Theresa Donnelly

Ship of the Dead

Waking from a fitful sleep where

he dreamt he reached the coast;

leaving behind so wretched a place

where dusk now but a ghost

 

had camouflaged the landscape

in shades of grenadine.

Morning exposed its true light

of burnt hut and blackened beam.

 

Sword in hand, he clawed his way

to the river’s edge.

Blackness overwhelmed him

as he slid from the water’s ledge.

 

It startled his flesh into consciousness.

 

Branded wine-coloured scars

imprinted along his torso

as numerous as stars

stood to attention like warriors

upon hearing the beat of the drum.

 

The fatal wound between his ribs

began to seep, throb and burn.

The river pulled his body

beneath tendrils of olive-green moss;

caressing and lulling him further below

with a song of enduring loss.

 

The wild magic of the water

lured him into a trance-like state

which he fought against with tooth and nail

but his blood loss was too great.

 

Alongside moaning columns

which had once been cowardly men;

their voices hushed by the river’s rush

never to be heard again.

 

Odin’s booming bellow

pierced his death-like state

echoing words of warning; not

to be lured to the commoners gate.

 

The twelve handmaidens of Odin

took him into their care

sweeping him from the riverbed

carrying him forth on the air.

 

They could see the fiddlehead carving

of his ship’s bow on the wave.

A Viking’s final resting place

should be no riverbed grave.

 

They laid his body on board the ship;

placed his faithful sword in his hand

then setting the ship ablaze

they severed the anchor’s strand.

 

They would escort his soul to Valhalla

between the yellow moon and the tides

where all brave warriors feast and fight

in the Great Hall where Odin resides.

*

Biography

Theresa Donnelly is an Irish/Canadian poet who spends her time between Waterville, Co. Kerry and Brooklin, Ontario. Her poetry has been published in the Brooklin Town Crier, Surfacing Magazine, The Copperfield Review, Beret Days Press, Red Claw Press, Ink Bottle Press and The Caterpillar Magazine. She is the author of two poetry books ‘Moon Witch and Other Scary Poems (juvenile) and Recurrence of Blue. She is a member of The Ontario Poetry Society and a founding member of The Brooklin Poetry Society.
For more information visit www.theresadonnelly.com

Seth Jani

Icarus

In the great northern woods of Maine
there is the skeleton of an old Cessna
rotting in the ferns. No bodies lay nearby
though there are stones the size of skulls,
of shattered femurs. I found it once
while I was chasing butterflies
through a corridor of trees.
No numbers remained painted on the hull,
and the merciless joinery of frost
had rent the fuselage with bright crystals.
It blossomed in the woods like a beautiful carcass,
a fabled creature of lightning and glass.
When I went to open the doors
the sidereal light of winter
poured out from the interior
like a fallen god.

*

Biography

Seth Jani currently resides in Seattle, Washington and is the founder of Seven CirclePress (www.sevencirclepress.com). His work has been published widely in such places as The Chiron ReviewThe Comstock ReviewPhantom Drift and El Portal. His full-length collection, Night Fable, was published by FutureCycle Press in 2018. More about him and his work can be found at www.sethjani.com.

Mark Czanik

The Willow’s Song

The willow is weeping.

She weeps for her sisters,

and a pool is fed by the tears she sheds.

The pool feeds a creek that flows to the ocean.

Oh, the ocean is full of her treasures, she said.

.

The rain is falling.  

It falls on the hillside,

and a girls stands where the willow once stood.

The girl finds a street that’s lost in the city.

Oh, the rain is full of her treasures, she said.

.

The wind is calling.

It calls at her window,

and her hair is spinning like beads on a thread.

The thread hangs around her in the heart of the city.

Oh, the wind is full of her treasures, she said.

.

Darkness is calling.

It calls for the dawning,

and the moon is full, but her eyes are red.

She tells you her secrets are lost to the darkness.

Oh, the darkness is full of her treasures, she said.

.

Sisters are singing.

They sing for the weaving,

and the corn is turning like a spider’s web.

The corn turns a circle round the heart of the city.

Oh, the circles are full of their treasures, they said.

.

The willow is sleeping.

She sleeps for the dreaming,

and a pool is fed by the dreams she sheds.

The pool feeds a creek that’s lost in the city.

Oh, the city is full of her treasures, she said.      

*

Biography

Mark Czanik was born in the ‘sweet borderlands’ of Herefordshire, and now lives in exile in Bath. His poems and stories have appeared in Southword, Cyphers, Wasafiri, Riptide, The Rialto, The Interpreter’s House, and many other lovely magazines.

