Frances Browner; An Exile’s Dream 2003

An Exile’s Dream 2003

April’s breeze begins to blow
Through every nook and cranny
Young lads look for love
An exile is melancholy

He sees the Treaty Stone
The ghost of Drunken Thady
Crosses Thomond Bridge
Salutes the Bishop’s Lady

Enters King John’s Castle
An ugly slum of yore
Now a museum, a paean to
Limerick’s ancient lore

Rambles into the Cathedral
Forbidden in his boyhood
Frowns at a Leper’s Squint
Delights in the Misericords

Along O’Callaghan Strand
The River Shannon smiles
Behind a low stone wall from
Where he leapt as a child

On a day golden in memory
He swam back and forth at full tide
A rite of passage from little boy to
Boy. Boy to man denied

He surveys the lofty Barracks
Custom House with Hunt installs
Spans the new Abbey, charming
Sister to Humpback Baal’s

Strolling around Arthur’s Quay
At the end of a mystical Irish dusk
No better spot is the whisper
On the water, in the air, a hush

On an evening such as this
His ashes will float upon the foam
Above the invisible Curraghour Falls
And, he will be home.

*

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.

Ann Egan; Fuamnach Rages Against Etain & Fuamnach Banishes Etain

Fuamnach Rages Against Etain

 

Etain has outdone me again.

After all the trouble I went to

getting that wind from the ocean,

to keep her on the move,

 

forever out of Midir’s life.

I was sure it had worked.

Worth all the price I’d paid

for magic of the wind’s force

 

to loan itself for my wishes.

Seven years’ peace I’ve had,

now it’s started up again.

Making her into a moth seemed a solution.

 

Who was to know her beauty,

blast it all, her sweetness would shine

through the garb of a good old moth

you’d barely see of an evening?

 

Shine through they did, enchanted

my Midir, all over again, even more

than her woman form and her style,

her bangles and her wiles.

 

She was rescued, of course,

after her seven years’ buffeting

from  rock to tree, beam to bush.

He gathered her in like an infant,

 

beneath his cape, brought her home,

there she dwells in a crystal bower.

He has all purple flowers he can muster,

about his house, he’s into gardening now,

 

His darling fly must be kept happy.

He goes out in dusk, gathers herbs

of her preferred fragrance at dew fall,

bears them home for her delectation.

 

What have I done to deserve all this?

The wind wrecks ships on oceans.

How could it not do the same

for me to one simple moth?

*

Fuamnach Banishes Etain

That’s the very last I’ll see of her,

There’ll be no torment after this for me.

I’ve lined up the best of help.

I’ll make sure my third attempt

 

to move Etain from my life won’t fail.

They’ll guide my every wish,

seven years of a moth’s banishment

will turn to a thousand.

 

Who could tell I’d get such bother

from a moth, one good clatter of a twig

would do for any amount of them.

I’ve had it up to my ears with her.

 

There’s no peace for me in Brí Leith

where I’ve loved to be for so long.

She changed all that turning up

that morning on Midir’s arm.

 

I thought I had all sorted,

with a good fire, a pool of water,

a worm and a fly, an incantation.

Instead it’s happening again.

 

I call upon earth and wind,

I call on three seers of the seas,

come to me in all your powers,

blow this moth of seven years

 

across hills and bogs,

mountains and meadows.

Let no peace fall upon her,

bear her far from Fuamnach of Brí Leith.

*

Biography

 

Niamh Twomey; Visit to a Graveyard

Visit to a Graveyard

Babbling brook

And lexicon of stone

You push up no daisies

Only wilting arrangements

 

Still

Only a stick cross

Marks the mound over carrion

And the last dress you’ll ever wear

 

I stand

In slow seeping darkness

Waiting for a moment with you

Thinking I thought we had forever

 

But no music, no laughter, only shoes sinking in winter wet–

You are not here.

*

Biography

Niamh Twomey is a young Irish writer, and student of English
Literature and French in UCC, Cork. Since winning the Hotpress ‘Write
Here Write Now’ young writers competition in 2016, her work has been
published in journals such as ‘Quill & Parchment’, ‘Flight Writing’,
‘Ink Sweat and Tears’, Cork’s ‘Quarryman’, and many more.

