The Mayo Tao by Derek Mahon

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I have abandoned the dream kitchens for a low fire
and a prescriptive literature of the spirit;
a storm snores on the desolate sea.
The nearest shop is four miles away— 
when I walk there through the shambles
of the morning for tea and firelighters
the mountain paces me in a snow-lit silence.
My days are spent in conversation
with deer and blackbirds;
at night fox and badger gather at my door.
I have stood for hours
watching a salmon doze in the tea-gold dark,
for months listening to the sob story
of a stone in the road, the best,
most monotonous sob story I have ever heard.

I am an expert on frost crystals
and the silence of crickets, a confidant
of the stinking shore, the stars in the mud— 
there is an immanence in these things
which drives me, despite my scepticism,
almost to the point of speech,
like sunlight cleaving the lake mist at morning
or when tepid water
runs cold at last from the tap.

I have been working for years
on a four-line poem
about the life of a leaf;
I think it might come out right this winter.

The Mayo Tao” by Derek Mahon. Text as published in Selected Poems (Penquin Press, 2000), edited by Philippe Jaccotett.

 “Mayo” refers to the County Mayo, in western Ireland.

Art credit: “Keem at Night,” photograph of Keem Strand in County Mayo, taken on February 16, 2010, by Larissa O’Duffy. 

Directory of current Irish literary journals

I first compiled this directory of Irish journals in 2016. Since then some journals have become defunct, and others have sprung up, particularly during the lockdown, so I thought it was time to update it. For writers just beginning to submit work, I recommend trying the newer journals first. Those who have already had work published, you know the ones to go for! But even if you’re a more established writer, it might be good karma to support the new journals too. Besides, some of them might go places.  Comments always welcome.


Beautiful product. And the themed submission calls are irresistible, poems in themselves. This is an online and also a 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                                                    

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                                                        

A gorgeous journal, Arts Council funded, 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.

Beir Bua Journal                                                            

An Irish, inclusive, journal for the  avant-garde; postmodern, asemic, experimental, surrealist, visual poetry, poetry object, & art. Not familiar with this one yet, but curious to check it out.

Boyne Berries                                                                        

This long-standing journal came out of a writers’ group and has grown legs since, although it appears to have shut up shop since the lockdown.

Burning Bush 2                                                                         

A good reputation, but went underground for a bit. Had work in this. Not sure if it’s still happening, although the website is still online.

This journal of environmentally-themed poetry, prose, and criticism, seeking to channel climate concerns and natural preoccupations into writing. Its third issue was published at the end of 2020 and the team are currently working on issue four.


Cold Coffee Stand                                                                  https://coldcoffeestand.wordpress                                      

‘Make it new, wrong, broken and brilliant’ invites this journal, which seems to have been around since 2017, although it’s new to me. ‘Cold Coffee Stand is, and always will be, open to all voices.’ They are ‘dedicated to amplifying work from every facet of Irish culture and society.’ Their submission call is always open, so that’s handy.


Established in 2002, and Arts Council funded, Crannóg receive about a thousand submissions for each of their three issues per year. One of the first to publish a poem of mine, so I have a soft spot! And they pay. The editors are Sandra Bunting, Tony O’Dwyer, Ger Burke and Jarlath Fahy, all of whom read each submission.

Crossways Magazine                                                              

Crossways is a literary magazine that deals in original poetry, short-fiction, and book reviews. Established in early 2018, its aim is to publish high quality work from authors in Ireland and around the globe. The magazine is available in both print and digital formats. You can email your submissions to: The editor is David Jordan


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

Drawn to the Light                                                     

Drawn to the Light Press is a magazine of contemporary poetry edited by Orla Fay. It will be published thrice yearly in October, February and June. The first issue, launched this Valentine month, is aptly enough, all about love. There’s artwork too.


A quarterly online journal of new poetry from Northern Ireland, committed to highlighting the up-and-comings. Edited by Colin Dardis (a busy man! He also edits Panning for Poems, below.)


Gorse a well-established literary journal interested in experimental fiction and smart writing. It looks for blended fiction, memoir, and history, personal essays, and fiction in translation. Haven’t sent work to this one yet, but looks interesting. Curated by Christodoulos Makris.


