ask of the forgiving ice
from out of which the blood is birthed
ask then of the silenced ash
rubbed into wounds
scatter the dead pelt non-forgotten
nothing has claimed
Michael Mc Aloran was Belfast born, (1976). His work has appeared in various anthologies & print and online zines. He has authored a number of chapbooks, including The Gathered Bones, (Calliope Nerve Media), Final Fragments, (Calliope Nerve) & Unto Naught, (Erbacce-Press). A full length collection of poems, Attributes, was published by Desperanto, (NY), in 2011. Of Dead Silences is forthcoming from VOX Press & Lapwing Publications, (Ireland), will also be publishing a collection of his poems in 2012. He runs a new blogzine, Bone Orchard Poetry.
Old days squatting at the edge of vision.
I work it into an image, fix that in a frame.
But it moves off just the same,
leaving me to linger on in prison,
like a gap in time ringed by frost,
like a murky past.
Come rain or shine, the image leaves -
it goes and travels and asks questions
in my voice. Has my expressions.
And it loves and hates, it laughs and grieves,
but without my heart -
it doesn’t have my heart.
Sometimes it comes back to look at me.
Its eyes are bright and mine are dull.
It has caused great misery
and is in rude health, while I am ill.
Stained hands betray the wrong
it’s done. ‘Kill the thing!’
That’s what my heart is muttering.
But I just say, ‘Run along!’
huddled on that absurd stump
within his iron prison
stares through an immense distance -
to the clouds of another place
which he knows better
than the bars of his cage.
He always perches like that, says the Keeper.
But the monkeys next door
doing jumps nobody has ever seen -
they‘re one hundred percent at home
in a world of umbrellas, sticks and bits of orange peel
before an indulgent crowd.
Are you dead on your feet?
Look at those shining gates
on the horizon.
They’ll give you strength.
Don’t go into the city, the magical city!
Its roads are covered in dirt, as with all cities,
but those far-away towers glitter
in the sunset, like gold.
Kiss the day
or kiss tomorrow goodbye.
That great door shuts with a boom -
its rusted bolt squealing.
Youngsters look out!
The pen falls from shaky hands
and your hair will turn white quickly.
Oh glorious Sun
let us get wasted
one more time -
Giving chase over open country
while the hounds pant for breath at our side -
scattering mud, foam, clouds.
Kiss the day
or kiss tomorrow goodbye.
Sibyl Ruth’s poetry collections are Nothing Personal (Iron Press) and I Could Become That Woman (Five Leaves). She’s also translated the poetry written by her German great-aunt Rose Scooler, an inmate of the Terezin Ghetto.
Peter Kien, (1919-1944) a German-speaking Czech, was a prominent figure among the artists of Terezin. He died in Auschwitz.Read More
Her words are traffic signs
and well-trained dogs.
My words are ornamental ponds
where meaning chokes under a scum
of metaphor and idiom.
Did I mention I love her?
She’s a sharp woman.
It’s not cloth but metal
she’s cut from.
Zoë Fiander is 26 and lives in London. Her translations of Argentinian poet Alfonsina Storni can be found at www.lossness.co.uk . She is disproportionately amused by jokes about cheese and always interested to hear new and terrible ones.
The Way You
It was the way you seemed to bounce
across Front Square as if your body held
some inner joy; the way you wouldn’t dance
at parties but sat there, pipe in mouth,
considering the quainter follies
of the human race.
The way, later, you referred to me always
as “my wife”, and not “the wife”
as some men do.
It was all of these.
And I wanted it to last
Gill McEvoy has had two pamphlets published by Happenstance Press, both now out of print. Full collection, The Plucking Shed (Cinnamon Press, 2010). A second collection is due from Cinnamon in 2013. Gill has been awarded a Hawthornden Fellowship for 2012. Find out more here.
Not Before Thursday
Trevor irons his shirt while the kettle boils. A sharp crease in each sleeve and he’s done. He wets the tea and goes upstairs to finish dressing.
Back in the kitchen, he spreads rough-cut marmalade on lightly toasted bread. The radio hisses the morning news and Trevor drinks his tea, watching out the window for anything of interest. No one passes except a child from the new estate, late for lessons and looking like she’d slept in her school uniform; a miserable sight. Trevor drains his cup and puts the breakfast things away.
He is locking the front door when he notices a small fleck of marmalade on his cuff, desolate and darkly sticky. Is there time to change? There isn’t. Damn. He lets himself back inside, hurries to the sink and dabs cold water on the spot, swearing softly. The house relocked, he checks his watch again and walks briskly to his car.
—Morning, Trevor, calls Mrs. Hammond, startling him.
