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An international online magazine that publishes Surrealist poetry in English.

Issue Four



Hanging House in a Canal

It lay on the other side,
the colour of churned butter.
I longed to enter any way I could,
by door, window, chimney.
But there was a reflection, clear as a mirror in the still waters,
the raised brows of dormer windows as it hung there, upside down,
the poking nose of the porch,
the comforting torso of walls.
I stripped off, knew immediately what to do,
dived, entered that beckoning house,
its bubbling whispers an embrace
as I burst through its porch reflection.
Now, within, I am drowned
in secrets, in the company of
water-rats, diving herons, grey roach
and crayfish.
With my own, as always.

Waiting for MJ

You sit, your disembodied hand
protruding from the open door,
a wine glass signalling to passers-by
that the golden, aperitivo hour has arrived.

But where's MJ?

You can bet your bottom lira
that he hasn't left the room with a view,
probably stands in his boxer shorts
admiring that young Gondolier
below on the grand canal. Despite a promise
of sobriety! You could scold,
but what would be the point?

You take another sip, your hand retreats
with its swollen-bellied glass to your thirsty lips.
This waiting. Not for you.
Minutes slip away, secreted to bronze
shadows and the angelic people of evening,
their long, heat-softened looks
that touch your face when they glance past the hand.
And something gives, like the tension
of a long, tawny rope, relaxing.
There now. Sip. Swallow. Sip.

That's him. In your sights now. Coming.
Guilt trailing his slim hips.

You wait, your hand still protrudes (the right one),
while the left now pours the second glass
which would have been his first (had he been on time).
Let him see how you don't really care.
Show how the thickness of Amarone di Valpolicello
on your tongue reminds you of nothing
but itself. Earth and syrup and mould.
The good earth which MJ imagines will syrup him
this winter, when the tourists have fled.

And perhaps, you too.

On Soft-Grazing Sea Cows & other Creatures of the Deep

An unmodeled civility of soft-grazing Sea Cows
does not harm the sub-oceanic dwellings of lesser creatures,
nor threaten nor savage. Gentle grazers of earth's bottoms,
coal black bull, his cow and calf: not derided for stupidity.
And mermaids who fail to adjust to the habits of land,
find cruelty there, keep the people at a remove
by warning of women with red hair,
menstruating women, and those with child,
to avoid the boats.
They long for our men to dote on them,
pitch a song-cry of orgasm from beneath the waves,
as they did at Odysseus, his celibate crew,
their cocks straining against the sirens.
And great-muscled sea-horses with fish tails,
and hooves like fins, when come to soil
cannot be outraced once their land-legs steady.
Yet on the strand, at high tide,
they ride again on shifting spume,
spindrift saliva from their tender muzzles
lacing the waves.

Know also of the barnacle goose
that openeth the shell by degrees, till at length
it is all come foorth, and hangeth onely by the bill;
in short space after it commeth to full maturitie,
and falleth into the sea, where it gathereth feathers
is birthed from a barnacle shell, not an egg:
a bird-fish capable of the darkest dives,
all quickened body from wave clutch and push.

Finally, also, phantom homesteads of the drowned,
at Bannow, Lahinch, Inishmore and Cemaes Head,
pounded below by tidal-shriek, storm-broken cliffs,
inhabited by drifts of mermaids seeking mates;
and sea-cows and the like, nosing through the sunken
dwellings. All windows and doors are agape –
nor church bells ring out, while creatures of the deep
graze here, drift, feel safe.

Mary O'Donnell is from Co. Kildare in Ireland. She has taught poetry on Galway University's MA in Creative Writing programme. Among her first poetry collections published by Salmon Poetry are Spiderwoman's Third Avenue Rhapsody (1993) and Unlegendary Heroes (1998). Her Selected Poems were published by New Island in 2006; her latest collection, Those April Fevers (2015) was published by Arc (UK), and Salmon Poetry will publish her new collection Mary of St. Médiers in 2019. She has also published four novels and three collections of short fiction, including Where They Lie (New Island 2015). A selection of essays on her work, Giving Shape to the Moment: the Art of Mary O'Donnell was published by Peter Lang as part of the Reimagining Ireland series during 2018. She is a member of Aosdana, Ireland's multi-disciplinary arts organisation.

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