Icarus is a student literary and arts magazine based in Trinity College, Dublin. They publish two or three issues per academic year and accept submissions of poetry, prose, drama and visual art from students, staff and alumni of Trinity College. As I’m not an alumna, don’t know this one.


Another one I don’t know. But their website says that ‘Idler brings the very best of short-form writing to mobile device and other online users. Regularly updated stories, poems and essays help make those long waits shorter… Because time is a terrible thing to waste.’

Impossible Archetype                                        

An international journal of LGBTQ+ poetry edited by Mark Ward, it was founded in January 2017. They publish two issues a year and are accepting submissions until the 1st March. This is one I’m not familiar with.

Irish Pages                                                                                                

Based in Belfast, this journal promises ‘outstanding writing from Ireland and overseas’. Somewhat dry-looking, it is nevertheless substantial and impressive. The editor is Chris Agee. The journal is in English & As Gaeilge. I noticed that Ruth Padel, Morten Strøkness, John F Deane, Greg Cambridge, Moya Cannon, Greg Delanty, Tisja Kljalović Braić, John Glenday, Meg Bateman, Benjamin Keatinge, Slavenka Drakulić and other interesting names are among others in the current issue.


Mandrake is a new online Dublin journal featuring the gothic, the supernatural and the weird. They are looking for fiction, non-fiction and poetry. They claim to be ‘concerned with the exploration of philosophical pessimism through gothic and horror narratives.’ Think Edgar Allen Poe, Angela Carter, Baudelaire, Mary Shelley, Beckett, David Lynch, Doestoyevsky,  Shirley Jackson, Emily Brontë. The editor is Eoin Rogers, a  graduate of a Masters in Creative Writing from NUI in Galway, and now based in Dublin. Should be interesting!

Panning for Poems                                                          

A micro-poetry  (poems 3 – 8 lines long) broadside and online journal, edited by Geraldine O’Kane, sub-edited by Colin Dardis, based in the North. Nice to have an outlet for those tiny poems and a source for inspiration, too.

Paper Lanterns                                                                                   

Paper Lanterns is a new literary journal, founded in 2020 by Grace Kelley, Amy O’Sullivan and Ruth Ennis. Short stories, flash, art, poetry and features. It got a splash in The Irish Times and on RTE when it was launched, and is Arts Council supported. It aims to promote the voices of young people in Ireland and across the world, and provide new and exciting content for teen and young adult audiences. it has beautiful artwork and is published four times a year. Three issues of Paper Lanterns have been published thus far and there are a lot more to come. Good luck to the editors – they’ve found a niche here.


An excellent poetry blog curated by Christine Murray, who is compiling a valuable and  extensive index of women poets, both Irish and international, contemporary and deceased. Great resource, and influential. So sorry to see that it’s now closed for submissions, but it’ll remain online as an archive. 

Poetry Ireland Review                                            

The ‘journal of record’ in Irish poetry. You’re on the official literary radar once you’ve managed to get work between these pages. The current editor is Colette Bryce. The latest issue features work from Denise Riley, Kayo Chingonyi, Luke Morgan, Katie Donovan, Nick Laird, and Ailbhe Ní Ghearbhuigh, among many other excellent poets, as well as Ailbhe Darcy’s perceptive analysis of documentary poetry in performance, focusing on Kimberly Campanello’s MOTHERBABYHOME and a tribute to the much-mourned Eavan Boland. They also have a pamphlet, Trumpet, which is sent to subscribers, where more reviews are featured. They pay contributors.

Riverbed Review                                                         

Riverbed Review is another new journal sprung from the lockdown. It publishes pieces inspired and informed by the natural world, particularly waterways and rivers. Looking for stories and poetry based around this theme, its current submission window for its second issue is open until March.


This literary journal gets a new lease of life each year as it is passed down to the next generation of students on the MA in Literature and Publishing course at NUI Galway. Publishing poetry, prose, and visual art, Ropes aims to give emerging writers a space to platform their work, while donating its proceeds to a chosen charity; this year’s charity is COPE Galway – what better reason to support it?

Skylight 47                                                                

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!

Silver Apples                                                                                                                                                                                            

This one is new to me, but here’s what the About paragraph says on their website: ‘We publish writing across all genres and mediums. Do you have prose, poetry, or a one-act play? Because we want it. Do you dare to defy genres or mediums? Because we publish those pieces, too.’ They also have a competition, which is currently open for entries.

