Saturday, 31 August 2013

Remembering Seamus.

Since the launch of “Patience and the Prodigal” which was so successful we took time out to reflect and reassess. The death of our greatest poet, Seamus Heaney, spurred us into scribbling again. He shall not be replaced in our lifetime. We dedicate our first entry of this new phase to his memory and the celebration of his special life.

Remembering Seamus.

Departed from the heaven of education
to the education of Heaven
swaddled in Mercury's mane,
Cirrus mopping his brow
Abandoned for now; the rain.
In the hedgerows the blackberries ripened
to bid farewell in purple salute,
The populous moths fluttered in tandem
Sir James gave voice to his golden flute.
The land faintly swelling in weary sigh
at the leaving of one of it's own
fair sons, perhaps the pick of the crop
another stalk dug, another meadow mown.
His name thrumming in the telegraph wires
the lapping of Lough Neagh, a lament,
the saucer eyed silvers pause for a while
in the Gulf Stream, snake bodies bent.
Eustachian tube retired now
as locking lung and milling mind,
Grateful we are to his snug squat pen
His greatness left behind.
Is his the happy haunting ground
better than the hooded crows?
His final verse is grounded
now he finally knows.


Tuesday, 2 July 2013


He was of the fields of lonesome bush
of grass and dock and stubborn rush
the golden birch and hawthorn bush
brown clay and rock and earth.
Bigger than life, that simple mile
that left him such a little while
Big man, big heart, beaming smile
he wore each day from birth.

Tractor, trailer, nut and wheel,
Cattle and chat, tangle and deal,
Apple juice and wide appeal
These were his favourite toys.
Working steady, in yard and shed
By the sweat of brow he won his bread
Mother, family, curls on head,
His treasure trove of joys.

He left his post, his human face,
He left us robbed of his good grace,
and filled us with an empty space
to go to those on High,
His body lies in sacred ground
the mourners scattered all around,
The wings of doves echoed the sound
of Walter's spirit fly.

(dedicated to Walter Moorhead, his life a tribute to nature)

Sunday, 2 June 2013

Why Bother?

You pay your Easter dues,
Tell your neighbour all the news,
Pretend you like the blues
to suit the listener.
Climate change is cool
Al Gore is no ones fool
Baby needs a name; you'll
go and Christen her.

We polish up the car,
Buy all round us at the bar
Never better par
They might resent that.
Hunt with hungry hound
with hare still pal around,
Sure both of them are sound
which way you look at.

From Calvary I borrow nails
From Kipling I invent my tales
Of Jungle Books and schooner gales
and ends that conjure If,
These games are played to suit the mob
To cater for Jack, Jill and Bob
and hands outstretched to hob
of supple fingers stiff.

We play a game, its all the same
to mantle hewn to hide our fame
and find a victim for our shame
in any corner,
We live the metamorphic lie
and truth convinces us to die,
Lie stark to unforgiving sky
but never warn her.

Friend to one, friend to all,
To ox and ass in humble stall
Patrick, Peter and Saint Paul
and Holy Mother.
Say thanks when you are duly paid,
Smile when you are still afraid
Dismiss the truth, bring on charade,
Why should I bother?

Saturday, 25 May 2013

Patience and the Prodigal/Launched.

We thank our readers who inspire
our syllables, commas and colons
word, verse, phrase and full stop.
We wondered ourselves would it end
of a sudden or slowly like the
wind-down of a spinning top.
Comments come kindly if fair
be the fare of the bleeding nib
dribbling on blank,
No comment at all is a mercy
betimes when cruel might
be one with frank.
Ten times more than the years AD
the views on our blog
in a year and a half,
To think when we started
we did it for fun,for amusement,
diversion, a laugh.
We the converted, converted the words
into tenants for pages
folded and creased under cover,
Words about people and dreams
and events, towers and ships,
sad silent maid and her lover.
Its all together now,
back from the printers
spine as proud as a column,
We invited our pals and their pals
to a party, a word celebration,
Tonight we launch precious volume.

Tuesday, 30 April 2013

My Father's Steps

My father developed a curious walk
after he took the pledge,
Foot-falling spot carefully chosen
as if he were treading a narrow ledge
on the rim of a great lake of porter.

Inhale twice, exhale once,
between each ponderous pace,
I never saw anything so measured,
Square root of a sober face,
Dry now since October.

Even as he stepped to the side of his bed
to ground his prayers in a trance,
He left just enough room for his knees
as would any lover of the dance,
Jig or reel,above her.

