Outburst Magazine # 17

Do poets have a responsibility in the age of rage?

Welcome to Outburst Seventeen.  Though it’s been a while since Sixteen appeared on your screens our aims and hopes for the magazine remain broadly as before i.e. to publish quality, innovative and daring works.  It’s important that we stress again a few of our guiding principles. In Outburst we value our integrity, to compromise would be to betray. Our board makes its decisions on the quality of the work, not on the name of the author. For sure this will cause disappointment to friends – welcome to the club; what doesn’t kill makes stronger. Nor will we reject work from those who may not be our very best friends – as other, state-financed journals and media outlets appear to do – if the work is deemed suitable for us. So what kind of poetry does Outburst favour?  Good poetry will be marked by a newness in language and approaches that will excite the reader, it will raise questions hitherto unasked. For example, how should the poet respond to the trend to rage that is sweeping across the world? Should poets become ‘activists’ in the various self-styled liberation movements, populist, and ideological, or even in those to which these movements are opposed?  Poets will be aware that, in Keats’ words, ‘the only means of strengthening one’s intellect is to make up one’s mind about nothing, to let the mind be a thoroughfare for all thoughts’. Poets have a proud tradition of speaking out against oppression, from Homer and the Greeks through Chaucer and Shakespeare, Shelley, Mandelstam and Elizabeth Bishop, to mention a few in support of a point that applies to all worthy to bear the name POET. Poets make poetry, as Yeats remarked, through quarrelling with themselves. Political ideologues, even the most idealistic ones, make rhetoric, make-up half-truths, distort language for their own purposes, and denounce others. True poets will question the ideology of the moment, whether that come from left, right, religion or political correctness and ask, will this ideology challenge my liberties?  And they will, as Dylan Thomas counselled, ‘love the words’.



That tree, florescent against red brick, seemed younger than I,

And I was three.

One day, at the shudder of noon, I dared to pluck,

Unsuspecting the dread, and the hairy furrowed look

Of a wriggling grey salmon on his porch.

What are you doing? I choked, and the lemon grew,

Like a giant, abominable and wrinkled.

It squealed between my fingers,

Bulges of yellow skin, escaping, together.

I tripped as I reached the canal,

And the lemon toppled into that mossy realm of dead people,

Like my mother’s earrings.

The sin stuck to my eyebrows, an encrusted caterpillar.

It bit me when she kissed me,

Until there were too many holes in my face

And I began to see the purple pus of my nightmares seeping through.

I killed a lemon.

Don’t tell me it’s not so,

Because lemon trees don’t grow in Ireland.


Play with Me

Baby Bear sits in my pupil,

Threading a small needle,

As the ghost in my playhouse

Shreds the blankets,

And saws the bed in two.

The dust rests below,

In the basement,

Where he’s hidden them.

The sex toys,

Those vibrators of reality

Within the seven year old brain.

Barbie’s have breasts.

They wear miniskirts too.

So my vagina opens to you.



This bloody fish tank

Reflects your watermelon smile,

And kills all your colours with a smell.


Rotting, building, moulding

Into a cloudy kiss

With a stranger.

His lips hit the glass

And for a moment I feel…


Water spills down my back

And trickles off my tail,

Bent, bellowing at the sound

Of his muffled moans.

Those mermaids lurking in the corners

Of this willowing box

Swell like parachutes beneath the sea.

Blue fire expels like ink

Into the red concoction of my life

And their teeth come gnashing towards me.

I feel a destructive vibration,

A smashing of all,

And I see that watermelon smile again,

In the bite of this stranger

As his canines pierce the glass

And my bloody pool ousts.

Maria Gallagher



Grass in the West wind

The bent grass stalks flee the wind.

elbow each other. Some collide,

quiver at the buzzard’s missile cries.


Different heads, feathery, whiskery,

turban tight, all deathly thin, bow

east.  But for all the running,


the roots grip the soil where the seeds

were sown. I mourn the endless struggle

of grass, pray for the wind to choke.


At the Flash the Day Before I Went

Slimy waves sniffed the buttocks of shore

The swan necks questioned the water.

