Saturday, August 31, 2013

The Roscommon Anthology - Culture Night Reading

The Roscommon Anthology  will most likely be launched in October, but the first Anthology reading will happen on Culture Night. Alice Lyons, Gerry Boland (Roscommon's current writer in residence) and myself will be reading at 7pm, Friday, 20th September in Roscommon Library. As with all events on Culture Night, admission is free. So put it in the book.

Monday, August 26, 2013

Voice from 1889 - Robert Browning

English poet, Robert Browning (1812 – 1889)  reciting his poem 'How They Brought the Good News from Ghent to Aix' on  April 7th, 1889. It was recorded on the Edison Cylinder.

There is a treasure trove of rarities at

Thursday, August 22, 2013

Which is my face?

First published in Prairie Schooner, Volume 85, Number 4, Winter 2011

Mary Byrne

Old Mary Byrne posed for the camera
holding a photograph
of herself taken years ago.
Two faces:
the first a plate
embellished for display;
the second
a pattern of neolithic swirls
engraved into stone
—a life carved into its face—
two dangling earrings:
two broken chains.

Monday, August 19, 2013

Famine: Media Coverage

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.

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

At One End of a Bench

At one end of a bench
an old man wearing Winter clothes
regards the fountains and Summer
through melt-water irises. 

This man needs my ear to be a conch
so that he can call to the past down these auditory canals.
And when he calls, his wife and sons will resurrect,
return, reverse like filings into a family. 

It is mid-morning in Stephen's Green;
the usual sounds: clacking fowl and fountain symphonies,
outside the thrash of traffic and voices. 

In a moment:
two strangers on a bench are traveling backwards to Mayo;
elsewhere a beggar has recreated himself in a bank window
and somewhere, busy in a kitchen, a woman is conversing
though the voice that answers has not been heard for years.

Saturday, August 10, 2013

The Old Men

 The breed of old men I’m remembering is gone now. I remember them out from the county home, on walks into town or sitting on the low stone wall in summer sunshine. They were countrymen, wore well battered suits and flat caps, leaned on walking sticks and did or didn’t say hello. Some, of course, were very friendly, and some carried bags of sweets. The women were less visible usually; they tended to stay closer to the old building.
I didn’t realise it then but a lot of them had sad stories, and the silent ones had good reason. Some were almost dumped there, for others the Co. Home was a salvation. For many, the old home was still too close to its workhouse history to  be a comfort, and maybe some recognized in the old double ditch, 400 yards on the road, the boreen that led to the workhouse cemetery.
Whatever, they were very much part of the grain of my Roscommon childhood. 

Who Has Seen The Old Men

Who has seen the old men
getting their suits
tanned to their backs? 

Ghost of a check,
button holes frayed,
crew cut threads. 

Years worn on face
and on cloth;
the cloth becomes the face. 

And when the Summer colours
come clashing
on the young,  

who will see
the old men
in their concrete cloth?

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

The Fall

When apples fall
like pocket watches
among the trees
and leaves
like closing old hands,
the fog is rising,
old souls
over the green.

There is a quietness
like padded feet
or, quietest of all,
the droplets
playing in the hedge;
and the grumpy whimper
of hedgehogs
scuttling for their sleep. 

Most of all I notice
                the thud of Winters
changing children into men.