Monday, December 31, 2018


Questions from my young children, And like a year, there's sweet and bitter; but I'm wishing you a very happy new year the very best for 2019.


Dad, can you make our car fly?
Is there a wizard's castle outside Roscommon?
Do dreams have wheels?
Can I taste your Guinness?
Does Superwoman eat cabbage?
Is Ritzy a boy or a girl?
Has Santa come yet?
Did the man put the fart in a bag?
Dad, will I die of cancer?

Sunday, December 30, 2018

Christmas Flowers

All those words:
hey, welcome, happy Christmas,
we’ve missed you,  wonderful to have you home,
happy new year, I love you.
And the following, inevitable
take care of yourself, safe journey, be safe,
goodbye, we’ll miss you, ring.

Christmas flowers:
the bright blooms with their thorns,
colouring the season, bloom in your heart,
bloom beyond the decorations, into Spring,
and still when shafts of April light are gathering heat;
when  the bright space of Summer is widening around you.

Monday, December 24, 2018

Childhood Garden.

Here again;
my eyes tulips,
fists apples, 
feet groundsel.
Garden my mind,
spade spark stone,
bindweed's brilliant flowers,
clouds notions,
and all you said now clay,
my dears, my memories.

Turf high,
rhubarb hibernating in straw;
ridges ridges
my dear soul;
light on the lawn
and from between black clouds,
oh God speaks;
burst football under the privet,
rusted tins,
empty shells

magnificent snowdrops.

With a very happy Christmas to all.

Wednesday, December 19, 2018

On Seeing Cnoc Mordán from the Clare Coast

I have a notion of beauty that is a wild place;
a grey desolate lake beneath a craggy ridge,
a windswept landscape of stunted thorns,
strewn boulders and scattered outcrops,
furze blooming out of season, dun-coloured reeds,
bronzed bracken broken double by the Atlantic gales.

But it is not the place, not really, it is the girl that lived beside that lake,
in the streaming Connemara gales that swept  her hair,
gave the colour to her face; sallowed her skin
so her eyes shone sharp as needles; gave her the same grace
as the reeds by the water,  slender and graceful. That’s how I saw her;
and now I see the ridge across Galway Bay forty, closer to fifty years later.

Unmerciful time; the place is unchanged but I am old,
and she is old, and the dreams that were young and beautiful
are now like the bracken broken double by the Autumn gales.
But it is not the girl, not really, it is the notions in our heads still hanging 
though November has come, and the sunlight on Loch Con Aortha,
long past summer, full of the cold clarity that comes with Winter.   

Saturday, December 15, 2018


                              Pared down
to tongues and mouths,
we became one.

One moment.

The following moment
steals the previous;
and so it goes.

Sunday, December 9, 2018

Kavanagh and I by the Grand Canal

Sodden in driving rain,
watching our  lives
bobbing on the water
while the colour-drained city
shivers backwards;
the two of us lamenting the sins
we never committed at all.

But you outdo me
having made this place your own;
ducking with the waterfowl
into the city’s murk,
claiming no part of it,
and always happiest
when the rain’s flaying.

Monday, December 3, 2018

Fine Art from Spain

When I saw this painting by Regina Carbayo, a Spanish artist who has been living and working for a number of years in Cork, my immediate (gut) reaction was ‘wow’, and still is; undiminished.
The painting has a classic, timeless composition and palette. The faces are Spanish, and, as other Spanish artists have been known to do, the painting playfully cocks a snook at itself and the whole genre, through its subjects’ exaggerated hauteur and feigned disdain.
Here they are, bound to classic portraiture by props that would for long times past have suggested learning and aesthetic high-mindedness, trapped in that age-old  format, formally posed and extremely self-conscious, faces melting downward as only  the faces could be permitted to move within the strict composition.
Those expressions draw you in to rich fun of the image, hold your attention, and call you back to look again and again.

Saturday, December 1, 2018

The Swan

Evening light;
you and I walking beside the river;
the gold coins of leaves littering our path,
the world around us turning quiet and serious
beneath heavy clouds lost in thought.

