Tuesday, December 12, 2017

The Terrorist

I’m exploring a village in County Roscommon, a quaint little place
on the banks of the Shannon. I’m strolling around, trying to catch
the atmosphere like I’d try to catch a tan. It’s  Summer, there’s no traffic,  
a few boats on the river, some hall doors are open, the shops are quiet,
if a bee stirred that would be the height of it.

It doesn’t take long to get around the whole village.Countryside laps
to every backdoor, the church on its ground is silent  as a tombstone,
the Shannon drags itself painstakingly by, and the sun’s heat has settled itself down
among the clouds. In the fields the hay is saved, somewhere a cow is yawning;
and an old man drives past in a tractor, going three miles an hour.

I know this, because he is half way to the shop, when I decide to make a race of it.
There is quarter of a mile at most, straight road, and, walking, I’m already gaining
on him. He’s past half way, moving incredibly slowly. I’ve covered half the distance
 between us.  He’s three quarters way, I’m over half way.  I’m almost level, almost level
when I reach the shop.Later I discover, locals call him The Terrorist.

Armani stops at our house

The ethics around photography are more than a bit grainy. The professional photographer is one thing, often questionable, but at least, he/she would appear to have a reason to be there, but the amateur is a different ball-game.

This flashy customer caught my eye; privileged materially, and with very expensive camera, he gave himself license to pry.

Armani stops at our house

sunbathing on the verge,

surveyed from the wall.

grinning up a cuff,

stole granddad’s gappy smile.

snapping the moment shut,

stepped from the grass;

spat dust into our gateway.

Thursday, December 7, 2017

gentle as rain,
as petals,
as snow,


Monday, December 4, 2017

Failing Light

In the failing light of a November evening,
among the rotting leaves on a suburban path,
I remember you, digging the garden ridges, shaking out
the groundsel, tossing the stones under the hedge.

Great events in your kingdom were scurryings in the grass,
a thrush feeding on a worm, raindrops falling from the apple trees.
Far from inspectors and reports, you held sway over
the straightening of ridges, regiments of onions and lettuces.

With each passing year, you settle deeper into memory,
becoming ever more intangible, like these rotting leaves
that leave only their scent hanging in the dank November air;
after all this time, you have become more like a conversation 
                                                                                I never had.

Friday, December 1, 2017

The Wind Claps The Slates

The wind claps the slates;
all night they are hooves running berserk,
all night the wind is inciting them;
all night.

At twenty past two and twenty past three
and twenty past four I am looking at you;
how I would love to have hooves to come
crashing through your sleep, to burst into
your solitude.

And there I would, for better or worse,
demolish the muzzled years with as much
violence as reverberates beneath iron shoes,
as  causes such a frenzy in stone that slates

Sunday, November 26, 2017


Granny in woollen cardigans, bespectacled,
smooth-cheeked, sitting at the stove end
of the kitchen table, stockings rolled down,
wanting the dog to lick the ulcers on her legs.

Cups of tea coming and going like seasons,
showers of sunlight canonizing her fitfully,
switching on the light of her soft white hair,
the wild rose that bloomed free in her face.

The comfortable plumpness of her body
always shaped to her generous curiosity;
her old voice gentle as seaweed on a wave,
chatting life back into the bones of the dead.

Tuesday, November 21, 2017

The Viewing.

Dead: the colour of old cream,
his eyes shuttered shut;
so neat, besuited and slim,
the weight he lost dying.

They made a basket of his fingers
with a rosary spilling down;
everyone said he looked lovely,
but when I touched his face
it wasn’t him at all.

Thursday, November 16, 2017


Some poems never get there. This one has been with me for nearly as long as the old man it's written about.
It's frustrating, but, then again, it's probably a good thing that certain accomplishments keep us grasping.


Evening light dozed on unwashed dishes;
old dust coated china plates;
the Sacred Heart, smoked and sagging,
looked down from a height;
a clock ticked like a jaded heart.

His face, at the table, jerked uncontrollably,
occasionally he choked on his tongue.
All that might be called life was in a biscuit box
in a press: letters, photographs, Christmas cards, postcards;
and a silver pocket-watch he got from his mother.

Sunday, November 12, 2017

Rivers Run

Rivers run over the land,
slivers of sky and light,
their spindly bodies flowing,
fish and ripples one,

Clamouring in the high places,
lisping in the  low;
spry in youth,
sedate in age;
always journeying to their end
to run again.

Sunday, November 5, 2017


A peninsula: shingle, cockle and barnacle shells, strips of desiccated wrack,
greened with sea-holly. The wooden cabin, though frequently lashed with spray,
was salted dry, and coloured somewhere between bone and limestone;
I lived there for five months before you came.

From the land our light seemed no more than a single candle burning;
the clothes on our line had the appearance of  rags,
and the smoke from our fire curled into the sky with a nonchalance
that suggested our daily struggles with lighting washed up timbers.

You’ll remember the shingle made walking difficult; with each step the stones rolled.
You said it sounded like the grinding of a mouth full of loose teeth; but, around the bay,
 a billion stones rolled thunderously with each beached wave;
and the  breeding terns came at us like boomerangs.

Nights: we were  unlit stars perhaps, but at one with the universe, free and alive
 in the unbroken expanse of shore, sea and sky; we had  space
 to be colossal, to exhilarate; and moonlight, our spotlight to roar songs into the cosmos,
to take the universe’s light into our eyes and exult in it.

Came the day of migration: wings outstretched, muscles fluid, necks craned to our separate
destinations; we, without backward glances, took to the air
with eyes big enough to countenance the curve of the earth, greedy enough to fly it;
and left our peninsula, a finger  pointing to somewhere .

Friday, November 3, 2017

As a chaos

As a chaos of jagged girders,
black against the sky,
looks like pain;
yet it makes a beautiful ugliness.

That day’s electrodes, bare and unprotected,
were waiting for me. From the moment I awoke,
nothing was ever going to halt
their run to me from that future.

I met my moment on the street;
it made jazz in my bones;
lifted me
oh, much higher than I can ever sing.

Sir, I said, these particles vibrate,
you hear them on a still night
and after that, you will always hear them.
They smash glass if you do not control it.

Wednesday, November 1, 2017

Self-creating Fluidity in Nature

When dense enough,
murmuration or shoal,
a flow becomes a fluid,
all parts align, cluster and stream
according to physical  laws.

Living parts, starling or herring,
generate intra-forces  that govern
the whole, the system,
effecting dynamics  recognizable
throughout nature.

Tuesday, October 31, 2017

She Leaves

She leaves
a country of mountain tops,
pencil points in nothing
and crosses on current arrows
to where the sun shines on a space.

look over the rails,
cheering ferries on the sea

of her worries  ̶  
or that is where she bobs  ̶
among all the sparklets
on the seatop.
And fears
scratch their fingernails
down the glass

she has left;
not left,
not left.

Thursday, October 26, 2017

Growing Up

  Shortly you will trace lines,
  join the herds,
  leave a trail among the trails
  meandering over the hills.
  We are part of some eccentric’s
  I wish I could tell you more,
  my little love.

Friday, October 20, 2017

Life is glass

I fall, fuck up my face;
my arms and fingers
pouring blood
and I don’t even feel it.

Life is glass.
I discover that I can’t mind myself:
I can’t make the decisions
that protect me.

I meet my broken face in a mirror;
it accuses me.
I stare at it;
I stare at myself.