Sunday, March 27, 2011

I Give You

This tree's dripping fruit
to place in your mouth
to ripen your tongue.

The water guttering down
these green leaves
to be a trellis of fingers
about you.

This soft drizzle of sunlight
to fall gentle as the petals
of meadowsweet on your cheeks.

This bindweed and all tendrils
to hook and bind
our desires together.

Monday, March 21, 2011

Inspirational Bacon

Three Monsters (Sunfire, Dedalus Press 1998) is based on Francis Bacon’s famous triptych. The visceral nature of much of his work cuts straight through to feeling and so makes writing more heart-felt and immediate, that along with the mind-bending imagery which aids innovation.

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.

Attitude (Sunfire) came from another Bacon image, "Paralytic Child Walking on All Fours (from Muybridge)".It has probably further from the spirit of the artist’s work; somehow the image engenders feelings of pity in conveying delicacy and vulnerability.


Who owns the child
with the withered arm-wings,
who carries the mutation that weighs a tonne;
who, when the air is full of flight, hops
and hops and hops.

See how the children littering the yard
launch like torn pages into careless flight.
Like gulls they hog the sunlight
while a sea worries far below.
This is the currency.

But who owns that child,
the child with the withered arm-wings.

Whatever about the success of the poems, Bacon’s art is wonderful.

Friday, March 18, 2011

War's Harvest

Early each morning, the river is obscured by fog;
sounds come ashore like cries from Limbo.

At dawn the young women come,
spools of brightly coloured thread, with fishing rods;

and, magical spiders, they cast weightless filaments
out over the water;

and for a moment there are more threads hanging
than there are people on the streets of Calcutta.

The river stops;
nothing stirs; the earth turns a little.

Then suddenly a rod bobs and bends
and stares through its tiny eye into the water;

straining, tensing, till in a slick of weed,
slivered as newt, a young man's body breaks the surface;

bulb-eyed, marble-chested and tapered
to a train of drops dripping back into the river.

Thousands upon thousands, like lanterns,
or candles being lifted from wax.

And when the fog clears
the women are standing with their unlit lanterns;

the bank is a thousand miles long
and the river is wider than an ocean.

Monday, March 14, 2011

Laughter Yoga in Rathmines

Catherine will be leading two Laughter Yoga sessions as part of ‘Festival Under The Clock’ on April 2nd in Rathmines Town Hall. The sessions are at 11am and 2pm, admission is free. She recommends you wear loose clothing, bring a yoga mat or towel to lie on, and a bottle of water.

A combination of unconditional laughter and yogic breathing, Laughter Yoga is a group activity in which laughter is induced without comedy but soon becomes contagious and yields well proven physiological and psychological benefits to those involved.

Clinical research on Laughter Yoga has proven that laughter lowers the level of stress hormones e.g. epinephrine and cortisol in the blood. It combats stress and depression, fosters positivity and hopefulness.

A trawl through some ‘laughter quotations’ confirms the above, my favourites include:

“Laughter is an instant vacation” - Milton Berle

“Laughter is the sun that drives winter from the human face” -Victor Hugo

“Laughter………. the most civilised music in the world” - Peter Ustinov

“There is little success where there is little laughter” - Andrew Carnegie

“Mirth is God's medicine. Everybody ought to bathe in it.” Henry Ward Beecher

“A good, real, unrestrained, hearty laugh is a sort of glorified internal massage, performed rapidly and automatically. It manipulates and revitalizes corners and unexplored crannies of the system that are unresponsive to most other exercise methods.” Author unknown

(This latter is true, there are very impressive and genuine statistics for the value of laughter as a physical work-out. Elsewhere it has been described as an internal jog.)

For further information on ‘Festival Under The Clock’ check out:

Sunday, March 13, 2011

20 Essential Irish Writers

Thanks to Carl Andrews for sending “Poetry and Miscellaneous Yap” a list of "20 essential Irish writers". See
The advantage of lists in general is that they serve as a good introductory reading list for new-comers to a particular genre or whatever and of course, they give rise to lively debate. The downside is that they guide readers away from the many very talented writers, often more provocative and interesting , who never feature on lists. Of course the problem for the compilers of lists is that they know they will come under attack and so they play safe. At least here the list does not claim to be definitive, merely essential and it is interesting that a quarter of the writers on this list are from the Gaelic tradition.
My strongest point of disagreement would be the omission of Brian Friel. There would be strong arguments for short story writers Frank O’Connor or Sean O Faolain, for Máirtín Ó Direáin and Seán Ó Ríordáin, for Patrick Kavanagh, for Flann O’Brien. I would include any of these before Frank McCourt or Anne Enright.
However, follow the link and see what you think.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

A Question I Ask Myself

Is the photography of the victims of war, famine, crime, natural disasters etc. acceptable? The argument, of course, is that it makes the rest of us aware and maybe mobilises our sympathies to the point where we do something about it.

But what about the photographer on the spot, who prioritises the photograph over the victim in a fleeting situation? The media circus attached to certain disasters?

And what about myself who buys the books?

A Brief Note on an Imminent Famine.

Everyone here will starve:
each bone will be a stripe,
each hand a bowl,
each leg a stick.

Then there’ll be the gluttony
of cameras:
our threadbare skin
will be devoured,
our eyes exported
shining like pickles.

Friday, March 4, 2011

Rain Street

Down the street
rain lights running
drizzling concrete
sizzling lake.
Flashes red flashes
running in rivulets
yachting cartons
crowd in a grate.
Umbrella shadows
with foot halo splashes
shirt collar drippings
shoes under siege.
Gutters play bongos
for galvanize tappers
tyres make clashes
spangling streams.
And faces in windows
unravel down panes
their cigarettes burning
their signature stains.
Then squinting bus queue
like socks on a line
become runaway legs
legs like twine.