Bush2 issue # 1 January 2012
The Burning Bush 2 issue one, the burning bush revival meeting contents Editorial Michael S. Begnal Kevin Higgins
John Thomas Menesini
Nuala Ní Chonchúir
John W. Sexton
Emily Cullen Dave Lordan
Paul Perry Annemarie Ní Chuireann John McKenna Stephanie Conn Gerard Smyth
32 33 34 35 36
Shannon Ward Miceál Kearney Sarah Maria Griffin Jean Kavanagh Peadar O‘Donoghue Kerrie O‘Brien JP Dancing Bear
38 39 40 41 42 43 44
Gerard Beirne C. Murray
Essay: ―New Magazines for Old‖ Dear Editor Among Aliens Blackbird: jig Poem Lawrenceville Steve Paris of Appalachia The Amnesia to Melancholy Ratio Doppelgänger Clues The Lunar Spread George Konrad on Memoir Jabot of Love Poems Different Sexual According to Lucretius Air Street Fugue The Owl The Bandstand The Past and the Present are Nothing to the Only Now 1000km to Berlin Essay on Violence Love and Milk Workmate Spin A Presidential Epigram Laundry Dead Fox Wedding Night Beside the River Sitric‘s Kingdom Mice Tradition As I Lay Fully Clothed in the Bed at 3am Flood 21st Century Crescendo Whisper Let‘s Spread Ourselves Disturbance Meditation #27 and her yellow music caught in the throat of birds
Editorial Welcome to The Burning Bush 2. As writers we often endeavour to create new things from old, we take from the past to move on from it and are caught between reflecting our times while at the same time trying to outpace them. In all of this we learn and draw from the work of those who preceded us. Writing here only a few days after the sad passing of the poet Pearse Hutchinson, it seems as if the ghost of another Irish poet, James Liddy, drifts in and out of the first issue of the Burning Bush 2. Some of our contributors knew Liddy well, some studied under him and, of course, he was one of the most notable contributors to the original Burning Bush magazine. Pearse Hutchinson and James Liddy each left a huge mark on Irish poetry. Their contributions, including (but certainly not limited to), Hutchinson‘s translations, Cyphers magazine, Liddy‘s ocean spanning poetics and modernising influence and, of course, both of their bodies of work are at the heart of what is good in Irish literature and have without a doubt eased the path for those of us who followed. If nothing else, they remind us that we are part of a long enduring community and not members of small fractured scenes. It is this community that The Burning Bush 2 hopes to present and in our first issue we are happy to have new work from some of Ireland‘s leading poets alongside work from several emerging poets. We also have a number of UK and North American writers, giving us a sort of Anglophone internationalism. For those who might not know, the original Burning Bush was published from 1999 to 2004 in Galway, Ireland. It was edited by the poets Michael S. Begnal and Kevin Higgins (until 2000 when Higgins left and Begnal became the sole editor). There's a piece here on Mike's blog which gives the background and history of the original magazine. I‘m pleased to report that, fittingly, Kevin and Mike have both contributed to The Burning Bush 2. They are among a number of past contributors to the Burning Bush included in these virtual pages. Finally, my sincere thanks to all the contributors for their work; that so many poets contributed work of quality to a fledgling online publication says more about them and their generosity than it does about us. Enjoy it.
Alan Jude Moore January 2012
“New Magazines for Old”: Some Brief Thoughts on the Aztecs, Poets in Protest, and The Burning Bush 2 Michael S. Begnal James Liddy wrote, ‗I have always wanted to exchange new magazines for old, for I know that magazines can alter the shape of a literary landscape‘ (qtd. in Tyler Farrell‘s essay for Liddy‘s Selected Poems). The Burning Bush 2 is in a way not a new magazine, being partly an online revival of a print magazine that existed from 1999-2004. But given the distance in time between the old print journal and this one, as well as the different context, it is indeed new. Many of the aims of the old Burning Bush have now been achieved with the simple passage of the decade (it can‘t really take credit). There is room in Ireland now for poetic modes or practices (at least I think so) that were maybe previously thought to be squelched under the weight of entrenched interests. But then there are always entrenched interests, whatever their character. These must constantly be unseated, for every entrenched interest, however poetically or politically desirable it may initially be, will eventually become conservative. We must demand a more or less ongoing revolution (even if it‘s never fully realised). By this I don‘t necessarily mean simply the invention of new ‗styles‘, but rather the revising of our aspirations and frames of mind. Perhaps at some point, though, this very state of continual change will become institutionalised and people will then demand a new state of stability. But then that too will sometime become the norm, calcified, and a new revolution will inevitably occur. In thinking about revolutions poetic or otherwise, however, I would make a further observation. In Aztec poetry there was in the period immediately preceding the colonial Spanish devastation a split between two different schools of thought. One was the school of the war cult, which was the expression of the dominant ruling class, and the other was the Toltec school. As Edward Kissam and Michael Schmidt note, ‗The Toltec culture was highly civilized and humane…. To the mind of Aztec and vassal princes who felt dissatisfied or disgusted with the war cult, Toltec tradition represented an alternative, a humane vision‘ (Flower and Song: Aztec Poems). We don‘t know how these two opposed schools would have continued to develop in relation to each other and to Aztec society. It‘s possible that the era of widespread blood sacrifice practiced by the war cult would eventually have come to an end as Toltec poets rose to the fore. But Aztec society ceased to be through brute colonial force. It is also noteworthy that Neil Young‘s song ‗Cortez the Killer‘ was banned in Spain in 1975, a good 450 years after the conquest of Mexico (at least Young himself claims so). The upshot is that, while some kind of change will happen anyway (it is the unavoidable state of existence), it is still desirable that the right side comes out on top. What Cortez and Franco represent is not, to my mind, the ‗right‘ side. But Alan Jude Moore, the editor of The Burning Bush 2, is on the ‗right‘ side (I put the word in inverted commas because I know that its precise meaning will always be up for debate). He is the only writer to appear in every issue of the original TBB, aside from myself and perhaps Kevin Higgins (TBB‘s co-founder, who continued to appear in the magazine even after splitting as editor). So when Alan said he wanted to revive TBB, but to do something new with it, I said great idea, do it! He and I have in common a vision of poetry which is liberatory, anti-dogmatic, and anti-hierarchical (and fun). How that translates into politics, or how politics necessarily translates into poetics, is an essay unto itself, but we are now living in an age when armed police attack unarmed poets in the name of protecting their banker masters‘ economic interests (as they recently did to Robert Haas at Berkeley). I don‘t know 4
what exactly Alan has planned for The Burning Bush 2 in the future (possibly there is no concrete plan, which is probably a good thing), but at the very least, to paraphrase James Liddy, let this â€—newâ€˜ magazine alter the shape of the literary landscape(s) if it can.