A princess in Barbie sandals saw her cornet

Spew over bird shit and nail bitten grass.


Tyres stubbed out the hot silence.

The burger van snarled. I watched yachts

Strung like toothy bunting over the grey.

Clutching the distance made things easier.


You picked rust flakes off the bench arms,

Fixed on a duck gagging on white crusts,

not wanting my blubber to split me from us,

from this exquisite slagscape that reflected

what you thought love was in its tough

unending seams, its secret curves, its song.


Helen Kay.



I still see your face in the moon

I didn’t see your face, only heard the barking,

as the dark in the window was broken

by blue moon rays.


But I have a memory

of you in the back of the Garda car,

the spinning flash of neon light.


Your moon face,

the stream of your tears


Where’d this come from?


This is not my memory,

they would not let me see you.

There was only the spin of blue light

breaking through my window.




 The black hole still exists as you left it, darling.


I ripped down curtains to let in the light,

never got around to fixing it, or wanting to,

let the outside come in, let me creep into out.


But the dark came just as easily.


The mirror shimmer of myself as I undressed.

Imperfection and shadow and flesh,

blackness not empty as it held me.


Did you know what your eyes could do?

Windows hold reflections on both sides.


Though when you looked through,

the dark swallowed you,

I could not see you, and maybe

you could not see yourself, darling.


I know what you’re thinking,

reflections can’t exist in the dark.

You could not create my image

on the glass like a photograph

because all you did was look.

The light came from me.

I tore down the curtains

I lit the candles and I met

your dark with the crashing of light.


But don’t you know, darling?

The light only creates the picture

if there is an eye off which it can reflect.

 The Dress

 Because it was short notice,

as funerals tend to be

I could not seem to find

anything to wear.


Leafed through files of old dresses

leftover from teenage years

lying behind from weddings, birthdays,

retired in my mother’s wardrobe.

Not one fit this occasion,

they all had stories already.


I chose one with forgotten origin

the black dress with the white

orchid silhouettes.

Not black enough, the light

always forces its way in.


During the service I fingered the petal

images, praying in my mind to a god

I don’t believe in, just to find somewhere,

for my words to go.


I brought the dress home to hang

in my own wardrobe where I kept

it in my eye line every morning;

The funeral dress, a reminder.


This year, because I could find nothing to wear,

I wore it on Valentine’s Day.


Alice Kinsella



The Death of Seamus Ruddy

(approximately 1985)


I saw the images pan the screen

as the women begged for a body to bury.

A summer day of long ago

panned my own memory;

he was standing in his newly painted kitchen,

eating batch and drinking tea.

A short, rather taciturn fellow

but give him the floor at a meeting

and he’d find his tongue, using it to effect.


His woman, a silversmith by trade,

shapes her molten metal now

around the hard fact

that fellow ‘comrades’

tied her Shamie to a tree in far off France

and beat his head in with a hammer.


Jean O’Brien






her hips
controlling her sway
his hands

before bed
she pours it on

her secret
the tip of
his tongue

hip shimmies
the small of her back
all over his mind

the rose garden
on fire
he liked it like that

unbuttoning her blouse
the peek a boo
of pearls

your body
my endless

madly, deeply
your love inside me

strip tease
his eyes devour me
my turn

saltwater kisses
it seems like the ocean knows
the sway of our hips

and if you touch me
a melting candle in June
wouldn’t burn as fast

he left her garden
but not before his warm breath
moistened the soil

his cheek on my cheek
as he unravels my hair
the rain pours harder

white roses and jasmine
on the cusp
of his lips

comparing palm size
their love lines

turning over
he found another reason
to kiss her

sandy hourglass
the grains of beach all over
her string bikini

the summer we picked
purple kisses

devouring her
under the moonlight
sweet werewolf

the summits covered
snow colored cashmere melting
she lifts her sweater

Rosemary Bryerton-Schiff







In Praise of Khalida Jarrar

“Here  is my life, here is my home”, Kalida Jarrar in Palestine


Because you open your mouth to criticise the Israeli Occupation, you must be silenced.

