Thursday, 29 December 2011


Old friends, older faces
Recurring disgraces.
Kick the grey mare
But never the traces.
Twenty and twelve
Start over again,
Distraction, the distance
Between now and then.
Hope springs eternal
So does the shame
Banker and bailiff
The rules are the same.
The signposts and links
Of todays and tomorrows
Rue and ruination
Milestones of old sorrows.
Welcome the handshake
Of debt and despair
Like the wan white horizon
Of the old woman’s hair.
No clerics in Dublin
Bishops gone west
Berlusconi’s disgrace
Relegated, at best.
What’s round the corner?
Fortitude, fear,
Farewell to eleven
Bring on the New Year!

Tuesday, 27 December 2011

Christmas Alone

Barefaced, bare-footed, staring
into an empty grate.
Empty, except for those grey-green
lifeless ashes
who had their bright moments too.
A sculpted mug of black tea
my only solace.
Sorry I'd be for myself
if I were capable of care.
Alone, I've spent this pagan Christmas,
alone but not my own man.
New Years resolutions pointless, impossible,
Successful reminders of last years failures.
Where can a man turn,
Faced with the farce of his own futility?
Hoping for an ember cinder
I prod with the poker.

Monday, 19 December 2011

My Reward

Wise eyes pry, for clues and news in vain,
Old men measure nature, seeking stain,
Defied by pupil twins of steely grain
in angel face.
Wild straw thatch, a fitting faery crown,
Simple black, a full and favoured gown,
Smile that made an exile of a frown,
An ageless grace.

Glance to melt a heart of frosted lead,
Blush unique; a newer hue of red,
Living riddle, rose in lilac bed,
A fleeting fawn.
Venus vested, filling space with light,
Dull defying, introducing bright,
Living vibrant vendor of delight
like golden dawn.

Enigmatic, charismatic, fair,
Old as oak, new as stubble hair,
Impish grin, potent as a prayer
to lofty Lord.
Million women melted into one,
Loving life and love and foolish fun,
Soul mate of all men yet slave to none,
She's my reward.

Wednesday, 14 December 2011

Christmas Morning 1961

Pig fry, brylcreem and Mass,
Communion for mother,
Chat of junior football,
Cows, calves and fodder.
Ties, tosspit and tanners,
Market –house meet,
Wafer wedged ice-cream,
Nugget finished feet.
Mary Kelly home again,
Photos of her London house,
Daddy said she couldn’t buy
leggins for a mouse.
Father Peter hinting at
a drop in Christmas dues,
The one man in the parish
with a pair of leather shoes.
Red berries and a hint of snow,
a robin on the vestry wall,
Goodwill and cheer for everyman,
I wonder if they care at all?
Still, we’ll enjoy the golden goose
and roasted spuds and all of that
and pull the paper cracker
and wear its silly paper hat.
Two oranges in a woolly sock
tinwhistle made by Clarke,
Plum pudding with its holly peak,
Bing Crosby ‘live’ from Central Park.
Santa Claus and innocence melted
with the crunchy snow,
Bitter farewell, after sweet hello.
Stephen’s Day special once
now just another dawn
noting nights passing,
Christmas is gone.

Tuesday, 13 December 2011


Sometimes, through curtains in shadows we spy
an acre of earth, a sliver of sky.
Massless reflections of solids in space,
Bonded by light, facet and face.
A sort of a soul, attached yet apart,
Like Rick and his bar, a head and a heart.
And in purple shadows we often find truth,
Not readily seen in daylights bright booth.
For shadows are segments of limbo and love
tied to below, fashioned above.
Man miles of gray, sons of the moon,
Their mother a sun, vampire at noon.
And we dwell together like echo and sound,
Are bonded together when we meet underground.

Saturday, 10 December 2011

My fellow traveller

I've known you a long time,
In sorrow time and song time,
We're past your peak and my prime
Yet we survive.
I've hated you and loved you
and set myself above you,
Yet martyred memories of you
are still alive.

Mirror of my slow sense,
Charcoal of my incense,
Image of my nonsense
In furtive glance.
So often have you bled me
of stuff of him that bred me,
Your tongue and tango led me
on merry dance.

We tramped the high and low road,
We shared the light and dark load,
And jeered the cautious man mode
of sheltered life.
I found no friend or lover,
No camp to build above her,
No skin or whin to cover
a wanton wife.

You taunted me in June-light
and mocked me in the moonlight,
Deserted me at noon-light
and I did pine.
Yet we wander mile of highway,
Still your way must be my way,
My last day must be thy day,
O shadow mine!


