BRIEF SNOW TRAILS
by Gary King
Friday morning January 4th 8.15
collection day. Going outside I push
the three wheelie bins to the front of the house
all topped up with the vain Christmas surplus.
Then I discover that night power and the North wind had
mixed. Snow is all around, covering the ground, covering
the estate while overhead the unbroken birds of the New Year
are calling out. Icy wind hits my unshaven face.
I am thinking ‘I am in Iowa!’
Then maybe this morning we are all in Iowa walking
the brief snow trails in the afterglow of Obama’s victory.
But hold on. And aren’t I doing it again?
Isn’t this the clear and present danger?
And aren’t I, in the nice blizzard of Ice, building Gods,
Heroes and vain Icons?
What is truth? We are surrounded by the void.
And is it so wrong to want believe in blood and the Earth
moving through the night air?
Yes! We all know that Gods are mounds of slush
that will melt before the afternoon is reached,
that Heroes are little men hiding in a drawer full of socks.
And those vain Icons are all of us standing in front of the mirror
looking at somebody else.
But whatever about perfection we need our mythologies,
our magic lanterns casting colours on the mute snowman
in the open field.
Wednesday morning January 9th 8.15.
The damp early day. Insincere drizzle crying on the windows.
New Hampshire via my sitting room
I am thinking ‘Are we all back from New Hampshire?’
Back to our daily, individual 2.6% losing margins
back to watching the wet pavements sucking the brightness.
The clouds, however-
may drop more crystals.
Gary King was born in Galway in 1963, where he still lives. His poems have appeared in magazines such as Poetry Nottingham, The Burning Bush, Poetry Monthly, Revival, Crannóg, West 47 and The Journal. A chapbook of his poems, Ambiguous Lights, was published by Over The Edge in 2004. He has been a featured reader at the O'Bhéal, White House and Over The Edge: Open Reading series. He was runner up in the 2007 Poetry Grand Slam at the Cúirt International Festival of Literature. In December he won the 2008 North Beach Poetry Grand Slam and his first collection of poems will be published this year by Doire Press.
by Eva Bourke
Lord, I was on my way at night heading
in the direction of Munich, Sao Paolo, Shanghai,
Mexico City, you remember, that night recently,
and it wasn't yet morning, I saw in the distance
below me something remarkable; in the area
of Berlin I noticed it first: in the inner
courtyards of apartment blocks a weak light
shone, bluish, wavery, and everywhere
through windows, curtains and blinds this blue
glow streamed, unsteady, flickering as water
then it occurred to me: it was election
night in Marzahn and the citizens were making
use of their democratic right
to vote. Behind curtains and blinds the people
of Marzahn were awake, hence the glimmer, thin
and trembling as glimmers of hope usually are.
And as I continued I saw in the backyards
and rows of terraced houses all over
a muted effulgence: people had remembered
their rights and were making their choice.
The pine forests of Brandenburg formed
a black fringe round the lakes in which
pinpoints of blue light were reflected and danced.
Pardon me, what did you say? of course
I am aware that you knew all this since
no one has as many informers as you do.
Will I continue, or have your ears become
deafer from your incessant thundering
than the bedrock of Neptune? As I went on I saw
it was election night not only in Marzahn
but also in Steglitz and Lichterfelde, Kreuzberg
and Hermsdorf, Friedrichshain, Tegel
as well as Wedding. A bluish pulsating
garland was slung round Berlin winding
its way along boulevards and through lanes.
I saw my friend, the egyptologist in Dahlem
in its glow, the lady from the flowershop
in the Zossenerstrasse, the Celiks and all their
four children, Selim, Hatice, Mohammad
and Mustafa, the Tunisian wizards from the
computer shop, my Polish family doctor,
the beautiful waitress from the pizzeria, the young
woman from the check out in the supermarket.
From their windows dimly flickering
lights seeped and spread like wild fire.
