from Issue #8: Poetry by Mary MacPherson

Photo (CC) noricum @ Flickr

Photo (CC) noricum @ Flickr

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Mary MacPherson’s poems “Threads” and “Subtraction” are presented here as a special PDF to preserve their unique formatting. Click here to read them.

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ABOUT THE POET

MARY MACPHERSON is a poet and photographer from Wellington, New Zealand. She has an MA in Creative Writing from Victoria University and her work has appeared in many print and online journals. More information is available on her blog, marymacphoto.wordpress.com or website, marymmac.weebly.com

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from Issue #8: Poetry by Kerrin P. Sharpe

Photo (CC) steve p2008 @ Flickr

Photo (CC) steve p2008 @ Flickr

 *

to qualify as a search diver

she releases her hair
plants candles in the sea

grows fins of broom
and toi-toi imagines

her husband on a shore-line
somewhere say bay head beach

his thin face shaved
by small tongues of spume

imagines him the complete
angler with the anatomy

of a salmon imagines
how sirens of krill

tow his dinghy the mad hun
into a sound drowned valley

so the road home never darkens

.

*

.

to see Venice you only need a mask

even though Turner’s mask
was a thin wash of lilac rain
the artist always longed
to set fire to Venice

at first he dragged
undiluted paint across paper
then scratched out
any impression of water

his father known
for his spare ribs
remembers the smoke of stars
strokes of people
luminous hollow hair

refugees of Venetian history
doctors who didn’t quack
doges horologists glassblowers
became flames of tonal lilac

there was no need
to add body colour
Venice was an inferno
and what his painting forgave
from this fusion of embers

remained behind
the confessional grille
with the lilac Priest

.

*

.

photos of Raymond

though there are photos
of Raymond’s academic
surgery and lab gowns

he still shouted doctor
when he discovered
his son in the pool

though Raymond gave us a fridge
an unknown illness
still swallowed his wife

there are photos of Raymond
at the cemetery
with 100 blue moon roses

the morning my mother
couldn’t wake Raymond
I dreamt there were photos

of all his pills
on polka-dot saucers
whenever I think

of Raymond’s photos
there’s always a blackbird
I call the doctor

at my window

.

*

ABOUT THE POET

KERRIN P. SHARPE’s first book, three days in a wishing well, was published by Victoria University Press in 2012. A group of her poems also appeared in Oxford Poets 13 (Carcanet).  A second book, there’s a medical name for this, was published by Victoria University Press in 2014. At present, she is completing her third collection, rabbit rabbit, with the assistance of a Creative New Zealand grant. Kerrin lived for many years in Wellington, New Zealand, where she completed the Victoria University course (IML) in creative writing. She now lives in Christchurch and, as well as writing herself, teaches creative writing. Her students have had many writing successes and she is very proud of them all.

from Issue #6: Poetry by Stephen Oliver

Photo from the author's private collection

Photo from the author’s private collection

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Editor’s note: scroll down to listen to recordings of Stephen Oliver reading two of his poems published in this issue.

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Amongst Vine Leaves

…………………………………………….for Pina Ricciu

She is young, your mother amongst vine leaves—
head thrown back in a gesture of sensual impatience,
for the harvest festival, maybe, her face belonging
to sunlight that falls low over the hill where she stands
amongst the vine leaves on a Sardinian hillside,
close by her village—dreams as clear and bright as

the air which envelops her. She feels she ought to be
elsewhere, amongst laughter and song, and all the
young men of the village circling her in slow dance—
as in a tryst she would make with herself in the
bedroom mirror—the scented breath of night, cool
and secretive, she dreams of her lover who will carry

her away to far off places of fashion and glitter
promised by American movies, long silvery streets seen
from skyscrapers, New York accents, the sun warm
upon her bare arms, she stands forever in the vineyard
in that black & white photo, leaves autumn dry, ready
to drift and scatter about her feet, at harvest time.

