Mary Ford Neal
A writer and legal academic from Glasgow, Scotland, Mary Ford Neal is the author of poetry collections Dawning and Relativism, as well as an assistant editor of Nine Pens Press. Mary's poetry has appeared online and in print in a wide span of journals that includes Bad Lilies, After…, One Hand Clapping, The Interpreter’s House, Atrium, Long Poem Magazine, The Shore and Janus Literary. Her work has been nominated for both The Pushcart Prize and Best of the Net.
the existence of God
The day is on its hands and knees. Mammina basks
on the balcony in great-grandmother dignity
in all the quiet of a woman who has outlived her daughter,
collarbones glistening, little cross flashing pink
and gold among rivulets of August evening sweat
as the sun finally loses its grip and goes down fighting,
painting the duomo in eyeshadow colours.
The whole horizon is made of churches.
An ambulance squeals along an unseen street,
not the smooth wail of the ambulances back home,
but a desperate, discombobulated sound like the cry
of a confused animal. Mammina makes the sign of the cross,
lets loose a fast prayer. Her words are a string
of small, round beads, tumbling one after the other.
How can you be so sure anyone is listening? I ask
in her bubbling tongue. My head is dusky with
the sweetness the city gives off at the height of summer,
and with all my days and nights at university.
Mammina opens one eye, closes it, smiles back in her chair,
takes a fat medjool date between leathery thumb and
forefinger, squeezes it lightly, and says
This perfect thing does not exist by accident.
After Danez Smith
California’s an empty page, but scented like a candle
so you have to write over someone’s idea of loveliness.
No matter how delicate the fragrance, I could write
a fist. I could write a swollen eye. I could write a lie. Perhaps
a little blasphemy is okay. Bruises are not okay
in California. Perhaps I bother about bruises
but don’t even notice my snapped neck.
Whatever you do, don’t move me.
I’m resting on the lip of an ocean, and I want the ocean
badly, but not this one. This one spits cold.
I need the one so vast its edges are always gentle.
I’ve told them that by evening I’ll be on a plane. I know
if I could get to California it would sand me smooth.
I know if I could get to California I could die big,
die pacific, melt into the horizon like a god.
We all fell silent
except for the men
their solemn mahogany baritones closing around
a keening гармошка, deepening, swelling, snaking
between us, causing our skins to shed, winding
around the hissing braziers, and it was as though
all the longing in the earth’s bones sprouted, serpentine,
charmed from sleep by Russian chords, and I decided
just to dissolve into this longing, this sinuous lament,
this отравление, uncoil myself from the hold of home,
of language, of all my loves, and from now on
my home would be this poison-apple moment,
my language a dirge rich with consonants,
and my only loves would be
милый, любимый, Ангел мой.
гармошка: a Russian accordion
отравление: intoxication or poisoning
Ангел мой: my angel