‘Aisling’ by Adam Wyeth


Beautiful girl
with a broken harp
who plays on the side
of the street through wind
and rain, her open case catching
coins that flicker as leaves on a lake.
Her plaintive notes which float like pleas
then flee into a whooshing diaspora of rush-
hour traffic as she plinks and plucks more
hay-wire chords that shudder down the
roads and spines of passers-by who do
not know her out-of-tunes have
nothing to do with dexterity
but are due to her harp’s
disrepair. Yet she
continues to play
through wind
that blows
her song
and rain that collects in her case,
and, because of this, is beautiful.
(from The Art of Dying, Salmon Poetry 2016)
Adam Wyeth is an award-winning poet, playwright and essayist living in Dublin. His second poetry collection The Art of Dying was published with Salmon in November 2016 and was named as an Irish Times Book of the Year. In 2016 he was a selected poet for Poetry Ireland Review‘s Rising Generation.

‘Skinny Dipping’ by Jean O’Brien

Skinny Dipping

I’m Irish, we keep our clothes on
most of the time. We perform
contorted dances on beaches in Cork,
or Donegal; undressing under
not-yet-wet-towels. Worried that any gap
might expose us, lay some body-part bare.
It was the Immaculate Conception that did it,
if Mary could conceive a child without
removing her knickers, then by God
us could undress and swim
without baring our buttocks.
We swam serene in freezing seas,
goose bumps freckling our pale skin.
We lay togged out on wet sand desperate
for the weak sun to dry us, before performing
the contorted dance in reverse. Now as I
remove my clothes, peel them off
layer by layer down to the bare,
a brief moment of unease before the release
of water baptising skin. With a quiet ‘Jesus, Mary’,
I dive in.
(previously published in Merman, Salmon Publishing 2012 and The Windharp Ed. Niall MacMonagle, Penguin 2015)
Jean O’Brien‘s fifth collection is New & Selected Poems: Fish on a Bicycle, Salmon 2016. She has won the Arvon International Poetry Award and the Fish Poetry award as well as being placed in many other competitions, most recently her work was Highly Commended in the Forward Prize (2014). She holds an M.Phil in Creative Writing from Trinity College, Dublin and tutors in CW.

‘Feathers’ by Mark Granier


She gave me an etching she’d made
of a single feather, one of the short, curled ones
that plump ski-jackets and pillows. I asked
for it, though it may also have been a kind
of parting gift to something that could never
get off the ground.
Feathers found in amber
‘represent distinct stages of feather evolution… from
single-filament protofeathers to structures
associated with modern diving birds.’
In an old copy of The Rattle Bag (bulked
with bookmarks: photos, letters, notes…) I found
a postcard I’d sent home from Perth in ’74:
some long-horned highland cattle, and taped on the back,
a grouse-feather, fresh as ever, blunt
as a shovel, its earth-brown speckles beautifully
covering the little I could find to say.
A microraptor –– dark, small as a pigeon ––
shed, along with its life,
colour, ‘bundles of pigment’ far
thinner than a hair, in stone
sensitive to tones: a touch
of oily iridescence,
shades of blackness in feathers:
ferns, broken bones, the crushed
umbrella light of the Cretaceous
opening for us.
Mark Granier has published four collections of poetry: Airborne (Salmon Poetry, 2001), The Sky Road (Salmon, 2007), Fade Street (Salt, 2010) and Haunt (Salmon, 2015). Prizes and awards include the Vincent Buckley Poetry Prize in 2004 and a Patrick and Katherine Kavanagh Fellowship in 2011. He teaches Creative Writing for University College Dublin’s Adult Education programme and at The Irish Writers’ Centre. New & Selected Poems forthcoming from Salmon Poetry in 2017. Blogs: Lightbox / Skyroad (flickr) / Skyroad (blipfoto)

‘The Gate’ by Afric McGlinchey

The gate

They need a context to eke out
their distant echo, undisturbed by cities or freeways,
some place desolate perhaps, where bones
have settled well below earth,
and bats hold on in the favoured dark,

where a fox might bark; a place
to find comfort among moth-coloured shapes
in the unlit gloom,
haunted by the passing
of a stranger at a gate, its brittle

metal rocking on loose hinges,
raven-blue grooves indented and weathered;
or a stray, looking for a shelter to coil into,
away from the cooling air;
nature’s dissolution shared with human debris,

relic of a blue kettle tipped
to one side and growing moss;
above the cracked mantel,
a thorned heart.
The gate stirs, lifts the torpid air

to a condition of unreason,
and at any moment
they might step across,
feel the weight of this rusted gate
on a solid leaning arm.

Evening draws in,
darkness creeping closer,
until the gate is all there is,
and even that a shaky prospect,
disintegrating under seeping ink.

