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Wednesday, 31 August 2011

HEAVEN

Once on an aeroplane,
sandwiched between tops of clouds and blue sky,
I thought of saints as astronauts, free to fly
here, there, everywhere, anywhere,
to be sucked into orbit and then beyond,
across solar systems, unknown systems,
to God's place,
face to face,
and questions answered.

Tuesday, 30 August 2011

GEEK

You call me to bed.
"I'll be there in a minute.
I'm listing my CDs."
Choices to make,
I carry on,
blind to the only choice,
deaf to the sound of your voice.


Next morning I awoke
with keyboard impressions on my face.
I stumbled to the bedroom.
No one in my place,
no one in your place.


Things were missing.


No you.
No us.
No hi-fi.
No goodbye.

Monday, 29 August 2011

MICK JAGGER'S CHATEAU

The old potter told us
that Mick Jagger's chateau
was not far away,


so we drove towards
Poce sur Cisse in the hope
that we would find it.


We think we did,
squinting through some snatches
of space in a high, thick hedge,


a magnificent white building,
majestic entrance steps,
immaculately tended gardens.


But, alas, in our vain search
for a glimpse or two
of rock star action,


we failed to spot Mick
and we didn't get
no satisfaction.

Sunday, 28 August 2011

HAIKU SOUP FOR THE SOUL


8 at random:

a scratch, another
scritch, scritch, scratch, a noise duel,
mouse digs, writer writes

razor-wind, graveyard
colder now than the death-day,
feeling just as numb

with every splash
frog learns the joy of ripples,
the trance of motion

lightning at midnight,
for seconds darkness is lit
to confuse the ghosts

nerve-ends, confidence,
lacerated by the wails
of unseen banshees

movement in the sky,
restless to discover form,
clouds shape and reshape

jetstream vapours cross
like white swords in a duel
before dissolving

thinking I saw you
but blinded by winter sun,
I blinked, you vanished

Saturday, 27 August 2011

SMITHFIELD MARKET, BELFAST

The musty smell was wonderful, stale
damp, sour but comfortable and safe,
a sense of having been here for years,
secure for trade, exchange and sale.


Over two hundred years, day to day
buying and selling of farm produce,
hides, livestock, social and commercial
patter, agreements, prices to pay.


A quadrangle of single storey
shops filled the former open space,
where cows once stood, books, furniture, odds
and ends, mixed value antiques, hoary,


dusty with that thick seductive smell
teased and tempted the streams of browsers.
"I BUY ANYTHING" said Kavanagh,
McQuillan's "RECORDS TO BUY AND SELL",


Hugh Greer "BOOKSELLER" for well-thumbed
tomes on every subject known to man,
key cutters, scissor sharpeners, clothes
in heaps, as thrifty shoppers haaed and hummed.


The the fire in nineteen seventy four.
What a blaze, what sadness in the ash
as I rummage through my younger man's thoughts
for things new buildings cannot restore.



Friday, 26 August 2011

POSTCARD FROM SEAMUS HEANEY

I have in my possession a postcard reply
to a letter I wrote to Seamus Heaney,
a picture card called "Turfstacks on the Bog", an oil
on canvas reprint, sparse in colour, full of mood.

On the back, written in his own creative hand
are warm words: "Good to hear from you." Wonder poet,
icon of world literature, pleased to hear from me,
I mean, pleased to hear from me.

It's a fan thing, if poetry can handle that,
one small step from poet posters hung on a wall,
tee-shirts displaying stanza-bites, cartoon badges,
the urge to change my name by deed poll from Joe to Seamus.

I compare his words to my words, his career apex
to my learning curve, his control to my mistakes,
his quality to my quantity, his stature and humanity
in the often stuffy, snobbish quagmire of poets and poetry.

But with all the comparisons there are sparks
of hope and initiative for me to give him a run
for his well-earned money.  His is the job I want,
feet on the ground, head in thought, well-respected man.

It may be an Irish thing, some ingredient
in the blood-mix pumping the brain with artistic notions,
urging the crafting of words to express
delight and despair, malevolence and marvels.

I am looking for my own turfstacks on the bog scene,
some encapsulation of the roots of my work.
I can see an overloaded folder of words, none brilliant,
some good, some bad - but at least I'm in there writing.

Saturday, 20 August 2011

DANGER DOGS

Ever since I was a kid
dogs have changed the way I walk the streets,
for I will cross and swerve and dodge
to avoid the pants and slobber,
to sidestep any threat of bites,
growls, barks, canine aggression
from prim poodles to fierce pitbulls.


Ever since I was a kid
looking forward to growing in confidence, taller, stronger,
I declare failure in this regard
for dogs have made my journeys longer.

