Frank Dullaghan

 

 

 

How to Escape and Other Theories
For Mary

My sister sings me to sleep
from half a world beyond,
and I sink into the pool of night
with an earful of song.

Outside, this foreign city closes
and I travel to Dundalk –
the Green Church, Castletown Road –
to a time in the past.

This is how close everything is,
the street, the buildings taking on
their old known shapes
and I, my soft-faced skin.

My past is always beside me,
as in the Block Theory of Time,
and my future not a step away:
all my selves are the same.

I’m already gone from this place.
Somewhere my bones turn yellow
or are burned and ground to dust
for the gluttonous stars to swallow.

 

 

Frank Dullaghan is an Irish writer who, at the time of his submission, is locked down in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. He has four collections published by Cinnamon Press, most recently Lifting the Latch (2018). His work features widely in international journals, including in Cyphers, London Magazine, Magma, Nimrod, Poetry Review and Rattle.  @frankdullaghan

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Diana Devlin

 

 

 

Holy Days

I took you to see churches in hot countries.
You admired the architecture, peeked inside
the giant ribcage but found no heart, only
empty pews for empty people. Sometimes,
you strolled majestically up the spine
towards the altar, like a bride without her groom.
You practised your own vows but your words
got stuck between the shoulder blades
and withered. I explained the tabernacle
and you thought of the sea, creatures clinging
to worn out rock, washed by the salt of ages.
Years later, you said the organ frightened you.
You would’ve preferred flutes or saxophones.
And those men dressed like crows made you feel
as naked as a field of corn after harvest,
all stubble and stunted growth.
Nowadays, you take your own children
to hot countries too. But you stay away
from churches.

 

 

Diana Devlin is a Scottish-Italian poet who previously worked as a translator, lexicographer and teacher. Her work has been published in The Lake, The Blue Nib, The Poets’ Republic and The Stray Branch, amongst others.

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Pat Edwards

 

 

 

Quite Contrary

This was the only place she felt at peace,
our Mary, in her haphazard back garden.
She loved to tend it, plant things to grow,
fashioned a path like rosary from stones.
She rubbed slate together trying for sparks
but found instead she could draw patterns.
Mary avoided cracks and spaces between,
afraid she might disappear. She lingered
on the flat rounds, safe holy wafer discs,
dissolved old troubles on her salty tongue.
At the end of her garden, a rotting wooden
shed for self-harm and tears on bad days.
She never could understand how the hell
she was supposed to hear the sea in shells.

 

 

Pat Edwards is a writer, reviewer and workshop leader. Her work has been widely published including in Prole, Magma, Atrium and others. Pat hosts Verbatim poetry open mic nights on the Powys/Shropshire border and is curator of Welshpool Poetry Festival. She published her debut pamphlet, Only Blood, with Yaffle Press in 2019, and her next is due later this year with Indigo Dreams.

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Eamonn Shanahan

 

 

 

Tri Jablana

There’s a walk I do alongside a bank of the Kupa from Dubovac to Gaza then curve out into open country where before you get to the mental health institution there are three poplars – tri jablana – three poplars in a field in a lot of sky that in winter without the leaves and in the right light look like feathers so I took a picture and that snap made people look twice and thrice and ask questions I mean reality is weird because everything is in everything else which is why we see genitalia in plants and trees and why my cigarette’s smoke describes physiognomies if you think about it there should be nothing but there’s all this if you think about it flesh and magma and the universe are more unlikely than me winning the lottery twice and thrice because I am choosing from a few numbers but the lottery of trees and rivers and plenty on the planet in the system in the galaxy in the thousands and millions and billions of others is of an order which makes you cry if you think about it reality is weird when the speed of light is seven times round the Earth in one second and atoms are as empty as cathedrals so the mass of the entire human race can fit into a cherry and every breath you take contains an atom breathed out by Perry Como if you think about it what what exists is beautiful because it is complex and because it is not nothing I mean there should be nothing but there isn’t there’s all this.

 

 

 

Eamonn Shanahan is living in Karlovac, Croatia. He has had poems published in Magma, Nine Muses Poetrylondonart.co.uk, and had a selection of poems broadcast on Oneword Radio.

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Clare Crossman reviews ‘The Shadow Factory’ by Deborah Harvey

 

 


 
The title of this collection is taken from a poem with that name in the book.

Was it night fall or the sun eloping with a cloud?
No one knew for sure but whatever the cause
the shadow factory vanished.

The poem in its entirety is about the demolition and dereliction ‘rubble and broken glass’ and the loss to the people of the workforce. It speculates on where the shadow factory is now and within that metaphor, has a real felt and elegiac tone, adding to a collection which always seems to acknowledge the edge lands in our lives and the power of thought and wonder.

