More than this by David Kirby

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MORE THAN THIS

When you tell me that a woman is visiting the grave
of her college friend and she’s trying not to get irritated
at the man in the red truck who keeps walking back and forth
and dropping tools as he listens to a pro football
game on the truck radio, which is much too loud, I start
to feel as though I know where this story is going,
so I say Stop, you’re going to make me cry.
How sad the world is. When young men died in the mud
of Flanders, the headmaster called their brothers out
of the classroom one by one, but when the older brothers
began to die by the hundreds every day, they simply handed
the child a note as he did his lessons, and of course the boy
wouldn’t cry in front of the others, though at night
the halls were filled with the sound of schoolboys sobbing
for the dead, young men only slightly older than themselves.
Yet the world’s beauty breaks our hearts as well:
the old cowboy is riding along and looks down
at his dog and realizes she died a long time ago
and that his horse did as well, and this makes him
wonder if he is dead, too, and as he’s thinking this,
he comes to a big shiny gate that opens onto a golden
highway, and there’s a man in a robe and white wings,
and when the cowboy asks what this place is, the man tells
him it’s heaven and invites him in, though he says animals
aren’t allowed, so the cowboy keeps going till he comes
to an old rusty gate with a road full of weeds and potholes
on the other side and a guy on a tractor, and the guy
wipes his brow and says you three must be thirsty,
come in and get a drink, and the cowboy says okay,
but what is this place, and the guy says it’s heaven,
and the cowboy says then what’s that place down
the road with the shiny gate and the golden highway,
and when the guy says oh, that’s hell, the cowboy
says doesn’t it make you mad that they’re pretending
to be you, and the guy on the tractor says no,
we like it that they screen out the folks who’d desert
their friends. You tell me your friend can’t take it
any more, and she turns to confront the man
who’s making all the noise, to beg him to leave her alone
with her grief, and that’s when she sees that he’s been
putting up a Christmas tree on his son’s grave
and that he’s grieving, too, but in his own way,
one that is not better or worse than the woman’s,
just different, the kind of grief that says the world
is so beautiful, that it will give you no peace.

Directory of Irish poetry journals

Poetry journals appear and disappear. So I thought I’d compile a list of all the ones currently active on the island of Ireland. And at the bottom, I’ll list my personal top ten. If you see that any are missing, please leave me a comment, and I’ll amend.  I’m not including those published once a year, with winning competition poems. I’d love opinions on which you think have charisma, are outrageous or cutting edge, or excellent, or who are not keeping up with the times. The ones with the best covers and visual art, like this one, from Spontaneity’s latest issue:

 

untitled-alicia-martin-fernandez-

 

What are your favourites? Would love you to add your comments below.

So, here’s the list:

Abridged      http://abridgedonline.com/   
Beautiful product. Online and print journal, based in the North (but we’re being inclusive here!) Besides, they’ve taken poems of mine, so they’re right up there in my estimation!

A New Ulster         https://sites.google.com/site/anewulster/
The editor, Amos Grieg, hopes that this journal ‘will act as a reflection of the changing times in which we live in and grant you the reader a doorway into other worlds of the imagination.’ The journal appears monthly and has been in publication since September 2012.

Banshee Literary Journal  ahref=”http://bansheelit.tumblr.com/ 
A gorgeous new journal, with three editors who are happening writers themselves: Laura Jane Cassidy, Eimear Ryan and Claire Hennessy. They have taken poems of mine. And they pay! Going places.

Bare Hands anthology   
This one went into hibernation for a bit, but it’s back! Edited by Kerrie O’Brien. Another sparkling journal featuring the work of new young voices mainly.

Blowing Raspberries http://www.blowingraspberries.org/submissions/
New journal from N.I. that is accepting both published and unpublished poetry – with a nom de plume!  Obviously, with such a title, they’re looking for stuff that is upbeat, irreverent,  dark but not bleak. Have fun with this one. 

Boyne Berries   http://boyneberries.blogspot.ie/  
This journal came out of a writers’ group and has grown legs since.

Burning Bush 2  https://issuu.com/burningbush2 
A good reputation, but went underground for a bit. Had work in this. But not sure if it’s still happening.

