YGDRASIL: A Journal of the Poetic Arts

November 2009

VOL XVII, Issue 11, Number 199

Editor: Klaus J. Gerken

Production Editor: Heather Ferguson

European Editor: Mois Benarroch

Contributing Editors: Michael Collings; Jack R. Wesdorp; Oswald Le Winter

Previous Associate Editors: Igal Koshevoy; Evan Light; Pedro Sena

ISSN 1480-6401



Nessa O’Mahony 
      Ailwee Fern


April A.
   1. The Voice Of Despair
   2. Nothing Else Counts
   3. Reflections At Four In The Morning 
   4. Heartless-can-be?
   5. Every Single Evening's Plot 
   6. A Desperate City 

Duane Kocke

Joseph Farley
   A Toast To The Founding Fathers 
   Agincourt In Spring
   In Praise of Ear Plugs
   Tick Tick
   Friday Night Starts The Party

Roger Taber


Nessa O’Mahony 
   Aerial conflict
     Brookwood, 5th June 2007



Nessa O’Mahony 

Ailwee Fern

300m down, so deep
that drips grow, 
have all the time 
in this dark
verticle to rise,
to fall, elongate into
waxy stone, calcify.
We stop
where the guide
places us,
admire the bear pits,
the mineral sheen
on walls, the way
the cathode lights
the stream falling
through a crack
above, so much
quick silver
In the halogen glow 
we nearly miss
the one, small
green frond
sprouting from
a ledge above,
its chlorophyll
vivid against 
the cave wall.
The guide
the science
of spores
falling through
grikes 900m
above ,
of timer lights
that simulate
the god-given.
He would
eradicate, we demur;
taking our miracles
where we find them.

April A.

1. The Voice Of Despair

Triangles of half-open doors
Reveal all the truth that is hidden:
Just condoms and cans on the floor,
Black papers with verses, forbidden -
Unfinished remakes of the song,
Deprived of the right to speak loud
Of wicked intentions gone wrong -
Erasers have muffled the shout.

The only illusion-proof mind -
A poet, the voice of despair,
Sincere, the one of this kind
Throws verses far into the air
Right there, in a dirty old flat
Among once great talents, now rotten.
They all have deserved more than that,
But even their names are forgotten. 

