“Finding Symmetry” and other poems by Jo Burns

Conchita reads Pablo’s letter to God

(while he is painting)
Your committee for time-keeping has ruled
diphtheria a highly unpunctilious event.
By consensus you can’t seem to remember
this being planned into any agendas.
You call me precocious but Pablo, honestly
it’s you that Mama has always adored,
Papa ignores me, I can’t even draw.
It’s all planned for you so perfectly.
You’re a stickler for timeliness,
and planned these years differently.
You have the domestic dates regulated
but I heard you, silently
trying prayer on for size, gambling paint
for my life. You waver clandestine.
Your brushstrokes will sacrifice us all
and I will be the first in line.
First published by Helen Ivory at Ink Sweat and Tears for National Poetry Day.

Mrs Violet Schiff at The Majestic

At this gathering of society horsemen
behind Parisian oyster cream gates,
Proust is here. He drives me insane.
Bloody Joyce is silent and seems irritated.
I’m waiting for you Pablo. Please wear,
for me, that faixa wound on your temple.
Stravinsky is nervous. I need another cocktail.
I’ve already told them all Picasso is coming.
Every minute you make Diaghilev and I wait,
so many numerable things are taking place.
250 children are born, pure and new,
100 souls pass through death and space.
The universe expands by 3000 miles, more or less.
400 litres of blood pump through our veins.
100 marry and 80,000 (probably) have sex.
6 billion human hearts beat 300 billion times.
Although there are 500 thousand minutes per year,
and it could be assumed that each one of them is small,
each minute I wait, while they quarrel over Beethoven,
Pablo, my social reputation is going going gone.
First Published by Adam Crothers at The Literateur

Dora Maar, The Weeping Woman

It’s my turn—
cigar ember stubbed out
by his shoe
he immortalises
that which
he’s formed me into
a souvenir stub
of travels he took
into my gut
my entirety—
a teardrop of paint
on his brush
First published by Lonnard Watkins for Shot Glass Journal

Maya’s soliloquy to Pablo

When you leave, it is only fair and right
to clear the table once set with laughter
and tip the wine glasses into the sea
then mix a drop of blood in salt water.
When you leave, please feed your paint to the fish
and leave the front door ajar for the wind to bring
me the breeze. It’s simple leaving etiquette,
when you’re going and determined.
When you leave, please throw your anchor away,
lose my portraits, burn all those written lines.
Remember from your swaying, wind-blown deck
to point your spinnaker squarely to horizon.
First published by Ann Kestner for Poetry Breakfast

Finding symmetry

I like it best when things deflect,
let the ocean spread as mirrored glass,
let it unfold my own dimensions,
let sun spread in wash, a simple kind
of reflection, like when I look at you,
laying past saids to dids on sand grain piles,
forming foundations for future what ifs,
curving spirals for your life’s nautilus.
Let the ocean hold the time I held you,
bloodied, vernixed, tied by pulsing cord,
I unfurled and couldn’t love you more;
Narcissus drowned to newborn echoes.
It’s known the heart cannot hear itself,
but in your own fibonacci swirl
let the ocean reflect my diffracted beat,
where chaos in a whirl became symmetry.
First Published by Greg McCartney for The Honest Ulsterman


The Sun aflame in the cosmic lantern bound/we are mere ghosts,
revolving, the flame surround/played in a box whose candle is the sun
round which we phantom figures come and go.

                                                                 Omar Khayann, Rubaiyat.
His hair spun in halo, the Lord of the Dance,
dances in Samsara’s wheel, entranced,
his breast, one earring—his Parwati side
holds planets still, male half Lingam stands.
His left hand blesses, his right foot stamps
breaking demons’ backs. The stars gaze on,
through horizons towards the coiling snake,
an ocean with five upraised hoods,
watches Shiva twist, as he weaves mudras
with his hands spread over all paradise,
in cosmic manouevres of spiral bliss,
this expanse of life fire, a tripping fuse
is loose limbed chaos in eskapada.
The rattle drum beats out introspection.
Brahma faces all cardinal points at once,
bemused at this paradigm, unending,
Aeons spinning on towards destruction
Clockwise, creation loses time,
but he knows something we mortals don’t.
Before rebirth, we must come undone.
First published by Angela Carr for Headstuff

erbacher-jo-2015-036-bJo Burns comes originally from Maghera, County Derry. After studying Biomedical Science and spells in Chile, Scotland, England, she now lives with her family in Germany. Her poems have been published by or are forthcoming in: A New Ulster, Poetry Breakfast, The Galway Review, The Incubator, The Honest Ulsterman, Headstuff, The Irish Literary Times, Poetry NI P.O.E.T Anthology, The Literateur, Lakeview International Journal of Arts and Literature, Four x Four, Ink Sweat and Tears, Forage, Shot Glass Journal, Orbis, Picaroon and Poetry Pacific among others. Her work has been nominated for the Pushcart Prize and she is one of Eyewear Publishing’s Best New British and Irish Poets 2017.


She occasionally retweets other peoples’ interesting posts at @joburnspoems

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