‘Cork Schoolgirl Considers the GPO O’Connell Street, Dublin 2016’ By Victoria Kennefick

Cork Schoolgirl Considers the GPO O’Connell Street, Dublin 2016

I am sixteen, standing outside the GPO
in my school uniform, which isn’t ideal.

My uniform is the colour of bull’s blood.

In this year, I am sixteen, a pleasing symmetry
because I love history, have I told you that?

It is mine so I carry it in my rucksack.

I love all the men of history sacrificing
themselves for Ireland, for me, like rebel Jesuses.

I put my finger in the building’s bullet holes;

poke around in its wounds.
I wonder if they feel it,

those boys, younger than me,

I hope they do, their blooming faces
pressed flat in the pages of my books.

I lick the wall as if it were a stamp,

it tastes of bones, this smelly city,
of those boys in uniforms,

theirs bloody too. I put my lips

to the pillar. I want to kiss them all. And
I do, I kiss all those boys goodbye.
 
 
 
 
Victoria Kennefick‘s pamphlet, White Whale (Southword Editions, 2015), won the Munster Literature Centre Fool for Poetry Chapbook Competition and the Saboteur Award for Best Poetry Pamphlet. Her work has appeared in POETRY, Poetry News, Poetry Ireland Review, Prelude, The Stinging Fly, The Irish Times, and elsewhere. She was recently awarded a Next Generation Artist Bursary from the Arts Council of Ireland. You can follow her on Twitter @VKennefick.

‘And What We Know About Time’ by Tania Hershman

And What We Know About Time

When it failed to alarm, my father
took the clock apart. Laid it
all out on the kitchen table. While the dog
dreamed and snored, we watched him
clean every piece, then, with breaths held,
attempt reassembly. It worked

perfectly for the next ten years, which was odd,
given the sixteen horological components
my father couldn’t fit back in. (They
lived out their days in that kitchen drawer
designated for such things.)

There must have been someone, somewhere,
now – like my father, like the dog,
the kitchen table and that drawer –
long gone, who once knew
exactly what those sixteen parts were for.
 
(first published in the Irish Examiner)
 
 
 
 
Tania Hershman is the author of a poetry chapbook, Nothing Here Is Wild, Everything Is Open (Southword, 2016), 2nd prize winner in the 2015 Fool for Poetry contest, and two short story collections: My Mother Was An Upright Piano: Fictions (Tangent Books, 2012), and The White Road and Other Stories (Salt, 2008), and co-author of Writing Short Stories: A Writers’ & Artists’ Companion (Bloomsbury, Dec 2014). A third short story collection and her debut poetry collection (Nine Arches Press) will be published in 2017. Tania is curator of ShortStops, celebrating short story activity across the UK & Ireland, a Royal Literary Fund fellow at Bristol University and is working on a hybrid prose/poetry book inspired by particle physics for her PhD in Creative Writing.

‘Afterthought’ by Marie Naughton

Afterthought

And what if –– go on, you’ve seen those films ––
what if on one particular January morning this man
no, this boy, what if, when this boy approaches the main road
and reaches in his pocket for his phone he remembers
fuckit, the fiver to cover the cost of his DaySaver
still on the kitchen table where three hours earlier
she’d positioned it carefully under the toast rack.

What if he ambles back to the house, sticks the key in the lock,
that small ritual like a reflex, on hold all these months
while he’s been teaching football to twelve-year-olds
in the States, and lets himself in, to that unmistakable
smell of home –– clean clothes on an airer, fresh sawdust
in the hamster’s cage, the vase of stargazer lilies
splitting into bloom on the sunny windowsill.

While he’s sliding the note in his wallet, what if she arrives
in the hall, back for an early lunch, hopeful
to catch her eldest before he sets off on the job-hunt,
and presses him to have a cuppa simply so she can savour
the pleasure of seeing him in her kitchen again, before
he pulls on the pale blue hoody that by teatime tomorrow
everyone in the district will recognise, and zips it up to his chin

laughing out loud as she hugs him like she won’t let go,
breathing in the lambswool warmth
of his newly-tanned neck, then volunteering
to give him a lift to the bus-stop, and they drive past
all the landmarks like they used to on the school run ––
the library where young mums still push buggies into the playgroup,
the swimming pool where he started his collection of badges.

