Tuesday, 3 November 2015

The Haircut.

I went for a haircut
To Mammy number three
She’s good at the job
And it’s free.
Salon a hive of gossip
A mushroom of chat,
The truth; a rock to a bee
Black this; white that.
An auld one pipes up
Graves unclose,
Off to post
The devil goes.
Red bad apple
Rot at the core
Lie in her jaw
Opens the door.
Athletic mind, fragile body
Alloy of cramp and rust,
Nor felt the shafts of cupids cart
Certain dawn, doubtful dusk.
The padlock of silence
Redundant here
Sanity goes for a swim
Me and regret had never met
Until I went for a trim.

Sunday, 13 September 2015

Six Sonnets of Living.

The first stir; swish in amniotic sea.
Blind wandering, driven by force unseen
Exploring the unknown, but ever keen
To crawl the distance, beat the tide; to be.
From side to side in ever growing circle
Cannot breathe, cannot shout,
Urging, pulsing, keep going! Get out!
Still tied to anchor knot of angry purple.

Defiant and screaming, man pushes his way
Into air, different now; the night, the day.
First breath, first curse, first piss.
First contact with his maker skin to skin
Exodus over, now begin
A pilgrimage of quest with mothers kiss.

Human bellows; all fellows need these to survive
Inhalation, exhalation, ventilation;
Gas exchange for all the nation
From sky to lung to tell us we’re alive.
A gasp, a pink inhaler, bagpipe drone,
Breathe in; breathe out, come and go,
Windpipes wide for ebb and flow
Of unseen force, a life support alone.
There’s many a ghost would welcome
Air to swallow for his own some
As a fish upon a grassy bank;
When your breath can’t make a frost
It is certain you are lost,
Then consider file and rank.

Symbiotic saddle with a stimulus
Never fires in total isolation
Partner in a brain fed congregation
Just as is a shower to brother cumulus.
As love is two way tower of attraction
That peaks and wanes like seasons ebb and flow
Feelings up above and down below
Convince us that we know of satisfaction.

What do we know of sensitive or sense?
Persuaded by fool’s gold or Peters Pence?
Does it make us human just by it alone?
Do we know or is it chance
That our instinct makes the dance
Or just a muscle playing with a bone.

A foot, an inch, a yard what does it mean?
Except the urge to make higher
A spark, a flame, or all-consuming fire
A seed of corn ambitious to be green.
Man cannot stand still, he must stretch
Grow taller, stouter, expand in frame
If he wants to stay in the living game
This growth is life; in every drain and ditch.

In time this growth will stall, and then contract
Little by little until the final act
That heralds the party in the great unknown.
And man must take his leave from here
No longer know the senseless fear
That shadows all of us while we have grown.

Perpetuate, reproduce, make a model just like you,
Mates and primates, birds and bees at dawn
Tenants of future in waiting nest and spawn.
Every cringing Christian, Kurd and Jew.
Survival of species most urgent drive in life
Copulate, stipulate, guarantee new batch of birth
Offspring to promote us when we return to dirt
As we will when reaper grimly twists the knife.

Love is futile, lust has thrust and focus
That delivers clones to petrify and poke us
Into oblivion, post transfer of seed.
The brief transfer from shot to quarry
The deed accomplished; no room for sorry
Perpetuation swiftly guaranteed.

If you don’t eat you don’t excrete
If you don’t excrete you die
A deposit on that dunghill in the sky
A decomposing pile of shapeless meat.
The pony eyed the miner in a pit,
“What’s the difference between his dung and mine?
That offshoot from the rear because we dine,
Mine is fertilizer; his is shit.”

Fallen grass and leaves, the trail of grazing herd
Coloured droppings of every deer and bird
The sods of plodding camel on the sand
All have useful purpose when they pass,
Hen’s droppings make a powerful potent gas
Man poisons what he’s taken from the land.

Friday, 21 August 2015

The Bridges of Abbeyshrule.


Where Malachy's men of brown and beads
Cistercian monks of cowl and care
Settled close by Inny's reeds,
Built a house of stone and prayer.
Segovia's echo, fifty five yards long,
Pick handle shiny, Paddy's spit,
To honour an English Lord Lieutenant
In Dublin Castle, not worth a Whit.
The bridge a balcony, banks the stalls
To river's never ending play.
By night a loving lullaby
Full blooded drama day on day.
Further east another bridge
Shell hump on the unhurried snail,
Either side peat lands; no roads
The Bog Bridge, untold tale.
Rex brought me fishing at Scally's Bridge
For throw back roach and spiky perch,
The quivering eel fried sweet in lard
In cast iron pan, smoking on birch.
Morris's bridge or is it Quinn's,
Straddle on Royal back so long,
A roundabout before it's time
Tuning fork for water's song.
Webb's Bridge is the silent sentry
Grey rainbow of the duck and drake
Guarding the sacred harbour walls
Public passway, local lake.
And heading west is Dreaper's Bridge
Where I knocked on keeper's door,
Idle the house, stolid the lock,
Keenaghan's here no more.
Roads and hills, paths and crossings,
Near Colehill of home and school,
In Bulfin's rambles, special places,
The timeless bridges of Abbeyshrule.

