Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Two lovers were

Two lovers were waves of a gentle sea,
one on the other:
two crests, three hollows
surging, rolling, breaking
in ecstatic unison
in the red-orange glow
of a setting sun
that once sat on their bedside table.

Tuesday, July 18, 2017


I was in a hawthorn,
trapped in its branches;
all arms, hands and fingers
prevailing on me not to struggle.

I was an exhibit in a jar,
ragged and shock-eyed,
praying for a passer-by
where ravens perch still for hours.

I was a storm-torn tatter
caught in another’s stitching;
my cries drifting into the air
nonchalant like dandelion seeds.

Thursday, July 13, 2017

A small but not insignificant story of Dublin

I’m standing under a tree, out of a  shower,
and when it’s over, I stay there, under the tree.
A police car arrives, they’re wondering what I’m doing:
they’ve received a report ( I saw the people in the house opposite looking):
a man’s standing under a tree on Leinster Lane,
he’s wearing a “suspicious raincoat”.

Suspicious raincoat!
My Dad’s (God be good to him) white mack!

Wednesday, July 12, 2017

A dog called Goya

A dog called Goya.

That oh so normal expression
mired in what?

The morass
in which, everyday, I cannot find my legs

and ominous shadow
that lurks, always, beyond reach;

the equivocations
designed to drown.

Tuesday, July 11, 2017


                                            The whole countryside’s afluster:

a tree is screaming,the meadows quivering,
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.

Wednesday, July 5, 2017

Goodbye You

If I look back, you will dwindle.
You standing on the pier,
waving from the harbour,

Goodbye you
from kiss to hand,
to harbour,

The wake widens
and ocean swallows
harbour, town,

SurVision: new online poetry magazine

SurVision, Issue 1, is now online. This new biannual poetry magazine will publish Irish and international neo-surrealist poetry in English. The editor, Anatoly Kudryavitsky, will consider work by unpublished as well as celebrated writers, and aims, very admirably, to keep the waiting time to no more than two months. It’s a generous read and the quality of the work is high.  Find Issue 1 at . Submissions for Issue 2 are currently being considered. 

Issue 3 of AvantAppal(achia) is now live: see Like Survision AvantAppal(achia) is open to international submissions in English.

Wednesday, June 28, 2017

Fleas, nipples and an alternative to 'get your kit off'

The 17th century poet, Robert Herrick, clergy-man and bachelor, said a lot more than his prayers:

Upon The Nipples Of Julia's Breast 

Have ye beheld (with much delight)

A red rose peeping through a white?

Or else a cherry (double graced)

Within a lily? Centre placed?

Or ever marked the pretty beam

A strawberry shows half drowned in cream?

Or seen rich rubies blushing through

A pure smooth pearl, and orient too?

So like to this, nay all the rest,

Is each neat niplet of her breast.

John Donne, very smartly, uses a very small creature to address his not so tiny lust in 'On a Flea on his Mistress’s Bosom’, and starts,

“MADAM, that flea which crept between your breasts 

I envied, that there he should make his rest; 

The little creature’s fortune was so good 

That angels feed not on so precious food.”

I particularly  like his poetic take on the modern ‘get your kit off in 

Elegies XX. To his Mistress Going to Bed

“ Off with that girdle, like heaven’s zone glittering,        

But a far fairer world encompassing. 

Unpin that spangled breast-plate, which you wear, 

That th’ eyes of busy fools may be stopp’d there. 

Unlace yourself…………………………….”   

Now, would I have the nerve for this:    
Elegy XVIII: Love’s Progress

Her swelling lips; to which when we are come,
 We anchor there, and think ourselves at home,

 For they seem all: there sirens’ songs, and there

 Wise Delphic oracles do fill the ear;

 There in a creek where chosen pearls do swell,

 The remora, her cleaving tongue doth dwell.

 These, and the glorious promontory, her chin

 O’erpast; and the strait Hellespont between

 The Sestos and Abydos of her breasts,

 (Not of two lovers, but two loves the nests)

 Succeeds a boundless sea, but that thine eye

 Some island moles may scattered there descry;

 And sailing towards her India, in that way

 Shall at her fair Atlantic navel stay;

 Though thence the current be thy pilot made,

 Yet ere thou be where thou wouldst be embayed,

 Thou shalt upon another forest set,

 Where some do shipwreck, and no further get.

 When thou art there, consider what this chase

 Misspent by thy beginning at the face.


