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Thefirstcut #3


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Thefirstcut #3

  1. 1. thefirstcut #3 1
  2. 2. CONTENTSEditorial 3Colin Dardis After You Go 4Mary OGorman Great Aunt Jo 5`Kevin Griffin Poems 6The Gob Old-Fashioned Rhyme 7Kevin Graham Caught 8Mary Margaret Gallagher Garden Gift 9Richard OToole A Letter to Séamus 10wendy brosnahan Who 11John Pinschmidt Poems 12Kinga Nowak Barbary 13George Rowley Lunch at The Unicorn 14-16Kerrie OBrien Fireworks/Imprint 17Nicholas Damion Alexander High mountain range 18Paddy Bushe Featured Poet 19-25Margaret Doody-Scully Abandoned Human Desire 26P J Kennedy My Bed 27Linda Whittenberg Bridies Gone Six Months 28Eamon O Cleirigh A Lament for a Newlywed 29George Harding Silk of the Kine 30-31John McGrath Connemara Rain 32Mina Lakshmanan its not happening 33John Saunders Despair 34Niall O Connor Peace and Love 35Shauna Gilligan Through the Looking Glass 36-37Miceál Kearney Found in the Guardian Newspaper 38Mike McHugh eagle-eyes 39Mary Lavery Carrig September Offering 40Patrick Walsh War and Peace 41Donal Mahoney Paddy Murphys Wake 42Barry Finegan Bad Poetry 43Helen Farrell Simcox Themed Haiku 44Mike Gallagher The English Papers 45Tatjana Debeljački To Forgiveness 46G.B. Ryan Yoga 47Margaret Sheehan Meeting 48Laurie Corzett/libramoon Arise 49Maeve OSullivan At Acre Lake 50colwin dansio Mouth is a thrush 51Christine Allen Dancing in Squares 52Louis Mulcahy The Master 53Brendan Lonergan Secret Garden 54Padraig ÓGallchobhair This House 55Rachel Sutcliffe Accident/Night Time 56These We Like 5710 Thousand Poets for Change Photographs 58 2
  3. 3. EDITORIALHello to the world. Welcome to our band of writers. This month I have been flicking through myworld atlas - remember those? - to pinpoint where some of you live. And you live everywhere. It isamazing that. in the space of a few short months, we have managed to circumnavigate the globe. Itis amazing that we have been able to reach you all and that you in, in turn, have come back to us toshare your thoughts, your words, your truths, your rich, rich voices. Thank you all from the gang inListowel.Last Saturday afternoon, a group of writers gathered at the Seanchai Centre to celebrate theListowel leg of the 100 Thousand Poets for Change event. Many of those present have beentogether for years and, with our new friends, we shared the spirit of camaraderie that exists not onlyat local level but among writers throughout the world. Thank you Michael Rothenberg and the gangfor inspiring such an awesome event. Heres to next year.This is a special edition for us, a closing of the circle. As I explained in our first edition, weevolved from a workshop facilitated by Paddy Bushe in 2003. Paddy is our featured poet inthefirstcut #3 and, gentleman that he is, he has written five new poems especially for us. This is agreat privilege for us because of the esteem in which Paddy is held in poetic circles. Read PaddyBushes piece on how he writes; the central tenet of his message is honesty because, like all greatpoets, Paddy knows that, without honesty, there is no poetry.Later this month, the Seanchai writers Group reforms, having disbanded for a year. The break madeus realise how important the group was to us. Writing is essentially a selfish, lonely existence. Ihave never heard of any great poem that was written in a workshop. Still, the coming together ofminds with similar interests always agitates the creative juices and averts the eyes from self-obsessed naval gazing. We, as a group, have become better writers through mutual support. It is notfor everyone but do try it; join a group or form one of your own if there is not one near you. Failingthat, you are always welcome in thefirstcut family of writers.Reading poetry is an important part of writing poetry. It goes without saying that we should read thegreat poets, both those of the past and those currently writing on a regular basis. But we should alsoread our peers because it is sometimes in their writing that we can best see what is good and bad inour own writing. Read the other poets in the journal, think of what you would do differently andfeel free to comment in a positive and constructive way.Keep writing. 3
  4. 4. Colin Dardis After You Go After you go, there is the romantic debris of dishes and tissues and empty CD cases, tomes torn from the bookshelf to confer with poems and the meaning of words in the best of good-natured debate, the mock arguments held with a smile. After you go, there are curled bed sheets to be straightened transforming this double bed into an oversized park bench for one; the residual warmth of hugs and pillows fading throughout the week until the next Friday arrives; leftovers to be enjoyed as singular micro-meals. After you go, there is the silence of the empty dwelling, the brick-held breath of one pausing to survey his solitude, and finding companion in memories and scattered mementos lying as a mosaic of our time. 4
  5. 5. Mary OGormanGREAT AUNT JOWhen I lived under a young sunGreat-Aunt Jo was eighty-one.She lived in Rose Lane, Number 5,wore an apron kind and wide.We sisters trooped in after school.She called us both my little jewel.We helped shell peas and make plum jam,Collect warm eggs, feed a pet lamb.Sometimes we helped with small hurt birdsStroked them, coaxed them with soft words;Touched her ornaments gingerly –black cats, goose-girls, speciallya picture of Mary trimmed with lace,a spaniel with a cheeky face.On certain days, we stayed for tea –scones for Judy, sweet cake for me.But she grew bent and slow and frailand our visits were curtailedto fifteen minutes by her bed.“You girls are in my heart” she said,looking like a small hurt bird.We stroked her, coaxed her with soft words.She died in Rose Lane, Number 5,house full of aprons kind and wide. 5
  6. 6. Kevin GriffinDICKCASSELA nugget of fools’ gold,it danced from the dictionary.Dickcassel….noun, north America,sparrow - like bird ,related to the cardinal.Now if you didn’t already know…..DUTYIt was a morning in springand I, on the cusp of adulthood,vaulted over our gate,cleanly over the top bar,because I had to.My mother scolded,because she had to.VANITYLoving the look of mein my best coat.Wallowing in the smileof an approaching friend. 6