Michael S. Begnal is a poet and critic of dual Irish and American nationality. With the Galway poet Kevin Higgins, he co-founded The Burning Bush magazine in 1999. He edited the magazine until it was discontinued in 2004. His publications include Ancestor Worship (Salmon Poetry, 2007) and Mercury, the Dime (Six Gallery Press, 2005). His next collection, Future Blues, will be published by Salmon Poetry in 2012. He was also the editor of the James Liddy festschrift, Honeysuckle, Honeyjuice: A Tribute to James Liddy (Arlen House, 2006). He lives in Pittsburgh and teaches at Duquesne University. www.mikebegnal.blogspot.com 5
Kevin Higgins Dear Editor It is not insignificant. Your archives prove, before God had the balls to put pen to paper, I was on record both for and against bank bailouts, global Jihad, secret World Government, the transport of the Jews to the East, and the attempt by the City Council to quietly replace/not replace the shrubs on the green opposite. It is not insignificant. I won‘t name them here, but we both know of whom I speak, Dear Editor. No one gives a damn what‘s become of the coastal towns or bothers any more to listen to the traditional Irish harp, Dear Editor. Is it just me? You are what I do nights when I can‘t phone radio stations to violently disagree with what I said last week about too many/not enough American/French/Brazilian flags on buildings that are none of my business, or women weeing in all night doorways. We both know of whom I speak. Dear Editor, I am not insignificant. I have written to the relevant authorities. But only when you say my name, can I be sure I still exist.
Among Aliens This dole queue speaks no English, but Brazilian, Polish and what might be Ukrainian. Last week, your brother, the blocklayer, successfully torched the house the bank took back, but the new owners were out. This morning Australia was sorry to inform you it has no vacancies for an ex-millionaire maker of wrought iron gates that can be seen all over Mayo and Clare. Back here, a black toddler chews her father‘s Social Services Card. You look at her and know this time it won‘t be columns of big boots beating out wrong! wrong! wrong! as far as Leni Riefenstahl can see; but the guy with a million hits on YouTube, his mouth full of euphemisms, as he leans in to say: My dear people, we must do something, or cease to exist.
Kevin Higgins’ most recent collection of poetry, Frightening New Furniture, was published in 2010 by Salmon Poetry. His fourth collection, The Ghost In The Lobby, will be published by Salmon in 2013. A collection of his essays and book reviews, Mentioning The War, will be published this year, also by Salmon. Kevin is co-organiser of Over The Edge literary events in Galway and was co-editor of the first four issues of the original Burning Bush. 7
Maurice Scully BLACKBIRD: JIG Stop now & listen round the bough-top I mean hang on a bit at the bus stop is that Patric & his pals giving us the nod or is it hi there yeah looking mysterious, what‘s up? Pop yr laptop in yr satchel, he said, let‘s go. We‘ll give pleasant lectures at expensive universities paddling happily along not rocking any coracle or canoe between overhanging willows of Fiction & Non he said, a quiet by-water by a prize-rich sluice. How about you? Mellow me with alcohol on a chilly winter‘s night followed by a little loving – who could say no to that, right? – while dabbling in this pool between fiction & its opposite: what do you think? You might? Cards slap tables through the day hey-ho – Polyurathane, Dust-bin, Dart-&-Grab. What‘s it all about? Is it Friday? I don‘t know, I need money. Scratch your head, kill the itch, that histrionic heart (with the hand on it) or that other on the dark stairwell fading up from … what? Maps? Speeches? Stark bright bugle of a daffodil. Slip, tug, thread. Where am I now? And are you with me? Hey. Nonny nonny. This is a day. This is a moment in a day. Shadow-leaves move more lightly behind your head (than in it) in your hut-in-hiding & seem to shiver through the delicate outlines of their life & after-mark. Take care. Has this ever happened to anyone before? Who can tell. What the hell. Ring a bell?
