The day they opened the gates, took the old walls down,
was the day we walked on water, crossed the strait
from the island to the coast of France
by boat, train, plane, and stepped ashore
to cross a continent, join histories,
retrace the swallow’s road through gateless skies
from Africa to Wales, the wild swans’ way
steppe and tundra, one sky, one land to them.
And the dream was, as we travelled, crossing
borders, time zones, cultures, languages,
our poets would speak in tongues, Welsh, Luxemburgish,
human our lingua franca, common ground.
Gillian Clarke Born in Cardiff, Wales. Poet, playwright, editor, translator (from Welsh), President of Ty Newydd, the writers´ centre in North Wales which she co-founded in 1990. Tutor on M.Phil. course in Creative Writing, the University of Glamorgan, since 1994. Freelance tutor of creative writing, primary schools to adults. Her poetry is studied by GCSE and A Level students throughout Britain. She has travelled in Europe and the United States giving poetry readings and lectures, and her work has been translated into ten languages. She has a daughter and two sons, and now lives with her husband (an architect) on a smallholding in Ceredigion, where they raise a small flock of sheep, and care for the land according to organic and conservation practice.
You can read an exclusive interview with the third national poet of Wales for the Luxembourg Review here.
nested in time, and
slim shavings of time regained
bones in cold spaces
a heap of souls’
that last saw dusted tears
in cool summer soils,
beady teeth, rags and empty dreams.
Yorick, you’re the foil,
spare some antics
amongst this waltz of sorrow,
before Spring tapers into numbness.
Karina Fiorini co-organised poetry readings and exhibited poems in Malta in 2014. In 2013 the poem Ruts achieved third place internationally. Bare Hands Poetry, published Warded Off in 2012.Last year she founded the Luxembourg Poetry Group, coordinated and participated in the ‘Stirred Words’ event, part of the Mdina Biennale in Malta. She is currently reading for a BA English with Philosophy.
Lines Scratched on a Bench
Along the northernmost tip of the Blue Ridge we edged ledges
narrow as hem binding on the mountain’s granite skirt.
Shaky-legged after an hour of up/over/through
a rock scramble remaindered by the Ice Age
I found a bench, a hand-hewn cedar whimsy,
with these words carved into its soft gray seat—
I do not think you will take care of me when I am old.
You have me afraid to age.
The hours it must have taken with his pocketknife
to leave those doubts as far as they could be left.
The hours it must have taken in tremorous descent–
summoning the resolve to stay
or accepting the letting-go.
Leslie McGrath is a poet and teacher. Her latest book is a satiric novella in verse, Out From the Pleiades (2014).Winner of the Pablo Neruda Prize for Poetry (2004), her poems have been published or are forthcoming in Agni, Poetry magazine, The Awl, and The Yale Review. McGrath teaches creative writing at Central CT State University.
LAST THOUGHT BEFORE THE TRAIN COMES
One day you’ll grow up and learn who I am,
and I swear you won’t be happy then.
My whole life — black on white — will be staring you in the face,
and you’ll want to change your surname, completely erase
the six letters I gave you at birth.
And how can I possibly blame you, my son?
I am a lame sheep that never followed the flock.
I’m a false step, an error —
committed once; carried on perpetually.
I’m a road uphill, steep, a calvary for many.
Your calvary, the one you don’t deserve.
(translated into English by Maite Xerri Rosas)
Immanuel Mifsud (Malta, 1967) is a poet and a writer. In 2011 he won the European Union Prize for Literature with his book ‘In the Name of the Father (and of the Son)’ which has since been translated into English, French, Romanian and Macedonian. He won the National Award (Malta) for Prose in 2002 and 2015 and the National Award for Poetry (Malta) in 2014. In 2016 he will be having another poetry collection and his most recent novel published. Immanuel Mifsud holds a doctorate in literature and lectures in Maltese literature and literary theory at the University of Malta.
St. Brendan’s Floating Isle
Fed up to the back teeth
trying to swallow my tail,
I took to watching islands;
small figures on the beach
hauling nets, eating together
on the sand; telling stories.
It is not easy being at sea.
Some days the sun makes
my scales shine and quiver
but in truth they are grey,
and there is nothing to do
but dive into the ink swell
feeling the currents’ tug;
so when I saw them coming
I paid attention –
skin stretched over wooden ribs,
tar smeared where the hides met
and the strange scent of oak bark;
voices carried like salt in the wind,
making my eyes sting, for the lilting
sound was an unknown symphony
and the sight of those men side
by side, oars in their skelfed hands,
was all it took to draw me in.
I kept myself still, as though
twisted roots held me to the sea bed,
and lowered my head as if in prayer,
longing to feel their feet on my bare
back, exploring my shoreless edges
to translate their talk into glorious kinship.
I did not know it would burn;
the warmth of their heavy limbs
turned to fire and I cast them off.
Stephanie Conn is a former teacher from Northern Ireland. Her poetry has been published in the U.K., Europe, America and Austalia. ‘The Woman on the Other Side’ was published by Doire Press in March 2016 and ‘Copeland’s Daughter’ was published by Smith/Doorstep in June 2016.
You can read a review of her collection ‘The Woman on the Other Side’ here.
Where there is breath, there is music
that mostly goes unnoticed. A light
broom sweeps the dust from our throat
and sweeps a little more back in,
so even as we speak we are giving
some measure back, some quiet rhythm
of quickening the world is made of.
Where there is breath, there is the voice
of oceans, the broken shore that flows
seaward as the sea withdraws.
And we feel refreshed, no matter
the particular discouragement,
bitterness even, the loss that curls
the body around its hands in bed.
One part keeps insisting on
exchange, as when the trumpet lends
the bass the solo, and the spot
drifts upstage against the darkness,
and what he plays is dark, a ballad
that smolders from the physical
depths. No matter the particular
light-beam that pools at his feet,
his shadow lengthens as it falls,
the way a tree falls into its shadow,
into those who listen, who must,
as if they did not know the grievous
beauty in them until they heard it,
out there, in ashes, and breathed it in.
Bruce Bond is the author of fifteen books including, most recently, For the Lost Cathedral (LSU,2015), The Other Sky (Etruscan, 2015), and Immanent Distance: Poetry and the Metaphysics of the Near at Hand (University of Michigan Press, 2015). Four of his books are forthcoming: Black Anthem (Tampa Review Prize, University of Tampa Press), Gold Bee (Crab Orchard Open Competition Award, Southern Illinois University Press), Sacrum (Four Way Books), and Blackout Starlight: New and Selected Poems (LSU). Presently he is Regents Professor at University of North Texas.
The Age of Arsonists
Between their double shifts, they meditate
on the ancient virtues: eudaimonia,
zero hours, paraffin, the form of the good.
They know what it means to wait,
to spend the empty-handed Sundays bleeding
radiators. They are listening for the flood.
Huddled. On their knees and silent, they’re feeding
carpenter ants beneath the flatshare’s floorboards.
Rich with potential, crippled with pneumonia,
an empty letterbox, the door on the latch,
they’re sparking up on petrol station forecourts,
waiting for something to catch.
Tristram Fane Saunders is a 23-year-old poet, director and journalist living in London. He writes as a critic for The Daily Telegraph, and his poetry has been published in The London Magazine and The Dark Horse. His most recent pamphlet, Postcards from Sulpicia, is published by Tapsalteerie.