Monday, January 21, 2019

In Driving Rain, Winter Evening, Roscommon Street, 1967

Fifth door.
Beatified in neon glow, barber’s neat hands spume
around farmer’s haycock. 
With kiss-smacking scissors
hitting rhythm, he tum-te-tums rivulets down his window.

Third door.
While cleaver dives solitary in ribbed abyssal caverns,
butcher sings whale-song 
through hulking skeletons
to distant splash of housewife on a sandy shore.   

First door.
Set of skin-bones fingers lurch, grab rope, Guinness.
Beneath 60 watt light 
hums Jim Reeves vaguely Hawaii-ish;
sound of distant thumb-tacks hitting ocean one thousand miles away.

Friday, January 18, 2019


'Scalene, scalene, scalene', he repeats
over and over.

The word a stroke
he keeps swimming;
each scalene keeps his head over;

'scalene, scalene' 
and I too leave the room.

Wednesday, January 16, 2019


‘Life is shorter down the red end of a match',
he said apropos of nothing and continued to look
out the window, his pupils tiny drill-bits halted, still.

I was about to say
but didn’t.

He was flicking his thumb along his index finger like
a match along the sandpaper strip of a box of matches
and something was...

I think he was smoothing a thought for verbalisation,
when it must have dropped through the floorboards so
there the whirring stalled.

I said ‘how do you mean?’

He turned toward me with his teeth in a clear white strip
which closed to lips as his focussing eyes softened;
‘I’ve got cancer' he said.

Saturday, January 12, 2019


In this moment you and I:
love, loves and feelings;
our place and time
together, apart;
my crooked walk,
your long hair,
my guitar, your concertina,
our families past and present;
houses, rooms, gardens,
the streets, towns and city
childhood to adulthood;
teachers, neighbours, friends;
all murmuration; fluid
we have passed so easily through,
above and within;
watched weightless, weighted
and weightless again;
eased our voices into the waves
that are eternal,
and, I believe, sang
more than our share.

Wednesday, January 9, 2019

Solar Festival of Newgrange

At the Festival of the Golden Light of Síd in Broga*

I sucked pale sunlight
and exhaled it golden.

You drank it at the eyes
and exalted me, Síd in Broga.

Drank yourselves drunk,
pissed in the river beneath you.

The Boyne stole my silver
and merrily, merrily carried it off to sea.

* In his book, Newgrange: the mystery of the chequered lights,  Hugh Kearns offers his theory that Newgrange (Síd in Broga) housed a gold mirror.

Monday, January 7, 2019

In The Ring

One word thrown into the ring,
and intimacy is honed to cruelty.

Our red mouths’ lining never spared;
if I ever loved you, it was my mistake.

                    And still, there was no mistake;
                    I love you.

Thursday, January 3, 2019

Three Monsters.


Here are three monsters:
Agony, a greyhound skinned; howl.
Hollowness, a hen plucked; peck.
Dementia, a bundle of hay; scratch.

I have stood them on furniture
to pose.

They were in the entrails of spirit,
I picked them out with a forceps.
I thought they looked remarkable in the light.
I thought the viewing public
might want to scrape at them
with their spatulas.

Monday, December 31, 2018


Questions from my young children, And like a year, there's sweet and bitter; but I'm wishing you a very happy new year the very best for 2019.


Dad, can you make our car fly?
Is there a wizard's castle outside Roscommon?
Do dreams have wheels?
Can I taste your Guinness?
Does Superwoman eat cabbage?
Is Ritzy a boy or a girl?
Has Santa come yet?
Did the man put the fart in a bag?
Dad, will I die of cancer?

Sunday, December 30, 2018

Christmas Flowers

All those words:
hey, welcome, happy Christmas,
we’ve missed you,  wonderful to have you home,
happy new year, I love you.
And the following, inevitable
take care of yourself, safe journey, be safe,
goodbye, we’ll miss you, ring.

Christmas flowers:
the bright blooms with their thorns,
colouring the season, bloom in your heart,
bloom beyond the decorations, into Spring,
and still when shafts of April light are gathering heat;
when  the bright space of Summer is widening around you.

Monday, December 24, 2018

Childhood Garden.

Here again;
my eyes tulips,
fists apples, 
feet groundsel.
Garden my mind,
spade spark stone,
bindweed's brilliant flowers,
clouds notions,
and all you said now clay,
my dears, my memories.

Turf high,
rhubarb hibernating in straw;
ridges ridges
my dear soul;
light on the lawn
and from between black clouds,
oh God speaks;
burst football under the privet,
rusted tins,
empty shells

magnificent snowdrops.

With a very happy Christmas to all.

Wednesday, December 19, 2018

On Seeing Cnoc Mordán from the Clare Coast

I have a notion of beauty that is a wild place;
a grey desolate lake beneath a craggy ridge,
a windswept landscape of stunted thorns,
strewn boulders and scattered outcrops,
furze blooming out of season, dun-coloured reeds,
bronzed bracken broken double by the Atlantic gales.

But it is not the place, not really, it is the girl that lived beside that lake,
in the streaming Connemara gales that swept  her hair,
gave the colour to her face; sallowed her skin
so her eyes shone sharp as needles; gave her the same grace
as the reeds by the water,  slender and graceful. That’s how I saw her;
and now I see the ridge across Galway Bay forty, closer to fifty years later.

Unmerciful time; the place is unchanged but I am old,
and she is old, and the dreams that were young and beautiful
are now like the bracken broken double by the Autumn gales.
But it is not the girl, not really, it is the notions in our heads still hanging 
though November has come, and the sunlight on Loch Con Aortha,
long past summer, full of the cold clarity that comes with Winter.   

Saturday, December 15, 2018


                              Pared down
to tongues and mouths,
we became one.

One moment.

The following moment
steals the previous;
and so it goes.

Sunday, December 9, 2018

Kavanagh and I by the Grand Canal

Sodden in driving rain,
watching our  lives
bobbing on the water
while the colour-drained city
shivers backwards;
the two of us lamenting the sins
we never committed at all.

But you outdo me
having made this place your own;
ducking with the waterfowl
into the city’s murk,
claiming no part of it,
and always happiest
when the rain’s flaying.

Monday, December 3, 2018

Fine Art from Spain

When I saw this painting by Regina Carbayo, a Spanish artist who has been living and working for a number of years in Cork, my immediate (gut) reaction was ‘wow’, and still is; undiminished.
The painting has a classic, timeless composition and palette. The faces are Spanish, and, as other Spanish artists have been known to do, the painting playfully cocks a snook at itself and the whole genre, through its subjects’ exaggerated hauteur and feigned disdain.
Here they are, bound to classic portraiture by props that would for long times past have suggested learning and aesthetic high-mindedness, trapped in that age-old  format, formally posed and extremely self-conscious, faces melting downward as only  the faces could be permitted to move within the strict composition.
Those expressions draw you in to rich fun of the image, hold your attention, and call you back to look again and again.

Saturday, December 1, 2018

The Swan

Evening light;
you and I walking beside the river;
the gold coins of leaves littering our path,
the world around us turning quiet and serious
beneath heavy clouds lost in thought.

Then a swan lights like a match;
its wings aflame over the water, in the water,
magnificent as magnesium burning.
We stop to marvel, and find ourselves wistful;
the swan is us, our souls' yearning for beauty.