POEM The oldest seed ever known to germinate was a 2,000-year-old date-palm seed retrieved from archaeological excavations of King Herod's palace. Seeds found during the excavations lay in a drawer for 30 years or more until someone thought they might try to germinate them: one did. The oldest seed ever known to germinate was a 2,000 year old date- alm seed ved om archaelog tions of K lace. nd d t ay a wer 0
Maurice Scully was born in Dublin in 1952 and educated at Trinity College Dublin. He is widely published in the UK, USA and Ireland. Recent publications include Humming (Shearsman Books, 2009), Doing the Same in English (Dedalus Press, 2008) & A Tour of the Lattice (Veer Books, 2011). The pieces published here for the first time are from the forthcoming book Several Dances. He is a member of Aosdana. 9
John Thomas Menesini The Ballad of Lawrenceville Steve For Joe Orum
you had the roomâ€˜s ear drunks rapt stories of doing coke with the cop who arrested you, you in cuffs, and he held the straw up to your face and you still got booked the maniacs at the bar you kept order tallied so you said in busted teeth or mashed mouths or at Three Rivers up in 606 nosebleed heaven
Ziploc bags of vodka underneath the ice and lemonade a few joints each between the three of yinz 10
Cut to now again, waxing deftly in front of crowds ―the lean years they called them, for the Steelers, in the 80s and 90s. Man if we woulda got Danny-Fucking-Marino I swear-ta-Christ we woulda got two more in the 80s, and that woulda rode us right into ‘95, those Dallas jagoffs wouldna stood a chance, fucking Neil O‘Donnell! Yeah but whoever the fuck O‘Donnell was throwing to the second goddamn pick blew his fucking route, ya gotta give him that much…‖ (at least they know what they‘re talking about) but games always end, and joints go out, for now, so you‘d again cross the bridge head up through downtown Penn Avenue 1983, back to the basement of your mom‘s, in too-tight jeans and a moustache for the ages red eyed without care yinzer swagger all the way home
Paris of Appalachia whose veins run river Allegheny, Mon merge then Ohio taketh away
To port to port! what cargo Coal? export pick up fuel for the BLAST as we bested Hades flame for licking flame
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. He lives in the city of Pittsburgh. 12
Patrick Chapman The Amnesia-to-Melancholy Ratio There was a meteorite. Years ago. Nobody observed it at the time Though it was mighty as Chicxulub Strapped to the back of Tunguska. To most, it just looked like the sky. It might as well have been Allan Hills – Tucked away in a lab, studied and stored Until somebody made the connection With Martian fossils and for a moment The scumbayas were petrified. You didn‘t feel it then but it knocked You for six; holed you in a hundred places – Apertures that undermined your structure So that Kryptonite was nothing to you now. You curved as required, mirroring those Who came into your orbit; taking on Their shapes; reflecting what they might Expect. You swerved and pretzelled For to stand up at all was to risk Collapse. That meteorite was good. If one of them had wiped out the dinosaurs, What had another done to tiny, flightless you, Not even a terrible lizard? The meteorite Survived: lately, an unexpected land mass Has been sighted off the islets of engrams.
Doppelgänger Clues You wake me with a squeezing Of strawberry cut – one drop On my left lid, one drop on my right – And the tenderest kiss to my nose. I open my strawberried eyes, Expecting to find him in the room, Lotus on the duvet, uncrossing; Dissolving before I can make out his edges – But he has not come. I have to Do this on my own. I know he Turns up when I am not looking Out for him. There‘s evidence. My beard hair on his razor In your bathroom cabinet. His love bruise on your neck That day in Grace Cathedral Park. In his mouth, my brutal tongue, Smarting after you have kissed and bitten it.
The poems published here were part of the Timecoloured Place exhibition at the Oonagh Young Gallery, Dublin 1 (September / October 2011).
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 story collection, The Wow Signal (Bluechrome) was published in 2007. You can find him at www.patrickchapman.net 14
Nuala Ní Chonchúir The Lunar Spread On Half Moon Street we eat Tunisian orange cake, under a painting of a melon that spills seeds like love. Over Notre Dame the moon is a plate, tossed by a Greek waiter from rue Hachette. Clear of Galway‘s rooftops the full moon – bald as a skull – crowns the night. When she is van Gogh yellow and mooning above, we close the shutters to safely sleep.
George Konrád on Memoir a found poem I realised if I kept out fiction, what would remain was fiction, too. Speaking from a certain distance, everything that happens to us in our lives eventually becomes fictionalized, a fiction: Our minds fictionalize our memories, which are not as much chronological as they are geographical. It‘s as if what we remember are only islands of oil floating upon the surface of a sea of everything that has ever happened to us.
Born in Dublin in 1970, Nuala Ní Chonchúir lives in County Galway. Her début novel You (New Island, 2010) was called ‗a heart-warmer‘ by The Irish Times and ‗a gem‘ by The Irish Examiner. Her short story collection Nude (Salt, 2009)) was shortlisted for the UK‘s Edge Hill Prize. Her second short story collection To The World of Men, Welcome has just been re-issued by Arlen House in an expanded paperback edition and her new collection of short stories, Mother America, will be published by New Island in May. Nuala‘s third full poetry collection The Juno Charm was recently published by Salmon Poetry. www.nualanichonchuir.com
Keith Gaustad The Jabot of Love Poems The note that accompanies our effort written in the language we beg in and we speak in: the voice reserved for the telephone when a stranger talks to us asking what do we mean by this. Itâ€˜s not your voice. It must be the voice of the superego collective consciousness I keep hearing so much about Iâ€˜d sign my letters different.
Different Sexual I think of you as a preference as modern as I can be in the wooden shadows I live under. They have fixed us up â€” the imagination of bookworms in my mind that hovers around fresh water faucets you are a daydream packed into the midnight eye starved for a happy accident that exists as briefly as a shooting star or a plane coming down.
