Laura Potts

Ancestors

From the sour breath of quarry towns we came,

to our scars the firelight a mother. In another land

our broken chord stretched far on the moors,

the flint of our tongue, the tinder, the coal,

hung in their black sacks our lungs sang

to the dead dark night of the child, too young

in her grave. We wore the eyes of the damned. 

 

Our biblical chant we took to the wars,

candled the lanterns to hopes of our home,

when Madame in her manor, high summer,

forgot. In our hallway of night, watched lights

in distant houses dream up their happinesses –

all the bells of Notre Dame – and mourned

in our trench, in our filth, in our lice,

 

for our spouses – their corpses – when our dead

stank the ground. Hometown was lonely that year.

Here, us, we never danced down promenades,

our arms like silver chimes. Our drip was slow

through time, gritted and gnarled, no child

never aspired to living to three. We got a VC.

And still died on the slump of our knees.

 

And in the candle of our last hour’s sleep, across

the moors and the mines, sit the ghosts

of our shanties long-crippled in time. The moon,

with his holy eye of light, still sits on his swing,

smoking his pipe. Here, at night, tell them we saw

the chasms and grey seascapes of fate, the cracks

in mankind, poverty’s shadows tall on the walls,

our dark graveside flowers all dead on the day

when our bones got up and, slowly, walked away.

 

Don’t say that our stars are forgotten today.

 

Don’t say I am nothing at all.

*

Biography

Laura Potts is twenty years old and lives in West Yorkshire. Twice-recipient of the Foyle Young Poets Award, her work has appeared in Agenda, Prole and Poetry Salzburg Review. Having worked at The Dylan Thomas Birthplace in Swansea, Laura was last year listed in The Oxford Brookes International Poetry Prize and nominated for a Pushcart Prize. She also became one of The Poetry Business’ New Poets and a BBC New Voice for 2017. Laura’s first BBC radio drama aired at Christmas, and she received a commendation from The Poetry Society in 2018.

 

 

Ion Corcos

That Place

Paperbark trees, butcherbirds, 

a narrow path to the sea;

that place gone, like clouds.

Only I remain. The tree outside

my home does not exist here,

the grave my father is buried in

is far, as is my mother, who lives

in a small flat, gives love recklessly,

takes it away in madness,

her anger the venom of a snake.

Sometimes, it is too much.

I do not want to see it, the dead

and the yet dead; the weight of knowing.

*

Biography

Ion Corcos has been published in The High WindowAustralian Poetry JournalAllegroPanoply, and other journals. Ion is a nature lover and a supporter of animal rights. He is currently travelling indefinitely with his partner, Lisa. His first pamphlet, A Spoon of Honey (Flutter Press, 2018), is out now.

Jonathan Wilson

Sunburn

I saw rolling oceans in her eyes

And thought about drowning in them

 

I saw vines in her hair that stretched up to heaven

And tangled around the tallest trees

I wanted them to wrap around me

 

Her voice was smooth jazz that played all night long

In bars I would linger in till I was thrown out

 

Her mind the priceless artwork so valuable the public weren’t even allowed to see it

Still, I would risk stealing it

 

Her heart was the frozen lake I wanted to skate across

Knowing it could crack at any second

 

Her embrace was the snow that always melted too soon

Her face the singular snowflake

 

Her eyelashes rays of sun I stood under

And worried would burn me

 

So I went inside and closed the curtains

*

Biography

Jonathan is a Manchester-based writer and performance-poet studying Creative and Professional Writing at Bangor University. He has been published in a couple of poetry anthologies within Manchester. He is a core member of the spoken word collective Young Identity, a vibrant group of passionate young writers. With this group he has given readings across the country opening up for established writers and performers such as Saul Williams and before a Carol-Ann Duffy play- My country. 

Linda Opyr

In Noonday Sun

I walked the same sand, the same way

when I saw a turtle, both head and shell yellowgold.

 

His thick feet paddled the beach behind him

until he slipped into the greygreen mystery of water.

 

This is the gift of an open heart.

Not desire. Not fulfillment.

 

Not the spectacle of grandeur

where grandeur is known to be.

 

But seeing the life before us

and loving whatever we make of it

 

and all that we cannot.

*

Biography

Linda Opyr, the Nassau County Poet Laureate 2011-13, is the author of seven collections of poetry. Her poems have appeared in The Hudson Review, The Atlanta Review, The Paterson Literary Review, Crannog and The New York Times. Poems of hers appear in the current issues of Poetry Ireland Review (125), edited by Eavan Bolan, and Antiphon. Four poems will appear in The Seventh Quarry, published in Wales, in 2019.

In 2017 she was a featured poet in the Bailieborough Poetry Festival, County Cavan.  The poet has also been featured in the 2012 Walking With Whitman Series at the Walt Whitman Birthplace and been a keynote speaker/poet at the New England Young Writers’ Conference at Bread Loaf.

Steven Ray Smith

Cicatrix

Undiscovered green ferns beside green

mosses beside fallen trees and towering trees

with hosanna branches high up toward the blue,

 

except there is one old oak at the boundary with a rusted strand

of barbed wire eight inches into its heartwood, at least 50 years

ingrown, such that removal requires cutting down the whole trunk.

 

It is an eyesore in this primordial shelter, though

the squirrels that climb the deep bark furrows

to their drey high in its crown deftly sidestep

 

the lockjaw spurs without pause.

Neither do their pups asleep in the dense canopy 

second-guess that their nest is anything but the safest on earth.

 

Maybe the twanging fragment skewering its knot itches

the sapwood when the wind blows. Or maybe the cicatrix

is a handsome trophy of a lone sapling that thwarted the box-in

 

of the wildwoods, acorns still lying on the ground,

originality that required no improvement.  The fragment twangs on.

What was a fence has blown to oxy-dust.

*

Biography

Steven’s poetry has appeared in Slice, The Yale Review, Southwest Review, The Kenyon Review, New Madrid, Tar River Poetry, Flapperhouse and others. New work is forthcoming in Barrow Street, North Dakota Quarterly and Guesthouse. A complete list of publications is at www.StevenRaySmith.org. He lives in Austin, Texas.

Orla Fay

The Elixir of Youth

When all the world’s a classroom

and all the world’s a stage

do you remember writing on the board

and writing on the page?

 

The newspaper indecipherable

spread broadsheet on the floor

the murmurings of language

behind another whispered door?

 

Apple, corn, feathered grass,

a breeze so warm flowers gasp,

a year its been since the last

when in my life I trespassed.

 

Everything was forever

and nothing ever changed

the world beyond the road’s turn

could be seen on summer days.

 

And now that I’ve crossed over

I long only to go back,

to cross that bridge we burned,

to travel in whipcrack.

 

Apple, corn, feathered grass,

a breeze so warm flowers gasp,

a year it’s been since the last

when in my life I trespassed.

 

The sun’s kiss parted

burned the moon’s face

in the waxing of the sovereign

the flame’s state of grace.

 

There is no map, there is no map,

the pendulum swings, to and fro

the hand of the clock cannot be stopped

her smiling face fool’s gold.

*

Biography

Orla Fay is the editor of Boyne Berries since issue 16. Recently her work has appeared in Honest UlstermanCrannógSkylight 47QuarrymanCyphers and is forthcoming in Poetry Ireland Review.  Her poem “North” has been long listed in the OTE New Writer of the Year Competition, 2018. She has just completed the MA in Digital Arts and Humanities at UCC for which she made http://digitalagepoetry.com. She blogs at http://orlafay.blogspot.ie

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.