The Pickled Body - Issue 1.3 Bull - Autumn 2014

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the pickled body Issue 1.3 Bull Autumn 2014

New poems by Matthew Sweeney Doireann Ní Ghríofa Anamaría Crowe Serrano Breda Wall Ryan David Butler and more Featured artist Jenny Bowens

The Pickled Body

Contents Issue 1.3 Bull Autumn 2014



Matthew Sweeney Toro


Breda Wall Ryan Stella


Maurice Devitt Love in Autumn


David Butler Minatory


Maggie Breen Secrets


Maeve O’Sullivan Portuguese Haiku


Doireann Ní Ghríofa Instructions to Kill a Daughter’s Minotaur Maeve in Chile

15 16

Rachel Mulholland Cooley Concise


Featured artist Jenny Bowens


Mike Alexander This is Glam


Carol Shillibeer techno-bull


J. Roycroft Von Aschenbach’s Dream


Anamaría Crowe Serrano !µ"#$%&'(! on first reading Stuart Kendall’s Gilgamesh

28 29



Editorial We are all minotaurs living in our own labyrinths. Sometimes it takes a brilliant poem to be our Ariadne or our Theseus. Yet as editors we may have been tempting fate in choosing the theme for our third issue. What if everyone took the word ‘Bull’ literally’? What we might have expected: Greek myth, astronomy, cant; insemination, persiflage, Picasso; Hemingway, Miles, Manolete; horns of plenty, horns of death, horns of a dilemna or a dilemma. Meat, blood, wine. Victory and death. Picadors. What we got was poetry, proper honest-to-goodness poetry, some of which addressed some of the subjects listed above – but not all of the work that came in was about the animal ‘bull’, or bullshit, or papal edicts, or Jake La Motta. And that’s what we hoped would happen. More than anything we looked for sideways glances. What we pickled is, we think, a stunning selection of poems that to a greater or lesser degree took the notion of ‘bull’ and decided for themselves what that meant. From Matthew Sweeney’s masterful ‘Toro’, in which a gladiator-animal recalls his glory days, to Anamaría Crowe Serrano’s thrilling, experimental poems; from Rachel Mulholland’s condensed retelling of the Táin myth, to Mike Alexander’s exploration of 1970s pop; from Carol Shillibeer’s science-fiction breakdown, to J. Roycroft’s perspective on Death in Venice… There’s so much here that’s bullish without being bull. We love Doireann Ní Ghríofa’s devastating ‘Instructions to Kill a Daughter’s Minotaur’ and ‘Maeve in Chile’. Lost souls abound in this issue. David Butler’s ‘Minatory’, Maggie Breen’s ‘Secrets’ and Maurice Devitt’s ‘Love in Autumn’ invoke their spirits and dare us not to look. Breda Wall Ryan’s ‘Stella’ is a lost soul of a different kind – lost in the stars. Maeve O’Sullivan’s ‘Portuguese Haiku’ is relief of a sort, bringing us on a holiday where we might open a bottle of wine, first taking the plastic bull from around its neck. After the emotional rodeo of reading in one sitting all of the poems in this issue, we think you may need it. Finally, we were delighted to ask Jenny Bowens to contribute to Bull as the featured artist, and as you’ll see, her extraordinary work ties the whole thing together in a way that’s at once honest and stark and strange in an almost Moreauvian blending of bodies, human and animal. Strong meat. We hope you enjoy The Pickled Body 1.3 ‘Bull’ as much as we loved discovering this work, and now take great pleasure in presenting it.

– The Editors

Toro Matthew Sweeney I’m the only bull who was set free. I gambol round the field all day, I have both my ears and my tail. The matador recalls me with a shudder. I came very close to goring him, closer to one of his banderilleros who was carried off with a bloodied leg, and walks now with a limp. I hoofed the ground, looked up, snorted, then charged at the matador. I shook the darts from my back, made sure to keep my shoulders closed. I ripped his suit of lights, knocked the sword from his hand. I chased him to the wooden perimeter which he vaulted over. I waited for him and he came back, stood angled, held out his red cape which I tossed aside, then swivelled to try to nail him this final time. It was not to be. The handkerchiefs waved, the President signalled it over. The matador looked at me and bowed. I muscled round the sandy ring with the crowd on their feet, yelling, clapping, and loud music playing. Hundreds of flashbulbs went off. I ate the best grass that evening.