Keith Gaustad is the editor of Burdock Magazine and Teppichfresser Press in Milwaukee, USA. His work appeared in Honeysuckle Honeyjuice: A Tribute to James Liddy, edited by Michael S. Begnal. He has degree in creative writing from UWM where he studied with the late James Liddy. 18
David Wheatley According to Lucretius With bulls too the Carthaginians waged war on their foes, and not just bulls but wild boar. Using an armed handler to keep the beast in line some went further again, with a fierce lion. But pity the man who thinks that he can keep a lion on a leash and it not give him the slip. Blood up, they‘d rampage here and there and sow chaos among the squadrons, friend and foe, their shaking, horrent manes and then their roars enough to put the wind up any horse. In vain their riders urged them with the snaffle, the sight of angry she-lions proved too awful: pouncing from nowhere into their victims‘ faces, landing on their backs and ripping them to pieces, catching hold and wrestling them to the ground then pinning them by the gaping, mortal wound that they‘d inflict with grim bites and slashing claws. Their own side the bulls would trample and toss in the air, and horses they would run right through with their horns, impaling the creatures from below then pawing the dust with menacing intent. The boars also turned their horns on foe and friend and washed the weapons lodged in them in blood. Cavalry tumbled, infantry died where they stood. The panicked, bolting horses tried to veer to safety or, rising up, would paw the air in vain: on every side the earth rang out and shook with the collapsing horses‘ weight. If anyone doubted that these beasts were wild before, the proof lay on the battlefield in carnage, uproar, terror, anarchy. Nothing will keep such killers, broken free, from dealing death all round with no one spared, just like elephants, badly battle-scarred, that stagger and stamp down hard on anyone in their way. As if they care what side he‘s on!
Air Street Fugue and it breathes
and it twitches
an industrial eclogue rancid yet green odour of flowering skullcap the air powder-coated into textures
and shot-blasted of marvel
circulated recirculated sculpting themselves to my lungs here where green-jacketed young offenders shackled in pondweed clear the drain and a green thought abolishes all that‘s mard moorhens nest and the locked-in Alsatian plants the strawberry of its snout under the fence the padlocked cemetery will not have you alive or dead and what of it bury yourself in the air your steps repeat themselves
as you go in your skull
you have been
way before now
there is only left
so much concrete to cover the cracks
the tanner‘s yard‘s
the algae and oxidised pipework festering green of which
I ask you
does it mean to love if not seeding this cherished boredom with ever more of itself and only these few stale blooms to show for it all the whimper but the sex fiends here beyond or if not if only
of who users
street lights and CCTV escape
on a stray cygnetâ€˜s trail of chevrons follow me writ in water then into the briars and asylum gained with barely a splash
David Wheatley's latest poetry collection is A Nest on the Waves (Gallery Press). 21
David Stone The Owl In the Black Forest, the scorching scorn, the chimneys and trees. Alcuin's reddened eyes ruminated on sealed papers. The owl swooped from a pine top to an iron gate to investigate a trash fire. In a basket burned archives the owl read, memorized and remanded to Louven.
Notes Alcuin: a medieval scholar who lived during the time of the early Holy Roman Empire. Louven: A city in Belgium - the location of Husserl's archives.
The Bandstand The band stood hypnotized, prosecuted for playing in a public place without a license. The musicians' fables wailed in the reason of night, humming liturgies from locked drawers. In the evening journey, brass and string players breathed the scent of roast from the spit in the smoke and fumes of buses and taxis standing in traffic.
David Stone was born in Chicago in 1949. He studied philosophy and literature at the University of Illinois, Tel Aviv University and DePaul University in Chicago with graduate studies in phenomenology. Editor of BLACKBIRD, Stone has been writing and publishing poetry since the 1970s. His new collection, NIGHT TOWN, with illustrations by Belgian artist Guido Vermeulen, will be published by Phrygian Press in 2012. 23
John W. Sexton The Past and the Present Are Nothing to the Only Now moonlight soaking the spider's ladder I am joined to the sky magnolia-angels bloom with the pristine hearts of stillborn children no thought in my head / moth keeps a beat in the lampshade her hair all blackbirds / my mother unfolded a meadow from the wardrobe a moth in its light of self snailed / rainbows spill at the thrush forge sunlight over the park a dog barking darkness for a house spilling its guts we say snail a horse re-winds the world‘s heart each step on the sloping meadow silvered pines owl carries the moon‘s face on his nothing of the night but the metal dust of moths waking for a moment I am made of birdsong doorways of light open the lake / a thrown pebble my emissary a woman mutters in her sleep the mountain suckles a cloud a mask awaits its face in the lost-property office moonlight / I bleed a shadow headfirst to the door each tinkle / the chamber-pot hears angels sing anti-grail the route the stray walks through the city spells YAHWEH
John W. Sexton is a past Burning Bush contributor. He 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 in 2012. 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. 24
Todd Swift 1000 km to Berlin Cross-X in Austria, conditions making the trail half-ice, granular in the afternoon's plus-four air, still it was possible to ski in the Guttenbrun forest where Marcshall Stuben's son, after the war, marked his father with a near-lake stone for having been first to bring this flatter form of motion to the firs: swimming across frozen water, rowing with the body on good snow; a sport measuring slow country hours. First time, you sat down, got up often. That night your dreams fell far, mindful of a burnt-away green shell. Stumbling you were the creature from the lagoon, an experiment gone wild, weak in the knees; but before an hour, mounting, you'd gained a sense of ski and thigh, arm and swing, began to follow through, equal to the curving tracks and melting's push. At the third kilometre, I turned for you, saw a bundled dumb motion in the trees, knocked back together, inching to me, and my instant fond ridicule transformed to gratitude for your innocence. What we can learn is from ignorance; after love, the most tender act is teaching. Later, when you'd gained your snow-legs, we swooped faster in jagged unison. Tiring, stopped to lean and see word-mist, found a stern board planted, a moon flag in the isolation of our halting. The trunks lifted all sides of the dusk like blankets parents wave above their children's heads, for fun drowning in sheets. It was night in an hour. Here Christmas was a permanent occupation. The sign: 1000 km to Berlin, saying these long-lived artifacts of wood were trucked each season the clean, exact distance to that city, 25
whose rings, of history, deep evening, were lit with new growth after cold burial. In truth, we would've barely seen the sign if not still breathing the last hill's exertion. We had another hour or so of your learning and falling and brushing off - intermittent with smoother gains. After water between us, we gripped our thin poles again: sloping westward, away from Berlin.
