Playdates

By Daniel Galvin

Me and Joe used to invite friends over after school
under false pretences.

We promised we’d play tip the can.
We promised we’d play football.
Instead we had them act in short films
which we co-wrote as we went.

We had Reilly stripped to the waist
on location in the ruins of a nearby famine village.
He played a superhero
doing push-ups in some long-dead family’s living room,
swinging from trees in their garden.

He protested and protested
said it was stupid and none of his other friends did this
but he was outnumbered and lacking vision.

Liam played a crazed puppeteer
in a documentary charting his rise and fall.
We taped socks to his hands for the puppets.
When the fame gets too much, the puppeteer unravels,
so we pinned him down and tickled
until the madness came through.

Working with amateurs proved frustrating.
Little Michael was useless as a Western lead.
Blind without his glasses, devoid of charisma, timid as shit
we had him smoke five of my father’s John Majors
until his performance developed some grit.

Quiet Ken was awarded our most challenging role-
unable to convince us he was not a method actor
he mimed the Velvet Underground’s ‘White Heat. White Light.’
into a blinking lens for three and a half hours
until he finally winked at the right time.
Then we made him drop acid, strip to his jocks
and cluck like a chicken in the coop
with the rest of the chickens.
Then we made him lay an egg.

Brendan got bit by an aggravated dog
in a failed escape from the plantation.
Brian took the beatings like a silent champ
in a piece which tackled domestic abuse.
Timothy refused to do the shower scene.
William cried and went home.

Mom found the videos and deleted them all,
Rang Joe’s mother and a counsellor.
Now I don’t see Joe anymore
and nobody comes over after school.
Tip the can is shit alone
so I kick the ball through every window in the house
and go inside to watch Le Regle du Jeu.

Daniel Galvin

Daniel Galvin is a writer from Co.Cork. He has had his writing published by The Moth, The Rose, Pulsar, Hidden Channel, Cold Coffee Stand and The Scum Gentry. He came first place in the Spoken Word Platform at Cuirt International Literary Festival 2017 and won the May 2017 Sunday Slam in Dublin. He has performed poetry sets at Electric Picnic. He is currently working towards his first collection.


Cars and Dismissal

By Leah Keane

Where some families have a dining room
to talk about big issues, the Keane family has the car.

Not one car necessarily, different ones
over the years, each one slightly less shitty than the last,

and the thing is
that you’re in cars a lot,
so it could happen at any time really.

Maybe one trip you’re just in the mood
to talk to your Mam about the fact that you love boobs.

Or a bit drunk, she’s driving you home from the pub
and it slips out — that you really really like it when girls get their nips out.

You see the real thing is
that you don’t believe in big issues
and you often talk in monotone,

so it’s quite likely that this is how the conversation would go:

“Well.”

“Well.”

“Were ye busy today?”

“Ah. It was alright.”

Seat belts on then silence for ten minutes.

There are some poorly kept bushes on a roundabout.

It reminds you of your own poorly kept bush.

“Mam, I think I’m gay.”

I don’t think she’d mind.

One night she was drunk,
ended up coming home at around three o’ clock.
I was in bed in my brother’s room downstairs
because I thought I heard mice in the attic.

I heard her rummaging around in the kitchen for a while.
Then she was on the phone with someone,
so she went outside the backdoor to have a smoke —
a habit of hers since I can remember.

Later she must have noticed
that an extra light was on downstairs,
so in she came and sat down
half on top of me by the edge of the bed.

And oh how she lamented.
She’d had a horrible lovers’ quarrel
with her partner of nearly twenty years —
a retired Eircom installation man,
who loves taking her out to dinner on Strand Hill
and talking about his bladder and the neighbours.

And I said, “Sure you’ll get back together.”

“No, no. Not this time.”

She let out a drunken sigh.

“Promise me, Leah that when you get a bit older
you’ll marry a nice, rich man who’ll take care of yo
u and then you’ll never have to work a day in your life.
A man…

or a woman, I don’t care, as long as you’re happy.”

Of course they got back together two weeks later,
but those words gave me enough
to make me feel secure.

The Keane family has the car for big issues.
Like that time when I was nine
And Mam told me that Nana was dying.

Out she came with it, in a calm, sympathetic voice, “Leah,
Nana’s very sick and she’s not going to get better.”

I had been sitting in the back seat,
and when I started crying
she urged me to come crawl into the front
where she hugged me very gently against her
with one arm around my shoulders
and the other resting firmly on the wheel —
all the while she never stopped driving.

I’m not worried about being excommunicated,
not from any church or even from my own family.
I suppose my biggest fear is dismissal.
You always hear talk about “phases”,
and as someone who has seemingly no solid foundations for what I feel,
that fear is all too legitimate.
I’ve never kissed a girl or even been in a proper relationship.

So the problem is,
how does one communicate a fact without any sources?

It’s more difficult.
She’ll ask, “Well, where’s this woman then?”
and I’d rather avoid all that.

So should I come out now
or wait until I’ve met a girl
who’d like to drink tea with me
and watch bad TV.

