Aisling Lynch

Spring Again

“What are you waiting for, permission?”

I opened my eyes. Had I blinked? It must have been longer, it feels like I’m looking through a camera lense and pulling everything into focus. I feel like I’m waking up and looking for my glasses. Where are my glasses? My question is answered when my vision finally sharpens and I see him. A man is standing in front of me. I think I know him. I must know him, his hands are clasped over mine. My hands hold something in them. I don’t know what it is but it is the only thing I am certain of. I feel movement against the skin of my palms. Is it alive? Everything else is uncertain. The man is important. I know that much. He speaks, I know his voice down to my bones but I cannot think of his name. 

“You look tired, love.” He is smiling at me, I feel his hand on my cheek. It is familiar, but in a way that feels long ago and far away. It does not feel comforting, which I assume is how it is supposed to feel. The man is still smiling at me, but his eyes are full of something else. They are a deep, concerned brown. I want to ask a question, many questions but I am suddenly taken by everything else in view. There is long grass around where we stand. It is bright too, we are close to the sky. I peer around the man, whose smile is fading with every moment I am silent. I see a vast ocean just under the horizon. My chest tightens. A cliff, now this is familiar. It begins to trickle in like a leak, the memory of where we are…where we were? We were here together, this man and I. Another time. Before. Another certainty. I will relish them as they come. I want to look behind me to see the rest of it, but something stills me. A deep, quiet warning that I should not take my eyes from the man in front of me. His smile is gone, a firm line where the curve once was. It somehow suits him. I suddenly have the urge to laugh, but I cannot seem to find my voice and it is released as a quick exhaled breath. He notices, and speaks again.

“The season has taken its toll on you…” The strangest thing is, he is right. I am tired, even though I seem to be only waking this very moment. Something is not right. I look at him more closely and try to find what is missing. As if by looking at him I can look deeper into myself. He speaks again “…you can rest now. Your work is done.” I don’t know what he means. I watch as he lifts my clasped hands with their secret held within and plants a soft kiss on each one. I am surprised to see my hands are worn and rough. Gardening, I think. Another memory tangled in weeds and vines. I don’t have time to think more on it, because I am suddenly very, very hungry. It feels as though I haven’t eaten in days. My stomach growls and I begin to feel dizzy. The man laughs at me and opens my palm.

“You’re always forgetting to eat Seph, here” A nickname. I need him to tell me more but instead the man opens my hands and I see them. Red and glossy, freshly gouged from the skin. I’m so hungry. I have never been this hungry. I lift the small clump of seeds to my nose, they smell of summer but I am reminded first of spring. The man’s lips pull back into a smile once more, but it is different. Sharper.

“Well, what are you waiting for, permission?” he says. Somehow I know that smile better than his name. The realisation hits me hard, but the seeds are already in my mouth and it is too late. The last thing I see before the scene fades is the man’s face. The face behind the one he wears for show. Sunken eyes over a narrow face. His final words echo back and forth in my head.

“What are you waiting for, permission?”

My eyes feel heavy as they open. But the world is in view straight away, this time. This time? My mind must have been elsewhere. Daydreaming. The man standing in front of me is smiling. The sky is bright and the sea glints behind him. This place. There is a cold breeze and my cheeks sting under the chilly whipped air. Was that there before? Before? My hands are warm though. He’s holding my hands. I suddenly want them back, but I remain still. 

“You look tired, love.” I barely hear him say the words. I am tired. Very tired. I cannot do this again. Do what again? I look at the man carefully. I know him, surely, but something feels different. What was his name again? His hand is on my cheek, I know the feeling but I am looking deep into eyes I don’t know. Because they are not his. Is that even possible? I ask myself, but I feel most certain. It is comforting, to be certain. I lean into the questions at the back of my mind. The trickle must become a flow. I need to think. The man is looking at me like I’m a sick lamb. I don’t like it. I close my eyes. Show me more. “The season has taken its toll on you…” What season? It cannot be Spring again or Summer with this chill in the air. Spring again? “…you can rest now. Your work is done.” Remember. My hands are warm though. What is in your hands? I summon strength, more than I thought I would need and slowly I pull my hands and their prize away from him. I remember a hunger as I open my hands, and my eyes. 

Pomegranate seeds. But these are dry, old and unappetizing. The man’s voice is sharp and clear this time.

