Monday, July 31, 2017

Cailleach and the Púca

The Cailleach* stole apples from her rival Bríde and stored them till they were rosy-cheeked merry. They were in this condition when the Cailleach’s goat found them; and soon after he, in similar condition, jumped clean over the fence, and went careering through the countryside.

When she went in search of her goat, the first man the Cailleach met along the road remarked that a rabbit had stopped him and winked. A second met a hound who asked the way to Shrule, while a third, dishevelled and breathless, said a horse offered him a lift home, and carried him two miles out of his way.

For a year she trawled the countryside, hearing stories of a rampaging shape-shifter, till at last, the night after Samhain, she came in sight of her own field where an old man, sitting on a rock, eating an apple, greeted her.

They chatted happily for an hour or two on matters as diverse as the husbandry of goats and the tastiness of apples. There was a white patch on his meg that drew her attention over and over; there was something about it. And suddenly she knew. Like lightening she sprang on him, but he was swift and rolled from beneath her; in an instant, a hound was bounding into the distance with the most almighty great leaps.

The chase engaged, Cailleach flinging stones that lodged on hilltops, the hound sometimes treading on them as they rolled under his paws. They circumvented the whole of Ireland in a matter of days, leaving the landscape re-shaped behind them. It never ends. Each November storms circle the land from Dingle to Derry, Dundalk to Ring in a never ending cycle, Samhain to Lá Bríde; the hound howling, the Cailleach hot on his tail, stealing light from the sky with her never-ending hail of stones.

You can verify this account if you wish. The stones at Killeen Cormac are among the stones she has thrown; the hound’s footprints are in a boulder on Brewel Hill. The apples the goat scattered are the orbs of energy often appearing, still scattered, in photographs. The Púca’s antics are known all over Ireland and many are still recorded by unfortunates walking quiet roads late at night. Puck Fair is the yearly commemoration of the shape-shifter Púca*. And those great circles over Ireland, seen nightly on weather forecasts from September to February, are the chase as seen from the moon.

The Cailleach is a Celtic deity, goddess of winter, also associated with earth formations, changing of the seasons, animals. She feature in many legends, in particular stories of her rivalry with Bríde, goddess of spring.
Púca (Phouka, Pooka) is a malevolent/mischievous/benevolent shapeshifter from Celtic folklore; a bringer of good, more often bad luck.

Spirals, Turnings at Newgrange

The sun enters the passage;
I meet him on my way;
he touches my head
like water.

I emerge into day;
in the chamber
the sun dwells a moment
on my earlier impressions.

I return after the day
to elaborate my carving,
my spirals,
my perpetual turning.

Friday, July 28, 2017

A Murmuration of Starlings


Starlings swarming,
flashing inward, ballooning outward,
spiralling, spilling silver-bellied,
undulating darkness and luminescence,
rolling white underside upwards,
spooling, imploding, swallowing, exploding,
millioning out over the roofs, ribboning up,
each a light bulb switching, flicking,
flickering into unison, condensing into a score,
a billowing script,
a symphony inscribing itself across the heavens.  

Sunday, July 23, 2017

A colon-wrenching verse

When the alphabet was blown from the branches
and commas were sitting bare,
a question mark swooped like an eagle
to carry one off to its lair.

My daughter released an exclamation mark
which got tangled up in her hair,
then a full stop arrived from out of the blue
to end the sordid affair. 

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.