Sunday, 3 December 2017

Dancing Became Poetry by Donal Mahoney

Celtic Choice (by Fays) Irish ghillies

It’s called the “Feis," a Gaelic word pronounced “fesh.” It’s a dance contest held annually in different cities in the United States. It’s the “Super Bowl” for young Irish step-dancers. When I competed in the Feis back in the Fifties, there were dancers there from the United States, Canada, Australia, Ireland and other countries. They took planes, trains and buses to get there to compete, usually in a stadium or some other large venue.

The best Irish fiddlers provided the music. The judges were old men, retired dancers themselves, serious as clerics, sitting in trios at scoring tables in front of the platforms where the contestants competed.

The audience sat in the stands or on folding chairs out on the field near the dance platforms. They chatted when there was no music but were silent during the competition. All you could hear then was the beat of the feet and the fiddlers playing their hearts out.

The Feis began with the various solo dancing contests--reels, jigs, and hornpipes. Toward the end of the day, teams of dancers, male and female couples, competed in the three-hand reel, six-hand reel and the eight-hand jig. This was a serious competition. Dancers practiced all year, hoping to take home trophies and medals.

In 1956 I was 18 and had been dancing competitively for at least 10 years. I started taking lessons early in grammar school to please my father who had emigrated to Chicago from Ireland. In his part of Ireland, step-dancing was at least a sport if not a religion.

In the United States it was mostly girls who took Irish dancing. But my sister, try as she might, was unable to do it.

I happened to be in the basement the afternoon my father, once a fine dancer himself, tried to teach her the first step of the reel. To show her up, as brothers are sometimes wont to do, I danced the first step perfectly, just by watching my father do it, and from that moment on, I had to take Irish dancing lessons.

I can still hear him—after he saw me do the step my sister could not do--hollering up the basement stairs to my mother.

“Molly, he’s got it!”

I was in fourth grade then and danced competitively until the age of 21. Over the years I had come to love the music, the intricate footwork and the competition. And it didn’t hurt that the footwork helped in playing basketball.

From my father’s point of view, the goal of Irish dancing was two-fold—perfection, in that the feet were not to miss a beat, and victory, in that not a contest was to be lost.

Life being what it is, he was often disappointed.

The interesting thing is that the music of Irish reels, jigs, hornpipes instantly appealed to me. I felt it in my whole body right from the start even if I didn’t like all the practice time involved, time I would rather have spent playing ball.

The teacher, a man also from Ireland, not far from my father’s hometown, was a former boxer as was my father. Needless to say, they were of like mind. So we children had to train for a dancing contest as if for a championship fight or close to it. A lesson might take half an hour followed by two hours of practice. And there was no air-conditioning back then except in movie theaters.

It just so happened that in my class we had four boys, all the same age, myself included. We grew up together, dancing every year in contests when not playing ball or doing other things boys normally do.

In Irish dancing, boys were a rarity. No other dancing school had four boys so they could not field a “real” eight-hand jig, as it was called, with four boys and four girls. Most schools had eight girls in their eight-hand jig. But without boys, an all-girls team in 1956 probably lost points on optics alone if nothing else.

We had four boy/girl couples and we had been dancing as a team for years by the time the contest at Fordham University rolled around in 1956.

We figured we’d take the train to New York from Chicago and whip every team we competed against, no matter what state or country they were from. After all, we had beaten all the other teams from other Irish dancing schools in Chicago and some other mid-western cities.

That year the Feis was held in the August heat in Fordham's stadium and our eight-hand jig beat everybody, as we thought, except for an “old team” (four couples in their 30s) from Ireland we knew nothing about. 

We had seen them the night before in an Irish pub where fiddlers played nonstop the best of Irish music and everyone was dancing and hollering the way the Irish do when properly lubricated.

The four “old” men on the Irish eight-hand jig team had been drinking a bit, shall we say, and dancing with girls from other teams, including ours. And they were still dancing, finally with their own partners, long after our team had gone to our hotel rooms to get some sleep for the competition the next day.

