Starless, by Patrick Chapman

Starless

Set to amuse an empress of India, diamonds are
not even fruit – but flush with satsumas

alone, try getting someone to love you for
money. Made in the whirl of a stellar

ballet, tangelos yield to the cut of my Japanese
blade. The crush of my hand makes me wonder

how diamond and orange are brought to our shores –
and what old blood we spill into new Mason jars.

PATRICK CHAPMAN has published nine poetry collections since 1991. Other books include a novel, three volumes of stories, and a guide to the work of David Cronenberg. His next poetry collection, The Following Year, appears from Salmon in 2023. He lives in Dublin.

 

Double-speak, by Margaret Kiernan

Double-speak

-after Pablo Neruda, Walking- around.



I am sick of being the target, a patsy for all those money-making swindlers

out on a spin. Those double truthers lisping tongues on the fame game.

The fiddlers on how to write their family history, their gutter minds dawdling.

I am sick of neon-lit evening scenes on a boulevard somewhere, the rich and restless gossipers
sniffle, refuse to be the first to leave, polish off their double-speak.
I am sick of it all, the single supplement, the Friday take-out meal, unclaimed lotteries, and deals.

I’m the one to do tasks in full, only find them send back, again I am too swift.

I give the street beggar my last coins and laugh uproariously when a driver in a Mercedes arrives to fetch him and bring him home.

Today, I read that somewhere, far away, a scutching fire cleansed. End.

Margaret Kiernan

Margaret Kiernan s an Irish author, and a Best of The Net Nominee, for 2021 and 2022. She writes poetry and prose and is widely published. She writes with Over-the-edge, Galway. Her background is in social justice and Diversity.

 

I Said, Pointedly, by Phil Huffy

I Said, Pointedly

Author, watch your language,
avoid the common traps
of amateur expression
and paraphrastic lapse.

Banish inclinations,
when speech you recollect,
to state the speaker’s motive,
describing her affect.

Poet, please consider
this thought as apropos:
You’ll make your meaning clearer
with words that people know.

If you fancy rhyming,
its use must be astute.
Don’t make your grand allusions
a trivial pursuit.
first published at Poetry Super Highway
 

One’s Own, by Kevin Higgins

One's Own
after Virginia Woolf & Father Jack Hackett

My psychotherapist agrees
I need to get to a place
where I think less
about my own arse
and more about other people's.

Like most of you I've long,
on the quiet, been a keen amateur bottomist.
She thinks I should haul it to the next level
become writer-in-residence at a nudist colony
or regular weekend orgy of consenting literary theorists.

And when I retire from that
or, better still, get tossed brutally out the gate
for conduct unbecoming for even
a writer-in-residence at a nudist colony
or weekend orgy of consenting literary theorists

that I must sit by my upstairs window spying
through my hyper-sighted binoculars
the pump action thrusts of morning cyclists;
become so focused on theirs

that, to paraphrase Virginia Woolf, I neglect
entirely that one has, in fact,
an arse of one’s own,
and is indeed sitting on it.

KEVIN HIGGINS is co-organiser of Over The Edge literary events in Galway. He has published six full collections of poems: The Boy With No Face (2005), Time Gentlemen, Please (2008), Frightening NewFurniture (2010), The Ghost In The Lobby (2014), Sex and Death at Merlin Park Hospital (2019), &Ecstatic (2022). His poems also feature in Identity Parade – New British and Irish Poets (Bloodaxe, 2010) and in The Hundred Years’ War: modern war poems (Ed Neil Astley, Bloodaxe May 2014). Kevin was satirist-in-residence with the alternative literature website The Bogman’s Cannon 2015-16. 2016 – The Selected Satires of Kevin Higgins was published by NuaScéalta in 2016. The Minister For Poetry Has Decreed was published by Culture Matters (UK) also in 2016. Song of Songs 2:0 – New & Selected Poems was published by Salmon in Spring 2017. Kevin is a highly experienced workshop facilitator and several of his students have gone on to achieve publication success. He has facilitated poetry workshops at Galway Arts Centre and taught Creative Writing at Galway Technical Institute for the past fifteen years. Kevin is the Creative Writing Director for the NUI Galway International Summer School and also teaches on the NUIG BA Creative Writing Connect programme. His poems have been praised by, among others, Tony Blair’s biographer John Rentoul, Observer columnist Nick Cohen, writer and activist Eamonn McCann, historian Ruth Dudley Edwards, and Sunday Independent columnist Gene Kerrigan; and have been quoted in The Daily Telegraph, The Independent, The Times (London), Hot Press magazine, Phoenix magazine, The Daily Mirror and on The Vincent Browne Show, and read aloud by Ken Loach at a political meeting in London. He has published topical political poems in publications as various as The New European, The Morning Star, Dissent Magazine (USA), Village Magazine (Ireland), & Harry’s Place. The Stinging Fly magazine has described Kevin as “likely the most widely read living poet in Ireland”. Kevin’s poetry has been translated into Greek, Spanish, Italian, Japanese, Albanian, French, Russian, & Portuguese. One of Kevin’s poems features in A Galway Epiphany, the final instalment of Ken Bruen’s Jack Taylor series of novels which is just published. His work has been broadcast on RTE Radio, Lyric FM, and BBC Radio 4. His book The Colour Yellow & The Number 19: Negative Thoughts That Helped One Man Mostly Retain His Sanity During 2020 was published in late 2020 by Nuascealta. His extended essay Thrills & Difficulties: Being A Marxist Poet In 21st Century Ireland was published in pamphlet form by Beir Bua Press last year. In December 2021 Kevin was both expelled from the British Labour Party, of which he was an overseas member, for publishing his poem ‘Tribute Acts’ in Socialist Appeal magazine and, on the very same day, awarded ‘Poet of The Year’ at the Labour Heroes Awards event at Conway Hall, London. This year Kevin received a dozen nominations for the position of Ireland Chair of Poetry – Ireland’s Professor of Poetry. Ecstatic, Kevin’s sixth full poetry collection is just published by Salmon Poetry.