In the Marzahns of the whole earth was election
night, the suburbs of Cleveland and Detroit
where people live in cars together
with their dogs, cats and budgies, wash
in gas station loos because their houses
have been repossessed. The will-o-the-wisp like
light shone everywhere, muted, irridescent .
the desparate tubercular glimmer of hope
illuminated the banks of Lake Victoria
where fishes are running out of air and the
children pick the last shreds from maggoty
fish skeletons, piled high as hills and abandoned
by European exporters, where they boil
glue from the bones and sniff it to fly
far from their hopeless existence. I saw it
in Cairo glistering in the lanes of the old town
where bakers tip sawdust into the bread dough
because there's not enough flour for the poor,
in the sugar cane fields of Brazil, cultivated
especially for bio-fuel, that constantly swallow
more land driving the farmers from their
small homesteads; it was wherever agricultural
labourers are sprayed daily with pesticide
from helicopters, where families live on rubbish
tips and children in sweat shops sew
sports clothes or winter coats and fashion
for global discount stores for starvation wages.
In Managua I noticed the flicker in many
of the card board huts where ten-year-olds
carry building blocks twelve hours a day
for one single dollar so they can feed
their small brothers and sisters, I saw it
where street kids are forced to be streetwalkers,
where girls and boys sell themselves
for a pittance to tourists. I saw it where people
live among the rubble of their bombed-out
houses in Lebanon and Gaza and it lit up
thousands of messages, written to you
who never reads them, and stuck into the crevices
of the Wailing Wall in Jerusalem. The cyanotic
marvellous light shone in the windows
of my friends in Boston, the entire East Coast
of the US glittered like an enormous fireworks
display. You should have seen it: the sea
was still rigid and black as cold lava but New England
lay beneath fringes of a celestial lustre.
Open your tired slumbering eyes, Lord,
you, too, ought to draw a glass from the well
of promise. It's time to stop setting traps
for pharaohs or testing the loyalty of your
devoted friends beyond all endurance
while you continue eating your alphabet soup
whose letters spell nothing but M-I-S-E-R-Y
for another billion years. Don't only listen
to the prophets of doom with their knights
on horseback, their deaths and devils,
their hollow-headed memento moris
and old Adams. Yes, perhaps it's too much
to hope a human could make the tiniest
dent in the iron progress of history,
gently - or not so gently - pull a chair from
under the over-sized bottoms of people,
who sit on three, and give them to those
who stand, run, carry and bend all their lives,
twist a few bulbs from the chandeliers
of the ones in the light for those in darkness.
A human being is only human, you say
and we all know that their hands are tied
and that the guillotine of lies hangs above
every simple honest word. But allow us
this hope for a while, as you allow the dreamer
to pursue his dream to the end, and the poet
his vision of bright roomy tents in the desert
and a radiant city that stretches along the
shore of the sea in front of the towering
snow peaks of Africa, of coasts full of sails
and rigging, tall ships, barges and boats.
Eva Bourke was born in Germany but has lived in Ireland for many years.Her poetry collections are Gonella (Galway, Salmon Publishing, 1985, with drawings by Jay Murphy); Litany for the Pig (Salmon Publishing, 1989); Spring in Henry Street (Dublin, Dedalus, 1996); Travels With Gandolfo (Dedalus, 2000); and The Latitude of Naples (Dedalus,2005). A teacher and translator, she is also the editor of a major dual language English/German anthology of Irish poetry entitled In Green Ink/Mit Gruner Tinte (1996). She has received a number of awards and bursaries fromTheArtsCouncil. She lives in Galway.
by Susan Millar DuMars
He stood right there
on that bald patch of grass.
I was working,
got real close to him.
Behind us, the Mississippi
slaps the bank.
In front of us, the hard dome
of St. Louis Courthouse.
Slaves were auctioned
on its side door steps.
Dred Scott sued for his freedom here --
the Supreme Court called him
“an ordinary article of merchandise”
and handed him back to his master.
I got real close to him,
had a great view.
The black security guard
smiles as he remembers.
a hundred thousand people.
I think so.