Crannóg                    http://www.crannogmagazine.com/   A dynamic print journal, one of the first to publish a poem of mine, so I have a soft spot! And they pay.

Cyphers                          http://www.cyphers.ie/    An esteemed print journal, founded by Eiléan Ní Chuilleanáin, Macdara Woods and the late Leland Bardwell. One to aim for. Glad to have work in this. They pay.

Dublin Poetry Review      http://dublinpoetryreview.com/section2-issue22/88-editors/162-issue-22-c   
Flattered that they published a poem of mine alongside Jane Hirshfield! Has numerous patrons and ‘executive’ guest editors from around the world. Not keen on the layout or masthead, but interested to see where this one goes. Started by Emmanuel Jakpah,  who is based in Ireland. One of the Irish editors is Elaine Feeney.

 FourXFour        http://www.poetryni.com/fourxfour.html A quarterly online journal of new poetry from Northern Ireland, committed to highlighting the up-and-comings. Edited by Colin Dardis.

Gorse                                 http://gorse.ie/   Haven’t sent work to this one yet, but looks interesting. Essays, interviews, fiction, poetry. Curated by Christodoulos Makris.

HCE Review https://hcereview.com/
HCE Review (ISSN 2009-9916) is named after the fluidly-named Humphrey (or Harold) Chimpden Earwicker in Finnegan’s Wake, to pay homage to Joyce, one of UCD’s most prominent graduates. It is a bimonthly online literary journal launched in 2016 by the MA and MFA Creative Writing courses at University College Dublin. The journal aims to publish fiction, poetry, creative non-fiction, and visual art from both established and emerging writers and artists from around the world. There’s also a HCE Review podcast, which works in conjunction with the online journal to bring literature into the digital sphere, hosting regular readings and speeches by prominent Irish authors, and featuring discussions of the pieces that appear in the online journal.

Headstuff http://www.headstuff.org/2016/08/its-the-end-of-the-world-as-we-know-it-call-for-poetry-submissions/
Edited by Angela Carr, a strong online presence whose blog is an invaluable resource. Headstuff has regular calls for submissions for their Poem of the Week slot. They are currently accepting submissions until 30 September.

Icarus         http://www.icarusmagazine.com/editorialteam/ Another one I don’t know, but will look into – can’t resist the name! Connected to Trinity University. The editorial team is currently headed by Will Fleming and Leo Dunsker.

Idler                    http://www.idler.ie  A brand new journal, just started this year. Promises ‘regularly updated fresh, engaging, thought provoking and entertaining writing, including stories, poems and essays.’ The editor is Barbara Clinton. Although there’s no pay, Idler provides a link back to the writer’s own blog or website.

Impossible Archetype https://impossiblearchetype.wordpress.com/
Here’s a welcome new journal. Founded in January 2017, they publish two issues a year and are a space for LGBTQ+ poetry.

Irish Pages      http://irishpages.org/
Based in Belfast. Editor is Chris Agee. I haven’t sent work to this journal yet, but it’s well-regarded. Here’s their blurb: IRISH PAGES is a biannual journal, edited in Belfast and publishing, in equal measure, writing from Ireland and overseas. Its policy is to publish poetry, short fiction, essays, creative non-fiction, memoir, essay reviews, nature-writing, translated work, literary journalism, and other autobiographical, historical, religious and scientific writing of literary distinction. There are no standard reviews or narrowly academic articles. Irish Language and Ulster Scots writing are published in the original, with English translations or glosses

Outburst                  http://www.outburstmagazine.com/    
A journal that’s beginning to get on its feet after some hit-and-miss issues with unfortunate formatting. Editor is Arthur Broomfield.

Panning for Poems   http://www.poetryni.com/panning-for-poems.html  
A new micro-poetry print and online journal, edited by Geraldine O’Kane, based in the North. Nice to have an outlet for those tiny poems.

Poethead                    https://poethead.wordpress.com/   An excellent poetry blog by Christine Murray, who is compiling a valuable and  extensive index of women poets. Great resource, and influential.

Poetry Ireland Review     http://www.poetryireland.ie/writers/submission-to-pir/  
The ‘journal of record’ in Irish poetry. You’re on the official literary radar once you’ve managed to get work between these pages. Current editor is Vona Groarke, who is shaking things up a little. Looking forward to her issue on the Rising poets – thrilled that I am included! From July, the new editor will be Eavan Boland. They pay contributors.

