Issue 13

Author's note: These poems come from a sequence of documentary poems I’m currently working on (provisionally) called butter/business/living. This project uses a range of literary and scholarly sources about dairy, particularly butter, to explore the social history of Ireland over the last thousand years. The first poem attached ‘A Vision of Whitemeats,’ collages text from a translation of an 11th Century satirical poem, ‘McConglinne’s Vision.’ It adapts the dán díreach form of the source text, quatrains of seven-syllable lines interspersed with prose commentary. The second poem, ‘Milk Testing (for butterfat)’ is the final poem of the sequence and is a collage of alphabetised samples from the preceding poems. A Vision of Whitemeats 2 milk testing   Ellen...

Wow. Suburbia. Back. Here. To the suburbs where the only person I knew was killed in June. Four wheels chug along and then skid into a burgeoning cloud of smoke, and my mouth agape, launches into a broadside against divine forces. I pull into one street and then into another. Left. Right, another. I wait on the kerb, on the edge of a driveway, on the other side of a box hedge. I am here for earthly affairs. * Curtains twitch. Used up worn out energies and revelations in pretend temples of happiness. Temples capable only of repetitive suffering. Prayer and sacrifice on a living room floor. Fresh bread in a toaster. A silhouette of three women carrying a headdress made from glamour and feathers and optic cables. Tight belts of edible pineapple around their midriffs, lama hair socks. A long...

Author’s note: Though we have all grown up surrounded by plastic and other transparent media, there is still something wonderful and magical about the apparent paradox of a see-through book. I’d come into possession of a number of these volumes over years and then distinguished calligrapher, Thomas Ingmire, cast one of my poems in this form. That the glistening depths of this kind of book can be looked down through and that they operate simultaneously on so many levels fascinated me. Additionally, I found that hardly anything had been written before on this publishing phenomena so I leapt at the chance. My thanks to all the artists involved. To Read: Solid Light   David Annwn is a critic of book, film and magic lantern materiality and an innovative poet whose work appeared...

Author's note: Sometime in 2016 I found a form and started writing cut flowers. All kinds of  materials found a place to go that might allow, to some extent, for the contradictory nature of life and language, their depth and shallowness. Nothing is ever new. I was inspired by Rachel Blau DuPlessis' work and the first book of cut flowers to come out with Guillemot Press in 2021 is dedicated to her. I'd like to thank Kym Martindale for numbers 3, 4 and 6. Nos 2 and 11 respond to a visit to Iasi, Romania in March 2020. I expect to carry on writing these, to borrow from DuPlessis, writing a short poem forever.   To Read: Cut Flowers   Harriet Tarlo is a poet and academic. Her poetry appears in numerous journals/zines/anthologies and four volumes by Shearsman Books. Her four...

On the fifth morning of the fifth week we spotted the frogs on the paving alongside the smaller pond. They were probably among the couples splashing about and hankering to mate the afternoon before. Slumped with faces pointing away from the water as if paralysed escaping a home become hellhole. Two were speckled white belly-up, legs cramped in pain or panic, one female swollen with spawn. The other two lay flat, heads down and legs distended, skin red as predicted; one body dissolving into jelly, puffed and transparent, in a haemorrhaged puddle. That afternoon we found another, further from the pond and sheltered between flowerpots. Who when my shovel touched him tried to drag himself away by his forelegs but his trunk resisted, too heavy to lift. I smashed his head with a brick. Two more...

Author’s note: When San Mateo County, CA shut down in March 2020, I found myself with hours of “new” time on my hands. No carpooling! No commuting! I got right into the practice of getting to my writing desk first thing, spending time with a favorite book: Discovering Wild Plants: Alaska, Western Canada, The Pacific Northwest by Janice Schofield. I loved the process of going through the pages slowly, thinking, saying the words out loud, remembering. I don’t know why I hadn’t realized this before, but the book belonged to my late husband Nick, who died in a cycling accident in 2016. It’s filled with his notes and highlights, those moments that were important to him as an undergraduate student in Environmental Science at Sheldon Jackson College in Sitka, Alaska. So, my time with...