An Essay On Violence The child is dead whose eyes were kept Open by French Soldiers in Algeria, so that she Could watch. In Kosovo, a grandfather Ate his grandson's liver in front of a tied father. This is the terror they speak of: this is what they're terrified Of: this is what the red alerts are about. The ones who stole The land - and in return gave precious little - but an image Of freedom, a mirage of love, a promissory note for a god. Violence is what the Earth did at Pompeii and Krakatoa; It is the state as the law sees it, as the state wishes it done. The need to sculpt a statue of pure violence out of stone. Violence is the decision to supply munitions To both sides in a conflict; it is the brokering of agreements That must be enforced. Violence is the pseudonym of any nation. Violence is the reason sex tastes of Eden; And even one body can do violence to itself.
Todd Swift was born in Montreal, Canada, on Good Friday, in 1966. He is a Lecturer at the Kingston Writing School, Kingston University, Surrey and has a PhD from the University of East Anglia. In 2010, he co-edited Modern Canadian Poets (Carcanet, 2010) with Evan Jones. He has a collection forthcoming from Tightrope Books in 2012 and is currently editing Lung Jazz: The Oxfam Anthology of Young British Poets (2012) with Kim Lockwood. His most recent collections are Seaway: New and Selected Poems (Salmon Poetry, 2008) and England is Mine (DC Books, 2011). He is married and lives in London.
Emily Cullen Love and Milk My breasts wake me up. Tingling fullness coaxes me onto my back. Like the miracle of the loaves and fishes my night supply has been replenished. In my thirty-sixth year my body has learned a new skill. Your head jerks, eyes brighten as you spot my nipple. Fists clench, unfurl, fingers curl round my thumb. Hidden tunnels carry milk: Aquaducts bearing fresh water to a Roman fountain. How should I cope with my cornucopia? When you suckle one side the other leaks. ‗Each drop is precious,‘ they say so I also express for the rainy day. Eyelids grow heavy. Mouthing wide rhythms, you reach the hind milk. I tickle your toes to keep you awake but it‘s you who lulls me to doze. We‘ve come a long way here from sore cracks and lanolin cream. By the time you‘ve drawn out your feed we‘re ready to curl up side by side, drift into our mutual nap make up for a night without sleep.
Dr. Emily Cullen is a past Burning Bush contributor. She is a writer, arts manager, harpist and scholar who publishes widely on aspects of Irish cultural history. In 2004 she curated the national Patrick Kavanagh Centenary celebrations and was selected for the Poetry Ireland Introductions series. Her first collection, No Vague Utopia, was published by Ainnir Publishing in 2003. 28
Dave Lordan Workmate She plays Farmville and pokes friends on Facebook most of the day. She scans a few sites for celebrity gossipthe photos and headlinesscrolling up and down independent.ie every quarter of an hour or so. At 15.10 she takes a break and lounges for half an hour with the other women on the scheme eating brown soda with orange-and-duck-liver pate. Then they sample black pudding reheated from yesterday, chomping fat and gut and gristle over CSI, Dragonâ€˜s Den, American Idol. Each has something well worked-out to say about the royal wedding. Later on, closing in on 5pm- the goalshe rises and jacks up the Korean office stereo for Shakira, almost dancing the way back to her chair. She leaves max vol on for the jingles and pitches in the advertisements for The Sound of Music in the Grand Canal Theatre, for cut-price bananas, for less-than-half-price toys, two-for-one Rioja, three mince-meats for a tenner, for closing-down firesales of repossessed furniture. 29
Some of these ads she has autodidactically taught herself the dubbing of, the how-to-hum-along-to and when the DJâ€˜s billion-kilometre tongue flicks through the speaker and into the room to put a question to his nation: whether it is right to cut the benefits of those who refuse a reasonable offer of employment? she damn near leaps from her desk with her very soul giving answer, damn near levitates in an ecstasy with her arms and legs spread out, damn near crashes through the roof, ascending to the satellites and the space debris screaming Yes, Yes, of course it is Yes, Yes, of course it is, Yes.
Spin for Helen Lindstrom
Shhsssh! Silence is talking. Silence is driving the car. Shhssh! She is neutral and she disapproves of all the gloom. What have you got to be so angry about? Would you just shut-up about the budget? Nice things, why can't we just talk about nice things: The lovely hedgerows and lawns hereabouts. Caring for double incontinent mothers. Butterflies. Our far flung children, high achievers all. Old country recipes. Recent sporting victories. Weddings we have been to. Other public ceremonies. Our childhood in terms of its thoroughbred horses. The weather. The good local weather. Which is not strange. Stunned and fuming in the backseat, you and I being placed and viewed and spoken through like archaeology. We are fragments in a carton. Ashes in an urn. I wish that my container keeps a coiled snake and a curse-bearing hieroglyph and that yours is truly an aboriginal wand. Shhssh! Silence is priming her lashes, flinting her smile, cocking her teeth in the rear-view mirror. They ricochet and crack us both mid-forehead, fester in our brainwaves like eyes, like thrones and sceptres, like all the stations of the radio. We are monsters now. But this is not what silence calls a crisis. She would like to know exactly what our real problem is? Are you workshy? Or perhaps it‘s S.A.D? Deal with it. Get a goddamn job like the rest of us. Go and sit under a stone-apple tree or swallow a Halogen lamp for yourself. Go get electrocuted. Go piss on electric wire. Didn‘t you hear about Berlin? Don‘t you know how much much worse it gets a thousand years ago? Silence takes her holidays in surgical resorts and has also the world‘s most incredible dentist, a true dambuilder. Shhssh!
