‘Songs of the the Sea’ by Eleanor Hooker

Songs of the Sea

At Kilmore town ancient carols are sung,
legend says the sea will drown their town.
Casting stones into the sea is wrong,
storm-crested waves drag silent sail down.

Legend says the sea will drown their town,
a silver coin beneath the mast brings luck.
Storm crested waves drag silent sail down,
church bells sound when sinking ships are struck,

A silver coin beneath the mast brings luck.
true to say, what the sea wants, it gets,
church bells sound when sinking ships are struck,
a curlew’s flight makes fair-wind sailors fret.

True to say, what the sea wants, it gets,
casting stones into the sea is wrong,
a curlew’s flight makes fair-wind sailors fret,
at Kilmore town ancient carols are sung.
(published in The Shadow Owner’s Companion, Dedalus Press 2012)
Author’s note: I was fascinated to hear from a fellow RNLI crew that in Kilmore, legend has it that unless their beautiful ancient celtic hymns are sung every Christmas, the sea will take their town. There are many superstitions around sea lore, but this one fired up my imagination. The hymns are haunting, slow and chant like, I was trying to get that sway and rhythm in this pantoum. The Kilmore Carols.
Eleanor Hooker is an Irish Poet and Writer. Her second poetry collection A Tug of Blue (Dedalus Press) was launched October 2016. The Shadow Owner’s Companion (Dedalus Press) is her first collection of poetry. Twitter @EleanorHooker_

Three poems by Patrick Deeley


Tetrapod hardly covers it, old boy or girl coming out
of the sea. Tetrapod, four-foot, accurate
but basic as the mud in my mind’s eye you’re treading.
Amphibian then, since you take a fresh element,
the shelf of land, cumbersomely on, all to do
in your warty green skin. Newt might fit, or giant newt,
as you lay down a track-way of footprints
that – fossilised – will size you up, one metre in length
from snout to tip of frill-fringed tail. Behind you
the sound of breaking waves we may – even
at this remove – construe as lonesome,
or attempt pathos by describing how they overwhelm
residual drag-marks of the tail itself, but you
in your stolid progression are busy still, flicking the air
with your tongue, tasting its potential.
Then you’ve gone, wisps of dust covering all trace, slow
petrifaction come to pass, tectonic plates
shifting until there’s us today boarding the ferry
to Valentia Island and the naming of you as precursor,
first land animal, your little fossilised amble
ended abruptly where a cleft in rock strikes water
and we dance and dabble our feet in a shallow streamlet
sliding shallowly across, linking and fructifying everything.

(previously published in The Lighter Craft: A Festschrift for Peter Denman)

“But Still It Moves.”

Still it moves, Galileo, the world, the universe, the million “>million
million million million miles of observational space;
still expanding, Ed Hubble says, and still
we imagine we are the life and soul, the one sentient hub
of the place. Still we look up, look anew –
of a day to read the weather, of a night to lose ourselves
in the hush that spreads over us, call it
wonderment waiting to be met. A giant tortoise serving
as a griddle for the flat plate of the earth –
not even as children did we fancy there was that.
But Ptolemy we could picture – in our gripping of stars
and planets each to its approved spot
on classroom walls with blue-tack, or in the hoodwink
of the heavens as undeviating before we learned
how Copernicus had run all those circles
in orderly courses about the sun. You, then, never allowed
out again because you dared to let unwelcome truths
in, still Jupiter juggles its moons just as you
saw them, still the dance continues after you’ve gone,
after Newton’s apple hasn’t clocked him
on the head, merely occasioned his notions about gravity,
after Einstein has theorised on what ‘speed’
can mean and ‘spacetime’ do, after Hawking and co
envisage tying together the job lot, huge
with miniscule, while stirring string theory
into the cosmological pot. Meanwhile, for me, this night
waits to be taken to bed – maybe I’ll dream
the twelve-ton ‘Leviathan of Parsonstown’ I saw today
and whose cooped pine boards painted black
set me thinking of a barrel to beat all barrels, our very own
island’s once-upon-a-time world’s biggest telescope,
how it bulges at the middle as though
it’s gulped a deep draught of space; either way the heavens
shift – admittedly no longer reflected
through our redundant Leviathan’s speculum metal eye –
the sky adheres to its constantly changing order
and that faraway look we feel we inherit or are given to
holds us fervent, tranquil while the weight
of the world and its troubles in our watching seems to lift.