Because you are an elected Palestinian legislator, you must be silenced.

Because you will not move to Jericho, you must be silenced.

Because you challenge the Hebrew place names replacing those of destroyed Palestinian villages, you must be silenced.

Because you will not sign a form, you must be arrested by fifty soldiers.

Because you speak for the seven million Palestinian refugees, you must be silenced.

Because the contents of your myth kitty do not accord with the contents of the Zionist and Christian myth kitties, you must be silenced.

Because you are an affront to the complacence cocooning  the Chosen People concept round the globe, you must be silenced.

Because you condemn the on-going Israeli land grab, you must be silenced.

Because you condemn the rape and murder of Palestinian children and the murder of Palestinian teenagers left to bleed to death by the Israeli military, you must be silenced.

Because you speak up for basic human rights, you must be silenced.

Because you are a secularist, leftist Palestinian legislator, you must be silenced.

Because you are a champion of women’s rights, you must be silenced.

Because the Christian west or east, north or south see no interest in you, you will be silenced.

John Ennis




Imigrants’ refuge


For the way they die each day

there’s not much to be said

a new sun at dawn dances delusions

on old-town walls

where the moss still fulgent

in silent hues of hubris

resurrects self-worth


they offer bread and olives

and lick your palate

with flavor of reminiscence

hands add ointment to your sores

as eyes count the steps to your throne

seduction hisses

in a thousand rooms

curiosity, pulling on a leash

curls restless not far from window sills

and she, an immigrant in your streets

trust ambers under one heel scuffing marble

don’t lead her, don’t dream her…


you merged once on a night’s sharp turn

she lost sight in one eye

you met twice and again on a steep slope

she pick- pocketed irony from your scarred mouth

it fed her

and aged her into textured layers of strong

here she dies and here she lives

a little at a time

more than once on the same road

never at foot of stone statues

disparaged, undressed grandeur


Entre Nous

The night’s a barren woman here

prey to cul-de sacs

subdued to hierarchical green

undressing summer to its darkest shade
no river flows between her knees


and a lethargic moon has long forgotten

flattery of its cleavage on sidewalks


those wide boulevards
where you tripped on my eyes

wet with a thousand lies

and I sank to your playground

between the litter and quiescent shame
buoy on distorted shimmer
through Oleander blossoms
in squint of an owl’s dream

and Seine…
Seine…a prayer once

insidious impulse

when fingertips dipped in a dare

mastered vowels to your doorsteps

a time I wore my face revised

eyes oscillating between your many tongues

now a mere reflection in blue heron’s iris

a twisting shadow cast on rolled grass

adding curb appeal to pretense

nostalgia sticks to my skin

like a skirt riding up in sweat of suburbs

and blame settles next to apologies

sediments in a passé song

reducing summer to between the lines
and you, an ineffable relapse.

Silva Merjanian



Fox Kill


I once killed a fox

or believed I did, which was enough.


The cuddly thud

under the wheels on a night road


May have been anything

had I not glimpsed him in the headlights


But I could not find him

searching black asphalt and a black hedge


Was he myth, my personal totem, or

less dead because he could not be found?


Or had I conjured him

out of mindlessness and dreaming


That he emerged fully-formed

for the half-second under the wheels


And was now dust on the wet leaves

or smoke, like breath on the ice-starred air?


I plundered about in a cold silence

until it invaded me. Then


The warm consolation of the car again

the power of its killing, or its ghost


The need to move off quickly

into familiar things, the lights


Of a small town, slow guilt a tumour

swelling in the belly and the heart


I geared the weapon of his death

out of the body of the dark


And drove like a murderer

malignant in my own skin, my fox-face


Assuming the appropriate shape

his bone in my bone.