 (Dedicated to Turquoise who was a recent visitor to Abbeyshrule)




Tuesday, 26 May 2015

El Greco

Can the darkness burn the light
Can the phantom put to fright
The ghost of thoughts unsaid?
We must bury what we may'
Forget grief, avoid decay or
Irreverence to our dead.

I heard the cuckoo twice today
Echo, or one far away
Or was it two to one?
The country voted to be gay
The straw proposed to new mown hay
The moon lies with the sun.

El Greco heard from Titian
"Never show the people truth"
You cannot paint a soul.
Saints, savages, who decides?
Except the men who don't take sides,
Sinners on parole.

Doménikos defied,
And by this he almost died
In Toledo of the blades.
El Greco; Spanish stroke by choice,
They took away his voice,
Turned his heart to spades.

Lorca, Goya, Dali, Picasso,
Masters of the bristle
Still must stand and whistle after the Greek,
Never still defined, one of a kind,
Elongated neck and mind,
They know not what they seek.

Santa Maria, Pinta and Nina
Took Columbus for a cruise
With sail from Ferdinand and Isabella,
Never knew where he was bound
For all the world he found
New men of gold and red and yellow.

Columbus; a Venetian, Greco hailed from Crete,
Neither of a vein of Spanish blood.
Or Castilian Robin Hood.
In El Prado, take a glance at Delacroix
Schoolboy raised in France,
Remembered Valladolid, and the Greek who always would.

Tuesday, 5 May 2015



What’s what in this land of Cyrillic colours
And shapes of capes on Cossack and charger?
What colour are tears from eyes in this place?
The pale of the pure, the golden of grain,
Or the crimson on bloody lace.
I know the milestones of history here
Like all other places; just dates of wars.
Slaughter campaigns, sanitised names,
Skeletons driving burnt out cars.
Advances, retreats on land and Black Sea
Victors and victims like you and me
And Geronimo.
The past filled with Ottomans, Lithuanians, Poles
Where are the sanctuaries, holiday homes?
A gulag is no place to go.
Life is not linear but instant; now.
Great paintings of peace depict only death.
Where hide all the peace correspondents?
And bandits with plans for each vacant berth.
Do lovers still bask under alabaster moon?
Or rejoice with the sun when the clock strikes noon
In Saint Michael’s square in Kiev.
Does the bread taste the same, the milk and the game?
The honey from Ternopil’s flowers
On the banks of the Seret River above.
The leaders great warriors or mice with money
The people defiant and strong
Must the question be asked “Is this my home?
Is this where I truly belong?"
Who can withstand the three sided pressure
Of the gravitational field of power
Not shadows in a material world
Where seconds are splinters of every glass hour.
Ireland never knew the wrath of invader
Just dark strangers who claimed us as one of their own.
Told us the rules; where to live, where to die,
For their sins, we still must atone.
Another UK without the sweet Raine
A kingdom still ruled by a queen,
They have blackened our name, reddened our soil,
Yet each spring our grass still grows green.


(The Dnieper and the Shannon still run free)

Tuesday, 31 March 2015

Al's Place

I got an e-mail from Al,
Zheimer’s at dot eye e.
It read “you’ve outstayed your welcome there,
Now you must move in with me
For a spell.”
It read, “Consider your baggage carefully,
I don’t have a lot of land,
What you don’t need, leave behind
You must come hand in hand
with the water; not the well”.
I resurrected my valise and trunk
From the cobwebs in the loft
One to go, one to stay,
Hard decisions and soft
Down to me.
William Trevor is indispensable
Heaney, Joyce and Yeats,
There may be room for Mark Twain
Robert Frost, perhaps John Keats,
Or Robert Kee.
Mothers auburn hair must come,
The smell of ash and beech
Bubbles on a blackberry
The pinnacle of speech
on Attenborough’s velvet tongue.
Pain and regret must stay in the trunk
With all the failures, accounts overdrawn.
A myriad of wasted days and years,
Every bishop, rook and pawn,
Each hymn and psalm ever sung.
The words of honest men will fit
A pair of speckled eggs
One drop kick from O’Gara
A glimpse of stunning legs
On Jolly Angelina.
The voice of Leonard Cohen
The notes of Matt Molloy
The box of Sharon Shannon
The small unbridled joy
Of concertina.
Weddings, divorces, giving up for Lent,
I’ll leave these all behind me
With hypocrites fools and fakirs
Don’t need these to remind me
Of sins of the past.
Porter and gin, whiskey and rum
No room for that much trouble
Maybe a pint of Ratharney well water
Or the smell of a stew a bubble
After the fast.
Trade Unionists, usurers, teachers,
Politicians, rapists of the earth,
Will have no function where I’m bound for,
Better a handful of dirt
in my overnight bag.
My children as children I’ll bring
That way there’s room for all,
A panorama of Irelands face
From Dingle to Donegal,
One valley, one crag.
The Inny’s a must and Newcastle wood
The heavenly blackbird song,
Gaelic and soccer I can do without
As well as the two faced throng
At funeral mass, mercy lacking.
Lots of room for a smile, a joke, a kiss,
A strait flush or winner at ten to one,
The truth takes up little room
Now that I’ve begun
To start packing.
Angela’s mischief; priceless;
Shannon’s incomparable smile
Goes in the going bag
With Barry John’s unique style
Of hanging down his clothes.
The sea, the sun, bog and canal
Green grass, cerulean sky.
There must be room for these
To travel when I say goodbye
To the land of ‘I suppose’.
My glasses, China and Niamh,
Are tucked in my valise
Everything else left behind
Perhaps room up my sleeve
To carry ‘Amongst Women’.
I’m almost packed now, ready to go,
One way ticket in hand
Al will be expecting me
To join his forgetful band
He knows I’m coming.