Silence is only just paring the obvious: Detrital, byproducted hope is foam and it is cornerless. It boils away with heat and age like alcohol, like milk. Get doom, solidify, welcome to the real world, get a fucking grip. Shhssh! Silence floats about the sixties seeing it all before and whatever you think is going on back then it doesnâ€˜t happen. It never ever. Silence do solemnly declare: I am the national peaceful unity co-operation thingy. I am fog on the lough, erasing shapes, maps, directions, memory. I am the calm that has settled after all hope has died. I am the broken promises factory skirting every Irish town. I am the Hotel Empty. My rating is five black-holes. I host the most magnificent cobwebs, prestigious cracks, glittering slug-trails, draughts of international importance. You are very welcome to attend my International Emptiness Conference. I am a warehouse of the unrequired. Defective mannequins. I am the vastest hangar in all of limbo, that one for the unexamined. I am the cage that traps the song, unbeknownst to the singer. I am the code and the guard and the museum of the future. Shhssh! Silence is driving us down to the pier. Shhssh! Silence is dragging us onto the yacht. Shhssh! Silence is taking us out on the lake. Shhssh! Silence is packing us up in a jar, diving us down to her black uninhabited realm, roots that throttle us in wrecks, grey silt-weeds and the drifting, boneless dead, their softening shells.
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. Wurm Press will publish his first collection of short stories, The Underground, in Spring 2012. His website is www.davelordanwriter.com 32
Paul Perry A Presidential Epigram after Mandelstam we live without feeling the border between us and our feet do not touch the ground listen our voices are accent-less and the echo of money is like the sound of rigging in the wind the talk of any small-town is the Ă ras and the one who chuckles shall he ascend his bloodied hands unseen boots put away worms rising his words are like anchors circled by snivelling and mewling henchmen he flings decrees like horseshoes you get it in the balls the temple between eyes like poisoned berries he spits each execution from his mouth
Paul Perry was born in Dublin in 1972. He is the author and editor of a number of critically acclaimed books including The Drowning of the Saints, Goldsmithâ€™s Ghost, 108 Moons and The Orchid Keeper. He teaches creative writing for Kingston University, London, and University College Dublin and is Course Director in Poetry for the Faber Academy in Dublin. His most recent collection is The Last Falcon and Small Ordinance, (Dedalus Press, 2010). 33
Annemarie NĂ Chuireann Laundry Here in the Indian foothills, I share a house with a man from Greece who speaks no English perfectly, disappears for days on a motorbike, leaves his laundry on the low make-shift line, grieving an absent sun. Side by side they hang: his shirt, my summer dress as if they know each other well and when he returns, smelling of engine oil, monsoon, rolled brown cigarettes, we have no formal language to share our separate joy. Drip-drip on the balcony, a queer, white pool gathers below. He holds at a sleeve, looks to sky. I open my palm for signs of rain.
Annemarie NĂ Chuireann is from the Gaeltacht in Donegal. She is a graduate of the M.Phil in Creative Writing programme at the Oscar Wilde Centre, Trinity College Dublin. Her poems have been published widely in Ireland and abroad. She lives in Dublin.
John MacKenna Dead Fox Magpied innards on a summer road, a brighter red than this lifeless coat. Spilled sentences that speak of a wild short life, the music left in an old concertina.
John MacKenna was born in 1952 in Castledermot in Co Kildare. His short story collections include The Fallen and Other Stories (Belfast, The Blackstaff Press, 1992) which won The Irish Times First Fiction Award; A Year of Our Lives (London, Picador, 1995); and The River Field (Dublin, New Island Books, 2007). His novels are Clare (The Blackstaff Press, 1993); The Last Fine Summer (London, Picador, 1998); A Haunted Heart (London, Picador, 1999) and The Space Between Us (New Island Books, 2009). He is also a well-known documentary maker and won a Jacob's Radio Award for his documentary series on Leonard Cohen, How The Heart Approaches What It Yearns.
Stephanie Conn Wedding Night Under thatch they searched for new land. He skimmed surface touched hair, face, lips. Discovered place in curve of breast and thigh, felt the rise and fall of breath. Entered sea and sky and stars, found her in August moonlight, shining. All through the night he held her gaze and whispered this – You are my island.
Stephanie Conn is a Primary school teacher from County Antrim. She developed and teaches the literacy programme, ‗Passport to Poetry‘. Her poetry has been published in a range of journals including, The Stony Thursday Book, The Linnet’s Wing, The Ranfurly Review and Ulla’s Nib. She is currently completing her MA in poetry at the Seamus Heaney Centre, Queen‘s University, Belfast. 36
Gerard Smyth We like it here beside the river We like it here beside the river that knows its way from source to sea. We tramp its riverbank, cross the iron bridge. At home we have it on an old map of the city – one that shows downtown territory and routes that take us through a place of shady deals, past the house of chandeliers – across the river and through the park where all the trees stand waiting, either for the rain or that sunny day in April. The lights along the river make the river look like it‘s playing with fire. A river-wind comes with the tide to sharpen the aroma of brewing yeast. We like it here beside the river: men on the street are digging for leaks – water-burst, gas escape.
Sitric’s Kingdom In Sitric‘s kingdom our games were simple: Spin-the bottle, Blind-man’s buff. Every night behind the infirmary the sun went down but never in a hurry. That‘s where I wore my sheriff‘s star, my Robin-of-Sherwood hat, where I saw the hearse and funeral car taking forever to pass, heard carols at Christmas in the Church of St Nicholas and great bells that shook our window on the world of trader, merchant, brewery men delivering stout; the god of repairs who could mend and fix, The midwife, too, who lost count of cries she heard, for mother‘s milk.
