Mars in Retrograde
June comes to the sky above Leitrim
and Mars is as red as a rose.
Our garden’s roses stare longingly upwards,
this heat is killing them.
Oh Plough, slip some water
from your tilting pan to my poor roses,
into the red mouth of Mars.
The swinging bench moans like a ship
all around me, and I am adrift
in a sea of stars.
Cut me loose from this rope of fairy lights
entwined like a glittering snake
around the chains and the boards.
Let me ﬂoat to Orion,
let my fingers find his belt’s cold buckle.
Oh Mars, my love with red hair
is gone from me and in your single,
maddened eye, I have glimpsed
the men I’ll sacrifice to follow him.
I have seen the future slipping from me
like a lonely satellite. I
have heard the creaking of a thousand
ships released at once
like a breath across the face of Earth.
At Choeung Ek, our guide points out
the sugar palm’s serrated leaves –
good for cutting throats. In these fields
a tree can be a knife. A mouth
that knew only several joyful tastes
of what should have been a lifetime’s sugar
can now be a jawbone
separated from its tiny skull.
In times of heavy rain, bones and teeth
and scraps of clothing surface
in the mud – our guide requests we do
not touch them. It is as if,
he says, the dead will not rest. This
was once an orchard, watermelon grove.
Now the land swells gently where
the mass graves are, like the stipple
of our lazy beds that predate the Famine.
Here, the sun rises like an apple
red and whole. I reach out to
the coloured bracelets hanging on
the Killing Tree. Here, a tree can hold
for decades the brain-bone-fragments
left by babies’ heads. Our guide
says look, but I do not want to look.
Sunlight touches the
unstirring lake, the stupa’s dusty glass
behind which 5,000 skulls
gaze back at us, incurious.
For years the only sounds that reached them
in the dark were of birds
and monkeys calling to their young,
calls passed down through generations.
One century before
a Galway ﬁeld’s bone-chamber
was found by two young boys
the missionaries who first came to Angkor
said the jungle temple was so strange
and ancient they did not believe
the natives capable of building it.
‘I am the Lizard Queen!’
In bed last night
with my real self I lay chillin.
Opal vein mined
from no dark Andamooka hunk.
The price of rainbow
is the body’s shell, split.
Adaptation no more, bitch.
Out she comes
like the lizard men
sheddin their humanskin.
Carved in luminous
like the ﬁne jade bra
when he tore her open.
Trees makin a cathedral
neon signs like green moons
in their aisles.
the knife in her back
on the steps to Montmartre
cos a long road is life
if you never becomin
the creach that is nothin
& everthin. Like glass.
Like the lobster
translucent as ice
ﬁsherboy netted in Maine.
Little goddess, tidewitch
he returned to the waves.
Because she female.
Because she strange. Rare
as blue amber
Tigers in Leitrim
My mother calls to tell me there are tigers in Leitrim again.
I say: It’s been a thousand years since the last one was killed,
what about the wolves? She says: No wolves yet but I saw the tigers
with my own two eyes, crossing our lawn in the cold milk
of the moon. A tigress and her cubs, who knows what hot dark
and godless enclave they emerged from? I say: Yes, I saw them too.
She says: How? You haven’t been home in months. I say: On TV
or whatever, I don’t really remember. But the tigers mean something,
I’m sure of it. Why else would they come? She says: Well,
I’m afraid of them. Who knows what strange orbit
they’ll travel around our farms and our houses. What about
my lovely hens? I say: Damn your hens. Do me a favour.
Use lipstick to write each of our names on pink scraps of paper,
then let them fall from the window like flowers. She says: And why
would I do that? I say: To tell them. She says: Tell them what?
I say: That we have seen their red shadows taking mouthfuls of dusk
as the sky starts to darken again, and that there are more
of us like them, the only species of cat that loves rain.
11 Mars in Retrograde
12 Tom Barry
16 Domínio Vale do Mondego
20 A Massage Room in West Cork
22 In America
23 Mary Anne MacLeod
27 La Chalupa
28 At a Photography Exhibition in New York Public Library
31 Storm Warnings
32 Paris, 13 November 2015
34 Tropical Ravine House in Belfast Botanic Gardens
37 The Cave of Melassini
44 Miracle at Standing Rock
46 The Unicorn Children
47 Tigers in Leitrim
48 Poem for a Friend’s Unborn Baby
50 Northern Lights
51 Cosmic Latte
52 irish coffee
53 Mercury in Retrograde
56 Amongst Women
59 Wedding Below the Perseid Meteor Shower
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