Susan Millar DuMars was born in Philadelphia in 1966. Her first full collection of her poetry is Big Pink Umbrella (Salmon Poetry, 2008).Her short stories have been published as American Girls (Belfast, Lapwing, 2007).In 2005 she received an Irish Arts Council Bursary for her fiction.She lives in Galway.
Restructuring, Going forward
by Dave Lordan
Of course, the ultimate benchmarking exercise is war
Forget the friggin paint-ball.
Ayurvedic chanters- Take a hike!
I say to give the third floor EA's a taste
of real-world conditions.
Pack them off in a helicoptor to Helmand
See where their union guff will get them
in a sandstorm
at 46 degrees
Let's hear the buggers bleating about pensions and insurance
when they've got to amputate their own limbs
Won't that put a halt to their gallop!
Talk to the hand buddy, talk to the hand..tshh shh shh shh
or is it a foot? Hee-Hee-Hee
Just one week
of natural selection
from the air
the market leader way
then the second interview, of course
Think I'm nuts? I'm just on what someone somewhere called the know
tough enough to look beyond
(It's cold here.
The cold raw hand of the future is smacking my face.)
Dave Lordan is originally from Clonakilty in West Cork, but now lives in Dublin. His first collection of poems, The Boy In The Ring (Salmon Poetry, 2007), was shortlisted for this year's Irish Times/Poetry Now Award and won the Strong Award for best first collection by an Irish poet.
BARACK OBAMA (ELECTED)
by Aidan Hynes
Maybe we can dream again
as Martin Luther King reminded us:
somehow this situation can and will be changed.
Let Barack Obama assure us change
will mean more than one voice speaks for us,
that the stories of the dead will unfold
as they are laid to final rest from the terrors of shock and awe,
make us believe the wetting squad will be put out to pasture
somewhere hot and quiet to write their messy memoirs
of rendezvous to torture basements in foreign capitals,
maybe we can have our politics back, explain to ourselves
how democracy becomes a bully when spurned
by millions of peace marchers – the pawns of dictators,
remind ourselves again how a broken down truck in a desert
allowed a coalition of the willing to pummel an ancient city.
Let us watch the first American black president
put his hand on his heart
and swear to God to rise like the proverbial bird
spreading wings of change over a regime’s raging fire.
Aidan Hynes is an occasional poet and anthologised short fiction writer. He was runner up in the 2007 Over The Edge New Writer of The Year competition.
GREAT MEN - A Villanelle
by Maureen-Eilish Purcell
Great men walk cautiously through the dark woods
While enemies are watching through the hedgerow
Do not listen to whispering falsehoods.
No-one like you has stood where you stood
Tread safely amongst the shadows.
Great men walk cautiously through the dark wood.
When picking up the inherited driftwood,
Embrace the souls of war in their sorrow
Do not listen to whispering falsehoods.
The world is standing proud with all that is good,
Do not forget the tortured waiting in Guantanamo.
Great men walk cautiously through the dark wood
This is our moment, your moment of Knighthood.
Autumn leaves to some have left them feeling hollow
Do not listen to whispering falsehoods.
We witnessed ‘King’s Dream’ and yours from boyhood,
We will share in the elation for your tomorrow.
Great men walk cautiously through the dark wood,
Do not listen to whispering falsehoods.
Maureen-Eilish Purcell lives in Bannons Cross after returning to Ireland in 2000 after living in Australia for 32 years. She is a member of the Creative Writing Club in Dundalk Library facilitated by Barbara Smith. She loves writing poetry and was an active participant in the Jim Craven Poet Song Festival.
by Gemma Marren
Inside Michelle’s Private World
Sweet and Intimate Details
Her Date Nights With Barack
What She’s Really Like
Her Hair Wins Votes
Michelle Looks Amazing in Yellow
Style Watchers Divided
How To Get Her Look
White House Glamour
Her Flair For Style and Bold Colour
Brings a Freshness to Political Fashion
And Comparisons to Jackie O
A Family in Tune
Look Out D.C.
