Fiona Perry; Circumnavigation


“How much longer will I be allowed to stay here?” I asked myself before shooing away the question in favour of surveying the scene before me, savouring it like satisfying sips of sweet, hot tea. It was the well-organised, tidy bedroom of a new mother. A fully stocked change station rested against a wall and the air was laced with the carnal scents of breast milk and waxy cradle cap.

I could see my daughter, bathed in the bluish light of early dawn, sprawled across the bed, all postpartum plumpness and flushed cheeks. More mature and rounded than I remember her, she looked like a big brazen, unfurled summer flower. Her baby daughter lay nestled in a standing Moses basket, arms beautifully outstretched and bent at the elbow, fully surrendered to sleep. She was fascinating; stark white skin, mini aquiline nose and hair as black as rook feather. Our family blood was coursing luxuriantly through her minute veins. I cast my eyes over her long fingernails and the small patches of dry skin on her hands. Overdue. Reluctant to leave the sanctuary of a warm womb.

I heard the click, clap and whoosh of a boiler flicking on. Water trickled into pipes and moaned its way into concertina radiators, filling the room with dusty heat. The child’s legs jolted for a second before she squirmed and settled, chewing toothlessly at her fist. 


The electric element hissed as the potatoes boiled over, spilling snowy froth onto the stove top. I sighed as I turned off the ring, grabbed a dish cloth and mopped up the mess. I am not fit for this today. As I squeezed the sponge free of starchy sludge under the running tap, I fixed my gaze on Geraldine. She was sitting, staring open-mouthed at the wall mounted TV, a newspaper open in front of her on the table. She had been extravagantly ignoring me for the last twenty minutes. I strode over and turned off the TV before returning to the kitchen area. She began reading.

            I banged the fry pan on to the stove, dropped in a slice of lard and watched it turn from white solid into colourless liquid before adding sliced onion.

            Our usual cosy kitchen ritual, which involves my hovering over Geraldine and giving her lots of detailed instructions, had been disrupted because she had walked off, unceremoniously, as I was asking her if she could slice the onions thinner and into crescents rather than circles.

            “The Church is in some trouble,” she piped up, tilting her head towards the TV, referring to the last news article.

            “It’ll take more than a few bad apples to harm the Church,” I said draining the potatoes over the sink, “it will weather the storm alright.”

            “But it’s more than that, isn’t it?” she said, rubbing the back of her head in a small circular motion with her middle finger as if massaging the words out, “terrible crimes were covered up. Even now, those poor people continue to be abused by the Church’s denials.” Observing her closely, I thought, that barnet could use a hairbrush, she looks like she’s been dragged through a hedge backwards.

            “It’s not in our gift to judge these things. We trust in the Holy Spirit at work in the Church. It’s the best we can do,” I said, vigorously mashing the potatoes. I bashed the masher on the side of the saucepan to release the remnants of potato clinging to it and replaced the lid on the pot. I was momentarily distracted by a small twitch that had appeared on my upper cheek.

            Geraldine opened her mouth trout-like to respond but then seemed to think better of it. She drew a long, loud breath instead and changed the subject, “What’s the step ladder doing in the hall?”

            “Your father is going to have a look in the roof space when he comes home. There is a dripping sound above the spare room, even on dry days.”

            “I’m surprised you can hear anything over the racquet of the knitting machine.”

            “I hear it when I’m seaming,” I said, in an unintentionally shrill voice. The sound had been a source of irritation for a whole week and Lorcan still hadn’t made time yet to look into it.

            She turned her attention to the paper again.

            I began to slice a cabbage on the bench which divided the kitchen and dining room so I could take surreptitious looks at her. She had lost weight. Her long face was pale and blank, it depressed me. She wasn’t the vivacious, robust girl that left here after Christmas to return to University. Her shoulders were slightly rounded. Had they always been like that?

            It dawned on me that tertiary education was transforming my daughter in peculiar ways. Merely thinking about this caused a hot throbbing pain behind my eyes. It didn’t help that her ludicrous words from last night were also churning over in my head; “Well, I have a bit of news. I would like to drop out of Medicine and read History instead.” Just like that.  She said it in the same tone of voice a normal person might say, “I think I’ll have the Battenberg instead of the iced finger.” I knew we should never have let her study in England.

