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> > > Julie McNamara: Chaos Calls

17 May 2014

front cover of julie mcnamara's poetry collection chaos calls

Front cover of Julie McNamara's Chaos Call, published by Vital Xposure

Julie McNamara has been a tour de force within the field of Disability Arts for more than twenty years.

Her current work: Let Me Stay is a love letter to her Mother, who lives with Alzheimer's. The work has Shirley's voice at the core and was created alongside Shirley McNamara, 'Queen of the Mersey'.

Let Me Stay won an Unlimited 2014 award and will play as part of the Unlimited showcase at the Southbank Centre, London in September as well as the Pulse Festival and Anxiety Festival this summer.

As well as being a theatre practitioner and award-winning singer/songwriter Julie has also had poetry published in several anthologies by Survivors' Press, Bloodaxe Books, London Irish Women’s Centre and Karnac Books. Her first collection, edited by Joe Bidder and Hilary Porter: Chaos Calls was published in 2012 by Vital Xposure. 

Spanning three decades of Julie's life the poetry rings out with humour and pathos in measured chunks, illustrating her passion for social justice, touching on the lives of those who have touched her life.

In the foreword Julie explains how "writing through the chaos wreaked by the great void in my heart kept me alive. I now offer you a glimpse of the first faltering steps towards hope, the breath of life again."

Below is small selection from the collection Chaos Calls, which is available for £7.99 plus p+p. 

For more information about Julie's work and for a copy of the book please email: intouch@vitalxposure.co.uk or go to www.vitalxposure.co.uk 

 

Greenham

It’s twenty years since I walked here
the battlements had to fall
Thatcher likened Greenham’s fence
to the fierce Berlin wall

Oh, I never thought to see the day
when peals of laughter filled
these empty nuclear bases
on Greenham’s gentle hills

Creative inspiration!
spread your colours on these walls
where once weapons of destruction
stockpiled within these very halls

Observe how the heart beats now
the passion that baits our breath
art from the heart moved from mind’s eye
has replaced the stench of death 

The Valley Of The Shadows

Yea though I walk
through the valley of the shadows
where death has no dominion
I shall fear no evil
and yet I do.
I fear the wretched emptiness
the nothingness that the absence of you
now brings.
I fear the shadows that ape my gait
hugging my frame
that mock and mirror me as I make
another slow stroll home.
I wonder at the dark
the gaping wound
that losing you now wields,
I am lost without your breath
and my very soul is stretched across
the cold clay soil
that snatched you from my breast. 

Chaos Calls

From the series: The Journey

Once in search of stillness
at the eye of the storm
I strode out into the darkest night
to find the water’s edge
yearning for belonging
she-son
‘Son of the sea hound’
Mac Connemara
shrinking from the earth’s surface
and scattering bright electric charges
out into the universe
I stood beneath
the pink imploding stars
chaos called me in

Exhilarated by the storm
my arms outstretched
me the martyr gathering in the stars
I let the rain batter my bones
till my goose-skin flesh
bruised blue with cold
drawn into the raging of the night
and still so out of touch
with chaos incarnate
I flew
over the cliff edge
and closing my eyes
let go one final scream
into the thunderous clouds...

Chaos tantalises
with that lingering
taste of the taboo
riding the storm without a bridle
fucking the Pope without a condom
performing the stations of the cross
in the shape of a clitoris
Mary’s
calls me home
chaos is mine...chaos calls me in

They struggled hauling me
up the mud-sodden sheer cliffside
from the precarious ledge
twelve feet below
the rain softer now
I was lost beneath the greyness
of a drab sky drained of drama
lost and yet alert
to new agonies
my heart ached
fresh grazes scorched
as I was yanked crudely
back into the chaos of the day

There are times when
I still dance
with danger as my darling
when suicidal sirens
seduce me to the abandoned abyss
still home inside my heart
but I have learned to surf
to rock an’ roll
across the turf
to spit and scream
mad Mbannshee at the shebeen
I have learned to ceoin
when chaos calls me in
when chaos calls me in