*

House of Occlusion

…………………………………….After reading Tatiana Shcherbina

Left open long enough spiders will weave these
windows shut, then my world would become a web,
as though I were peering back through old age
as if through gauze, not knowing if that glimmer lies
behind or ahead of me. So I consider my imagined
blindness from plan-view. Is focus an inward,
or outward speculation on this house of occlusion?
Spider spells it out in web letters, by a lexicon of
intersections, through hollow-eyed caves of the dead.
‘Buried in our lives we are governed by ghosts.’
My windowsills remain a battleground, bits thrown
about, shattered insignia of the housefly abound.
Yellow and crimson grains of sunset make an altar,
as the oblatory spider pays fully the lares et penates.

.

*

The Vendors

It was only upon reflection. The glimpse suggested light welling up from the darkness of the storm water drain had shifted his orientation. All the translucent icicles melted so that what lay before him was indefinable as grey sludge. The monitor into which he gazed, a digital crystal bowl, only gave back to him a myriad of distractions at any one time. These annulled every question he might have asked had he understood the need for one. As if an answer were necessary to his investigation. But what might this disclose?

            Images and banners passed before him in procession over the plains of the monitor like a mediaeval pageant or armies on the move. Then he realized it was nothing more than the market-place rabble. Vendors selling their wares silently as if in a mime. Only at the farthermost stalls, on the outer circle, could be heard the sound of something abandoned as though an echo had bounced and broken. He knew then agitation as movement had replaced focus. There was little danger—for the crowd would not cohere and no one sought common purpose. As long as he held onto this one notion he knew that retreat into something he had forgotten was possible.

.

*

Kitchen Table

……………………………..“Kitchen tables—where would us poets
……………………………..be without them?”
……………………………………………………………..—Peter Olds

The question now arises, how to make a poem
at a kitchen table? Only a small space is required
between the clutter of the last meal and the HP bottle
of sauce bullying the mustard pot next to it.
Should the palette feel jaded, a pinch of angst
and emptiness is recommended. Broken love affairs
are an excellent ingredient, as binding as broken
eggs. To this, add four drunken nights, and possibly an
argument with an estranged partner over not
too much in particular—a desiccated sprinkling
of laughter is optional to add a piquant flavor to the
mix. Beat in one old flame with one tablespoon
of hard luck and low expectations; as to additional
emotional sweeteners, half one disastrous gaff
with a potential partner, and stir well. Let the mix
‘rest’ for a while (for some it is a lifetime) then
spoon contents into one baking dish. Set the Oven of
Retribution at 90 °F and bake for 40 minutes.
Prod with thin skewer to check for moisture levels.
Stand for about 10 minutes and garnish with the milk
of human kindness. Serves all who sit and wait.

*

ABOUT THE POET

Stephen Oliver is the author of 17 volumes of poetry. Travelled extensively. Signed on with the radio ship The Voice of Peace broadcasting in the Mediterranean out of Jaffa, Israel. Free-lanced in Australia/New Zealand as production voice, newsreader, radio producer, columnist, copy and feature writer, etc. After 20 years in Australia, currently in NZ. His latest volume, Intercolonial, a book length narrative poem, published by Puriri Press, Auckland, NZ (2013). A transtasman narrative. Creative non-fiction in Antipodes, June 2014, and poetry in Plumwood Mountain, August, 2014.

Click here to view one of Stephen’s latest poem-videos, The Great Rogatus:

from Issue #6: Poetry by Iain Britton

Photo (CC) KamrenB Photography @ Flickr

Photo (CC) KamrenB Photography @ Flickr

 *

Leonardo’s spaceman

from city sleep

………..the night’s long shadows

……crawl inwards /……late walkers

…………….stumble home

the cat in dog’s fur / listens for owls

the thudless bells

…………of the temple………whisper

.

from here it’s a primitive hot house

……a neural-fed stardome

……….of short stories

of a man who lives in an iron lung

……….who walks up hills

…………….lying on his back

………who watches the clouds through a glass map

mouth open to spoonfuls of sea life

.

………..everyday

…..he responds………like a tide

………….caught between rocks

.

……….a helicopter

passes over………….stirring up

sound / dangling vistas
…………………………heartbeats
…………the air pockets of athletes

.

………..the man in the iron lung

dreams of standing upright /…….naked

…………….like Leonardo’s spaceman

head and shoulders

…….amongst the congested luminaries

…………..of his reading /………head

……………………..and shoulders

decorated by a turmoil of feathers

solar systems parading their colours

.