(previously published in The Lighter Craft: A Festschrift for Peter Denman)
The Trails They Leave

The wasp, the honeybee, investigators of leaves
and flower heads, all riffle and proboscis,
translating everything they take into their own
sustenance, are prescribed in this, survival
an instinct, not a concern, but the trails they leave,
the flightlines they weave, make for ghosts
we would trace, if we could, back through the air,
much as we would trace the calls of birds
and beasts, the growths of trees, the sunbeams,
evaporations of rivers and seas, the world
in its raptures and griefs, the spirals it perpetuates –
as so many spins, so many wheels, spooled
back to us through the twists and turns
of the thoughts by which we find them sensible.
Patrick Deeley is a native of County Galway in the west of Ireland. His poems have appeared widely in literary outlets over many years and been translated to French, Italian and other languages. His most recent awards include The Dermot Healy International Poetry Award. Groundswell: New and Selected Poems, the latest of his six collections with Dedalus Press, was published in 2013. He has also written fiction for younger readers, and his memoir, The Hurley-Maker’s Son, is due for publication next year.

Two poems by Mary Noonan

The Moths

The artist is sitting, perfectly still,
by his mulberry tree, watching
it. He has been in that pose all day.

The white moths have flown
through my open window,
drawn by the light of a bedside lamp.

They are everywhere – cloaking
the walls, sleeping in the folds of sheets,
crawling over the shoes on the floor.

I try to flatten some with newspaper
but they are too many, and I lie down
among them. Soon, they cover me,

their anaemic wings lining the creases
of my eyelids, lashes thrumming
to the sound of a thousand tiny wings

flicking. In the bed, I rustle. Moths are
spinning from hairs, slinking over the skin
of my scalp and pubis. I lie in a rictus.

In the morning, I walk on a flittered
bridal veil of wings, from bed to bathroom.
I pass the artist. He is sitting

by the fish tank, watching his black
piranha slip through cool water,
behind glass. Has he been there all night?
(published in Poetry Ireland Review 114 (2015)
Into the Night

You fling yourself out the door into the wind
and start to row yourself down the steep hill
with your standard issue steel stick, working it
along the dark path, clickety-click, clickety-click.
It’s a path you would know with your eyes closed,
the old Richmond Hill you cycled up and down
as a boy, in all weathers, coming and going from
the house perched on top. You shuttle along at first,
taking full advantage of your exit velocity, clickety-
click, clickety- flop against the rail, breathe heavily,
rattle on. At the bottom, you tilt into Patrick Street
and fluorescent lighting, poke at the white rounds
winking on the ground, checking for coins, finding
gum. You have forgotten
your glasses, and so your vision is that of a small
subterranean animal, tunnelling with its fore-paws.
Staggering now, you keel against walls, your flittered
left hip giving way. A passer-by gives you a second
glance, wonders. Your cap is pulled tightly over
the bald eyebrows you shave off every other day,
along with cheek bristle. You propel yourself on,
slashing the wind, and the dark. You don’t know
where you are going, or why.
(published in The Spectator , 6 December 2014)
Mary Noonan lives in Cork, where she lectures in French literature at University College Cork. Her poems have appeared in numerous magazines, including The Dark Horse, Poetry Review, Poetry Ireland Review, Poetry London, The Spectator, Wasafiri, The North, Tears in the Fence and The Threepenny Review. She won the Listowel Poetry Collection Prize in 2010. Her first collection – The Fado House (Dedalus Press, Dublin, 2012) – was shortlisted for the Seamus Heaney Centre Prize and the Strong/Shine Award. In 2014, she was awarded an Arts Council of Ireland Literature Bursary, and she was selected as one of a group of eight to take part in the Aldeburgh Eight Advanced Seminar. Mary Noonan audio archive at From the Fishouse.

Two poems by Doireann Ní Ghríofa


I am custodian of this exhibition of erasures, curator of loss.
I watch over pages of scribbles, deletions, obliterations,
in a museum that preserves not what is left, but what is lost.

Where arteries are unblocked, I keep the missing clots.
I collect all the lasered tattoos that let skin start again.
In this exhibition of erasures, I am curator of loss.

See the unraveled wool that was once a soldier’s socks,
shredded documents, untied shoestring
knots — my museum protects not what is left, but what is lost.

I keep deleted jpegs of strangers with eyes crossed,
and the circle of pale skin where you removed your wedding ring.
I recall all the names you ever forgot. I am curator of loss.

Here, the forgotten need for the flint and steel of a tinderbox,
and there, a barber’s pile of scissored hair. I attend
not what is left, but what is lost.

I keep shrapnel pulled from wounds where children were shot,
confession sins, abortions, wildflowers lost in cement.
I am custodian of erasures. I am curator of loss
in this museum that protects not what is left, but what is lost.

(first published in The SHOp, Winter 2014)
Frozen Food

In the frozen foods aisle, I think of him
when I shiver among shelves of green flecked
garlic breads and chunks of frozen fish.
I touch the cold door until my thumbs numb.

