers of English. He teaches English at Manchester Community College and Bacon Academy, where he also directed the theatre program for fifteen years. He lives with his wife, Carol, in Coventry, Connecticut.


The Burning Bush 2, issue four, January 2013

Danielle McLaughlin Fields With Asterisks Are Mandatory On winter mornings, with frost glittering on their spiky arms, they looked almost beautiful. ‘Would it be so bad?’ my mother used to say on those mornings, gazing at the asterisks that stood like stilled Ferris wheels in our neighbours’ fields. Trucks from the Ministry of Asterisks brought seed: black comma-shaped pods that farmers dug deep into the earth, watched for the first barbed shoots. But my father was obstinate, unyielding in his resistance: ours were the only fields without asterisks. At night, while others slept, my father walked among tentacled shadows. He collected in glass jars the pus-like liquid that seeped from the asterisks; catalogued circles of scorched earth, calves born blind with twisted spines. One evening he brought home a mutant, one-eyed lamb that writhed pink and hairless in his arms. My mother fetched the axe she kept hidden in the pantry. She handed it to him, wordlessly, and he went outside to the yard. We packed what we could into two suitcases, took blankets, crockery, my mother’s sewing machine. Dawn broke as we drove across the border, fields of asterisks receding in the distance with the night’s stars. This steel-grey city has no asterisks, but neither has it any fields. My father sits all day by the window, looking out on the street below. At school, I have learned not to mention blind calves or one-eyed lambs. I compose memories, in my old language, to please my mother. And at night, things spiked and shadowy roll through the wide open spaces of my sleep.

Danielle McLaughlin lives in County Cork. Her stories have appeared in Inktears, Southword, The Stinging Fly, Boyne Berries, Crannog, on the RTE TEN website, on RTE Radio 1, and in various anthologies. She has won a number of prizes for short fiction, including the From the Well Short Story Competition 2012 and the William Trevor/Elizabeth Bowen International Short Story Competition 2012.


The Burning Bush 2, issue four, January 2013

Conor O’Reilly Driving Close to the DMZ Like the Light Brigade, buses and cars hurtle on past endless rows of rusty barbed and razor wire. Fatigued figures pose with machine guns on guard all in front of reed marshes ignoring the charge. And the silver-plated Han in the background, still as cream sneaking silent through the sentries' lines, beneath long bridges, searchlights and guard posts manned with boys – it is oblivious to them all.

Conor O'Reilly lives in Suwon, South Korea. He has been writing poetry for several years and has had work published in both Wordlegs and The Poetry Bus. He writes regularly for the English language media in Korea.


The Burning Bush 2, issue four, January 2013

John Ennis dauðalogn (deadly calm) “our rituals and our cassocks are pompous”, Mancini

Yup, Gregory, he did not go milk the cirrus heavens, sky mares or his god for the chant, Gregory merely stepped it out onto the cobbled streets of Rome when that bustling city was still in its sexy heyday, good or bad, depends how you embrace it, and escaping out round the Forum he’d fucked off his vestments like old ship canvas. Kicked them in a heap on the floor of his room. The full Prince Harry, Gregory just shook himself then into the white toga of a commoner sought the songs of the heart where these were sung by boys, old veterans, slips at corners for their supper, - his curls in a cow’s lick, - or all round the Pantheon,

bloody boneshops, taverns, Capitol. Gregory heard what Gregory wanted to hear, songs of the gut for that male, female, kid adored the cries of poor lovers mirroring their mad Creator’s. Old Gregory of the gouty foot playing him up goodo limped back up to his upper room rude wind from the Tiber lifting his toga in a Marilyn gesture, guffaws in the lanes the streets wine-sodden today, blood-sodden tomorrow, the pope’s window open, wrote the songs quick with a bold hand, aortic cascade, now and again only his lips needing a hum for fresh dove-shit down his shoulder, or, splitting his good ear from the stadium, martyrs and the twelve tribes and then some raising the cup of their love in the Colosseum.