…..he compares himself to a tree in blossom

………his nights populated

……………by ethnic interpretations of what he says

.

this morning he flew too close to the sun

.

……………i put back the soft golden peaches

………that are too sweet / i leave the grapes

……………to shrivel into green wrinkled heads

………i leave him to his confinement

 

…………everyday

he relies on small revivalist shots for something greater

 

…………with calculated ease

………………he stroke plays

………………….his love for objects out of reach

………………………for the silky fragrance

………….of another’s skin / the slipped momentum

…………………..of a similar person

.

the man who lives in the iron lung

……knows what it’s like

…………………to breathe underwater

…………..without sleeping

.

 *

.

chrome yellow hypothesis 

 

the house isn’t what it was

the voice of a radio

predicts a storm / it mimics a politician

……..commentates on cricket /

the radio possesses the eye

………..of an orchestra

anthems on walls / flags and

coronation stuff / a platoon

route marches to Hill 44 /

.

the family has taken its furniture

……..its god particles

…..and disguised itself in bundles

.

…………the house isn’t what it seems …

a square brick object

………at the mercy of orthodoxies

……………dousing gentiles in holy water / they

chant / play / sing / love thine enemies

 .

Te Hahi o te Whakapono

………..the church……..(sermon-bloated)

…….hunches its white skull

…………..beside the lake

.

passers-by are pulled in to drool

on historical grounds

…..where prisoners in wood

……….hug others in wood

where the lake laps music against stained-

glass windows /

………………….a flute’s voice

………….breathes on naked skin

……..a woman smiles

…………..undoes her soul

………………..for the cost of a camera’s sharp bite

.

….life………..i observe

………….is a sulphuric cloud

………raw and exposed

…………….a matter of confessions

 

this woman this mother
approaches

.

……….the miracle makers
…………..who each year split atoms
………………………by walking on air

.

she’s fascinated by silica

its crystals / this geothermal fragility

………………which domes the town

.

……..she opens herself to parkland

…………………………fantasies

……..any stuntman might exploit

.

beside the lake

…………..birds scrap

………over chrome-plated godsends

plucked from moonstones

.

this mother this woman

…..goes into the house of

…………………one room
…………………one kitchen
…………………one radio

.

a solitary figure clothing

……..legends in bright garments

.

what if                                                                                                           

…………..i place my lips on her lips

………….would forests                                                                      

………………….buckle up / would ghosts

………..return to their shelves to rest

.

she speaks to each gnome in her garden /…….paints

their hats gold

…………..handles them carefully

.

each night they rough and tumble

……………squabble…….like her children

……………….where invisibility is an asset

where in her house

love battles

love charges up a hill /    e hoa

………………………………..she calls

and the radio responds

with the news

……..the weather

a boy scoops up a ball

and runs with it

through a yellow cloud

 

ABOUT THE POET

Since 2008, Iain Britton has had collections of poems published by Cinnamon Press, Interactive Press, Oystercatcher Press, Lapwing Publications and Kilmog Press, plus two pamphlets with Greendoor Publishing and Like This Press. Also, his work was included in the Shearcatcher Poetry Anthology, published by Shearsman Books, 2012. A recent collection, photosynthesis, has just been published by Kilmog Press (NZ), with Rufus Books (Canada) publishing new work in 2015.

from Issue #6: Poetry by Elizabeth Smither

Photo (CC) Leah Gregg @ Flickr

Photo (CC) Leah Gregg @ Flickr

 *

Oysters

Six dozen oysters on the half-shell
in ice in a beaded champagne bucket
saved for from the housekeeping

now at the centre of the banquet table
the pristine cloth, the forks in a line
the knives and plates, a bowl of roses

and the big blue platter for the beef
the salads like forests, the tongs
the mountain of bread rolls heaped up

fresh from the oven under a steaming cloth.
‘Oysters,’ someone drunkenly exclaimed
as she edged them slightly out of sight.

Around the table her husband’s fellow-
managers from the chemical plant. He
was in design, did advertising bumf

in an office filled with cardboard and stencils.
The oysters were status: he would climb
as each one slid down a manager’s throat.

The sheath dresses pressed in against the cloth.
The crumbs cascaded down. Next day
would be devoted to slow loving cleaning.