Thursday, 29 January 2015

Here and hereafter.

Grief; the silence in the hen coop
when the fox has sneaked away,
Unless you believe in purgatory
why would you kneel and pray
For the dead body facing eternal life,
facing eternal death,
No one we knew ever came back
to tell us either way.
A commoner's oath is as good as a bishop's,
if a swear has meaning at all,
In church the congregation cough
and contemplate saints on the wall,
What else would they do when priests never work
and idle their lives away?
That’s why a conscience is singular,
that’s why we fumble and fall.
Wisdom and truth are not popular,
an ancient lie; a lie still remains,
If you die with your arse pocket full of sins,
nobody ever complains,
Except the forgiveness seller
with no money back guarantee
There is plenty of play; none of it fair,
still the doubt remains.
Do we face our maker, father or mother,
in limbo’s gravelled yards?
Are we face to face like a knave and queen
in every deck of cards?
Are we tossed in a bed of phantoms
like eels in a canvas bag?
Will a searchlight pierce the heart,
rending the soul to shards?
A cacophonous jay from a churchyard yew
is to be our matins song
No word of hell in the bible,
never the mention of wrong.
Only the ten commandments of man
to rule the unruly mob,
If you’re amused with the topical air,
why not chorus along?
The borrowed horse ploughs poorly,
Lean; the pigs in the neighbour’s pen,
The devil stars in the nativity play,
making faces at the three wise men,
Only successful prophets are remembered;
Nostradamus, Old Moore too,
The world is bedecked in fools’ gold,
the smallest lie is divided again.
Consider the state of the mind,
lifting the latch of death’s door,
Dreading the vista on the other side
losing sight of the moment before,
Death is nature’s way of telling us,
the time is nigh; slow down,
Are we “Crossing the Bar” like Tennyson;
is there really another shore?
When you’re amused and content with your dreams,
why would you stay awake?
Folly can be dealt from the hand of wisdom,
but do not wisdom forsake.
Only blacksmiths and demons, if demons exist,
know the secrets of fire,
What does it matter if you pass in your sleep
or are burnt alive at the stake?

Thursday, 8 January 2015

Newcastle Woods.

Newcastle wood in silent sleep.
Safe as secrets, buried deep,
Where bones and branches lie below
And only weeping willows weep.
Ash and holly, great oaks grow,
Beech on high, brush below.
Mottled hoof prints, fallow deer,
Squirrels reap what breezes blow.
My collie partner knows no fear
We wander pathways far and near.
Male blackbird of the yellow bill
Tenor to the untrained ear.
And I have stressed it in my will
To lie down there at Harmon’s Hill,
Jim Dillon’s ghost is watching, still,
Jim Dillon’s ghost is watching still.

(In the style of Robert Frost, the greatest man poet of America.)

The Hermit

He lives in the house of the cats on the hill
he knows the despair of a floundering flock,
A squatter, no mortgage, no conscience, no bill,
the slow hand of God, just the hand of a clock.
Choked in a harness of celibate white,
cloud patterns painted on canvas of sky,
Sings muffled psalms in the dead of the night,
Life on the ground still passing him by.
Still bullies and beckons and tiptoes around,
Cossetted child of sterile and flat,
Never dug the soil of the peoples own ground
yet still he lives off the fat.
All men of power are ruined, by failure to see
the vampire of wealth sucking money,
Yet each man must risk the sting of the bee
to savour the flavour of honey.
No road is leading from him to the people
who shod his horse and loaded his cart,
Knows only the lofty, the shelter of steeple,
Hard kernel of chestnut; his heart.
Are his cares of this world, his shadow a shrine?
Is concern overflowing his cup?
Is his song of decline as yours is and mine?
In a collar that never turns up.