Personal memories and poems of memory permeate. They surface in contemporary moments, as in Glebe Lands, a poem about moving house:

‘Once we’ve decamped here, unpacked our lives … we’ll start to overlay this street with I’m-late-for-work …  I’ll show you the shortcut through the lane you’ll call a snicket……

but always abuts against the past:

But for now I’m holding my grandmother’s hand,
She’s wearing a hat hedgehogged with hatpins
a smile to wide to jump

Also on this theme are The Future Tense about learning French in school and The Invisible Man about a relative who has lost touch with his sister. These are people who are looked at slant, to quote Emily Dickinson. We find detailed portraits.

There is a beautiful sequence, Black Seeds A wreath of sonnets, which recalls the death of a father, where again the poems move fluidly between the present and the past.

You tell fibs about your fluid intake
scrabble for your medals in the tin by the bed

… this one’s the Africa Star
the ribbon’s yellow for sand in the desert
the red is for the blood

When I was six I’d practise being dead
spread-eagled like a cowboy on the front room carpet
toe over toe for my crucifixion
my head drooped decorously to one side

My favourite is My father is singing Rev Eli Jenkins’ prayer over the phone. With the repeated first line in every stanza, the poem becomes a lament acknowledging the imminent loss of her father.

And I wonder if this is his prayer too
and whether he wonders for how much longer
it will be answered
My father is 95, each moment numbered   

My father is singing me a rag to wrap myself in

There are also many poems which skilfully catch a moment in time through a clear and honest gaze, for example, Touchstone:

The place you need to reach
is not a leisurely stroll from the ice cream van …

And let your flesh feel the gravel of wind-thrown rain
the luxurious burn of summer gorse
and don’t presume to be certain of the terrain

Eleven o’clock in Leningrad also captures as if in a sudden movement two people travelling in the city in a starkly lit moment

Caught

in this blue night we’re outside of time
in a city of shifting names
built on bones and water

There is a tenderness in these poems, a personal voice seen particularly in Sensible shoes, a portrait of a friend with whom the poet visited Somerset churches.

Years of pacing the wards have left you
as sensible as your flat-heeled lace-up shoes.

And also a questioning and philosophical and bemused tone which asks us to engage with our humanity:

Sometimes perfection is too much
like on early autumn mornings parked by the lake
in the space between daylight and dawn,
when you know without counting there’s seven swans
four calling crows …

Write instead this rain-smudged dusk
bent and rusted railings breaking

from Heron’s Green Bay
 

Clare Crossman has published four collections of poetry. Her fifth, The Mulberry Tree, is due from Shoestring Press later this year. Recently she wrote for Waterlight, a film about a chalk stream with the film maker, James Murray White. She is the convener of the South Cambridgeshire stanza group.

 

The Shadow Factory by Deborah Harvey is published by Indigo Dreams Publishing and can be ordered from them or the usual outlets https://www.indigodreams.co.uk/deborah-harvey-tsf/4594746908

 

 

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Konstantina Sozou-Kyrkou

 

 

 

Chemical Elements and Waste

They’re playing card games in the garden. Whenever I shuffle the card pack or sniff their coffee, or shift their keys, they get furious. ‘You have no place here, Spotty’, they point a finger at me. ‘Keep out of the way. Mind your own business.

What exactly is my own business? I need to know what’s going on here, which card is next, what their coffee smells like, which doors their keys open.

One of them once sprayed me with the hose. It lurched and curled and slithered on the soil like a snake, until water spurted out. I was breathless. From then on that’s how they mistreat me. To keep me out of their business.

One night our neighborhood  clowder gathers. We think things over. We couldn’t possibly attack the tap, so solid and metallic and impossible to destroy, so we claw and bite at the hose with all our might.

The next day, the wounded ‘snake’ – soon mended and in the saddle, sprays us away.

Another scheme from our clowder: Drink as much water as our bladders can hold and then pee onto their vegetable patch. Every single night. Some plants die, others hold out. And then, as meek as lambs, we have our meals –  leftovers of course, fish bones and skulls from the ocean –  water with various chemical elements and waste –  watching them devour their fresh veggies, full of other kinds of chemicals they know nothing about. Sprayed with our own waste.

 

 

Konstantina Sozou-Kyrkou lives in Athens, Greece with her family and writes in both English and Greek. She has studied Literature and holds an MA in Creative Writing with Lancaster University. Her stories have appeared online and in print literary magazines and anthologies, while some have won in competitions in Greece and abroad. Her first short story collection  written in Greek, entitled Watermelon and Feta was published in November.

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