  7. 7. The Merits of Good, Old-fashioned RhymeStraight from ‘The Gob’ (Grumpy Old Bard)So you think you’re too good for rhyme? Or that rhyme is too complicated?Maybe you think it’s outdated and unnecessary – doggerel even. Well, you’re thepoet so you’re entitled to your opinion but the rest of the world disagrees withyou, and so do I.Rhyme is the first thing that most people associate with poetry. Ask anyschoolchild or grandparent. Rhyme is the romance of verse, the way that wordsand lines kiss each other and hold hands. It’s what gives a poem its music too.Don’t get me wrong; I’m not claiming poetry has to rhyme to be good – far from it!I’m just saying that rhyme ought to be in there in your toolbox alongside metre,metaphor and all the rest of your kit. Rhyming poetry may be thin on the groundin today’s sparse and functional world, but it’ll be back, you can be sure. Afterall, you don’t throw out a good coat just because it goes out of fashion; you waitfor the style to come round again – or is that just me?Rhyme doesn’t have to be obvious, doesn’t have to hang out on the end of the linewhere you can’t miss it. It can be subtle and surprising, tucked away in themiddle or maybe not looking like rhyme at all, only becoming apparent when youroll it around your tongue like a fine wine.The Master himself, William B., gave us Innisfree and The Stolen Child, Angusand The Irish Airman, all rhyming and none the worse for it. Muldoon andHeaney rhyme too at times, although you have to be more awake to spot it. If it’sgood enough for those fellas… know what I’m saying?So come on! Give it a go! If nothing else, writing in rhyme will give you structure,and that in turn will teach you discipline. Then, once you know you can obey therules, you’ll be free to break ‘em!‘But if I use rhyme,’ you protest, ‘I might end up saying something I didn’t intendto say.’Well slap my thigh! Isn’t that what it’s all about? 7
  8. 8. Kevin GrahamCaughtIt fell like the dropping of a hat:suddenly, mid-stride. Hands forced,we sheltered under the barber’slow canopy, turning in our reflectionsto see them laugh. We looked downas the rain open a course of rapids,watching the swollen mouthsof drains gurgle from the swell.Cracked drainpipes eeked tributariesdown the sides of buildings,gathering in the street’s excitement.Bullets of water swilled in a line,until their dropping became a game;puddles grew gluttonous and fat.Other strangers waited in the dark,gathered closely in handfuls chancebeneath bus-shelters, railway-bridges,the narrow breaks of doorways.Some were talking but not us:we were listening to its rhythm,its flow of syntax washing past,wishing we could leave but couldn’t. 8
  9. 9. Mary Margaret GallagherGarden GiftRed sunset, red tomatoes,warm - yielding to his touch.Tomorrows promise held today,softly laid down on the table,free from constraint the fruitawaits the gentle slice from the knife. 9
  10. 10. Richard OTooleA Letter to SéamusSéamusIs it true that dreams they fall like visions of summerA shower each oneSparkling and dancing through cobbled streetsRolling on to posh lawns and swimming through wavesof long wasteland grass.And SéamusIs life like a cup that we must drink half full or emptyA homeless woman whose eyes sadly smile and dance with her storyTo the girl living lavishlyat Lilys sweet Bordello?In my mind I meander like the cowboy my hat tipped from the desert windA red sky to raise dust and hellSuddenly I kick my shoes off and we are dancing at Lunasa.And SéamusWatch out for the night trafficWait for the red lightsWe will cross while the green man flashesUnder the neon of a barber shop triptych which lights our way past the cat fightThe shriek of nightAnd bawling of drunkennessAnd SéamusTea with Mary Mc Aleese, Jonathan Reese and HeaneyCool gin with MiriamAnd Noel O Grady might singAs we coast past TrocadaroDiscuss Edna O Briens green eyesIf only an artist could paintAnd SéamusAfter the dark rainShould we do it all againWhen lightning strikes and clears the airA pale moon might shimmer in the riverWhen the homeless girl sees the stars at night and places them in her pocketAnd SéamusThank you! Best wishes… 10
  11. 11. wendy brosnahan WhoIn my mind a jungle existsWeaving and growing around my feetNeglected on a tumble of groundI hear all the callsNot to forgetFeed and sleepAnd still it growsI stood for a momentAnd two acorns appearedOne in my left handOne in my rightI hear all the callsNot to forgetFeed and sleepAnd help them to growWhen too big I let them goTwo little acornsTook routes of their ownI hear all the callsNot to forgetFeed and sleepNow tangled in weedsIn my mind I see a lightThrough all the treesTempted but afraid to step outFor who am I now? 11
  12. 12. John PinschmidtPOETRY EXERCISE # 8To John Hartley Williams, poet and poets’ mentorListowel Writers’ Week 40, June, 2011“OK, People: Write five lines based on an animal,With a line each on its texture, skin or fur,Smell, movement, and the last line---a downright lie.You’ve got 10 minutes. Begin.”THE GALAPAGOS TORTOISEAn ancient, battered alligator-skinned helmet,His armadillo legs slated,He smells like the enclosed eternity of Yorick’s skull.Motionless, he still thinks of the young Charles Darwin---The one who named him “Fluffy”. 12
  13. 13. Kinga Nowak Barbary Daniela… Roll her around in your mouth, Dah-nie-la The only soft thing about her Was a string of smoke, a column of ash Daniela Smooth as Stockholm Syndrome She points over to a woman Piled in the corner like dirty linen Barbary…That’s where they lived like match-sticks That’s where it went down…the anchor and the dead She says all this from behind the cumulus Generated by her lungs and foul mood The swell under her eye, shrinking Just a purple puddle of busted blood Spreading over her cheekbone like an ink stain The woman’s skin is a waterfall Complete with ripples and whirlpools Her cheeks so water logged that Laughing requires she drop her bottom jaw Only her eyes shimmer Like two sinking coins Daniela pulls at her cigarette, the ash Gaining Fast Barbary…she whistles softly When they found her, her feet were bloody That’s what happens when you run out On time.*The above poem was printed in a self-published chapbook "Losing Puck" throughthe website. 13
