Neil Slevin; Sewing the Sea, The Storm

Sewing the Sea

Fishing for water,

sewing the sea,

you sit at ease

on a swept, beaten quay,

passing no heed

to time, tide nor

in the distance, me.

 

Shimmering

is your joy,

the sun speckle

bobbing your face

and settling like stardust

in your golden hair embrace.

 

You are at labour, lost

in your working world,

another day’s laissez-faire,

your legs sway with the freedom

of the water’s flow; and where

splashes freckle day’s outlook,

 

life’s all moderate to fair

because you’re free

to stitch your ties,

ones that will exert

their own force,

not now, later,

in due course.

 

And so, unmoved

you return to your post,

fishing for water,

sewing the sea, almost.

*

The Storm

We sheltered from the rain

beneath the diving board

while teenagers watched us

become them, their smiles

knew before we did.

 

I stood between us

and the wind, moved you

from their stares, and saw

how you looked at me,

like you’d never look away.

 

We retreated, hid for hours

in a crowded room

and let our bodies say

what we couldn’t mean

with every breath and pulse.

 

My mind kissed every inch

of you; its fingers traced,

parted your lips, hands

lost themselves in your hair.

The storm raged, us its eye.

*

Biography

Neil Slevin MA, BSc is a writer from Co. Leitrim, based in Galway, Ireland, whose poetry has been published by various Irish publications and international journals, such as Scarlet Leaf Review and Artificium: The Journal. His flash fiction appeared in The Incubator. Neil co-edits Dodging The Rain.

Frances Browner; Leaving Limerick 1950

LEAVING LIMERICK 1950

My flying odyssey began

In a place called Rineanna

Forty hours later,

It ended in Idlewild.

Today, one flies from Shannon

To Kennedy in around six hours

I prefer the old names.

 

It was raining, pouring out of

Low-lying grey-black clouds

That blended seamlessly with

The Shannon estuary.

The tarmac was empty, but surely

My escape would soon appear

Ghostlike out of the overcast?

 

My entourage and I waited

And waited and waited and

Then, an announcement.

Our flight was delayed and

Delayed. After twenty-four hours

We were taken to a nearby hotel.

 

It was still raining the next day

My plane on the ground looming

Monstrous grey in the grey dusk

A flying whale I thought it was.

I made a quick call to Kirby’s,

The local grocery store, and

Someone ran to get my mother.

 

Write soon, son.  I will.

Don’t forget to say the Rosary. I won’t.

Goodbye son. Goodbye mother.

I never heard her voice again.

There’s a maudlin song –I left Ireland

And Mother because we were poor

A cowardly fellow, I should’ve stayed.

 

I trudged towards the plane in my

New suit, new shirt, new tie, new

Overcoat, new blue and white scarf.

New shoes, new haircut, but with the

Same old volcanic acne eruptions

And I flew off to the New World

At twenty years of age.

 

I snuggled into the belly of the

Whale and unlike Jonah had a

Gorgeous stewardess

Smile gorgeously at me.

Then, Ireland disappeared

Under the clouds and I would

Not see her again for ten years.

 

I was air sick, homesick, soul sick.

The steak dinner was not to my

Liking and a German doctor

Suggested I put my head

Between my knees and breathe.

Don’t go there, I craned my neck

Back towards the Treaty Stone.

 

In Gander, sparkling, drifting

Snowflakes replaced the rain.

The lounge was crowded with

Navy blue uniforms, gold wings

Pinned to lapels, braided caps

Rakishly set, manly white smiles

And manly long-legged strides.

 

Stewardesses wore tailored skirts in

A sky blue I had not seen in months

Matching jackets, snowy blouses,

Pertly set work caps. Legs made to

Order in high-heels that were calf

Defining. Red and white smiles

Goddesses to serve the Gods. 

 

The final lap of my journey is not

A blur, it’s a blank except for one

Mesmerizing experience. Back in

The day before metal detectors,

Waving wands, shoeless searches and

Locked cockpit doors, passengers were

Invited to visit that holy of holies.

 

I stood behind the pilot and co-pilot

Staring at a vast array of dimly lit

Instruments. Gazing out into the

Cosmos at a billion pinpoints of light

Some in friendly clusters winking

Others alone, aloof

In their solitary beauty.

 

I diminished, dwindled,

Became a speck, an atom

Vanished. From Ireland, Limerick,

Thomondgate, the Parish, 

From everyone and everything

I had ever known. Without

An anchor in a dangerous ocean.

 

Early next morning, we were safely down.

The whale disgorged me and I was grateful.

Descending into the biting New York cold,

I longed to kiss American soil. But,

On the dirty, slick, oil-stained tarmac,

There was no soil, no gold and no kiss.

*

Biography

Frances Browner was born in Cork; grew up in Dublin; spent twenty years in America, and now resides in Wicklow. Her short fiction & memoir pieces have appeared in magazines and short story anthologies, been short-listed for competitions and broadcast on radio. Poems have been published in the Examiner, the Ogham Stone, Poems on the Edge, the Limerick Poetry Trail and Skylight 47.

JL McCavana; Ormeau

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.

*

Biography

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.

 

 

*

Biography

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.

*

Biography

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

Home

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.

*

Biography

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

Flavescent

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

emphatically.

 

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.

*

Flammeous

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

where

 

so far down

 I found you

 

in purest form,

uncontaminated state

 

buried

so deep

a part one can never find in isolation,

for each forever standing

in the way of ourselves

till

someone comes along

finds it in us and gifts it to us

*

Biography

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. www.kevinnolan.info

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.

*

Halo

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.

