Letter To A Soldier

what are you looking at soldier? what business is it of yours? you haven’t even slept inside Knocknasheen camp. tents dripping with the same water your grandmother drank, way back. ice at bedtime. crystals for sleep. you’ve pitched your tent. before you went home to snuggle up with a yellow hot waterbottle full of blue from the squalling cloud. what’s the point of interrogating you in county clare, under cratloe woods? there are monsters there. buried under the minefield. if only the men-in-tents, behind the wire, knew when there’d be time to masticate your secrets. no dogs or cats to huddle with, inside. no hugs or touch to dilute the night. quintessentially pathetic. empathetically immovable. whose birthright? where have you buried the houses, the logs, fireplaces, under-floor heat? the limerick leader suggested your parents invited your birth. inhabitants in the camp invited to freeze, and free food. what are you looking at soldier? did you hear the question? how deep did it sink into your wounds? what business is it of yours? warrior for refugees. you are seen with arms, folded now. they used to be fond. you exploded with the scent of love. wrote lust letters to kyiv, odessa. crimean tears watered fruit trees that never blossomed. from inside the tents, scrutinised. from trench-mud, proudly begged, like the rough smelly body on o’connell street at noon. why are you looking? it’s not your business now, surely. after sleep, you’ll be back soldier. statue. your mouth ready to fire missiles back, take out drones, tanks for tents. itching to fire your pen. alert. chattering for freedom. shattered. worn down by fitness to serve desperados with the courage of your convictions. conscious of conscience. considering whether today’s the day to enroll as a conscientious objector. the cold won’t linger, will it? soldier, welcome back. how was dinner for you?


I will remember the year.
Ukraine survived
Rasputin’s curse.
Moscow central:
tanks, troops, terror
into houses, homes, hospitals
into schools, shops, ships
amputating the land
obeying the command
of Grendel’s cabal.

I will never forget my ignorance –
how my faith
led me to trust
Mother Russia, Gorbachov’s legacy,
seduction by MacDonalds,
and the gas.
Shame on me,
mea culpa.
I failed to believe the intelligence,
predictions, forecasts, warnings.

I was too smart for my own good.
I didn’t remember Crimea.
I have nothing to be proud of,
I slept through 2014.
What good was that war?
The Crimean War,
“The Charge of the Light Brigade”,
imperialistic glory,
another empire
glorified and defended.

“Bless me Father, for I have sinned.
It’s been eight years
since my last confession.
These are my sins:”
Blind – to the pain
Deaf – to the cries
Dumb – too voiceless to fight
for the integrity of your homeland.
I was cavorting with earthworms
the day Crimea fell.

Russian Orthodox
sanctimonious stooges
of Rasputin’s regime.
No heaven for Ukraine,
only hell.
Belzebub at work.
I’ve been a disgrace,
a disgrace to my mother and father.
They had Hungarians to dinner
on Christmas Day.

Short trousers on,
across the table, in Limerick,
I saw strangers
and brothers in one,
conjoined in solidarity.
He carved the turkey,
she passed the plates
to God’s children
worthy of everlasting love.
The cock crowed three times.

Ireland, silence.
“It will never happen here,
in Europe.
Didn’t we have the Nazis?
Haven’t we learned?”
Chicken Ki-ev,
How do you pronounce Kyiv?
Vladimir’s Mecca
missiled, starved, frozen, flattened, bombed, burnt, killed, refugeed, droned, wrecked, obliterated,

mud, trenches, shells, graves, amputees,
Dulce et decorum est …
It is sweet and fitting to war
for one’s country.
Moscow smiles,
the dachas warm,
swimming pools of vodka and champagne.
More boys to throw into the special military operation,
more mouths

more guts,
more coffins,
blankets and pillows for the other world.
Let them go loot and rape,
in the breadbasket of Europe
in wheatfields,
in the eyes of infants, schoolchildren & pets.
Isn’t it easy to smile
surrounded by sycophants?

I will remember the weather,
the sun,
the fires,
the drought,
the melted ice,
the desertification of holiday homes
for a few days.
Forever, I will remember the six million
crossing borders,
looking for helping hands,

succour, shelter,
food, friends,
fleeing from freezing cold.
and the pleasure of gonorrhea.
I will remember the dead,
my naivety, ignorance, and safety,
insolence and impotence.
I will not forgive.

November 2022 – Day 5

 “WEEKENDS are sacred” in the eyes of the RIVER.


Springboks are here. 

How did they travel from the south?

Coracles, currachs, gigs, paddle boats …

On the back of a bird?

“Arriva Aviva”. 

The point of watching is to practise counting the points.

Rugby is headache.

Midges’ heads manage to swarm 

without tough tackling

“We will be doomed”
unless we COP ourselves on.

Irish Times headline:
Another trauma coming around your corner.
Cassandra whines, 
she knows,
risks speaking-out
after catching Gretta
on the wind

According to that infallible crowd-sourced authority,
dooming is glooming. 