Stylish Quartet Coming to Town
This poem was constructed using headlines from OK USA. Gemma Marren was born in the UK to Irish parents, but now lives in Claremorris, Co. Mayo. She has taken both the Creative Writing for Beginners and Intermediate Creative Writing courses at Galway Technical Institute. She has read her work at the Over The Edge open-mic.
Not the words of enemies, but the silence of friends
by Michael Conneely
"In the end we will remember not the words of our enemies but the silence of our friends." Martin Luther King Jr.
Cold hand upon cold pint,
The white above the black.
I sip and watch and wait.
Along the bar we are three.
The two and I.
In stillness we watch.
Star spangled smiles and nursery rhymes.
Swollen words throw shivers.
We sit and watch and wait.
Commemorative glances cast to and fro
A whisper cannot pass.
Lincoln, Kennedy, King.
We sit and watch and wait, and hope.
Peter stands to set the spark.
Timbers set, as fire begins to grow.
What thoughts pass a landlord's mind.
We sip and sit and wonder.
“The wrong colour for start”
As a finger gun takes aim.
And I sit and watch and wait.
And silence from my lips,
And I sit and watch and wait.
Michael Conneely recently participated in the Intermediate Creative Writing Class at Galway Technical Institute. He also writes fiction.
American Kilmainham Kenyan
by Desmond Swords
No jot of wind to stir the leaves
on a hush November night
only fourteen silent ghosts
from a gaol down the road
whispering of slavery
inequality and doubt -
that the freedom
of humanity’s inalienable
to believe this love now
John MacBride and Pádraic
Pearse, Thomas Clarke
and Éamonn Ceantt
is the poetry unfolding
on a cold November night
Con Colbert, Joseph Plunkett,
Seán Heuston and Willie Pearse
who move within the canopy
dissolving tyranny and fear
James Connolly, Seán MacDermott,
Michael Mallin and Rosa Parkes
faced on a bus in Alabama
Little Rock - Arkansas
and on the day of execution
of the life but not idea
Thomas MacDonagh - Michael
O’Hanrahan and Edward
Daly forged, for a people
with their blood, into belief
the whole world loves
a creed of hope, for freedom
and peace to live.
Desmond Swords is an Irish-Lancastrian poet from Ormskirk, who has lived in Dublin since 2004. He has been writing for eight years, with a passion for Irish mythology. He participated in the Poetry Ireland Introductions series in 2006.
Sing it, Barack
by Marie Cadden
Only this unique hybrid -
because he has known
of the half-cast,
of the muslim,
of the christian,
of the african,
of the caucasian,
of the afro american -
of the colour-blind,
can own that song
and sing it.
Marie Cadden lives in Galway. She is a participant in the Advanced Poetry Workshop at Galway Arts Centre. Her poems have appeared/been accepted for publication by magazines such as Revival and The Shop. Marie will be a Featured Reader at the February 2009 Over The Edge: Open Reading.
by Susan Lindsay
This is the day the world changed
shake the skeletons of hope
put flesh on bare bones
prepare new ground
it is time
when the last sparks
dreams come true
it can take generations
weed out despair
as shoots of a world imagined
Susan Lindsay was born in Dublin but now lives in Galway. She is a participant in the Advanced Poetry Workshop at Galway Arts Centre, and read her poems at the Over the Edge: Open Readings, the Baffle Festival, the Cuirt Poetry Slam and North Beach Poetry Nights. In December 2005 Susan won the RTE Carol of Our Times competition, and her work was put to music by the RTE Concert Orchestra. In 2008 she was recently shortlisted for the Valentines Day Sonnet Competition sponsored by Tig Neactains’.