Sonder Magazine                                                                                      

Love their blurb: “The realization that each random passerby is living a life as vivid and complex as your own.” Here’s what they say about the magazine: ‘We publish short stories, flash fiction, creative non-fiction and poetry, all based around the individual and how we interact with each other. We want you, the writer, to get into the mind of someone sitting across from you on the Dart home, or the fella who just asked to bum a lighter, or even the Aisling wearing runners to work. Submission guidelines are in the Submissions tab. Have a gander. Slide into our DM’s. See you on the flipside.’ Already smitten!


The Munster version of Poetry Ireland Review, Southword is a print literary journal that publishes new international writing. Southword has published the work of Medbh McGuckian, Helen Ivory, Haruki Murakami, James Lasdun, Kim Addonizio, Tess Gallagher, Colm Tóibín and Vona Groarke, among other acclaimed poets and writers. The 2021 spring issue features prizewinning and shortlisted entries from the Gregory O’Donoghue and Seán O’Faoláin competitions, both organised by The Munster Literature Centre, as well as specially commissioned work. Submissions of poetry and short fiction (for the autumn issue) are open as follows: POETRY: December 1st, 2020 ‒ February 28th, 2021. FICTION: January 1st ‒ March 31st, 202. Although no longer an online journal, the online archives are still available:


Founded in May 2019, Splonk is an online flash fiction journal dreamed up by a group of flash writers in Ireland. The word ‘splonk’ is the anglicised form of the Irish word ‘splanc’: noun fem. flash, spark. A splaincín (derived from splanc) is a spirited, fiery female. The editor is the award-winning author and poet, Nuala O’Connor. I’m including it here because the micro fictions here are pure poetry. Go for this one.


‘Where everything connects’ – a beautiful online journal, curated by Ruth McKee, specialises in ekphrastic responses to visual art. The forthcoming issue (see illustration above) will be in response to the separation of families at the US border. Artists and writers from Ireland and around the world contribute their words and pictures to the magazine by responding to an image or words from the previous issue. I’ve had work in this journal and love both the premise and the product.


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. SurVision have now begun publishing surrealist chapbooks too. they’ve published my chapbook, Invisible Insane and also work of mine in an anthology of surrealist poetry called Seeds of Gravity.

The Bangor Literary Journal                                                    

Another new NI journal, this one is currently on its thirteenth issue. They’re interested in photography, flash fiction and poetry, and welcome hybrid / experimental work. They also have several competitions. Check them out.

The Bohemyth                                                                                    

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. I think it’s on hiatus during the lockdown.

The Dublin Review                                                                       

The Irish Times called this ‘a world-class forum for the literary essay.’ A quarterly magazine of  fiction and non-fiction: essays, memoir, travel writing, criticism. Founded and edited by Brendan Barrington, it is highly regarded. Published in book format and assisted by The Arts Council of Ireland. Although they don’t accept poetry, I couldn’t not include them here.

The Galway Review                                                                      

‘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. I do wish they’d jazz up the look of their website though.

The Haibun Journal                                                                      

The Haibun Journal, launched in Ireland April 2019, is a print journal specialising in the haibun literary form. The journal appears in April and October each year. The editors are: Sean O’Connor, Amanda Bell, Kim Richardson and Paul Bregazzi. Just had my first haibun accepted by them and looking forward to seeing the journal.

The Irish Literary Review                                         

This journal, edited by former BBC journalist and Oxford Creative Writing Masters graduate Catherine Higgins-Moore, features poetry, fiction and interviews and keeps an archive of interviews. Clean. Classy. Currently closed for submissions, but I’m going to keep an eye on this one. 

The Irish Times                                                              

Always worth submitting to this one if you’re unpublished. It’s a big deal to get selected for publication in New Irish Writing at the The Irish Times, as it means you’re in with a chance to be shortlisted for the coveted Hennessy awards. (I was a Hennessy winner, and trust me, there’s nothing like it.) You can email your entry to or post it (with a stamped addressed envelope) to Ciaran Carty, Hennessy New Irish Writing, The Irish Times, 24-28 Tara Street, Dublin 2. Submissions are open to unpublished writers who are Irish or resident in Ireland. All accepted stories will be printed in the Irish Times, as well as being considered for the Hennessy Literary Awards, with prizes of €1500 and €2500, as well as a trophy. And even if you are published, you can submit for the Poem of the Week. They pay contributors.