Gerard Smyth was born in Dublin in 1951 and began publishing poetry in the late 1960s when his first poems were published by David Marcus in the New Irish Writing Page of The Irish Press and by James Simmons in The Honest Ulsterman. His most recent collection is The Fullness of Time: New & Selected Poems (Dedalus Press, 2010). He is a member of Aosdana. His website is www.gerardsmyth.com 38
Shannon Ward Mice I remember drifting off to the sound of their small claws pawing persistently against the pine ceiling beams—careful claws, curling soft wood like ribbon on a scissor‘s edge, piling scraps in nests above the bed where I slept in that hundred-year-old house and dreamt the past scratched at my door, a pest I could not exterminate. How was I to know they‘d chew through the electrical wires? That that winter, the kitchen would burn? I‘d not yet woken from the nights spent in upstairs closets, where my sister would hide me when things got bad. And even though the house still stands, the old rooms smell of smoke.
Raised in a renovated slaughterhouse on the outskirts of Wilmington, Ohio, Shannon Ward is currently working on her first collection, Blood Creek. She received an MFA in Poetry from North Carolina State University in 2009 and currently teaches composition at her undergraduate alma mater, Methodist University. She is the recipient of a 2011 Vermont Studio Center Artist‘s Grant, the 2009 Bruce and Marge Petesch Fellowship, and the 2007 Longleaf Press Writing Award. Her work has appeared in The Superstition Review, Tar River Poetry, Burdock, and Marginalia. She lives in Fayetteville, North Carolina with her husband and two cats. www.shannoncamlinward.com 39
Miceál Kearney Tradition In the Autumn Dad would anchor home. Mom would stitch the holes in his socks, he the holes in his nets. No more. We wake another taken by the Sea. The men look itchy in their suits, uncomfortable without salt on their lips. Eternal rest grant upon him … console the wailing matriarchs. Alone on the cliff-tops, sloes ripen – as a child, he‘d find different ways of tricking me into eating them. Today they are nectar. The men leave in comfortable clothing to search the surrounding sea – tradition – they guard against the Banshee taking his body. Until it is found, another white cross is cemented onto the rocks.
Miceál Kearney lives in Galway. His poetry has been published in Ireland, England and America. In 2009, he read as part of Poetry Ireland's Introduction Series. Doire Press published his debut collection, Inheritance, in 2008. He is currently working on his 2nd collection, Cartography. 40
Sarah Maria Griffin Found Months Later (he canâ€™t remember it happening) As I lay fully clothed in the bed at 3am I called to you as you undressed the wrong way Bring me the custard creams from the kitchen Please I need them You go, t-shirted bare legged comedy Then return with the long yellow packet In your tequila hand I say give them to me You throw them And they crack against my pissed head Not too hard but we are laughing then You join me horizontal I eat just one I am your biscuit black-eyed girl You have salt and lemon on your shirt Take it off
Sarah Maria Griffin is currently living in Dublin after completing the MA in Writing in NUI Galway. Her first collection of poetry, Follies, was published by Lapwing in 2011. She is currently Writer in Residence in Collinstown Community College, Clondalkin. Her work has been included in several culture magazines and literary journals including The Stinging Fly, PANK Magazine (US) and Oh, Francis. 41
Jean Kavanagh Flood When it was over and that great wave broke the shores of their disobedience caused their doubts to seep into the neon where they moved with indulgent cocktails, always generating more of what became necessity, bathed in dust and sweat, dripping with the blood, backhanded dagger, beneath the folds of something velvet and obscured, some real jewel they held aloft as proof of worth as they gathered for the murder done on their behalf, removed so far they built a city on the stains to justify their treason to the earth and sky, they stood calling out their mantra, as if enough to make it manifest, the pretty bows they tied their motives to, all in the name of... Now, the waters melt away the ink on floating papers, documents and treaties, laws they never meant to keep.
Jean Kavanagh is originally from Dublin and now living in Lahinch, Co. Clare. She cofounded The Cascades writing group in Ennistymon in 2001. In 2009, her work was published in the anthology, Lady Gregory's Townhouse. She has read her poetry at Clifden Arts Week and National Poetry Day events in County Clare. 42
Peadar O’Donoghue 21st century crescendo Noise, noise, noise everywhere, no escaping the hum, the buzz, the bite, the pressure cooker boiling, the kettle raging. It would drive you insane, the late summer screeches of the drug dealer‘s clapped out Clio, the deafening despair of future children doomed, the tumult of the first fallen leaf, pneumatic drills and car alarms, ice cream vans wailing ―Stop me and buy‖. Grey dogs howling, black dogs barking, sleepless nights spent listening, waiting for morning and credit cards statements crash landing on the mat. Overdue this, interest on that, familial nags, begs and moans, euros slipping unsilently through our hands, shiny new BMW‘s shout ―look at me‖ in the car park with insulated air conditioned quiet inside. Upgrades and laptops snigger in shop windows and though you cover your ears the worst of the noise is inside your head, and when people walk soft into rivers and lakes and under trains and over cliffs, when they are noosed and loosed, when they are blown to a million pieces with their own gun, I wonder if all they seek is the stopping of the noise.
Peadar O’Donoghue is a full time insomniac and part time spaceman. He also edits and produces The Poetry Bus magazine. His poems or photographs have appeared in magazines and online including Poetry Ireland Review, The SHOp, The Stinging Fly, Revival, Magma, The Dubliner, Village, Bare Hands Poetry and Can Can. His first collection, Jewel, will be published by Salmon Poetry this year. 43
Kerrie Oâ€™Brien Whisper It was so quick like the numb shock of blood on your own skin before the pulse and ache spread in that blur before truth settles and it hits you lose yourself the world slowed as I felt your breath before I heard the words
Kerrie O' Brien has been published in various Irish and UK literary journals including Southword and Orbis. Her poem Blossoms was chosen as the winning entry in the Emerging Talent category of the 2011 iYeats Poetry Competition and she was highly commended in the Over the Edge New Writer of The Year Competition 2011. She recently published a chapbook, Out of the Blueness. Her website is www.kerrieobrien.com 44
J.P. Dancing Bear Let's Spread Ourselves like a catch dumped out from a fishing net onto a deck. Love, I am a wave crashed over you. Spilling arms, legs, ribs over your arms, legs, ribs. Let's not waste our time talking about diving helmets, slickers, and neoprene gloves. Let the ropes and the hoses snake and eel across the deck, across our bodies seeking escape and redemption. I don't care how their drama plays outâ€”leave them to their hisschoiring fates. Let's run our fingers through the currents of hair, over our salt valleys and hills. The wave of my tongue crashes the shore of your lips. Let's fishtail ourselves, flop if we must! Let's be the catch of the day, the record haul, the bountiful. Love, let's call ourselves the first catch, Eve and her Adam, each one half of the other's apple.