“Are… are you not hungry, Seph?” That is not my name. I don’t think I have ever felt anything like what is happening now, but I know I must have. I know Him too well. My mind races with centuries of my past. Memories of the same moment in a different shell case. With it comes a power all my own that I quite forgot I had. How long have we been replaying this scene? I close my fists around the seeds and crush them to a fine powder that slips through my fingers. With them go any shred of doubt I had. I step back from the man who held me and the curtain is pulled away. There is no grass or sea to be seen in this place. Just the barren rocky cliffside, and the darkness and Him standing at the edge of everything. Just how he likes it. I find my voice, and it echoes in the cavernous dark.

“What nonsense is this?” I demand. The man has dropped his guise fully, and now looks sheepish and grey. His black eyes hold no feeling, only the fidgeting of his bony hands betray guilt. 

“I just needed you to stay a bit longer, love.” he says meekly. Of course. And he didn’t think to ask me first. He never does.

“So you thought you would waste a few millenia with this… stupidity?” The anger in me boils as I walk slowly towards him, accidentally sprouting grass and forget-me-knots with each step. 

“Time loops aren’t stupid.” he mumbles, his head bowed to avoid my gaze. I have heard enough, in the moment I raise my hand to him it is wrapped in the sharpest thorns.

“What are you doing, Persephone?” I don’t hear any fear in his tone. He is mocking me. I gather my power and shove him off the edge of that cliff he always clings to. I do not turn to leave until I hear a splash. The dead can keep him for now, I need some air. I spin thick vines into a ladder to take me out of this wretched place, I spot them with lavender and sage to clear my head. As I work I hear him scream from the depths.

“You will come back to me! You always come back!” I cannot help but smile at how frustrated he must be. A lonely little man in his cave of ghosts. I honor him with a reply.

“Of course, husband. And when I do, it will be on my terms.” I turn my back one final time and breath in the heady smell of home.

“Goodbye, Hades!” I call out, as I climb swiftly into the sky.

*

Biography

Aisling Lynch is a daydream enthusiast and aspiring writer with a penchant for nonsense in all its forms. She loves myths and fairy tales so much that she often believes she is one. Don’t we all end up in stories anyway?

Laura Theis

the clockmaker’s daughter

I never knew my mother

almost dropped out of clockmaking

school when she had to admit to herself

there was something tick-ticking inside her:

something she had made not by squinting

through microscopes and careful attention to detail but instead

by neglect and forgetfulness (qualities they do not encourage

at the horological institute)

foxing her tutors with flowy dresses and ponchos

she stayed on and half a year later gave birth

to me right on the due date because

I was always going to be a punctual baby

.

and the first time she saw my round flat face

she smiled with relief: she knew just how to read me

she hummed along to the song of my cogs and gears

as she carried me into her workshop then

propped me against the wall between her assortment

of die plates and steel files and calipers

she worked late into the night furbishing my most important parts

with a small bow-lathe until she had polished me into

something she would not be ashamed to hand in as her

final assignment: an elaborate device with a steady heartbeat

the kind a room would feel empty without

a freestanding marvel with two hands and a mouth

.

for telling the truth of time

*

Biography

Laura Theis is the winner the 2020 Brian Dempsey Memorial Pamphlet Competition, the £10,000 Mogford Short Story Prize, the Hammond House International Literary Award and she was highly commended in the 2020 Geoff Stevens Memorial Prize and the 2020 Acumen Poetry Competition.
Having grown up in Germany and writing in her second language, her writing has been published in the UK, as well as in Ireland, Belgium, Germany, Canada, and the U.S. It appears in Strange Horizons, Abyss & Apex, and Mslexia amongst many others. Her debut chapbook is forthcoming with Dempsey & Windle.

Kevin Conroy

Tea Break

Heat cannot pass from cold to hot – the only basic law of physics that distinguishes the past from the future. – Carlo Rovelli

.

Why is the past so particular, ordered,

the future uncertain, agitated?

Why is the past never past,

the future made now?

.

Now, I hold my cup of green tea

picturing myself on this blue veined earth.

I squeeze a tea bag with my spoon, freeing

waves frothing on a shore, air bubbles

captured in a sphere of hadrons

their quarks, up and down, top to bottom,

random, agitated in my spoon heating up.

.

Now, while I sit in my still room hurtling through space

on my steady chair free-falling through sky

that continues beneath my feet

            uprightly ever-turning in the way that makes sunrise,

time will tell, if I am still an I with memory,

when the tide ebbs.