The public scribes sat at antique school desks in a line

like a fair-ground train outside the Post Office in Algiers


writing personal letters, postcards, official pleas and

arguments for those who queued and could neither read


nor write. In apocalyptic heat they earned each dinar

palmed to them in the greatest respect and in no hurry


plain tongues undumbed in speech made visible

learning the personal, the pettily private sins and pieties


of those who could not decipher a ‘bus destination or find

their way through a city that flowed like a burst dam –


until the muezzin stamped his full-stop in the air. If you

had seen the faces of the disappointed ones tottering


back into the torrent with their dreams and terrors

clamouring in the skull, still unpenned and consequently


without form, you might have wondered, as I did then,

how well the gears of the world would mesh and turn


without the public scribes, their inks and pens put up

for the sake of prayer; and the silence they left behind


rising out of their school-room roosts with the solemnity

of holy men or magi, all sleight-of-hand and mute contempt.


Fred Johnson




Hen Harrier


swoop      swoop

beak over claw

sky dancer

just a show off

in mid-air

the rush to the brain

make a pass at…..

somersault     oh the

whore moans

swoop      swoop

hot line hen

court me

court me now




I’m learning the art of wabi-sabi

searching for beauty in my broken beliefs

beauty in the oldness of me


like all wounded healers we travel

to find the Golden Fleece to repair

the chinks in our hearts


I’m learning how to illuminate

all my hair-line cracks   the negative

thoughts that hold me in the mire


cracked spaces within each

skeleton are scars unfilled

without gold




 Little angel


black wings

goth dress

red lips

silver nose ring

vaginal stud


that’s me


my halos a


I live to tantrum

tantrum tarantella

little miss awkward


that’s me


no more goody shoes

someone’s broke

my metronome now

I give out hell

my inner devil’s

been here for years



It’s palpable under this smooth sea,

well, over the horizon it is.

There’s a storm on the way,

it’s recognizable over my skin

in this sultry heat it prickles as

flesh waits for a downpour.


The pied wagtail knows it’s coming

frantic on the shoreline the

little bobbers

where are the hooligans

black backed or herring

the fishers the fishers?

Frontal lobes, cerebrum, grey matter

knows it’s coming,

blue to grey to black the sky

inside hearts everyone searches

tentative slow cautious

nothing’s going to shift fast today

only together with this wished for thunder

will we will we we will forget

forget the land of milk and honey

does Shangri-La exist?

now I’m feeling it

the cool ice cool breeze

Penny Sharman




Thoughts on Sylvia


You liked snowflakes

soft grass smell of children

the essence of you.

Not the other.

People like the tortured soul,

hunt it out from prose and poems

kiss it like death

revere its fame.




Snow in Laois



Monochrome Rastafarian,

stuck out bum,

arms akimbo,

crowned with dreadlocks

cocked to one side.


for the return of colour,

the thaw.



Slieve Blooms


Rise out of the soft,

beat your chest,


in your new coat

of white.


“Here I AM”

3D in snow

squat flat hills,


like mountains.


Ann Marie Foley





First they rip variegated ivy

off the raised-bed wall dismantling

wren’s nest, evicting spiders, bees


next they chop down border shrubs

blue and lace-petal hydrangeas

forsythia, wild rose hips and haws


but when they take the axe

to the myrtle tree of Myrtle Cottage

dusty orange bark, purple berries


build a bonfire of branches, flowers

I know it’s time to walk away, never

revisit our home of many years.


Rosie Wilson



Dear Editor

It’s not that I don’t want you

to publish my poems.

I do.


It’s just that having harped on

about the establishment for so long,

played the maverick, the creative genius

who doesn’t give a shit for public affirmation,

I’m finding it hard to express

my neediness in a cover letter

that begs you to consider my work,

affirms your gatekeeper status

and exposes my bloodied knuckles.


Yours in anticipation etc.


P.S Please find attached, page after page of blank white flags.



Warmest wishes,



Anne Tannam




I reached out

To find the cloth of his coat in the hall

And took him with me


Into the dead of night

To this place at the edge of the world




Idle Threat

The argument continued until morning.
She was sick, she said
Of his ridiculous dreams
And unwashed clothes.

His fucked up attitude.
And unwanted groping of other girls.
Paying his rent
Rough sex.
And him
Always. Being. Right.