But where were the oysters? Suddenly gone.
The silver bucket, drops drying in the night air
was through the French doors, at the garden’s end

where three hooligans sat on their heels, scoffing
and hurling the shells. Should they hide the bucket too?
Separately they came into the room and downed

three whisky and sodas to disguise their breath.
The hostess saw them from the doorway, held
a towel for their hands. They burped and smiled.

She smiled back with thin oyster lips.
The Rape of the Oysters was talked about
all next week by the water cooler.

.

*

.

Alice and the carrots

We three advance across the uneven field
to where Alice, the horse, with one white sock
and forehead blaze comes forward to take three carrots.

Two are experienced carrot-givers. I stand awed
by a mouth so removed from the grinding jaw
and that my carrot must be inserted.

A fool, Alice thinks. In need of training. Yet
my carrot is the fattest, biggest. And I turn back
and look at her longest.

.

*

 .

Swimming with our fathers

…………………………………………………for Beth

You used to swim with your father and
I used to swim with mine. The same
beach but perhaps never at the same time

though that’s a possibility. We’d never met
when, aged ten or thereabouts, we swam
in our ruched swimsuits, our flat chests

with our handsome fathers. Mine
going further out than I dared –
or maybe he was guarding me from the sea –

swam breaststroke in. I saw his legs
snap and open like scissors, his head
regarding me and my dog paddle.

And you, my long-time friend, saw your
father too, floating on his back, but
turning his eye, time and again, towards you.

.

 *

.

Ukulele for a dying child

No right to write in longhand with a black pen
the stroking words as fine as ukulele strings.
The ukulele pink and curved, the little girl
whose dying is unknown to her, adults presume.

She sits propped up with pillows, plays
with her teacher who has come visiting,
sweets in his pocket, if they are called for,
music’s notes fat in the air, and infallible.

And everything is pressing in, before it flees
(how unbearable to live this way forever)
and yet to live would be nothing fairer
with just the ukulele and the giver.

.

*

ABOUT THE POET

Elizabeth Smither has written 17 collections of poems as well as short stories and novels. She was New Zealand poet laureate (2001-3) and received the Prime Minister’s award for literary achievement in poetry in 2008. Her most recent publications are The blue coat (Auckland University Press, 2013) and Ruby Duby Du (Cold Hub Press, 2014).

Contrappasso, Issue #6 – launching in September 2014

Cover image "DSC02603" (CC) Vincent Lou @ Flickr, altered from original

Cover image “DSC02603” (CC) Vincent Lou @ Flickr, altered from original

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New Issue. New Authors. Contrappasso 6 is launching soon! This issue explores still more possibilities in international writing, bringing together work from nine countries in four languages, by more than twenty authors who are appearing in the journal for the first time.

Their work leads from snowy streets in Montana to packed train stations in Tokyo, from Hong Kong horse races to Sicilian passion-plays, from the Coal River Valley to Manila shopping malls, and from an iron lung to The Raft of the Medusa.

This issue features interviews with Australian poet Judith Beveridge, veteran American crime writer Lawrence Block and Filipino novelist Jose Dalisay. It presents new fiction by Japanese novelist Mitsuyo Kakuta (translated by Aoi Matsushima), Chilean Álvaro Bisama (translated by Megan McDowell) and from the USA, Jon A. Jackson and R. Zamora Linmark. The poets are Elizabeth Smither, Iain Britton and Stephen Oliver (New Zealand), Flora Delalande (France), Penny Florence (UK), Ouyang Yu (China/Australia) and Richard James Allen, Stuart Barnes, Jamie Grant, Siobhan Hodge, Frank Russo and Les Wicks (Australia).

Watch this website to sample the work this all-new ensemble of writers. They travel far.

The Editors

 

 

from Issue #4: Poetry by Rogelio Guedea, translated by Megan Saltzman

Photo (CC) Dennis Jarvis @ Flickr

Photo (CC) Dennis Jarvis @ Flickr

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The original Spanish version of each poem appears first, followed by its translation in blue.

.