Sixteen                               http://sixteen.ie/   ‘Stab me with your dreadful words.’ A new online journal, started specially for the commemoration year. Rising prompts. Archive photographs give a wonderful atmosphere. And they’ve taken my work! Edited by Simon Lewis.

Skylight 47        https://skylight47poetry.wordpress.com/    Their blurb states that they are ‘possibly Ireland’s most interesting publication’. Based in Galway. Current editors: Bernie Crawford, Nicki Griffin, Marie Cadden and Ruth Quinlan. Interesting, broadsheet-style journal. They published a glowing review of my first collection, and also some poems, so I have a crush!

Southword          https://southword.submittable.com/submit  The best Irish online journal to be in!  Easy to navigate, a history of all your submissions, reviews etc on your page. Updated bios and pics. It’s a great archive and resource for all poets/scouts. Cork-based, connected to the Gregory O’Donoghue international poetry competition. Rotating editors. Current editor is Matthew Sweeney. They pay contributors.

Spontaneity           http://spontaneity.org/issue-9/haunts/  A delicious new journal, curated by Ruth McKee. Ekphrastic responses to visual art. This one’s going to get better and better.

Stanzas                    http://stanzas.ie/Upcoming/  Connected to the Stanzas festival in Limerick, curated by Shane Vaughan, this is a monthly ‘chapbook’, looking for poems, graphics and stories. They welcome work by newcomers.

Stony Thursday      http://www.writing.ie/guest-blogs/submissions-for-stony-thursday/   
An annual anthology from Limerick. It doesn’t seem to have an online website. I have had work published in this, but found out about it via writing.ie, a very useful website.

SurVision http://survisionmagazine.com
This is an independent international online magazine founded in March 2017 and based in Dublin, Ireland. Edited by Anatoly Kudryavitsky, SurVision publishes neo-surrealist poetry and comes out in January and July. The deadlines for these issues are 31st December and 30th June. Submissions of not more than five poems are considered at any time.

The Bohemyth               http://thebohemyth.com/   Based in Dublin, editor is Michael Naghten Shanks. I don’t know much about this one yet, but it’s a quarterly online journal, publishing poetry, fiction, photography, essays. It also has links to interesting Irish and international journals and publishers. Here you go: http://thebohemyth.com/links/

The Brain of Forgetting    http://www.brainofforgetting.com/   A gorgeous, Cork-based journal, curated by Bernadette McCarthy, who has a PhD in archaeology. Wonderfully-named, The Brain of Forgetting ‘provides a forum for writing and artwork that relates to heritage and memory.’ Thrilled to have work in this journal. 

The Dublin Review               https://thedublinreview.com/   The Irish Times called this ‘a world-class forum for the literary essay.’ A quarterly magazine of essays, memoir, travel writing, criticism, fiction and reportage. Founded and edited by Brendan Barrington, it is highly regarded. Published in book format and is assisted by The Arts Council of Ireland. (I bet they pay.)

The Galway Review                http://thegalwayreview.com/   ‘Committed to excellence in the extraordinary art of the written word.’ Not familiar with this journal, but as it’s based in my the city of my birth, must check it out! A number of editors.

The Honest Ulsterman              http://humag.co/    Connected to the Verbal Arts Centre in Derry. Don’t know much about this long-standing journal at all, but big names are mentioned in the February issue. Wish the website was a little more aesthetic. But they have poetry, prose, an ‘observatory’ and promise a podcast.

The Incubator                             https://theincubatorjournal.com/submissions/  ‘We do not know until the shell breaks what kind of egg we have been sitting on.’ — T.S. Eliot. Well. Got to try that! Issues alternate fiction and poetry, flash fiction and memoir.

The Irish Examiner                    http://www.irishexaminer.com/lifestyle/artsfilmtv/the-tuesday-poem-in-the-pub-many-voices-322604.html     Patrick Cotter of the Munster Literature Centre selects poems to publish in the Tuesday Poems. Not sure if you can submit. But they pay.

The Irish Literary Review    http://irishliteraryreview.com/index.html    Haven’t submitted yet, but I will. Clean. Classy.

