Sunday, June 19, 2016

New Words and Images by Donal Mahoney

Meeting Dad Again

My father emigrated from Ireland to the United States in the early 1920s. He had been released from Spike Island by the English who "occupied" Ireland at that time. Spike Island was the "Guantanamo" of that era, located just off the coast of Ireland. It was there the English warehoused prisoners of the Irish Republican Army (IRA). 

My father had been imprisoned by the English at age 16 for running guns through the marshes of County Kerry to aid the rebels fighting to free Ireland from the rule of the English. Young Irish lads were recruited for duties like this because they would be less apt to be captured by the English--or so the IRA thought. My father was not coerced into doing this. He volunteered for the duty and would have done it again if the English had not insisted that he and other prisoners leave Ireland as a condition of their  release. 

On arrival in America, he found work as a grave digger in Brooklyn, NY. Later he boxed professionally and sang in night clubs that catered to Irish immigrants. After he got married, he moved with my mother to Chicago where he was hired by the Commonwealth Edison Company. There he spent almost four decades as a lineman, often working as a "troubleshooter" who was called out in the middle of the night whenever a storm knocked out the power. He liked this work and was very good at it or so I was told by his peers when I visited him in the hospital. They had gathered in the hall outside his room after he had survived an electrical accident that occurred high on a pole in an alley. He survived 12,000 volts, an incident that got his name in the Chicago Tribune.  

In January 2012, decades after my father had died, my wife discovered a photo of him on the Internet. It showed him as a prisoner on Spike Island, circa 1920. He was a farm boy, poor as the chickens he fed as a child, but the English dressed him up nicely for the photo that accompanies this story. Perhaps they didn't want his age to show and to a degree they succeeded in that. You would think they had treated him well but they broke both his legs with rifle butts and let him sit on an earthen cell floor for a long period of time. 

In the photo, my father is in the first row, third from the left. He is identified as “J. O’Mahony,” which was the family name until he became a citizen of the United States. On that occasion, the judge suggested he change his name to "Mahoney," which was "more common" in the United States. My father agreed to the change but it was a decision he would rue for the remainder of his life. More than once he told me, "I should never have done it but I was a greenhorn, what did I know?" 

My poem, “Meeting Dad Again,” below, was written many years later after my father and I reunited in Chicago briefly after he had been out of my life for awhile. His two years on Spike Island as an adolescent had taken a toll. He suffered from post-traumatic stress syndrome (PTSD) before that ailment had been identified and named. Despite this problem, however, he was a sober Irishman who labored hard in Chicago for decades to save money to put me through college. His goal was to make certain I would never have to "work with my hands." He didn't have to worry. I can operate a hammer but have no manual skills beyond that. 

My poem records our reunion when my father, back in town unexpectedly, phoned me at work and, to my surprise, asked that I meet him for lunch. He suggested a cafeteria that was then a Chicago landmark. No fancy restaurants for him, even though in retirement he could afford a touch of the posh. I can't remember for certain but I doubt that he let me pay the check. He knew that I had bills as the father of five stair-step children. 

The lunch went well. Conversation was light. I did not ask him where he had been or what he had been doing and he asked only pleasant questions about me and my children. He showed no mood swings to indicate that he had once been a guest of the English, a confinement that affected him far more, I believe, than absorbing 12,000 volts. The voltage crippled his hand and gnarled his arm but the English crippled and gnarled his nervous system. On this day, however, he was in fine fettle, as he liked to say. This time he was more interested in seeing me than my report card. 

Meeting Dad Again

Thirty years later, Dad came back
and we met for Ham and Yams at Toffenetti’s.
Pouring his tea, he told me he had
to restore power once
at a newspaper warehouse
and the storm broke again
and the lightning cracked his ladder.
He spent the whole day, he said,
sitting in that dark warehouse,
waiting for the lightning to stop
and for the truck to bring a new ladder.
He had a great time, he said,
sitting next to a flickering lantern
and reading for hours the Sunday comics
printed and stacked
six weeks in advance.

- Donal Mahoney 2016


Donal Mahoney, an expatriate from Chicago, lives in St. Louis, Missouri. Some of his earliest work can be found at and some of his newer work at The Waterford County Museum in Ireland has given permission to reproduce this photograph.