After the pledge he trod carefully
never treading on her dreams,
A decade of years and one of the Rosary
and then it all ended it seems
to my bended recalling.

He went back to his random gait again,
Little regard for steady or sure,
Sometimes a rock, often a leaf,
three months rich, six months poor
at the whim of the demon.

Today in my wanderings it came back clear
in the trees, from my own out loud talk.
Of late my own young man said wryly,
Dad, where did you get that funny walk
I never noticed before”.

(dedicated to Edward, grandson of Ned)

Wednesday, 17 April 2013

The Busker

On Tuesday, on main street
I passed two relic wrecks,
An old man and his music
fused in wheezy breath.
Accordion stretched and strangled
giving off its pain,
I'ts puppet-masters fingers
sheening in the rain.
He filled the man-made lungs with air,
exhausting fumes, his own,
He tried and failed and tried again
to give the air a tone.
Scant heed he passed to passer-by
who swept the shuttered face,
The copper sodden penny cap,
pathetic saving grace.
The old man and his failure
kept each other warm
to a dirge of long lost melody,
Pandora's box in arm.

(dedicated to the 'box', Irish accordion)

Friday, 5 April 2013

To my Children. May Day 2014


A point of life between my parents dust
and yours, my precious children, that is I.
A bearer of the ills which bear I must
We breathe together briefly; soon I fly.

I've seen you come to being, one by one,
In labour wards of nurse and sometimes stay,
Like prismatic colours from the rising sun
Willing you to live another day.

New feathers, dropped from angel's wings,
Satellites, around your mother's sun,
Begot from the wisdom that with fear begins
The unimaginable wheel of time is spun.

Labour's storm that has found a nest
when wisdom stands aside for nature's force,
I tell myself you're better than the rest,
No father ever spawned a Trojan horse.

Love transferred by lips that form the kisses
to eyelids shutting out the the unseen face,
Repeated, thousand times on nights as this is,
You had no say in choosing time or place.

You know me well now; don't know me at all!
Can only gauge myself when I'm asleep
You have no probe to measure rise or fall
or tell if I'm a shallow well or deep.

I never did enough for you or can,
Can't even guess what you expect of me,
Sometimes a furtive glance or curious scan,
If only I could see what you can see.

The Reaper has no diary, makes no date,
Life and death, each the other cause,
There is no antidote to fate,
Flesh will perish, to prove it never was.

A convicted prisoner in my grated cell
I am, awaiting truth, grim arbiter of all,
The moon, the waiting and the tremulous bell
still penetrate this finite wall.

Departing sunbeams cannot last,
Hearken the ferryman, one way ticket from land,
And what my judgment when I'm past?
A safe or slip from your father's hand?

Tuesday, 26 March 2013

My Abbeyshrule

Where Inny sneaks past sentry arch
February's breath puts life in March,
And silver birch looks down on larch
By Abbeyshrule.

Where simple people cross the bridge
to set a drill or Champion ridge,
the well stocked pantry is the fridge
in Abbeyshrule.

Royal Canal and graveyard full
murder of crows, one herring gull,
Repeated gossip never dull
at Abbeyshrule.

The peat is deep in Askey bog,
Twin green shades of grass and frog
Man's thirst is quenched by rustic grog,
near Abbeyshrule.

Where bell sticks out it's tongue at noon
Sign of the Cross, Angelus tune,
Maple dressed in light maroon
round Abbeyshrule.

Where hope and friendship never die,
Our tent a bright Cerulean sky,
A glorious jigsaw from on high,
My Abbeyshrule.

( Dedicated to Seamus MacAogain 'El Peregrino' master scribe )

Sunday, 24 March 2013

The Maid in Waiting

I saw her standing at the gate,
She of slender solemn face,
The shoe-horn hollow of her throat
Modigliani model out of place.
Alone she stood beside that gate
Waiting for what, a lover late?
Sentry gaze searching far,
Slim fingers coiled on topmost bar.

She wore an oatmeal dress of stuff
Not shop bought, made by hand,
A brown plaid shawl on shoulders thrown
A maiden of the land?
Freckles dotted nose and cheek,
Frozen lashes long and sleek,
Bosom slight yet shyly proud,
Profile framed by fleecy cloud.

And once or twice she seemed to sigh
As if resigned to God knows what,
Yet still immobile she remained
Reminder of the wife of Lot.
I watched her for what seemed an age
Still she never changed the page,
Quick heel and she deserted me
Left with no choice but to be.