The Irish Times                                  http://www.irishtimes.com/culture/books/poetry   The new home for Hennessy New Irish Writing, with a chance to be shortlisted for the coveted Hennessy awards.  And they pay contributors.

The Moth Magazine             http://themothmagazine.com/ This is a print journal, associated with the Ballymaloe poetry competition, and includes artwork. Considered one of the most beautiful and tasteful journals around. Another one to aspire to. Glad I’ve had work published here.

The Penny Dreadful                            
http://thepennydreadful.org/   ‘It does not have stars in its weeping eyes nor a particularly idealistic soul. There is only the void.’ Editors are John Keating and Marc O’Connell. I’m working on getting the stars out of my eyes so I can get IN to this damn journal! Although they did accept my review of Kimberly Campanello’s collection…

The Pickled Body                                       http://thepickledbody.com/   Editors are Dimitra Xidous and Patrick Chapman. An online poetry and art magazine ‘that plays with the senses.’ Each themed issue presents work from the surreal to the sensual and points in between – ‘poems that not only sound as good as they look, but taste as good as they feel.’ I concur.

The Poetry Bus                                             http://thepoetrybusmag.wix.com/change#!submissions/cgyc  Published by Peadar and Collette O’Donoghue, this print journal gets bigger and more ambitious with each issue. Had a poem published both in print and on the CD that accompanied the journal. And they nominated it for the Forward Prize! Cool.

The Stinging Fly                 http://www.stingingfly.org/  I’d say this is one of the most rated journals in Ireland today. Hard to get into – took me four attempts! A lot of acclaimed names seen between these pages. Often themed. The English poetry editor is Eabhan Ní Shuilleabháin, but there are also guest editors. The current one is Mia Gallagher. English and Irish language stories, reviews, essays and poetry. And they pay contributors.

 The Sunday Independent                          http://www.independent.ie/entertainment/books/the-sunday-poem-anthony-cronins-personal-anthology-34512641.html Like the Irish Examiner’s Tuesday Poem, The Sunday Poem might well be selected by the editor. Not sure if you can submit for it. If anyone can confirm this, that would be helpful. They probably pay.

The Tangerine https://thetangerinemagazine.com/
The Tangerine is a new Belfast-based magazine of new writing. It covers culture and politics, and is published three times a year. The Tangerine includes features, reportage, commentary, fiction, poetry, illustration and photography. They’re currently inviting artists to submit illustrations for a potential cover.

 
 The Well Review http://www.thewellreview.com/
The Well Review is a bi-annual print journal founded by Sarah Byrne and Christian Carley. It was established in Cork in 2016, ‘to create a space to house exceptional poetry from all over the world,’ says Sarah Byrne. I, along with most of my Irish poet friends, very much miss The SHOp, edited by John and Hilary Wakeman, who have retired. I’m hoping that The Well Review will be the journal to compensate for that loss. The inaugural issue certainly shows promise, featuring work by international poets such as John Burnside, Maram al-Masri, Ellen Bass, Ishion Hutchinson, Kaveh Akbar, Nick Laird, Matthew Dickman and Maggie Smith. The journal is published in February and September of each year. And they pay.

The Quarryman https://www.facebook.com/quarrymanjournal
This is a newly revived literary journal, associated with University College Cork (rated the best university in Ireland for the second year in a row.) Originally started in 1920, this journal has been revived by the current MA creative writing students, and the first, substantial issue is already sold out. Submissions are accepted, via their Facebook page, only for those affiliated with UCC, including alumnae. Email them at quarrymansubmissions@gmail.com

End of a residency

and we wonder cover image revisedIt’s been such an honour to be part of the experience that is the Uillinn West Cork Arts Centre. And that’s what it is. An experience. Every time you walk in the door, you enter a mesmerising world of the imagination, with new residencies, exhibitions and installations occurring all the time.

My residency wrapped up with an exhibition of poems, some of which I wrote in response to the work of the other artists in residence: Toma McCullim, whose current work engages with people coping with dementia, the magnificent dancer, Tara Brandel, and Emma Jervis, the photographer.