Friday, June 23, 2017

Running Away

I can't say for sure that I ever planned to run away as such, but, as a boy, I often thought about taking up permanent abode in my tree fort. It sounds very quaint now, closer to Tom Sawyer than to any child living today, but with a stash of crab apples, sorrel leaves and an occasional foray back to our kitchen to pinch some of my mother's rhubarb tart, I could do very nicely.
Tree fort was something of a misnomer; there was no fortification, but there was plenty of cover, and with a arsenal of stones and a catapult, I could defend my position indefinitely. And, as for composing a poem.......well that's just poetic license. 

Running Away

He ran in his Sunday clothes across Casey’s field, past Bully’s Acre, out over the line to the tree above the stream. Climbed it and sat all afternoon among the leaves’ shivery dampness, on frozen branches, under clouds bulging rain.

With crab-apples falling, dumbed time, to the grass below, he promised he’d stay there forever. Let them come, swarm beneath the tree, he’d not breathe; no matter how they called, he would not answer. He composed a poem:

There is a place for me
up among the branches
of an crab-appled lord,
ivy-draped; golden treasures
mix with stars of leaves.

There inside the elbow
with autumn breezes
close by shoulder,
quiet as an owl,
I long to be.

But two hours later, when the houses’ yellow windows were calling tea-time across the fields, sorrel leaves and crab apples were promising a particularly sour tomorrow; since he was very hungry, he went home. 

Monday, June 19, 2017



We were lovers;
now I'm off
and you're packed away;
you folded up small.

So with curving spine
and arms belting knees
tight under chin, I roll on;
a wheel from an accident.

Ahead there is space,
to wander in,
to kick up dust;
space where fires won't burn.

Saturday, June 17, 2017

A Love Poem

What good is poetry

 if I cannot lay a path of moonlight
on waters I’ve so recently stirred with anger,

release blossoms into the air
to fly, butterflies around us,

pour the exaltation of larks into our glasses
 so we may  drink ourselves ecstatic,

play sunlight on the guitar
while reading the notes on the stream

fashion a hair-band from a rainbow
to give to you on the waves that find their rest in happiness,

funnel these wishes into the setting on your ring?
What good is poetry if I cannot say I love you?

Monday, June 12, 2017

The baby in the tree

The baby in the tree
is screaming.

High above the pathway
near the black tips
of the sycamore branches
he is gaping,
white membraned luminous.

How did he get there?

He blew there in the wind;
it took him
like a flag from his cot
till he was stretched
across the boughs
like the wings of a bat.

And who sees him?

I do;
all his hopeless writhing,
too high for the passerby.
And his screams:
too high,
too high for the passerby.

Thursday, June 8, 2017


As pipes catch the foxhunt and the whistle the blackbird, the bodhrán catches the sounds of country-life. A good bodhrán player plays like he's left the window open on life long ago.



Tick of spokes
Tap of bones
Swish of rushes
Slap of stones.

Needles flicking reel-rhythm,
Stitches mesmerized into obedience.

Scythe in the grass,
Shovel in the clay,
Flail on the corn,
Pitchfork hay.

Saturday, June 3, 2017


We take it for granted. And then comes dying, we stand around the bed watching the work that is breathing. And you think my father is dying and he must work; work harder than he has all his life. How merciless is death that makes you toil to pass through its gate.


Now my father's life
is breathing.
Heavy work.

He has already slipped away
to be alone
while we outside
mark every breath
like lap timers.

Now come the spaces:
a breath
is an isolated thing.

Finally one breath
arrives alone.

I feel a soul has left,

but just then
I see, so clearly,
it was hope

that slipped out of the room.

Monday, May 29, 2017

Abandoned House in Donegal

The calendar

collapsed in the centre;

her chair facing

the wind;

the  tv

hanging in the wardrobe;

her bed stopped

at July 8th, 1986;

a bottle of eau de cologne

howling through the broken door;

two dresses 

and a blouse down to its last drop..

Thursday, May 25, 2017

February sunshine silvers bare branches.

She, sitting at her kitchen table,
turns her hands upward to run her eyes
down the insides of her arms,
to see how the water will drain
when the clouds burst.

She lights a cigarette,
then sits in the snake-pit
listening to the slitherings around her,
till deafened, she flails at them
so they become smoke.

February; heavy drops knock on her window
and she, conscious of  the thinness of  glass,
of the thousand mile spate that's around her,
crosses to the hob to make tea,
to forget  branches. 

Monday, May 22, 2017


Hughie thinks of sex without faces;
he often thinks this way
because there never was a welcoming face,
so he never had sex,
and this July he'll be 46.

Hughie lives alone and is settled in his ways;
people think him peculiar,
never ask him to join them in the pub
or wherever.
He is growing more peculiar, they say.