She needed saving, she said.
A solid brick house
Or fresh air.
A savage song
A new start
A way out.



She swore,
She’d devise
Another method
Of staying warm.



Prick Envy

For two whole weeks you stayed away.
You were polite at first,
And remote,
Then openly and deliberately defiant.

For two weeks,
There were yellowed skies with
Semi hurricane winds
And low spirits.
And as trees felled I roamed my flat
Until three or four in the morning.

I sometimes hovered on the landing too.
With my chipped pink mug of Jack Daniels and Wine.

And I remember I grew so demoralized at one point,
I continuously picked up and put down the phone,
And lit cigarette after cigarette after cigarette.

(I was bitter that you were not the one alone)

By the time you came back, you knew I was ravenous –
I was starved and famished and craving
The lurid stories of your cheap affair
with another man.

Top of Form


Bottom of Form


[ journal entry. may. 20 ]


before breakfast this morning,

before I showered or washed the bitter taste of him out of my mouth,

I flicked the switch on the overhead radio

and raked around for the longest smokeable stub

in the ashtray beside the bed.


and already the day way red hot

and as unpredictable as a landmine


Top of Form



Housekeeper’s Cut

He was clearly his father’s son.
The second (superior) joint,
In the family cut of meat.

Same blue eyes.
Same blonde hair –
Thick with curls,
Framing a face that made me grey at the edges.

He was wilful then.
And bold.
A lethal concoction, predictable
Retaining the foul impatience of a small boy.

But I was helpless.
And even then,
At that,
I knew what it meant.
And what it was it would mean for me.





C- Section

My body
Was plump dead meat
Inside a white envelope
The morning
They pulled you out.

At half past nine
They laid us flat,
And with one neat line
Busy hands
Cut your curtain
And a small battalion of strangers
Worked us both.

Layer by layer
Paper soft tissues gave way
By then
I was stilled,
And solid
And felt nothing as they invaded your space.

With borrowed tools,
They broke the border.
And I watched
As they dragged you,
Feet first
into my world
Where time stood still
And everything was sealed
With your stark, bare bawl.


Karmel McDowell




De Invisible Expert


De Invisible Expert he go
dis way an dat an no
one see he have de answer
Many say dey have de answer
but dey not de Expert man dey fuck tings up
worse dan dey ever were before
In dey offices wid Expert on de door
dey pickin cherries man, dey makin closure
Dey slap a sticker wid de word Closure
on all kind of problem
an de people who have de problem
write dem fat checks an come out
wid a sticker on de mouth
in case dey might say
man but my problem not go way
just cos you slap on a sticker

De Invisible Expert he go
dis way an dat an no one know
he have de answer
cos de mudderfuckin cherry pickers
don’t want he to be de Expert
an dey only expert at slappin stickers



 Budapest Quartet


A woman half my height in a laneway’s entrance
smoking a cigarette, face drained of dreams.

And the man we asked for directions said
‘I perfectly understand my own English’.

Only the brown boy slumped over a book
and his plastic cup revealed my whereabouts.


I sit where the Danube understates its passing
and spring’s new leaves are hard to say. And said
before so often, why again? But then
why not another turn about, to go
merry and down, and once more down and merry
in the hard-said spring? Don’t worry that they think
you have wasted your days, those philistines:
a splash of green that hangs in air on the river’s
opposite bank is no small thing; unheeded
it grows among the lives and it will be
again and find an open eye and they
will take it to their hearts eventually.


It is not fortuitous that I introduce
the Horsemen at this stage, for there they were
on Hero Square, flexing their destinies:
to be is to go, to gallop in all
directions. Otherwise they would have been
the men who sit each day outside my grocer’s
shooting the breeze. And nobody is more
shiftless than a Magyar going nowhere,
competing with the weather forecaster,
passing the time of day’s litotes.
But how those heroes passed time galloping
in their mustachioed magnificence,
demanding blood not bread, putting a world
of fear together! And the veins that throbbed
in their horses’ necks and thighs! I can still
hear the clattering of their hooves at night,
you could say they are always on my shoulder.