Thursday, 21 March 2013


I've done a lot of sinning in my time
both home and away,
now it's time to pay;
to whitewash stains with penitential lime.
Some beat their breasts with clenched claws,
others fast and pray,
this is not my way,
I prefer the Camino of plod and pause.
Like Padraic Colum's 'old woman of the roads'
I meander quietly in lanes
exercising varicose veins
hauling hempen sacks full of discard loads.
For my sins I walk many miles by day
Picking up litter and dirt
sharing a common hurt
with all things rejected and thrown away.
I wipe plastic bottles from the face of the grass
beer cans and cardboard
soft toys once adored
daily mirrors, daily mails, brown and white broken glass.
Like Frost I take the roads less traveled
remote trails and paths,
rusty pails and baths
I haul to roads with surface graveled.
Today in a farmer's feeding bag I found a little lamb
still warm but dead
the plastic red
and pondered the memory of the little ones mam.
Was there grief for the life finished at the start
no gambol or bounce,
no flurry or flounce,
just the basin of a drain to house a silent heart.
Everyday a pilgrimage of recovering the dead
and useless forgotten sins
without the benefit of bins
or the dark restful sanctuary of a garden shed.
Sea of penance never ending debt of compensation
for wayward ways
and wicked days,
an endless trek in search of reparation.

Sunday, 10 March 2013

This and That

Happiness has limits,
Suffering has none
Darkness can blind
as can the sun.
Truth can be bitter
lies often sweet,
Victory's sibling;
Undervalued defeat.
Sometimes neglect
is safer than care,
Foul can be handled
better than fair.
Plumage is flattery
so is a kiss,
Lowly the cat
at chimney-top piss.
Nose and eyes
look down on mouth,
North wind is bitter,
deadly the south.
A hearth has two sides
fire between,
ripe black banana
better than green?
With duck quill in hand
where writes the sage
Is the verse better
in margin or page?
Freedom is complex
slavery plain,
where is the healer
without pain?
Futures left lying
in old men's wills,
Life is a trial,
Death cures all ills.

Thursday, 7 March 2013

The Shrew who knew.

I met an old lady in the forest today,
A weathered tarmagent shrew,
She bound me in the noose of chat
and told me all she knew.
She said “clipping hair is a waste of time
it always grows back again
despite the fact that it's dead,
and died free from pain.
People are like childhood diseases,
endure them and quickly pass on
by the greedy and well dressed, they're vulgar,
ignore them, they'll soon be gone.
The practise of hardship
is the one true religion,
Reason has no life of it's own,
the back stroke of revenge swims everywhere,
thought and tongue rarely agree,
you must trust yourself alone.
Colourful and useless as a cage of canaries
are the colons and commas of the mind,
a morsel of ground, a handful of grains,
are more than enough to bind.
Condemn the parson, poverty,
never neglect the poor,
care for the sick and the maimed,
banish disease from your door.
Fence only with words, sing with the birds,
make friends with bramble and tree,
pray direct to your maker
to guide all your dreams
and set all your losses free.
There is no evil in the bag of sin
where is the law for mute swans?
the clay is your mother and father
only earth can loosen your bonds.”
I'm off now” she said, “I have further to go,
and must gather fresh herbs for my tea,
think of me now and then, and if you have time
say a prayer for yourself and for me”.

Wednesday, 27 February 2013

My Guardian Spectre

My spectre with me night and day,
Wild beast, she guards my way.
Images far within, cause
constant weeping for my sin.

My pride and scorn
cause my spectre to mourn,
With jealousies and fears
I fill for me a vessel of tears.

A fathom into the deep
we wander, then we weep.
I am sorrowfull, she is gone,
How will I face the next dawn?.


Father Pius heard confession
from every sinner there,
Before granting absolution
he passed on,
to God knows where.

Grandad told a story
about old Shep
his faithful friend,
Grandad closed his eyes
before his story reached it's end.

My father tilled
the narrow drills
and measured each the same,
and father melted into earth
before the harvest came.

Mother hung
the dripping clothes
while measuring the sky,
and mother joined the rainbow
before the clothes did dry.

I never plan
too far ahead,
just one step at a time,
for deeds yet to be acted
can be saintly works or crime.

Tuesday, 26 February 2013

Dreams I Barely Remember.