No colour bar
by Kevin Carmody
Black man in the white house
White man in the black house
Living on welfare
Looking for action
On the brain
Cops on the beat
All is fair
White man in the black house
Black man in the white house
Kevin Carmody has read at open-mics at Westside Library and Galway City Library. He has also attended a couple of Kevin Higgins’s writing workshops.
by Deirdre Kearney
(Fulmuth Kearney, Great, great, great grandfather of Barack Obama left Moneygall Co Offaly for America in 1850)
Not for you the lengthy search for roots
No griot to recite your people
No Tecora brought your people here
No chains or famine drove you
No coffin ships ploughed the seas
No ship manifests, no Bills of Sale,
No hunting through plantation records
To find your forbears in a livestock register
But a souper, seeking the fair land,
A jumper for a bowl of soup
Chasing hopes and dreams
Far from Moneygall, grove of foreigners.
And from Kogalo, Lake Victoria
And chickens round the door
Came a young man on a scholarship
This Icarus flew over lake and sea
Not chained in a hold
Keening to his God
Pleading death before dry land.
"Nyasaye duong,” God is great,
by Deirdre Kearney
In a town in Offaly they are singing
There’s no one as Irish as Barack O’Bama
For the descendant of a shoe maker
Who left one day, never looking back.
Nears the shores of Lake Victoria Nyanza
A large mass of shimmering water,
People slaughter sheep and goats
In celebration of a victory far away.
Raila Odinga sends five bulls and
A message of congratulations.
Mamma Sarah draws water from the well
Near the school named after her grandson.
On the shores of Lake Michigan
mishigami, great sparkling water
The ghost of Ulysses S. Grant watches
Men and women weep with joy
For the man they said was not black enough.
(Co Offaly, (pop. 299) November 4th 2008)
by Deirdre Kearney
The newly re-branded
Obama set dancers have landed
To practice their steps for
The Moneygall Tumbler.
They spark the flags, give it a lash.
Ollie Hayes is raking in the cash.
The lads in the band are giving it welly
Struggling to be heard over the telly.
Mark my words, one day, they’ll be big
But nothing can beat their upcoming gig.
The Presidential inauguration party
In, where else, but Washington DC
For the Irish American Democrats.
Those cute hoors and fat cats
Were quick off the mark, that’s a fact
Before Universal got in on the act.
They’ll sing for the President, no doubt,
And the Offaly crew will be raising a shout.
The invite is issued, ‘tis plain to be seen
Come home to Erin, Barack mavourneen.
Deirdre Kearney is originally from Omagh, County Tyrone, but has lived in Galway since 1983. She is a participant in the Advanced Poetry Workshop at Galway Arts Centre. Her poems have been published in West 47, Cúirt New Writing 2007, The Ulster Herald, Crannóg, Words on the Web, Tinteán, Australian-Irish Magazine- Treóir, Comhaltas Ceoltóirí Éireann magazine, the Over the Edge website & Galway Exposed. She was a Featured Reader at the May 2008 Over The Edge: Open Reading, having previously read her work at the Over the Edge Open-Mic, Westside Library, The Galway Arts Centre Nuns’ Island Studio, the Poets for Oxfam launch in Galway in 2006 and North Beach Poetry Nights.
by Gary Beck
Time, whose hands
intent on strangulation
grip him, day to day,
an old man
remembering a young man
who now must mourn
the passing of power
and reluctantly succumb
to the judgment of history.
Gary Beck has spent most of his adult life as a theater director and worked as an art dealer when he couldn't earn a living in the theater. He has also been a tennis pro, a ditch digger and a salvage diver. His chapbook Remembrance was published by Origami Condom Press and The Conquest of Somalia was published by Cervena Barva Press. A collection of his poetry Days of Destruction has been published in 2009 by Skive Press. His original plays and translations of Moliere, Aristophanes and Sophocles have been produced Off Broadway and toured colleges and outdoor performance venues. He currently lives in New York City, where he's busy writing. His poetry and short stories have appeared in numerous literary magazines.
by Eileen Byrne
“Change has come.”
I hope you change the world like you said.
Martin Luther King, Nelson Mandela,
to the many others who fought verbal wars,
who refused to sit at the back of the bus.
Equality for all – race, colour, creed, sexual orientation.
Let’s all unite.
From the United States of America to Kenya to Moneygall
all come together and rejoice.