  14. 14. George Rowley LUNCH AT THE UNICORNI am in the Gorman now, smell of urine and disinfectant all pervasive, floor polished like a mirror, anurse on vigil, night and day. How did I get here, how long have I been here? Questions race throughmy foggy head, no answers. I’ve been here before, how often I can’t even guess. Murderous gullsscream and swoop, a few stray geese waddling with precision and poise, at ease in their skins. I feel sodrugged; they must have pumped me with the usual stuff. Magoo you’ve done it again. The last time Iswore it would be the last time. I am the biggest conman of them all. Inmates shuffling up and down;muttering, eyes wild, eyes glazed, eyes down-cast.What time is it? Have you got a smoke? a patient asks. I look at my watch, it seems stuck at twelve,lunch at half past. I know the routine, it is the routine that kills. Must go to the loo but I can’t. I tried afew minutes ago, couldn’t relax, an essential pre-requisite. I’m really bursting. How long have I beenhere? A few days at most. I am still in my pyjamas, it can’t be more than a week, a week at most. Mymind can’t focus. I begin to panic. Who brought my here? Who knows I’m here? If I could only focusmy thoughts. Now where did it all start this time?“No I haven’t got a cigarette, no not even a butt.”I’ll try the loo again, the half door there, no key, no lock, nurses peering over as you try to go - How inthe name of Jesus can I relax?“What time is it, Sir?”I am always called sir and how I resent it. Now I recall a little. The waiter called me Sir, bowing, as ifunder pain of death, a napkin across his arm, a red waist coat with gold button, almost military.“Smoking or non-smoking Sir?”“Non-smoking”. I puff a little having beaten my latest addiction.“Over here Sir.”A whiff of perfume to my side, legs going up the whole way, nirvana, not always. Do I know her fromsomewhere? Maybe, maybe not. I haven’t been to the Unicorn before. God she’s elegant and probablyknows it, how could she not? I immediately resent her, a total stranger. But perfume does things to melike the whinny of a horse to a punter.The waiter presses me into a corner, master of all I survey. It is Saturday, at peace with the world, withmyself and that’s crucial. Isn’t it? Self acceptance; I had learned that over the years but on bad daysthe solf-loathing grinds me to the floor.“Would you like to see a wine list Sir?” I shake my head. My hand imperious. But, no harm in having alook. You see I am always playing games with myself and in a queer way I enjoy the self-provocation,the brinkmanship. I am the toreador; I am the bull. Sure, I haven’t had a drink in months. Emptylaughter across from me; at least it seems empty to me, more resentment.I beginning to get irritable. Maybe I shouldn’t have come here. The laughter seems louder. I better getout of here but the waiter is on top of me again. 14
  15. 15. “Have you decided sir?”“What would you recommend?”“Red or white, Sir?”“Red.”The die is cast.“We have an excellent house wine, Sir. Spanish.”“I’ll have a glass of the red. I’ll accept your advice. Not make it a carafe”, I said.“We have no carafes, Sir.”“Sure, I’ll have a half bottle then, and it had better be good.” I wag my finger indulgently and he bowsagain.There’s still time to leave, I think, before I get impaled on my own barbed wire. I look ahead, thelaughter now seems hilarious. No longer empty, no longer banal, seductive now, a cure all. I long tojoin in as I used to. I was always great crack in a bar until the booze won the bottle and the duck couldno longer quack.She’s heading this way. Her perfume hits me like a bullet. She walks like a gazelle, black skirt, a touchabove the knees, black tights, perfect, maybe stockings, she’s thirtyish. How many men has she had?How many has she destroyed? My heart starts to pepper as she passes. I have to make contact; theinsanity of the old days when it was fun to drink, cascades in my head. Who is she with? I muse withunrealistic envy but the desire is huge. I am really insane. Still time to leave. Too late now; the waiterwith a flourish pours a little wine, sparkling as the glass catches the light. I raise my glass, as a priest achalice at Mass; the ritual begins. All bets are off, all bets are on. I take a sip. The horses begin tocanter; let the frenzy begin. Now, no limits, now no fear, now no pain. To hell with tomorrow. Theimpossible is now possible. The water can be walked on. The woman with the perfume passes and herwalk is so self-assured, so elegant, that I can’t describe it I’ll bide my time. The old dog for the hardroad and I’ll take the road most travelled by – by me that is, the only road I know.“What time is it?” The man in the bed beside me asks.“It’s half past twelve.”“Lunch time; they’d poison you here. Here’s the trolley.”Rattle of trolley, rattle of cups, discordant; the nurse stiff as a poker.“Jaysus, mutton again. Did you ever see such slop?”I say nothing. Still drugged, can’t focus. I pick at my lunch, can’t eat. Bursting, still, to go to the loo.The duty nurse seems as immobile as a statue. Does he ever get bored? What does he think of it all?Does the routine kill him as it is killing me? I am too long coming here to expect any answers toanything. Still the questions engulf me. I sip at my tea. It’s like piss, cold piss at that and lunch is overfor another unending day. I look at my watch, 12:40. I count the cracks in the ceiling and Jaysus they 15
  16. 16. won’t even let you sleep to relieve the dead hand of boredom. I have no interest in books or papers, nointerest in anything. Even the 1940s film on the TV does not entice me and I used to be such a moviebuff and was regarded as an expert, in the pubs anyway; an expert on everything and anything and ifyou didn’t think so I’d let you know. That’s the way it was and it doesn’t seem funny now and I hatemyself for the zillionth time.Jesus I’d go insane here except that I am up to my eyes with that stuff they gave me. You can’t go madwhen you whole system is battened down. You can’t feel, can’t imagine and you certainly can’t laugh.Nothing to laugh about now. But how I laughed at the Unicorn. How they all laughed and it was a goodjoke even though I say so myself. Though I can’t think of it now. The laughter no longer empty, theexchanges are now all substance, no longer saccharine. There are my people. I am throwing diceamongst the throng, the stakes are high and bingo I scoop the pot. I am the ventriloquist, no longer thedummy. I catch her eye and she smiles. A little wave and my heart rockets to my head. I am headingfor the winning tape; I win by a nose against the odds. I would always succeed against the odds, oddsinvariably laid by myself and they were always long commensurate with my massive inferioritycomplex. I have analysed this in and out and up and down and I am sick to death of analysis. I know itall and know nothing; that’s all I know. Yet in the white heat of that afternoon in the Unicorn, I could doanything, be anybody and not give a damn about anything or anybody. I was free for what now sees amoment to use my emotional credit card to the limit, a limit set by me, only me. I was in control, thepuppeteer, the ring master, the conductor; the show would never end unless I said so. When tomorroweventually comes you are beyond caring, beyond control and the analysts take you over, to dissect theindissectable, to square the circle you are encircled in.“We’re all going to Nesbitts”, she said.“Who’s we?”“Does it matter?”“No, in fact it doesn’t, actually I like my own company”, I said.“Not one of those, I hope”, she said.“No, but I’m easy in company and just as easy on my own.”“We should all get on fine then”.“I thought we were doing that already”, I laughed.“I’ll see you there then”. And her smile promised the universe.“I must get some cash”, I said.“Do that”, she said, “we’ll need it’’. And that’s the last I saw of her.As I passed O’Donoghues the magic of the 60’s, the Fleadhs on sunny summers, the nights in hay sheds,beckoned me in the door. Now this is where the real action is or was when my youth passed me by.And as I waited for my pint to settle, the blurred became unblurred and I understood everything and if Ididn’t, it didn’t matter, nothing mattered any more. The music soared through the bar above the earlyevening bedlam, and I was a child again, my father on a Sunday evening in Summer, playing the SligoMaid – his favourite reel and when I got older it became mine too, it was inevitable; surely I was myfather’s son and that was always important to me still is. Absurd, in his shadow all my life, a lifesentence, a death sentence in effect. (to be continued) 16
