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.

Monday, April 10, 2017

Thinking out loud.............faking politicians

When we tolerate lies from those who lead, don't we cede all rights to principled government, not just for now, but for the foreseeable future. Encourage future contenders for leadership to be, not just lax in their accountability to their people, but to be downright fraudulent in their practices; whatever is self-serving. Our tenuous regard for the truth, so often highlighted in our treatment of whistle-blowers, will leave us open to forms of leadership normally associated with dictatorship.

Sure Sight

I see
your face

a desolate
your irises

the wash
of slivered
your smile

I know of
less trodden

I contract
to be
an explorer
in that universe.

Saturday, April 8, 2017

Rivers run


Rivers run over the land:
slivered sky and light,
spindly bodies flowing,
fish and ripples one,

Clamouring in the high places,
lisping in the  low;
spry in youth,
sedate in old age;
always journeying to their end
to run again.

Monday, April 3, 2017

Looking at the detail

One of my favourite works of art, Mantegna’s extraordinary ‘Lamentation Over The Dead Christ’, is nearly too familiar. It would be easy to pan across the image and see much less than is there. Break it down to its detail and its brilliance is seen afresh.

It brings to mind the words of doubting Thomas “Unless I see the nail marks in his hands and put my finger where the nails were, and put my hand into his side, I will not believe.”

Look at the torn flesh in the feet, the open gashes in the back of the hands; you could put your finger into them.

And when the resurrected Jesus appears to the apostles and says to Thomas, “Put your finger here; see my hands. Reach out your hand and put it into my side. Stop doubting and believe”, he readily replies “My Lord and my God!”

This painting carries, magnificently, that strength to convince. 

Thursday, March 30, 2017

The Salmon in the Spring, the Hazel and the Hermit

The prompt word for this poem was 'source'. Mythology is full of sources, and mythology comes with a plethora of suggestions,  all endlessly malleable. It provides a platform for creativity but with roots that give the work weight and resonance. The poem is a bit of a departure for me; feel free to comment.

The Salmon in the Spring, the Hazel and the Hermit

Into an open gob the hazelnuts fell,
so over the years the salmon grew
into a colossus.
A day came when one nut dropped, plumb-line,
to be devoured complete with husk
at the very moment of its agitation.
And in that very instant, the salmon spewed from its intestines
its knowledge of a thousand years;
that cascaded downhill
over the shilling bright stones,
through the ignorant meadows to the lake,
where they became part of an ever-shifting
circuit of water, weed, spume and silt.

A hermit, who lived by the lake,
doused his face, and drinking some of this potion
was instantly replete.
A hazel took root in his belly and he convulsed,
so that the stones unearthed by his flailing feet
filled the lake
and sent its waters flooding out,
onto to the plain where the people lived;
and they, too, in their turn, drank .

Monday, March 27, 2017

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 card game, 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

Wednesday, March 22, 2017


There is a blue box on the hall table.

A cube, transparent plastic, maybe three inches high.

It capsules twilight,

and there are objects drowned in it.

Sitting there,

it’s like something is going to happen. 

Thursday, March 16, 2017


We are two scarecrows: rags and string;
what the rain softens the wind picks clean.

We are two scarecrows: sticks and straw;
crows fly out from underneath our jackets.

We are two scarecrows: nails and wire;
each day drowning as the corn grows higher.

We are two scarecrows: sacks and hay;
nodding toward eternity, we tip toward clay.

Saturday, March 11, 2017

Your Crying

Your crying:
The silver streams
Of your eyes,
The radiant red cheeks,
The choking on words,
The gullish.

I think of a voice
Curling up
From inside a hollow oak. 

Sunday, March 5, 2017


(in response to this week's awful discovery in Tuam)

Bones in the soil,
broken bones.

Bones that sheltered a mind,
and a heart.
That had a name,
that rested on a pillow,
that might have run a race,
maybe won if they were fast-
moving bones.
That might have grown
to adulthood,
crooked around a lover’s neck
and been happy then.
Might  have aged to venerability,
or been fond old bones
carrying liver spots,
showering gappy smiles
on grandchildren.

those bones in the soil.

Thursday, March 2, 2017

In The Park


I met an old man
with seawater eyes

sweeping together
the leaves of his life.          

Into a sack they went,
each golden one.

Sunday, February 26, 2017



Where are you.
Where are you child.
Among the spring green leaves
Naked as a lizard;
I hear your airy lilt,
Why are you humming.

From what remote well
Do these grotesque sounds come;
Dispatched, bleak cirrus
In the high skies of a child's voice,
Freezing all the forest
Into fairy-tale stillness.

Where are you,
Where are you child.
In what empty paradise;
Where's the tower that emits your eccentric song;
Against the frozen wings of which birds of paradise
Do you rub.

Sunday, February 19, 2017

The way of the world

I came across a written piece in which it said that you can be very friendly with a person. The friendliness grows towards a sexual relationship.  A time comes when that  relationship might be consumated, but if the moment passes, the relationship  unravels, even appears somewhat sordid to the other person. 

It always surprises me when I see the closest relationships break up, only to descend into a version of open warfare.

You see it, often in families: is it because there's a sense of betrayal? Closeness turns to outright hostility.

The Way of It

I can't fit you into my scheme of things  
nor you me,
now that we've finally become ourselves.