The Prozac Princess

They’ve worried my mind till I’m weary
drowned me in drugs to despair
yes I’m in the caring circus
with the services who care

Watch me soft-shoe shuffle
on the Diazepam dazzle-dance daze
where all the world’s a forget-me-fog
and my whole life’s just a phase

Just call me the Prozac Princess
while I rattle round and round
on the magical medical mystery tour
I’m on the miracle cure they’ve found

They tell me I’ll feel much better
Dothiepin’s the dope
Britain’s sunshine smarty
the quack quack quack’s new hope

But you can’t bomb me into oblivion
or bleed these brain cells dry
‘cause this zombie’s into rebellion
this baby’s gonna fly

So I’ve flushed the phenos down the toilet
gave the diazepam to the dog
buried the barbiturates in the garden
I’m going to get myself a job

(I think I’ll be a chemist)

 

The Night Before Release

I will put in my case the ready laugh
that bubbles from a lover’s smile ...
I will put in my case the drowsy dawn
of a virgin sunrise
I will put in my case a bladdered newt
with its tiny glass of Ouzo
I will put in my case a tidy row of hard-clogged
centipedes Morris dancing all their way to hell
I will put in my case the rich brown, brandied
voice of Billie Holiday
with a tender hand to comfort her when the pain
just won’t be soothed
I will put in my case the acid tang of sherbet dab
and Spanish in its old yellow tube
with bright red writing on
I will put in my case old Armitage Shanks
for I have read his name in writing
on many an ill-spent day
I will put in my case the beautiful ebony woman
with the easy laugh and wide-boned gait
who scrubs at the hospital, clearing off
the vulnerable remnants
from the porcelain of cabbages and kings
I will put in my case the tender love of all my friends
who hold me in their hearts
I will put in my case the shrivelled ancient skin
of my embittered grandmother whose leathery
carcase must be fitting for a purse
I will put in my case my passion for the mighty sea
whose majesty has called me more than once
to take the plunge and rise again
I will put in my case the first tot of Bushmills 17
on a brutal weathered night in Donegal
I will put in my case the mischief and smile
of my oldest comrade and Seannachie, Packie Manus
Byrne, and each time I dare to lift the lid
I’ll hear him cry: Auch!
Never let the truth get in the way of a good story!
I will put in my case the magic of dragons that fly,
the violent blue of kingfishers
I will put in my now very large case a fine display
of rubber penises of every height and hue, a pair
of jellied eels with KY tubes and rubber lube
I will put in my case a snugly fitting pair of snappy
yellow marigolds and a squeaky leather cane
I will put in my case a dose of salts for Lot, a pair of
scales for Solomon, a needle and thread
for John the B, an extra rib for Adam,
a pair of specs for Eve (for she surely needed them)
and a special word for Lucifer for he’s had
a very bad press!

There’s a lot to be said for medication.

Silver Shoes

She sits me down and tells me
with a flush of fresh energy -
I made a plan
I’ve asked them all to come to my funeral
but I’m not buying all the booze
Danny drinks too much
and I don’t like whiskey
I’ve rung them all
my friends
most of them are dead
well they don’t drink
but we’ll have a bloody good dance
and I’ll wear my favourite shoes
you know the ones
they’re glitter grey

Comments

Colin Hambrook

/
17 May 2014

The Greenham poem reminds me of the days I used to go to Greenham Common before the women’s camp became properly established. A group of Quakers would meet to sing outside the gates every Sunday morning as a peaceful protest against nuclear weapons. This was in early 1980s. As the women's protest gathered steam a few people began camping 24/7. The Quakers carried on turning up of a Sunday… until one morning they launched into verse and chorus of ‘The Family of Man’… Righteous anger ensued. It marked the dawning of a new consciousness for 21 year old me

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