  17. 17. Kerrie OBrienFireworksBursts of flowersFalling and pulsing outAn echoing of colourThe heavens are screaming -They suffer to createImprintThey will always be thereLittle traces only I can feelYou leave a mark each time you do it –Your fingertipsOn my heart 17
  18. 18. Nicholas Damion AlexanderHigh mountain rangeUp here in this high mountain rangeone can hardly recall life in the city:the thick smog of factories and vehicles,the quick pace of feet to and fro its streets,the swash-buckle of work, school and traffic,sound systems and gunshots blasting through the night.But here, silence! Like an exclamation past anxiety,an indifference to make a Stoic proud.Soft chirping birds and tender rustling leaves,a lonely voice singing redemption there.The wide open space of vertical treeslittered with exaggeratedly-colorful blossoms.The nights cold and cramping like ice,lizards croaking between the savage baying of dogs. 18
  19. 19. Our Featured Poet Paddy Bushe Paddy Bushe, born in Dublin in 1948, now lives in Kerry, and is a memberof Aosdána. He writes in both Irish and English, and has published eightcollections of poetry, the most recent of which is To Ring in Silence: New andSelected Poems (Dedalus Press, 2008), a bilingual volume. He has also publishedthree books of translations, and been the editor of two anthologies. A newcollection, My Lord Buddha of Carraig Éanna, will be published by Dedalus in thespring of 2012. 19
  20. 20. My Poetry Paddy Bushe Almost everything I write is rooted in a particular landscape. I have written relatively fewpoems that I cannot account for in a very specific place, if not necessarily at a specific time. Twopoems in this issue, for example, are about being depressed and how to deal with that, but theyarticulate this in terms of place, of weather, of vegetation. The poems in their final form don’tidentify the places which I used as metaphor, but my identification with particular places allowedme to explore aspects of myself which otherwise might remain closed to me. The same is true of love poems I have written, of poems about poetry itself, of poems whichexplore aspects of history, of politics, of mythology. Very often the particular landscape mightdisappear in the poem’s final shape, but it remains always as a grounding and a source. This probably came about because of where I grew up. And while I was born and reared insuburban Dublin, I grew up imaginatively on the western seaboard, especially in Kerry. Longsummer holidays surrounded by coastal mountains were the source of a great yearning during therest of the year. And when I started to write poetry seriously, this landscape was my threshold intoand my metaphor for explorations that went far beyond the landscape itself. Later, when I travelled,especially in China and Nepal, the landscapes I found there allowed me access to other imaginativeworlds. This is how I write. I do not dare suggest that it is better, or worse, thanany other way. General statements about the nature or function of poetry makeme retreat. Statements that begin with “poetry should ….” or “the poet must …”or, God help us “the writer’s role is ….” make me cringe. It may be a cliché, butthere is room for all sorts of poems, formal or free, private or public, plainspokenor mysterious. 20
  21. 21. Bog DreamDid I dream the village, or wasI told, or did I dream I wasTold, or was I told I dreamt it?And the bog, the black bogThat oozed and inched itselfOver the track? That certainlyI could recall, as from a dream.Certainly the bog was there, justAs I recalled it, when I walkedThat old track that disappearedHere and there into the black bogThat collapsed and reformed itselfAll the way down the mountain.But where was the village? The villageWhose ruins – beside the streamWhere the track crossed – I recalledFrom the dream or from some old telling,Whose memories of the huckster’s shopI shared in some half-understood way:Where were its tumbled, overgrown stones?For now, certainly, there was only the oozeOf the bog, of the black, absorbing bog.Paddy Bushe 21
  22. 22. BossYou can see straightaway, yes, he’s a joke:The drawing breath to gather ponderous wordsTo use as weapons. The hiding from the wordsOf others. The hiding, in fact, from others.The way he imagines a mirror as he talks,And listens only through his own reflection.His terror that the image in the mirrorMight be shattered. That he might be forcedTo listen or to speak without his mirror.His grimacing at the thought is hilarious.The impersonation of the powerful manImpersonating the hollow man isPowerful. The trouble is he cannot seeThe joke. And this is deadly serious.Paddy Bushe 22
  23. 23. East Steps, Skellig Michael for Peter MarinkerFrom Blind Man’s Cove,The stone stairway ascendsSteeply, turning and twistingOn itself with the lieOf the land, until it isA great snake scalingThe heights, insinuatingItself into the islandAs, in a medieval painting,A snake insidiouslyContours itself aroundA paradisiacal tree,Its scales the textureOf leaf and bark,Its eyes the onlySignifiers of intent.But does the snake foreseeThat, at the summit,In the citadel hiddenBehind the towering wallAnd huge barred door,Michael the Archangel preparesHis armour of revelationTo dazzle the eye and dazeThe suspicious heart, sharpensA sword that will sever doubt,And raises to his lips a trumpetTo sound the destruction of evil?Paddy Bushe 23
  24. 24. JanuaryThat is no season for the margins, the thinForlorn cries of seabirds along an empty shore,The exhausted light turning a haggard faceTo the overwhelming clouds, and the sodden clayOf the retreating cliff falling in dribs and drabs.I will go inland awhile, accept the shelter of woods,The texture of bark and knotted twigs, will easeMyself into the dark of leaf-mould, nut-mast,And become familiar with warm, hidden stirringsAmong the blind, white protuberances of bulbs.Paddy Bushe 24