Celebración de la garza

La poesía no sirve para salvarte. Para salvar a nadie.
La poesía no sirve para cruzar un río,
para enredar una magnolia en una oreja no sirve.
Tampoco sirve para subir a un autobús sin pagar.
Para entrar en el cine por el ojo de la alcantarilla no sirve para eso la poesía.
Tampoco sirve
para levantar un muro que detenga el mar.
No sirve de asiento en los trenes, de almohada en los aviones altos,
la poesía tampoco sirve para enamorar a la niña del apartamento contigo,
si crees que sirve para eso estás equivocado.
No sirve para eso, loco.
La poesía no es un analgésico para que puedas dormir.
No sirve para quitarte el insomnio, antes te da más, antes te aprieta
las mandíbulas.
Tampoco sirve para salvarte de la multa policial. Ni siquiera del anuncio
diciendo ocupado en un baño público.
La poesía sólo se salva a sí misma. No a ti, no a tu abuelita,
ella misma es la salvadora de su propia voluntad.
Se escribe para salvarse, te utiliza como a un guante viejo para salvarse,
va ocupando tu cuerpo, tus manos, tus ojos, tu nariz.
Va ocupándote hasta que te hace desaparecer.
Un día te preguntas y ya no estás, la casa desmantelada,
las ventanas cerradas.
Un letrero que dice: Se vende. Para mayores informes.

Celebration of the Heron 

Poetry is not for saving yourself. Not for saving anybody.
Poetry is not for crossing a river,
not for tangling a magnolia in an ear.
Nor is it for riding a bus without paying.
To enter the cinema through the manhole, poetry is not for that either. 
Nor is it for
raising a wall to hold back the sea.
It’s no good as a train seat, as a pillow on high-altitude airplanes,
poetry is not for making the girl in the apartment next door fall in love with you,
if you think that’s what it’s for, you’re mistaken.
It is not for that, stupid.
Poetry is not a painkiller to help you sleep.
It won’t take away your insomnia, instead it would make it worse, it would
tighten your jaw.
Nor will it save you from a police fine.  Not even from the sign
that reads busy in a public bathroom.
Poetry only saves itself.  Not you, or your grandma,
it is the saviour of its own free will.
It writes itself to save itself, it uses you like an old glove to save itself, it starts
occupying your body, your hands, your eyes, your nose.
Occupying you until it makes you disappear.
One day you wonder and you’re not there, the house dismantled,
the windows closed.
A sign that says: For sale. Inquire for more information.

.

*

.

Reminder

Una mujer no se hace con la sombra de la primavera,
tampoco se hace una mujer como tu hombro con un trozo de la noche
que olvidaste.
Ni con el alero de una casa de campo, tampoco
con la mano que lleva puesto un guante.
Una mujer como tu cuerpo que nace no se hace cinco minutos
antes de salir al trabajo. En medio del desayuno: no.
Ni durante el almuerzo con los colegas tampoco.
Una mujer es otra cosa distinta a una espalda recargada contra un árbol.
Es una garza distinta.
Y no se hace escribiéndola día a día, o borrándola noche a noche,
ni siquiera pensándola se hace,
no es una fecha en que debamos encontrarnos
ni un pañuelo blanco largo para despedirse.
Una mujer es siempre otra cosa,
más allá de lagos o edificios está,
no le aseguran la vida un seguro de vida o una cuenta bancaria,
una jubilación o una casa en renta,
nadie podría intimidarla con una navaja de rasurar
o enternecerla con un ramo de rosas blancas.
Una mujer no existe porque tú existes,
no se hace con lo que eres o no eres,
no te pertenece.
Una mujer es simplemente un hombre de buenos modales,
lo quieras o no, y siempre te permitirá caer, a ti primero,
en el siguiente abismo.

Reminder

A woman doesn’t become with the shadow of spring,
nor does she become a woman like your shoulder with a chunk of the night
that you forgot.
Nor with the eaves of a country house, nor
with the hand that wears a glove.
A woman like your body that’s being born doesn’t become five minutes
before leaving for work.  In the middle of breakfast: no.
Not during lunch with her colleagues either.
A woman is something different than a back leaning against a tree.
She is a different heron.
And she doesn’t become by writing about her day by day, or deleting her night by night,
not even thinking about her does she become,
she is not a date when we should meet
nor a white handkerchief for waving goodbye.
A woman is always something else,
she is beyond the lakes or buildings,
life insurance or a bank account cannot assure her life,
retirement or a rental home,
no one could intimidate her with a cut-throat razor
or soften her with a bouquet of white roses.
A woman does not exist because you exist,
she doesn’t transform with what you are or are not,
she doesn’t belong to you.
A woman is simply a man with good manners,
whether you want it or not, and she’ll always allow you to fall, you first,
into the next abyss.

