Apr 102017
 

Afric McGlinchey 500px

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I, a travelling country of windows

All the bony roads,
spokes shaking off a mouthful
of sleet, and you
further forward than me, or inward perhaps
– a heaped bush – stop.
Fleeting shock of silence;
and then the rattling again,
struggling past the cages. Say one lunges
from above, tipping its point
like a Damocles sword – dare I?
I know what is in that box
stiffly packaged in white canvas
– the first of the seven sorrows –
this, then the next to come tumbling
will be – no, let’s
travel back, round the coastline up north
where the mattress groaned under
our bouncing feet and feathers flew
from the bolsters – wait!
Was that the creak of a door, pink
glow of the landing wallpaper?
He’s here! And fast as the smallest
laughing fury, we’re under the sheets:
one on the floor, pretend-sleeping
the silence intense as the thickness
of snow set across pillows
and pillows of fields.

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Cha
after All my Friends,
an electronic composition by Edan Ray

Laugh! I nearly ran to the riptide
confluence where stories
are peripheral, and simply water
works. Only you know
the notion of it. Only you keep me
laughing. Only you rush
into the pedal of the music
or crossover
silence that smacks
up against wayward torques
squeaking liquid and you and you
and you, my friends, run backwards, slow
motion as the ocean. Shhh…
or bass it. Strobe-light-fix
each gesture in distortion,
loose-wristed, star-fired, brainless
with excitement. Cha.

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Nine ways to identify an alley cat

l
Her lashes are upstart
ravens’ nests;
serrated shadows.

ll
Her coquettish circling
is accompanied by a throaty,
insistent growl.

lll
She sets a flat rock
with found risks,
until others hanker too.

IV
She cadges guts
from harassed butchers,
then lays them in the dirt.

V
She almost always
escapes the bolt.

VI
Yes, she’s scratched, but still,
quickens with the music.

VII
She rattles
in a crowded corner.

VIII
Her hooping, toppling,
wounded movement’s like the lick
of a failing candle.

IX
Her thought-ghost proves
that death’s mutation’s
merely a ruse.

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Faith is the thing with feathers

Beneath the vaulting,
the elderly, deeply-kneeling

and kyphotic,
rock like a pendulum.

In each radiating chapel, a candle
forest is offered up to souls.

The choir’s complex
harmonics echo across pews.

Incense is a series
of hovering exhalations,

visible as umbrellas
in the narthex.

Prayers flutter, three
hundred breaths a minute.

Lungs, rain-licked,
hum white; each tongue

an edelweiss. Leadlight
vignettes glitter

in the clerestory: an angel’s
wing-lashed fire,

in twenty-one-gram
refractions, holding all this.

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End of the blessing

To me you were the heart’s X
against my Guernica wall,
drowning out calamity.

I was addicted to your trip trap
words, lush as ferns,
all the way to fractal.

And the tandoor of my body grew
wide awake; tongue, a fire
racing through the field.

You seduced my mind,
till it was perpetually
undressed.

What’s left inside me, now
you’ve drifted off,
taking all the alleluias?

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Montage

The old philosopher is sharp as ice in winter,
fracturing all the wicked weights,

the resonance of his voice, lacerating
so-called safe spaces,

until they are ripped and sewn again,
upright as trees.

His words are gateways to the sublime,
conflating human agency

with the natural order, the body
of shared memory with the vanished sign.

There should be flowers, he tells us
in a clear-cut voice, simple as ink.

Every night, his teachings turn to the blue
laws, or stallions

or the book of hours. Come dawn,
he reaches the double zero

in a landscape of confession – luminous
and ferocious, divine and apocalyptic,

inviting invocation and resistance
to those overpouring

toward war – that avenue
lined with little lamps of snow.

—Afric McGlinchey

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Afric McGlinchey was born in Ireland. She grew up in Southern Africa, moving frequently between countries, and received degrees from Rhodes University and the University of Cape Town. She has also lived in London, Paris, Dublin and Spain. She returned to Ireland in 1999 and currently lives in West Cork. Her début collection, The Lucky Star of Hidden Things, published by Salmon Poetry in 2012, was translated into Italian and published by L’Arcoloaio. Among other awards and honours, in 2011 she won the Hennessy Poetry Award, and in 2012 she was nominated for a Pushcart prize, commended in the Magma and shortlisted in the Bridport competitions. In 2015, she won the Poets Meet Politics prize and was awarded an Arts bursary to complete her second collection, Ghost of the Fisher Cat (Salmon Poetry), which was nominated for the Forward Prize for Best Collection in 2016. Runner up in the 2014 Sabotage Awards for best reviewer, she is also an editor. www.africmcglinchey.com

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