  25. 25. WaitingWhen fog freezes heart’s landscapeAnd stops the veins and wells, and drainsThe colour from everything that grows,Oh then heart must kernel its sweet selfIn hiding from the hooded crow, and waitFor hints of sap. Then thaw. Then flow.Paddy Bushe 25
  26. 26. Margaret Doody-Scully Abandoned Human DesireA robins whitewashed kitchen looks out on the fadedgreen grass of the empty fields. An old stanley stovelurches away from the wall. In the yard a vintagetractor rusting falls asunder. Plaster fragments of thehomestead litter the floor of the rooms.In an upstairs bedroom a window sash has slipped andbecome a trapezoid framing the overgrown orchardfacing west. Yellow buttercups carpet the floor of thehaggard, their mournful winter gone. They scent theirway raising their delicate trampled heads for tastes ofrainfall.Behind the roofless barn a delapidated Morris Minorcar, having seen better days is suddenly carressed bythe groan of the wind and lashing rain committed topreserving the delicate balance between man andnature. As walls tumble boundaries fray and the lineconnecting dwelling and farmyard melts away and thisempty house is just one bone in a giant skeleton ofabandoned human desire. 26
  27. 27. P J KennedyMy BedDear Bed,You were there for my birth.I was put to you with my teething teeth.I fall into you when I am sleepy.You were there with me during my sickness.You are primary in my good health.Dear Bed,Stay with me for my death. 27
  28. 28. Linda WhittenbergBridie’s Gone Six MonthsStaffordshire china, each piecemade double by mirrors.He chooses a teacup, dainty flowerswith a bird whose name he wishes he knew.Tastes a bit of her flavor with each sip.Outside, hanging baskets left beggingbroadcast the news—she’s gone.Now, the tele has becomehis breakfast companion. RTÉ reports: Crazed taxi driver in London guns down twelve before turning the gun on himself.He thinks maybe it was grieftold him to do it, maybe grief isanother kind of terror. Pictures of the oil spill in the Gulf— pelicans, gulls, dolphins painted with oil.It’s the sea turtlesthat make him put down his toast.He hears their death rattles.He holds the cup lightly—how thin it is, how fine, how easily it could shatter. 28
  29. 29. Eamon O CleirighA lament for a newlywedLir’s children follow the river,powerful strokes taking themover Hyde bridgewhere Yeats spat the bile ofunrequited love into the angrytorrent of Sligo’s Garavogue.Daylight ebbs behind Meadhbh’stomb, golden hues laying promiseto morning glow where bells willtoll for the newlywed, lying still,hands clasped, taken to the shadowsbefore her time.I sit and watch the lights come up,hear sounds of my day slip back intotwilight, feel a cool breeze,its gentle swirl hinting atmemories of happier times.She taps on the kitchen windowletting me know that tea is up,and I allow myself to exhale,slow and full, accepting thatchange is inevitable. 29
  30. 30. George Harding(my version of Seán 0Riordáins 1948 Oireachtas poem )Silk of the KineI heard through the thoughtsof the night, the lowing of a CowI understood its correct meaningand disliked living now.The Droimeann Donn Díliswas in the woods in feverand the language of our forefatherscold and dead forever.I stole within the woodsand brought my sorrowAn Droimeann Donn Dílisquivering like an arrowand the point of his horndigging aloneslowly with a blunt spadeburying a precious stone.“The Lament for Art Ó Laoghaire”lying among the pearlsevery turn in the line of musica chain of jewelsthe lays of the Fiannano order or shapeand “Cúirt an Mhéan Oíche”thrown in the mud agape.“O Droimeann Donn Dílis”Said I “my CowI came to this woodhearing your moan nowto face with common senseand no one in linethe death of our ancestors’ languageO Silk of the Kine”.I have to tellyour Excellency, my Cow,my heart is brokenat the fate of these jewels, and howI’ll make for you a little layFrom the marrow of the pupsIn the language of our forefathers 30
  31. 31. this language never stops.She turned back to meand “An Draighneán in her stareI looked manlyinto her eyes’ glareand saw brightness more brightand music on the tideI saw the glow of my raceand I was mad with pride.Old ancestral memoriessounded in my mindas I swam miraculouslywith my Cow combinedand every alien memorythat dragged me in towwas cleansed from my mindin the presence of my Cow.Burying rare jewelsshe turned her face from methoughts of my race witheredwhen recalled by my Cow as shebent down in the black holewith all the jewels near.When she spoke her tribe’s voicebecame cold and clear.“Oh! Stay away from the woodsI am not your Cow.A bull from abroadbellows a rowand as for your little calfher whinnies do not impressshe was trained overseaswith a Queen’s caress.On the banks of Irelands’ riversI sat down to pineRemembering through tearsthe Silk of the Kinein a grove without angleswith nothing in my fistand the voice of Colm Cillegone like the mist. 31
  32. 32. John McGrathConnemara RainConnemara rain beats hardagainst my window paneand on the hills beyondwhere old stonesfold about themselvesGalway shawlsof umber grassand hunch their backsagainst an ancient wind,indifferent to wind and rainand me.And then the sun breaks throughto light the distant seawith darts of silver. 32
  33. 33. Mina Lakshmanan its’ not happening .(1st canto to an unborn child) .my palmlaced with seeds of hipfringed with the belly fruit of ripe peachwith my inner desire to hold a crib within chuffs me limit.aswhen Paolo and Francesca called for lust..buttheirs’ were a bigger sin..should i stand at the river mouth , proclaiming my past sins ?asking for forgiveness.will the river lethe grant .worming its way through the terraces of purgatory.What’s mine…?do i need a Beatrice to guide through this run,shaking the powers of toil...truth by knowing and grinning with the odes.but i am no sinneri am only seeking my become belly full with that desire.seeds of corn linger like the unknown seeking lust.i spread them in my palm.count one by oneand sow what’s unburnti seek the childthe one with soft soft skin, cushiony softlike my breast that now could be full with readiness .that I am scared to touch.scared to nurse hold.but iam no fool.yes,i stand watching.watching.this silent empty crib.Sipping sips of thoughtsandi ask is this the purgatory they spoke of…and should i justhave another swig of sherry? -Calm me. Calm me... ( its not happening was printed in Taj Mahal Review, India.Cyberwits international journal, (first edition 2004) anthology of International contemporary literature) 33
