Saturday, September 26, 2015

A Reflection on Love and Age

So, I suddenly find myself within a few weeks of my sixtieth birthday. And, of course, (life being a countdown), I have been expecting it.

However, the notions that I had of what it is to be sixty have all been revised. I see age in the mirror, but not sixty, not by a long shot. Nor do I see it in the faces of my relatives and friends, not sixty, not seventy. I have to assume that others do see it, (all too clearly), but still, I, somehow, hold out the hope  that I am an exception.

Which brings me to the point of my reflecting on my age. I met an American girl many years ago; her name was Sara. She spent sometime in Ireland, during which  she attended a writers group. In truth, I only spoke to her a couple of times; in her work, I recognized the subtlety that the  very best writers possess. I got what she was about, and she  understood my efforts. Today, I still have the testament to this in the book of English translations of Lorca she gave me that last night she attended the workshop.

Occasionally, I have  googled her name to see if she has become the writer she promised.  Yes, there is someone out there writing under her name; it doesn’t appear that  she has made it big, but at least she is still indulging a passion. Is it the same  Sara: we never got past some friendly words, I’ll never know.

She comes into my mind, because I think I fell in love with her. Not a wild physical love, but I think one falls in love with those who see the beauty that you see,  (imagine), in yourself. And those who see that deep internal beauty, see it because they too have it. And so you meet a soulmate.

It has happened a handful of times my life; that surge of recognition of a soulmate. It happens in brief encounters, maybe brief enough not to have found the negative; and so the person remains unsullied, perfect in your mind. The memories persist like hauntings. They persist as tiny, nagging, life-long longings.

At this age, I can permit myself to say that certain things are life-long. I can say too that there are feelings that persist. That aging is not as it appears in the mirror, because some things just haven't changed.

Friday, September 25, 2015

A Memory of my Father

A Memory of my Father

Shaft of Sunlight,
reflection off a million specks
of dust,
fed his face with lines and grace.

Soft light paints old faces
the friendliness of sweet Autumn apples.
He talked on;
I looked in.

Saturday, September 19, 2015

Depression. One Fruit

I must have written this on a quiet night. Occasionally I get depressed. Then the forward flow  of life is arrested and a disappointment settles over all. It might be triggered by something in particular, but the soft grey that settles has no particular focus. It locks out light and leaves you sitting energy-less and incapable of rising to the words of love that the sufferers around you deserve for their forbearance.
Fortunately, it's not a very regular visitor in my case, and after a day or few days, I'm back, slightly dented maybe and sometimes with a poem that has come from my deepest self. 
No Title
This evening I will leave my mask and crutch,
go to the well, immerse myself
till there is no chill;
till water, moss, sky and I are all one marble.

So when you find me, my love, this  smile,
my limbs and fingers will be milk-white;
rosaries will be hanging; petitions,
stuffed between my jaws, fluttering in the wind.

And the reason will hang: a faint quivering
of atoms in the air around you,
an SOS in a register just beyond audibility;
and the mask’s smile: a mouth full of soil.

Monday, September 14, 2015


A poem you said I should write. 
An African nurse on your ward,
born the day after her  grandmother died,
called Yesterday.  

She was gone as soon.

Nurses from the agency come and go,
good relationships are important
for the patients, you explained.  

And now you are gone; who will carry your spirit?

Thursday, September 10, 2015

Tried and trusted strategies for improving political image

1.       The party leader during prolonged applause should let his/her gaze travel along the balcony, whether there is or is not a balcony. In the latter case, the gaze should be pitched at an angle of elevation of approx. 35 degrees.

2.       The greater statesperson is instantly recognizable by his/her being first to extend an arm to usher the other into position when the event is being televised.

3.       The greater statesperson is instantly recognizable by his/her being first to extend a finger to point to something in the sky when the event is being televised. (This might be a cloud shaped like a pigeon or Italy.)

4.       At election time the leader of a Irish party must walk through Ballyfermot in particular formation.  The  preferred  is shown below.
      A variation on this, which has been much used in the particular instance of whistle-blowers    making public statements is shown below.


5.       When the party leader is making a statement which is to be screened on the main evening news, it is imperative that he/she employ a small group of Father Dougal wannabes to form a semi-circle behind him/her. This group receives basic training in head-nodding, while  one member  of the group receives additional instruction in looking to the left.


6.       In the interview situation, the effective politician must always anticipate. At the earliest indication of an unwelcome thread in the questioning, he/she  must be  prepared to recite large portions of Milton’s ‘Paradise Lost’. Versatility is essential, on other occasions it may be more appropriate to deconstruct the plotline of ‘Sleeping Beauty’ or sing a little Tom Waits.

7.       In the interview situation, there is no need for the politician to answer the question posited as long as the answer addresses a topic which rhymes with the original e.g. brown envelope, brown antelope; water charges, otter miscarriages.

8.       This final point is obvious but important. The number of women in a cabinet has a minimum threshold that must be observed, however this number must be kept at this minimum. The reason is basic, overt coloration in clothing can sink, not just the individual, but the  entire party.


Sunday, September 6, 2015


Frida Kahlo knew more about pain than almost any artist I can think of. No surprise then that her paintings need go no further than herself, indeed often no further than her face to represent pain. She learned to live with physical pain, she had no choice: she and pain were one. In her painting ’the broken column’, the column depicts unbearable pain, but is also the backbone of her body.
Frequently, the strength of her imagery comes from her maintaining an austere but otherwise quite inscrutable expression, she lets the symbolism supplied by the various animals or plants that frame her head carry the message. It is understatement that carries the weight in these works.
I mention it because in poetry, time and time again, (even among many poets who are highly lauded), the  urge to spew high-flown verbiage, strangling their poems at birth, leaves me, for one, longing for a good ole football match.


Thursday, September 3, 2015

The Clouds have overrun the sky

The whole countryside’s a fluster:
meadows quivering, a tree is screaming,
the boulders have clapped hands over their ears.
The word is that the stars have been burgled,
a stream’s stolen the silver,
and a cave, (whisper it), has swallowed the moon.