A taximan tells us taximan jokes,
gesticulates at the lights. If you can’t
say green, take it home with you. Don’t throw stones
at heroes or they’ll bounce and hit you back.
These guys can do without you forever,
unbending as a lover on the chill
with the square jaw you cannot climb when she
shows you her North Face. But let it be clear
that I am more important than you, Magyars:
this may on the face of it seem unlikely,
but you are dead and I still look for answers.


Ciaran O’Driscoll







…stricken from out of dead light breath in a broken valves of teeth nothing left to follow onwardly dissipated silenced/ till closure eye redempt of no/ bitter sting foreign lapse space lack devour else what of some mattering besiege a scuttling of dead teeth a toothen absence/ shadowy nocturne/ frozen blue mist beneath an evening’s danse macabre given to expire/ it bitten cold weight settling in bone none of sensed of stricken resolve/ aches as it must in a redeem’s nonchalance till call of cards/ little less to burn of/ an electrical melancholy vibrating yet given to flourish in knotted fingers collage of breath’s resolve restless to become or other than/ it must lest in commence/ we stung eye lie/ bitter some aftertaste a child’s toy eviscerated lack of resolve closed over tearing limb from limb foreign else/ non-speech resolve fuck it forget what premise sudden to expire scattered fingers blossoming into nothing ever/ bitten absences and the divisive tongue cold weight of reckless arbitrary lightless unto pageant unto nothing skulled lest of excremental silences/ solace what/ dead pulse yes what a lie/ some seizure climate breaking forth un-sun laughter- long break tryst absence of sky’s bones as if there/ not we love/ what not we love/ not a trace given to explore where nothing ever is sought or reached/ still said allwhile taste waste expire/ guillotine breath a tomb of sudden demise/ whispers of some slaughterhouse feeling an absence of no further step/ (let it all come down)/ sudden yet of in we alack given from purpose forgotten callous nights lacking any/ in meat we trust/ and of some spiral of warped stone heavenly departed/ pause yes yes to falter from deliverance dried skin and some promise no not a/ close I it/ bit stung from hyenic jaws/ spill of the guts of in-dreaming/ slapped again/ steel/ ripping apart the core of less than matters else non-echo/ direct/ strip away of meat what if eye/ nowhere left to/

…in butcher’s colony/ bereft eye die symbiosis collective none octane given to occult wastage seeds to flow through desert fingers of/ all the broken glass in world will not has not collapse of spasm entity steel collision cracked skull absence dead as a lie/ opening up in worthless pageant clad turning pelts of some redeem cast upon what of it/ blood-rhetoric/ nothing into out of which lapse ocular spent yet never to observe not once/ caved in abortive cheer/ picks bones from teeth redeem’s absenteeism/ drunken coming to some fore or hereafter/ dead scroll and the bite of which indent rolling the tongue around as if to say that it was in or of collapse dead space empty resounding non-if scattering the petals of/ nothing of it nothing ever said or of decline/ what worth no nothing no not a/ bone echoing given to dispel what as if/ abattoir no or other than/ reclaim reclaim/ scattered absently throughout/ valve ice we what/ all sense devoured scuttling what if in out what scourge collapse I-dread/ crack marrow ice blood-red/ lost songs given up to/ some trace of desire sung the corpse-breakage bearer/ intro if or on/ tracing sky wilt a paranoidal skin beckoning what will dies less that of the before or now/ spies with the little eye it echos/ burnt stung a blind sight edge nothing much/ savouring less/ all alack/  syringe-clad night vomiting the sickness dredge to touch skyline’s drift exhale inhale/ unto/ cracked stone wilted fingers lung of it as if to say/ nothing of which to forge/ forage for/ effortlessly devoured/ close the wound as if what wounded eye/ it I-skinned given to un-pulse recollect/ devouring/ shrapnel dust in a collect of no nothing/ some sought/ some nothing… 