2. Nothing Else Counts The streets are embraced by this threatening night, She's sunk in his warm, not yet sober embrace. They promised each other that things would go right, Yet all their hopes stand for counting days. The morning will frown - one desperate kiss, The sign of unfortunate parting for two, Will cease their dwelling in ignorant bliss, Or blissful forgetting, whatever is true. The well-known words in a new undertone Of whispering voices are fading away. The morning will frown, and she will be gone; He'll vanish in sleep till around midday. They'll meet when the streets are embraced by the dark. With no place to go, to never be found, With lives half-forgotten, with nothing to mark. But they have each other, and nothing else counts.
3. Reflections At Four In The Morning All days are the same: morning, city, the crowd. Life's not going forward, it's moving around. And masks of all shades on those ignorant faces, A few made-up stories in cheap street newspapers, Sluts looking like stars, dirty queens of attraction, Gross idols of so deceptive perfection Are doors to the mind of the crowd, so hollow - They hear the call of the dumb and they follow. Now passion means lust, now freedom means violence, Stupidity prospers. It's due to your silence! The weak ones are searching for someone to blame, The helpless would trade for a minute of fame. A couple hearts broken don't cost a damned thing; The hopeless romantics would give anything - Despite having nothing - for love, non-existing. We've made up this concept, as something is missing. Believe it or not - I can cope alone! I never wished someone to call me their own. It's such a delusion that having you here Will help me get over this common old fear. What's frightening? Solitude? Fear itself! I hide beside you when I fear myself! But it is much better with you than the crowd That never goes forward, that keeps going round.
4. Heartless-can-be? I'm wild and sometimes even heartless-can-be, I'm fond of collecting illusions to ruin, I'm breaking the rules life has written for me, "Create to destroy" best describes what I'm doing. I'm scarily dangerous, silently loud - A walking disaster you'd better ignore, The pain in the neck of a desperate crowd. But I'm like a magnet - you'll only want more. You'll figure me out, you'll get to the core - One beauty, two fears, three dangers - it's me. You'll enter my heartspace and close the door For anyone else who I wanted to be. My truth was denying devotion and faith, And now you've proved right the opposite true. A chain of mistakes is the sign of my days; My strength will forgive me - it led me to you.
5. Every Single Evening's Plot I closed the door of my dirty old flat, I went outside for a short evening stroll. I bought some cheap hooch and a condom instead. I'd only arrived when I heard a phone call. It was so persistent, so deafening loud. Who failed to forget me? I wanted to know. I took a deep breath for a desperate shout, Picked up the receiver: "Hello! Hello?" Just silence. An error? Wrong number? Or what? A quick thought of you. Stupid me! Would you care? I started to feel all the spirits I'd bought Dissolve in my blood, neutralizing despair. In less than an hour my neighbours arrived And asked me for something they needed. Okay. I gave them a condom and bade them hot night - I wouldn't have sex for some number more days. I spent the next hour listening to moans, But envy and anger were still neutralized. I'd made through the day, and I'd done it alone. The neighbours calmed down. I closed my eyes.
6. A Desperate City Hello to you from the gray gloomy city, Where crowds unconsciously worship despair, Indulging in dangers of constant self-pity With naive belief in the world's being fair. They have no trust in a man's inner power, And fortitude sounds like something unknown. They have no poets, just ones of an hour, Who drown at once in the thoughts of their own. With greed they consume plain illusions for dinner, And dress them with lies when they serve the new dishes To those so-called "pathological sinners" Who find someone else's delusions delicious. They have Friday liter-mates rather than friends To mark that the week of no favor is ending, But even with glasses of spirits in hands They look worse than misery. Are they pretending?
Duane Kocke LAURENTIAN LIBRARY Here, with her, close, watch DVD, The steps of Michelangelo’s Laurentian Library, The unique curves undulate, thrill. The marble window above that cannot Be ever opened or even seen through Is a wise commentary on our unwise lives. I believe I love her, but do I experience Love when we are together. Do I really Know what a feeling of love is. Is it this A fantasy or reality. My unconscious knows, But this wise part of me speaks in an unknown tongue, Never tells me anything I can understand.
PHENOMENTAL APPEARANCE It does not matter if the sky as observed By men with mechanical instruments To augment eyes is not blue, but a wave length, That the orange pumpkin popping out of Twisted and entangled veins making a green mass In not orange, but a wave length, and what Is designated “pumpkin” by a singular language Is an unknowable thing in itself, all This information is trivial, designed To entertain by related persiflage dull minds. What matters is the way the sky And the pumpkin phenomenally appear to us.
THE FICTIONAL WORLD THAT MOST PEOPLE LIVE IN THEIR ENTIRE LIVES Most people prepare their minds to fictionize Through imposition of unfelt and extraneous Information, thus they never experience the properties Of any thing. A rare few experience his or her Experience of the properties of things. Most people have never had an experience, What they had was other people’s experience, And these slave mentalities destroy Their experience by substituting a concept Derived from an account of other’s experience.
LOVE, IF AUTHENTIC, IS NEVER THE SAME AS ANYBDY ELSE’S LOVE Do not confuse my love for her With anybody else’s love, For no two people can love the same Unless it is a false love, A copy love, not a personal experience. Perhaps, she has never experienced my love, But substituted a popular belief, a copy love. There is so little authentic love in our world, But an abundance of pretended loves. Authentic love, my love is socially a danger to myself.
PHENOMENAL RESPONSE TO THE ONTOLOGICAL SUBJECTIVE Blue arabesqued rays overlap The dark silver edges of holes In amorphous, shape-changing clouds, An orange oral’s tip atop a horizon Of mountain top jagged forest darkness, So we discover it is the time That agreement designates as evening. We feel, we agreed, epistemically factual In an ontologically subjective state of being.
Joseph Farley A Toast To The Founding Fathers Reading the history of the early years of this nation the dreams and compromises wrought in lasting words by men enshrined in America's pantheon it is good to remember in that time Harvard gave each student a ration of porter and that ale and wine were on most tables. There were those who fell down drunk in the muddy streets and lay there until the authorities dragged them off, but most were content to just be slightly tipsy while mounting horse and plowing field and designing the government that rule our land.
Agincourt In Spring Grass grows tall upon the fields raising up rows of green spears until the grounds keeper mows and levels the land, then all is hush and fallow and cold once more.
