Wednesday, January 31, 2018

Ena's Portrait

I am looking at a portrait of Ena;
the artist’s view of Ena;
the artist catching something of Ena
much deeper than facial expression:
her………………. contrariness;
but that’s not what the artist painted.

She painted Ena’s quizzical look:
that turn of eye, lift of eyebrow
that only a contrarian produces.
I see Ena’s likeness,
I know something of her mind,
and I’m wondering what was eating her.

Tuesday, January 30, 2018


I’ve been seeing January migrations of geese in the powder blue sky above Dublin;
those ever-shifting arrows sign-posting exotic, faraway countries are in my mind
when a full-stop moves from the text into the blank margin of the page I’m reading.

As it moves up the page, I wonder how much purpose a dot-sized creature can have;
at the top, it turns right, making for the gorge between the two pages; a dot on a mission!
Its slow progress suggests rough terrain, clints and grykes, a burren’s uneven pavements.

A newscaster’s voice cuts into the moment: 95 people massacred on a street in Kabul.
I lose sight of the full stop; I have a daughter working in Kabul. How high up, I wonder,
must one be for these atrocities to be so small that they appear insignificant.

Thursday, January 25, 2018

Mist on the Mountain

The hunch-backed hag is dragging plants from out
of the ground, black ridges etched into the hillside.
She pays me no attention though I am ten yards away;
ancient shape, deaf perhaps.

Further down the slope, an old man hefting a boulder,
feet set in tussocks of colourless grass;
back gnarled; legs, arms angled
so he and drudgery have become one.

The last, still red, haws are hanging from her fingers;
a robin’s song bursts from his chest;
its moment of freedom rising,
the hill traps it instantly in its sullen ear.

Monday, January 22, 2018

Clearing out

Emptying shelves onto the floor.
Thirty years: defunct,
useless stuff
clogging up the box room.

Fuck it out, all of it.
Packing myself into a black plastic bag:
an Autumn mess,

Arrive at the bottom of it.
Hollowed out years;
Discovering emptiness, lots of it.

Thursday, January 18, 2018


In the beautiful days of childhood, I was a kite
filled with the exhilaration of blue skies;
trees I climbed presented their branches
with the sweep of the grandest stairs;
clouds stampeded across my heavens and the road
was a flowing tide beneath my feet.

In the beautiful days of childhood, coloured umbrellas
rolled me onward
with smile a scarf, waving over my shoulder,
trailing back into the years;
like dreams, like smoke from an old train engine
dissipates in the attempt to go back.

Monday, January 15, 2018

The fact that cannot be known until the time is ripe.....................................

When you reach the end, turn around
and start back.
More slowly now, more deliberate,
less wasteful.
There is little time, none to be wasted,
not one second.
And for those facing you, be considerate,
they don’t know.

Saturday, January 13, 2018

You Asleep

I am watching you sleeping;
withdrawn to that room, your nightly retreat,
where you will go at the end
to nurse the petering flame of your life,
accompanied by yourself alone and, perhaps,
 manifestations of you that have been.

But now your face is quiet.
Out here, ignorant of all that’s stirring within,
I can only wish for your peace and comfort.
The prospect of you, in that room in the future, clumps
                                                                     through my mind;
I turn away, haul myself back to the present,
but my eyes remain open, headlights into the future.

Monday, January 8, 2018

My Head's Full Of

My head’s full of scrap, the clanking mass of.
A full-tide of worries shifting uneasily in the attic
has the feet of my stomach pedalling frantic.
Prostate and thyroid every dis way and dat dodging
the darts, and fool of a brain flopping with the derring-do
of a body that never had an egg-cup  of bravery,
asking which way all the errant arrows are pointing,
and my head this minute with hair-net on the inside.

Sunday, January 7, 2018


Fox is a streak, an orange flame,
pulled by the snout, a meteorite tail behind him.

Slinking across the street, he stops dead centre
to consider his options.

Like money just clinked in his head, he continues,
through the bars into the darkness of the park.

With eyes, steak knives, through the blackness,
he hurries to where a  spine-chilling scream occurs at 3am.

Wednesday, January 3, 2018

The Day Passing

In the hospital,
Mary Byrne has not spoken
for almost three hours.

All afternoon she has been following
the progress of three rectangles of sunlight
over the floor and onto the walls of the ward;

her eyes flooded with swallowed past,
blank future,
pointless present.