Tuesday, June 14, 2016

New Poetry by Julie Thorndyke

Weather-worn Woman

My heart is an ocean of hopes
on which you sail.
My heart is a storm-battered
barque in an unfinished typhoon.
My heart holds you aloft
on waves taller than mountains.
My heart will not allow you to run aground.
On currents of kindness
as predictable as the sunset,
my heart will bear you 
through the breakers of today’s troubled tide
and lift you 
on an unfailing swell of love
into a fair-weather future.

- Julie Thorndyke 2016

Julie Thorndyke is a graduate of the University of Sydney Master of Creative Writing program.
Two collections of her tanka poetry are available from Ginninderra Press. 

Sunday, June 12, 2016

New Poetry by James Walton

Dark Falls by Railway Lines/
The Murderer’s Motif

How the souls cry out their battered endings
from this shallow dumping ground,
here where the train gasps going by,
the abandoned rooms licking their cracked sour paint.

The sandy track glimpsed looking up
from the page or lap top,
the endearing favourite song fluttering in scrubby messmate,
my decorative sentinels shedding skins.

So carefully placed and tended now,
a travelling case, glove, sweater, leaky shoe,
the pair left at home in mistake,
the two dollar umbrella bought especially.

Cured now of all sentient need,
this is how I haunt those lost in waiting,
with the feinted shadow that old mail left unopened
offers the respite of a returnee’s call.

I shimmy down the greasy pole of hope
into the baking sweaty wakeful nights,
the fire blanket of visitation suffocates any promise
that no news tantalises the kindling of a chance. 

And into this terrarium of ordinary come exotic
is strained the pattern of vicarious makings,
for a scaffold of all the generous donations,
to craft the collection of what cannot be named.

My heart out of tune from this riff raff life,
sometimes sirens pass by other streets,
the arias of justice play to the audience of the comfortable.
Loaded up, all the mementos burned out of the vanity of possession,

leave only traces of material anonymity.
Gathered from their singularities my vacancies are filled,
one big breath on the overpass,
the express rushes to me.

 - James Walton 2016

James Walton lives in the Strzelecki Mountains in South Gippsland, Australia. He has been published in The Age and Sydney Morning Herald newspapers, and many journals and anthologies. He has been short listed twice for the ACU national Literature Prize, is a double prize winner in the MPU International Poetry Prize, and Specially Commended in The Welsh Poetry Competition.  His collection ‘The Leviathan’s Apprentice’ is available. He’s been a Librarian, bred Salers cattle, and was a public sector union official for many years.

Saturday, June 11, 2016

New Poetry by Tess Matthews

Taxi, oh

Winding through
The early dark, the
usual identity parade
Unfolds, beyond
The window’s glass.
But in this smoothing hour
I find them all
As air and sky.

A pile of leaves
Entwined in a wind-cheater,
leans against
A concrete fence
Or else, the wind-cheater
Is bound
about the sodden pile
By art, or by coincidence.

Further down,
There’s a man walking
behind a woman
And his limbs
move limp and fluid
And flamboyant
Like a jellyfish
And the woman’s pace
Connotes annoyance.

There are at least
Five minutes further
drive for the patient driver
Who, all this while,
Has his rivets beaten out
Mints exhausted
And cargo cooked.

A further five minutes
Before sprinting out
Along street lights
Reflected and doubled
In full-guttered puddles
To fumble cheap metals
And trip at the door.

- Tess Matthews 2016

Tess Matthews is from Melbourne Australia. She has been writing poems for a short time only, but has been reading poems for quite a lot longer.

Wednesday, June 08, 2016

New Words and Images by Wayne H. W Wolfson

Reports from Paris

1. "So"