The Liminal Review                                                                       

Another new one! The Liminal Review is a literature and arts journal that is looking for the things that are made in the in-between spaces. The Liminal Review was founded in December 2020 by Alix Berber and Shauna Smullen. ‘Two queer artists looking to carve out a new space for marginalised voices in Ireland and beyond. The project emerged from a curiosity for the concept of liminal spaces, transition and temporality.’ They’re open to fiction, short prose, reviews, poetry, creative nonfiction, marginalia, and illustrations. 

The Moth Magazine                                                                              

This is a print magazine, associated with the renowned Moth Poetry Prize (one of the biggest prizes in the world for a single unpublished poem) and includes artwork. Slim, but classy. Considered one of the most beautiful and tasteful journals around. Another one to aspire to. Glad I’ve had work published here.

The Ogham Stone                                                                  

This is a literary journal run by the Masters students of English and Creative Writing at the University of Limerick, featuring poetry, art and fiction. I noticed Mary O’Malley’s and Sinéad Morrissey’s names on the masthead.

The Penny Dreadful

‘The Penny Dreadful,’ claim the team, ‘is the highest brow compendium of literature since bald men invented widow’s peaks and we all decided to go along with it.’ Steered by Marc O’Connell, edited by Cethan Leahy and Róisin Kelly. Here’s more of their blurb: ‘So you have managed to navigate the highway that is the byway of the internet and found yourself washed up on the shores of The Penny Dreadful. “The what?” you ask in a simian like fashion, scratching your forehead with your knuckles. Wait here while we fetch you a banana.’ Based in the rebel county of Cork, what more can I say? They accepted my review of Kimberly Campanello’s collection, because, well, it was Kimberly! Two poetry submission rejections though (ouch).

The Pickled Body                                                                    

A clean, aesthetic 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 editors are Dimitra Xidous and Patrick Chapman. Submissions are currently closed, but that could be a lockdown thing.

The Poetry Bus                                   !submissions/cgyc

‘Curating the world artfully, inclusively, fairly.’ claims the journal. Published by Peadar and Collette O’Donoghue. They’ve also published a ‘grimoire’ by Fiona Bolger, and may do more.        I had work published both in print and on the CD that accompanied the substantial journal. And they nominated my poem for the Forward Prize! 

The Stinging Fly                                                                                                     

Founded by Aoife Kavanagh and Declan Meade in 1997, this is one of the most rated journals in Ireland today. Arts Council funded. The Stinging Fly publishes English and Irish poetry and also fiction. The journal has published new work by a number of acclaimed writers such as Simon Armitage, Kevin Barry, Emma Donoghue, Claire Keegan, Toby Litt, Colum McCann, Medbh McGuckian, Paula Meehan, Sinéad Morrissey, Paul Murray, Philip Ó Ceallaigh, Sharon Olds, Keith Ridgway and C.K. Stead. Hard to get into – took me four attempts! But I’ve had work accepted a few times now, and each time, it’s a thrill. The English poetry editor is Eabhan Ní Shuilleabháin. There are also contributing / guest editors such as Sally Rooney, Mia Gallagher, Thomas Morris, Cal Doyle, Danny Denton. They are now publishing books as Stinging Fly Press and have published about twelve award-winning books and anthologies. And they pay contributors.

The Tangerine                                                                          

The Tangerine is a new Belfast-based magazine of new writing. It covers culture and politics, and is published three times a year. ‘We want to read work that challenges and excites us,’ they say.The print journal includes features, reportage, commentary, fiction, poetry, illustration and photography. Submissions are currently closed, but Issue 9 (100 pages) is available to buy online. 

The Waxed Lemon                                                             

Love the name! Based in Wexford and launched in Autumn of last year, The Waxed Lemon is an independent journal looking to publish poetry, short stories, flash fiction, photography, and art. Keep an eye on their Twitter page (above) for information about their upcoming submissions window.