…if hence then will what from an eye clad circus of devour/ levels then rescinds breaking forth as if of some redeem clotted blood exigency of futile breath/ a seeker’s solace sudden dream of expendable desires ever to eclipted cracking apart design from locked unto severed unto fathomless/ yet neither thrice given unto pace some opulence from out of pitch never to become/  pacing allwhile deserted streets of echoes sudden enough to kill and then recede/ breaking from fever sensed of some subtle eclipse specious known no nothing known/ through breakage point of bedamned lights collectively ripping apart unto nucleus bite/ ever yes in itch an itch for razor silence some earthly kiss of vapour tones all then from birthed-will out it out from reach collision desolately unspoken/ through dense said soil another given collapsed weight broke teeth stun whisper given to expire in lack’s obtruse subtle then to dredge sudden to devour/ all along depth will out what if non-spoken return to obsolete spinal crack will then what as if then of without/ flailing sands of bespoken intricacy of dead speeches long foreign words echoing from said distance/ till uttered once more/ in fugue prayers from deep nothing collapse sky-pelt bind of neither or of closed fist shattered glass/ a breaking of/ piss for blood collapsed design what venture taken only to recede/ till yes or no once more/ not a/ silenteeism in reek of bitter obsolete as said once else given to dreaming-in/ arced tongue/ broken landscapes of desire reduced to dust/ of some ever-held blind-sighted psychosial bleeding out as if to say some final passage pressed upon as wax/ we obsolete/ machinations bled will out from frenzy prison prism reckless shadow/ movement toward none through none instability of deduced bone haven collision/ expel/ wastage to become settled in gilded out breath or simple outrage/ fuck all dignity in final/ where operatic flows null/ what spun not a trace of redeem if as once said that it ever were/ shutter closed snap/ bitter pips to swallow/ approaching beckoned allwhile/ frozen epiphany of dead lights boring a skull of holes I-deathed/ skinned pit in lapse of ever-if/ presence/ presence not a trace of…  


Michael McAloran



Beg, Borrow or Steal

She smells of Paris while I permeate

Pine sol and orange peels. She wears pouty

pink lips, opera gloves and matching heels.

She wants to borrow my husband again

but I’ve lent her eggs, milk and honey, watched


her take the paper and slips of bleeding

hearts from the front walk. She’s in a low-cut

blouse, an even shorter skirt and her breasts

play peek-a-boo in the thin-taut creases

that gather at the pearly open gates


of buttons. I can hear his feet padding

down the white spiral staircase so I slam

the door. I turn and unbutton my brown

flannel shirt, pop open my full support

bra and shimmy out of my high-waisted


jeans down to my tummy-tucking, slightly

yellowed granny underwear. The doorbell

chimes and I fling panties to the dog pile.

I saunter to him slopping side dishes

of cellulite, jiggling scars, and trailing


veins of purple iris. I am moving

like coppery ferns sashaying in wind,

whispering moon-blanched words to a blushing

sun. I spare him the pounding of my heart

and let it beat in –the knotty French door.


(Previously published in Vine Leaves)



A Cat Poem

I’m not some lion-bitch on the loose

without her pride or a tiger burning

forests bright. I’m more domesticated,

a Himalayan house cat, all Persian


with no panache. You on the other hand

are feral as white feathers fluttering

down from skies. You fancy yourself a Tom,

constantly on the prowl for pussy-


cats, ready to pounce, back alley girls

who purr tall-tales and make you frisky.

You rub yourself up against me, curl

your head in my lap and then milk me dry.


You stand there with a cheesy grin, mousy

matted hair brushed beneath the stiff prick

of your ears. You reek of Fuzzy Navals

and there’s caviar kisses on your coat.


I won’t stroke or pet you. I’ll tear up

the sheets, roll them in a ball, and bury

them like a beef bone in the backyard.

I won’t shed tears or call out your name


in a fevered pitch. You may have led me

astray but I’ll land back on my feet.

I may be no glamour-puss and sound

like a sour-puss but I’m no dog!


(Previously published in Kansas City Voices)



Things I keep

Abortions fall from my head, ugly

undeveloped children without legs

or arms to attach to. Some are severed

at the neck, eyeless and free floating

in a bubbling abyss of appendages.