November 2022 – Day 4

It’s too late to change the way.

Even the moon has moved on

and the occasional star imploded.

Such is the secret of eternal strife.

It’s too late to remember the way

the beginning began with a raindrop  and a puddle, 

the way it always has.

As if a merry-go-round mattered,

as if a smile could make up 

for all the sins,

for all the fragments. 

In a nutshell, the end may be already beginning. 

As STONES cried, “All will be revealed – in due course”.

November 2022 – Day 3 (part 1)

Wake up.

Smell the rotten eggs.

Listen to the missiles.

Feel burnt, 



Continuous improvement, 

permanent revolution,

infinite pain

– the ups and downs 

– the ins and outs 

– the far and wide:


“Word Of The Year” today.


Once upon a time,

there was an illusion 

that assumed it was a TRUTH,

while living in a dreamworld.

Like three little pigs, 

Illusion was the one that smiled
– butter melted to sugar in her mouth 

Confusion, the silly pig,

Disillusion, the vicious one.

Houses of barbed wires,

houses of foolish fashions,

houses of blocked arteries. 

Not much talk of NFTs.


November 2022 – Day 2

The second mystery of the melody 

is no poem.

The improbability theorem states:

“A mystery always repeats itself

until the end of Time, 

when all is revealed

to be inside-out.”

Do you know 

Alice in Wonderland picked her nose,

scratched the hare’s ear,

and was dealt a royal straight flush?

Alice “Winner of the Penultimate Hand”.

You might well wonder what happened 

before the final whistle,

the last over,

the penalty shootout.

After the inkwell imploded,

the pen paused, 

and the heavens opened.

Patience …
the tale has barely begun.


What rises, is alive and never sleeps? 



November 2022 – Day 1 (part 4)

The Path to Ukraine runs into West Cork.

A plan to raise the bar, and drink a toast,

was hatched while zooming with a knife and fork 

that shaved black ice, and broke into the host. 

Who’d swap their seat around this RIVER bank 

for half a loaf of time or tide before 

the end conspires to start anew with frank 

exchange, with heart exposed to soul like yore? 


Begone sweet doubt, uncertainty beguiles

the fool that rests, while hedgehogs sleep beneath

the fallen leaves of oak and ash, the trials 

of our winter begging respite, a wreath.

We’re all Ukranians from far and deep,

a measure and a half, too proud to weep.

November 2022 – Day 1 (part 2)

The Barn 
“I was born in a barn …” 




“I am the RIVER.

I dance

the dance of a thousand eyes,

the ballet incarnate,

the paso doble personified,

I tango through the hard times,

like a squirming earthworm

seduced by a chrysalis 

copulating with one of its own kind

We rivers lust for sea. 

November 2022 – Day 1 (part 1)

Once upon a time,

before the EARTH was born,

there wasn’t much to think about. 

There were no feelings,

no wars,

only explosions.

No worms, grasshoppers, spiders, bees, crickets

disturbing the peace. 

No Ukrainians, Moldovans 

No Cork. 

But there was SILENCE waiting for wind,

and a voice. 

This is The VOICE,

The Voice that lives.

I must go down to the Crawford again

I must go down to the Crawford again,
to the flowering fields and the food,
where the taties grow and the paintings flow,
where the artwork tickles the mind.

I must go taste the bread again,
the kidneys, marrow, and tart,
where banisters lead your taste astray,
and visitors walk in free.

It was Meat and Potatoes seduced me in,
the smell of paint down Opera Lane,
a butterflied leg, and seeds of the hearth,
no lonely hours within.

The children, they have their space,
one wide, wide place for play.
The boy with the Cork earring,
and BLT for tea.

And to the powers that be,
the nation’s customs, your art,
storytellers gilding the heart,
entrancing the earth’s energy.

I’ll return for the kidneys again,
for Doran’s sweet, brown sauce,
longing to lick the plate,
a persistent return that’s great.

San Antonio 51

There was hope
They crossed the border
A chorus of joy
The discomfort worth it.
The water gone
Hunger setting in
Bodies weakening
hope still high
A better life beckoning.
Children crying.

51 dead
Roasted flesh
Thirst boiled
The container of death
Jose went first
The doors to life bolted.
Relief from hell.

Drivers tired from the journey
Want to go home
Abandon the truck.
Time to go home to Netflix,
An ice-cold beer
Air conditioning,
A hug.
And collect their fee.
Release wives & children
from anxiety.
Ready to live a longer life
than the cargo they fled in the oven.

Golfers at work

When the sunlight’s burning hot,
and geckos come out to bathe,
golfers drive straight to shade
of the parasol on the veranda.

When it takes the patience of drying
paint to settle the longing
for a double espresso
with boiling water on the side,

there’s time to embrace the rough, the double bogies, the lost balls, the unplayable lies, the bunkers that await
the adventure of the first hole,
and the prospect of that hole-in-one I can’t afford.

