Black shoulders, white earphones,
she sits on a wooden stool
in the ‘Internet Centre of Excellence’
on Winthrop Street.

Blends into a smartphone,
consuming power,
like my dad consumed TV,
sat by his books
in Fort Mary.

Her fingers fit for a keyboard,
carrying a library
in the pocket
of bleached blue jeans,
sipping water
from a SuperValu plastic bottle.

Frank O’Mahony smoked a pipe
in a drawing room,
sat in an armchair covered in faded flowers,
never blotting a book, straining a spine,
creasing a corner, ripping a leaf.
Father sold books.

Eyes glued to screens,
consuming stories,
liquid crystal married to tubular light,
pathways to wider worlds.

They both wore brown shoes.

There are stones

There are stones
in a rushwork basket
by the fireplace
in my living-room
on Whitehill.
from the side
of a sea
they were subject
to tides.
they lie
on top
of each other,

There are times


There are times

There are times the rain
is so heavy, and the cloud so
thick I can hardly see.

There are times the dark
is so choking I can hardly

There are times the words
are strangled in my throat.

There are times the pain
grips throughout, and I
am completely at its mercy.

And there are times when it’s
much worse than that…

Putting the bastard 2016 to bed

Every year’s a bastard, and every breath drawn in celebration serves but to fool players into premature revelry.  Some kin to light, some kin to dusk. ‘Tis only in dreams afterwards that I swallow the fuss and regurgitate, thrush-like, through humid hair and a throat rasped with stuttering conviction. Throw up those names. Release each from hope. Let their legacy abide.

From January to May, brutality made hay. Released from Ministry, I flourished under the weight of Melissa’s warm voice, hour by hour, and stayed solid long enough for tablets to prove their fragile relevance. No longer dying to wake up dead. No longer dying to wake up dead, I saved Periscopes, wrote down the food Depression served. Exercise is the curse of the despairing classes.

Enough of this shyte – before I know it, I’ll be composing narrative thrash. In the beginning was the sentence – the phrase of life. What doth it profit a Paul if he gain the whole world and lose his pencil.

Reborn among cherries in Michigan, festivities in Logan Square, and a river cruise through the City of the Big Shoulders.

Bastard verse: Lost Love, Prayer, Dear Reader, Lines Written on the Birthday of Walt Whitman, I am a Wood Frog, From the depths of Hell in Summertime.

Wild Geese redeemed the lot. Where would I have been without Mary Oliver, or  Mary Oliver, or Mary Oliver. Whitman may have been ballast – but Mary was my sail. Dreams, Holes in my Heart, Lost.

At last Il Paretaio – Tuscany – horses – the World Champion Ice Cream (champagne & grapefruit) – Sienna rather than Piza.  And then there was Charlie the pony – or was it Ashley the Princess?

It was a year of schools.  From Eglantine to Scoil na nÓg – from Hitchmough’s to Hyde’s – from one teacher to another. Bastard learning. Gin & Tonic. Taking the Mick.

And all the time we were basking in that Summer of Content , a Buffoon gave birth to bile, Brexit came to life – 20 years a dripping . Drip, Drip, Drip – the light went out on Little England  and Little England coughed its way, multiplying cells, an Empire on its last legs. “Leave, Us Alone” – “Give us back our toys“.  You can all rendezvous up your je ne sais quoi. Gute Nacht you coal & steel mongers. Our David, Your Brussels. Fuck Goliath. We have no need for manners – now that we have a Wall for President.

Oh yes, it was exciting to return from the Dead to abandon Dante in the cesspool of Buffoon Trump Tower, feet on putrid ground.

Let’s ignore Aleppo and tweet the Chinese out of existence.  Let’s sit in Blackrock Castle Observatory Café promising to meet again for Xmas lunch.  After my dearest wish has spawned an Age of Extraneous Inebriation, after Leonard Cohen has sung “Resurrection” to the tune of “Retribution“, cleansing the pallet so it’s ready to Stop All The Clocks and arrest Midnight before it strikes the gong for the Ascension into the Great Heavenly American Beast the Cute Hewers love to imitate.

In case you think Nebraska Alaska Montana Louisiana and Lisdoonvarna rule the Universe, I predict there will be Breath in 2017, there will always be an Aleppo – even if there will also be a Coalition with an Enda intent on hugging a Pope.

A bastard mongrel beauty – a #goodcountry waiting to be found.

