Saturday, February 24, 2018

War: Never-Ending Harvest


Early each morning, the river is obscured by fog;
sounds come ashore like cries from Limbo.

At dawn the young women come,
spools of brightly coloured  fabric, with fishing rods;

and, magical spiders, they cast weightless filaments
out over the water;

for a moment there are more threads hanging
than there are people on the streets of London.

The river stops;
nothing stirs; the earth turns a little.

Then suddenly a rod bobs and bends
and stares through its tiny eye into the water;

straining, tensing, till in a slick of weed,
slivered as a newt, a young man's body breaks the surface:

bulb-eyed, marble-chested and tapered
to a train of drops dripping back into the river.

Thousands upon thousands, like unlit lanterns,
or candles newly lifted from wax.

And when the fog clears
the women are standing with their t anterns.

The bank is a thousand miles long
and the river is wider than an ocean. 

Monday, February 19, 2018

On Leinster Road

Warm, languorous Summer’s afternoon;
chestnuts in full bloom,
students chatting on the steps,
sipping cans of beer.
A man-roar up ahead, then again;
my alarm beeps.

Now, I see him,
purple-faced, wild-eyed;
bawling at a girl on the other side.
Beep beep. Entering his range;
now intruding onto the outer ring
of his target.

Harmless; just passing.
‘Passing passing passing.’

He reads my fear,
his anger flares.
“Cunt.... fucking bastard....... shower of.......”
Furious summer sun
staring through a lens:
I catch fire.

Later, recovering an afternoon that was:
beautiful May, magnificence of early summer,      .
chesnuts in bloom,
students chatting on the steps;
I find charred remains
that keep flap flap flapping. 

Thursday, February 15, 2018

Where the blood rose grew

This is where the executions happened;
in this yard, in the sun;
or more likely under clouds; here.

This is the place of killings, here
under the prison walls,
the high, high walls.

This is where the blood rose grew
 beyond their control,
the very spot; this is where.

Monday, February 12, 2018

Some poems just refuse to form

Some poems just refuse to form. The idea is there: the feeling, the imagery, but like pieces of jigsaw that have been incorrectly cut, the poem refuses to mesh.
And, sometimes it is that the poem  is too powerful in our heads, we haven't got the umph to bring such a mighty thing into shape.
This poem has too much going on behind it; I've posted one or two different versions before, I'll probably post one or two more. Why? Because this is an end of it for now.

The poem you said I should write.

A nurse named Yesterday arrived on your ward  ̶
her grandmother died the day before she was born.

She was gone in a matter of days.
Nurses from the agency come and go, you said;
good relationships are important for patients.

We talked about the sentence of always being Yesterday.
You died; and I cannot put a name to this poem.

Thursday, February 8, 2018


It was the snow that brought me back;
its peace and space;
finding myself again, after all
that clutter.

With each falling flake, another bit
a little less noise;
the sound of myself, Michael,  returning.

Monday, February 5, 2018

Philip Casey

I was so sorry to hear of Philip Casey's death; he was a most likeable person. Though I didn't know him particularly well, it reflects on the kind of character that he was, that I feel as saddened as I do. I found him always good-humoured, humble and generous; and apart from his own writing achievements, he was a one of the great, unselfish supporters of other Irish writers and Irish writing in general.
You can read what others, who knew him much better than I, have to say at
For my part, his death will leave an unfillable space at the various readings and literary events arrounnd Dublin.

Sunday, February 4, 2018

Beautiful Day

in memory of my mother, Teresa

The sheets are billowing on the clothes’ lines;
they’re  between us, so I walk across the grass unseen;
I know she’ll be delighted; I’m not expected home for months yet.

I see the top of her head as she’s hangs up another,
and I’m guessing there are two wooden pegs in her mouth;
I put my arms around her from behind.

And the sheets are doing the dance they do in the wind,
kicking up wildly to their own rhythmless tattoo.
Away, over the garden hedges, sheets from many gardens

are escaping across the July sky, as wheeling swallows
are notes that have broken free from their staves;
Mam, I know it now: our days are short, but aren’t they beautiful?

Saturday, February 3, 2018


Sitting on a park-bench,
a slanting shaft of sunlight before me
and, like a hologram, a thousand
golden flies moving like atoms inside it.

Is that a God's view?