Jo Burns – Three Poems

joJo Burns was born in County Derry, Northern Ireland. Burns writes of rural Ulster idyll juxtaposed with the ever looming presence of the troubles. She is a 39 year old medical scientist and mother of three. She has resided in Chile, Scotland, England, and now lives with her family in Germany.
She also enjoys writing poems inspired by travel, and dabbling in german poetry translation. To date, her poems have been published by A New Ulster and Greensilk Journal.


My uncle Evan, a learned man of law
who wouldn’t kill a wasp they said.
The old ones boasted of his letters and words,
and as if in tribute to Aristophanes,
he granted wasps freedom by his hearth

We’d play draughts by the fire
at the family homestead
on Tuesday nights when that fine,
Irish, roving bachelor
would call for his stew
to be served on fine china
by his brother’s bride.

When he had read The Times
I’d sit on his knee and learn
about Homer and The Aeneid.
The first born and the first
to go to Oxford.  A lawyer
who told first hand of rural justice,
issues, divorce gossip, land
and planning permissions.

Then he’d articulate words
in Greek, exotic sounds,
erotic to small country ears.
He taught me tautology,
so we would play and build
synonyms as lego, trying them
out on those unaware.

When he died alone, years later,
his mind had turned to honey.
He was lain out in the coffin
for the drinking to begin.
As mourning words hummed
over his sweetening brain,
three still quiet wasps at his wake,
listened to the very skill of them.

A Curse of Trumps

Pluto, lay a curse
on the branders of fresh air,
Hex! Beberescu!
This caravan of baboons,
A fumarole on this dealer
of moon shares.

A curse on those
who congress with lucre,
Bazagra! Waxers, waners
in fools gold hue.
Pluto, lay a curse
on the branders of fresh air.

Hagaluz! A curse
that will bleed every yellow hair
white. I hold the tablet,
chanting redes over my runes.
A fumarole on this dealer
of moon shares.

Bescu, toad, feverfew,
blood of black bear,
on mongers who weave
war on plump looms
Pluto, lay a curse
on the branders of fresh air.

Belzebut has possessed
the doom-feeder who dares,
to tweet gump lined litanies
of tycoon tunes,
a fumarole on this dealer
of moon shares.

I cast this spell
under the red harvest moon,
By the magick of olde,
be it done soon!
Pluto, lay a curse
on the branders of fresh air,
and a fumarole on this dealer
of moon shares.

Goodnight Stories From A Grandmother

Nina, young wife to ageing unionist Joe,
was a livewire and wicked storyteller,
an expert baker of Bramley crumbles wafting
with humour, forked with irony.

A self woven yarn of the black hound Gelert
the landlord killed in this very place,
who reincarnated and pursued in fervour,
with intent to murder, his old tax collector.

Now a hellhound who slank and stank
with evil purpose, stealing hens and sheep
terrorising the Tamneymullan countryside,
frightening young children in their dreams.

With fangs that shred doors, the tale grew bolder.
Joe, startled one night from a ragged slumber
hoked out a gun from under their bed, preloaded
for moments like these, he soldiered to the hall

ready to meet the violent weed
he’d seeded home, to take it’s bullet
for his own and yet found nothing but deeds
already done, wet canine pawmarks on the stairs

to a door ajar, and all through such strange lore,
as I saw ghosts and guns swaying in my family tree,
Nina’s eyes gently creased to a delta of laughter.



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