.

 *

cerezas

para traer su testimonio, trayéndolo como arrastrado
……lago sin su mirlo,
…………………………….y vuelto a nacer crecido en pie con su fulgor,
su mano, su quijada, su pájaro cerrado,
……………………………………………………..otro palito su cuchara lejos
far away pero silente astro que no ves, pie girando alrededor
………del astro,
……………………..todo arco para empezar del uno al dos del dos
al casi,
…………juntura de su aroma, remedando al riachuelo de la virgen santa
del pueblo de José,
………………………….que se la comía (a mordiscones): Suchitlán, 1996.
un estanque,
…………………una piedra ciega de su traslación,
……………………………………………………………..una palabra que es y otra
que habita su silencio, junto, agazapadamente/
y entonces
…………………(New Zealand, 2006)
……………………………………………comenzar su ligazón: país, mujer,
trenes puentes vías (sic)
…………………………………y una ventana: asomándose para medir la distancia
del aire de su pie a su pie,
…………………………………..del vuelo de su ojo a su ojo,
de su mano que escribe pie y ojo a su mano que calla reclinada contra
…………el viento,
su dama:
……………….su vieja estación sin profecías,
………………………………………………………………again.

cherries

in order to bring his testimony, dragging it through
…….a lake without its blackbird,
…………………………………..and again born already grown standing up with its glow,
his hand, his jawbone, his closed bird,
………………………………………………………….another handle its spoon far away
lejos but noiseless star that you don’t see, foot spinning around
…………the star,
……………………….all arch in order to start from the one to the two from the two
to almost,
…………..junction of its smell, imitating the stream of the holy virgin
from the town of José,
………………………………..who used to eat it up (big bites): Suchitlán, 1996.
a creek,
………………..a rock blind from its movement,
………………………………………………………………..a word that is and another
that lives its silence, together, crouched down/
and then
……………………..(New Zealand, 2006)
…………………………………………………..to begin his bond: country, woman,
trains bridges routes (sic)
………………………………….and a window: looking out to measure the distance
of the air from his foot to his foot,
………………………………………………….of the flight from his eye to his eye,
of his hand that writes foot and eye to his hand that hushes leaning against
…………..the wind,
his lady:
………………………his old station without prophecies,
………………………………………………………………………………otra vez.

.

 *

.

enclaves

buscando sus partes del otro lado de la acera:
………….su mano,
………………………..la calle de su pie,
………………………………………………..un ojo mirándole llorar
en lo distante
………………………..(yendo aquí, viniendo allá):
……………………………………………………………………..y luego, en la esquina
exacta,
………….el hombro asido a su ramaje, su círculo de mares infinitos,
…………………..su caracol arriba
………………………………………….y desde abajo:
recuperando árboles y muros, relojes o cornisas, un barco
que pasaba llevándolo,
………………………………traído hacia su garza/

con un anzuelo en los límites del agua, río sin equipaje ni versos
……….de don jorge
………………………….(todos los ríos van a dar…),
…………………………………………………………………y una ola cae,
cayendo otra ensenada//

……………………atado a sus abismos (un abismo puede ser también
la suma de dos casas)
……………………………..y a su sombra (una sombra sin pijama ni martillo),
recorriendo los pasillos de la memoria,
…………………………………………………………….su ruta incierta,
un día y más allá,
……………………….hasta llegar (su mano) a mi país,
para decir –de nuevo, otra vez-:
………………………………………….padre,
……………………………………………………..estos huecos que dejaste.

enclaves

searching for his parts from the other side of the sidewalk:
………….his hand,
………………………..his foot’s street,
………………………………………………..an eye watching him cry
in the distance
……………………….(going here, coming there):
………………………………………………………………….and then, on the corner
exact,
…………….the man clutching his branches, his circle of infinite seas,
………………………..his shell above
………………………………………………….and from below:
recovering tress and walls, watches and cornices, a boat
that was passing by carrying it,
………………………………………..brought towards its heron/

with a fishhook in the water’s limits, river without luggage or
………….don jorge’s verses
……………………………………..(all the rivers are going to end up…)
…………………………………………………………………………………………..and a wave falls,
falling another inlet//

………………………tied to its abysses (an abyss can also be
the sum of two houses)
………………………………….and to its shadow (a shadow without pajamas or hammer),
retracing the corridors of memory,
…………………………………………………………his uncertain path,
one day and beyond,
…………………………………..until (his hand) arrives at my country,
in order to say –again, anew-:
………………………………………father,
………………………………………………………these holes you left.

