New Year

That oil painting course I meant to take,
letters unwritten, library books unread,
a special message for a birthday cake,
scores of poems imprisoned in my head.

Those posh dinners that remained uncooked
the room unpapered, the marathon not run,
holidays and theatre trips I didn’t book,
photographs not taken, the diet failed again.

The ends of years are dusted with regrets –
stillborn and stunted things, half formed schemes,
drawers stuffed with forgotten projects,
shapeless thoughts and embryonic dreams.

Time now to sweep them all away –
New Year, new resolutions, another day.

Liz McPherson

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Before the Fall

Child bending over flowers:
a perfect picture of Pre-Lapsarian
innocence; the product of a painter’s
palette and a yearning for
the simplicities of life
before the long fall from grace.

Oh, child—you do not know,
nor should you, that you,
like the flowers, will fade
and lose your bloom.
Smell the blossoms while you can;
enjoy your short-lived honeymoon.

Bill Fitzsimons

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Bad Moon Rising

With apologies to Credance Clearwater Revival

I am loup garou, shape – changer, werewolf.
When the full moon silvers the earth,
my bones begin to warp, ligaments crack
and lengthen and my skin furs over.

My jaw twists and groans, a muzzle
thrusts forward and razor-sharp fangs appear.
Soon I am loping through the night,
hunger gnawing at me, blood – lust hammering
in my heart,my brain. Instant death awaits

any prey that I find, teeth tearing
warm flesh, bones crunching, the iron
taste of blood. But … as daylight
floods the forest floor I awaken,
naked and shivering with shame,
and remember that I am a man, not a beast.

Bill Fitzsimons

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The Bennett Road tea girls

Such joy, as the call came
‘Girls who are on drinks duty – off you go!’ –
release from the torment of times tables
spirited skip down the stairs
chattering and laughing.
Here the sanctum staffroom door –
but we swing it open, smacking its stopper with
a free-flowing flourish
to make the teachers teas,
Miss’s milky coffee
Sir’s sugary tea.
Details of the order hidden inside a small panelling door.

On the hob the milk boils
rising and bubbling, puffed up.
Just as it reaches the top
about to break free and burn it’s scorch mark on the world,
up and off, the pan, brandished –
10 minutes later, drinks made,
the bell clangs,
waltz out to play
with the times tablers.

The teachers arrive
full of their mornings’ fretful endeavours
and how some of them were not fruitful.
They push the door steadily.
It does not bounce but labours.
The drinks are drunk routinely amid
much exclaiming on the inexplicable idiocy
of pupils.
Just as well, the ones who made the drinks
had not ingenuity, luckily,
to make them as unpalatable as
some of the lessons.

The door clicks comfortably
behind the refreshed and mystified Misses and Sirs.

Rosie Cantrell

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Away from a danger

A Christmas song to be sung to the smell of baking mince pies overlaid with sanitizer and
accompanied by a guitar thoroughly cleansed with a strong anti-bacterial wipe

Away from a danger
No visitors here
Don’t come past my front door
And don’t come that near

The stars in the bright sky
are littered with germs
the mass tested number
hours later, confirms

The cattle are blowing –
out far too much gas
That’s another disaster
That could end us en – masse

Be near me, not too close
I ask you to stay
With a visor and mask on
At least 6 feet away.

Bless all the dear vaccines
To end our torment
Hoping you and your dear ones
Are in the ninety percent.

Rosie Cantrell

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Ode to my last suitcase

You sit in the cupboard wondering whether retirement has truly come.
Your black has faded to grey, scratched and battered,
Tattooed with airport security and hotel reception stickers.
You accompanied me on my many adventures
To India, China and many other lands.
I watched you disappear on the check-in belt
Wondering whether I would see you again.
I thought of you being thrown around and piled up into the plane
With other black, grey or more colourful travelers.
How brave you were to submit yourself to such indignities.
I saw you bouncing on the carousel at arrival, your bright ribbon
Tied on the handle waving to me, I’m here
As I pushed bodies aside to reach eagerly for you.
You saw me breathe a deep sigh of relief at being reunited
We walked together for a while through crowds of passengers
You patiently submitted to being pushed into a dusty boot
Or crammed into a cab front seat.
Sometimes you enjoyed the luxury of a clean hotel limousine
As I also enjoyed its air conditioning.
Proper care and respect often restored to you as we arrived
At a grand hotel I was not paying for.
Men in exotic uniforms would take care of you.
You and I momentarily separated again,
They brought you to my room.
Alone at last!
I could undo your locks and open your lid
Explore the precious things you had guarded so well:
My washbag, my nightclothes and spare underwear.
Sleep well, my faithful old friend,
Who knows whether we shall ever fly again.