With so many events taking place during the Skibbereen Arts Festival, there wasn’t time or space for a reading, but Justine Foster suggested (over lunch) that putting together a booklet of the poems would complement the exhibition. I did read some of the poems at the Poetry Marathon which took place at Paul and Marie O’Colmain’s Working Artists Studios (and also interviewed Liz Nugent, author of the psychological thriller, Unravelling Oliver at Holger and Nichola Smyth’s Time Travellers’ Gallery.) The booklet is available for purchase at the Centre. Here’s one of the poems, which I wrote in response to Toma’s exhibition, These Tangled Threads:

tangled threads

Keep net

after Toma McCullim

losing the word for ‘glass’,                                                             you say carrier of wine,                                                                                                         find new vessels

too close, not close enough:                                                                                        sweet, useless balls                                                                                                              of sugar icing,

amuse-bouches that turn                                                                                                    to tears                                                                                                                                    at a crossing

junk, cat-cradled                                                                                                                  by wool                                                                                                                              cross-stitching over

a cracked egg                                                                                                                      still holding                                                                                                                            yolk
more raw,                                                                                                                            less – or more – elaborately                                                                                            attached

to the green-grape                                                                                                                 of rust                                                                                                                             spilling

its metallic waves,                                                                                                           collapsing,                                                                                                                           one riff at a time

My connection with Uillinn West Cork Arts Centre isn’t over though. In the autumn, I’ll be offering further poetry courses, so that’s another legacy. My heartfelt thanks to all the staff and other artists at Uillinn. It’s been an amazing experience, and I’m glad to have found new friends.

(PS Love how the WordPress formatting has disjointed the poem across the page! It wasn’t written like that, but as it’s evocative of the gaps in synapses that can occur with dementia, I’ll leave it like this…)

Poet in Residence – Week 1

StudioWCAC5 StudioWCAC6

First week of my residency over already! It’s been such fun, decorating my studio, with the help of Stephen, who had to use a ladder to hang my African wall-hanging. One of my paintings is by a friend, the self-taught artist and musician, Les Clague. The other is my own. I’ve put up poems from my own collection for visitors to read. They can choose one to take away with them as a memento.

So far, I’ve had interesting visitors, among them Sheena Jolley, the wildlife photographer, who’s invited me to visit her in her Mill House Gallery in Schull. (Here’s her website: http://www.sheenajolleyphotography.com/). She took away two poems: ‘Bodhrán makers suspected, after goats go missing’ and ‘Do not lie to a lover.’ She is thinking of responding to the poems with photographs. Also, Bantry-based Warren Hartley, a South African videographer, from Cape Town, where I did my post-graduate degree, so we had plenty to talk about. He took my poem ‘Yes’ (after James Joyce’s Molly Bloom). Among others, there was a jewellery designer, Nuala Jamison (www.nualajamison.com) and also a student, Ian Curly, who’s currently taking the art degree on Sherkin island.

It’s been great to see former participants from workshops I’ve offered in Bandon, Skibbereen and Cork. I’ve had several editing surgeries, and also facilitated my first Tuesday Poem to Go workshop, with everyone producing an experimental poem.  Ann Davoren, the director of the art centre, swung by to say hi, and I’ve been seeing a bit of Justine Foster, the Programme Manager Education & Community Co-ordinator, and Rita O’Driscoll, the Development Manager, to exchange ideas about the residency. Photographer Emma Jervis, also currently doing a residency, has called in to take a couple of photographs, which she’s kindly given me permission to use here:

11032381_10155360464695162_254517242_o 11129642_10155360464665162_856936366_o

I visited St Patrick’s National School and met Alan Foley, the principal, and the fifth class teacher, who let me spend a bit of time with the fifth and sixth class. They sat on the floor of the carpeted hall and, in groups, enthusiastically responded to a writing activity, an indication of what they can expect if they participate in ‘Scribblings’,  the Young Writers’ Programme I’m offering as part of the residency. The boys were fantastic, producing great poems in a very short space of time. One group rapped their poem! All looks promising…

I was sorry I didn’t get the opportunity to visit the other schools before they broke up for Easter, but I’m hoping parents will see the fliers around town, at the Centre and in the library, and bring their children to the taster workshops on the 10th and 11th April, which will be followed by weekly workshops.  The plan is to produce a magazine of the poems written during the six-week course.