Bogey Peak has been renamed Mount Obama after you.
Mr Daring, please make the change.
Cut taxes, give your people affordable health care.
Look after the children in your land.
Bring the troops home.
Eileen Byrne has attended the Mayo Writers Block in Claremorris and the Beginners Poetry Workshop at Galway Arts Centre.
The State of America
by Rosanna Guneratne
Out of the kaleidoscopic mix
Of Black and White and Blue and Red
Comes the papier maché king
The stars can shine.
The stripes can shimmer
The slate is clean
America is a place where all things are possible
His hands can heal in one victorious wave
“Mr President” this is your Camelot
Reflected in the armoured glass
Crisp white robes assemble
Black hearts full of hate lie
And wait and wait and wait
Rosanna Guneratne is a mature student studying English Literature and Creative Writing at Kingston University in her second year as a part-time student. She previously worked in television as an entertainment producer on TV-AM and GMTV before having children and then re-training as a florist and then embarking on her current degree.
I have a …
by Steve Ely
I have a dream that one day this nation will rise up
… the Honorable Elijah Muhammad taught me whites
were devils, created in the lab by Doctor Yakub.
and live out the true meaning of its creed:
My experience concurred: crackers claimed me
all-American when I took the gold in Rome,
“We hold these truths to be self-evident;
spat, “Move over nigger,” on the sidewalks at home.
I threw my medal in the river and bounced back dancing.
that all men are created equal.”
The whole world, from Kinshasa to Quezon City, agreed:
the Greatest of All Time. Won’t ever be another like me;
I have a dream that my four children
Tyson doesn’t come close. And don’t talk up them honkies:
even my daughter can whup that stiff Vitaly Klishko
will one day live in a nation where they will not
… I was a gift to those country club GOP bigots:
the perfect front man - a jig to the right of Attila the Hun;
be judged by the color of their skin
he’ll take his panga to welfare, affirmative action,
chop single parents and Roe vs Wade.
but by the content of their characters.
They said I was under La Scalia’s thumb, in awe of the great man;
it was a meeting of minds, no more and no less.
I have a dream today. I have a dream
Of course, our self-appointed ‘community leaders’ had their say –
I should be pulling more strings for the ‘brothers’:
that one day every valley shall be exalted,
maybe the ‘brothers’
should pull some damn strings for themselves.
every hill and mountain shall be made low,
… I was wasted, man, fallin’ down drunk. Nob’dy’d drive me home
so I tole ‘em go fuck an’ started to walk. I was weavin’ an’ reelin’
the rough places shall be made plain
an’ den in dis truck drinkin’ beer wid some peckers. Don’t know how.
‘fore I knew it, dey was walin’ on me wid tire irons.
and the crooked places will be made straight,
Dey chained me to de tow-bar an’ pushed it into drive…
… two white guys in a silver Chevy pulled over, asked directions to a club;
and the glory of the Lord shall be revealed,
one pulled a gun and forced me in. They drove me to the river
where they stabbed me and stomped me and crushed me with a log.
and all flesh shall see it together.
They hung me from a camphor tree, across the street
from the Kleagle’s house, between the parked cars and left out trash.
This is our faith. With this faith we will be able
… everything I say, I believe it when I say it,
even those things that contradict the other things I said.
to hew out of the mountain of despair
I get caught up in the moment, I’m an enthusiast!
Steadman understands me, he’s a rock.
a stone of hope. With this faith we will be able
I might have more money than Reginald Lewis,
but don’t ever forget my sainted African victimhood.
to work together, to pray together,
I’d like to thank my heroes and inspirations:
African-American men who aren’t afraid to be fathers
to struggle together, to go to jail together,
to their children, Alice and Toni, Dr. Atkins and Dr. King.
And the white folks? You love me too; don’t you?
to stand up for freedom together,
… hey dawg, I’ll admit it. I ain’t da best role model
ever come out Sacramento. I dropped outta school,
knowing that we will be free one day.
racked up busts, done some jail time. Dat day I bin
smoking endo, sipping on gin and juice,
And if America is to be a great nation,
’fore topping it off with PCP and jumpin’ in da car.