Then a swan lights like a match;
its wings aflame over the water, in the water,
magnificent as magnesium burning.
We stop to marvel, and find ourselves wistful;
the swan is us, our souls' yearning for beauty.

Tuesday, November 27, 2018

Last Circle

Congregated in a circle in a field in Cork,
backs hunched dark against the driving rain,
heads covered, faces hidden, unfathomable
presences humming low

-- the sea coiling inside a mountain,
the wind trapped inside a hollow oak,
gale stuck in the high stone tower
all day, all the rain long --.

Incantation, tumulus and ditch, tumulus and ditch
concentrically droning outward,
draining into the earth’s pinna, swallow-hole,
the whorl of light, green and time.

Monday, November 26, 2018

Fatal Impact

A word of thanks to Thomas McRae for sending his recent collection of poems 'Fatal Impact' (iUniverse). For information :

Sunday, November 25, 2018

I give you

This tree's dripping fruit
to place in your mouth
to ripen your tongue.

The water guttering down
these green leaves
to be a trellis of fingers
about you.

This soft drizzle of sunlight
to fall gentle as the petals
of meadowsweet on your cheeks.

This bindweed and all tendrils
to hook and bind
                   our desires together.

Wednesday, November 21, 2018


My demons know no boundaries;
I am a propeller
blinded by my own agitation.

When I come to
I’ll be devastated,
and stamp out fires that never burned.

Saturday, November 17, 2018


An old man with pipe and stick
is sitting on a kitchen chair
beside a rick of turf
in the field before his house;
there is a mountain in the background.

One Summer’s day, passing,
I watched a curlicue of smoke rise
from the man’s pipe,
gyrate in front of his eyes,
then disappear

to become part of the nothing,
the blue sky not far from Achill Sound.
A moment,
one of the fleeting series,
the passing that is a lifetime.

Tuesday, November 13, 2018

After The Bucketing Rain

After the rain's
    plaiting fingers                    
      long limbs                     
         and fat drops                           
          tock tocked                          
           enchanted rhythm
            on brimful
              Beneath blue clouds'                                                    
             electric light,
            dumb drops                         
          tipsy seconds
         to every
        listening ear:                
      after shower             
   tock ticking            
           suspended time.              

Friday, November 9, 2018

Iceland's Banned Ad

Banned by the UK's broadcast code for advertising practice (BCAP) for carrying a political message. But, just a few weeks on from the WWF's  chilling  Living Planet Report  in which it was  stated that there has been a 60% decline in the size of populations of mammals, birds, fish, reptiles, and amphibians in the last 40 years (a staggering 89% in South and Central America since 1970), wouldn't it be brilliant if some more supermarket chains delivered the same message? 
If we have any thought for the wellbeing of our children, grandchildren and their children to come   this along with climate change must be addressed now. The Report can be downloaded at

Take a look at the ad, and post it on.

Wednesday, November 7, 2018

Social Work


Do you remember our hospital visit;
he asked for his present?

Present !

And dying the only life
left in him.

There we were, the two of us,
at the end of his deathbed

and our hands,
great big empty sunbursts.

Certainly, we were young;
but I thanked God when he died.

Saturday, November 3, 2018

and then he was dead;

(remembering my father's death)

and then he was dead;

breathing stopped;
eyes closed;
still warm.

I stared at his face,
for the first time
without life inside it.

I stared and knew:
that body
was never him at all.

The Man-Owl

A man imagines himself an owl and perches in a tree.
All summer unseen, in winter completely exposed;
sitting; eyes closed, open, closed; otherwise still.

A group of children have collected beneath him;
they are throwing taunts, then sticks then stones;
he makes himself smaller, like a hedgehog in a tree.

The townspeople have now gathered beneath him.
A dim view was taken of the stone-throwing,
they have called fire brigade, ambulance and police.

Two ladders extended, one each side of the man-owl,
and two firemen straightening, one by one, his fingers,
talons he has hooked around the branch over his head.

It was considered wise not to have a view of the garden;
the window of his room faces the opposite wing;
a television, left on 24/7, masks the sounds of the wind.

Wednesday, October 31, 2018


The storm is keeping me awake;
the dogs, discordant tuning forks,
the whine of lost souls
in the electricity wires.

