Thursday, October 29, 2015

A familiar state

Writer’s Block

Nothing lands on this plain,
nothing moves
but its seeping emptiness.

Goggled pilot
high above
this snow-gagged wilderness,

loop or spin,
I leave no shadow;
the paper grins.

Sunday, October 25, 2015

At one with nature

The reliance of humans on nature has suffered from the rise of modern religion. The disappearance of deities of the earth and our own elevation into the realms of being made in God’s image has stunted our regard for the rest of nature; nature in the service of man has blinded us to our reliance on it. Ancient societies (and not so ancient, but always disdained for their ‘backwardness’) understood the interdependence very well. Our global and daily desecration of the environment would have been seen as criminal under a different belief system. This poem by Thomas Hardy catches our oneness with nature very well. 


Portion of this yew
Is a man my grandsire knew,
Bosomed here at its foot:
This branch may be his wife,
A ruddy human life
Now turned to a green shoot.

These grasses must be made
Of her who often prayed,
Last century, for repose;
And the fair girl long ago
Whom I often tried to know
May be entering this rose.

So, they are not underground,
But as nerves and veins abound
In the growths of upper air,
And they feel the sun and rain,
And the energy again
That made them what they were!


Wednesday, October 21, 2015

The Silver River

 Jacket, shirt and shoes,
 his socks and trousers
neat on the bank;
 a small crowd watching from the bridge.  

silver river running  

 He was coming from a game of cards, late,
 the winnings in his pocket.
 There had been a woman,
 they had visited the priest.  

silver river running  

 But that’s long ago now.
 He worked the farm;
 a good worker, his neighbours said,
 always busy with the tractor. 

silver river running 

 He lived with his mother,
 who cooked his meals and managed the money.
 Now she was a great farming woman,
 everyone agreed. 

silver river running 

I have a photograph of him holding a child,
he didn’t look comfortable;
he sat for a while in the garden
but didn’t stay long. 

silver river running


Saturday, October 17, 2015

A carefree lazy time

Summer Orchard Evening


On an evening

when apple was eating the worm,

tree grating the sun

with some clouds, dusty birds;

the green cloth

was spread to the orchard wall.


I watched bees collecting post

while cat was a tea cosy

with dozey trip-wire eyes.

Suddenly dog alarm in the hedge

comes bursting from the undergrowth:

big game hunter

and cat gone steeplejack.


Then dog winks

and we stretch out,

and I go back to being a microscope

eyeball deep in daisies.

Tuesday, October 13, 2015

Light: Man-made

Light: Man-made

The lights go out
down our street, through the town, country, world; 
all that fits so easily inside a head. 

A new light
tipped slightly upward in a glob
of hardened brain tissue: 

one aerodynamically perfect,


Friday, October 9, 2015

Seamus Begley "The Bold Kerryman"

Here is Annie Laurie from Seamus Begley’s new album, The Bold Kerryman. What a beautiful voice he has.

The song is based, in all likelihood, on a poem written by William Douglas (1672 - 1748), with amendments in the 1850's by Alicia Scott, (Lady John Scott), who set it to music.
Douglas wrote the poem for his sweetheart, Annie. But Robert Laurie, Annie's father, was not in favour of the romance leading anywhere, owing to her young age and Douglas's political views. He, a soldier, was later exiled for his Jacobite allegiances.
Given the beautiful melancholic atmosphere of Begley's rendition, it would be nice to conclude this piece by describing how she died of a broken heart,  and he lived out  his life in total dejection, till eventually they  were buried side by side near Maxwelton brae. In fact, they both found marriage partners and lived long lives. And, well, sorry.........................................maybe I've just ruined it.
Annie Laurie 
"Maxwelton braes are bonnie
Where early falls the dew
And it was there that Annie Laurie
Gave me her promise true

Gave me her promise true
Which never forgot will be
And for bonnie Annie Laurie
I would lay me down and die.

Her brow is like the snowdrift
Her neck is like the swans
Her face it is the fairest
That ever the sun shone on.

That ever the sun shone on
And dark blue is her eye
And for bonnie Annie Laurie
I would lay me down and die.

Like dew on the gowan lying
Is the fall of her fairy feet
And like the winds in summer sighing
Her voice is low and sweet.

Her voice is low and sweet
And she's all the world to me
And for bonnie Annie Laurie
I'd lay me down and die"

Monday, October 5, 2015

Magical Fore

This is Fore. It is one of the few places I know where a stone building sits as comfortably into natural surroundings as though it were a limestone outcrop. Fore is a place of outstanding beauty; the ruined Benedictine abbey actually succeeds in drawing  attention to the peace and beauty of the valley around it. The immediate impact comes from its lack of commercialization; it comes on the traveler as something magical, something that  rose from the green fields beneath it. There was a time when Clonmacnoise had the same magic, but poor and tasteless development put an end to that.
Consequently,(and not surprisingly), some magical myths have grown up around Fore. Here are the 7 wonders of Fore: the monastery in the bog, the mill without a race, the water that flows uphill, the tree that has three branches/the tree that won’t burn, the water that won’t boil, the anchorite in a stone and the stone/lintel raised by St Fechin’s prayers.

Thursday, October 1, 2015



The sunlight on the back of your neck,

ear-lobes, hair;

the page-reflected glow onto your chin,

dimming upward towards your eyes;

all else, darkness around you.


If I’d never seen that you are beautiful;

that day, the light that chose to steal up behind you,

to settle on you  so gently, but dazzlingly;

that light would have been light enough

to reflect forever in my mind.