Saturday, July 28, 2018

Poem beside your hospital bed

Your face that I loved
has changed so completely
that I already know
Our time has gone.

And, as dying like a sandstorm
rearranges your features,
I am useless,
a cripple of words.

But if the winds
 in your head will carry
the smallest part
of what I'm trying to say, father

let it be
that my proud years
are tatters here;
I love you.

Saturday, July 21, 2018


In this wheel
I am spokes, smile and scowl.

Tonight, careering around the town,
I see all the pub doors closing

and take it personally;
don’t want to go in, don’t want to stay out.

Next week I'll tumble down these steps again;
people always make room

but then, just as I've nearly passed,
they kick me.

My smile and scowl are identical;
they think I'm a contraption.

Monday, July 16, 2018

Visiting the Corsetmaker

 It was ireland in the sixties. Corset conversation veered very close to immodesty. Michael O'Hehir was the voice of Sunday afternoons in Summer, and a spin in the car seemed like a good idea, but children get bored quickly.


Miss Gately, you know, the corsetmaker; her cottage 
thatched and whitewashed beneath sycamores ragged with 
crows and their bickering. A Sunday afternoon, my mother 
walking to the red door and it opened and closed and 
nothing else stirring for ages but ourselves in the back of the 
white consul with the red roof at the end of the avenue, just 
outside the gate; stone walls and lichen patches wallpapering 
our afternoon. Father dropping off in the driver’s seat 
while Micheal O'Hehir commentated on matches, one after 
another, without ever taking a breath in all that pipe smoke; matches collecting in the ash-tray all burnt to tiny black bird 
bones and the condensation all used up with words and 
faces dribbling pathetically into shapeless bad temper. Over 
and over: will she ever come out, can’t we go now, why do 
we always have to come, move your legs; till eventually she 
would reappear, a slap in the doorway, motor jauntily, 
red-headed, back to the car like it’s been five minutes or 
something, and Dad’s awake, reversing from the gate, back 
into the remains of a Sunday afternoon.

And I never knew what went on in there; never saw who 
opened the door, never saw a package, never heard anything 
about it. My father didn’t know either. I remember she 
took my sister with her when my sister was in secondary 
school. I wouldn’t have wanted to join them anyway, it was obviously a woman’s house.

Wednesday, July 11, 2018


Since my molecules are disbanding,
I am becoming invisible,
each day a little more unseen.

As self-belief flickers, I see less in myself;
certainties less certain,
I take steps with ever greater unsteadiness.

Thursday, July 5, 2018


I am a fish,
a sleek white sliver swimming
above the ground.

Eyes all around are agog,
not mine; they are open
as mirrors are.

Nor do I swim, all swim past,
in the contrary direction;
in fact, I am quite stationary.

Wednesday, July 4, 2018

‘Studies for Figures at the Base of a Crucifixion

‘What are we?’ I ruminate;
flat stone skipping over water.

‘What are we?’ opposite wall
in blind alley.

‘What are we?’ armchair
drowsy in fireglow.

‘What are we?’ a tooth
in kindred company.

‘What are we?’ pin fixed
 in a pin-cushion.

Tuesday, July 3, 2018

Nightee Night Night

A boy, stripy pyjamas astray in the woods,
is walking, bare feet in the leaf litter,
beneath woozy woozy woozy drunken trees.

There may be stars beyond those branches,
but teeth and tongues flickering in the leaves,
trees' lingering fingers slithering around him.

Skitterings scramblings, cluttering his ears,
wrigglings worming his skin;
darknesses flashing his eye-bulbs;

beneath those million dripping fruits licked leaves,
his foot flattens on something gelatinous  ̶
he is then all of  him altogether shreik-shaped.