Wednesday, November 28, 2012

You Chose This

No one lives with the moon, no one could;
the moon is beautiful, too beautiful;
a sentence to loneliness. 

Night after night, catching glimpses of lovers
through half-pulled curtains, it loiters,
bleaches their bodies with arctic disdain; 

solitude freezes the heart.

Saturday, November 24, 2012

Corporal Punishment

Mise Raifteirí an file,
Lán dúchais is grádh,
Le súile gan solas,
Le ciúnas gan crá. 

The opening quatrain to the famous gaelic poem fairly rolls off the tongue; it is perhaps the easiest few lines to memorise I’ve ever come across. However I had major problems memorising it owing  to the terror of been beaten yet  again by a teacher I encountered during my  schooldays in Roscommon. Over the course of a year, I was slapped numerous times across the face each time I had this teacher. Well learned verses flowed out of my head like sand.   

In my schooldays, primary and secondary, I and most others in my class groups were struck, (usually on the palms, one teacher liked to catch the back of the fingers on the upswing), with a snooker cue, bamboo, an assortment of kitchen-chair legs, leathers. Imagine: even then, (60’s, 70’s), there was an industry making leather straps with hand-grips for beating pupils.

That culture was accepted to the point that there was no point telling your parents; children were wrong. 

On one occasion, in preparation for catholic Confirmation, the class group was being examined on its knowledge of Christian Doctrine. The questioner went around each student in turn asking catechism questions. When a boy failed a question he got four slaps with the leg of a chair. On and on it went till there were just 2 boys standing. One of these failed somewhere in the twenties and got four slaps. The brightest boy in the class went on past the fiftieth question; when he eventually failed he was hit harder than the rest of us. Our guess was that this teacher revelled in his only opportunity ever to hurt this boy.
It was a time of institutionalised cruelty and total disrespect for humans under a particular age. The two examples above show how two people I would credit as basically decent were corrupted by their habitual use of corporal punishment.

Monday, November 19, 2012

Movies, Dreams and Gorgeous Faces

                                                Ace Jackalope YouTube

Movies, Dreams and Gorgeous Faces

Ok, it's your movie house;
you got the doors shut tight;
out here’s ice.


Pacin’ up and down,

collar a chimney;

my cigarette smoke - tension.


Lookin’ at you:

we used t’share the picture house;
you’re gorgeous.


Twelve thirty, not a flicker;

I turn away, take the second left;

I'm in my bedroom.


Neon flashing red in my face -

she loves me, loves me not, loves me.....,

I keep repeating it;


the stammer occupies me.



Wednesday, November 14, 2012

To the Professors at Trinity

This poem was written a number of years ago in response to a sculpture of a grouping of professors/teachers by Simon O'Donnell. Tongue in cheek, the poem pokes fun at the traditional rituals of universities and "old boy" schools and colleges; it could as easily be directed at the wigged personages officiating in our courts.
  The Circle.

Now dried tobacco leaves, these professors,
whose intellectual travails have scoured them skinny,
are engaged in the Spring ritual on the back lawn at Trinity.

Stripped naked, buttocks slung low over the crew-cut grass,
hands beating mortar boards; they sway on their haunches,
loosening the centuries' compaction of soil grains. 

Some say they are whipping up the aurae of their forebears,
others that they are resonating with the pain of earthworms
as they shift, right to left, on the balls of their feet. 

At the center, standing on a box, a physics-doctor
with plumb-line hanging from between forefinger and thumb
is demonstrating down. 

I have watched them for an age, seen their growth rings
appearing like water-marks, the knowledge in their face-pouches
guarded like genitalia in a bag.

Saturday, November 10, 2012

Christine Takes To The Air.

Slipped on ice;
prim, haughty
takes to the air.

Wow, what a moment;
the unabridged version,
totally graceless. 

Never on speaking terms;
from now on
I'm gonna greet her,
" hi yer"

Monday, November 5, 2012

trees keening

Another beautiful painting by Elaine Leigh.The trees invested with human features, and life in the their wind-blown hair mirroring the neolitic artwork beneath the earth.

Trees keening winter nights away;
their wails woven into the wind. 

Heads of hair like seaweed from the strand,
knots tailing limply towards the sea.  

Underground, roots twisted toward some source,
shaped by memory. 

Trees like abandoned lovers,
scratching down the marble of night-time.

(Image by and  poem from a collaboration entitled "Above Ground Below Ground")