Sleep, that friendly darkness,
that reality in escape,
brought me many places without fare,
Made me at ease, bade me lie down
with the fox the badger and the hare.
On a Tuesday night at ten
I climbed the Eiffel Tower
and with one spring of boundless power
I lit he torch of the Lady in Liberty's Bay
without flame or taper,
just a glint from rainbows ray.
I met my mother one trip,
she told me a dirty joke;
I chastised her there and then,
she, who never in life
a vulgar word spoke.
I rode a wooden horse twice
round the Derby test
and got there first in record time
waited for the rest
who must have lost their way
at Epsom Downs that day.
I asked a wizard to tell me
the texture and taste of swan
He told it was poison unless
shot in the back of the neck by a
bullet out of the mouth of a gun
that had never killed before.
I aimed my pea shooter at the moon,
the ricochet felled the brave bird
feathers flying aft and fore.
She landed both plucked and trussed
and roasted on Vesuvius spit
Moses and I broke the wishbone
It wasn't a one-sided split.
One night in a fit of pique
I dipped my straw in the Red Sea
and supped and watered the Kalahari
and sang “what will be, will be”.
On another occasion I rambled buck naked
into a party on Capitol Hill,
Michelle was scarlet, mortified,
Barrack is glaring still.
With big red cabbage leaves
I have played 'she loves me, she loves me not'
I can only hope and pray to remember
the millions of dreams I forgot.

Wednesday, 20 February 2013

A man I once knew.

I once knew a man, a remarkable man,
a man called Adam Bell,
His comings and goings were strange and alone
sacred and sterile as an old monk's cell.
At the back door of mediocrity
he pitched his tent,
Hung his soul on the gable of Heaven to dry,
fumbled and fell on the rungs of fate
narrow grin on the lips, smile dead in the eye.
His face was the colour of a fallen leaf,
His hair crow-black as a furnace door,
He wore new hands to shake with the master,
Forehead, mesh of wrinkles, waiting many more.
He found the pathway into silence
thought that wisdom beckoned him as a guest,
Many lies gave him room to manoeuvre
Hoarding sentiment's rations to his chest.
His future not demanding but impatient
Never did he mention his obvious pain
He spoilt his fire with too much poking,
the cloth of the mind absorbs many a stain.
His destiny progressed at it's own slow pace
and he prayed to the stars and the moon,
as all the insane he knew the world was mad
His clock went on strike before noon.
Still lies can walk while the truth stays rooted
Time here is merely granted, we can't make the call,
Adam Bell died in a house of foul humour
He that is down fears no fall.

Tuesday, 19 February 2013

The Company Of Men.

I came from a town, a small town
where small minded people didn't mind me
and the ones that cared were never girls,
they only pretended to admire my curls.
And the men might say “who cut your hair,
it isn't fair to shear your locks like that,
Who did that, and why and when?
Thats when I fell for the company of men.

Men speak the truth as it applies to women
Nothing to gain, nothing to lose it seems,
drink beer, no fear, secure together,
Ignore the models bonnet, except for the feather.
That feather would make good flights for darts
whether it came from a cock or a hen,
Aim straight and true, it's die or do,
thats why I admire the company of men.

My other half was a country boy
Mollycoddled by a doting mother
He could do no wrong in thought or deed
He hadn't hands to bless himself, or another,
She washed his socks and combed his hair
and fitted out his indulgent den,
He never said thanks, enjoyed the ranks
and the bonhomie in the company of men.

I'm still a woman in spirit and soul
My parts and their parts are north and south,
Their world is a ship on a course, not mine,
and I know now their vessel will never come about.
I envy them, those cocky bastards,
I'll say it and I'll say it and I'll say it again,
They've no respect for me, and so shall it be,
I can only be a voyeur in the company of men.

Sunday, 17 February 2013


Young man, a lifetime your friend
telling you why, with his eyes,
why you no longer deserve him
are no longer worthy of ties.
Shy girl you nurtured from birth
rejecting benevolent smile,
Fondness forged in life's marathon
fractured in misery's mile.
Nominal friends keep a distance
fearing infection of shame,
Stare in the eyes of the mongrel
not hostile,yet not the same.
Cigarette seems to burn faster
dreading contact with lips,
food on the plate fears consumption,
tea demands swallows, not sips.
Community leper in shadow and soul
distance-demand on the make
living in dungeon of plaster and brick,
sleep you need keeps you awake.
Once friendly face in the mirror
scowl returns, sullen, uncouth,
Courage; the source of rejection,
Isolation; reward of the truth.