  34. 34. John SaundersDespairPace John BunyanDespair has taken control of the House,granite face frowning at the street,sash windows shedding rivulets of tearsas he slouches in the Chair, melancholic,contemplating the cold cyclones of change,blood vessels filled with chemicals.In the Members bar, his wife pontificatesto those that listen, on the plinth the starvingpopulace cries justice and revenge.Along the haunted plush piled corridorshis children lurk in shadowed corners,stand at sills, staring, elbows pressing marble.Each day they are heard, sobbing street urchinsin the playgrounds of the abandonedupper and lower chambers.The dream and its promise have aberrated,the Order of Business now dominatedby panem et circenses – per caseus,while the poison spreads to contaminatethe blameless. Vacuous, toxic,corrosive, its colour is venous red. 34
  35. 35. Niall O ConnorPeace and Love.You are the child I trustTo always be yourself.With each thought and breath you grow,-Strange intimacy of life, -That this makes us strangers.You were in my first breath,And I will be in your last. 35
  36. 36. Shauna Gilligan Through The Looking Glass There are five uncles of your father who are alcoholics. Alcoholism runs in genes, skipping generations. * I am boxed, trapped, hemmed in by something invisible, without a name. * Before you realise, it’s taken over you. *I tell myself a story, of fudge, turkish delight, things with colour, taste and smell.Magnolias are beautiful except we don’t have them in this country. Lilac blooms, its heady scent intoxicating. *You think you know what you’re doing but you don’t. I can see what’s happeningto you. I can tell you what is going to happen. I am fine. It skipped me. The other children are too young for us to tell yet. Which means it has to be– * I’ve a note in my pocket with which I will buy vodka. I’ve not told my father that he has broken up with me. * Time is on your side. * I hate when I arrive early at parties. The awkward silences, the nods and smiles and the tick tock of my father’s old watch on my thin wrist. I follow the sound of clattering plates into the kitchen where a guy is pouring thick red syrup on top of an uncooked cake mixture. There are two large trays. “Hey,” he says and winks at me. “Ita,” I say. “Sorry I’m early.” “Mike,” he says. “Glad you are.” I laugh. “Just getting these into the oven,” he says, “people always like a bit of grub. You should try some when it’s done. Well worth it.” “Sure,” I say. “What is it?” He laughs. “Mike’s raspberry cake.” “Sounds good.” “Sit down, I’ll be back in a sec. Just going to change.” I sit down at the wobbly table. Maybe Mike’s the one to cheer me up. * Five out of seven males is over fifty percent. And before that there were twelve out of thirteen; three of them women. The odds are high. Good, even. * While I wait for the cakes to do, I drink the vodka. I’ve mistimed everything. Before I know it the vodka’s gone. 36
  37. 37. “Why the long face?” asks Mike who suddenly looks dashing in jeans and tux. “You don’t want to know,” I mumble. “Oh but I do. I’ve always wanted to be an agony aunt. Besides, we can’t eat in silence,” he adds as he plonks his bulk on a chair beside me. * You’re not staying here if you come home in that state again. While you’re under this roof, you’re my responsibility. * Mike is handing me fistfuls of tissues. I try to blow my anger onto them. I stuff my face with the incredibly ugly looking but amazingly tasty pudding. Mine is on a pink plate; Mike’s on a blue.It’s a rainbow house, I think, looking at the tray and dish pile in the sink growing higher and higher. “Your mascara’s run down your face,” Mike says in a fatherly voice. I wonder where my five uncles, three great-aunts are now. The mascara weeps onto the gossamer tissue. I wiped it so roughly across my cheek that it tore. * On the count of five, four, three– * Two minutes pass. I sigh. * One. * Mike’s strong arms are around me, my head spinning and light. I am contained. There will be no breaking loose tonight. 37
  38. 38. Miceál KearneyFound in the Guardian NewspaperJosef Stawinoga, a Polish octogenarian.Famous long before Facebook got in on the act.For 30 years he’s lived in the same spot,a tent beneath a weeping willowbeside PC World on the A41 ring road.The Asian community of Wolver Hamptonconsider Joe a holy manfor his renunciation of worldly goods.The council have offered him a flat.His pension hasn’t touched it.Visitors leave clothes, food and blankets.At Christmas, bloody hell, it plies up.He’s not much of a talker: to be honest,he’s not great company.Hasn’t had a bath in 27 years. 38
  39. 39. Mike McHugheagle- eyes?daylight dulls the lightin my bedroom.and it burned so wellagainst the night.i often try notto think too much.i often findive done alright.i bless my bravecompanions.the ones ive knownfor the longest time.even if we meetfor a second on the streetwe are secret hereticswithin a secret rhyme.tonight ill fall asleepbefore sunset.i guess imcatching up.ill wake before dawn,try to put something decent onand watch the light riseabove my coffee cup.theres an answerto everything.just find thecorrect form.then you can make fire freezeand briar branches leavesshield smooth skinfrom thorn.i walk to the broken downstationto be with therust and soot.theres a hole in my keys once unlocked my coins fall downonto my foot. 39
  40. 40. Mary Lavery CarrigSEPTEMBER OFFERINGStretched on the upper tierof an iron moulded bedI blink and greet new lightmoving thinly throughthreaded pleated curtainsof pale floral bluewhere frayed edges do not dipto touch the sill.I hear you shuffle fatherby our brown gas stove.You crack a match.The sheepdog barks the signal.His masters bike is resting nowagainst our rusting gatewhile this bunk room creepswith heaving smells of seepingoozing mushrooms frying softlyon a buttered black pan.And so youd gone to strollengrossed in silken treasures half bent on dew tipped grasseach stringed in tendernesspierced on a knotted reedto prepare one tasty offeringfor Paid O as he returnsalong his Gorta Dubha roadwith his warm milch cowson this September day.You step outside with two forksand a bowl of steaming mushrooms.I reach across the stillness and leanto witness an intent exchangebetween men grown old. 40
  41. 41. Patrick WalshWar and PeaceWe needed as many bad menOn our side as there was on theirsWhen war raged its bloodbath beauty.And our women surely-wiselyStockpiled chocolate among other thingsTo trade against bombs in the rain.When ceasefire and the peace was calledWe gathered to throw the guns on the fire.We hid as many as we thought theyd hid.Afterwards we may have been confused,For their warriors were as mad as oursSo we shut our doors on them all. 41
