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Mary Ford Neal



the poet

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 poems

Mammina proves
the existence of God

00:00 / 01:42

            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.

O California

After Danez Smith

00:00 / 01:18

            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

00:00 / 01:03

            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

милый: darling

любимый: beloved

Ангел мой: my angel

Publishing credits

Mammina proves the existence of God: Amethyst Review

O California: The Shore (Issue 15)

We all fell silent except for the men:

  Dust Poetry Magazine (Issue 7: Connection)


S h a r e

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