*

Biography

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 EOTwrites.com

Spotlight: Eva Griffin

*

Losing Dogs & Author Bio

*

How do you begin a poem?

I don’t really have a set work ethic to be honest. Something will usually pop into my head that I’ll have to get down quickly, either into a notebook or my phone if I haven’t brought one with me (I made the mistake of choosing a hefty enough notebook as my go-to poem keeper). I do often think of my writing process as collage. I collect phrases and words that I read all over the place and once I’ve amassed a certain amount I’ll start seeing little links and soon I’ve started putting poems together from them. A lot of my poems consist of random lines that eventually find meaning in different combinations.

*

What’s your favourite poem you’ve ever encountered, and how did you encounter it?

I’m not sure I could pick a favourite. I did have a very visceral reaction to seeing Paula Meehan read ‘The Statue of the Virgin at Granard Speaks’ at Dublin Book Festival two years ago, and I’ve gone to see her read countless times since to get that feeling again. I don’t think I’ve ever encountered someone else who reads like her; her rhythm is overwhelming. In more recent memory, my mum picked up a couple of collections at Singapore Writers Festival which was an excellent way to expand my scope of reading. Too often I’m looking to the same Irish and American poets and it’s good to get into something different. I’m pretty sure she just asked someone for a bunch of feminist writing and bought what was suggested! One of them was Is My Body A Myth by Heng Siok Tian which I’ve been going back to a lot, particularly the titular poem which is a long-form reflection on motherhood, femaleness and embodiment.

*

You were previously the Visual Arts Editor at Headstuff; how do you spread your time between art and poetry? Is one a more predominant focus than the other?

Well I volunteer at Temple Bar Gallery + Studios at least once a week, so that’s a pretty great way of getting my recommended dose of art in. I can’t say which takes up more of my time. I’m not actually an artist (though I do have a sketchbook full of doodles that no one should ask to see) so in that way I’m definitely spending more time on poetry. I’d say I spend an equal amount of my spare time between poetry and art events, and of course the two often overlap. Dublin is a great place for both and there’s always something on. I’ll often write while I’m invigilating in Temple Bar; aside from the amazing exhibitions it’s a great place for people-watching!

*

What’s your favourite piece of art you’ve encountered, and how did you encounter it?

Also another tough one! I have a print of The Sunshade by William Leech that I adore. I’m not sure when I first saw it in the National Gallery but something about it struck me instantly and I’ve had a soft spot for it ever since. I’ve also had a major Warhol obsession since I was 15 and got into David Bowie. I did a history project on him in school as an excuse to buy every book by and about him that I could find. All in the name of good grades. I think the best exhibition I went to recently was the Daphne Wright retrospective ‘Emotional Archaeology’ in the RHA. The name of the exhibition itself was enough to make me fall in love.

*

How does your field of study influence the way you view or create art?

Very heavily. I think I approach everything with the same eyes I put on to write an essay. My mum requesting any feminist related poetry collections for me says a lot! I think anything that keeps your mind active is essential for writing, and it can happen in surprising ways. Reading so widely, even if it’s mostly theoretical work, can lead you to a different head-space and spark up some ideas. My course has also been a great way to encounter new poets. This semester I took a module called Queer Frictions during which I was introduced to LGBTQ+ poets like Danez Smith. If you want to be amazed, watch him perform ‘Genesissy’ or read ‘Tonight, In Oakland’.

*

What are your thoughts on amalgamated works? Art featuring poetry, and vice versa?

I’m definitely a big fan of breaking rules when it comes to form, and I think it’s a natural connection to make especially with the popularity of both spoken word and performance art. It may not be exactly answering the question, but this brought to mind a certain book. Temple Bar Gallery run a book fair where I picked up Hidden by John Hutchinson which is a series of of paintings and vignettes that he describes as “a group exhibition or an album of songs”. I think that’s such an interesting thing, to put a book together like an exhibition. I think that must be what putting a poetry collection or anthology together is like. It really is curating, and if mixed mediums is what gets your artistic message across then go for it.

Hiram Larew

*

The Power of Poetry

Poetry doesn’t vote.  It can’t rule.  It sits on no juries.  It signs nothing into law.  It runs no companies or houses of worship.  And, it never ever wins an Academy award.  On all of these fronts that matter, poetry is powerless.  And for that very reason, of course, it is incredibly powerful.

Poetry is our trees, our anger, your life, my death.  It’s the birds that stitch air.  It’s the soul of night, the feast of day, and that ever present caution that’s careless.  Poetry doesn’t decide.  It doesn’t provide.  If it answers at all, it does so with questions.  And, to be honest, poetry doesn’t care; it cares as deeply as wells do, yes, but it never brings you water.  It wants nothing from you except wanting – this is probably its most gifting power.

And it soars, when allowed to, over just about anything else we can imagine.  It’s not the clouds themselves so much, but our need for them.   Said all at once, poetry is powerful for what it cannot be, and for the dreams it wants.

If you should ever encounter a poem that makes you jump, ask yourself why.  Most likely, the answer – if there is one – will be from so far-fully inside you that ancestors will wink.

Finally, poetry is really nowhere and so it’s just about everywhere around us.  It lives in the corner of your eye.  It rents most all of your willingness from you.  It aches with whatever is gone.  And, it cheers – even raves – for what may never be.  Thank goodness – and badness – for poetry, and for our never being completely sure how powerfully potent it really is.

*

Biography

Larew’s poems have appeared most recently in Honest Ulsterman, Amsterdam Quarterly, vox poetica, Every Day Poems, The Seminary Ridge Review, Shot Glass, Forth Magazine and Viator.  He lives in Maryland, USA. His Facebook page is at https://www.facebook.com/hiramlarewpoet/