You know da rest: I made CNN, South-Central went up,
this must become true. So let freedom ring
I scored 3.8 million from da LAPD. I blew it on la vida loca, dawg,
ended back on welfare. What else a nigga gone do?
from the mighty mountains of New York.
What they did to me weren’t right, but I ain’t complainin’:
I had my fifteen minutes.
Let freedom ring from the snowcapped rockies
… if the glove don’t fit, you must acquit.
The brothers came through for me, though I never
of Colorado, from the curvaceous peaks
went big on that African thing myself. I was happy enough
in Beverley Hills, schmoozing with Spelling
of California. But not only that;
and scoring with starlets. That bikini-tan bitch
pushed my buttons; in the end I cut the skank loose.
let freedom ring from Stone Mountain, Georgia,
Yeah, I slapped her some to keep her in line, but I swear
I never killed her. Probably it was some drug thing,
every hill and molehill of Mississippi
‘round the mobbed-up fags she was with:
you know what they say: if the glove fits, wear it.
and Tennessee; from every mountain,
… guess the first sign was writing that song to my rat;
after that I seemed to hold it together,‘til Off the Wall went supernova
let freedom ring. When we let freedom ring,
and I couldn’t get hard for Brooke Shields;
Diana was a shoulder to cry on and I fixed on her some,
from every village and every hamlet,
got my nose done just the same. After Thriller things
got scary; I started to freak; got myself cut
from every state and every city
to look like Liz Taylor and bleached out the black
from my African skin. Now I sleep in a bubble with a chimp
we will be able to speed up that day
and a llama, hold sleepover parties for pre-pubescent kids.
I feel like John Merrick, Edward Scissorhands, Jesus.
when all of God’s children, black men and white men,
… no Iraqi ever called me nigger
but I bombed them anyway,
Jews and Gentiles, Protestants and Catholics
me and this skull-and-bones,
stammering redneck. When you get to the top
will be able to join hands and sing
it’s not the skin that matters, or the company
you keep, but keeping what you’ve worked for.
in the words of the old Negro spiritual,
It’s not like I’m ashamed or that I don’t know
I’m running with closet pointy-heads,
“Free at last! Free at last! Thank God Almighty,
but my wardrobe’s spilling Chanel suits and the book
will draw a cool five mill. Who knows, I might get to run myself …
free at last”
Steve Ely is an English writer interested in exploring issues such as identity, extremism, crime and transgression. Other extracts from his epic poem JerUSAlem have been published in a range of litzines, including Beat the Dust, Laura Hird Showcase, Dogmatika, Geometer and Black Mail Press. Other poems and short stories by Ely have been published in Literary Chaos, Lit Up, Lilies & Cannonballs Review, the Savage Kick, The Slab of Fun, Magma and elsewhere.
Prayer for Obama
by Lucie Kantorova
May you answer rightly to the Lord
May you have the same desire as the king Solomon
May wisdom be your constant companion
And all the nations raise their voices
To praise the Lord for you
May queen of Sheba visit you in your dreams
And you answer all her questions
Nothing is too hard for you
May the goodness and mercy of the Lord
Follow you all the days of your life
No righteous man would be ever disappointed in you
For life begot life
Love begot love
Peaceful day begot peaceful day
Blessed nation begot blessed nation
Lucie Kantorova is a mature student of Creative writing at NUI Galway. She is in her mid thirties and the mother of 14 year old boy. She came over three years ago to Galway from the Czech Republic. She hopes to learn how to write and translate books and in the future to build a bridge between Czech and Irish literature.
by Kevin Higgins
Scotch tape and anthrax.
Yellow alerts and Michael Moore.
Hanging chads and Scooter Libby.
Non sequitors and orange jumpsuits.
“Let’s just say where they are now
they won’t be bothering us.” Vice
President Cheney offering
himself the contract. “In Texas
we just call that walkin’.”
