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.