Crossroads time has come to you
and stares you in the face,
To make this world your oyster
or perish in this place.
Is what your mother had
sufficient still for you?
Do you want a lot, or her lot?
A purple haze or blue.

Your father was a working man
whose sweat provided bread
to feed a dozen urchins
and try to get ahead.
Still winter follows winter
and the story's still the same,
His back is bent, his youth is spent,
He fights a losing game.

Your mother is the martyr
and the victim, scarce a life,
A weary tired expression,
Once a starry eyed new wife.
She tries to tell her children
of mistakes she made and pain,
But she knows her words are useless
and her pleadings are in vain.

You have a voice, you have a choice,
To stay or break the mould,
To have a life, a decent chance,
Or far too soon grow old.
Do you want to taste sweet liberty
and reach horizons wide?
Or spend your life regretting
that your dream need not have died.

Wednesday, 7 December 2011


The voice of the sea is wordless, yet passionate,
Like the voice of a rabbit in pain,
High pitched squeal choking in throat
Appealing to no one, in vain.
Voice of the noon-bell pealing,
Fierce echo for what,
To forgive and forget he who can’t be remembered,
fuchsia or “forget-me-not”.

Lip service, does it count as another silent intention,
does it excuse a million sins of omission?
Sins committed by the fact that ones eyes can see,
Liberties taken without permission.
The sixth commandment in conflict with the first
tells us thou shalt love under strictest rules,
The third and fourth decree the Sabbath sacred
and mother and father, honoured by fakirs and fools.

Yet sometimes late at night in nether world
she speaks to me still, the flown bird.
Her voice a reminder of relics past,
confirmation of wish subdued by a word.
Can sins be committed in abstract?
A murder in mind for someone else to score
Safe in the shame of the heart
Where heart can conscience ignore.

That mute inner voice, easy to silence a while
Still yearning for sound of itself,
Expression, the goal of the unheard,
Swan song of elegant elf.
The lips of a child, the call of the wild
The whispering breeze on the rain,
The stifled cries of the unborn
Call back to haunt us again.

Leave Well Enough Alone.

A little girl upon her knees
stared at the puddle pool
that wasn't there that morning
on the penance path to school.
Dipped her child hand in the sculpted
saucer in the lane,
scooped the life from the puddles heart
then dropped it back again.
and watched the bending ripple
that gathered round the drop,
and cupped the saucers random rim
to make the motion stop.
But the mirror shivered in fear
and the girl in her dismay
stomped and scattered the helpless pool
skip started home away.
But I wonder did she learn the lesson
of this messenger from the skies,
that the pool of rain was the liquid pain
that streams from her mothers eyes.

The Bruise

She gave me
a kiss tonight,
Now what have I
to lose?
Nothing, nothing,
I carry within me
the bruise,
Of her eyes
on my heart,


My mother, Grace, a virtuous woman,
Baptised me Patience, why?
At that small church in Belleek,
An only child, I tried my best to die.
I was born at dead of winter night
Seven degrees below.
At time of frost and thaw
At time of haw and sloe.
My father decreed I was half a child
Only twenty six parts,
From a pack of fifty two
No clubs or diamonds; just spades and hearts.
He was a porcelain potter
Fingers of slurry and Slip,
North and south, connecting bridge
He crossed on path to toil and trip.

Twin babes were given me by God
Joy and David their given names,
Twice the blessings, twice the sorrow,
Twice the beaded counting frames.
David joined the RAF
With braid and buttons, shiny peak,
He saw the war in Afghanistan,
Never more his own Belleek.
And Joy lives in Australia now
In house of wood near Botany Bay
In prison of her own I fear
No knowing if its night or day.
Himself is long time gone to God
Or so I must believe,
I found it in me to forgive
Hadn’t the heart to grieve.

The corner shops are closing down
Courtesy of corporates and banks,
Post office counters, silent, bare,
And for this we must give thanks?
The pews are empty, whorehouse full,
No working sweat on factory brow,
Gone the linen, gone the wool,
The shirts are jobs in China now.
I often cursed the local pubs
Their hollow laughter left us poor,
They too are relics of the past
No polished counters anymore.
Our games have lost their men and boys
Traditions die and standards fall
The future’s bleak and colourless
If future there exists at all,

 I live alone now, better that way,
The only way I know,
The parson calls for blather and dues
I pray for him; to go.
I can walk east to the flagstone bridge
From my humble house on Rowantreehill.
And think of Sydney, far away,
And Heaven, even further still.
I like to sway in rocking chair
And wait that call from Him on high
And wait to see my Dave again
In glorious cockpit in the sky.
I was born in
At seven degrees below,
And my mother called me Patience
How in God’s name did she know?