Hughie has an office job;
colleagues bid him good morning at coffee-break
but sit at a different table.
He eats his lunch in the Arms bar,
and always sits facing  the wall.

Sunday, May 21, 2017

Beautiful Killing

"One of the things we will discuss is the purchase of lots of beautiful military equipment because nobody makes it like the United States” 

With one word, Trump demonstrates the obscenity of our acquiescence in the never ending killing industry. 20 million people facing famine in Yemen, South Sudan, Somalia and Nigeria; how far would $110bn go?

Our greatness measured in heaped up bodies.
Our refinement in not contemplating them.

Wednesday, May 17, 2017


His marbleised features are set at neutral;
a look that never was his.

So this is not him,
but was so recently.

Container and contents perhaps?
How does one distinguish?

Saturday, May 13, 2017


Intended to catch the 'does he take sugar' attitude to people with physical disability, the poem relies on the word 'owns' being recognized in the spirit I intended; I'm not that I've achieved it. 


Who owns the child
with the withered arm-wings,
who carries the mutation that weighs a ton;
who, when the air is full of flight, hops
and hops and hops.

See how the children littering the yard
launch like torn pages into careless flight.
Like gulls they hog the sunlight
while a sea worries far below.
This is the currency.

But who owns that child,
the child with the withered arm-wings.

Monday, May 8, 2017

The other day Louise and I promised each other our lives without speaking.

We made love and stayed in each other’s arms
for a long time without opening our eyes or talking,
                          but enjoying the lisping leaves and the guttering of the stream                            
between the yellow stones.

                Those sounds in our ears and the sun’s breath on our bodies           
held us, one heart.
For there is nothing to say that is not understood
when two feel themselves one because they are within each other’s arms.

Thursday, May 4, 2017

Short Coversation

The moon is a hubcap
  fallen off the earth.

I am a pendulum
  treading time.

“I'm blind”
   says the moon.

 “I'm paralyzed”
    says I.

  "Let's go"
    says the moon.

    says I. 



Saturday, April 29, 2017

A Balmy Day in July

On a balmy day in July,
I sat outside with a few tins,
watching wispy white clouds
alter shape, and the afternoon too
as, sooner than wished,
the sun moved westward.

And that was the day, missiles,
delivered by the US,
killed 56 civilians in Syria.

I suspect that none of those 56
considered that tax-payers,
in the country the sun was travelling to,
would pay for these products
and their delivery
from God’s round blue sky.

Thursday, April 27, 2017

"Never smile at a crocodile and never give Messi that much space"

Simile, hyperbole, metaphor, idiom: Ray Hudson should be mandatory on all ‘creative writing’ courses.

Messi scored the winner against Real Madrid last Sunday and Ray’s celebration was epic.

"The menacing man arrives and sinks his flaming spear into the hearts of Real Madrid ……………..born in the crossfire hurricane, and he is jumping jack flash right here.............. Messi, you could drop a Tarantula into his shorts and he'd still be cool………………… As cool as the seeds inside of a cucumber".

Earlier he described Messi ‘s finish as “cleaner than Neutrogena” and “ wonderful control. He tattoos the ball to his feet.”

Mind you it’s hard to beat some of the praise he has previously showered on Messi, here are a few more:

“Defenders try to follow him on Facebook and he comes out on Twitter.”
“He burgulates the defence. He violates the intrusion. And in football, it’s legal!”
“Messi needs help like a shark needs a dentist”


Tuesday, April 25, 2017

The trees in the moonlight

The trees in the moonlight are silent,
and the trees in the pond are still.

If there is malice,
it is not here by the pond in the moonlight.
Neither violence
nor hatred
nor greed.
There are no prejudices here,
but, sadness, oh my God,
sadness fills the air with the voices of thousands
whose throats have been slit,

here, where the trees are silent in the moonlight
by the pond.

Friday, April 21, 2017

An Alternative Interpretation of Megalithic Art

There's been a lot of water collecting in this blog lately, but before pumping it dry, here's one more interpretation of the megalithic art at Loughcrew and and other megalithic sites in Ireland.

Conwell engraving: detail from Cairn L, Loughcrew c. 1870

Concentric rings,
raindrops’ pockmarks,
undulations,  zigzags.

Rivers teeming life and light  ̶̶
smithereens of sun,  
spicules of stars  ̶

we took them from the water,
embellished the stones,
so they would flow into the bodies of our dead,

who would run with the rivers,
live to be old as the earth
shine bright as the stars.

Sunday, April 16, 2017


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.