Saturday, 16 February 2013



Today, the ice-cream van pulled up outside,
Yankee doodle jingle, driver smiling,
white jacket with cherry on hat.
Two below; not a child in sight,
I know times are tough,
But fuck that!


Today, we spent four hours in the garden
sawing timber to keep out the cold
of winter, that's a must,
Four hours with saw teeth as close
to her fingers as a kiss,
Superlatives not my forte
Never, have I seen such trust.


Today, I said to Gerry, “I must go some place
and you can see I'm covered in dirt”,
Gerry wouldn't give me
his bar of soap;
Instead he gave me his shirt.


Today, we rekindled two fires,
one in the grate,
one in the heart,
Each glow, still more than an ember,
The cold might keep us apart.

Little incidents from today.

Monday, 11 February 2013

The Stuff of Souls

My soul, if I have a soul, is like a camel
Bearing baggage that will surely break its back,
Lodged between twin humps of past and future
Present of quicksand, futile, heroic, another Joan of Arc.
The menace of prayer, a double-edged sword
Recital of misery to give birth to misery more.
Create a life to shield from life the truth
Delirium and half-dream stranded on dreamings shore.

Sheltered ambling from noon to dusk
Wreck of a man, ripe, or onset of decay.
Eyes, lashless and bloodshot, half conviction in a glance
Stretching life’s allowance, boughs and branches, no leaves today.
Older than my years, no sap reaching my roots
Conscience sleeps fitfully, soul’s door ajar
Waiting the stress test of time
Higher office beckons, surely a bridge too far.

And the Lord might say, if He exists,
What’s your pleasure”?
I couldn’t answer, wouldn’t know
The magic of such measure.
Can moral disease be fought by human means?
Or is the concept futile and absurd
Why is man less finite than hoar frost?
Why is God a household word?

Florid faith, in flesh filled collar white,
Martyrdom in cassock, routine religion overdrawn still,
The problem of all flesh is self-inflicted
The bigger problem, problem of Gods will.
The sea of pain laps ever, ever spewing
Time never stops, looks sideways or forgives
Conclusion, no conclusion, vanity appeased for now
What does it matter to our dead for whom the past alone lives.

Where are the million others who aspire to do better?
Hell of human longing stamped on each brow,
Stripped trees, grey mossy lawn, relics of summer
Bloom and blossom, colour and scent, where are they now?
How can we find a way to see the working of each other?
Mock manliness and bravery, repose in bed the same,
Lend me your eyes and I’ll see you as might your mother
Rabbit and rook hail the keeper; they know they are the game.

Archangel Gabriel.

The Jap got it right
the second time around,
The world changed a little bit
when Gabbie hit the ground.
A Ballymulvey man,
Is, was, and will be,
and when he goes to God
he surely will still be.
He flashes a wrench,
a vice grips and a socket,
They say he was born
with a spanner in his pocket.
Slope of the shoulders,
it was always there,
Fits to perfection
in Granny’s chair.
And he likes a little flutter
but never nags,
And he’s the one that told me
never touch the fags.
I reckon that John Wayne
and his western roots
gave him his love of cowboy boots.
I want you to know
that you’re loved, Grandad Gay,
and here’s wishing you
A happy father’s day, everyday.

NIAMH. 2011

She glides through the bar

Cuddles, puddles of affection
yearning to linger,
Pupils locked in silent conversation
her cheek seducing my finger.
Face, figure and essence
rash remnant of Venus,
Conveyor belt of our conscious
ferrying fondness between us.
A mile is a league too close,
a foot is an inch too far,
And I smile a sly smile of knowing
as she glides through the bar.

Mindful, meaningful twinning of limbs
Compliment blending of form,
Familiar crevice contours
Delightful, delicate, warm.
Eye-closing, heart-pulsing nearness of her
casting all logic aside,
Pounding, resounding resonant beat
approaching cosmic divide,
Tradition and caution gone to the loft
as I order another undrinkable jar,
And the till and her eyes tinkle in tune
As she glides through the bar.

And I spied her seven times in a row,
A truly remarkable week,
Never proud, never loud never brash,
I could scarcely describe her as meek.
The hooded power of embrace
can’t sully, sunder or sever
This fabric of closeness we weave
Cuddling  together forever.
And these are the thoughts I favour
She makes me feel like a Czar
And I watch and I wonder and wait
While she glides through the bar.