Tag Archives: Cyphers

Poem (A Turn of Events) in Cyphers Magazine


Cyphers magazine has published one of my poems – “A Turn Of Events” – in their Spring 2017 issue. I am really pleased about this, it’s a short poem but it’s one of the few that I have written that I don’t think needs to be fixed in some way. Cyphers is a Dublin based print only magazine which has been in existence since 1975. I have been subscribing to it since that time and I cannot recommend it enough. The current issue contains a number of tributes to Leland Bardwell, one of the founders of the magazine, who died in 2016. She was by all accounts a fascinating character and an original and playful poet. Here are a few lines from her poem “The Party Ended Yesterday”:

The sea in party frock

punched the air, slapped in the new.

The mountain moved across the light.

This and two more of her poems are included in the Spring  issue.

Cyphers can be found at http://www.cyphers.ie

If you want to subscribe to Cyphers magazine, you can do so by writing to the following address:

Cyphers Magazine, 3 Selskar Terrace, Ranelagh, Dublin 6, Ireland.

Subscription rate is €21.00 for three issues including postage

In Britain £20.00 for three issues including postage

US $36.00 for three issues including postage

The Mitchell Feeney Project – Track 4, Willie’s Oasis

Houses hunker in the heat

out on Highway 82,

the landscape sweats and saunters

billboards block the view,

and this is not New York City

this is not Saginaw

this is a dry county, son

this is Arkansas….


Willie’s Oasis…a song about looking for drink in all the wrong places.

This lyric was adapted from a poem I wrote called “A Dry Country in Arkansas”. The poem was published some time ago in Cyphers,  a long -running Irish literary magazine. This is a print magazine only and one of the best around in my opinion (check it out at http://www.cyphers.ie). To write the lyric, I had to disassemble the poem; for all you poets out there, I have added a bit more discussion on the transition from poem to lyric at the end of this post. When I gave the lyric to John, I had no concept what kind of song would emerge, I couldn’t have been happier with what he did. Here’s John..

“Willie’s Oasis” turned out to be quite a challenge musically. I loved the feeling of the tune, that southern heat out on Highway 82, but no matter how I tried, I couldn’t hear the music. I tried using my electric guitars, my acoustics, I even tried my piano, but no matter what key I played in and what chords I used, I couldn’t make it work. So I decided to use technology, and I searched through some of my pre-recorded samples and found this rough sounding, bluesy guitar riff. As soon as I started to work with it and edit the sample, add a few more samples, voila, “Willie’s Oasis” appeared.The only live things I put on this tune were my handclaps and my vocals. 

I decided that it needed something else, so I called a wonderful violin player friend of mine named Ben Mink and asked if he would put some fiddle on the tune. Modern technology allows me to send him my tracks, he puts on the violin and sends it back to me via e-mail. We were never in the same room. I expected him to put some real down-home fiddle on, but he completely fooled me and played the most smoking electric violin parts that took the song over the edge. 



Click here to preview/ buy the whole album or individual tracks! Also available on iTunes (search for “The Mitchell Feeney Project”, no hyphen)

A  bit more about the the transition from poem to lyric…below is an excerpt from the poem:

A parking lot and boat ramp

Spent cartridges

Birds improvising

Dragon flies with no apparent flight plan

Good ol’ boys chugging out

Across water the colour of iced tea

To catch a mess of catfish.

These lines have a kind of chopped up rhythm, so I had to re-jig them. This entailed killing my favourite image in the poem, the one about the dragonflies; the catfish and the cartridges had to go as well. I then re-instated a line that I had discarded when writing the poem and ended up with this:

Good ol’ boys are chugging out

storm clouds on the horizon

the water looks like iced tea

birds are improvising.

Simple is sometimes hard to do!