A girl who’s sweet enough not to cringe
when she reads my poetry,
and would not be opposed
to having sex in weird places

Or drinking in quiet bars
that play the Rolling Stones,

And if you haven’t dismissed me yet,
I promise to propose as soon as I get my car.

Leah Keane

Leah Keane is a native of Castlerea, County Roscommon. She is a NUI Galway graduate where she studied English, German and Creative Writing. She has studied poetry under Alvy Carragher and was longlisted for the Over the Edge New Writer of the Year competition in 2017.


Shared Toys

By Ruth Ennis

My sister was the shiny new robot
That Amsterdam craved. They wanted to play
With all the wit, speed, and superpowers
She had. All of that which was taken for
Granted in the land that stays fixated
On nineteen-sixteen. But they sent her on
Too many far-away missions; too much
Time with other robots ‘til she missed her Placid teddies with the emerald eyes.
So she came back home.

My best friend in school was the fastest grey
Race car I’ve ever met. Speeding between
Her careful, articulate English and
Her rapid, passionate Polish, she built
The motorway between her imposed home
And her memory of home. Sometimes she
Has two homes, sometimes she has one or none.
Sometimes she has a pit stop and nothing
More. Her wheels keep spinning; directionless.
She’s looking for home.

That Syrian boy who sat in the back
Of an ambulance is a rag doll. He
Watches the war-figurines clash and boom
With each other. His fabric arms flop and
His marble eyes can’t cry. He has been tossed
And thrown in games of no pretending, but
Now the game-maker has no interest in
Building a new world for him. The rag doll
Hopes to create a new home for himself
But can’t lift his arms.

Ruth Ennis

Ruth Ennis is a bookseller and a co-founder and features editor for teen and YA literary journal Paper Lanterns. She has a B.A. in English with Drama from UCD and an M.Phil. in Children’s Literature from TCD. She is an aspiring children’s writer. You can find her online at @rurooie.


A Co(s)mic Foray on the Infinitude
written for landscape

By Daniel Mulcahy

Within the clasp-shut suitcase is

a bag of balloons:
deflatable moons

Inside of which
are clowncars stuffed with
collapsible bikes like crumpled
leaves scabbed with the corpses of nuclear
submarines in psychedelic yellow tones

within which squat scuff-haired
children squinting beneath bulbous
brows downwards upon a sparsely forested

Mountainrange with fully integrated
billygoats eating tiny smoke-chimblied thatched
chalets on whose scratchy roofs perch a motley assortment of
crows infested by dogs sporting fashionable pouches full of cats and cat
kindred that purvey
stalls selling recreational vehicles and cloakrooms and too many haberdashers
to count not to mention the

towers of precarious jelly tots and vegetarian confectionary and bon bons and
pom-poms and human skulls that crowd around the
spirits of homeopathists juggling elephants and ziggurats flailing towards the
zeppelin-bathed metropolis floating high beneath the fountains of
Living light streams scintillating across a grimace of cloud –

shooting over goathorns and mountaintops
sneezing out of noses and portholes and valveholes and glovecompartments,
swelling out of the moon until it fair seemed fit to burst

beyond the span of the suitcase lid that never

could

quite

close.

Daniel Mulcahy

Daniel Mulcahy is a Creative Writing graduate from NUIG. He has performed for Cúirt, Notions and the ghost of Yeats at Thoor Ballylee. Several of his poems have been published in Skylight 47, the Galway Review and untitled. He hopes you enjoy his work, if only to laugh at it.


An Attempt to Keep Up with A Champion

By Morag Dine

I can’t remember the last time my shoulder didn’t hurt
First steps after sleep crunch
And
Click
And it takes the morning for my bones to warm up
Still
My body’s movements mesmerise even me
Springboard flooring softens the arthritic blow
Mirrored walls allow for perfection of extension and
I’m still trying to get the perfect French whip

Stunted growth gave way to shin splints
A pointed finger in my back gave in to cancer
But at least he corrected my carriage before he left

I remember

Dancing on concrete with nothing to protect young bodies from fracture but
leather just thick enough to be opaque
We weren’t allowed to dance outside
Not because it was damning
But because
It would ruin our pumps

My toes click as loud now as my heels once did in heavy shoes
Jigs and reels distort into being told I was too fat to be a champion
Too huge to jump high
But my kicks were stronger than any fairy
My strength too wonderful to be controlled
A pre-pubescent powerhouse
Suffocated with wigs and legs of mahogany

I let rip

The first time I danced to cry was my rebirth
I didn’t care about being too sore to compete
Who cares about trophies when you can make such beauty
with only your
Pained
Tender
Feet

Morag Dine

Morag Dine is a Theatre and French student in Trinity College, Dublin. She works as a director, writer and choreographer. Her most recent theatre credits include: Movement Director,  Halleloo  (Samuel Beckett Theatre, 2018), Director,  Far Away  (Samuel Beckett Theatre, 2017), and Director, Swing (UCD Memorial Hall, ISDA 2017). She recently won the Judges Discretionary Award for Movement Direction at the Irish Student Drama Awards and is still trying to bring this into every conversation she has.