Marie Sheard


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A very free translation from the Irish.

I drive north into hill country,
the hard breast of the hills;
the car straining over the slopes,
yielding to the inexorable authority
of the gears. The way is difficult,
the weather uncertain, my bones weary.

I lift my eyes to the sky’s curve;
the heavy clouds thick with the threat
of snow and sleet, storm-signs,
thunder’s explosive potential.

But suddenly, emerging from the clouds
out into the blue-green immensity of clear sky,
the slim silver figure of a glider, wings rigid –
a cross carved on the face of the firmament,
a blessed and unexpected revelation.

The thermal currents carry him beyond logic;
hanging on nails of belief, feathers of faith;
a man defying gravity, the storm dogs
snapping at his fleeing heels.

Man and metal merging, burnished
in the brilliance of sunlight;
a messenger from Olympus,
a harbinger of hope, pure and bright.

Bill Fitzsimons

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To Whomever

I catch glimpses of it here and there;
The sea plays peek-a-boo between the hills.
When I climb a brow, full blueness sets in,
So wide, its curved surface seems
Straight as a taut string.
From afar, the sea is silent,
Weaving light, sparkling with half-second stars;
Reaching for the land’s embrace,
Sculpting chalk cliffs in nature’s hand.
My eyes could not have their fill of the blue,
But could never take all in.
The waves undulate like muscles under skin;
The seawater, full of life unseen,
Dense as a poem
Down to the seabed, where only light
And dead sailors sleep.

On the beach, cobalt waves in perpetual motion;
They lap when you sleep,
Just as they waved before life,
And shall long after;
Where anemones coil
For all time within rock.
The tide plays, rolling translucent shells,
Sweeping black seaweed
In irregular beats of time;
So soft a voice for one so immense;
White foam making wishes at my feet,
Washing away my prints,
So I feel myself disappear.
And you come into my thoughts,
When it’s you I’ve tried to forget.
The sea clashes,
It snaps out my wishes.

The sun goes down;
The stretch turns grey
As stone in rain.
The moon takes hold, the tide retires,
And I remember how
A sea cuts me off from you.

Howard Benn

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Just Another Night

Just another night in the sleepless city.
The call came in around midnight –
cheap hotel, Lower East Side, dead female.

The uniforms kept the other residents at bay,
as me and my partner, Detective Gennaro,
looked at the body on the stained floor.

White, late teens, maybe pretty; hard to tell
with her brains spilling over her face,
blood clotting on her hair and neck.

Bad scene, but I’d seen worse –
the triple execution in Central Park,
for instance – and it was getting late.

Time to get the medics in, get the body
shifted. As I turned to go, however, Gennaro
nudged me, pointed at the victim’s shoes.

They were two-tone – black and white – and
pristine, as if straight from the box.
They looked incongruous in the seedy room.

Incongruous…and strangely innocent,
a teenage daughter’s birthday shoes.
A touch of humanity in the face of death.

My point? No point, no moral, no meaning.
A pair of beautiful shoes, a young dead female
and another night in the cold hard city.

Bill Fitzsimons

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Complete disorder; confusion ; anarchy; randomness; formless matter before
creation of universe; greek god Chaos- the first created being giving birth to
primeval gods. The idea is that the flapping of a butterfly’s wings in Argentina could cause a tornado in Texas three weeks later. (Modern chaos theory) “the least initial deviation from the truth is multiplied later a thousandfold”
(Aristotle OTH, 271b8).

Primordial chaos existed before the creation of the universe
so why am I surprised at the way things are?

Maybe there was something so neat around that separation of night and day
of earth and water, of planets and stars

I expected order to continue. An intelligent neatness to prevail
As the gaping void of chaos birthed its human avatar

“But the smallest deviation
from the truth can multiply
itself a thousand times or more
Like Aristotle, or fruit flies”

“So a butterfly flaps its fragile wings
in Argentina and produces, not Torrontes say,
but a tornado in Texas three weeks later predictable to the day”

Primeval gods, like Gaia and Erebus, Eros and Nyx
emerged from chaos at the dawn of time beyond the morning stars

Does any of this explain the mess
that still persists upon my desk?
If I tidied more, and created less,
would the rules of chaos finally be transgressed?

Eileen Neil

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