But after watching that Irish team dance for fun in the pub that night, I realized that when the right feet were involved, dancing could be poetry.

Although the “old” Irish team had been drinking all night, they had sobered up by noon the next day when the competition began. We were dancing to win and they were still dancing for fun. We didn’t miss a beat and they didn’t either but they had literally an extra hop in their step, a leap if you will, that we had never seen.

What’s more, they smiled when they danced and demonstrated an unaffected grace.

In contrast, our team of boys and girls looked as serious as novices from a seminary and convent. We were kids trying hard and they were adult dancers having a wonderful time. They took the trophy and gold medals back to Ireland and we took our silver medals back to Chicago.

We had been trounced and we knew it. And there was nothing we could have done, before or after the contest, to beat that Irish team.

I can still see one of the men I had first seen in the pub the night before. He was as bald as the balls on the pool table and wore an Irish kilt. But that man could dance. He didn’t miss a beat, drunk or sober. His feet on the floor sounded like iambic pentameter with a little thunder added here and there for emphasis, especially at the end. 

Reels, jigs and hornpipes are still in my blood although it has been decades since I danced, for fun or competitively. When I hear the music now, I sometimes am moved almost to tears. It's the only music that ever really got to me.

That was a long time ago but every once in a while I wish I were young enough to get up on that platform at Fordham University and dance again, compete again, and then I remember that bald Irishman in his kilt and I know that once again I’d be taking home a silver medal.

Dancing for fun beats dancing to win. I learned that in 1956 watching a team from Ireland leap and not miss a beat as the fiddlers played their hearts out. The three judges knew the winners as soon as they saw that Irish team. They knew, in the heat of that August day, they had seen dancing suddenly become poetry.

*****

Long ago Donal Mahoney became an Irish dancer simply because the music was in his blood from birth apparently and his father discovered he could do the difficult steps. Music otherwise has never moved Mahoney except for hearing Frank Sinatra sing “Moonlight in Vermont” and just about anything else. One of many nominated for Best of the Net and Pushcart prizes, Donal Mahoney has had poetry and fiction appear in various publications in North America, Europe, Asia and Africa. Some of his work can be found at http://eyeonlifemag.com/the-poetry-locksmith/donal-mahoney-poet.html

Sunday, 26 November 2017

Cave Art by Megan Denese Mealor

A man being hunted by a beast, Bhimbetka Cave paintings
Photography by Raveesh Vyas

the runes remembered
this cliff face charnel house
harboring celibate snakes
feral pirates eroded by waterfalls
a porous pottery tomb
enameled with windows and reflection
arsenical bronze atonement
work-weary malachite odes
paleolithic princes chiseled
and chiding in charcoal
red ochre epochs outlined
with torch marks and eventide
megafauna manganese
bellowings of bison bones
whittled wartimes and reindeer relics
embroidered clashes with the sea
hematite harlots inciting
horseback holocausts
the extinction of aweless echoes
within this null necropolis
within this elegiac eve

                                                                            Published in Zombie Logic Review, July 2017

*****

Megan Denese Mealor spins words into wares in Jacksonville, Florida, where she lives in imperfect harmony with her partner and son. Her work has appeared most recently or is forthcoming in Literally Stories, The Ekphrastic Review, Liquid Imagination, Neologism Poetry Journal, Former People, Haikuniverse, Danse Macabre, Degenerates: Voices for Peace, Right Hand Pointing, Clockwise Cat, and Third Wednesday


Sunday, 5 November 2017

Killing the Brown Snake by John Grey

Western Brown Snake
By Andy (originally posted to Flickr as Western Brown)
via Wikimedia Commons


It was a hot summer’s day
and my father killed a snake,
smashed its head
with a shovel,
as two foot of brown body slithered
this way and that
as it lost all connection to its brain.