Since drinking hurt her stitches, it was more out of habit than anything else she still went to the cafe every day at 2.  It was the same with alcohol as coffee or tea but at least with that by the third round came the numbness of an internal winter. 
The stitches did not effect her beauty as much as she thought but her self consciousness projected her unease outwards and so influenced how people saw her before they quickly looked away. 
Anytime the tink-plink Basie notes of the bells hanging over the door announced someone coming in, she went to war with herself, not wanting anyone to join her but also hating that moment of rejection. 
I sometimes liked a woman who looked sad or tired and to me, her injuries only enhanced her appeal. 
2 o'clock. Children let out of school early for some reason and businessmen in town for a trade show monopolize most of the tables so that people must double down with strangers. I nod with my chin at the empty chair across from her, she shrugs her shoulders and paints the tips of her ears a bright red. 
We talk, she likes hearing about how being an artist is nothing like how it is portrayed in the movies.  It takes her mind off of her own problems and allows her to laugh softly to herself as she is sure it could not be that bad. The next day even though there are now open tables we sit together again. We dance around me doing her portrait, I am not shy to ask but to have motive misconstrued. We start meeting at my bar instead of the cafe. We set a day for me to do her portrait. 
"Do you mind if I bring my boyfriend?" 
I did not. 
For some reason I always left first wherever we met , it was how she wanted it. 
She turned on her stool towards me and squinted for a minute, then crinkled her nose and almost smiled. Her arms were over my shoulders as she went to kiss me goodbye. At the last moment she intentionally shifted so my lips brushed a stitch. I noticed it smelled faintly of ozone and the water in one of the meatier types of oysters as eaten on a warm day accompanied by a cool dry white. 

2. "Master"

It was not what the notes that she left me under the statue said that meant anything to me but the long cut she received on her shin while jumping the fence to do so that held currency. she would get that look in her eye and regardless of where we were, roll up the leg of her pants or dress, point to the scab-scar and say:
"Your signature. "

3. Tete de poisson: The Corsage

Walking the fish market w/Louise as they set up. A man originally from Sicily takes a clever to a large tuna. With the first Cleve, blood spurts onto the apron in the shape of one perfect red flower, it is as it has always been. It shows that like his ancestors he knows what he is doing and also a portent of good luck, well, for somebody. 
"Will you buy me a flower?"
"I need some coffee."
"Not there, my cousin owns that place."
In one day and a three hour train ride it would be as if I were in a different country.


- Wayne H.W Wolfson 2016

Tuesday, June 07, 2016

New Poetry by Jonathan Beale

To the Wallace Stevens of art

Where is the Life we have lost in living? Where is the wisdom we have lost in knowledge? Where is the knowledge we have lost in information? T.S.Eliot.
There he cuts the perception of all syntax.
When does the line end?  He peers around
the beginning of the ascension to seek what is
behind – for curiosity and criminality.

Here the laws grow contorted, wild, and unkempt -
And lay aside as an exhausted dog against
the heatless fire – while one dimension is just
As Rosencrantz and Guildenstern’s flicking the

coin into improbability – down and round as
the profile spins into the next dimension and
next up the ladder to the infinitive dimension.
To the other-side of which Stevens knew

and knew you had to see, as the finger that
touches the moon and draws round the face
to see what’s there on the dark side. Before this
Mr Stevens of the Artistic must alter this world.

- Jonathan Beale 2016

Jonathan Beale has 500 poems published in journals such as The Screech Owl, Danse Macabre, Poetic Diversity, Ink Sweat & Tears, Down in the Dirt, Mad Swirl, Deadsnakes,   Pyrokinection, Ygdrasil, The Seventh Quarry, Van Gogh’s Ear Anthology, The Curly Mind, The Beatnik Cowboy, Dali’s LoveChild, The Jawline Review, Bluepepper, and Jellyfish Whispers.
He was commended in Decanto’s and CafĂ© writers Poetry Competitions 2012. His work has appeared in such books as ‘Drowning’ and ‘The Poet as Sociopath’ (Scar publications). He is currently working on his second volume.
His first collection of poetry ‘The Destinations of Raxiera’ is published by Hammer & Anvil. He studied philosophy at Birkbeck College London and lives in Surrey England. 

Sunday, May 29, 2016

New Poetry by Akpa Arinzechukwu

I Wish I Never Saw This

I see you against the night landscape
Browsing through the shelf of darkness
Trying to find a book, no, a paper.
Perhaps, a sheet that has a teeny reflection of light
On it

The sky above you displays pictures
Of stars still considering whether to appear
Or not

I see you sitting in the empty street
Wondering if you’ll ever twinkle like a star
Or perhaps
Hide between two worlds
So far away without being spotted

Your likes that ever twinkled
Got killed –
Those gay men and women in the
Street at night vomiting their lives out
All day and the police find it a pleasure to say nothing

It is better to hide between two worlds
How can you ever live being who you aren’t?
You tremble in fear
Today not tomorrow, you’ll walk majestically to the cemetery.
Of course your type will always walk to the cemetery
At least that’s what your society believes

I see you against the night landscape
Browsing through the shelf of darkness
Trying to find a book, no, a paper.
Perhaps, a sheet that has a teeny reflection of light
On it 

- Akpa Arinzechukwu 2016

Akpa Arinzechukwu is a Nigerian photographer and poet. His works have appeared or will feature on Kalahari Review, Poetry Pacific, Fundza and elsewhere. 