Slowing, to let him jump out at the bus shelter
which you’d not imagine wreathed in blue and white tape,
what if she mutters dammit, things are quiet
in the office, I’ll drop you in town
,
and changing up to third, slides back into the line
of cars that file past the CCTV camera
perched like a sparrowhawk above the Tesco Express.

And at that interview, what if the boy lands the job
flipping burgers and before taking up the place
at Nottingham Trent, puts enough money in the bank
to spend the last five weeks of his gap year
on an adventure with a mate from college
hitching from beach to beach up the Capricorn Coast
and snorkelling on the reefs off Australia’s eastern seaboard.
 
(published in The Dark Horse 31 Autumn/Winter 2013).
 

Marie Naughton’s poems have appeared in magazines and anthologies including Mslexia, The Dark Horse, Southword, Lines Underwater and Her Wings of Glass. Others have been placed in competitions and she won the Cafe Writers competition in 2012. She has an MA in Creative Writing from the Centre for New Writing at Manchester University. She is a psychotherapist and a counsellor in a high school. She lives in Manchester. Read more poems by Marie Naughton here and here.

Three poems by Victoria Kennefick

Rib

I have visited your grave many times expecting to find you
tending your plot, maybe with a shovel or a strimmer,
turning your handsomely-lined face towards the sun.

In Kilmahon cemetery, wild garlic excretes a heavy smell.
White bonnets bob at your wooden cross,
embarrassed to show their faces, roots grown so deep.

Reflected in the bronze plaque, my borrowed face,
my something blue. Your name, that date
engraved above pebbles surfaced, shyly, in the wake.

I see through soil and rotting wood to what remains of you,
with bare hands I’ll dig, scavenge your grave goods.
Count, collect, wash your bones, knit them together,

taste dirt under my fingernails, earth that reeks of ramsons.
The whole empty, swallowed, to fill with rainwater
and white feathers. Wild garlic lingers,

a confusion of scents and sense. You pull your weeds,
in your element. Heaviness tugs at me, you do too.
A corset I wear made of your ribs, my rib that made you.

(from the pamphlet White Whale , Southword 2015)
 
 
Haruspex

A bloated calf floated downriver
you turned me away;
I looked over your shoulder
at the off-white belly, curly-haired
in the city’s storm-swollen water.

I wanted to wade in, drag it
dripping onto the pavement, slit
the distended belly down the middle.
Its guts would plop out, shock concrete.
In the packed entrails maybe there’d be a clue.

The calf watched me back with cataract eyes.
Impotent seers, we tried to divine
the meaning of this, still holding hands.
There was no liver to dissect, no blood.
All the same, it did not augur well.

(Winner of the Red Line Book Festival Poetry Prize 2013)
 
 
Lighthouse

They say that when they laid his bloated body
in her open arms she tried to dry him
with her long red hair; her tears
threatened to drown him all over again.

They say that when she finally let go,
her fingers were puckered;
in the morning her hair was pure white.
She never left the corner house again.

They say she fell away to nothing.
Her bones barely held up pale skin,
sail-taut against the storm of winds
that prevailed night after night.

They say she haunted windows,
watched the water, her face a perfect sphere.
And the crews, sailing the rising sea,
often mistook her for the moon.

(Highly Commended in the Over the Edge New Writer of the Year Competition 2014)
 
 
Victoria Kennefick (@VKennefick) is a native of Shanagarry, Co. Cork. A Fulbright scholar, her poems have been published in The Stinging Fly, New Irish Writing, Bare Fiction, The Penny Dreadful, and elsewhere. In 2013 she won the Red Line Book Festival Poetry Prize and was shortlisted for the Melita Hume Poetry Prize 2014 judged by Emily Berry. Her chapbook, White Whale, won the Munster Literature Centre Fool for Poetry Competition and was launched at the Cork Spring Poetry Festival 2015. It is available for purchase online here.

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)
 
 
Anger

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.