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. 

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.