Aoife Riach

Cathedral

I love the freezing stone of you

beyond the rain, your bone damp

raising bristles on my flesh

 

I only know who they named

you after, eight hundred vaulted

years of grey, you waited for me

 

Why should you submit to what

they built you for, when my voice

echoes deep into your tombs

 

Loom over me, pull me inside

you again, they laid all your lovers

to rot within your walls 

 

Ring out for me, I’ll be breath

in your dead structure, the only

ghost you’re haunting back

 

Why should we submit to what

they built us for

 ————————————- my hot blood

thumps your every hollow cave

*

Biography

Aoife Riach is a queer feminist witch with an MA in Gender & Women’s studies and a postgrad certificate in Sexuality & Sexual Health Education. She has worked as a writer for BUST magazine in NYC and her poetry has been published by College Green Journal, Nothing Substantial, Sonder, Channel, Impossible Archetype and other magazines. She was a finalist in the 2019 Intervarsity Poetry Slam and was a 2019 Irish Writers Centre Young Writer Delegate. Her poem “Vancouver” was chosen for Hungering, the latest curation of the Poetry Jukebox currently installed at EPIC, The Irish Emigration Museum in Dublin.

 

Orla Fay

A History of Snow

1982. We waited in the kitchen.

They went to check on a neighbour.

Would they get caught in the drifts?

I fell asleep. The Hamco. The Big Snow.

 

In school watching out the Georgian

windows for the first flakes,

the surge of excitement when they fell

swept away all thought of work.

 

The lane was covered with frost,

puddles wore pale faces. We practised

how far we could slide, falling,

cracking elbows, bruising legs.

 

Making a snowman knuckles and fingers

numb, the mittens gone, socks on hands

searching for a carrot and pebbles.

Wham singing Last Christmas.

 

Back pinned to a warm radiator in the convent.

The 90s. Nirvana. Carpet coat, navy skirt,

no trousers allowed, tights sometimes,

knee high socks; uniform. Watching breath in air.

 

The Big Freeze. The ice came in

through the keyhole. The temperature in the car

read -15. A few miles into the journey

the brake pads froze. 2010.

 

A film of black ice covered the town

after the forewarning of freezing fog

when crows perished, plunging from the sky.

The Morrigan. People fell, casualty was full.

 

2018. The Beast from the East.

Racing back on the train to get home.

Deer gazed out from the blizzard in the park,

their bright eyes shining. An Cailleach.

 

The lane was impassable to vehicles,

drifts clung to the ditches and hedges.

We trampled through, ankle deep in wellies,

bringing bread, milk, eggs and Lucozade.

*

Biography

Orla Fay is editor of Boyne Berries. Recently her poetry has appeared in The Irish Times, Poetry Ireland Review, ROPES 2019, Impossible Archetype, The Bangor Literary Journal, Ink, Sweat and Tears, Tales From The Forest, Quarryman and FourXFour. She has been previously shortlisted for The Over The Edge New Writer of the Year Award, The Dermot Healy Award, The Jonathan Swift Creative Writing Award, The Rush Poetry Competition and The Redline Book Festival Poetry Award. This year she was shortlisted for The Cúirt New Writing Prize. She won 3rd prize in The Oliver Goldsmith Poetry Award 2019. Her short story Foxy was published on the incubator selects in April. She is working towards a first collection of poetry. She blogs at http://orlafay.blogspot.com/

Lorraine Whelan

Somewhere Between Lillehammer and Trondheim

My body rocks back and forth

as the train weaves its way through the lumpy landscape

 of still, wintry mountains in the darkening night.

Northern Norway in early March.

 

The moon glows as it rises over curved silhouettes.

I watch it from the window.

Bright. Lonely. Silver orb.

 

The few other passengers in this carriage are asleep.

 

Then I see another light in the distance:

a curious, flickering, reddish hue.

 

My face presses hard on the cold glass,

to bring me closer to the apparition.

 

A huge man is sitting, cross-legged, by a giant bonfire

warming his overgrown hands.

I know it is icy out there.

He does not look up, though I see a half-smile appear

through his unkempt, auburn beard.

 

He knows I can see him.

 

I continue to stare as the train trundles

past the isolated, impossible,

lay-by of this mythic being.

*

Biography

Lorraine Whelan is a Canadian writer and visual artist based in Ireland. Her prose, poetry, and art criticism has appeared in Ireland, Canada, USA, Luxembourg and online Her artwork is included in public, private and corporate collections in Ireland, USA, Canada, UK, Belgium, and Australia.

Kersten Christianson

Solar Flare

   -Tracking Mary Oliver’s “Wild Geese”

.

You do not have to be engaged.

You do not have to sit

in the front row

nodding your head

in approval,

affirmation

to the uninspired.

You only have to represent

the clickety-clack of your heart,

tap-dancing rain gutters,

solar panels.

Tell me where you’d rather be,

and I’ll draw an X

marking my spot, too.