The Pickled Body Issue 1.3 – Bull – Autumn 2014


Stella Breda Wall Ryan Our sister Stella scans the dark for crystal stars mapped in the astronomy book she knows by heart from start to end and pinpoints Pegasus tethered in a stall of woven cosmic wire beside a pool of stellar light no sane eye sees, but Stella spools strung crystals on her arms as any half-baked woman wired to the moon from reading zodiac books might, and stalls her explanation till night ends, as end it must, then takes the pool cue she uses to point out galaxies into the third stall in the ladies’ loo where a crystal chandelier lights the cover of her astronomy book inlaid with silver wire. She channels her guide via telepathic wire – Galileo, Galileo – from the Cosmos’ invisible end to pool his astral knowledge with the secrets in her star book and so end dispute, forestall debate and stall unscientific speculation. Galileo’s haywire answer sent by satellite, crystal clear to Stella’s stargazy mind upends extant theory: Pegasus’ bright pool is a porthole on the Next Dimension charted in Stella’s book.

The Pickled Body Issue 1.3 – Bull – Autumn 2014


At Trinity College Library, Stella’s Stellar Book is treasured like The Book of Kells, installed in a pool of fibre-optic light, alarm-wired. Meanwhile Stella – wonders never end – cracks alien codes by casting tumblestones and crystals. Suspected spawn of his trans-stellar gene pool, high on crystal meth, she transcribes distal Galileo’s starlore in her book – our Stella, wired and on her wonky orbit to the end.

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Love in Autumn Maurice Devitt Hands graze her throat red, smooth and brittle. She bites his tongue – tastes of lies, black as butter. Eyes light out their past gaudy as silk shoes, geography of bruises now old and shameless. The cove of her breast where once cloud-free he hid, is seamless with deception. Memories tick at her knuckles as she grips and un-grips the last certainty of love – leaves falling will find her naked.

The Pickled Body Issue 1.3 – Bull – Autumn 2014 11

Minatory David Butler All night the tide, engorged, has charged, foamed, bellowed, pawed at the shingle. Morning has tamed it. The moon-faced girl who plays amidst the detritus has quite forgotten her terror now. Idly she lines up shell and fragment in the wrack. The sea is watching. Could she read these runes, might she thread through their maze the mounting wave and undertow; the bestial swell of obsession; the monstrous birth; the black sail that drowns a father?

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Secrets Maggie Breen We had a bull that went bad, he was red, a deeper shade than my hair, he roared at us across the ditch, we had to stop playing in the front garden when he started scraping at the ground, gouging out deep holes, charging at nothing. It was around then that Mammy told me that speaking out would get me in trouble. The trailer shook like a toy when he was taken away and I could hear him roaring, as I watched from the kitchen window, my breath on the glass and I wrote secrets on the fogged-up places but they soon dripped away and no one could see.

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Portuguese Haiku Maeve O’Sullivan bullring