Friday, May 27, 2016

New Poetry by Lynn White

The Funeral of Bosco Jones

Twenty years ago Bosco Jones died after a long and purposeful life.
His children, (long departed from their roots), returned.
“Don’t worry, Mum”, they said, “we’ll see to everything.
We’ll make all the necessary arrangements.”

They arranged a splendid funeral with a vicar and hymns and flowers.
A lot of people went, for Bosco had made an impact during his life.
They left the doors open so that all those outside could hear
And join in the proceedings.

There was nice churchy music and an atmosphere of peace and serenity.
The vicar began the service with a lot of talk of God and Mrs Jones stopped crying.
She started to look around her and take in the proceedings.
She seemed somewhat agitated and alarmed.

Then she stood up and shouted at the vicar, shaking her fist,
“I’m having none of this!” she cried,
“My Bosco didn’t believe in all this claptrap and nonsense!”
Some people cheered in agreement and she sat down again.

The vicar, a dedicated professional, began to continue the service.
Mrs Jones stood up and began to sing ‘The Internationale’.
Most people joined in and no one could hear the vicar
Who became very angry.

“It was a riot”, Nina said, with a wry smile.

When they had finished singing, they started to shout at the vicar.
He shouted back telling them that he was throwing them out
And they were never to come into his church (or outside it) again.

Everyone cheered, but no one left and Bosco made his last journey
To the sounds of ‘Bandero Rosso’ and ‘Joe Hill’ sung very lustily,
Which he would have liked a lot.

“It was a riot”, Nina said, casting her eyes upwards.

Afterwards, they all enjoyed eating the food that the children had organised.
And drinking the drink and arguing and shouting at those
With whom they had political differences and at those
With whom they were in complete agreement.

The vicar stopped by and apologised to Mrs Jones, who was very rude at first,
But then happy to sit down and explain her position
While he listened.

People still talk about the riot at the funeral of Bosco Jones

- Lynn White 2016

Lynn White lives in north Wales. Her work is influenced by issues of social justice and events, places and people she has known or imagined. She is especially interested in exploring the boundaries of dream, fantasy and reality. Her poem 'A Rose For Gaza' was shortlisted for the Theatre Cloud 'War Poetry for Today' competition 2014. This and many other poems, have been published in recent anthologies including - Stacey Savage’s ‘We Are Poetry, an Anthology of Love poems’; Community Arts Ink’s ‘Reclaiming Our Voices’; Vagabond Press’s, ‘The Border Crossed Us’; ‘Degenerates - Voices For Peace’, ‘Civilised Beasts’ and ‘Vagabonds: Anthology of the Mad Ones’ from Weasel Press; ‘Alice In Wonderland’ by Silver Birch Press, and many rather excellent  on line and print journals.

Monday, May 23, 2016

Still Waving

The arts in Australia are under attack once again. Or should I say, the intensity of the attacks has intensified and a second front opened against writers. Not for the first time the beige advocates of supply-side economics are attempting to re-fashion the arts in their own image, reducing the creative impulse (and the appreciation thereof) to a simple matter of supply and demand.

The attack, as I say, is coming on two fronts. First, the inexorable shrinking year by pallid year of government funding for the arts (punctuated by the hollow fanfare of Premiers' and Prime Ministers' awards, arts prizes being the shriveled carrot at the end of a very long stick), and the resultant pyramidal nature of that funding, which leaves small to medium arts organisations floundering while the large headline-grabbing concerns such as Opera Australia have seen their generous funding locked in. From the bean-counters' point of view, of course, this makes perfect sense. The former organisations can't seem to turn a profit, while the latter, even if their profits are relatively miniscule in corporate terms, at least can afford those really comfy seats.

