Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Railway Child

Picking wood splinters
from my clothes, 

ear to the track
and the soft thunder

of a train hurrying
from Ballymurray. 

Day, a gift across
a stretch of line, 

was measured
in disappearing trains 

and struck on coinage
with the flattening of pennies.

Sunday, May 24, 2015

The River Took Me

Once, in a sodden flaggered field

beside the river,

the current took me;

not a canoe but a trout,

a water’s flint smoothed by its flow,

a ripple’s almond.


All sleekness and fluidity,

all instinct;

a lidless eye running,

seeing and discarding,

gorged on movement,

passing all argument.

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Caught, tangled in old years.

Caught, tangled in old years;
young man, 
the brambles have made you
delicately eccentric; 
your ears are closed
but to the berries, 
eyes fixed to where the winds
have bent them; 
like a hawthorn above the sea,
you seem to have frozen 
at the very moment
you were jumping clear.


Saturday, May 16, 2015

Closing Windows


I carved a face onto a stone,

put in my pocket

and kept it for a charm.


After a while I grew uneasy

and put it

into a drawer in my bedroom.


One day I ran over the fields,

over the railway tracks to the stream

and threw it in.


I slept well that night,

but later, troubled by dreams,

I became obsessed with closing windows.

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Old Houses in an Old Country

Emigration from Ireland in the middle of the 20th century led to a countryside that was dotted with farmsteads that had an eerie stillness to them. Warm Summer afternoons sagged with the silence. The lethargy that hung over the fields had more to do with the absence of children than  draining heat. The older people remained in stifled attitudes in darkened kitchens. Sun beams seemed to purposely miss them.
Is this an accurate memory? I'm afraid I cannot say.
A Stranger In The Townland.

In Autumn the farmhouse

with the sun-folded field beneath its chin,

traps the daylight in its spectacles,

then flashes it away.


A swing hangs among the orchard's arthritic trees

without stirring;

without remembering

a frantic liveliness now reduced

to the occasional commotion of a falling fruit.


Once songs of apples filled the farmhouse;

but the children became photographs,

the dust settled on their frames

and soon Autumns were flying uncontrollably by.

Today, between its curiosities, a bluebottle drones.


Now that the conversation with the hillside

is ended, the farmhouse

with the sycamore stole

has become an eccentric;

a stranger in the townland. 

Friday, May 8, 2015

Bone-white trees


I like these bone-white trees by Elaine Leigh. They suggest bodies,  rivers, limbs, less trees the longer I look.

What the artist sees:

these trees, like the ladies of Avignon,
shamelessly flaunting themselves,
streaming earth to heaven,
arms thrown upward, presenting so fiercely.

In their assemblage, formidable, fearsome,
the usual meaning is altered,
(a shared purpose outside today’s understanding),
their collective nakedness guarding some primeval dogma.

Tuesday, May 5, 2015

Poetry Reading in Rathmines

This Saturday,  May 9th at 2pm in Rathmines Library, Hibernian Poets and guests.

The featured poets are Brian Kirk, John Saunders, Maurice  Devitt, Amanda Bell, Philip Cummins,

John Murphy and myself. It’s part of Canalaphonic Music and Cultural Festival so make it a day.

Monday, May 4, 2015

In a fog

As standing under the stars can make you feel tiny, but somehow colossal in belonging to  the universe as much as any star; standing lost in a fog can make you feel tiny in hopelessness and still this:



In the fog I was shouting


the pair of us on the mountainside



In the nowhere of everywhere,

suddenly I was everyone.

Friday, May 1, 2015

A death

Small questions hang  over us after the deaths of those close to us:
Mam’s death

Struggling for each breath,

(mouthfuls of air, for god’s sake!),

I said “Mam, stop working so hard”

Dying, and still forced to work.

“Take it easy,

 take it easy.”


Her hold on my hand slackened,

her eyes fell to the side,

she took it easy.

Did I speed her on her way?