Looking forward to the Eye to Eye talk this evening with Tess Leak, another artist in residence, whose studio is next to mine. She’s working on some large scale ‘emergency’ drawings towards an exhibition to be held at the end of her residency. Great way to celebrate my birthday!

Gravity by Galway Kinnell

Galway-Kinnell

1

Upon the black hole Cygnus X-1 that wobbles

as if boffed by an invisible companion,

upon a silk stocking the color of bees

rolling itself up down a leg, upon the soft dip

over the clavicles, which accept only tongued kisses,

upon the tongue that slowly drifts

into the other’s mouth and chats

there with her opposite number,

gravity exerts the precise force needed.

 

 

 

 

2

In the wings of the Eskimo curlew

flapping through the thin air of the Andes,

in the sacral vertebrae of the widow

who stoops at the window to peer

behind the drawn blind, in the saggy skin

under the eyes of the woman

who is in love with a man incapable

of love, who lives on in the heaviness

of emotional isolation, in the lavish

cascade of urine the rhino releases,

in the mouthwater of the child who waits

in shriek position for the dentist,

in the scradged skin dangling in shreds

from the children who lurched toward

the Nakashima River screaming, as if this were

the single aria they had ever rehearsed, gravity

shudders at its mathematical immensity.

 

 

 

3

As long as two kvetches remain alive,

because inside each is self-hatred so hardened

not even nonexistence can abide them,

as long as the hummingbird strikes

the air seventy-four times per second,

as long as the mound of earth remains heaped

beside the rectangular hole waiting to be filled,

gravity cannot be said to impose its will.

 

 

 

4

If the pilot ejects one second too late,

if the condemned man shrinks at seeing

the trapdoor give way, if the man who stands

with fire at his back and a baby in his arms

hears the near neighbors cry,

“Drop her! Don’t worry! We’ll catch her,”

if the juggler gets behind in her count

and the bright object flies past the spot

where the other hand was to snatch it,

gravity cannot pause to rectify matters.

 

 

 

5

When a deer kenning us stands immobile,

and for one moment we know we exist

entirely within her thoughts, when cichlid fry,

sensing danger, empty their air bladders

and drop to the river bottom like pebbles,

when the snow goes and millions of leaves

reveal themselves pressed down over the contours

of earth to create her hibernation mask,

when a person in a military cemetery

among grave markers that spread to all the horizons

understands that all of existence has been destroyed

again and again, when depression after mania

causes clock hands to stick and days to crawl,

when the full moon’s light creeps across a sleeper

calling to her atavistic soul, when a soldier,

who has always known life is imperfect,

is wheeled to another hopeless attempt

at surgery—but, this time, resolves

to sleep and not wake again until such time

as time begins again—then gravity

grips us to the earth, and crosses its fingers.

 

 

 

6

In the case of the last ancient trees at Ypres

still turning out their terrified wood,

in the case of the concertina wire

hurled out in exuberant spirals and set down

between rich and poor, in the case of the howls

that fly off the earth through madhouse windows,

in the case of the word “heavenly”

when we remind ourselves that earth,

too, was a heavenly body once,

in the case of the numeral keys

totting up the number of humans

humans have killed, in the case of the man

who strays into a gravitational field where

the differential between the force on the scalp

and the force on the foot sole will stretch him

into an alimentary canal thin as a thread,

in the case of the child who has upset

his ink bottle while doing homework

and quickly snaps both arms down

to halt the lateral gush of the black juices,

gravity, if it could, would recuse itself.

 


 

Mo Mháistir Dorcha by Nuala Ní Dhomnaill, translated by Paul Muldoon

paul_muldoon_and_nuala_ni_dhomhnaill

Táimse in aimsir ag an mBás,
eadrainn tá coinníollacha tarraichthe.
Réitíomair le chéile are feadh tréimhse is spás
aimsire, achar roinnt bliana is lae mar a cheapas-sa.

Bhuaileas leis ag margadh na saoire.
D’iarr sé orm an rabhas hire-áilte.
‘Is maith mar a tharla; máistir ag lorg cailín
is cailín ag lorg máistir.’