the tap tap of a cane on ground tiles

balmy afternoon on the estuary a boat horn sounds

honking again: those irate geese who chased us earlier

after-dinner batwatch they swoop down from the pines in ones and twos

hard-to-reach places

the sting of sunburn

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Instructions to Kill a Daughter’s Minotaur Doireann Ní Ghríofa Listen sister, it’s simple: just do as mother did with us.! Catch her as she returns from the well. She’ll drop the bucket, she’ll yelp, spill water. Let the thirsty sand swallow it. Do not worry, for you can send her little sister for more soon enough. You’ll need two of you to lift her, clever girl,! she’ll know by now where you are taking her. ! Carry her through the labyrinth of lanes, ! to the red house that sits at its heart. Knock twice. ! Close your ears to her bawling. ! Her eyes will be so white in her face, rolled back in fright. ! Inside, she will use all her words to beg you ! to release her. Do not yield, sister. Hold her. Hold her. Hold her down. Do not let her see the blade. She’ll still scream, ! better to hold a rag by her mouth – she will scream, we all screamed.! Have someone hold her legs open. You must cut carefully until you feel the give of flesh, the gush, the shudder, the blood, ! the heat of torn muscle, the bleeding meat. When she stills, you’ll know that you’ve freed her from that evil root.! Let her weep, but do not remove the rag from her mouth.! Whisper, don’t scare her. Poor child, poor child, poor blood of our blood. ! Hold a clean cloth to the wound, whisper prayers to her, sister, rub her brow smooth, let her blood clot and cool. ! Lift the skein then, the spool of red thread. You may weaken now, but remember, it is you who hold the ball of thread and you who must help her to find her way away from this place. ! Run your needle through the candle flame, sister. Hold her again. ! Each stitch is a step back home to where she belongs with you.! You must bring her back, sister. You must bring her back as a woman! – so stitch her neat – stitch her – tight. ! When you have finished, knot the thread. Remember to put the skein on the shelf for the next. Now you can smile, sister, and sing the old lullabies ! that soothed her when she screamed before you eight summers ago – your little calf, your screeching, womb-raw daughter. You birthed her once, sister. ! Now you must birth her again, ! from blood.

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Maeve in Chile Doireann Ní Ghríofa In Valparaiso, we are drunk again on Pisco sours. Later, I hunger for food that I cannot name.! We stumble into a night café, where you feed me pale potatoes, boiled to a shine, with lengua – boiled tongue. You wait for me to grimace like the other gringos, but I smile. I know the taste, the shape of a dead tongue in my mouth, strong muscle meat, grey, heavy. I cut a chunk. The root is thicker, tougher than I remember, When it slides down my throat, I think of home: of scrubby grass turn to cud on tongues, of ragwort, of furze. I think of torn hands stacking stones into walls to keep bullocks in and raiders out. I think of the forgotten words that sit in spaces between grey rocks, between grey clouds, between grey drops. I think of the frantic low moan of the cow who calls her calf back. I've never been so far from home. No. I’ve never been so close. I turn to you and ask for more.

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Cooley Concise Rachel Mulholland Two cows swallowed worms, birthing brown & white-horned. White under a woman, leaves her for her husband. So she wants Brown at any expense, offers everything & sex. But boasting messengers pull down wars & battles fill up mountain gaps. Brown won then & taken back, but wounded, wanders, only to return to worm.

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Featured Artist Jenny Bowens

From an early age I’ve been interested in both nature and art, so drawing animals became a favourite pastime of mine. When I was asked to make some images for Bull I was so pleased. The Pickled Body sounded like a wonderful thing to be involved in and the theme of Bull was exactly the sort of thing I love to draw. The editors pitched me the idea of merging the female reproductive organs with the face of a bull, as they’re often compared to one another. I really liked the idea and used it as my starting point. I then tried to find other organs in the shapes of the musculoskeletal structure of bulls. They’re such magnificent animals and I had a lot of fun drawing them.

This is Glam Mike Alexander THIS IS GLAM/1 For the craft project, undisclosed quantities of Elmer’s glue, what they call construction paper, not to mention liters of glitter. THIS IS GLAM/2 What exactly makes up this tinsel stuff? The hair of mannequins? Bootsy Collins’ aura? Fingernails on the chalkboard of centrifugal galaxies? Or just simple silica, multiplication tables, ethical dilemmas? What is this stuff that makes dead trees come alive in our duplexes? THIS IS GLAM/3 I hated disco just for being on the radio. It wasn’t personal. I was told I had to like the predominant bass. What was it Burroughs called it? His soft machine? His sewing machine. His typewriter. His money maker. In the late seventies, we were all William Tell. We wore blindfolds with eyeslits. We made overtures.

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THIS IS GLAM/4 I am the antichrist. I am the anarchist. I am the antithesis of Donna Summer. THIS IS GLAM/5 Will you wait in line for the next world war? Will you wait outside Studio Fifty Four? Will you be transmitter or receiver? Will you sit through Saturday Night Fever? We have saxophones. We have sexual healing. We have sequined satellites on our ceiling. We have disco biscuits. We have cocaine. We’re so vain. We’re so vain. We’re so vain. Honey. Do you promise us forever, in an odd way, like the changes from the lights on Broadway? We stomp around the dance floor like T-Rex. The only emperor is the emperor of sex.

