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Monday, 31 October 2011


All his graceful contours were clear,
features distinguishable under mildew stain,
no more than slightly eroded by millenia
of sun, wind and rain.

The statue, no longer standing erect,
if it had ever stood at all,
lay flat on a bed of grass and herbs,
almost merging with a nearby wall.

Who or what it represented is lost,
no inscription, no hint, no date,
a work of art on a hillside slope
long-forgotten in this supine state.

I thought of the craftsman who chipped and carved,
the time he devoted to perfect
this monument to somebody or something,
now lying here without much respect.

A lesson to artistic creators
who write, who paint, who play,
we are not as important as we think we are,
but then it's not for us to say.

Saturday, 22 October 2011


I heard this literal comment:
"It's raining cats and dogs."
My face went white, it was a fright, 
a shock, I was agog.

What if it rained giraffes,
orangutans and mice,
rhinos, horses, cows and sheep
t'would not be very nice.

What if the forecast said:
"Watch out 'cos there will be
grizzly bears in blizzards
and drifts of chimpanzees."

I realised the nonsense
of this silly fantasy,
so I lowered my umbrella
and a hippo fell on me.


This poem was written in the mid-1970s as a reflection on the so-called "troubles" of the time

Shot down
oh my God
why him
why anybody
and I will bring him flowers tomorrow
today stops
tomorrow begins
Ireland is awake
sits on the bed
looks in the mirror
counts the blemishes
walks to the bathroom
and prepares to make the best of another day

Thursday, 20 October 2011


Lying on the floor for protection from the gunman outside,
my mother started to pray aloud to give us all comfort,
a shield from the danger of ricocheting or rogue bullets.
The sniper was shooting at soldiers, using our wall to hide.

Heartstopping, deafening clunks and bangs attacked our nerves,
repetitive rifle discharge and reactivating sounds
interwoven oddly with Our Fathers and Hail Marys,
as she prayed hard, almost begging, calling on her faith's reserves.

Wednesday, 19 October 2011


He sits, staring at his drink or maybe beyond it,
eyes fixed on something, someone, sometime,
undisturbed by the bustle and chatter around his table,
by himself in a crowded pub at lunchtime.

He sits ramrod-straight, face shielded by a cap's peak,
preferring to be lonely in this busy watering hole
rather than alone in the solitude of his bedsit,
choosing noise he can ignore over silence that eats at his soul.

Tuesday, 18 October 2011


The day the cat
swallowed cash
was not a cause for pity
for after all
the end result
was money in the kitty

A cat chap
had a mishap
with a cat flap
due to back slap

Our cat married
a ball of wool
because he was totally smitten
and very soon 
they were blessed
by the birth 
of a newborn mitten


Many years ago, outside St George's church, Belfast,
the autumn wind as cold and cutting as a witch's stare,
two men digging the road fell back in shock-surprise
at the sight of two unearthed skeletons lying there.

Whatever happened, no one knows the truth, 
facts blurred by changing seasons eroding time,
but one had a dagger clasped tight in his bony hand
and stories were rife of a wicked, gruesome crime.

Monday, 17 October 2011


In one place, Saint Brigid at the head of the table,
poets, blacksmiths, healers, dairymaids and cattle herd,
midwives, newborn babies, gaunt, exhausted fugitives
gathered to see a show, a fantastic miracle to behold,
to help weaken the danger and its threats,
to abate the rot of pestilence,
to quell the raging storm of each sea,
to share love and strength and compassion,
to bond diverse thinkers and thoughts with one saintly word,
to withdraw from the grim doom of the impossible.

Sunday, 16 October 2011


Reach out, take down that book of adventures
and remember what you could have been about,
what you could have done in times before old age,
before ambitions waned and surrendered all to doubt.

Rescuing a maiden from marauding bandits!
Plunging the flag of victory on the peak!
Discovering new islands on epic voyages!
Finding every treasure that you seek!

Page after page of quests and expeditions,
you as narrator, the hero of the day,
you get the girl, the fame, the adulation
the classic idol of the matinee.

But it's all too late, the years have stacked the odds,
chances gone to live a life fulfilled,
you doze and dream but nothing ever happens
you cry for the ambitions time has killed.

Saturday, 15 October 2011


Version 1:
a hundred and ten
Las Vegas Boulevard roasts
hot but also cool

Version 2:
a hundred and ten
Las Vegas Boulevard roasts
hot but all so cool

fat guys beat rhythms
with 'girls direct' business cards
the soundtrack of sleaze

Bellagio show
choreographed fountains dance
liquid vaudeville

fifty per cent off
Elvis, Rat Pack souvenirs
bargain bin glamour

at night brightness burns
by day this desert city
rests the neon lights

Friday, 14 October 2011


I shared a carafe
with a giraffe
we had a laugh
a laugh and a half
we walked around the Cenotaph
avoiding the riff
avoiding the raff
it must have looked completely naff
zoological staff
and the zoo's giraffe
on a London walk near to Traf                          algar Square

Thursday, 13 October 2011


The calmness of dawn, birdsong,
darkness fading up into light.
I'm at the window, coffee steam visible
as it rises like a friendly spirit,
good omen for a good day ahead.

The screaming motorcycle on the by-pass
and the police car siren in its wake
invade these rare moments of quietness,
peace, perfect peace, a luxury near extinction,
a notion dying, not quite but soon dead.