They drop like bombs and I leave them unclaimed

as baggage, untagged and unfit to fly.

I brew miscarriages, send fetal bound

ghosts to a closet where corpses hang

skeletal as racks of thin white dresses.


There’s too many misconceptions around

coat hangers, knitting needles and slippery

elm.  I labor to hold what’s inside, scared

if they slip out I’ll be a deadbeat,

a sarcophagus flowing down the Nile.


I leave orphans motherless, fatherless

and godless, embryos littered like trash.

I’m too wrapped up in the stain, the infancy

of things like the tattered fig leaf curling up

at the fringe of something dark and fertile.



P C Vandall





wind stole our words

muffled our ears

in discord


susurrus sweeping

our ankles fall

in tandem pacing


psittacism speech

kites on the wind



we acknowledge

each others

nodding heads


hoping we have

a grip on the string

of words thrust


what they are

and suppose

were right


until the wind

no longer claims

our chitchat



the gist











Bob Shakeshaft    




”The wind will blow

Like the thought of never\the self

Was known before”


Splintering trees   bared dangling roots   leaves flit   dart in mad air  domicile vortexes Clawing windows   frameless are whirling glass to silica    stirring glittering welkin pools

My dissipative candles flicker     a flame       lonely of light        now conflagration ash

Clouds are the moving idols    the smoky curtained filaments    arc a decimated stage

Light a swaying particled illumination     sky in its internal chain with space   broken


There is a unexpected sound   I thought the ocean gone    waves tipped display power

Feathers    my touch of reality    even in the birds ricocheting      off wet salt stones

No I was wrong    the last sea passes in chill    bleak fish    crumbling comets of thrown

Seaweed shadowed sun seen   rays salty   explosive beams   emissioned murmurations

Or that is my seeing       my feeling        trembling skin of blur       in blankness I splutter


Exception of the shafting moon    seemingly passing through me    lying inverted   still

Staring  or one eye stares up   blinding mystification scars the orb   to a celestial circle

Centered with a small banner reading      ”Lector of Apocalyptic Utterance”

The other watching the mesmeric world         a gusted shifting            incubus elegy

Incorporeal storm      in simulacrum slivers    cuts into itself      deeply deeper    deep


Into the stuffings of visible vapour    of clouds   dripping with stormy mania    or mould

Electric like Tesla’s spirit     explosive lightning of sensorial   dazzling flash    flashing

Thunder   grand tinker of sound   thunderbolts rumble   thunder continuous over sound

Pitchers of the Giants  pouring hail    violent frozen swiftness      hailstones showering

Great bladders of the clouds   soaking reservoir  floating tanks of breaking phials   rain


Rain   the atmosphere stretching moisture    through the drops falling   I see the inside

Storms Heart   a stormy rhythmical     dilatation pulsing      its breast a organ of passion

Strangely like my own       if I could but tear open my chest        in a tempest of my own

Roused further into the tumult    my agitated attended sight       slighted in this viewing

Through slits      my body purged cathartic       now in slithers   through slits I see


Swirling whirling eddied ramparts       hurricane and deluge overlaid    to all distances

Clang the echoed thunder groaning      discharging a strike      repeating to horizons

But here is this strange moving of silence    against as far as I can not see   sullen dark

Hostile engagement of disharmonious perception     still abundantly shafting  my ear

Through the movement of my tatters  wild breeze gone   wind not holding me together


I stoop in the loss of natural actuality    perimeters tottering      the maelstrom outside

Squally tempestuous air in the ambit horizon     takes my glance     now I appear secure

All a welter of thought      nucleus visioning veil falls from  my mind     parable ‘scenting’

I am somewhat safe maybe   left pieces asunder   trying to restore     the whole desired

Leaning  falling through invisible walls    tips of my fingernails    scratching  the deluge


It’s a cave     a cavernous  den    an eye lashed brushed  cavity

I fall sleepy absorbed into its iris     the great eye of the storm

Descrying a reflection in storms eye      the storm


robert shanahan