  42. 42. Donal Mahoney Paddy Murphys WakeThe priest had been there earlier and the rosary was said and relatives and friends insingle file were offering condolences. "Sorry for your troubles," one by one they said,bending over Maggie Murphy, the widow silent in her rocker, a foot or so from Paddy,resplendent in his casket, the two of them much closer now than they had ever been.A silent guest of honor, Paddy now had nothing more to say, waked in aspic, if youwill, in front of his gothic fireplace.The moon was full this starless night and the hour was getting late and still thewidow hadnt wept. Her eyes were swept Saharas and the mourners wanted tears.They had fields to plow come morning and they needed sleep, but the custom inCounty Kerry was that no one leaves a wake until the widow weeps.Fair Maggie could have married any man in Kerry, according to her mother, whoalmost every day reminded her of that."Maggie," she would say, "you should have married Mickey. His limp was not thatbad," but Maggie wouldnt listen. Instead, she married Paddy, "that pestilence outwalking," as her mother often called him even on a Sunday but only after Mass.Maggie married Paddy the day he scored the only goal the year that Kerry took thetrophy back from Galway. That goal was no small thing for Ireland, Paddy wouldremind us all in pubs, night after night, year after year, until one of us would gagand buy him another drink.That goal, hed shout, was something historians in Ireland would one day note, evenif they hadnt yet, and every time hed mention it, which was almost daily, Maggiesmother would remind her daughter once again that she should have married Mickeyand had a better life.The final time her mother praised poor Mickey, a screaming match ensued, so loud itwoke the rooster the very day her mother, feverish in bed, gurgled like a frog anddied.This evening, though, as the wake wore on, the mourners grew more weary waitingfor the tears the widow hadnt shed. Restless in his folding chair, Mickey put hisbottle down and rose to give the eulogy he had needed days to memorize."Folks," he said, "if all of us would holler down to Paddy now, Im sure hed hollerback. Despite the flames and all that smoke, hed tell us all once more that Kerrywinning over Galway is all that ever mattered. Well always have cold Paddy overthere to thank for that. Ireland never had a better man. St. Patrick himself, I know,would vouch for that."The Widow Murphy hadnt moved all evening, but after hearing Mickey speak, shebegan to rock with fury as she raised a purple fist, shook it to the heavens and thenbegan to hum her favorite dirge. The mourners all joined in and hummed along untilmidnight struck on the mantel clock and then, as if released by God Himself, the 42
  43. 43. mourners rose, one by one, from folding chairs and paraded out beneath the moon,freed by a hurricane of the Widow Murphys tears.Barry FineganBad poetry(a villanelle)If I should write bad poetryOr sing you a tuneless love songWould you still be in love with me?Would you tell your friends Im simple and sillyThat I try so hard and still get it wrongIf I should write bad poetry?If I paint you a picture of people like treesWith unshapely shapes, too fat or too longWould you still be in love with me?If I bought you flowers and brought your teaWould it be enough to keep you tagging alongIf I should write bad poetry?What if I hum like a swarm of beesWhen the glory of spring fills my heart with songWould you still be in love with me?So tonight I go down on bended kneeAnd ask even though the rhythm is wrong;If I should write bad poetrywould you still be in love with me? 43
  44. 44. Helen Farrell Simcox.(Themed Haiku)Autumnwind whipped leavesseized with swan song passiondance wildly and falllush greens to russetleaves swept on compost heapfood for spring bloomsscent of bonfiresthrough leafless treesa harvest moon__Memoriesgolden wordsno longer spokenfather’s name on headstone.sepia imagesstraw hat and bicycle clipsa distant summeryellowing papergathering dust on the shelffather’s spectacles 44
  45. 45. Mike GallagherThe English Papers(I.M.O The News of the World, recently demised)On Achill the post came twice each week-Tuesday brought Queenshead fivers,postmarked Ormskirk, Tamworth, Kilburn-short letters from villages of mentransplanted en masse to alien trenches.Thursday brought brownpaper rolls, neatlywrapped; Anthony Jack flung them from his bikecursed their weight, their wickedness, theirEnglishness with equal ferocities. The Achill motherunfurled the Sunday Post, plucked The News of the Worldfrom the entrails of The Sunday Mail;and, with a magician’s sleight of hand,made it disappear. The otherswere absorbed, devoured by her children, talesof dazzling sights and city lights grooming them, too,for the emigrant fate of their fathers. The motherbided her time, waited for the covert hour, then savouredthe News of the World, revelled in storiesof bedroom romps, relief from absence and abstinence,far-fingered foreplay, forbidden by church and state,twin conspirators who saw fit to makeslaves of their sons, sinners of their saints.(Previously published in Revival and in Coming to the Well for Water, an Anthology) 45
  46. 46. Tatjana Debeljački TO FORGIVNESS This is not the puzzle, The tree of life, Model of perfection, Diary of chronicles, Sullen neighbour, Short shower of rain, Flower of oblivion, Slim willow tree. Wake up you Sleepy butterfly Startled by emergency, You coward! You left the elysian peacock to me, Like an arrow, straight into my heart. In the glass – half full of wine, The storm of silent words... Short break is your night, Rhymes are blossom. Sour, sweet, You the enchantment. To-uncaring Lost in the grey loneliness.Cognition intruder – rustling from the mind.Unclear thread, passionate, cruel, is awaken. The fruit is not conspiracy. The lunatic, genius of silence! Get closer to the unspoken. The analysis of reason- slavery! During walking, visible shame! Exciting autonomy, Opened door, the windows, Draft! In the mist the stairways Leading to heaven. Paralyzed conscience, Portable mirror. In the plural against the fluency, Conducting, behavior, And admit the guilt. The line connecting, The road to the spacecraft. We walk on by in dishonor. Bronze woman, Brass man!!! 46
  47. 47. G.B. Ryan YOGA Standing on one footwhile I pull a sock on the other foot –about as far as I care to go with yoga positions.A friend claims yoga has kept him limber and as he explains I think of the timehis son entered the gym and saw someone with heel behind necksurrounded by the members of his group female and concernedsaw that the person locked in position was his own fatherand decided that now was not the time to come to his aid. 47