The Well Review                                                                                                       

The Well Review (TWR) was founded in 2016 by Cork native, Sarah Byrne with the support of Christian Carley, Mary-Jane Holmes and Niall Murphy. It was established ‘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 featured work by international poets such as John Burnside, Maram al-Masri, Ellen Bass, Ishion Hutchinson, Kaveh Akbar, Nick Laird, Matthew Dickman and Maggie Smith. They offer online courses too and have begun a printing press. Arts Council funded. Still trying to get into this one. The journal is published in February and September. And they pay. 

The Quarryman                                                  

This is a literary journal, associated with University College Cork. Originally started in 1920, this journal was revived by the 2015 MA creative writing students, and the first, substantial issue  sold out. Submissions are accepted, via their Facebook page, only for those affiliated with UCC, including alumnae. Email them at

Tír na nÓg                                                                                             

This is a new publication for prose and poetry by writers native or local to Galway that engage in an international dialogue. Its first issue can be found online while submissions for its second issue will open soon.

TwoMeter Review                                                             

TwoMeter Review is edited by a Dublin-based American, Beau Williams. Here’s what he says: ‘We are a working-class, grassroots magazine motivated by connection and the elevation of Irish and American voices. We believe poetry is powerful, expressive, poignant, and necessary.’ Submissions for poetry and photography for the second edition are now open. It will be published digitally with physical copies for sale. 

Winter Papers                                                                         

Self-described as ‘a fine cut of a book’, Winter Papers one of Ireland’s foremost arts anthologies, containing fiction, non-fiction, interviews, and in-conversation pieces. It has been described by The Irish Times as ‘a treasure trove of soul fuelled with deep roots in Irish soil’ and was picked as an Irish art book of the year by the Sunday Times. Edited by Kevin Barry and Olivia Smith, its sixth edition was published at the end of last year.



If I’ve left any journals out, please add them, with a link, in the comments below. Thanks. Happy reading and submitting, and please subscribe and support the journals where you can. Where would we be without them?

I want to learn this song by Megan Merchant

I was reading the journal, One, today and stopped at this poem. It gave me such a thrill,

I had to snatch it for my blog. Hope you like it. And go read the journal. It’s always great:

I want to learn this song—

a man tells me he sang it once, in an elevator shaft—
some people just know where the best
acoustics dwell.

I get weepy when I think of it—all graffiti and damp,
a cringe of piss in the air, the song
like a dried dandelion

blown three stories and the bass notes—maintenance,
a few buildings down, with their jackhammers,
knocking out a hunk

of greenspace where the most human parts of us are
allowed to break—cigarettes pinched
between lips—a conspiracy

to keep us from singing. My god, I want to unpack
and spend at least three weeks between
the strings, have someone

slide their fingers across my skin, and while I’m not
usually fond of being muted, I might
forgive that pressure

holding me steady. I tell him that I’m going to return
as a musician in my next life. If I can
grasp a few chords now,

embody the vibrations. If I can learn to move
between frets with a broken string.
I’ll bruise trying.

I’ll press the emergency button between floors.
I’m a raw nerve and that song is a horsehair
brush, splendid.

Megan Merchant is an editor at The Comstock Review and Pirene’s Fountain. Her latest book, Before the Fevered Snow, will come into the world with Stillhouse Press in April 2020

My father moved through dooms of love by e.e. cummings

My father moved through dooms of love by e.e. cummings

My  father moved through dooms of love
through sames of am through haves of give
singing each morning out of each night
my father moved through depths of height

this motionless forgetful where
turned at his glance to shining here;
that if(so timid air is firm)
under his eyes would stir and squirm

newly as from unburied which
floats the first who, his april touch

drove sleeping selves to swarm their fates
woke dreamers to their ghostly roots

and should some why completely weep
my father’s fingers brought her sleep:

vainly no smallest voice might cry
for he could feel the mountains grow

Lifting the valleys of the sea
my father moved through griefs of joy;
praising a forehead called the moon
singing desire into begin

joy was his song and joy so pure
a heart of star by him could steer
and pure so now and now so yes
the wrists of twilight would rejoice

keen as midsummer’s keen beyond
conceiving mind of sun will stand
so strictly(over utmost him
so hugely)stood my father’s dream

his flesh was flesh his blood was blood:
no hungry man but wished him food;

no cripple wouldn’t creep one mile
uphill to only see him smile

Scorning the Pomp of must and shall
my father moved through dooms of feel;
his anger was as right as rain
his pity was as green as grain