Strangers unpacked his body in a lab
and thawed his hand, watched long-frozen fingers
unfurl one by one, until his fist finally opened,
let go, and from his grasp rolled
a single sloe,
ice-black with a purple-blue waxy bloom.

                        Inside the sloe,
                        a blackthorn stone.
                        Inside the stone,
                        a seed.

Standing in the supermarket aisle,
I watch my breath freeze.

(First published in Cyphers, Summer 2014)
Doireann Ní Ghríofa is a bilingual poet based in Ireland. She was recently awarded the Ireland Chair of Poetry Bursary by Paula Meehan. A first collection of poems in English is forthcoming from Dedalus Press (available to pre-order here). Twitter @DoireannNiG

Three poems by Jessica Traynor


This old invention: immaculate in morning sunshine,
relaxing in the heat like a girl who wants to dance
although the night has been long.

Guided by the central yin, a car reveals children’s faces –
morning daisies shut tight against the last of the frost.
A second shared with them; fractured understanding

grasped at, let falter. The road in silence is duller,
hums its boredom like a spent leyline, though
heat haze promises something alive beneath the surface,

asleep until nightfall, when these arbitrary roads
knit together in sense, a spider web catching last light
as the planet turns its darker cheek.
(published in The SHOp in 2011)
eBay Auction for Antique Jewellery

I sift through treasures of the dead
on the brightly-lit pages of eBay,
which reveal without question

the items I seek in row upon row:
lockets with coiled, imprisoned hair,
fading like a doll’s to a revenant colour;

grey, with kernel of brown or blonde,
still living despite the infirmity
of having been chopped,

whitby jet brooches shaped like hands,
which point the way to death
(whichever way you choose),

and lockets that still have old photos –
these personal treasures cost the most.
One discloses a man and a woman,

laughing faces animated through
a sepia fog, in front of a dancing privet.
I hope that I might someday be preserved like this,

young beneath the photo’s cracked veneer;
inexplicably laughing, free of context,
purely myself, whoever that may be.
(published in New Irish Writing in the Irish Independent in 2012)

The Icelandic elders
built their church

from the body of a whale
thrown from the sea

by god’s thunder.
From the green deep

she brought icebergs
and plankton tattooes

to mark her basalt walls
with sacred text.

From her bones
they built the organ,

to sigh its krill-song
to her sisters in the bay.

From her skin
they wove carpets,

so fine and sea-blue
that when the sun shines

an ocean moves
among those who pray,

on their feet,
to the god of sailors –

stranded, now,
on his melting inland sea.

From her oil they made
seven lamps that will burn

until the end of days
when the chosen will file

between her ribs,
into her belly

and be carried back
to the glacier’s heart,

to their sailor god,
to swim,

as the last ice melts,
depths uncharted.

(new poem)
Jessica Traynor is from Dublin and was awarded the 2014 Ireland Chair of Poetry Bursary. She was the Hennessy New Irish Writer of the year 2013. Her first collection, Liffey Swim, is forthcoming from Dedalus Press in autumn 2014.

Two poems by Eleanor Hooker


She visited again last night, no pike this time.
She was singing too. Her song is the sound of a heavy body
Dragging itself, deadly, up the stairs. Her malady
not too dissimilar to that thud-thump heartbeat
In my ears. She brought mirrors into my mind
and in my mind she filled the mirrors with crows,
huge-beaked, hungry crows. That fed. And though
I couldn’t move, I kept my eyes open,
I wasn’t frightened; I knew sooner or later I’d wake,
And she would have to leave with her mirrors and her crows,
Leaving my pulse behind.
(first published in the Celtic Mists edition of Agenda, Summer 2012)
i.m. Michael Hartnett

And just because the stand of oaks was blind
she gave them eyes; iridescent glow stones
from fathomless seas. And once inclined
to hold the sky with seasoned hands grown
out of touch, they cupped the light, dappled
it for shadows and for shade. Now in sight
of things they know the shape of, they grapple
with her lonesome walks on moonless nights.
They whisper to each other, even the sky is alone tonight.
She presses her eyes to their eyes and inside their world
she finds you there, naked surgeon, a light
by your well, your body unfurled
as the stars flow through you, to trace
your hopeful song, so music is heard in space.
(first published in the Irish Times newspaper, February 16 2013)
Eleanor Hooker‘s debut collection of poetry The Shadow Owner’s Companion was published by Dedalus Press, February 1 2012. Eleanor Hooker was selected for the Poetry Ireland Introductions Series in 2011. Her poetry has been published in journals in Ireland, the UK and in Germany. She is a founding member, Vice-Chairperson and PRO for the Dromineer Literary Festival. She is a helm and Press Officer for the Lough Derg RNLI Lifeboat. She began her career as a nurse and midwife.