.

***

ABOUT THE POET AND THE TRANSLATOR

Rogelio Guedea (Mexico, 1974) is a poet, essayist, novelist and translator. He is the author of forty books of poetry, essays, narrative, interviews and translations. Some of his recent books are: Mine fields (Aldus, 2013), Life in the rear window and other portable stories (Lectorum, 2012), Wristwatch: a chronicle of the Mexican poetry (19th and 20th Century) (UNAM, 2011) and The crime of Los Tepames (Random House Mondadori, 2013), a bestseller in Mexico. He is editing a critical history of 19th and 20th Century Mexican poetry, which will bring together 40 international scholars and will be published by Consejo Nacional para la Cultura y las Artes and the Fondo de Cultura Económica. He is a columnist for the Mexican newspapers El Financiero and La Jornada Semanal and currently the coordinator of the Spanish Programme at the University of Otago.

Since 2012, Megan Saltzman has taught and conducted research on Spanish language, culture and urban studies at West Chester University, near Philadelphia. Her main interest lies in how we—through our urban milieu—construct ideas regarding social identity, history and political potential. She is currently working on a book that focuses on contemporary Barcelona titled Public Everyday Space. She has published articles on urban nostalgia, alternative spaces of resistance in the city, and most recently on urban immigration and globalization in Spanish documentaries. Before moving to West Chester, Megan spent nine years teaching and researching in a variety of different places—Dunedin, New Zealand; Barcelona, Spain; Grinnell, Iowa; Ann Arbor, Michigan; and Tokyo, Japan. She enjoys photography, textiles, languages, and wandering around cities. courses.wcupa.edu/MSaltzman/

from Issue #4: Poetry by David Howard

Photo (CC) takomabibelot @ Flickr

Photo (CC) takomabibelot @ Flickr

.

 *

.

And Her

The morning did what mornings do, left us
alone – although ‘us’ implies some consolation
from gossip, hugs, love of the common. But no

each perception is private, essential, isolating
like a poem, I thought, walking towards
the courtyard. Already I saw the scaffold.

 

 *

 

Safety

Between, that is where the poem grows…
A negotiator playing both sides:

the visible, the invisible.

Only the invisible owns every thing.
We measure the seen. The invisible, then.

And that spider.

 

  *

 

Look

After you said everything there was more.
Your sentence was not long enough.
The thing a word touches becomes less
tangible, nowhere near the world you know.

As if it was going to fit inside your head.
As if the lake and the lake’s reflections
included you. Everything said meant nothing
once the duck steadied itself and landed

leaving this sentence on the surface.

 

*

 

The role of the model

Touch your shadow and you
touch your self.

On your fingers mica, under each nail
the thread of a sail, the memory

there is a horizon
for every wind. As God is your witness

one among many. Break
bread as if you were declaring war

that shadow you move for
bitter as a blood-blister upon the lip

and hard, so hard.

.

***

ABOUT THE POET

David Howard spent thirty-five years compiling one book: The Incomplete Poems (Cold Hub Press, 2011). He is a winner of the Gordon & Gotch Poetry Award, the New Zealand Poetry Society Competition, the New Zealand Society of Authors Mid-Career Writers Award, and the University of South Pacific Press Poetry Prize. David held the Robert Burns Fellowship 2013 at Otago University.

from Issue #4: Writings in Memory of Seamus Heaney – John Dennison

Photo (CC) Rebecca Cox @ Flickr

Photo (CC) Rebecca Cox @ Flickr

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I’VE SPENT THE BETTER PART of the last six years devoted to Seamus Heaney’s work and thought. I say devoted, but, as for many, Seamus was first an object of study, a lofty mouth who moved and shook us with his persuasive eloquence, who stood on the mountain of his own saying. Perhaps because of that loftiness and because I was striving to master his prose writings in some measure, the name Seamus Heaney made me fluctuate, sometimes wildly, between praise and het-up, over-emphatic critique; it was the occasion for a measure of self-knowledge of my prevarication and academic disingenuity.