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techno-bull Carol Shillibeer don’t be deceived by the crafty inseminators the bull is not a PI || or AI bred gone are the days of a hands-free style artificial intelligence || insemination tail volume = negligible: the cow is balanced but ectoparasites such as the village || our veterinarians, their testes should have a minimum 30 cm circumference if they are unwilling to leave you with a semen straw, if they, who can direct you, present endemically for breech birth and cranial capacity || size matters and yet pulling up at a stop-light counter-clockwise, an average cow her force of friction on the dance floor hoof action, bull and cow on a nearly sterile hillside, mines that took a rocky dump, creating a steep-sided ziggurat of coppered leavings, poop-n-stomp || rave cattle rave summer thunderstorm on shit and the greening, copper tailings || territorial scarring a human brand burned down past soil || a temple to our collective prayers for prosperity no cattle came tumbling down and really, the only thing that matters = what sticks around cattle, cattle, cattle as agents of restoration not information The Pickled Body Issue 1.3 – Bull – Autumn 2014 25

O bull || O cow || don’t be deceived by the crafty inseminators they who reap where they have not sown

seed texts: (Artificial Intelligence) compilation album released by Warp Records, 1992. The Pickled Body Issue 1.3 – Bull – Autumn 2014 26

Von Aschenbach’s Dream J. Roycroft is a dark dream, full of crepuscular water, shadow and light. And the boy? He is perched precariously high, a breeze catching his hair; like a conductor, he orchestrates a concatenation of gulls, while a group of stevedores lounge about and smoke, eying him lustily. His friends call him to play and he goes, though reluctantly. This is, after all, a dream. You stir, not quite awake. The boy, lithe, sweats his youth from his pores. For you, it is nicotine and brandy, the old cures. In this dream, madness is a dripping clock-face; a split lip; a bruised frenulum; a salty kiss. The muscular arch of his back, before wakefulness overtakes you, leaves you dusty-breathed on the piazza, no longer yourself, but your apotheosis.

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!µ"#$%&'(! Anamaría Crowe Serrano for picasso’s women

today we visited the picasso museum where everyone was in love except picasso he frowned and said he was trying to live the moment with its intensity and wasn’t searching for anything not some future form or aspiration sometimes the less sure you are the more convincing you come across i wanted to take note liberate myself from want but his brow creased to lowercase ksi unintelligible and olga gave him such a bitter look i could tell he had lied obsession is not of the moment it’s of the past a refusal of anything but mother’s milk the sea slapping under her armpits and jasmine round her waist releasing witchcraft in the museum dora tried to distract him flaunting her thighs cubes of pie she squatted at his behest over his mouth dancing all the way down to his cock right breast swinging left maracuya left breast sweet ripening round the back of a chair


for a moment he forgot what had driven him to anger all those gypsy words that lost their lips in his youth bulls and guitars blinding the walls with regret

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on first reading Stuart Kendall’s Gilgamesh Anamaría Crowe Serrano spasms


you move the maenad in me1 tongue between your toes slow curl under paleolithic suck these garments in the later paintings wispy veils and want-want weave

are too

dreary dead as sleep in Nineveh2 i’ve ripped them up

gauzy arabesque

of the type you imagined in your weaker moments might be pulled off a shoulder teased away to please reveal…



we can make this tomorrow’s fetish

we must The Pickled Body Issue 1.3 – Bull – Autumn 2014 29

y aaaaa wn my mouth cannot be naked any wider i’m off to ride the bull

if not slay it

before hunting your gods who said love is like a red red3 rose… it is and there’s the rub we need a good secateurs i digress

the real garment

is not wispy gauze but woven with my pubic hair4 the primitive joy of it against your thighs and your crotch

