Clare McCotter – Four Poems

poetClare McCotter’s haiku, tanka and haibun have been published in many parts of the world. She won the IHS Dóchas Ireland Haiku Award 2010 and 2011. In 2013 she won The British Tanka Award. She also judged the British Haiku Award 2011 and 2012. She has published numerous peer-reviewed articles on Belfast born Beatrice Grimshaw’s travel writing and fiction. Her poetry has appeared in Abridged, Boyne Berries, The Cannon’s Mouth, Crannóg, Cyphers, Decanto, Envoi, The Honest Ulsterman, Iota (forthcoming), Irish Feminist Review, The Leaf Book Anthology 2008, The Linnet’s Wings, The Moth Magazine, A New Ulster, The Poetry Bus (forthcoming), Poetry24, Reflexion, Revival, The SHOp, The Stony Thursday Book and The Stinging Fly. Black Horse Running, her first collection of haiku, tanka and haibun, was published in 2012. Home is Kilrea, County Derry.

The Red Room

Justice was the wintry form I searched for
talking calm and cool
in the serrated shade of silver ferns.
Sharp as those words
he whispered:
for anyone your half-mad mother
would have loosened her long dark hair.
Coming to England fresh with snow
and roses and swans
I thought the bright pennies
would drop from his eyes
letting in truth and memories
of muscadine mouths
but all he can recall
the great white moths falling in a flame
Christophine brought.

In sea green dreams I tell her
I have not slept too long in the full moon’s net.
If there were listeners here
where wolves come to die
in the borderland between packs
I would speak soft and slow
not crouch on all fours trying to throw
my throat out to the planets.
Wildly revolving and splendid
they are deaf to this howl
ricocheting off
thick weeping walls
till collapsing wasted and weary
in a cage of rib.
Times leashed there
by Grace Pool’s cheap gin
slumping her tonight in deep purply sleep.

Freeing me to follow his stone stairs
up to a slip of emerald sun
turning flaming hibiscus
to scarlet amaryllis.
The only voice I ever had
rising in a thousand prayers to the stars.
High above the charcoal treeline
scent, my gypsy guide
takes me far from his dank attic
leaving sole counsel
in morning’s bleached court:
a wind rose of lupine bone
shivering on the black bone scattered basalt.

Saint Angela’s Bones

Alone in the wilderness
sculpting an ‘I’

abjected without measure
in the garden of bones

she breaks every rule
but little matter

if others find
in her gaunt patternings

a madness
diaphanous and complete

for he can see
the red heart thrumming

a psaltery of rib
with gold obsidian

till the star on her breast
comets into prayer

and all is she
God beyond God

the sea beyond the sea.

Julian’s Eyes

All shall be well and all shall be well and all manner of things shall be well
– Julian of Norwich

She did not drink dark cups
from the sores
of the dying
feed the destitute
or found an order.
Bernini did not trace
the arc her spine
sculpt her sigh
or tease out
the sweetness
of her fiery entrails.
In a stormy seaport
she saw
and that is all.
The remaining years
spent sounding
the depth
of her visions
till touching
the loveliness
of their nacreous floor
she wrote
do not accuse
yourself of sin
it lanterns the stones
of your wrath
and of this be sure
wrath has no breath
but your own.
The father no entity
only place
where winds stir
the high green grain
and a mare swims
across a lake’s sunstone face.

Mechthild’s Tongue

They think this bright wick
burning in my cave

not fit to proclaim
the stream of light flowing

from your breast.
But if I speak it will be

with a tongue
made holy lapping blood

from your flesh.
For you I have shed all

and cannot be other
than the bird divining blue

the fish aquamarine.
In the abandoned depths

I touched rock
tasted wine and wild honey

gulped jasper
from the face of the sun.

And always my name
will be outside their book.

A beguine sans rule or vow
cursing cathedral clergy

who withholding holy office
withheld little

the night a wounded deer
moaned beside the spring

that is myself
and kneeling there to drink

drank molten gold.




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