*

Biography

Kevin Conroy has been published in The Irish Times, the Stony Thursday BookOne by jacar press, the moth, THE SHOp, Southword, Burning Bush II, Boyne Berries, The Blue Max Review, The Curlew, Sixteen Literary Magazineerbacce, The Runt magazine, Skylight 47,. He has been short- & long-listed in competitions such as the Fish Poetry, Fool for Poetry Chapbook, Algebra of Owls, appeared in anthologies Poets meet Politics & Hibernian Writers and was the runner-up in The Patrick Kavanagh Poetry Award 2016. His debut collection will be published October 2020 by Salmon Poetry.

Lorraine Whelan

The Bouquet’s Last Days

The brown is subtle at first
quiet as it tinges the rims
then grows as it permeates the petals
turning the intensity of a sunshine yellow
to a pale and dreary beige.

The stems also look dreary.
Almost translucent in their drenched state,
there is a pale fuzz of mould on their surface.
The water is cloudy and dank.
It has been in the vase too long
and is still.

Eventually the dry petals drop.
Spread on the table below,
they leave marks of dull orange.
a fine powder from useless stamen.

An odour begins to emanate from the vase:
the murk of water mixing
with the mouldy stems
leaks into the surrounding air,
no longer contained.

The bouquet will find its way
to the compost bin
and the water will find its way
to the sea.

*

Biography

Lorraine Whelan is a visual artist and writer based in Bray, Co. Wicklow.

Róisín Power Hackett

The Universe

This is a thousand, many thousand years past,

lost in a vague interspace between a dream and the night,

from the sleep into which the light of the stars had fallen

cold pulses were beating like ancestral skeletons against the sky;

the universe immense and profound with history,

luxuriously stretched soaring along luminous,

wrapped in thick darkness, akimbo.

Tis a vessel clipsing and colling, oozing,

containing the syrup of imagination, this curious bit of lore.

It would draw the stars as near and lapse into a pondering

as these non-human years and centuries came past,

the universe intensified grew larger dipped in liquid fire

sprinkling ancient aqueous light, diamonds of moisture.

Phosphorescence and phenomena

scattered showy ornaments and large orbs dance unstrapped,

formed pale nebulousness feathers floating brightly,

pearls of opalized light, purling upon undulations,

a constellation of white, red, and green flashes

interchanged their hues with every pulsation.

Rocking rhythmic they did twinkle

and reflect the laws of physics

nick-knock, nick-knock went the universe,

came toppling over fallen, tumbling down

descending to some distance below

through stratum, stratum, stratum

til the terrestrial thump.

.

Fallen

up from the earth

like a babble of waves, molten metallic glow

emerged loam, black as jet,

burst out, hissed out bubbles of sap,

the spasmodic leapings of the green alluvial

formed the reticulated pattern

of vegetable and mineral processes,

stretched like a geranium bloom against a photosphere,

grew as an extensive ornamental tent of gossamer webs.

Yellow lights struggling with blue shades,

a network of dark green threads overspread,

and the atmosphere filled with skeins of the powdery residuum,

stirring, shaping, and forming together a sort of vegeto-human pollen

formed therein a vast pool of fertile sappiness,

and up surged the human heap.

*

Biography

Róisín Power Hackett is an Irish visual artist, poet and art writer. She graduated with a BA in History of Art and Fine Art (Paint) and an MA in Art in the Contemporary World, an art writing masters, both from the National College of Art and Design in Dublin. She has been published in Headstuff – UNBOUND (2018), Skylight 47 Issue 10, (2018), Tales From The Forest, Issue 8 (2018), The Runt, Issue 10 (2017), The Bohemyth, (2017), Rise and Repeal (Abortion Rights Campaign) Magazine, (2016), The Weary Blues, Issue 7, (2015), Glitter Stump, Issue 2, Pamphlet Magazine  (Netherlands), Skylight 47 Issue 2(2013), Mama Grande Press,(2012) Word Legs, Issue 13, Minus 9 Squared‘s Anthology, Minus Nine Squared, Issue 2, (2009). Róisín has also published contemporary art, personal and philosophic essays and criticism on-line and in print including in the Visual Artists’ Ireland New Sheet (VAN).

https://roisinphackett.wordpress.com/

John Donaghy

RAGE, RAGE…!!

My old friend tells me everything’s a bonus

after three score years and ten.

Do-gooders on the radio speaking

of the “elderly” as if we’re merely

walking frames stumbling into hospitals

as if years determine our state of mind

our physical fragility

but the whole universe of consciousness

bears down with a stark declaration

that there is an end to all this

breathing, this laughing, this sensory

carnival of the flesh –

a diamond shape hacked

out of the earth that has my name on it.