John Ennis is the author of thirteen books of poetry. His last long poem was Oisín’s Journey Home (2006), a work in praise of the people who built and served Newfoundland’s now defunct railway. He was editor for Poetry Ireland Review and served on the Executive of Poetry Ireland for eleven years. Awards include The Patrick Kavanagh Award in 1975, the Listowel Open and The Irish American Cultural Institute Award. He has co-edited three anthologies of Canadian – Irish Poetry: The Backyards of Heaven (2003), However Blow the Winds (2004, The Echoing Years (2007); he edited a further All-Canadian Anthology How the Light Gets in …(2009). In 2008, Memorial University of Newfoundland at Sir Wilfred Grenfell College awarded him an Honorary Doctorate in Laws and in 2011, he was commissioned to write the words for the finale – anthem of Come the Sails, a choral work to honour The Tall Ships in Waterford. This poem is from a new collection Postponing Ásbyrgi due out March 2013


The Burning Bush 2, issue four, January 2013

Dimitra Xidous I do not think my eyes are pretty but I cannot find a man who will agree with me every one that has seen them considers them quite capable of turning things to meat they tell me this makes them pretty like a slaughterhouse

Dimitra Xidous is a Greek-Canadian writer and poet whose work has appeared in Bare Hands Poetry,, Bywords Quarterly Journal, Room, and wordlegs. Her poetry has been included in the Bare Hands Anthology (2012), and Words and Wonders: A Guelpharea Anthology (2001). In 2011, she was long-listed for the Montreal International Poetry Prize. She has work forthcoming in The Poetry Bus 4 and The Dalhousie Review. Originally from Ottawa, Canada, she is currently living in Dublin, Ireland. She blogs at


The Burning Bush 2, issue four, January 2013

Maeve O’Sullivan Madrid Haiku Palacio Real: a blackbird forages in the shade of a maze


Royal Armoury: children's metal suits shock me centuries later

Maeve O’Sullivan has published her poems and haiku widely, and is a former poetry winner at Listowel Writer’s Week. Maeve’s first collection of haiku poetry, Initial Response, was launched in 2011 by Alba Publishing (UK). She is a member of Haiku Ireland, the Poetry Divas and the Hibernian Poetry Workshop.


The Burning Bush 2, issue four, January 2013

Barbara Smith When the Rat Race is Run She’s stuck in a queue in Argos, spellbound by the slabs of plastic guilt in her unclasped purse, keys to the kingdom of credit, handed down from the crunch-junkies, the world’s worst curse of limits with upper limits that keep on extending until sometime in the future, when a red-letter bursts through her letterbox, the full force distending the envelope’s window, the carrot long ate by the donkey, no sand for her crew-cut ostrich-head bending to escape the sliding smack-down of credit entropy.

Barbara Smith is a poet, reviewer and tutor living in Louth. Her work has won prizes and bursaries and her second collection is The Angels' Share, from Doghouse Books. She blogs at


The Burning Bush 2, issue four, January 2013

Alan Weadick That Time

There was that time When the rain Just would not stop When, with each new visit To the windows, Our minds darkened Another shade Under that unchanging sky. “Ridiculous!� we exclaimed Under our breaths, just For something to say That sounded close To us the day before This clamming up Under our skins Where it was once thought The light came from And the heat lived Generated by millions Of unremarkable Transactions Between sensible cities That could never shut down Or be known, entirely. Not this catastrophe Of rain, every drop A brick in the odd New constructions Rising up fast With what was left


The Burning Bush 2, issue four, January 2013

Of us in mind, Far-sighted creatures Making the constant Farewell gesture Of legs through water Kicking skyward.

Alan Weadick is from Dublin. His work has been published in the original Burning Bush, Books Ireland, Crannog, Cyphers, Nth position, The Argotist and Roundtable Review.