Disturbance A grave reopens as a bed a bed with sheets of leaves house of smoke and ash house of mulch and autumn smoldering one opens the window to let fog in one watches at the sill as soot escapes much of what has been built into the room remains in gloom â€” frames of charcoal a stump becomes a torso becomes the last trick of low light come to bed
is whispered repeatedly
night of insect love beneath a pillowed headstone night of brambles I tangle for you comes out of the thick ether the bed lay like an open cellar she can willow her limbs, her fingers in this exquisite limbo light she takes on the curve and slant of her favorite font she goes on quoting a favorite line from a movie about the dead bee, only out of context and darker than the original noire momentarily the scattering light brightens a yellow leaf or browning grass aside from this no other color exists on the monochrome palette there is no black and white only varying shades of gray echoes from the dusty corners followed by the undeniable rustle of movementâ€” an arm rising up, a hand opening 46
more twisting of bed sheets what could have been love is not love what has been love keeps its veil on that image, that outline of her looks down at the earthy bed never scans the room what is left of sound travels further now looking for its echo the walls return to mist and smoke her name is spoken 窶馬ow the only disturbance in the emptiness of the room
J. P. Dancing Bear is the author of nine collections of poetry, most recently, Inner Cities of Gulls (2010, Salmon Poetry), winner of a PEN Oakland-Josephine Miles National Literary Award. His next two books are: Family of Marsupial Centaurs, which will be released by Iris Press; and Fish Singing Foxes, due from Salmon Poetry. His poems have been published in Mississippi Review, Third Coast, DIAGRAM, Verse Daily and many other publications. He is editor for the American Poetry Journal and Dream Horse Press. Bear also hosts the weekly hourlong poetry show, Out of Our Minds, on public station, KKUP and available as podcasts. 47
Gerard Beirne Meditation #27
It‘s curtain call and the audience has long since departed/strike whatever pose you wish/the applause you meet is silence/perhaps they are waiting in the cellarage at Hell‘s mouth to spring out when least expected/or the grave-trap crowing like roosters and baying like hounds/It‘s tempting to clap yourself/ Better that, it‘s said, than the inn-yards with their bear-baiting pits/fending and proving, scratching and biting by plain tooth on nail/Tread the ground, and you shall hear its hollowness/but I regress/ the stone slab is prised open/the bodies of the tragic lovers pulled from the jaws of death/the curtain drawn back on the bridal bed/the seamless transposition of stagecraft instead/Meanwhile a troup of acrobats seemingly defy gravity/while in the Heavens the ropes and rigging engage the entrance of an ancient god long since forgotten/What can I say/in the tiring-house behind the stage the costume change is seamless and efficient/we the audience in on the secret from the first/the pageant wagon not open to the weather/and worse, the double plot written by the game-writing hacks/and all the while the jousters and fencers, singers and dancers, keepers of fighting cocks/the grotesque costume of the antimasque and the impropriety of its dance/a disorder the interludes of masquerades cannot transform/for god nor king/If you must, stamp your foot and all will rise on cue in flashing lights/ ascend as the counterweight descends/the satyr leering from the wings/the witling‘s puerile conceit/ It‘s no defeat/the mountebank‘s to blame/fooling the penny stinkards in the yard with rosin blowing through a flame/while someone else is paid to imitate the cock that crowed for Peter‘s shame/the false breastplate has been pierced and bleeds the blood of calves/the curtain falls and that is all we have/ Gerard Beirne was born in Ireland and has lived in Canada for over thirteen years. He is a past recipient of The Sunday Tribune/Hennessy New Irish Writer of the Year award. His collection of poetry Digging My Own Grave was published by Dedalus Press, Dublin. His new collection, Games of Chance: A Gambler’s Manual is forthcoming form Oberon this Fall (2011). A novel, The Eskimo in the Net (Marion Boyars Publishers, London, 2003), was shortlisted for the prestigious Kerry Group Irish Fiction Award 2004 for the best book of Irish fiction. His most recent novel Turtle was published by Oberon Press, 2009. www.gerardbeirne.com
C Murray and her yellow music caught in the throat of birds I waited a minute on the wind, on your roof, outside. She had been awaiting me in the middle of the day, having come warm over those seas to find me high over the little streams and the lakes she came and she playing, and she jumping. Crying and talking in my ear. She had carried her warm music over those streams and over the frail blue flowers that grow on the lakeside. And you were sleeping soundly. I left you, I left the city for a little time. I left the noise of the city, to wait on the little breeze to bring me news. and her yellow music caught in the throat of birds agus a ceol buí a thógail i scornach na h’éanaithe.
Note: ‘agus a ceol buí a thógail i scornach na h’éanaithe’ is the Irish for ‗and her yellow music caught in the throat of birds‘.
C Murray lives in Dublin and is a stone-cutter and a Committee member of Irish PEN. Her work has been published in various places including Poetry Ireland Review and Crannóg. She writes the Poethead blog: http://poethead.wordpress.com 49