Wednesday, 12 October 2011


After putting petrol into a diesel car,
I had no choice but to wait in a lay-by
and consider my stupidity, the inconvenience,
and then I saw a kestrel in the sky.

I leaned forward, chin on the steering wheel,
twisting my neck to look through the windscreen glass
and watched the leisurely bird, free and untroubled,
hover before swooping towards nearby grass.

Here I was, hapless, trapped in a broken car
waiting for a breakdown truck to arrive,
envious of this pirate of the air, unrestricted,
uncomplaining, with a sole instinct - to survive.

Tuesday, 11 October 2011


A yell at Eagle Point in the Grand Canyon,
"Rattlesnake!" We stopped, turned about face,
our sightseeing on hold as a ranger ran
to the steps of the gift shop, hiding place
of this unexpected but always expected guest.

This big guy with a long stick and deep container
gently created some dust, no fuss, no commotion,
until the snake emerged to be lifted by the stick-end
and dropped into the bucket in one smooth motion,
applauded by gaping tourists, in awe, impressed.

The snake, released a hundred yards away, was soon gone
and we were even more respectful of the ground 
we were standing on.

Monday, 10 October 2011


They spent nearly two weeks hacking
away at the huge and healthy oak tree
in their immaculate front garden, 
six doors down from me.

Another neighbour said it was roots,
growing under the foundations, a threat
to the stability of the building.
Chopping the tree down with no regret

was their obvious answer. I would nod
at their red faces as I walked past,
puffed cheeks glistening with sweat, looking noble,
middle-aged but, as lumberjacks, miscast.

Then the inevitable day, the tree had gone, leaving 
space where once beauty had been allowed to thrive.
Nature can be a nuisance in the suburbs,
and we only miss it when it's no longer alive.

Sunday, 9 October 2011


A short-nosed spiny anteater
and a long-nosed spiny anteater
and a platypus
sat in a pub
perplexed by their exclusion
from the local beauty club



strong wind in the trees
impersonates ocean waves
nowhere near water


An education of little nods here and there,
words of encouragement, nudges,
unexcitable teachers, firm but fair,
muttering approval - "you're doing fine"
- "keep up the good work".

Occasional scowls and stares
from the blackboard to the rows
of small wooden desks and chairs
- "behave" - "concentrate" - "now, now"
and we did as we were told.

No shouting, no drama, no backchat,
we knew our place in primary school,
the status of the grown-ups,
the finality of their rule.

Saturday, 8 October 2011


Charles Dogends, classical scribe
was subjected to critical diatribe.

Nobody liked his novels of late
including one called Oliver Straight.

In addition to that, more are the pities,
was his veterinary flop Tails Off Two Kitties.

And another example of his writing crimes
was the story of cooking fat titled Lard Times.

He misjudged the mood with a collection of scribbles
and his Easter Carol brought many quibbles.

Not for him then rich literary pickin's
so he bent his pen nib and cursed "What the Dickens!?"


Out beyond the balcony railing,
beyond the bowling green,
beyond the beach,
the sea hushed in ebb and flow,
the sunlight adding a glitter show,
as seagulls bobbed in gentle air,
majestic flyers, debonair,
out as far as the horizon's line,
I claim the view as solely mine.

Thursday, 6 October 2011


Poets have got their words out,
hip, hip, hip hooray,
poets are have got their words out
on this National Poetry Day.

If you're not a poet yet
don't sit and mope and cry
just get a pen and paper
and give a rhyme a try.

Poets have got their words out,
on this National Poetry Day,
poets are have got their words out
hip, hip, hip hooray.

Wednesday, 5 October 2011


There was nothing left for the sun to burn,
nothing for fire to destroy,
nothing left but ashes and soil
and what was there can never return.

There was no more breath, no more life,
no signs of anything moving around,
except the dust in ghostly swirls
and breezy wails the only sound.

There was nothing left to identify,
no epitaph to carve in stone,
who worked this land and what they did
will never, ever, ever be known.

Tuesday, 4 October 2011


Through high and savage blades of swaying grass,
a man with razor cuts and scratches wades,
dragged by a dog snapping at nothing alas,
just elated by fresher air, no barricades
of kennel walls and fences to constrain
the wildness in his sinews, blood and bones.
The man with scratches winces from the pain
and cries aloud to curse all he disowns.
Once ambition strained his guts and veins,
family and career combined a slog,
but now he is in summer shorts with stains
of grass and blood, condemned to walk the dog.

Monday, 3 October 2011


This fun poem was written during a very boring stage in my young life when I was an office clerk - sometimes time dragged and imagination headed towards the surreal.  One day I stared at a calculator and...........

0, 1 and 9
decided on the plan
to make the great escape
but they need helping hands

3, 6 and 8
were happy to connive
and they managed to convince
2, 4 and 5

After much discussion
with a serious harangue
7 with reluctance
joined the numbers gang

In the office lunch hour
from a crack under the plus
the digits made their getaway
minus any fuss

Sunday, 2 October 2011


They trigger happy memories,
of cooking mainly,
stewing meat and vegetables,
frying sausages and bacon,
roasting beef and other joints,
simmering broths and sauces,
baking scones and apple pies,
even over-brewing tea on a low gas.

The smells of materfamilias.

Saturday, 1 October 2011


I offer you sugar.
You give me a stern look.

I offer you full cream.
You clatter down your cup.

I offer you biscuits
You stand about to snap.

I offer you an apology.
You leave and slam the door.