The Burning Bush 2, issue four, January 2013

Review: High Art & Love Poems (Broken Bird Press, 2012), by Keith Gaustad There comes a point when the poem-maker’s attention starts to shift from a concern with language to issues of presentation – the poet herself turning from the dressing-gowned, wildeyed practitioner with ruffled hair and sweaty armpits “hammering out a metal face” in her garret into a presentable entity she weaves her work around in order to show it to the world. It’s a metamorphosis that has different kinds of significance for different poets. Generally its purpose is to attract enlarged readership. Poetry is, like so much else, governed by forces of supply and demand – with the former outstripping the latter several times. There’s only so much attention to go round. I read recently that one poet (Seamus Heaney) is responsible for two thirds of all books sales by living poets in the UK. It’s a simultaneously ridiculous and despairing statistic. It demonstrates an interest in brand rather than language. How much should artistic activity concern itself with branding and identity? After all, most poets carve out niches from which to operate; sometimes these niches just happen to extend rather wide. Keith Gaustad introduces himself as someone who “has never won a single poetry contest”. Though he (or his publisher) also tells us of his activities as an editor, radio producer and live poetry & music promoter, he chooses to inform us of this failure first. The implication being that, since contests tend to reward the streamlined, the accessible, the potentiallypopular, such failure must render his work the opposite: rough, marginal, even dangerous. It’s an attempt towards establishing an identity through which the poetry can be read. But the ‘about the author’ bit only appears at the end of the book, so if you like to read the work in the order that the author intends it such considerations will be retrospective. From the text alone things are not so clear cut. “There is asymmetry everywhere / and that’s its beauty I’m told” Gaustad writes at the end of the first poem, which appears to be setting the tone – but this is the case only partly. Rather, it’s the second poem’s title, ‘Sound Bitten’, which introduces the collection’s technical concern with aural puns. Alliteration makes an appearance there – while further on in the book “away” turns to “a weigh”, “kitchen” is juxtaposed with “chicken”, the sense of “proof” is played with, transposed from its equivalence to ‘evidence’ to a signifier of the strength of an alcoholic drink, and “toast” is employed within a couple of lines once in its drinking context and once denoting warmth. More significantly, in the poem ‘The Death of the Author’ the word “note” switches meaning several times between its musical connotation and that of a written mark or an annotation: They talk about his musical ear one note away from readership; legible notes in his breast pocket. Everything around the note crashes confirms the importance of the note folded away; a rough draft. The influence of music is pervasive. While some of these experiments in sound and meaning are woven into the text almost seamlessly, in others the operation is heavy-handed. Also, throughout the book Gaustad slips often into colloquial, informal language that seems designed to persuade us that, despite the High Art claims of the title, we are reading the words of someone from the real world, someone we can trust: “If ya think about it”, “you hafta know” and so on. And in one of his sound plays, “avant-garde” morphs into “advent wreath”. There’s ambivalence about, possibly a mistrust of, the experimental – in


The Burning Bush 2, issue four, January 2013

uncomfortable co-existence with the terms under which the work itself is composed and in which it is presented. I read this as a source of tension in the work. The dominant subject is (Christian) religion, language referring to which abounds: in addition to poems with titles such as ‘Catholic Mass Debates’ and ‘Job 24:22’, we regularly encounter words or terms like “Jesus”, “grace”, “iconography”, “sinners”, “parables”, “crusty / atheist”, “psalms”, “cross”, “poet Iscariot”, “hell”, “praying” and many many more. Also prevalent are references to alcohol and drinking – which mixed into the strong religious atmosphere provide a strangely bleak but recognisable pattern. Undercurrents of humour and The Love Poems of the title entering the composition round about the halfway point is the substance that holds it together and provides a kind of redemption. The inherent difficulty of coming to a poetry collection with no familiarity with its author or the circumstances that brought it about can be punctured by identifying a point of entry into the work. Ultimately, though, meaning and/or pleasure are to be derived exclusively from the text and its presentation. There’s pleasure to be taken from several of these poems, particularly through individual lines or sections. And yes, unlike many contest winners, High Art & Love Poems offers complex poetry that doesn’t give up easy meaning.

Christodoulos Makris is the author of the collection Spitting Out the Mother Tongue (Wurm Press, 2011), the chapbook Round the Clock (Wurm Press, 2009) and the chapbook / artist’s book, Muses Walk (yes, but is it poetry, 2012). He lives in Dublin. .