Christine Valters Paintner; What She Does Not Know

What She Does Not Know

(for unsuspecting Selkies everywhere)

 

She does not know there is a reason

she always feels out of place

her life rigid and small, like living in a doll’s house

a marriage more trap than longing

and when she chokes on courtesy and convention

the salt which burns her throat is not just tears.

 

She does not know that when she stands 

on the sea’s wild edge and can finally

breathe, dream, weep,

her body strains forward

seawater in her veins, barnacles behind her knees 

waves lap her ankles, thighs, torso, her cold breasts.

 

She does not know that when she swims 

in that wide expanse and the swell 

pulls her under, she does not need to struggle, 

the sea has been longing for her as well –

everyone onshore aghast –

her daughter will grieve and wail and awaken 

from dreams of the deep dark water also calling her name.

*

Biography

Christine Valters Paintner is an American poet and writer living in Galway,
Ireland. She is the author of eleven books of nonfiction on creative process and
contemplative practice and her poems have been published in several journals
and websites including Artis Natura, The Blue Nib, The Galway Review, Boyne
Berries, Headstuff, Skylight 47, Crannog, North West Words, Spiritus Journal,
Tiferet, Anchor, Presence Journal of Spiritual Direction, ARTS, U.S. Catholic, and
forthcoming in the Anglican Theological Review. Her first collection, Dreaming
of Stones, will be published by Paraclete Press in 2019. You can find more of her
writing and poetry at AbbeyoftheArts.com.

Faye Boland; Sunday Best & After Japan

Sunday Best

(For my mother)

 

Mary Malone, B.T.A. *

has her own bathroom

with a clawfoot bath,

porcelain sink

to wash her hands in –

a notion she got

from her time in America.

Luxuries that we

readers of women’s magazines

dream of; her neighbours who

freeze using the privy,

perform our ablutions in a washbowl,

bathe once a week in a tin bath

dragged in front of the open fire

that heats our water.

Though many envy

her good fortune, on a Sunday

you’d never know she was

a cut above the rest of us.

With my face shining from Pears soap,

sleek hair dressed in ribbons,

I show the world where I am headed

as I stride up the aisle, chin tilted skyward.

* Been To America

 

After Japan

Mandible pronounced, ribs jutting

through your chest, when you left the

war camp you’d flinch if a twig snapped.

 

You slipped into your old skin:

quiet supportive husband, caring father,

yet there were days when you stayed

in your room, curtains drawn,

and we knew that something said or done

had resurrected the spirits of your friends

who’d dropped dead smashing rocks

or were shot at random; that some smell

had triggered the yearning you’d endured

in the dawn to dusk, sweltering, back-breaking hours

for those you loved, the home you thought you’d

never see again.

*

Biography

Faye Boland is winner of the Hanna Greally International Literary Award 2017 and was shortlisted in 2013 for the Poetry on the Lake XIII International Poetry Competition. Her poems have been published in Three Drops From a Cauldron, 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, Speaking for Sceine Chapbooks, Vols I and II and ‘Visions: An Anthology of Emerging Kerry Writers’

Lavinia Kumar; The Official Eulogy

After Death of Vivian Connell, & the Wake,  Bray, Ireland
The Official Eulogy

 

Lir, Manannán, father, son, blew mist in from the sea,

relished the grey skies hovering over the dying man,

 

till our father’s heart attack pierced as gorse thorns,

sent him over the sand, rocks, ready to ride a horse

 

on the waves near Bray.  But the gods said not yet,

no bodies, we’ll only take ashes.  Body, you must trek

 

first to the northern great furnace of the dead, to burn

away that carking flesh. Only then will we steer you

 

over and under waves to our Otherworld of islands

on the western sea. So, all be comforted – we know

 

he’s gone to the realm of the dead, to the ancient crags.

where the dead live or die.  And we’re sure he’s hoping

 

his soul will not die there.  And so not live again.

