Sunday, March 31, 2013

Cycle of Life

I hadn't realised till working on Above Ground Below Ground how the old myths - Gods,Godesses,changelings,magic,etc - were the ancient take on science. In particular the rivalries between some of the deities represent natural cycles and indeed recycling. Moreover, that they through being linked with mores, customs and laws made some of the ecological imperatives (that we are only now appreciating and grappling with) sacred.

The piper plays jigs and hornpipes,
the trees sway;
when the piper stops
the trees remain suspended
in contours around themselves.

Beneath the earth
the grovelling roots
fingering soil grains,
thriving on death,
know nothing of the dance.

Long ago, the piper decreed
that trees become wheels,
turning darkness to light,
resurrecting the dead,
making circles of time.

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Saturday, March 23, 2013

When the bullshit's done

In sickness there was only you 

light as a feather,
relieved of the weight
of position and pride;

neither bluff nor brashness
nor the strength
to be more than your dying self.

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

A Gathering of Famous People with Irish Roots

Tonight I decided to list famous people who have Irish roots, (it being the Irish time of year). I got tired of it quickly but had gone too far to stop. I did curtail it though, which wasn’t easy; there’s an awful lot of famous names that belong on this list. The Irish went in for big Catholic families and it shows; and truth is: politics, cinema, music, crime, literature would have been very different without them. 

I don’t expect anyone to read all these; just cast your eyes around and you’ll get the jist. Of course, the Irish family names often make the Irish connection obvious, but sometimes you're not thinking. 
So, in no order at all, Irish English,  Irish Scottish, Irish French, Irish American, Irish Austrailian,Irish Canadian: 
Iris Murdoch, Charles Laughton, Clint Eastwood, John Lennon, Georgia O’Keeffe, Johnny Depp, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, Robert de Niro, Mohammed Ali,  Christina Aguilera, Drew Barrymore, Elvis Costello, Chuck Norris, Harrison Ford, Judy Garland, Woodrow Wilson, Kurt Cobain, Edgar Allen Poe, Errol Flynn, Joseph McCarthy, Sean Penn, Robert Redford, Ben Stiller, Walt Disney, Alicia Keys, Cheryl Cole, Isadora Duncan,  Andrew Jackson, Mandy Moore, Billy the Kid, Liam and Noel Gallagher, Bill Murray,  Jennifer Connelly, Paul McCartney, Tyrone Power, John F Kennedy and brothers of course, Mia Farrow,  Ann Hathaway, Greer Garson, Richard Nixon,  Michael Moore, Alfred Hitchcock, Ned Kelly,  Ant and Dec, Tori Amos, Robert Downey Jnr, Raymond Chandler, Bing Crosby, John Travolta, Ernest Shackleton, Bo Derek, Mickey Rourke, Jack Dempsey, Tom Keneally,  Jeremy Irons, Jules Holland, Rosemary Clooney, Henry Ford, Gregory Peck, Theodore Roosevelt, Conan O’Brien, Leonora Carrington, Lee Harvey Oswald, Bronte sisters, Danny Boyle, Henry James, John Huston, John Barry (composer), Rex Ingram, Boy George, Dusty Springfield,  Lance Armstrong, James Hennessy (cognac), Britney Spears, Jeanne Moreau, Mel Gibson,  John Berryman, Tom Clancy, Gene Kelly, Bill Clinton, Sean Connery, Macaulay Culkin, Jimmy Carter, Ulysses S  Grant, Rihanna, Wayne Rooney, John Daly, F Scott Fitgerald, Roger McGough, Brian Mulroney, Angela Lansbury, Eugene O’Neill, Kathy Bates,  John McEnroe, Jack Nicholson, Kevin Costner, Sharon Osbourne, Mickey Spillane, Frank O’Hara, Grace Kelly, Billy Connolly, James Cagney, Morrissey, Kylie Minogue,  John Wayne, Ralph Fiennes, Spencer Tracy, Harry S Truman, John Barry (navy), Ed Sullivan, Ronald Reagan, Mark Wahlberg, Sidney Nolan,  Tim Buckley, Charlie Sheen, Jeff Buckley, Elvis Presley, Mariah Carey, Shania Twain, Bruce Springsteen, Jim Morrison, Richard J Daley, Ben Hogan, Alan Rickman, Barrack Obama, Megan Fox, Lindsay Lohan, George Clooney, John Cusack, Peter Kay, Susan Sarandon, astronaut Michael Collins, Ben Affleck, George W Bush, George Harrison,  Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis, Anthony Quinn, Minnie Driver, Michael Gambon, Eddie Murphy, Marlon Brando.

Yeah, I know; it looks like I don't have much to be doing. Some nights.........................

Saturday, March 16, 2013

Different Time, Different Attitudes

In his book, Woodbrook, published in 1974, David Thomson writes of his memory of Douglas Hyde, then President of Ireland who used to be a frequent visitor in Lord de Freyne’s house in Frenchpark, Co Roscommon.

Thomson regrets that, on meeting him there, he did not listen more intently to the president whose conversation could have taught him more about Ireland than anyone else's; but the following passage is interesting, if only for the fact that if this was reported today the president would be a source of considerable scrutiny and serious doubt.

“And so it happens that my only memory of this great man is ludicrous………..It is of a game he played with the girls on all fours in the drawing room. He was over eighty but had no difficulty in getting down on to his hands and knees and as soon as they were ranged opposite him on theirs he would hold a bar of chocolate between his teeth like a cigar and they would crawl towards him and bite  off as much as they dared. It was somewhat messy because he had a bushy white moustache that drooped over the chocolate and his lower lip...”

On a slightly different note, I wonder if he ever used the elegant wash-stand that came from that house and is now my hall-table.

Friday, March 8, 2013

from Felos ainda serra

included in the chapbook published in Galicia in 2005

Go to bed, Michael,
or the monsters will come.

Say your prayers,
build yourself a wall.

Pull the blankets up
over your eyes.

Be silent down your burrow,
the night sky is stirring.

Go to sleep, Michael,
they will not disturb the dead.


“There is an owl in my head”
said Joseph. “I am wise,
wisest of all creatures”.

“There is a tiger in my head”
said Paul. “I am  fierce,
all creatures fear me”.

“A stag in mine”
said Thomas. “ I am majestic,
admired by all”.

“My head is empty”
said Jim. “ a space
for all creatures to come and go.”

Saturday, March 2, 2013

The Cailleach

Clay in her mouth,
clothed in darkness, caged in stone.

She speaks in
the crumbling of mountains,
creeping of oceans across continents.

She pauses;
earthworms devour boulders.

(from Above Ground Below Ground)