I wanted to bury the reptile
but he tossed it
into the woods behind the house
where the ants could make a meal of it
as it decomposed in the searing weather.

I checked it out later
when the insects had already moved in,
got close up with venomous fangs,
a flattened forked tongue.

“If one of them bites you,” my father said,
“you’d get very sick.”
He didn’t mention death
but, even at the age of eight,
the implication didn’t escape me.

I shuddered as I stood there.
imagining the snake
coiled around my body,
piercing my legs, my arms, my chest,
with those vampire teeth,
flooding my body with enough toxin
to drop me like a rifle shot.

But, that day,
the snake was the unfortunate boy,
my father was the viper.
I was just an ant
nibbling with my curious eyes.

*****

John Grey is an Australian poet, US resident in Providence RI. Recently published in the Psaltery and Lyre.

Friday, 27 October 2017

Africa by Mitchell Grabois

Ebola virus by NIAID

I’m starving myself to death. I have quit my position in the Obese Liberation Army. I am a Deserter. I no longer eat desserts. I go from supermarket to supermarket, sabotaging ice cream freezers. The aisles are a soupy mess, but before the store managers have realized what’s happened, I am long gone.

Cheryl dreamed she was playing scrabble. She put down the word ‘zulu’ for thirty-two points. When she awoke, she lay in bed, her limbs sore, and heard the newspaper skid across her porch. She went to get it, barefoot, in her nightgown. Coolness announced that winter was coming. She bent to pick up the paper and the giant headline glared at her: Africans Extinct. Overnight a mutation of Ebola had killed them all.

Once the stench of the dead cleared, Cheryl realized, there would be vast resources to exploit, new countries to found and populate, with new, white Africans. Maybe, to dispel the bad luck, they would burn sage for weeks or months and rename the continent. She went to pack her bag. It would be like the Oklahoma Land Rush—the first to arrive would get the choice chunks of spiced goat meat.

*****

Mitchell Krockmalnik Grabois has had over twelve-hundred of his poems and fictions appear in literary magazines in the U.S. and abroad, including BEAKFUL. He has been nominated for numerous prizes.  His novel, Two-Headed Dog, based on his work as a clinical psychologist in a state hospital, is available for Kindle and Nook, or as a print edition. To see more of his work, google Mitchell Krockmalnik Grabois. He lives in Denver. 

Monday, 23 October 2017

Sunset by Robert Ronnow


Sunset, quiet, except
for happy birthday to neighbor’s child,
virgo, and all that means, purity
of morality, inability to scheme,
whatever else the stars dictated.

Woodpecker climbs oak, Connecticut.
Not ten years ago this mountain was
completely forested, untouched
since early arrival of Europeans.
Now my parents’ home and others stand
in new clearings. The birds
do not seem to mind. Sing,
and deer occasionally visit, from where?
Out of the pre-historic past.

That I must die
is my every third thought.
On my hands and knees, cold sweat,
my own body murdering me.
I meet death with the philosophy
I lived in life. Acceptance
of the loneliness, the unregarding
beauty. There is that shoreline
along the straits to Puget Sound,
in mist, the generations
of sea birds nesting on the water.

*****

Robert Ronnow's most recent poetry collections are New & Selected Poems: 1975-2005 (Barnwood Press, 2007) and Communicating the Bird (Broken Publications, 2012). Visit his web site at www.ronnowpoetry.com.

Tuesday, 10 October 2017

Avis de parution : SURSIS - micro-fictions poétique et collages de Cathy Garcia

Couverture de Sursis de Cathy Garcia

Treize micro-fictions poétiques, bizarres, décalées, dérangées….

Dérangeantes ?