Tossing, a mobile in the gusts,
waiting for the light to clank
but knowing it’s beyond the gap
where the wind is crowding in.

Your unhappy face turning away
to hide the tears,
the storm banging on that nail
all night, the whole night long.

Saturday, October 27, 2018


When she gave me her hand, I was instantly struck
by the elegance and grace of her movement.
Her hand was slender and magnificently gloved
in white blossoms that had tinges of pink
near the edges of its petals, and they were falling,
falling so thickly that a doily of snowflakes
had formed around her feet.

She held me enchanted in the centre of her smile;
I took her hand, never noticing the thorns,
and my blood dripped crimson bright berries down.

Wednesday, October 24, 2018

Sometimes it takes a long time to see the real person

In sickness there was only you 

light as a feather;
relieved of the weight
of position and pride;

neither bluff nor brashness
nor the strength
to be more than your dying self. 

Friday, October 19, 2018

She came to test me.*

Did her hair flow bright as honey down her back? 
Was the wild rose the blossoming of her cheeks? 
Or, was her face was a web of soil-filled furrows?  
Were her eyes flinty with the cunning of age?  
I passed the test of kingship, I did not falter; 
She came old into my eyes, but was young in my arms, 
With fingers flowing gently over my temples,  
Breath sweet in the full bloom of her mouth, 
Voice rich as the blackbird’s on the highest branch of an oak.  
For a king must be one with the spirit of the land 
whether it be dressed in the barehaggard bones of January,  
or the lush green coat bejewelled in May. 

*The high kings of Ireland had to lie with (or marry) the Hag to show that they were beyond being seduced 
by the easy things in life.

Saturday, October 13, 2018

Blue-veined old hands :

I never saw them coming
till they were spread bleak
as the limbs of Winter trees
across vacant heavens.

When I said I loved you
I whacked at the wall
with a stick of oar weed
picked off the strand.

Cantankerous old fool :
never saw him coming
till words I spat out
fell like lightning turned
to twigs of rotten wood.

Tuesday, October 9, 2018

New Poem

I have set myself up to write a poem
and am sitting set before the screen

Saturday, October 6, 2018


Mosaic of sunlight,
gold and russet leaves;
becalmed now in memory loss.

A moment:
another leaf falling
with a sound that is not heard.

That pile of  leaves growing;
the heartbreak:
soon this maple will be bare.

Monday, October 1, 2018

The Stars

The stars are tossed across the drumlins of the sky.
I am looking to see the road you’ve taken
And I think I see it, and  you;
Andyou are singing Bring back my Bonnie
And you are laughing, and looking back
Over your shoulder.  Yes I think you are.
And now I am singing; we’re all singing
Bring back my Bonnie, and the road is getting longer
Behind us, and you are handing back sweets, and I ‘m smiling
And you sing Ten Green Bottles; we  all sing
Between the rolling fields of night, and then
You have rounded some bend, and are singing,
But smaller and smaller and smaller and
and I cannot see
just the stars.

Saturday, September 29, 2018

Once by the Sea

Once I sat by the sea around midnight
with too much drink in my gut,
watching the play of tide and moonlight
crash into a crescent of land;
the rhythm of the waves hitting my oozy brain
like ‘This is Your Life’.

I stayed there to discover what it was telling me;
to distil a loneliness
that would inform me about myself.
The light and sound and smell of the sea and shore,
the darkness behind me, the round sky,
and myself tight as a nut at its centre.

I stayed there long enough to imagine myself lonely,
confirm my right to be on those stirring stones,
to be clear sighted beyond sight,
to implicate the world, the universe, and yourselves
in the unhappiness of my moment;
and I was intensely happy.

Tuesday, September 25, 2018

Slow-Moving Clouds

Slow moving clouds never ran away with love,
but left lovers dreaming in their wake.
The sky is where the hearts of lovers roam,
since the earth is not big enough for their dreams.

Saturday, September 22, 2018

The baby in the tree

It's surprising where ideas come from. There  was a white carrier bag snagged high in a tree on Leinster Road.

         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.