*

Biography

John Donaghy’s poetry has been published in The Derry Journal, Sarasvati magazine and in The Irish Times. He has been shortlisted for the Bridport Prize in 2015. His poems have won first place in the unpublished section of the Poetry Ireland Trocaire Competition in both 2018 and 2019.

Theresa Donnelly

A Matter of Time

St. Vincent’s delights in cashmere

sweaters and Jimmy Choo boots-

your niece’s eyes sparkle like the ring.

.

You want to talk wood-

mahogany or oak? 

I want to talk metal-

the cold steel of a Kukri.

.

Shards of broken glass

sweep towards the pier.

The season’s dank breath

sweetens ambitious seedlings

in the Jiffy greenhouse.

.

Basil, peppers, onions will taste

bitter as chicory come summer.

.

Geese return as you prepare to leave.

I search for words for you to take along

but find the dictionary sealed shut

with marmalade glue and spilt Arabica.

.

The cat will refuse to eat-

she always does when you go away.

.

Unlike last year, the pompous  

hibiscus will rot. The sprinklers

are unpredictable when left to their own devices.

.

Blackbirds will again tunnel

their way inside the dryer vent,

before being evicted into middle-spring

by a landlord who insists on rent-paying tenants.

.

The roses will blush embarrassment-

for reminding me of your silhouette

bending in the fading light.

.

Adamant to live in the country-

this house denied home status

but befitting a four-page spread

in Architectural Digest.

.

You slipped between rooms

while I entertained moguls

after hours and on weekends.

.

Soon the smell of manure

will saturate the air.

I will return to a city

where steel will grow-

.

a backbone for urban decay.

Where melancholy can be

buried beneath slabs-

.

of freshly poured concrete.

*

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

Breda Joyce

Pedalling Backwards

When I visit my uncle in respite

he shuffles closer to the door, complains

no one will repair his bike. He needs

to cycle home; he’d take a taxi

but can’t afford the fare.

.

He sits across from me, dismayed;

no one listens or understands

that he must go back. No one

can see what he sees tangled

in the past.

.

His bicycle chain has been derailed;

he struggles to reset the links

that took him here. His feet trapped

in slippers far too loose; they trip him

when he tries to pedal

his way back.

*

Biography

Breda Joyce lives near Cahir, Co. Tipperary and graduated with an MA in Creative Writing from U.C.C. February 2020. Her poem, The Guardian of the Wheel was shortlisted for the Anthony Cronin Award and longlisted for the Over the Edge Award 2019.  The Bee-Smoker and Murmuration above the Peace Line were shortlisted for the Hennessy Award 2019. Slán leis an Airc was shortlisted for The Kinsale Literary Festival 2019. Her poem Free Fall won the Judith Aronson Likeness competition, April 2018. Breda has had poems published in Crannóg, Crossways, Skylight 47, The Galway Review, The Honest Ulsterman, Bangor Literary Journal, and The Quarryman and in the forthcoming Kilkenny Broadsheet 2020.

Ciara Chapman

Mindfulness

*

Biography

Ciara Chapman is an artist and illustrator living in Cork city, Ireland. She is a member of Cork Printmakers Workshop, Visual Artists Ireland and the Association of Illustrators. Her past illustration clients include Pfizer, Eli Lilly and The Toyota Mobility Foundation.


She exhibits online and throughout Ireland regularly as well as doing freelance work and working on exciting projects like DIVA at Electric Picnic in 2018, a Pfizer and Eli Lilly collaboration for the EFIC European Pain Federation in Valencia in 2019 and the Mobility unlimited challenge commissioned by The Toyota Mobility Foundation in 2020.

Lorcan Cassidy

Timeless Existence

*

Biography

Lorcan Cassidy is a Dublin based visual artist. He graduated from the National College of Art and Design with a BA (Hons) degree in Fine Art Sculpture and Expanded practices.

As a visual artist, Lorcan’s work revolves around creating alternate realities/other worlds/narratives and then making 3D work and/or drawing objects/artefacts/creatures/specimens from these various fictitious realms.

This piece is inspired by Turritopsis dohrnii, otherwise known as the Immortal Jellyfish. It is a creature with the astounding ability to revert itself to an earlier stage of its life cycle, turning back the hands of time whenever it wishes and as many times as it wants to. A true biological time machine.