« Je l'observe avec étonnement et soudain, je vois ses lèvres venir s'écraser contre le rempart de verre et son regard virer au gris. Je la vois se retourner sur elle-même, cette crispation soudaine qui ne trompe pas. Je me demande l’espace d’un instant, si elle pourra obtenir rapidement son sursis, puis je m'éloigne, je voudrais profiter du mien. »

Dédale, collage de Cathy Garcia

Tirage numéroté, édité et imprimé par l’auteur
avec neuf collages papiers originaux réalisés par l'auteur
De cet ouvrage, est prévu un tirage de tête limité et numéroté à treize exemplaires avec illustrations en couleur le reste sera en noir et blanc
28 pages
sur papier 90g calcaire
couverture 250g calcaire
100 % recyclé


dépôt légal : octobre 2017

Le rire de l'attardé, collage de Cathy Garcia

15 € pour les treize exemplaires du tirage de tête
10 € pour le tirage en nombre
port offert jusqu'à fin octobre
chèque à l'ordre de :
Cathy Garcia
Létou
46330 St Cirq-Lapopie

Sunday, 1 October 2017

Chrono Car by Steven Translateur


     Gavin and Aubrey Githors entered a car dealership looking for a sedan.  They came with the $8000 bonus Gavin earned at his job as a watch designer.  He had invented the mountaineer precision chronograph - a doohickey that could keep time almost as well as an atomic clock.
     Rolland Cemt, a salesman gave a complete tour of the showroom.  He introduced they to the company's nifty compact, roomy wagon, luxurious mid-size, commode SUV, and magnificent van.  It enthralled they.
     "What vehicle do you want?" asked Rolland.
     "We have triplets on the way.  We need a spacious sedan," replied Aubrey.
     "What vehicle has a good clock - factory direct in it?" asked Gavin.
     "I recommend the mid-size Landerlux.  It can accommodate a family nicely and it has an excellent time keeper in its dashboard," said Rolland.
     "How much is it?" asked Gavin.
     "$15,000" said Rolland.
     "Too much," said Gavin.  "Can you come down to $8000?"
     "I can make it $13,000," offered Rolland.  "Beyond that I cannot haggle.  You see, I am not really a full time salesman.  I am actually a poet.  So I know rhyme and alliteration and not wheeling and dealing."
     "Ok," said Gavin.  "Let us hear a poem."
     "Very well," said Rolland.  And he took them into an office and read them this:

THE ENGINE OR THE BODY

Silvery sleek fiberglass dream vehicle;
sun roof, fins, unspoiler, fuel tank that is full.

If you are ambitious you can go so far
in a magnificent gorgeous new job car.

Trip after trip, wonderful fun all the way
until the motor bursts and burns to decay.

Swapped the engine with other manufacturers.
Whether it would be noticed, I was not sure.

Who is the maker of an automobile -
engine-er or bodyer or both equal?


     "Ok," sighed Gavin.  "We shall purchase the automobile for $13,000 but we must finance it."
     "Deal!" exclaimed Rolland.  "What color would you like it in?
     "What do you suggest?" inquired Aubrey.
     Rolland proclaimed:  "Red is and must always be for royalty.  Orange is for the unbelievably and courageously outrageous.  White is for winners.  Yellow accommodates yearnings.  Blue is for the beautiful people.  Black is for the very best.  Indigo is so rare that it is certainly interesting.  Purple is for the exceedingly polite.  Burgundy is for the precious blondes and brunettes.  Chartreuse shall get you noticed and appreciated and thought of as original and daring and trend setting.  Brown can get you around town in style and class and show you a great time.  Pink is unquestionably and considerably nearly perfect.  Violet is almost absolutely virtuous."
     "You are somewhat of a bizarre sort?  Are you not sir?  But we like you anyway, "said Gavin.
       "In any case," said Aubrey," we shall take the motor car in the hue of yellow.  Because we are all bananas!"
     "Yellow it is!" said Rolland.  "The car shall be here in a week for pickup.  Good luck with everything."
     The Githors left the dealership smiling.

*****

Steven Translateur's work has appeared in a variety of publications including MEMES, MIND IN MOTION, and NEXT PHASE.