Septembering arms of year extend
Yes humbly wealth to foe and friend
Than he to foolish and to wise
Offered immeasurable is

Proudly and (by octobering flame
Beckoned) as earth will downward climb

So naked for immortal work
His shoulders marched against the dark

His sorrow was as true as bread:
No liar looked him in the head;
If every friend became his foe
He’d laugh and build a world with snow

My father moved through theys of we
Singing each new leaf out of each tree
(and every child was sure that spring
Danced when she heard my father sing)

Then let men kill which cannot share
Let blood and flesh be mud and mire
Scheming imagine, passion willed
Freedom a drug that’s bought and sold

Giving to steal and cruel kind
A heart to fear, to doubt a mind
To differ a disease of same
Conform the pinnacle of am

Though dull were all we taste as bright
Bitter all utterly things sweet
Maggoty minus and dumb death
All we inherit, all bequeath

And nothing quite so least as truth
–i say though hate were why men breathe–
Because my Father lived his soul
Love is the whole and more than all.

Got this from Genius. To learn more about the poem, check out their site:

Thanksgiving by Rachel Long


As if by accident, I find my head
washed up window-side of his bed.
After all that fucking, look!
the sky’s still pinned up.
His nose is longer with his eyes shut.
This whole time, I’ve been holding,
squeezing, wringing, folding,
bending, nodding, thank you,
God, for giving me someone who makes me hold
my breath. I will be so light
upon his life he won’t realise
he’s kept me.
I’ll leave not a mark
on his pillow, papers,
knife, DVDs or wineglass.
What blessing
Only when he is sleeping
can I breathe out. So deep
my ribs come up like a ship.

(First published in Mal.)

Rachel’s work has featured in The London Magazine, Magma, & Filigree: An Anthology of Contemporary Black British Poetry. Co-founder and curator of Octavia, she is also the co-translator of O Martelo/The Hammer by Brazilian poet, artist & activist, Adelaide Ivanova, a collection I have reviewed here:

Home by Warsan Shire

no one leaves home unless
home is the mouth of a shark
you only run for the border
when you see the whole city running as well

your neighbors running faster than you
breath bloody in their throats
the boy you went to school with
who kissed you dizzy behind the old tin factory
is holding a gun bigger than his body
you only leave home
when home won’t let you stay.

no one leaves home unless home chases you
fire under feet
hot blood in your belly
it’s not something you ever thought of doing
until the blade burnt threats into
your neck
and even then you carried the anthem under
your breath
only tearing up your passport in an airport toilet
sobbing as each mouthful of paper
made it clear that you wouldn’t be going back.

you have to understand,
that no one puts their children in a boat
unless the water is safer than the land
no one burns their palms
under trains
beneath carriages
no one spends days and nights in the stomach of a truck
feeding on newspaper unless the miles travelled
means something more than journey.
no one crawls under fences
no one wants to be beaten

no one chooses refugee camps
or strip searches where your
body is left aching
or prison,
because prison is safer
than a city of fire
and one prison guard
in the night
is better than a truckload
of men who look like your father
no one could take it
no one could stomach it
no one skin would be tough enough

go home blacks
dirty immigrants
asylum seekers
sucking our country dry
niggers with their hands out
they smell strange
messed up their country and now they want
to mess ours up
how do the words
the dirty looks
roll off your backs
maybe because the blow is softer
than a limb torn off

or the words are more tender
than fourteen men between
your legs
or the insults are easier
to swallow
than rubble
than bone
than your child body
in pieces.
i want to go home,
but home is the mouth of a shark
home is the barrel of the gun
and no one would leave home
unless home chased you to the shore
unless home told you
to quicken your legs
leave your clothes behind
crawl through the desert
wade through the oceans
be hunger
forget pride
your survival is more important

no one leaves home until home is a sweaty voice in your ear
run away from me now
i dont know what i’ve become
but i know that anywhere
is safer than here

In honour of Bloomsday…


(after Molly Bloom in James Joyce’s Ulysses)