Born in Aleppo

Born in Aleppo 

I come from a small place in between Paris, Nice, and the Hinterland.

I was born in Aleppo. 

I had friends there. 

Some had shoes, 

others rice. 

I don’t know what most survived on.

I was talking to Charlie Hebdo.

He said  ‘you’ll have to laugh your way through all the hail,

you’ll die many times before Aleppo.’

I believed that line. 

There was always a cat,


ready to pounce  

with a hungry mouth.

Cats are drones. 

One of the girls lost her mother to a cat. 

We were all born in Aleppo. 

It’s as if we came from Africa 

drawn to die 

on the bank of the River of Martyrs

before the smiles reached us. 

In the air  there is a sound 

In the air there’s a sound

reviving and bound

for the inner ear,

a note sketched out

below a rug floating

there about three ages

removed from the pages

strewn with grooves

barely crowned.

Words are majesty

regal tenants of the well


Utterances as dances

vowing to work


Places for space and space for places

names that an age back

meant more than nostalgy

Inventions from an page

of cloud cover

blanket-wrap,  infant howls

The wage earned in deep preparation

for entry

along the narrow passage you never remember

except in dreams. 

The thrush has gone away 

The thrush has gone away.

At the very least, the brown wings

have not returned

to weigh down on the branch of the blossom tree.

The rose that rambles over the trellis

is abandoned 

and vulnerable to the vagaries of wind.

At least when the feeding mother lets her weight

bear down on the thorns

there is some stability,

some attention holding the structure.

This may not be a heavy hand, or even a reliable hand,

but it’s like a listening ear, an attentive embrace of the neck,

a something that relieves the waving flowers

of having to stand on their own.

It doesn’t have to be that thrush,

a wagtail caress would be sufficient comfort

to remind my rose

it is never truly alone.

Extract from the diary of Joseph of Arimathaea (Thursday, 16th May, 33 AD)

… Birds fly
flap wings to rise high.
No human being can lift off
under their own steam.

A dream of a mountaintop,
clouds handong off,
sun lying low in a fountain of shadows,
we’ve come to witness the ascension into Heaven.

The sect gathering  for the send-off:
Jesus is going home
under his own steam
– handy transport, transmigration of matter.

But what if it all goes wrong?
He blows up on take-off?
Remember the teacher
Whatshername – Christa blew up after 73 seconds.

No one’s considered the consequences
of debris falling to Earth
Heavenly waste.

Everyone’s standing round waiting for something to ignite
the proceedings. The final farewells.
A lifetime of teaching
generates a multitude of pupils.

I’m the Health and Safety Officer,
the sod who had to make a Risk Assessment,
had to  make out COSSH sheets on water jars
– all because there’s a chance he  might turn water into petroleum spirit.

I’m in change of safety – hah hah,
in charge of “innovative flight events”,
single man assents without a net,
here to ensure no one’s hurt in the slipstream.

Who’s thought to commission a recce of the landing-zone?
Who’s been looking ahead and asking “how safe is it to land in Heaven?”
Typical – so long as the integrity of the risk management system is vindicated.
What do we care if Acts of God intervene!

The Council’s insurance doesn’t cover Almighty interventions.
The ‘best value’ analysis doesn’t call  for consultations on ascensions.
There’s no best practice notes governing what you do on a Thursday
with a small crowd on a remote hillside.

Not one person believes this could open the floodgates.
Who expects trips to Heaven to become fashionable?
Who is thinking ahead?
Why should one tired, approaching-retirement official carry the can?

Jesus, I can’t even get to the man,
he keeps disappearing,
Ah – hah – enter the dragon, eleven henchmen and mother.

Looks like we’re going to see some action,
countdown to eternity.
I admire the way he’s going first, putting himself on the line,
leadership in action.

Wish I’d thought of bringing the video.
Nothing like being a witness
at the first ever manned flight into Heaven.
Christ, it’s one small step for man.

One giant leap for Mankind…

First Thoughts


We play on each other’s stages

to music we can’t hear,

sound out an echo

into a strange new background.


We meet each other in the familiar

and miss one another in the weather,

speak in diverse tongues

of pictures we’ll never complete.


We sound alike on the street,

on the top floor of the bus.

At the hairdresser we are all blown dry

and we all shed skin.


That’s where the story ends,

the adventure begins. The day starts

with the mass rising from sleep.

The joints connecting again.

