Monday, February 19, 2018

On Leinster Road

Warm, languorous Summer’s afternoon;
chestnuts in full bloom,
students chatting on the steps,
sipping cans of beer.
A man-roar up ahead, then again;
my alarm beeps.

Now, I see him,
purple-faced, wild-eyed;
bawling at a girl on the other side.
Beep beep. Entering his range;
now intruding onto the outer ring
of his target.

Harmless; just passing.
‘Passing passing passing.’

He reads my fear,
his anger flares.
“Cunt.... fucking bastard....... shower of.......”
Furious summer sun
staring through a lens:
I catch fire.

Later, recovering an afternoon that was:
beautiful May, magnificence of early summer,      .
chesnuts in bloom,
students chatting on the steps;
I find charred remains
that keep flap flap flapping. 

Thursday, February 15, 2018

Where the blood rose grew

This is where the executions happened;
in this yard, in the sun;
or more likely under clouds; here.

This is the place of killings, here
under the prison walls,
the high, high walls.

This is where the blood rose grew
 beyond their control,
the very spot; this is where.

Monday, February 12, 2018

Some poems just refuse to form

Some poems just refuse to form. The idea is there: the feeling, the imagery, but like pieces of jigsaw that have been incorrectly cut, the poem refuses to mesh.
And, sometimes it is that the poem  is too powerful in our heads, we haven't got the umph to bring such a mighty thing into shape.
This poem has too much going on behind it; I've posted one or two different versions before, I'll probably post one or two more. Why? Because this is an end of it for now.

The poem you said I should write.

A nurse named Yesterday arrived on your ward  ̶
her grandmother died the day before she was born.

She was gone in a matter of days.
Nurses from the agency come and go, you said;
good relationships are important for patients.

We talked about the sentence of always being Yesterday.
You died; and I cannot put a name to this poem.

Thursday, February 8, 2018


It was the snow that brought me back;
its peace and space;
finding myself again, after all
that clutter.

With each falling flake, another bit
a little less noise;
the sound of myself, Michael,  returning.

Monday, February 5, 2018

Philip Casey

I was so sorry to hear of Philip Casey's death; he was a most likeable person. Though I didn't know him particularly well, it reflects on the kind of character that he was, that I feel as saddened as I do. I found him always good-humoured, humble and generous; and apart from his own writing achievements, he was a one of the great, unselfish supporters of other Irish writers and Irish writing in general.
You can read what others, who knew him much better than I, have to say at
For my part, his death will leave an unfillable space at the various readings and literary events arrounnd Dublin.

Sunday, February 4, 2018

Beautiful Day

in memory of my mother, Teresa

The sheets are billowing on the clothes’ lines;
they’re  between us, so I walk across the grass unseen;
I know she’ll be delighted; I’m not expected home for months yet.

I see the top of her head as she’s hangs up another,
and I’m guessing there are two wooden pegs in her mouth;
I put my arms around her from behind.

And the sheets are doing the dance they do in the wind,
kicking up wildly to their own rhythmless tattoo.
Away, over the garden hedges, sheets from many gardens

are escaping across the July sky, as wheeling swallows
are notes that have broken free from their staves;
Mam, I know it now: our days are short, but aren’t they beautiful?

Saturday, February 3, 2018


Sitting on a park-bench,
a slanting shaft of sunlight before me
and, like a hologram, a thousand
golden flies moving like atoms inside it.

Is that a God's view?

Wednesday, January 31, 2018

Ena's Portrait

I am looking at a portrait of Ena;
the artist’s view of Ena;
the artist catching something of Ena
much deeper than facial expression:
her………………. contrariness;
but that’s not what the artist painted.

She painted Ena’s quizzical look:
that turn of eye, lift of eyebrow
that only a contrarian produces.
I see Ena’s likeness,
I know something of her mind,
and I’m wondering what was eating her.

Tuesday, January 30, 2018


I wonder if  the perspective of leaders threatening war would be altered if talks were conducted in a space craft with the half the planet visible through one of its windows.


Aspect  1

Over the last week, I’ve been seeing January migrations
of geese in the powder blue sky above Dublin.
Those ever-shifting arrows, sign-posting exotic, faraway countries
are in my mind, when I notice a full-stop is moving
out of the text into the blank margin of the page I’m reading.
I follow its progress, wondering where its determination is bound.
At the top margin, it turns right, making for the gorge between the two pages;
at this moment, I get an urge to squash it,
then stop to wonder why.

Aspect 2

This mite’s steady progress up the page
leads me to wonder how much purpose such a tiny creature can have.
Slow and considered in its movements,
I imagine the terrain must be similar to the Burren’s uneven pavements:
clints and grykes, hardy low thorns to be negotiated.
It continues its journey.
Size, the man looking down from the mountain-top might say, is a matter of perspective,
and scratch his head at the extent of misery inflicted in the miniaturised city below.
It reaches the top margin.

The newscaster says: today, 95 people were massacred in a city street.
The mite turns right, making for the gorge between the two pages.

Thursday, January 25, 2018

Mist on the Mountain

The hunch-backed hag is dragging plants from out
of the ground, black ridges etched into the hillside.
She pays me no attention though I am ten yards away;
ancient shape, deaf perhaps.

Further down the slope, an old man hefting a boulder,
feet set in tussocks of colourless grass;
back gnarled; legs, arms angled
so he and drudgery have become one.

The last, still red, haws are hanging from her fingers;
a robin’s song bursts from his chest;
its moment of freedom rising,
the hill traps it instantly in its sullen ear.

Monday, January 22, 2018

Clearing out

Emptying shelves onto the floor.
Thirty years: defunct,
useless stuff
clogging up the box room.

Fuck it out, all of it.
Packing myself into a black plastic bag:
an Autumn mess,

Arrive at the bottom of it.
Hollowed out years;
Discovering emptiness, lots of it.

Thursday, January 18, 2018


In the beautiful days of childhood, I was a kite
filled with the exhilaration of blue skies;
trees I climbed presented their branches
with the sweep of the grandest stairs;
clouds stampeded across my heavens and the road
was a flowing tide beneath my feet.

In the beautiful days of childhood, coloured umbrellas
rolled me onward
with smile a scarf, waving over my shoulder,
trailing back into the years;
like dreams, like smoke from an old train engine
dissipates in the attempt to go back.

Monday, January 15, 2018

The fact that cannot be known until the time is ripe.....................................

When you reach the end, turn around
and start back.
More slowly now, more deliberate,
less wasteful.
There is little time, none to be wasted,
not one second.
And for those facing you, be considerate,
they don’t know.

Saturday, January 13, 2018

You Asleep

I am watching you sleeping;
withdrawn to that room, your nightly retreat,
where you will go at the end
to nurse the petering flame of your life,
accompanied by yourself alone and, perhaps,
 manifestations of you that have been.

But now your face is quiet.
Out here, ignorant of all that’s stirring within,
I can only wish for your peace and comfort.
The prospect of you, in that room in the future, clumps
                                                                     through my mind;
I turn away, haul myself back to the present,
but my eyes remain open, headlights into the future.

Monday, January 8, 2018

My Head's Full Of

My head’s full of scrap, the clanking mass of.
A full-tide of worries shifting uneasily in the attic
has the feet of my stomach pedalling frantic.
Prostate and thyroid every dis way and dat dodging
the darts, and fool of a brain flopping with the derring-do
of a body that never had an egg-cup  of bravery,
asking which way all the errant arrows are pointing,
and my head this minute with hair-net on the inside.