            Now she was even questioning her faith. I wanted to scream at her that life is not supposed to be easy. Every temporal problem is not easily solved. It’s is not a perfect institution but the Church is our only chance of salvation.

             None of this was to be discussed- yet. I had been given my orders by Lorcan before he left for work, “Say nothing. We’ll talk about it when I get home. Leave that child be,” he instructed, followed by something about ‘too tight a leash’ and ‘live her own life’.

            I hadn’t fully grasped it all. I had switched off while he was still talking, as I do, when he gets all high and mighty. 

            I placed the cabbage in a colander and gave it a good wash.

            This is the fear and hurt you face when you have an only child. All of your eggs are in one basket.



Fiona’s short stories and poetry have been published in The Irish Literary Review, Spontaneity Magazine, Into The Void, Dodging The Rain and Skylight47 amongst others. She grew up in Ireland but has lived most of her life in England and Australia. She currently lives near a volcano in New Zealand. Follow her on Twitter @Fionaperry17.

JL McCavana; Ormeau


Begin at the beginning.

Begin at what is now an empty space

on Hamilton Street.  House of smoke – and strong

women; and the Sacred Heart on the wall.


                                Walk now, onto Cromac Street, beyond the Markets

                                to the beginning of the Ormeau Road.

                                Left – the renewed redbrick of the old Gasworks.

                                Right – Donegall Pass.  See a whitewashed gable end

                                transformed into a giant Union Jack.

                                Walk down and read the paramilitary message –

                                don’t worry, the masked men are in their dens

                                not out on the streets; not here, not today.


Move on, up Lower Ormeau, past Fitzroy Avenue,

past Hatfield House, past the black memorial stone

on the gable end of Sean Graham bookies.

It’s OK, there are no gunmen here today,

not today.  Today you walk past Yambo

Food, past Bangla Bazaar, past the Asia

Supermarket on Agincourt Avenue,

which could be your road to Damacus – Street.


                                But standing still on Ormeau Bridge –

                                Past!  Past!  Past!  You think you can see it all,

                                in the slow brown gloop of the River Lagan,

                                you think you can see it all – every bloody thing.


Move.  Please move.

In Ormeau Park you see a Cherry tree

happening and heavy with bunched blossom.

And beyond Deramore, Rushfield and the long terraced stretch of Haypark Avenue,

stands Ballynafeigh Orange Hall, armoured and closed.

Though once upon a time within those walls,

two young people danced across Belfast’s

divide, and your mother said “yes”.


                                Omphalus!  This is your beginning, though

                                it begins, as you know, with a resounding

                                “No! No! No!”  – Yes!

                                Begin again.  Pass the bars: Pavilion,

                                Errigle, Parador.  Pass Ravenhill and Rosetta.

                                Find your way to Knockbreda cemetery

                                and via McCormick, Campbell, Lanyon, McKee,

                                ascend through the standing stones to the brow.


Now turn.  Look down over Ormeau, down over

Belfast, till it rises to Cavehill, Napoleon’s Nose

and Antrim’s basalt plateau.  And remember,

that you come from this once volcanic place.



J.L. McCavana lives and writes in County Antrim.  He is currently reading The Strings are False by Louis MacNeice and exploring the wonderful wide world of poetry.

Lorraine Whelan; First Visit To Dingle

First Visit To Dingle

The Atlantic pulsates.
Walls of water build up, green
and crash down, white, on brown sand.
The ocean foams.
Flotsam disappears in moments of undertow.
Smooth boulders embedded with shells
reach into the sea:
limpets and winkles cling to stony fingers
till the next high tide.
I climb as far as I dare
fighting the wind along the way.
I return as the tide quickens its pace
and waves wash the ridge
where I had stood
a few moments ago.
Clouds sweep the sky,
roll lively with high gales
then diverge
to show blue patches
and pull ragged shapes
from the shadow of a fog.
In the distance
the mountains are suddenly clear.





Lorraine Whelan is a writer and visual artist based in Ireland.

Ann Egan; Fuamnach’s Pool

Etain Is Fuamnach’s Pool

Why do I feel around me

is turning into a lake

in this room of circles where

I, a guest am left all alone.