*

Biography

Lavinia Kumar’s books are The Celtic Fisherman’s Wife: A Druid Life (2017), & The Skin and Under (Word Tech, 2015).  Chapbooks are Let There be Color (Lives You Touch Publications, 2016) and Rivers of Saris (Main Street Rag, 2013). Her poetry has appeared in several US and UK publications such as Atlanta Review, Colere, Dark Matter, Edison Literary Review, Exit 13, Flaneur, Kelsey Review, Lablit, New Verse News, Orbis, Pedestal, Pemmican, Poetry 24, Symmetry Pebbles, Lives You Touch, & US1 Worksheets. Her website is laviniakumar.org.

Ruth Sabath Rosenthal; A Changing Heart & A Box, Full

A Changing Heart

Longing for heart-quiet

in the inevitable fall

into Winter’s short days of sun

forwarding to Spring’s

longer days — a circling back

in the sameness of time.

 

Heart-and-mind-numbing time

with no respite. A longing to quiet  

those thoughts playing back

battle after battle. The awful

repetition. Mind and life wasting.

And, in the darkest season,

 

the conviction that the sun

will only half-rise in this lifetime

of mine. Feeling that sting

as from a bee’s disquiet

of green slumber. Swelling to a fault,

every damned day. Slamming me back,

 

season upon season. Holding me back.

Chilling me with doubt that sun-

shine can overcome rainfall

and that, invariably, given time,

better times will come and quietly

advance into Spring. Fast forward, past Spring

to Summer, and onto Fall springing

back to Winter, and round again. Flashbacks

ever more glaring under the sun, then, quite

out of the blue — a glance, a nod. Overrun

with fluttering, my heart paces in time

with fledging love’s free-fall.

 

And, with the passing of another Fall,

Winter heralds in the sweetest of Springs:

daffodils and Easter bonnets — a lifetime

of celebration ahead, no looking back.

Past risk and reason, I bask in the sun

that is love’s shine. Rain or shine, quiet

 

in the peace of it all, Fall after Fall, back

to Winter, Spring, Summer. Quiet as a Spring sun

bursting through clouds. Love, for all time, requited.

*

A Box, Full

of photos — a glaring paper trail of a failed marriage —

the snapshots (first) locked away (intact) during

the legal separation — the wife having learned that

 

her husband, a shrink, had a love life outside their bed-

room, in an adjacent room (sound-proofed, but alas,

not fool-proofed!).  A room he had the gall to call office,

 

on a couch on which she heard tell he had many women

going nuts for him, including, it’s since come to light,

a patient or two. One such paramour, who became wife

 

#2, surely would’ve needed more patience married to him,

had she not divorced him, too, one would think. During

that legal separation, perhaps she, too,

 

had reconfigured her family photos, as wife #1 did:

With a cuticle scissor, taking great pains not to nip

the children, she’d cut out the soon-to-be ex’s heads

 

and flushed them down the toilet, leaving the children

smiling up at hole-after-hole-for-a-face.

After the divorce, she’d cut his bodies out, tossing them

 

in a trash bin (along with an envelope full of negatives) —

the children left leaning on a slew of missing

father figures.

 

And, like wife #1, it’s likely that wife #2 also suspects

there’s a poop-load of similarly doctored photos buried

deep in a score of women’s drawers — evidence

 

the psycho-shrink has been, one way or another,

fully eliminated.  

*

Biography

RUTH SABATH ROSENTHAL is a New York poet, well published in the U.S. and, also, internationally. In October 2006, her poem “on yet another birthday” was nominated for a Pushcart prize by Ibbetson Street Press. Ruth has authored five books of poetry: “Facing Home” – “Facing Home and beyond” – “little, but by no means small” – “Food: Nature vs Nurture” and “Gone, but Not Easily Forgotten.” 

For more about Ruth visit her websites:   http://newyorkcitypoet.com  and  http://bigapplepoet.com  and her blog site:  http://poetrybyruthsabathrosenthal.com  

Carla Schwartz; Sweet Potato Harvest & String Theory

Sweet Potato Harvest

For the sweet potato on the counter

sprouting roots like a medusa,

dig a hole and bury it

with the rest of your dead —

one root for each enumerated grief:

father

mother

ex-girlfriend

 

The leaves begin to blush.