I Love Women

I love women

I admire women
I am jealous of women

I am enriched by women
I have been saved by women

I love the shape of women
… the flaws of women

I am infuriated by women
I love cooking for women

I am irritated by women
I despair of women

I am tickled by women
I write for women

Women have made me a man.

Oscar Wilde ‘The Ballad Of Reading Gaol’ on UK National Poetry Day [31 minutes]


For years I’ve wanted to read “The Ballad of Reading Gaol“.

On National Poetry Day in UK (6 October 2016) –  I did it.


Irish Water


Irish Water
“Water, water, everywhere,
And all the boards did shrink;
Water, water, everywhere,
Nor any drop to drink.”

I ramble thirsty as a shroud
from pub to pub and by the riverside.
Paddy Power in sight,
sure I’m right tight
– a death to chasers coming.

(Fresh demand in post,
investment dear,
to plug the pipes that leak rainfall.)

In search of a drop
to quench the thirst
to wet my whistle,
cad a dhéanfaimid fasta gan báisteach
translated into water charge
hailstoning on showers.

(Taxpayers used to annexed wages,
consumers used to value added tax )
Now an extra fee,
you pay more for a slash
extra for a poo.

Water water,
never had so much
to squelch & welsh.
transparent pain, expensive rain,
we conserve you with pleasure,
and hurt pockets
where suffering’s egg is spermed:

I gamble boldly as a sect
that floats on high
o’re tombs of Micheál Kenny.
We Ourselves roll back the stone
and bury both alive
before the cock crows thrice.

As for the whiskey,
we drink it neat
until the Republic sings
the song of wandering Bacchus
from the ocean of the West.

People who have no imagination

People who have no imagination

‘Twas wet outside the RDS in Ballsbridge,

under the bus shelter there was light against dark outside.

It wasn’t that I had no raincoat

(I’d saved money on showers)

nor the 2,016 strides to the Summit pub

– it was strangers-in-want that held my attention,

the black and the white

Mozambique and Mill Street,

Marrabenta and Riverdance.

They were talking in pauses

and the back of her hand brushed his sleeve.

I bet neither of them remembers

the advertising placed by Adshel.

I was the only  eavesdropper

with tickling drops of Irish moisture

massaging my humour.

You might well say there are “people who have no imagination”

but certainly they weren’t waiting for a lift.

A note to my mother – August 2006

Dear Mum

If I simply say ‘you’re the best mum I’ve ever had‘,
you’ll know I’m in touch with previous lives.

But you’ll deserve it – because you brought us up
to think and duel with words, and look beyond

to the next time when I shouldn’t be late, or break
House Rules, lest you and I would give and take

for hours and hours – so I would learn and yearn
to be my own person – as is your way.

Hello Grace

31 August 2010

Hello Grace,

Today is your big day. Your first day at what you call “big school”.  And you’ve got so big.

A tiny little thing in Mummy’s tummy, the smallest little creature ever born.  

This is the day you popped-out here to say hello.  And you brought a lovely little smile into my heart. It was the biggest little dream I’d ever seen.

You were a baby on this day, five years ago you came to stay, and you’ll never ever go away from me.

Because I love you like a star, you’re above me from afar, and this day’s another step in precious life.

There’s a slice of life you’ve eaten, a sweet you’ve partly touched.  But today you’re ready for another.

You’ve grown up & up the tree, so there’s more you now can see, I’m so happy you’re off to school  – as if ’twas really cool to jump into a green swimming pool.

Your uniform is green, the best you’ve ever seen, it’s a thrill for you to carry all those books.

You’re birthday’s also here, so you’ll never forget this day, it’ll be pink & gold across your mind.

There’s a fluffy little dog who’ll wag his tail, he might even bark goodbye
as you climb into the car.
You’re a star for everyone, as you set out on these steps,

but it’s your life you’re leading now, and I trust you’ll take a bow.Because you’ve done it big big girl, you’re the one who’s ready now,

you’re the leader of your life on every day. There’s no more I want to say,
I simply want to cheer you on today.  

May your teacher, Miss Nalty,  also turn into a star, and show you lots of lovely things that all ring true. 

May your friends be right beside you, every step along the way.  Together, may you love the school as much as any party.

It’s your birthday.
It’s your schoolday.
It’s a way, it’s a play.

You deserve it,
let’s observe it,
you’ve the nerve for all that is to come.

Welcome to this day. 



This was first published on my blog on 31 August 2010. I don’t want to lose it. It means a lot to me and might mean something to her one day.