A loose inner slip is inserted inside the first pages of Allen Fisher’s book loggerheads (Spanner, 2018). It shows a strip of unnamed sheet music headed with the phrase ‘As if drawing from the grey sea’. The phrase ‘As if drawing from the grey sea’ is a fragment from the Greek lyric poet Alcaeus. This phrase drew my attention to the etymology of the verb ‘draw’. From the Germanic for ‘drag’, it originally meant ‘to pull’ and was only later associated with making marks on paper. To draw is to draw out or draw forth, like drawing water. To draw water, you use a container such as a bucket in order to contain the water. Drawing on paper can been seen to be a similar process, using the page as a way of containing and framing the patterns of mark-making.   To...

We believe, in any event, that the body obeys the exclusive laws of physiology and that it escapes the influence of history, but this too is false. The body is moulded by a great many distinct regimes; it is broken down by the rhythm of work, rest and holidays; it is poisoned by food or values, through eating habits or moral laws; it constructs resistances…It will uproot its traditional foundations and relentlessly disrupt its pretended continuity. This is because knowledge is not made for understanding; it is made for cutting.  To Read: A Day's Work   Graham Hartill lives in the Black Mountains, works as a writer-in-residence at HMP Parc, Bridgend, South Wales and teaches on the Creative Writing for Therapeutic Purposes MSc for the Metanoia Institute. He has published widely:...

Faith She went over the Alps on foot twice, both times to ask permission. In the interpretive centre I stepped into the priest hole first. On the audio track I heard whispers and the unsheathing of swords. I’m fine, I said. The relic kept behind the curtain and in a jar is a tiny hand. The priest’s vestments were hidden under a display of cloth and sewing notions he was supposed to pretend to sell. Pasta is described as ribbons. And sometimes as flesh hanging from a frame. That evening we ate both and practiced the compound past tense.    The Snake The snake gave me a fix. I hadn’t known the cost. All the while I bought bread, I bought cherries. I made simple meals and the snake said no worries. I did four or five new dishes a week. I ran them by the snake and he said sure....

Author's note: Via Settembre is a long sequence made up of short, discrete units.  Hinging these units are distorted movements and repetitions; shifting focus to disable a sense of ‘self’ and ‘known’ landscape.  Much of the work responds to walks and swims taken during September 2019 in North West Wales, but as the title suggests there is an infusion of Italian experience here too. The sequence sits between three others, Green Oystercatcher (2019), Wanderings and an untitled work in progress.  Each was written in part during trips to Italy, with the art, architecture, natural world and language fusing with versions of being.  Sections from the sequence have also appeared in NOON Journal of the Short Poem Issue 16. To Read: from Via Settembre   Lee Duggan is...

Author's note: Young Ames is a partial (both senses) autobiography in poetry, though hardly a Prelude-like account of 'the growth of a poet's mind'. It distances, reflects on, and refracts its narrative through spliced-in samplings from a now-unknown historical novel, Young Ames, written by Walter D. Edmonds and published in 1941. Set in New York a century earlier, this tells the rags-to-riches story of its eponymous central character, a clerk in a trading company. The novel was chosen in the first instance because of its title; the autobiographical material is itself sampled, consisting only of material from my life involving a good friend of my childhood and late adolescence surnamed Ames. Viewing the self through the prism of another figure, one who is made central, further distanced...

Les Vaines Danseuses   Celles qui sont des fleurs légères sont venues, Figurines d’or et beautés toutes menues Où s’irise une faible lune…Les voici Mélodieuses fuir dans le bois éclairci. De mauves et d’iris de nocturnes roses Sont les grâces de nuit sous leurs danses écloses. Que de parfums voilés dispensent leurs doigts d’or! Mais l’azur doux s’effeuille en ce bocage mort Et de l’eau mince luit à peine, reposée Comme un pâle trésor d’une antique rosée D’où le silence en fleur monte…Encore les voici Mélodieuses fuir dans le bois éclairci. Aux calices aimés leurs mains sont gracieuses; Un peu de lune dort sur leurs lèvres pieuses Et leurs bras merveilleux aux gestes endormis Aiment  à dénouer...

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