The night glides its wings,
silent as an owl,
only the wind to attend those ghosts,
knowing there is something they need to say.
The air curls round mounds, trees, stones,

like little leaves, to carry sorrows,
secrets, lost dreams.
An unlocked gate shudders,
creates a breach,
invitation to leave.
(first published in Abridged)
A Hennessy Emerging Poetry Award winner (2010), Afric McGlinchey grew up in Ireland and Africa. She was shortlisted in the Bridport poetry competition, nominated for the Pushcart (USA) and highly commended in the Magma, Joy of Sex, North West Words and Dromineer poetry competitions in 2012. She won the Northern Liberties Poetry Prize (USA) in 2013. Her début collection, The lucky star of hidden things, was published in 2012 by Salmon. Afric lives in West Cork, Ireland.

Two poems by John W Sexton

Bog Asphodel

Here I birth and here I am, tar water my start;
yet through the seeping space of bog
I erupt in yellow stars. Then nebulae
am I and I am a starnight of saffron.
Bog is the roof of the underworld,
where upside down the dead
walk with their feet shadowing the soles
of the living. Each step you take
you take onto the step of your dead self.
And down here I am the true night
of saffron stars. I am the hades of
the dull and indifferent. Down you come,
down you come to my dunlit world,
where my roots bind the heavens in place.
Cruppany I give to sheep who eat my flames
and down to hades they crumble, boneless sheep
herding the souls of dullards. Pick me oh pretty
and pin me to your hair, and my saffron dust
shall bid you, shall bid you here.
(from The Offspring of the Moon Salmon Poetry, 2013)

I broke a tooth on the tangled locks
of that dark-haired woman. My mouth was greased
with the grease from her un-sunned head. Only
the plughole of the bath holds more of her
than I. She keeps me on the shining lid
of the toilet cistern; lets me wait
until she’s ready. No one is more loyal
than the one she drags backwards and forwards
through that hedge of hers. I live to be taken up
and put down. Waiting is my duty too. I
lie idle most of my days, hoping she’ll
take me back near her bed. How I think
bitterly on the day I was replaced
by that silver lad. The one who spends
his days and nights a-straddle on her brush.
(previously published in Census 2 and The Offspring of the Moon Salmon Poetry, 2013)
John W. Sexton lives in the Republic of Ireland and is the author of five poetry collections, the most recent being The Offspring of the Moon (Salmon Poetry, 2013). Under the ironic pseudonym of Sex W. Johnston he has recorded an album with legendary Stranglers frontman, Hugh Cornwell, entitled Sons Of Shiva, which has been released on Track Records. He is a past nominee for The Hennessy Literary Award and his poem The Green Owl won the Listowel Poetry Prize 2007. In 2007 he was awarded a Patrick and Katherine Kavanagh Fellowship in Poetry.

Two poems by Nuala Ní Chonchúir

The Lunar Spread

On Half Moon Street
we eat Tunisian orange cake,
under a painting of a melon
that spills seeds like love.

Over Notre Dame
the moon is a plate,
tossed by a Greek waiter
from rue Hachette.

Clear of Galway’s rooftops
the full moon
– bald as a skull –
crowns the night.

When she is van Gogh yellow
and mooning above,
we close the shutters
to safely sleep.
(first published in Burning Bush)

The moon is battered tonight, bruised and swollen,
but she swanks above us, bringing joy to the chill.

Tallow-moon, electric-moon, she shoulders the sky,
a brazen spotlight over trees salted with frost.

And down here, eyes aching, we creep to the church
on the square, make peace with each other in song.
(first published in Southword and subsequently in The Juno Charm, Salmon, 2011)
Nuala Ní Chonchúir lives in Galway, Ireland. She is a novelist, short story writer and poet. Her fourth short story collection Mother America was published by New Island in 2012. Her third full poetry collection The Juno Charm was published by Salmon Poetry in November 2011.

A poem by Paul Casey

The Speed of Cat’s Eyes

His eco-ship purrs silver-smooth
past shores of bastard-amber stars,
chases the veined twist of tail-lights,
long spaces poised for sudden red.

Earth’s skin, spinning culture
at past the speed of sound
around its centre, skims the sun
many thousand miles per hour more.

He turns up his thoughts in stereo –
lick the cream from these lips honey –
sees movement from the passenger seat,
a reason to steer with his knees.

He stirs honey into chamomile,
skins up, scribbles a quatrain ending –
no hands, see? Her mirage smile,
her eyes that flicker. Her invisible fur.
(from home more or less, Salmon Poetry, 2012)
Poet and filmmaker, Paul Casey, is the founder of the Ó Bhéal reading series in Cork. As well as his debut collection, home more or less, he has published a chapbook of longer poems, It’s Not all Bad, (Heaventree Press, 2009) and in October 2010 his poetry-film, The Lammas Hireling, after the poem by Ian Duhig, premiered in Berlin.