The Burning Bush 2, issue four, January 2013

Review: An Unscheduled Life (Agenda Editions, 2012) by Joseph Horgan (with drawings by Brian Whelan) The theme of Joseph Horgan’s second book of poetry, An Unscheduled Life, is cultural alienation. A blurb on the back cover by Paula Meehan suggests that this arresting collection focuses on “the shifting culture of Ireland today with its massive transformation in population and community,” but in actuality its subject matter is Horgan’s upbringing in an urban England of yesterday, the drunken, distant Irish father, and the emigrant’s perpetual “otherness.” This is succinctly encapsulated in “Growing up irish” [sic]: Going home on the boat was an aberration. We were to negotiate a different terrain and coming back again was worse. The tinge of dislocating regret at returning to the city meant we lost our footing. In the end Ireland cut the ground from underneath us. This sense of never truly being “home” prevents the poem’s speaker (seemingly some version of Horgan himself) from forming a stable identity as either Irish or English, and thus the small ‘i’ in the title must be deliberate — he is “irish.” (Granted, all of his titles utilise lower-case letters, except with proper names, which are capitalised, so why not “Irish” otherwise?) “Incomplete,” with its description of twenty-something dissolution, maps this dynamic further: Our parents went home on the boat while we went to all-nighters and dayers and smoked and knew someone who could play the banjo coming off shifts in London and Leeds and Birmingham thinking the day we drank your bedding grant was the best day ever to be listening to Shane on the jukebox. That’s the way the city is. . . . The poem is accompanied by a Brian Whelan ink drawing of a drunken trad session (presumably in an English pub). The connection with Ireland remains, whether through visits back or in the cultivation of Irish social customs abroad, but it is transmuted. “We live there / in our own way, / after our fashion,” writes Horgan, and that “there” is telling — surely the speaker of the poem grew up “here,” but by Irish standards it is always elsewhere. The lack of stable identity is further summed up in the metaphorical “How irish women survived,” in which the son cannot successfully draw a picture of his mother: “Restless in both places. I believe I know what you look like, I said. But I cannot draw you, if you will not sit still.” (Ironically, Whelan does draw the mother.)


The Burning Bush 2, issue four, January 2013

There’s a gruffness to Horgan’s poetry, which suits his gritty material. He sounds, speaking of “listening to Shane on the jukebox,” a bit like the Pogues’ version of “Dirty Old Town.” Horgan’s city is a cold, unsettled place, and we see in “City centre” that this has become internalised: “I have the unofficial city in me and places only known to the city. A life on public transport is nothing to be ashamed of. I have the city in my lungs. . . .” The city is also a place where immigrants are “flotsam and jetsam / washing by, / floating” (“The immigrant’s self-portrait”). There’s a kind of desperation in these poems, people barely hanging on long after “the sideburned days and Sunday afternoon drinking [are] gone” (“When the dancehalls closed”). One of the few moments of joy here is granted to a Muslim immigrant (and really this could be in any Western city, England, Ireland, America) who “dances at the intersection. . . . to music no one else can hear” (“Intersection”). It is unclear why he dances at the intersection, but it appears he may have mental issues, and so it would seem that genuine happiness remains closed off for those who inhabit Horgan’s poems. It is also, perhaps, a sardonic subversion of the Dev-era ideal of “comely maidens dancing at the crossroads” (though, to be accurate, de Valera himself never uttered those words). Often, Horgan writes in a blunt free verse, but there’s a ballad-like quality to many of his poems too, with certain lines repeating almost like choruses. Another musical analogue that comes to mind is the song “Working Class Hero” by Liverpool-Irishman John Lennon, with its bitter lyrics describing exactly the sort of upbringing that Horgan reflects in An Unscheduled Life. He often matches Lennon’s irony in these angry but satisfying poems. Paired with Whelan’s drawings, which are occasionally reminiscent of Picasso’s, they make for one hell of a little book. When it ends (and it goes quickly, half of its 61 pages being poetry and the other half the artwork) with the tight, compact, alliterative “Last orders,” you just might want to start over from page one.

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


The Burning Bush 2, issue four, January 2013

Thanks for reading 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


The Burning Bush 2, issue #4  

Issue number 4 of The Burning Bush 2 literary magazine. Featuring poetry from Patrick Chapman, Celeste Auge, Noel Duffy and others; fiction...

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