Vines twist and entwine

the fence you built to fend off critters.

 

Irrigate all summer with a timer,

so you don’t have to attend

on days lean of rain,

and so that ants, too, might enjoy

a bath, while you free yourself

to date, and make an effort this time to draw lines

from the clouds, contrails to your new life,

like the ones your ex sketched so exquisitely on paper,

and wasn’t that potato hers to start with?

 

When you dig, don’t be surprised if you hit stone.

Plunge your hands into soil, and draw up

your sweet bounty.

*

String Theory

I heard that a string theorist

named Joe died today,

and I thought of you,

as I do from time to time.

 

He was apparently

a bit of a nobody,

unless you are an expert

in string theory, like you.

 

I wondered if you had met Joe,

or collaborated with him

or not.

 

I’ve heard the term string theory

since grad school,

but never understood it,

never took the time.

 

We might both have understood at one time,

but you chose the geometric maze traveling, not me.

 

My string theory might have read something like this:

When you want to remember,

what you try to remember,

when you stare at the bow

tied around your finger.

 

Some time ago,

back when we hadn’t heard of global warming,

you told me your memory was going.

Your father forgot too,

until he forgot to be angry.

 

Once a year,

a card from you

lands in my mailbox.

That hasn’t changed.

 

I still have the dress you made for me

in grad school.

Colors to brighten a gray day —

the Crayola gold of sun,

forest green,

navy blue,

and soil brown.

 

You hemmed with piping

like an expert,

your first try.

 

I look like a festival

when I wear those threads.

 

I won’t say,

I miss you like hell,

but I miss you.

 

I wonder what story, if any,

I will hear about you,

when you die.

*

Biography

Carla Schwartz is a poet, filmmaker, photographer, and blogger. Her poems have appeared in Aurorean, ArLiJo, Fourth River, Fulcrum, Bluefifth, Common Ground, Cactus Heart, Long Island Review, Mom Egg, Switched-on Gutenberg, Gyroscope, Naugatuck River, Paddock, Solstice, SHARKPACK, Triggerfish, Sweet Tree, Varnish, and Ibbetson Street, among others. Her poem Gum Surgery was anthologized in City of Notions, A Boston Poetry Anthology. Her second collection of poetry, Intimacy with the Wind, is available from Finishing Line Press or Amazon.com. Find her debut collection, Mother, One More Thing (Turning Point, 2014) on Amazon.com.  Her CB99videos youtube channel has 1,700,000+ views. Learn more at carlapoet.com, or wakewiththesun.blogspot.com or find her @cb99videos. 

Ellen Nic Thomás; An Plúirín Dubh

An Plúirín Dubh

Tú féin,
is do gháire daite,
id’ bhaclóg,
id’ phlúirín,
faoi scáth na gréine,
maidin samhraidh úd,
in aimsir réamhdhorchadais an fhómhair.
Chuir tú lámh id’ lonradh fhéin,
is chaith ar chách id’ chóngaireacht.
Scaip tú síolta sonais,
sa ghaoth go héadrom.
Bhraith mé teocht do mheanma,
chomh te le tine cnámh ar Oíche Shinn Sheáin,
is armóin ár gceol ag séideadh sa leoithne.
Ach leis an ngrianstad,
mheath tú ar aon leis an an solais,
is bhriog mé méar ar do dhealga.
Thit do chuid duilleoga,
is rugadh ort ag fuacht an gheimhridh.

*

Biography

Ellen Nic Thomás is a bilingual Dublin poet. She studied English Literature and Modern Irish at Trinity college. She writes in both English and Irish, and much of her subject matter comes from ideas about culture, language and folklore. She is an avid reader, a language enthusiast, and dabbles in performance. Her work has been published by headstuff.org and The Attic (Dublin University Literary Society annual publication). Her poem, “Beochaoineadh Máthar Maoise” is currently being used in a collaborative contemporary musical composition as part of a series put together by the Irish Composers’ Collective.