The clubhouse in Palmares
looks over the water hazard,
the Atlantic Ocean
flat as the undulating green of the second hole.

There are too many books

Once upon a time, the Earth was cold.
There were no books.
In a twinkle of time,
the multitudes grew hot
with opinions, options, and paradigms.
there are too many books for you,
and there is global warming.

Books broke the back of the Word,
scribes begat scribblers,
illuminated manuscripts gave birth to maps,
travellers told tales of other words and worlds,
and now
there are too many books born and buried,
too many stories circulating.

Go into your local bookshop
on O’Connell Street by the Shannon River.
Indigestion guaranteed.
The only medicine a microscope
to browse the molecules of wisdom
that revolve in a particle of your imagination.

You are sharing the heated earth
with marks, words, phrases, lines, paragraphs, pages, chapters, volumes
– numbers incalculable –
like stars crying out for attention,
as if minute lights might shine your path,
as if the affection of your orbit
was craved by mysteries of an expanding multiverse.

There are too many stars for you to follow,
too many stories.
You will burn yourself into a black hole
if you consume all the particles in your local bookshop,
all the wisdom crammed on shelves
arranged for your salvation.

In the beginning was the Word.
They procreated the earth,
the world,
the matter that matters,
the sunlight that burns through fog,
and longs to peter out
before the books return to rest.

The way verse is written.

Light as a feather that fails

to excite the hippopotamus

in my mind’s eye,

Blind as a bat that breaks

whenever it strikes out

in my baseball bowl

So do the words

through my tongue

Into the microphone

Of my desire.

Green with damp,

Drizzled down

the neck of the verse.

Weathered the space

between gestation,


and dimples.

The way a dung beetle

saves civilised & uncivilised



High as a kite that soars,

slips and slides on a draught of thin air.

Low as a blow from a black bird,

from a messenger

that delivers tidings,

from your mother’s,

mother’s mouth?

She had her own microphone,

her own mouthpiece,

her paragraphs.

Light and blind,

High and low

Hippopotamus and hippopotami.

It’s the way verse is written.

Engaging Humour

In case

you think I’m being funny,

I wrote to the Easter Bunny

asking for the egg I forgot,

and you know what I got?

It was too big to eat,

hardly much of a treat.

I gave half to the cat,

who’s already too fat

and a chunk to the dog

as we went for a jog.

So when we met the vet,

she was cross as you get.

I said I was sorry,

She said not to worry

– today.

That’s all I have written.

The chocolate’s hidden,

until after the speech

when you won’t hear me preach

Friends, Romans, Toastmasters,

lend me your tears …

I never wanted

to excite the cat,

bother the dog,

get a pain in my tummy,

trying to be funny

chasing the bunny


but I’ve started this Path

before running a bath.

I’d love a matchmaker

to help this icebreaker


without any more fuss

come across humorous …

I am a disaster,

in search of a plaster

to cover my mouth

so I don’t need to shout

cover up what I said

so spare you the dread

you’ll fall from your chair

and mutter a prayer

‘We all did love him once

not without cause

if only he’d pause

and stop being a dunce.

As for the rumour

he’s given to humour,

You can pull my leg

about the Easter Egg.

Even write to the bunny

you think I’m not funny.

A Good Friday

I bet you Confucius said 

every day is a good day

or did I read it was on Rumi’s  mind

that “every day’s a day for the good life“?


The local s

Legionnaire peeled off his armour

“They pierced him, 

I saw the nails driven in.

The whipping drew blood,

so did the thorns.

And it was good while it lasted.

Some good guy propped him up 

after he kept on falling down the hill. 

‘Twas good sport

– crucifixions are good for the spirits.”

The brother in the toilet woke,

sat up, sloshed back red wine.

“I loved the way the blood dripped down

‘Twas was a good Friday,

a very good Friday,

well worth remembering.

Even the clouds were black with thunder.”

“So good to hear him chatting with Gestas and Dismas,

vagabonds and vagrants.

A good guy,  suffering fools,

off to have a good long nightfall.

I hear he he promised them a good long heaven

before he kicked his bucket…”

“I heard it said he died for a good cause,

and his crucifixion was a good day for all the people.

Wasn’t it good that at least a smattering of tears believed him? …

swear he saw their grief as good…”

“They certainly didn’t believe he was a good sacrifice to the gods. 

‘Tis a good thing for them they thought him good…”

“What a bloody good Friday,

a good send-off. 

Imagine living your life  looking forward to the good life…”

“There were good-looking women there

having a good cry,


while the centurion stabbed him with a good sharp spear,

a sight to behold, 

a sight to be told

on one of the best good Fridays…”

The lads got pissed that night.

Maybe it was Confucius and Rumi who said

“suffering’s good for the soul

on a good Friday.”