  48. 48. Margaret Sheehan MeetingI saw your smileIn your sister’s smile todayHeard your laughIn her laughI’ve known her thirty years or moreBut had not noticedThat smile or laugh beforeIn the twinkle of her eyeWas your lightYou were standing thereBright as dayAlmost as ifYou’d never been awayI had to blinkAnd click my mindBack into placeFor once again I saw your faceI’m glad today we briefly metI would not like to forget. 48
  49. 49. Laurie Corzett/libramoonArise!Junk News.Junk Blues.Junk Food.Junk in every room.Got no reason to believe in you.Got no reason to toe your line.You got no vision but a cesspool.You got nothing, just a waste of my time.You got power? Maybe this hour.We just need to stand up.We just need to open our eyes.You aint playing for no Stanley Cup.You aint saying anything wise.You havent got a clue of our livesTime to take back our time,find a new rhyme to sing.It aint no little thing.Gotta kick out the junkand give ourselves the go.Gotta get together with those who truly know.Its all in our minds & hands & soulsTo remake the worldTo retake our worldTo forsake your silly political gamesAnd set ourselves free. 49
  50. 50. Maeve O’Sullivan At Acre Lake It’s a summer afternoon on a ninety-year-old barge, in County Leitrim.Young Alice McCool straps on her set of practice pipes and plays a reel slowly as if it’s the most natural thing in the world which, for her, it is. 50
  51. 51. colwin danisoMouth is a thrushOf Swedish yodellers ilkHis vocal wings unclipped heFlaps and flaps andSoars or lowers inHis azure domain.And so dear to the ear isThe madrigal he tunefully chirpsAnd so dreary to the ear isThe dirge he sorrowfully cheepsWhen inklings in the head likeA cauldron bubble and sputterWhen from the headInklings coiled unfurlWhen in the head tinyMuse like a spark flaresTo a large luminous flameOf Apollo"s choicing 51
  52. 52. Christine AllenDancing in squaresThe pawn’s first step let me know the game was on.Moves later, we’ve run short of pawns – those little teases of glances and staresand words neatly uttered here and there.The knights, yet to rescue the princess from her dungeons of past.She heard rumours – they were on their way,but the thud of hooves were all in her imagination.Disarmed, no castle left and all defences blown away,she wonders why the bishop has not yet blessed the union.Though she prays, he stands distantfrom what has now been christened a battle.The queen – with the presence of a hundred pawns knows her power to force amove from the king.No one else here now, it’s she and he and squares that decide their fate.It’s not a battle anymore but she approaches from the side with a triumphant‘check mate’. 52
  53. 53. Louis MulcahyThe MasterIn melancholiaa grey unfeeling sun declines,soft shadows trace the landof memories as they fade.Drab, wettest May yet written.It started well. We talked the roads.Now he lies as silent asthe sadly dying day.He who stretched the hours to yearsprepares to slip into the night;ship anchor, drift out towardsa far off beckoning shorewith cargo of such riches,precious gems of lifetime’s mining,that he is sure of welcometo match our aching loss. 53
  54. 54. dippingthepenThis section is for writers who are, maybe, new to writing andwho would like to see their work in print with a view to furtherdeveloping their skills.BRENDAN LONERGANSECRET GARDENIf I could plant a flower just like youConstant attentive endearing and trueI wouldnt hestitate mull or ditherIt would be a red rose that would never witherWashed and cleansed by summer rainsGlistening in the shining frost from winters painsThat danced in springs coolest breezeNever fell like the leaves from treesStanding proudly from stem to headNurtured pampered loved well fedLike an oasis in a field of greenYour beauty seen and unseenStriking elegant surreal sublimeBoth forever in your perennial primeMaking honey from lifes sadness and mistakesIts weeds stones spades and rakesLike viewing the richest land through the worlds window stillI have loved both flowers and I always willIts the vulnerabilty and frailty in you I supposeThat I see in every single red rose 54
  55. 55. Padraig ÓGallchobhairThis HouseNo hugs, no kisses, no welcome home;On a cold and snowy Christmas Day.The fire is out. The house is cold.The snow blows through the broken doors.The windows that once let the sunshine in,their glass is broken all over the floor.The roof - it leaks. The walls are wet.The ceilings are falling down.The once white rug where the children playedwith their toys is now all slushed and brown.The old folks are gone and nobody cares,Their children have taken the stream.Theyll never come home, they have homes of their own,with children and problems and dreams.The garden that once caught the neighbors eye,with its rose trees and flowers and daisies,is now covered with weeds and all kinds of seeds,tis an eyesore now for those neighbors.The front lawn, once so well groomed,The lilac tree square in the middle,it spread its perfumes all round the yard,its branches dried up and fallen.If those four walls could talk of happy days long gone,they would tell you all their secrets,the secrets stored in the rafters strong,of happy days when children played,those days, now, forever gone.If I knew their secrets Id weave them into this song,Oh, why did this happen to this beautiful house?A house that once was so full of fun - and whydid they let it go - to wreck and ruin forever lost,This house that they once called their home. 55
  56. 56. Rachel SutcliffeAccidentScattered shards of glassReach the road side grassThese wretched remainsA sole mark of the painOf failed red lightAnd a tragic nightWhere once witnessed bleedingNow a place for grievingNight timeEvening falls from the skyDaylight gives a weary sighDarkness envelopes like a gloveStars sparkle silver up aboveStill all life does not sleepIn the shadows movements creepA nocturnal world comes aliveCreatures of the night time thrive 56
  57. 57. THESE WE LIKE dee Sunshines Writers ResourcesArticles, links, tips, interviews. Caren Kennedys article at VanessaOLoughlins great site. wonderful resource for writers, driven by the dynamic VanessaO’LoughlinSpike Milligan once placed an advertisement reading: "Spike Milliganseeks rich, well-insured widow. Intention: murder."He got 48 replies. (ST) up Claire Guytons blog if you fancy a good nosh. brilliant Saturday evening at the Seanchai Centre, Listowel for the100 Thousand Poets event. own Christine Allens invigourating blog. & Writers magazine; hours of reading - and we are in theresomewhere.We give you our welcome, we welcome your genius.Front cover: looking out on the world by Mike Gallagher 57
  58. 58. Some of the poets who read at the 100 Thousand Poets for Change event in Listowel on 24th September 2011 The event was organised by thefirstcut Thanks to those who took part, especially Minister for the Arts,Jimmy Deenihan.58