She is standing in her garden like a ludicrous mannequin in wellington boots, a shapeless housecoat over her nightdress. Mrs. Hammond scatters bread for the birds every morning, and several times a day in winter.
—Good morning, yes, says Trevor stiffly.
—That was a hard frost. They said it would be a hard frost and it was; it was a hard frost, so it was. Look!
She stamps the wet grass and looks at Trevor almost combatively.
Trevor gives her a vague wave, and fumbles with his car keys, his shoulders rigid with vexation and cold. Damn.
At the shop finally, he switches on the heating and the lights. Three orders sit on the counter where he’d left them the night before. He is processing the orders when the bell over his shop door chimes and he looks up to see a young woman wiping her feet on the mat. She is holding a mobile phone to her ear.
—But that’s not what I meant, she’s saying into the phone.
Trevor keys an order number and glances at her again. There is a brief sparkle of some cosmetic at the corners of her eyes when she blinks.
—I never said that – wait – I don’t, please – no, you listen – I can’t –
No more words. She holds the phone aloft a moment, then snaps it shut.
—Gaaahhh!, she says across the shop floor, smiling widely at Trevor and jamming the phone into her coat pocket.
Trevor remains motionless. He notices her silver necklace, a turquoise pendant near her throat, and then she’s at the counter.
—I’m sorry about that, she says with a small laugh.
—May I help you?
—Well, I hope you can, she answers brightly. My laptop is acting up, I think it’s overheating. Can I leave it with you?
—Certainly. I’ll just need you to fill out this form.
—OK, great. Here’s the thing, though. I really need to have this back tonight.
She touches his forearm for emphasis when she says ‘tonight’. Trevor straightens some documents on the counter to disguise his consternation. He doesn’t say anything.
—It’s my lifeline, she adds, eyebrows raised.
Oh, the arch of those brows. Now she’s taking her laptop out of the bag that hangs diagonally from one shoulder. Trevor sees the line of her collarbone and looks away furtively when she speaks.
—Well, here it is. Here’s my baby.
—It can’t be tonight, says Trevor, despising how he sounds.
—Oh, no. Really?
—Not before Thursday, he says superciliously. Damn.
Trevor knows she is weighing her options and may leave right away. No forms filled out. No display of her handwriting. No contact information.
—I send these out, he tells her, adding after a pause, I’m sorry – his voice unyielding in spite of himself.
She drums her fingers lightly on the countertop. Her hands are perfect, thinks Trevor. Then she picks up the laptop and holds it to herself.
—Not to worry, she says. I’ll figure something out. She smiles and walks to the door.
—Thanks, she calls out, returning the laptop to its bag.
Once more he fails to reply. The bell above the door decrescendos and Trevor observes the pedestrians, dressed for the weather, quickstepping along the pavement outside. He turns back to the unfinished orders and sees his marmalade-stained sleeve, ugly and crass. He begins typing slowly, evenly, and then he jabs the return key with some violence. He does it again. And then again, whispering, damn, to himself. Damn.
Eunice Yeates left Belfast in 1997 for one year, but forgot to come back until 2010. Following adventures and misadventures in Japan, the US, and South Africa, Eunice writes educational materials by day and fiction by night.
For his daughter, learning fire
Sometimes verbs are stopped mid-movement
and held to a page like pictures:
you, crouched by the darkening wood,
new sounds mouthed over and over –
the rustle of a twig stirring
a cauldron of bright-grey ashes,
the soft hiss as flame meets water.
The sparks fall like snow catching fire
and throb like stars against your shoes;
the moon is a dream you once had
and past it things yet to be dreamt –
people who don’t know you tonight
but will swap memories with you
like presents: their first love, the time
you played with fire and watched the night
suddenly become beautiful.
Jacob Silkstone recently completed an MA in Creative Writing at Lancaster University, had no idea what to do next, and ended up volunteering as a primary school teacher in Bangladesh. He has previously been published in Cake Magazine and The Cadaverine.
Whenever you have trouble sleeping
Find yourself a room near water
Give it white walls, an open window
Make it high on a purpled cliff
Facing an island abandoned to birds
With the sea below, gnawing and roaring
At its topnote of shimmering foil.
Have it circled by the breathing dark
Of trees, dropping leaves, whispers
Of comfort, landing lightly –
Let yourself hear that nothing matters
Now but sleep, the world is space
Your presence in it, rippling, falling
And maybe somewhere a bird will sing
And you won’t hear the end of its song.
Olivia McCannon was born on Merseyside and is based in Harlesden, London and Belleville, Paris. Her poetry collection Exactly My Own Length (Carcanet/Oxford Poets) and her translation of Balzac’s Old Man Goriot (Penguin Classics) were published in 2011.