3 4

so clichéd

and Neruda’s poetry is over-rated too


houses your civility


is irrelevant after this

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your hands chained behind the chair it’s woven to the crenellations where we left the castle tour to rewrite the untouched histories of nooks

hidden places5

where we could be mythical


where cunt and prick and fuck are not pejorative the silken milk-and-honey bollocks in the later paintings of the maenads burns the painter’s brush their buttocks is worthy of more more realism rubbing off Bacchus’ godly stubble proper burlap chin

rubble upper lip

red red real6 their juices7 dripping lava over his face melting his tongue 5

in full view / love doesn’t come into it 7 is there another word for that? 6

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their lungs a feckless howl8

shredding sheets

the way storms strip the sky deflower the forest


think Ginsberg The Pickled Body Issue 1.3 – Bull – Autumn 2014 32

Contributors Matthew Sweeney His most recent collection Horse Music (Bloodaxe, 2013) won the inaugural Piggott Poetry Prize. A new collection, Inquisition Lane, is forthcoming from Bloodaxe in September 2015. Breda Wall Ryan lives in Bray, Ireland. Her awarded poetry has been widely published, most recently in the Rialto, Fish Anthology and Deep Water Literary Journal. Winner of Over the Edge New Writer of the Year 2013, she was selected for the Poetry Ireland Introductions Series, 2014. She has completed two poetry collections. Maurice Devitt After a career in business he completed the Poetry Studies MA at Mater Dei in Dublin. Over the past three years his poems have been published by journals in Ireland, England, Scotland, the US, Australia and Mexico. He is a founder member and chairperson of the Hibernian Writers’ Group. David Butler His publications include the novels: The Last European (Wynkin de Worde, 2005); The Judas Kiss (New Island, 2012); and City of Dis (due for publication in September 2014); the poetry collection Via Crucis (Doghouse, 2011); the short story collection No Greater Love (Ward Wood, 2013); and the play ’Twas the Night Before Xmas (Spotlight, 2013). Maggie Breen Her debut collection of poetry Other Things I Didn’t Tell, was published by Scallta Media in 2013. She has been published in The Stinging Fly, The Scaldy Detail, Crannóg and Southword, among others. She was guest editor of The Scaldy Detail 2013, launched in February 2014. Maeve O’Sullivan is a member of Haiku Ireland, the Poetry Divas and the Hibernian Poetry Workshop. Doireann Ní Ghríofa Pushcart Prize nominee Doireann Ní Ghríofa is an awardwinning bilingual poet based in Cork. She holds the Ireland Chair of Poetry Bursary 2014-2015. Her chapbook A Hummingbird, Your Heart is available free to download from Smithereens Press and her first collection of poems in English is forthcoming from Dedalus. Rachel Mulholland, 28, is from Dundalk, Ireland. She teaches English in Galicia, Spain, where she has been based for the past seven years. She has work published or forthcoming in Wordlegs, ESC Zine and Poetry24. Jenny Bowens is a fine-art student studying print at NCAD. She has lived in Churchtown, Dublin her whole life with her parents, older sister and cat. Outside of college, she loves reading, cosplaying, horse-riding, helping out at IMMA and hanging out with the cats on her road.

Mike Alexander published a book of poems, Retrograde, last year, through P & J Poetics. He drives down Houston’s Southwest freeway in the morning, & back up the same freeway in the evening. He still dreams he is the rock guitarist blasting from his voiture’s tinny speakers. His poems appear in River Styx, Measure, The Raintown Review, & elsewhere. Carol Shillibeer lives on the west coast of Canada. You can find her at J. Roycroft His work has appeared in The Stinging Fly, The Burning Bush 2, Abridged, The Weary Blues and The Bare Hands Anthology, amongst others. Work is forthcoming from Skylight 47 and The SHOp. He lives and works in Dublin. Anamaría Crowe Serrano is a poet, translator, teacher and one of the editors of Colony Journal. She is really excited to be included in this issue of the gorgeously lavish Pickled Body.

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Since 2013. The Pickled Body is an online poetry and art magazine edited, designed and produced by Dimitra Xidous and Patrick Chapman. The poems and artwork featured in this issue are copyright Š 2014 by their respective authors and artists, and may not be reproduced without permission. The Pickled Body is copyright Š 2014 by Dimitra Xidous and Patrick Chapman. All rights reserved.

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