My eyes stay closed.

I barely breathe as shards

invisible as jealousy, crush me.

Light as butterfly’s wings,


powerful as silken bonds,

they bind me prisoner.

My heartbeat slows yet

I am flying moonwards.


All is spinning so fast,

I cannot look on its kind face,

nor delight in yellow folds

of smiles and welcomes.


Now I’m being flung about

like a hurt in the wind,

back to the clouds,

a dark one grasps me


in arms like tentacles

of disappearing threads.

They imprison me, then

throw me across the sky,


plunge me  to the shallows

of water I think is me –

my eyes, my heart, my head!

Earth, save me from me.


Fuamnach’s Pool

Logs burn so brightly,

hiss and spark their way.

Silver spruce are piled high,

flames fill their sorrow.


Footsteps, I see no being.

Some power clasps me.

I Etain, new wife of Midir,

I am water. Must I live so?


I pray I’ll float to a stream,

beg a wind to hurry me

to a good river’s heart, there

I’ll crave the gods within


to restore me to my form.

I hear the fall and sigh again,

timber is consumed by

red hungers of flame.


This room fills with heat,

water that is me, disappears,

I cannot grasp it to be still.

Changes from a silver self,


vanishes as warm dew

to the air, flees from me.

Flames crackle at me.

I bow to their words,


my head is water, barely.

Drop disappears by drop.

Soon silence of spent fire

will be my mind’s darkness.


I cannot find my way.

I must succumb for flames

drink water that I am.



Ann Egan, a multi-award winning Irish poet, has held many residencies in counties, hospitals, schools, secure residencies and prisons. Her books are:  Landing the Sea (Bradshaw Books); The Wren Women (Black Mountain Press);  Brigit of Kildare (Kildare Library and Arts Services) and Telling Time (Bradshaw Books).  She has edited more than twenty books including, ‘The Midlands Arts and Culture Review,’ 2010. She lives in County Kildare, Ireland. 

Faye Boland; Home, Lost On The Kerry Way


is a field, stretched over red sandstone

overgrown with ferns, prickled with gorse

where my father dreamed a bungalow would sit

on which stands a peak-white mansion.

I painted its fence tudor black,

varnished floorboards I mop and wax.


is doorstep where an aged dog dozes,

rising on stiff legs at the sound of my car,

A view of a clothes line where tiny trousers kick

and frilly dresses swing. Where trumpet-like flowers,

resplendent with colour, peer in from window ledges.


is the waltz of garlic and onions

a six seater table, scuffed, with white rings.

The wail of a violin not quite in tune

the hum of a fridge while everyone sleeps.


Lost On The Kerry Way

We start our walk at Rossacussane, join

a narrow lane where wren and finch chirp,

shaded from the sun’s rays by beech, birch.  

On exposed hills we follow signs through

struggling lowland grasses speckled with wildflowers:

cowslip, purple star-flowers like edelweiss.

Sheep and horses graze, ignore us as we

snake up and down hill after hill, over

and over again. We take in the azure bay below

cushioned by mountains till the piercing sun

cracks our lips.


Hours later, bellies roar with hunger.

Highland ghosts of bogcotton quiver, we stumble

past the charred remains of gorse as ancient rocks

watch us with a wary eye. We are haunted

by the leafless skeleton of a wind-burnt rhododendron,

crimson flower-clusters hanging from its limbs,

startled by a pheasant bouncing from the scrub. 


Hearts leap as we see the church spire, relieved

that town is within reach. We clamber across

the last rocky summits, begin the breathtaking

descent into the chocolate box town. At its fringes

foxglove dressed in purple stands dignified while

ragged robin flaps torn petals. With wiry hair, dirt-crusted

toes, we glow with sunburn, two tramps just in time

for a gourmet dinner, long-awaited chilled sauvignon blanc.



Faye Boland has had poems published in Skylight 47, The Yellow Nib, The California Quarterly, The Galway Review, Literature Today, The Shop, Revival, Crannóg, Orbis, Wordlegs, Ropes, Headstuff, Silver Apples, Creature Features, The Blue Max Review and Speaking for Sceine Chapbooks, Vols I and II. In 2014 her poetry was included in ‘Visions: An Anthology of Emerging Kerry Writers’.
Her poem ‘Silver Bracelet’ was shortlisted in 2013 for the Poetry on the Lake XIII International Poetry Competition. 