Molly Bloom

…yes and then
I touched my finger to his lips
to stroke away the cider,
and put it to mine
and our tongues went plunging
– such a lush sweetness –
the grass so springy-soft on the cliff
and the waves crashing below
and I had to catch my breath
and the night’s perfume drowned
that tang of lamb
and I thought of my first kiss
– what was his name? Johnny? – yes,
his tongue so unexpected,
wriggling like an eel,
but this time it felt different,
and even his silence didn’t matter
when he stared, stared at my breasts
and I let my hair slip loose
like that Cape Town girl,
and you have moonlight in your eyes, he said
so I took him in my hand
and he whispered, would I,
ma petite phalène, he said
and I thought I may as well,
as well him as another,
and the sea was swirling below us in a froth
the sky gorgeous with stars
and I suggested with my eyes
that he ask again
and I knew he would
and I wondered if I’d say yes
and then I urged him down
and he found his way
through all my layers
and I might, I thought, yes
I think I will
say yes.
Yes is © Afric McGlinchey.
First appeared in The Lucky Star Of Hidden Things, published by Salmon (2012). Subsequently published in Poethead.

Image shows Muireann Kelly performing as Molly Bloom in a production of Liberate Ulysses.


Image result for amy acre poet

After David Jones

Mary is blue and turquoise
standing on a hill
geisha cheek and charring
Mary is rain and dusk
planting a bulb with her lips
bare feet in the moss
Mary is doll white
Mary with a lamb
little love
time still before she’ll lose him to the world
the gurning jaws of heaven
spread banquet for the men while she waits outside
but they won’t know his yawn like a baby owl
meerkat snuggle
smell of yeast and balm
Mary blue and brimming
the lamb on her lips
a soft moon
crescent of impossible flesh
Mary gold before the trade-off
before he grew infinite
and how she wore it then
secretly grieving the moon eyes
that would follow her round the room
Mary doesn’t remember what sex with god felt like
only the sting of something snapped
a broken instrument
Joseph’s breath and beard
three men unwrapping
the infant screech of a goat
Mary with thunder that’s worse before the coming
like a week late period
Mary blue immaculate
blanketed boy on her chest
gone and golden
Mary would listen to all his sermons
scan them for in jokes
white smoke
a secret message
but this fucking public man
Mary doesn’t feel holy
stuffing pigskin in bloody knickers
remembers how she bled for weeks after he came
Mary full of wine
not the warm waters of galilee
assistant magi
tipsy and trussed up
leotard shine
Mary and thirteen men on her right hand
Mary with a lamb crackling on a spit
when he blessed her
she wanted to spit in his face
tell him boy
i’m the one who wiped away your shit
when the moon came
she sank her teeth in
praying for the sweet bellied child
she tasted wafer dust
her blue mouth powder stuck
dry as an empty church

First published in Tears in the Fence. Amy Acre is a poet, performer and freelance writer from London, and the editor of Bad Betty Press.

On Platform 3 by Blessing Musariri

Further to the 2018 Harare Literary Festival, this is another of the Zimbabwean poets with whom I’ll be exchanging ideas about Writing and Attention Economy, along with Prof. Etienne van Heerden, Charity Hutete and Sabina Mutangadura, in a panel discussion chaired by Lawrence Hoba.  Blessing and I have quite a bit in common! As well as writing poetry, we both studied journalism at Rhodes University; we both went to Dominican Convents; we worked in advertising agencies as copywriters – and we have the same impulses around trains! Looking forward to meeting Blessing.

On Platform 3

The 3.28 has been cancelled.
I’ve been dropped off and left alone,
no-one likes this side of morning – but I with my love of holiday,
left in singular dread, in a place unusually deserted.
After all, I am not a Lost Boy, wandering through Sudanese nights,
afraid of lions and land-mines. I am in Luton –
well-lit; a target for any passer-by,
who has issues with his mother, but,
it’s the land of CCTV.

They are sorry to announce that
the oh three twenty-eight service to St Pancras
has been cancelled. They should have announced it in my dreams
so I could sleep a little longer.
Time doesn’t tick, but lingers,
drones seamlessly in my ears, bites into skin,
slowing fingers, stiffening limbs,
nibbles at microscopic morsels in my gut until it grumbles.

There’s no one here to answer my questions,
only machines, mouths open for my money.
I’ve walked for miles in tiny circles,
the killer has not come, and still, the tracks are silent.
They don’t announce the loss of the 3.28 anymore,
they are over it now, but I am flying to sea, sun and sand,
I must sit and wait.