The second front of attack, aimed specifically at writers and their loyal local publishers, is motivated by the same ledger book mentality in which a reader (or a theatre-goer or art-buyer) is viewed as simply just another consumer and the writer, by logical extension, simply another supplier of a commodity. Thus, if said writer wants to enjoy all the fruits of this shiny free-trade neo-liberal utopia, then said writer is going to have to compete on a level playing field like all other purveyors of goods and services. What they face is a flood of cheap imports from London and New York crowding the shelves of bookstores across the country, elbowing local writers (and poets) out of what passes for limelight in a very tough "business". Oh, and while we're at it, the bean-counters drone on, we're cutting your copyright life down to less than a quarter. It's only fair.

Now, there is no reason to believe (as some of my colleagues have asserted) that the men and women who advocate these changes are evil, or even willfully philistine. They are simply convinced whole-heartedly of the new orthodoxy that can name the price of everything and the value of nothing. They are in the ascendancy and have been for many years. They are not going away, and much to the disgust of some rather abrasive and self-righteous colleagues recently, I suggested in a previous editorial that as artists and writers (and poets) we are simply going to have to face this repellent fact and do what we can to alleviate its worst excesses while at the same time exploring other ways and means of remaining viable both economically and artistically. Said colleagues' only response was that as a poet I am already to all intents and purposes an economic fringe dweller, thus unwittingly shoring up the bean-counters' case. I trust cooler heads will prevail in the long battle ahead.

There will be all sorts of petitions going around. Sign them. But do not, dear reader, be blind-sided by the old orthodoxies anymore than by the new. Artists need to remain flexible and not prey to the whims of politicians and their bean-counters. The stories still have to be told.

New Poetry by Edward Willes


I climbed the roof of Huxum TCE and established a rural OUTPOST. A FERAL language grounding within the states capital, I traded carcinogenic chemicals for petrol fumes and gorged on exotic foods from under the city lights –  their people polluted the nights sky while my people burnt holes in it.

During the day I foraged – AUCHENFLOWERS, tar and oil, I explored the city streets searching for myself, unearthing roots from under the Intelligencia while looking at my reflection in the river and washing my hands of coal dust. We didn’t have all of this where I am from –  no defined culture here, no Queensland Blue Grass either.

ASSIMILATE the Brazilian IMPORTS that line our narrow minded one way streets – they offer LILAC and stain the pavements – VIOLET – they trickle the road’s vintaged presence with juvenescence and brighten my one hour commute into liberal enterprise. The townsfolk work for their groceries and business class suits – no UNIONS

No POOR ME culture distinguished by one TRUE voice – it mustn’t be Australian.  I started talking in country tongues to establish the idea of myself that I thought was TRUE. I am from where I lived once – a feral blue – but – I am also from where I lived later – a feral white – I cannot make claims to either or – I am FRACTURED… and that’s my right..

A cultural vagabond with friends across many lands of truths –  I have no religion and enjoy the best of them while hating the worst. Perched confidently above the flood proof stumps of an ASHGROVIAN roof – I look towards the rivers edge, waiting for it to catch fire.

- Edward Willes 2016

Edward Willes is an Australian poet who’s poetic essence has been distilled within the state of Queensland (both rural and urban). Endeavouring to establish a voice of connection within the small but profound moments of cultural reflection and nostalgic rhythms, he rejects the pop cultural iconic identities that take hostage the personal experiences of a contemporary Australian. He is determined not to make claim that his poetry represents “the true Australian voice” as many Australian poets have attempted before him but simply to represent a voice among many other voices. Within this medium he can establish his own point of view with a willingness and eagerness to grow, a common characteristic of a wave of youth restrained by old ideas. Having received the honour of winning the Bareknuckle Amateur Poetry Competition, his poem “Ann St. Bound Queen” will be published in the Bareknuckle Poet Anthology 2016 alongside some of the most critically acclaimed poets and writers in the world.

Thursday, May 19, 2016

New Poetry by Michele Seminara


Degrade degrade degrade yourself 
take care to curl up small. 
Have I grown 
compact enough? 
Unfurl me at your peril. 

In the lengthening autumn 
of my shadow skirl reams of discontent—
Am I sitting meekly?
No? Forbid me speak!

Deface deface deface yourself
until you disappear. 
Leave no glyphs to sign this space 
(she wasn't even here).

- Michele Seminara 2016

Michele Seminara is a Sydney poet and the editor of online arts magazine Verity La. She is performing alongside poet Anne Walsh for Rhizomic poetry at Mr Falcon's in Glebe on the 25th of May.