Two thousand nine hundred
and twenty two days of saying no
to you has left me hopelessly
in love with what you provoke. Tonight
I smile along with the rest,
as history takes a red pen
to my dreams of more. Inside,
I’m six years old and watching
the bouncy castle be taken away
after the best birthday ever.
This morning, for the last time,
the whole table listened when I spoke.
Tomorrow, I begin my new career
as a set of wind up chattering teeth
abandoned years ago in the bottom drawer.
Kevin Higgins is co-organiser of Over The Edge. He facilitates poetry workshops at Galway Arts Centre; teaches creative writing at Galway Technical Institute and is Writer-in-Residence at Merlin Park Hospital. He is the poetry critic of the Galway Advertiser. His first collection of poems The Boy With No Face was published by Salmon in February 2005 and was short-listed for the 2006 Strong Award. His second collection, Time Gentlemen, Please, was published in March 2008 by Salmon. One of the poems from Time Gentlemen, Please, ‘My Militant Tendency’, features in the Forward Book of Poetry 2009. A recent poem of his, ‘Ourselves Again’, appeared in Best of Irish Poetry 2009 (Southword Editions). His work will be featured in the forthcoming anthology Identity Parade – New British and Irish Poets (Bloodaxe, 2010).
The Black Man in the White House
by Trisha McKeon
He sits astride a white house
Leading his oil soaked, battle weary soldiers
Home from the East
Where the antemundane debris of existence
Wash about their feet.
Home will never be the same
It has entered the apocalyptical era of
Tighten your credit crunched belts
On your morbidly obese
Taco Bell, Dunkin Donuts, Mc Donalds
He is here to svelty lead you
Beyond your white trailer trash world
Where Jerry Springer is god.
His first lady wears her ancestral slave hood
As a badge of honour
Dare you call her ‘nigger’.
Lay down your guns
Come out now from your projects and
Hail your new king.
Trisha McKeon was born in Co. Clare in 1961 and is currently living in Galway. Having written privately for years, she attended two workshops with David Rice in Killaloe Hedgeschool early in 2008. When she arrived in Galway this September she quickly signed up for a Creative Writing Course in GTI with Kevin Higgins. She looks forward to further exploring the world of writing both poetry and prose in 2009.
by Mary Guckian
Finished reading your book Dreams of My Father
Born in America, African and Irish blood in your veins
Part of your childhood lived in Indonesia,
Your worldly background, Muslim, Christian, a gifted writer
your decision to work with out of work people in Chicago.
Unselfish you studied law in the hope of helping
to make the lives of these poor more bearable.
Working your way to become American President
in two thousand and nine, your intelligence flows you draw
us all together irrespective of colour, class or religion.
Every person needs respect, a place to live, to grow, to study,
health services, food, environment need protection,
we crave a better life, we need peace, yet cannot expect you
to perform miracles, we must help you, rid ourselves of racism.
Make toilets for travellers, homes for Africans,
equality for women in Muslim countries, dignity for people
who have problems and commit crimes, your leadership qualities
will ennoble us, help more countries become more democratic.
I wish you safety, good health, strength to deal with sensitivities
for the world that come across in your writing, so happy you share
part of our ancestors, good luck to Michelle and your daughters.
Mary Guckian was born in 1942 in County Leitrim in Ireland. She currently works in the library of the Institute of Public Administration in Dublin. Throughout a life of participation she with in the arts, she has published poetry and fiction and is also an accomplished photographer whose work has been exhibited ion a number of locations. Her photographs of rural Ireland formed part of a postcard series available in Ireland in the 1980s. She has won awards for her poetry, which has appeared in a number of literary journals, including Acorn, Books Ireland, and Women’s Work. A selection of her work is also included in the innovative anthology Quartet which emerged from her time as a member of the Rathmines Writers’ Group and her longer poems have been broadcast by the RTE and Anna Livia Radio. She has published two books, Perfume of the Soil and The Road to Gowel.