John Saunders’ first collection ‘After the Accident’ was published in 2010 by Lapwing Press, Belfast. His poems have appeared in Revival, The Moth Magazine, Crannog, Prairie Schooner Literary Journal (Nebraska), Sharp Review, The Stony Thursday Book, Boyne Berries, Riposte, and on line, The Smoking Poet, Minus Nine Squared, The First Cut, The Weary Blues, Burning Bush 2, Weekenders, Poetry Bus and poetry 24. John is one of three featured poets in Measuring, Dedalus New Writers published by Dedalus Press in May 2012. His second full collection ‘Chance’ is published by New Binary Press.
Four poems by John Saunders
Sixty Five Roses.
All this flummery of cough behind my rib cage
amidst my sticky toffee secretion.
A breathless vista of ventilation
against a phlegmatic sunset.
I am a delicate petal of mutated gene-
a sensitive seedling,
dormant in my sterile garden-
I may never be in full blossom.
My body is a telescope of tangled gut
stretched every constricted day
by its own limitations
and if you lick my skin it will taste of salt.
I am three years old,
can just about pronounce the words.
The Volvo Ocean Race Festival 2012
‘The present is only an extension of the past’ she tells me,
as she hands me my name in Arabic calligraphy,
outside, the Claddagh is shawled in midsummer rain
through which the South Westerly Atlantic wind clatters
ropes off masts, lolls boat to boat, turns inside-out
the shoal of umbrellas swimming through Spanish Arch.
Paella with or without seafood, Chinese Noodles, Pizza,
Chicken or Vegetarian Curries, rustic sausages or Supermacs
burgers run the gastronomic race for our appetites.
On the stage, a young buck from Loughrea improves
a Dylan song with the authentic nasal pitch of harmonica.
The Port Trophy race takes place in the bay, over ten million
Euro/dollars/pounds of specimen sailing boats trace
the ghost journeys of centuries of Hookers and Currachs .
Inside the global village, the Museum of Computer
Technology shows me my age, the Crafts People of Ireland
craft, a tribe of bearded Galwegians plays at being Vikings,
a single Machnas acrobat shows elasticity on a pole.
On plywood podiums, Volvo displays its merchandise,
two girls sing a cappella accompanied by the clatter of coin.
Off the Cliffs of Moher
Her smooth shapely body belly flops
on the ceiling of the sea
smashes green into white,
sloshes close to the rocks
where nothing is ever gone when lost,
is always somewhere.
Polystyrene cups will last fifty years,
a plastic bottle ten times longer,
Tin cans? Who knows?
As we turn they slip from my watery hands
into the gripping deep;
car, house, office keys,
important and replaceable,
unlike the plastic fob with the photo
of you wearing pearly satin,
now hung on the gravelly sea bed,
a lonesome maritime picture gallery,
your beauty on display to every passing fish
for the next five hundred years.
Time will do his usual work, death has done his’
is the memorial to you, sweet child of love
and hate. He cloistered and cossetted you,
was faithful to you for your short life.
You arrived at the Convento di San Giovanni
like a little storm, cried for mother, ate like a sick bird.
You were the victim of his reputation in death,
your body barred from the church yard.
In the convent you were suckled by wet nurses,
prayed over by Capuchin sisters in crumbling brick
buildings surrounded by ancient olive trees.
In the end the fever burned your frail body.
His grief was the passion of his stories,
he never spoke your name after your death.
*Allegra, 1817 – 1822, daughter of George Gordon, Lord Byron and Claire Clairmont.