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”.