Kevin Nolan; Flavescent,Flammeous


A colourable moon perspires down

on a foreign country.


A road surrounds an Anglican church –

the door swings open and a distant high pitched sound gets higher.


The air is wet with Ave Marias, a solitary singer searchingly fingers her

 soul and moans low while city foxes dash by dizzy and wild-eyed with

 questioning snouts.


Sitting near on footpath

are two people, in love, smiling at each other, knowing each other



In one beats a heart:

Its drawers swing open and shut in slow motion, catch imaginary

snowflakes, which melt and leak down to collect in the swells of her eyes

opening like butterflies.


The other’s heart

is wet with vitality, desperate in its countenance

opening and reaching out to her like a legousia flower to the heat

of flavescent moonlight.



tonight it became uncontrollably obvious,

so I accept it

like a vampire victim

giving in to the blissful pleasure of a death kiss

we’re fucked


its happened


we’ve fallen


so far down

into love


effortlessly it took control of you and me


no effort could have stopped it

no effort was made

to expose it as it hid


biding benign inside us


and by making no effort

to stop it

we became its accomplice


in the darkness and the heat,

in the trembling, and the suffocating

in that quenching intimacy



so far down

 I found you


in purest form,

uncontaminated state



so deep

a part one can never find in isolation,

for each forever standing

in the way of ourselves


someone comes along

finds it in us and gifts it to us



Kevin Nolan, Dublin born, holds an honours degree in Pure Philosophy from The Milltown Institute, and also received a Philosophy through literature diploma there. All in all, he spent six years studying Philosophy. He then studied Fine Art in the National College of Art and Design in conceptual art and film.  His writing has appeared in Colony, The Galway Review, Skylight 47, Bard, The Shine Newsletter, Studies, Decanto Magazine / Anthology (England), The Jack Kerouac Family Association Newsletter, Yareah Magazine (Italy), among other journals.  Nolan is also a singer/composer and has been played predominantly by John Kelly on The JK Ensemble. His debut album Fredrick & The Golden Dawn on which he duets with choice award winning singer Julie Feeney received highly acclaimed reviews both in Ireland and abroad.

Elizabeth O’Connell-Thompson; Failure To Thrive, Halo

Failure To Thrive 

I go to visit what we planted last summer,

            but it hides from harvest.


Those sown by other hands have made good use

            of the heavy rains, the slick earthworm’s burrows;


their stalks are waist-high and most have shed the thorns

            they used to crawl through the dirt to sunlight.


Among these blades are trampled seedlings,

            scorched shoots—none of them mine.


That moss-bearded man had promised me

            a blue and prickly thing, slow-grown and moody.


When it was still a sleeping bulb I found it in a glossary:

            Gardener’s Holy Grail. Thrives without special care.


I walk home to find the mint drowned in its bed,

            the violets torn from their roots.


Across my doorstep: yellow pollen thick as snow.



I awake to a morning without sky,

            the trees weighted down with blue snow.


A woman hurries from one lamp post to darkness and again,

            her boot soles the orange of life vests, of hazard lights.


I wait until the horizon returns,

            then find my footing in the prints she left behind.


Whatever is the opposite of a shadow stretches out

            behind you on the wall.


My glasses are still fogged,

            but I take the warm mug from your hands.


We settle in,

            we begin.



Elizabeth O’Connell-Thompson lives in Chicago, where she is the Literary Coordinator of the CHIPRC and a Poetry Ambassador for the Poetry Foundation. Her work has been published in RHINOBanshee, Front Porch Journal, and The Best New British and Irish Poets, among others. Her chapbook will be released with Dancing Girl Press in late 2017. Get in touch at

Ruth Hogger; Ascension

Ascension copy


Ruth Hogger is an artist who works intuitively with free association through collage. Triggered by symbolic imagery, metaphors surface from the unconscious, and merge into scenes resembling dreamscapes. Her process draws from Freud’s free association, Jung’s work on active imagination, and her current MA studies in Art Therapy.