Ní rabhas ach in aois a naoi déag
nuair a chuas leis are dtúis faoi chonradh.
Do shíneas mo láimh leis an bpár
is bhí sé láithreach ina mhargadh.

Do chuir sé chrúcaí im’ lár
cé nar thug sé brútáil ná drochíde orm.
Ba chosúla le greas suirí nó grá
an caidreamh a bhí eadrainn.

Is tugaim a tháinte dubha chun abhann,
buaibh úd na n-adharca fada.
Luíonn siad síos i móinéir.
Bím á n-aoireacht ar chnoic san imigéin
atá glas agus féarach.

Seolaim are imeall an uisce iad
is gaibheann siad scíth agus suaimhneas.
Treoraím lem’ shlat is lem’ bhachall iad
trí ghleannta an uaignis.

Is siúlaim leo suas ar an ard 
mar a mbíonn sciollam na móna le blaiseadh acu
is tagann míobhán orm i mbarr an mháma
nuair a chím faid mo radhairc uaim ag leathadh

a thailte is méid a ríochta,
an domhan mór ba dhóigh leat faoina ghlaic aige
is cloisim sa mhodardhoircheacht bhróin
na hanamnacha ag éamh is ag sioscadh ann.

Is tá sé féin saibhir thar meon.
Tá trucailí óir agus seoda aige.
Ní bheadh I gcarn airgid Déamair
ach cac capaill suas leo.

Ó táimse in aimsir ag an mbás,
is baolach ná beidh mé saor riamh uaidh.
Ní heol dom mo thuarastal ná mo phá
nó an bhfaighidh mé pá plaic’ nó cead aighnis uaidh.

My Dark Master

Translated by Paul Muldoon

I’ve gone and hired myself out, I’ve hired  myself out to Death.
We drew up a contract and set the seal
on it by spitting in our palms. I would go  with him 
to Lateeve
for a year and a day—at least, that was the deal

as I remember it. When I met him at the hiring-fair
he inquired if I’d yet
been taken: ‘What a stroke of luck,’ he declared,
‘when a master who’s set on a maid finds a maid who’s set

on a master.’ I was only nineteen years old 
at the time the bargain was struck.
I made my mark on a bit of paper and was indentured
on the spot. What a stroke of luck,

I declare, what a stroke of luck that I fell
into his clutches. Not, I should emphasize again,
that he meddled with or molested me for, to tell
you the truth, our relationship was always much more akin

to walking out, or going steady. I lead his blue-black cows
with their fabulously long horns
to water. They lie down in pastures of clover and fescue
and Lucerne. I follow them over hills faraway and green.

I lead them down beside Lough Duff
where they find rest and where they are restored.
I drive them with my rod and my staff
through the valleys of loneliness. Then I might herd

them to a mountain-pass, to a summit
where they browse on bog-asphodel and where I, when I 
look down, get somewhat dizzy. His realm extends as far as the eye

can see and beyond, so much so
a body might be forgiven for thinking the whole
world’s under his sway. Particularly after the sough-sighs
of suffering souls

from the darkness. He himself has riches that are untold,
coming down as he is with jewels and gems.
Even John Damer of Shronel, even his piles of gold
would be horse-shit compared to them.

I’ve hired myself out to death. And I’m afraid that I’ll not 
ever be let go. What I’ll have at the end of the day
I’ve absolutely no idea, either in terms of three hots and a cot
íor if I’ll be allowed to say my say.

Hymn to Iris by Alice Oswald

images

Quick moving goddess of the rainbow
You whose being is only an afterglow of a passing-through

Put your hands
Put your heaven-taken shape down
On the ground. Now. Anywhere

Like a bent- down bough of nothing
A bridge built out of the linked cells of thin air

And let there be instantly in its underlight –
At street corners, on swings, out of car windows –
A three-moment blessing for all bridges

May impossible rifts be often delicately crossed
By bridges of two thrown ropes or one dropped plank

May the unfixed forms of water be warily leaned over
On flexible high bridges, huge iron sketches of the mathematics of strain
And bridges of see-through stone, the living-space of drips and echoes

May two fields be bridged by a stile
And two hearts by the tilting footbridge of a glance

And may I often wake on the broken bridge of a word,
Like in the wind the trace of a web. Tethered to nothing