Meanwhile, the day slugs on.

Meanwhile the sun rides the sky

in a hunched back slouch, filters

60 watts through alder leaves

hanging by a thread.

Whoever you once were,

or will yet become,

the world will bend

to your intensity.

*

Biography

Kersten Christianson is a raven-watching, moon-gazing Alaskan. She holds an MFA in Creative Writing (University of Alaska Anchorage), has authored two books of poetry – What Caught Raven’s Eye (Petroglyph Press, 2018) and Something Yet to Be Named (Aldrich Press, 2017) – and is the poetry editor of Alaska Women Speak.

Estelle Clarke

Dragon’s Dream

.

Two dragons cavort,

 

their wings have an unlikely beauty,

smudged with blood

spilled from celestial bodies.

 

She stretches her length,

glides

through the coloured universe,

displaying the glaze on her belly scales.

 

He sings from the earth.

Notes of yearning

raise her quickening heart.

 

She closes her seductive eyes

behind streamlined lashes,

swishes her tail coquettishly.

Lightening shoots from its spade,

glances off mass of purple, blue and gold,

forks through space,

strikes the orange armour of her mate.

 

Electrified,

he joins her in heavenly flight.

They burn through the night,

shooting stars

of dragon fire,

 

aflame with love.

*

Biography

Estelle is an emerging writer and performance poet. The Hansard Gallery, Southampton invited Estelle to perform her work at “Poetry @ JHG: Resist”. She won the Hammer and Tongue Solent Poetry Slam (April) and a competition to be performed on the Salisbury Fringe. Her poetry is published in the International Times.

www.estelleclarke.com

Beth McDonough

Mitko’s Rose

I wanted to tell you about Mitko’s rose

how he dug it in, below her open fenster,
to woo Zsuzsa in her student flat.
Just close enough for her to touch,
be dawn’s first scent when she awoke.

I might have mentioned the bud it gave,
or how the next year, it flowered twice?
Three times in the summer after that.

I’d have loved to add
how Zsuzsa unearthed and packed
that rose, put in her suitcase, how she
happit it up amongst books and socks
to take her shrub from German soil
all the cold way to Aberdeen.

If I were sharing this tale,
I’d point out where it thrives
under their northern window.
Well-tended, pruned, established.
Watch it shower blooms
under Mitko and Zsuzsa
as three little ones trike by.
But it isn’t my story to tell,
and some stories are already poems.

I wanted to tell you, but some things
made their own poem first.

*

Biography

Beth McDonough’s poetry appears in CausewayAntiphon,Interpreter’s Houseand elsewhere; she reviews in DURAHandfast (2016, with Ruth Aylett) explores family experiences – Aylett’s of dementia. and McDonough’s of autism. She was recently Writer in Residence at Dundee Contemporary Arts.

Dan A. Cardoza

A Dragon in My Garden

I sit in a chair, on a red cedar deck, in the Chill of

November.  The last coyote yelps carry from river’s edge to

home. An owl in feathered overalls, sits high a tip-top

telephone poll, next to my neighbor’s fence. His watch

reads pitch-black & a quarter till full-moon. Its 3:00 A.M.,

he’s about to punch out, his shift nearly complete. Then he

politely excuses himself and back to work. He’s never been

much for chit-chat. He lifts off like a soft melody from a

dark music sheet then through his hyaline portal.  I’m

thinking I’ll see him once again, in a week, maybe two, or

whenever he chooses. I’m ok with that.

 

I can see my raised garden, boxed dirt with redwood walls,

carrots, radish, basil; a succotash of sorts, zucchini & acorn

squash, with climbing vines of bean.  I see towering corn,

tomato too, and then a dash of fur & scurry & stamping too.

Then leaping about & leaps of faith; a variable mouse

rodeo, except for the riding bull. On the leading edge of

ghostly winds fly dragons, full with scales of armor, talons

& snapping turtle beak, as do birds of prey, with scythes for

fingers, feathery scales & darkness as a shroud. I view oh

Wing-O-Death, oh dreidel head, oh silent reaper plunge.

Then just one swoop & scoop, one squeal, lights out. The

moon: White ball in the corner pocket, a new dawn is on its

way.

*

Biography

Dan has a MS Degree. Dan lives in Northern California and  is the author of three Chapbooks, Nature’s Front Door , Expectation of Stars and Ghosts in the Cupboard. Partial Credits: Amethyst, UK., Ardent, Better Than Starbucks, California Quarterly, Chaleur Magazine, Entropy, Esthetic Apostle, Foxglove, Frogmore Journal, UK, High Shelf Press, Oddball, Poetry Northwest, The Quail Bell, Skylight 47, Ireland, Spelk, Unstamatic, and Vita Brevis.