Friday, 19 August 2011

ALIEN WISH (Take Me Back To Fizzlepuff)

Take me back to Fizzlepuff,
to Cracklewhoosh,
where we can mungify
and slapmuzzle
until the ooble-oo
ackalays the clack.


Take me back

Thursday, 18 August 2011

BLITZED SQUARE

There used to be a cinema here,
a shop over there, a grand hotel,
ebb-and-flow people with normal lives,
a town's buzz, businesses doing well


until a droning in the night sky.
Bomber planes flying over Belfast,
left piles of rubble and burnt dust,
shocked people, whitened faces aghast.


I looked for you across the dying town.
I searched the brick heaps but you weren't there.
I found our street corner, now a space,
cried your name in vain across the blitzed square.

Saturday, 13 August 2011

BEST LONER AWARD

At last.
Thank you.
Thank you.
Thank you.


I am delighted,
overjoyed, 
ecstatic,
emotional.


I will start crying
because looking
in this bed-sit mirror,
I am lying.

Friday, 12 August 2011

RETIRED LIGHTHOUSE

The flash-nothing-nothing-nothing-flash sequence,
the slow spin of the giant heavy lightbulb
floating in a vat of mercury was once
the winking eye of God to ships
but now its a lumiere entertainment show
for tourists on coastal trips.

Thursday, 11 August 2011

WE WERE KIDS

The rule was "ever-who-hits-it-goes-and-gits-it".
More often than not we would get caught red-handed
by a rapid rat-a-tat-tat from her first floor window
or by Mrs Mac's loud shout of "get off my wall".
We were kids and all we wanted was our football.


We reckoned that her house was in the wrong place
next to our field and that it wasn't her wall at all,
she had just claimed it to spite us and spoil our game,
and that she loathed kids and hated seeing us play,
convinced we were there just to ruin her day.

Wednesday, 10 August 2011

EMPTYING DAFFODILS

It has been eight days since the gift
of flowers arrived from someone
who chose to remain anonymous.


Eight long days of wondering who
the mystery flower-sender is,
eight days dreaming, ridiculous,


Time-wasting, probably a prank - 
emptying the dead daffodils
with no one obvious to thank

Tuesday, 9 August 2011

STATIC TOOL

I would stand like a fisherman
with my hands positioned as if to clap.
My mother used me as a static tool
to help her turn bundles into balls of wool.


She had quick movements like a magician's
and tutted as the wool snagged on my thumbs.
"Not my fault, this boring job. Not my choice,"
came the silent whinge from my inner voice.

Sunday, 7 August 2011

LOVE (8 x Haiku)


last hours together,
your clothes folded perfectly,
my head in a mess

final kiss, last hug,
through the gate and you are gone
without looking back

criss-cross jet vapours
cutting through the bright blue sky –
I wave to your plane

the house is noisy,
not your noise but creaks and groans
of timber and ghosts

different time-zones,
Atlantic Ocean between
our past and future

photograph album
at arm’s reach, ready to browse
as a substitute

lonely single man
restless in a double bed,
missing your closeness

waiting for phone calls,
clinging to a bogus hope -
you’ve gone forever

TURQUOISE

I look ahead
up the gradient
to the hill top,
majestic, radiant,
follow the pure-white snow
and marvel as it changes
to turquoise.

Friday, 5 August 2011

McBurgerisation

Commercial tactics in the modern world -
the McBurgerisation of each boy and girl,
city centres have precincts and they're all the same
with customers as pawns in this cynical game.

Tidal waves of ads and marketing ploys
create gimme-gimme kids wanting gadgets and toys.
The erosion of culture and decency too,
the never-ending blah of the business guru.

Thursday, 4 August 2011

ODE (OWED) TO THE EURO

Single currency
common dosh
pros and cons
sense or tosh
present debate
future botch
single currency

double scotch

Wednesday, 3 August 2011

BUS TICKETS 1965

As buses slowed down to turn into the bus stop,
kids for a dare would hop on and undo the used
ticket bin flap and hop off to avoid capture
by the conductor.  Tickets flew out all over
the road like a brief snow storm as we were accused
of being cheeky wee brats in need of a wallop.

Tuesday, 2 August 2011

BUILDING A WALL

I work the pile of bricks, turning rubble
into the discipline of a straight wall,
building strength and pride into the rigid
block of bricks and cement, building it tall,
spirit level accuracy, eyeball
crisp lines of defence to keep out trouble.

Monday, 1 August 2011

PROGRESS

This day witnessed progress,
invention celebrated on a fresh, new morn
as he took delivery
of a hand mill for grinding corn.

"A quern', said the older one,
"two big, flat stones,
one with a hole and a wooden pin
to control the revolution."