            But in our brief meetings, mostly to talk over small matters about his history and past reading, the object of my study became a subject proper, a person to whom I found myself answerable, even as, taking him at his word, I weighed and criticised his prose writings. More than once I came away moved by his largesse, and resolved to ensure the act of criticism was more fundamentally an acknowledgement and honouring of the poet’s integrity.

            June this year found me in Dublin to look at manuscripts, and Seamus very graciously invited me down to Strand Road. I can’t gloss my afternoon there a great deal more than I have already tried to in ‘Grace note’, except to say that I found myself subject to my subject, and in that, was appeased. Most profoundly, Seamus addressed me as a poet, an address that I now can’t shake off. I left all teared up, and wandered home rather aimlessly in the high summer light, pausing for a breather with Kavanagh by the Grand Canal.

            I meant to write in thanks, and delayed too long. The postcard I meant to send, a reproduction of one of impressionist James Nairn’s paintings of Wellington Harbour, for me came to frame Seamus’s absence after his death. Surprised by grief on the 30th of August, I found myself a day or so after out at the line, getting in the washing under a dusk of high-blown, underlit cloud. The blackbird spoke up. Delighted, and remembering Seamus’s love of the bird, I waited for its regular benediction to come again. It didn’t, and that absence keeps on going through.

 .

*

.

Triptych

Grace note

17 June 2013

……………………………………The walls stepping back apace;
……………………………………the late, high, western sun
……………………………………declining any impulse to grace

……………………………………ourselves, be otherwise than
……………………………………our falling shadows, our homing faces
……………………………………reveal we are. And then:

……………………………………a drink? A whiskey? The capacious
……………………………………front room, quiet talk, the telly
……………………………………cutting to Obama in Belfast,

……………………………………while the critic in me
……………………………………is weaned. Dublin Bay
……………………………………takes up the slack—the

……………………………………incarnation sets us free for play
……………………………………(sure, no truer word spoken);
……………………………………I’m suitably censered, you might say.

……………………………………Poet, bless me three times, even!

.

Postcard

James Nairn, Wellington Harbour, 1894

………………………..Dear S, meant to send this some time back.
………………………..Thought you’d recognise the scene well enough:
………………………..in the foreground, a woman walks with a stick,
………………………..set in her own shadow as in her love,
………………………..the face a heavy dab of grief, a desire
………………………..to be elsewhere. Lately the waters rise,
………………………..and in brightness the sheds and the wharf lower
………………………..as the man, darkling, is held. What remains
………………………..is that a gulf exists; and the true poem,
………………………..our boat beyond all making, floats adjacent,
………………………..its shocking mast crossing the horizon
………………………..so that we might see, in this moment,
………………………..how truly the water gives us back the light.
………………………..Hope all well; not sure if you’ll get this alright.

.

Touch and go

i.m. Seamus Heaney

……………………The day remembers itself to a sky-blown dusk,
……………………light still coming off the small cloths which ride
……………………the sagging line. Inside, the family play hide and seek,

……………………all our early numbers mounting so confident
……………………to the coming ready or not, while everybody scatters,
……………………loses themselves so easily. And with this: blackbird,

……………………his brief wise-o exile song, a smatter
……………………of grace notes struck out at the gable-end.
……………………So: we’re held, heart-pegged, hung in the matter

……………………of things counted out, and hid, and found—
……………………appeasing knowledge of song, and of our folly.
……………………Wait here over-long for what doesn’t come again,

……………………translates away, across, and up the gully.

.

*

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

John Dennison is a poet and literary critic, and a chaplain at Victoria University in Wellington, New Zealand, where he lives with his wife and young family. He holds a PhD in literature from the University of St Andrews, research which forms the basis for a forthcoming monograph on Seamus Heaney’s prose poetics. Recent poetry by John Dennison has appeared in PN Review, New Walk, Poetry Proper and Broadsheet (NZ). His poems also featured in New Poetries V (Carcanet, 2011).