In Praise of Ear Plugs Some mouths should not open, if they do hold your ears. Shrieking beasts will not stop until someone's brought to tears, Harpies haunt Greek legend, targeting human faults, nagging to destruction our fragile mammal hearts. The TV is white noise. A six-pack dulls the mind, familiar anesthesia, drowns out a barking hind.
Tick Tick The doomsday clock ticks closer to midnight. Time to break out the champagne and have a last dance. If you can't stop the end of the world you might as well enjoy it.
Friday Night Starts The Party Five o'clock is almost here, time to run and grab a beer. If we drink and dance enough, Monday may not seem so tough. We'll cloud our minds and forget the week. On Saturday we will peak. Sunday night will turn us meek. Monday morning always comes but our ears still echo with the drums and the riffs from hot guitars from good times spent in rockin' bars.
Roger Taber THE YELLOW BALLOON We were just children playing with a yellow balloon, our mothers calling us home but you let go of the string and it took of into a purpling, we children following We were just children chasing after a yellow balloon, our mothers calling us home but we could not hear for the sound of our laughter, desire for adventure We were just children, reaching up for a yellow balloon beyond either reach or ken, as if a mind of its own, losing all sense of direction, crying out for attention We were just children left to watch a yellow balloon burst by a passing sea gull; no sound of a bang, only tiny bits of sky fluttering, heaven disintegrating Children, chasing a yellow balloon last seen in pieces over Afghanistan
HELMAND Between mountains and desert sand, where bombs laid and bullets fly, an ill-fated province called Helmand Trying desperately to understand, a soldier sees close friends die between mountains and desert sand Under resourced and undermanned the soldier wonders why… an ill-fated province called Helmand? How come, fighting for a foreign land (poppies in a storm’s eye) between mountains and desert sand? No choice but fight in a foreign land, hear the politicians cry… an ill-fated province called Helmand Shaping a better future for humankind, (no matter the cost, we must try); Between mountains and desert sand, an ill-fated province called Helmand
A FEELING FOR PEACE AND QUIET On old Memory Lane, all is quiet for those who fought a war to end war so we may make our peace with it Among cries of the fallen, a shout, (At ‘em lads, at ‘em, that’s the score!) On old Memory Lane all is quiet They bore old age, faces firmly set to do them proud who had gone before so we may make our peace with it We will always be in their debt, dead and wounded on a foreign shore; on old Memory Lane all is quiet We must never even try to forget those whose freedom’s colours wore, so we may make our peace with it War, war and still more of it yet; on the landscape of love, a weeping sore; on old Memory Lane, all is quiet so we may make our peace with it
WHERE NO BELLS TOLL There is a wood where we played as children and bluebells grow When you came home after seeing the rape of Zimbabwe we picked bluebells When you came home from the killing fields of Iraq we picked bluebells When you came home from the poppy fields of Afghanistan we picked bluebells When you came home telling of monks beaten in Tibet we picked bluebells When you came home from the line of fire on the Gaza Strip it was in a coffin There is a wood where history plays tricks on us and bluebells grow
MISSING, BELIEVED KILLED I looked up to you with love and pride For all the fine qualities you’d nurture but on your last leave something died That first time you went to war, I cried while you but longed for adventure; I looked up to you with love and pride In Iraq, your worst fears chose to hide behind finer aspects of human nature but on your last leave, something died In Afghanistan, you fought side by side with the bravest, a born again warrior; I looked up to you with love and pride You saw friends killed or injured, tried to see hell as part of a bigger picture… but on your last leave, something died You seemed to take it all in your stride, even carrying coffins on your shoulder; I looked up to you with love and pride but on your last leave, something died
GOVT. HEALTH WARNING: PICKING FLOWERS CAN BE DANGEROUS Love is a flower growing wild, left alone yields fine shoots; London, Washington, Kabul, Baghdad found tugging at its roots Love, in habitats custom made for the doves of peace; London, Washington, Kabul, Baghdad, up for regular target practice Love is nature’s first wild child, our privilege to dry its tears; London, Washington, Kabul, Baghdad, feeding on its fears Love sows the seeds of creation in a common earth; its wild beauty our hell and salvation, potential for rebirth Politics and religions but spread prejudices, impose conditions; London, Washington, Kabul, Baghdad, well orchestrated divisions Among the heart’s greater terrors, home grown egos
LAST POST They shot me down on foreign soil and the first sound I heard was a child’s cry at the moment of birth and I wished the child and parents well, that they would see a kinder end than me, wracked with pain, no less so for knowing I would never see either homeland or loved ones again yet had done my best (can anyone do more?) and had no regrets but one about fighting a war like this… A continuing absence of peace They lay a black cloth over my face so I should not see comrades close to tears for the worst of fears we put behind us who fight such wars as we don’t always understand but do our duty though it be in a land as far away from the pub on the corner of our street as heaven from hell where they all but meet here in Afghanistan… A continuing absence of peace They put me in a box and closed the lid so I would not feel the tears of passing clouds on the journey home or hear the strains of the Last Post acknowledge me gone nor see the flags lowered as silent crowds line the streets of a small town taking me to their hearts as if I were one of their own, as they have done for others like me, making our journey less lonely for this… A lasting empathy with peace The first sound I heard as they lowered me into the earth, was a child’s cry at the moment of birth and I wished the child and parents well in a kinder world than this that saw me fight to save it from a hell of its own making, no less so for centuries of tradition and a culture of oppression seeking to break free while keeping faith with its finer principles and (far) kinder ways than this… A continuing absence of peace “A good person, worthy sacrifice, fine soldier...” Too late, I cannot hear


Nessa O’Mahony 

Aerial conflict
Brookwood, 5th June 2007

All morning I’ve been watching
squadrons of coal tits,
blues, the great black and yellow,
dart to and fro from the feeder,
returning with crops full 
of sunflower hearts.

Fledgings inflate on the crab-apple,
flex wings, gapes clamorous as they
bump each other, test weight
on each branch, each leaf, wait
for their parents’ ministrations.

They move, en masse, to the silver birch.
Suddenly a commotion in the beech hedge; 
a gatling of caws as two pied beauties
wrestle each other; I cannot be sure 
if the skirmish is a smash and grab
or just a domestic, over-spilling.

A battalion of small birds zoom,
protests mosquito-whines 
as they attack both flanks.
Clumsy amid terracotta pots
I mediate, clap hands, add 
to the cacophony.

They disperse, leaving one scalp:
a feather, black and white-tipped,
spirals to land.


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YGDRASIL: A Journal of the Poetic Arts - Copyright (c) 1993 - 2009 by 
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