 

What we don’t know the cows know about us, by Bryan Franco

Bryan Franco is a gay, Jewish poet from Brunswick, Maine. He competed with the Portland, Maine Rhythmic Cypher slam team in the 2014 National Poetry Slam in Oakland, California. He has been published in the US, Australia, England, India, Ireland, and Scotland and has featured for poetry events in the US, England, Ireland, and Scotland. He was a finalist in the 2022 NAMI NJ Dara Axelrod Expressive Arts Poetry Contest. He hosts Café Generalissimo Open Mic, is a member of the Beardo Bards of the Bardo poetry troupe, painter, sculptor, gardener, and culinary genius. His book Everything I Think Is All in My Mind was published in 2021 by Read Or Green Books.

 

The Black Nightshade, by Patricia Phillips-Batoma

The Black Nightshade

The butterflies return
to find me stooped
among the landscape stones,
tugging out Fleabane,
unearthing thick stems of sharp Thistle.

This time of year
my neighbors side eye
each other’s yards,
fear that my weeds
might invade their lawns.

Am I at war with a side yard
I’ll never control? It’s tempting
to use Borax, sprinkle wide-spectrum
pre-emergence broadleaf weed block.

Some life forms need little tending.
I pull Oxalis, Ragweed, and Wild Violets
wearing suede gloves
decorated with flowers.

For something so aggravating,
we have the most evocative names.
Doors to little worlds begging.

Down some pricy meat at the Lamb’s Quarter bistro.
Then jingle the brass bell at the Purslane book shop.
Gobble a sundae at Nutsedge, leave with a box of fudge.
And finger the hand-knit cardigans at Velvet Leaf Yarn Barn.

But in all seriousness,
if I owned a watering hole in this town,
I’d call it The Black Nightshade.
Because that’s a place I know you’d go
to find out what’s on tap.
 

Meanwhile, on a Sardinian Beach, by Maeve O’Sullivan

Meanwhile, on a Sardinian Beach

She could be a young writer
this tattooed woman
in a yellow bikini

with laser-like attention
she watches for activity
along the shore

scribbling her thoughts
opinions and observations
into a hardback notebook

her work comes to fruition
much faster than that
of an author however

accosting the offender
in the act of stealing precious sand
she issues the on-the-spot fine.

 

How Spaffer Johnson got his name, by Colin Day

How Spaffer Johnson got his name
(or what I learned from John Wilmot , Earl of Rochester & Catullus )

Eton is a fine and competitive place
our betters arranged in a hierarchy of testosterone,
anticipation on each boy’s privileged and gleaming face
as they wait in thrall for the annual drumming of the bone.

It’s called the masturbatorium in extremis,
held in the dark days of December
a call to arms, firm grip on every penis,
the ultimate test of any patrician’s member.

They stand in line by the fives court wall,
up and over, spectacular arc of ejaculate,
tape measure ready to mark the viscous globules’ fall
distance, height, and consistency to debate.

The record stands where, with a resounding splat,
Johnson hit the far wall, proving beyond dispute,
he’s the man to garner all the loot
indeed that self-regarding institution’s greatest twat.
 

Looming Days of Covid, by Tim Dwyer

LOOMING DAYS OF COVID

Not another nature poem!
So the world shuts down
and suddenly journal after journal
features a 21st century Wordsworth
and a Mary Oliver back from the grave
with a strong dose of mindfulness
and ecopoetry thrown in.

Goodbye gritty streets and dive bars
and meeting on the stoop in Alphabet City
for an after-dinner smoke.
Hello moon and stars, flowers, and birds.

But here in Belfast after my second jab
Titanic Station with trashed streets, cranes
and construction sites on one side,
political murals and churches on the other,
a bell chiming for a lonesome funeral,

here on the tracks,
weedy yellow flowers
push through gravel and railway ties.

I couldn’t tell you their name
as they bend below the trains
passing over.

Dear Mary and Will,
that is the beauty of nature.

(Luke Nilan is a fictional, 75-year-old poet who moved from the East Village, NY to Belfast 10 years ago.)

Tim Dwyer’s poems appear regularly in Irish and UK journals, forthcoming in Allegro, London Grip, and The Stony Thursday Book. His chapbook is Smithy Of Our Longings (Lapwing). Raised in Brooklyn, NY, he now lives in Bangor, NI. These poems are from the unpublished manuscript, Luke Nilan Writes Again.

 

Submit (to poetry magazines) by Brian Kelly

Submit (to poetry magazines)

It’s easier to submit under the covers
Hands shaking a hasty rhythm
Ankles trembling as you click send
Convulsions into the pocketed atmosphere.
Beware the patient person
Who lies eye wide in front of lined white sheets
Empty minds bleached between verges and soft margins,
Where thoughts are an unmanned flock of birds
From hedgerow
Over hedgerow
To hedgerow....
I clip a wing on the drive there,
Ten percent over the legal speed limit
Leaves no discretion on five-foot-wide tarmac.
How insane am I? I wonder
Undiagnosed, I respond.
Stopping, I swing the door open
Step back from the vehicle
And pick up the bird, a crow.
Bringing it home smiling
I nail it to my refrigerator.
Good, another poem.

Brian Kelly is a bean from the west of Ireland who has recently given up his dreams and aspirations in the pursuit of poetry. What were once late night drunken chicken scratchings, etched onto any surface with something preferably sharp, are slowly evolving into bipedal beings traversing dry poetic lands.