I turn on you sharper than a scalpel,
spit words chiselled to wound.
Out from beneath the quilt of affection,

our naked selves so vicious,
we bruise each other with the same fervour
that once marked our love.

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

She Swept into the Sky

That day Maggie Allen,
propped up in her bed,
was staring at the bedspread.

Snow, melting in her eyes,
fell, tiny bells,
into the valley far below.

Suddenly, arms spread wide,
a blizzard of hair,
she swept outward

off her ledge,
into the sky
across the room.

We stared at her
nonplussed face,
the four pillows tucked behind her.

Friday, February 10, 2017


The sunlight on the back of your neck,
ear-lobes, hair.
A page-reflected glow onto your chin,
dimming upward towards your eyes,
and all else darkness around you.

If I’d never seen that you are beautiful;
that day, as the light 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.

Sunday, February 5, 2017

Lost in Adulthood

Poem for Elaine

Then, I was the explorer
with that pedal happiness in my feet;
down a tunnel of laurels
or wellington-deep in water.

Now I have to be reminded:
there are furze trails to be charted,
tracking to be done in the tall grass,
and we should be deadly quiet
in the hedge caverns after dark.

Monday, January 30, 2017

Still waiting for Enlightenment

Cruise Missiles          

Jesus, the padre prayed,
direct these missiles onto the heads
of our enemies.

Except that’s not what he said. He said
we pray that these missiles will be efficient
in their function.

Then. Up Jesus,
ride them clean down their throats.
Except, of course, he didn’t say that either;

but blessed them with holy water.
After that, the missiles were dispatched,
American missionaries to Europe.

(I saw this religious ceremony on the main evening news when the first cruise missiles were being deployed in Europe.)

Wednesday, January 25, 2017

One of the Most Beautiful Places in Ireland

This poem, The Green Road, refers to one of the most beautiful and very walkable walks in Ireland; the green road skirts around the north-western corner of the Burren in county Clare. A karst limestone landscape with unique fauna, herds of wild goats, and the most stunning views of Galway Bay, the mountains of Connemara and the Aran Islands. A lot of people will drive on to the Cliffs of Moher, but if you've got 2 working legs beneath you and a couple of free hours this is an unbeatable pleasure.

The poem was included in the anthology, Fermata: Writings inspired by Music (Artisan House, 2016) which was edited by Eva Bourke and Vincent Woods. It's a magnificent collection, featuring writers such as Thomas Kinsella,Vona Groarke, James Joyce, Seamus Heaney, Eiléan Ní Chuilleanáin, Paul Durcan, Derek Mahon, Pearse Hutchinson, Paula Meehan among a host of others and a foreword by composer/musician Mícheál Ó Súilleabháin. These writings sing to the music that inspired them; be good to yourself and buy it.

The Green Road.© Copyright David Purchase and licensed for reuse under this Creative Commons Licence.

The Green Road

The blackthorns above Fenore
are flight rooted;
they are folklore’s skeletons,
beggars of the green road.

Scoured to the knuckle,
stunted on burren karst,
they are the hags on the mountain
hunched from Atlantic gales.

Yet even this stone-weary day,
with hunger perched on their throats,
a robin is singing in each
notes that singe the February air.

Beneath the huddling sky,
into the ear of the green road
it pours, clear as water,
the music of tin whistlers’ dreams.

Sunday, January 22, 2017

The Donald’s Personality Traits

Anger: has he got anger issues! When  riled, he’ll fight with anyone or anything at the drop of a hat, without thinking it through. Doesn't matter how absurd, sense departs and it doesn't help that he’s temperamental and stubborn too. He’s selfish, often rude and is obsessed with money, gold. Not exactly humble either, he craves fame and popularity, he brags and shows off. To say he doesn't see himself clearly would be an understatement.
It’s quite hard to know what the Donald’s saying a lot of the time, that’s to say his meaning can be hard to get at.
Donald is white with a great splash of orange around his gob, and he’s great box office. “Oh boy, oh boy, oh boy.”

Friday, January 20, 2017

Don't we all know one?


Among the blocks of the establishment;
a flawless rise bolted your trust;
success was cement,
all loose notions were pebble-dashed.

Now you revise:
the establishment, its self-righteous system:

how many bodies like you
have fallen from the sides to point the pyramid ?

And how many times did you skate over principles,
that I remember, you once held dearly?  

Wednesday, January 18, 2017

Let's Face It, There are Times.........................

Slips on ice.

Prim, haughty Christine
takes to the air.

What a moment:
the unabridged version.

What a manoeuvre:
haughtiness to bashfulness
in the widening of an eye.

Saturday, January 14, 2017


No matter how far, memories are crystal glasses.
Don’t you remember that clink of joy?  Us together.
Didn’t  we have celebration emblazoned on our faces?
Our faces filled with joy: champagne faces. Champagne!
Isn’t that life, a time of champagne, and times not?


         MINERS TOWN.

"Carry slack" she says
to the spires of smoke
stealing away from Miners Town
where every child is born
to carry a bucket.

In the evening the little men
will gather below the street
where the pit-head eyebrows meet
so when their fathers come,
they'll parade nearby;
smaller jackets just.

A jet shape of geese
passes through the smoke columns;
for a moment she travels too
but then they leave her,
disappearing each year
over the same roof-top.

"Carry slack," she repeats
into the dog's ear of a kitchen door,                 
and in the shortened evening
she too unfurls a stalk of smoke
that'll mark her place
in the forest above Miners Town.