Submit to Southword





New Irish Voices
Poetry chapbooks by
Roisin Kelly & Paul McMahon



Liberty Walks Naked
by Maram al-Masri, trans. Theo Dorgan



Chapbooks by Fool for Poetry
Competition Winners 2018

Not in Heaven by Molly Minturn
Bog Arabic by Bernadette McCarthy




Richesses: Francophone Songwriter Poets
Edited and translated by Aidan Hayes





Munster Literature Centre

Create your badge






Arts Council



Cork City Council



Foras na Gaeilge



Cork County Council






Brian Turner

Brian Turner served for seven years in the US Army. He was an infantry team leader for a year in Iraq from November 2003 with the 3rd Stryker Brigade Combat Team, 2nd Infantry Division. In 1999-2000 he was deployed to Bosnia-Herzegovina with the 10th Mountain Division. Born in 1967, he received an MFA from the University of Oregon and lived abroad in South Korea for a year before joining the army.

His collection Here, Bullet (Bloodaxe 2007) was first published in the US in 2005, where it has earned Turner nine major literary awards, including a 2006 Lannan Literary Fellowship and a 2007 NEA Literature Fellowship in Poetry. His second collection (Phantom Noise) will be available from Bloodaxe in 2010.




To My Unnamed Daughter

A Lullaby for Bullets





                The grace of the world survives our intervention

—Harry Mattison


As dawn approaches the city of Mosul, a dense fog

hangs in the eucalyptus grove. 

                                                  A water buffalo

lifts its head from the belly-high grass, its nostrils

wet and shining, to breathe in the damp smell of earth,

the ammunition belts and army winter coats

left rotting in the park these many years.

                                                                  In the fog,

among the grass-covered berms of old tank emplacements,

the trunks of trees take on the shadowy forms

of men, women, children

                                           who are coming closer,

perhaps, or moving away—it’s difficult to tell,

these shadows in the half-light of dawn,


who have found the small bright lanterns of sunlight

breaking through the leaves above.






To My Unnamed Daughter


You would’ve turned twelve this year,

sometime late November. When the rains come.


When the Tule fog starts to lift off the San Joaquin river,

drifting out over the orange groves with their fruit


frozen solid on the hard-packed ground, old tires

at the ends of rows lit with gasoline fires


to keep them warm. When I was twelve,

my brother and I climbed the shingled rooftop


to look out over a sea of fog, country houses

with only their chimneys visible in the distance,


firesmoke trailing them like strange flagless ships

steaming toward the far horizon. Everything


seemed possible, then. History was still being made.

We talked of riding Chinese junks in the Yellow Sea,


Arab dhows in the Indian Ocean, off the coast of East Africa,

entire continents just waiting for us to explore.


I never told my brother about you. He’s had enough—

his fourth child turned blue with a strangling cord


at birth, the nineteen months spent waiting for him

to die, and people would say Such a beautiful child, that Ethan.


And yet, my unborn, you never even had a name.

Just a month when you would’ve been born, and me, waiting.






A Lullaby for Bullets


Tomorrow is made of shrapnel

and blood. There will come a time

when the trigger calls you out quickly

into the streets. And as you leave the barrel

I can’t promise you won’t kill the man

who has waited all his life for the answer

to this moment, but if you lean to the right,

if you lean back and look as hard as you can

for that mountain you came from, the sunlight

warming the pines, clouds approaching

from the north with their gift of silence,

if you do this you might just graze

the man’s temple, so close you might hear

his name, the humming of blood

over bone, the many voices

within, the years to come.



©2009 Brian Turner



Author Links

Turner at Bloodaxe

New Yorker article about Turner

Video of Turner reading at the Geraldine R. Dodge Poetry Festival




©2009 Southword Editions
Munster Literature Centre

Southword 6 Southword No 7 Southword No 8 Southword No 9 Southword No 10 Southword 11 southword 12 Southword No 14 Southword No 15