Music cures

Poetry is music to me.

Meaning that every poem is a melody. It has its major chords, and minor key.




When I approach a poem, I get ready to read it aloud. If there are people nearby, I move away.

I want to taste the words, phrases, and punctuation as they’re uttered I want to feel the flow.

The syllables are like notes from a piano. Words are chords. Lines like bars.




The great poems have many movements.

They cure me of bad habits.

On the third day

There was still something to admire

Leaves yellowing

Moistened grass

An apple

holding fast to a Worcester tree.

The cat sleeping

Footballers from Mayfield

Hockey players in Garryduff

Jack Russells yapping on a sideline.

Red wine running out

Cabbage in curry

A sliver of Cheddar

Coconut milk from a tin.


Reheated & plonked on a plate.

On the third day,

There was morning and evening.

I don’t like myself this morning

I will own-up here. Give you the full facts (assuming there is such a thing as as fact).

After looking at WhatsApp, reading one message, and sending an audio reply …

After looking at emails that came in overnight, deleting all but one, and replying ‘ok’ …

I read the headline. The first paragraph. The headline, the news.

It sank in quickly.

I don’t admire the person I met in the kitchen this morning. I’m not proud of myself, my feelings, nor my thoughts.

I confess I had an evil mind. May my mother (RIP) forgive me. I must take responsibility for the flood of emotions I welcomed.

There was nothing noble about my hopes. Nothing honourable about my wishes. Nothing generous for breakfast.

Once upon a time, I wished my mother would break a leg, and be confined to bed for six weeks. I wished her no pain. All I wanted was for her to be incapacitated – so I and my friends could be free to enjoy ourselves without her rules hanging over us.

I may not like the person I am today, but it’s the second day of my birthday month.

A day to celebrate.

The 31 day birthday

He was overdue. A home birth. A first-born. His poor mother, she never complained nor forgot.

The centre of their universe, it took him months to realise there was more than one universe, because, in common with all infants, he began life on the outside feeling nothing but his instinctive desires. It never crossed his mind that there was an other.

He was only wanting.

From North Circular Road in Limerick to 13 Waterloo Road in Dublin to 54 FitzJohn’s Avenue & 10 Gayhurst Road in London to Bradford-upon-Avon in Wiltshire to Bath – and today in Cork.

You haven’t changed much” resonated – as he contemplated in the kitchen he shared with dog, cat, wife & daughter.

You’ve saught attention all your life. You’ll go to your grave (or cremation) still seeking even more attention.

He swallowed tea from a mug decorated with a rooster. It was tepid by now.

The blueberries on top of his moist muesli – fat, firm and fruity.

It was 1st of October 2020, a day to celebrate his ongoing maturity. “Others haven’t survived. Thank goodness some of us have.

Already he’d treated himself to a slow getting-out-of-bed. A bit of Twitter, Facebook, WhatsApp, RTE News, BBC News, and Social Audio.

A shower, shave, and fresh underpants – it was a day for distinctive action. He had a personality worth appreciating, and ruminating on.

However, he was shocked when he entered the kitchen. So wrapped up in himself that it never crossed his mind that anyone would take him seriously.

I was half-joking when I said this October was my birthday month.”

The person who’d sent the tall plant – that sat on the cream tiles – had blown him away, lifted him up, and left him blinking.

Is it plastic or growing? For me or my wife?” – as he fingered the giant variegated leaves, and stalks.

He ripped open the blue envelop.

Happy Birthday You Silver Fox” the card announced. ‘

There’s nothing to say

An empty mind, an empty space, nothing pushing to hatch. This is when I should write. One letter after the other, as if each was one step after the last one. It only takes one letter to keep going.

Thinking there’s nothing to say is a good way of stopping myself saying anything. Writing is the problem – words flow easily enough from my mouth.

Maybe I should speak into this laptop?

Maybe I should go get a notebook – a Moleskine. For years notebooks have been my companions. Often I’ve felt half dressed without one.

Which is worse? A notebook without a pen – or a pen without a notebook, napkin, back of an envelop, fag packet, a tablecloth. (I remember proposing marriage in a restaurant where I wrote the verse on a paper place mat.)

When will the apple fall from the tree?

When’s the time to put the green parasol away in the green shed?

Where have the small birds gone?

There are always questions, when there is nothing to say.

Leaders are Losers

Everyone I know is a loser – including my first wife.

My mother, father, sons, daughter, best friend, plus you & everyone you’ve ever met has been a loser

Donald Trump, Joe Biden, Socrates, Abraham, plus every single living thing that ever existed in the history of planet Earth.

If you think I’m over-egging it, you have the right to that opinion. You have the authority to stick to your viewpoint. You have the power to disagree.

I wager I’ll persuade you – (with inductive logic)

Manchester City lost last night. My friend Gearoid Murphy is gutted. Not only did his team lose but he lost his good humour. Last season he was a loser too.

Yesterday, my dog Louis tried to be friendly with an Alsatian. The Alsatian rejected him, Louis was a loser.

Thomas Edison was a loser. Eventually he became a winner. But after that he went back to being a loser.

Since birth, I’ve been a loser. When I was 16, I fancied Brigitte Bardot. I didn’t even make it to the races. I lose almost every time I try.

In case you think you’ve met a winner.


Note: The impulse to write this came after I heard the story of how Donald John Trump has been a loser for years, and, as a consequence, has paid no taxes for years.

Connections fail

Most connections fail. The contact ends. Broken intentions, disconnections abound.

“She put the phone down on me.”

“He didn’t reply to my letter.”

“My smoke signal went unanswered.”

“I lost your number.”

“I got lost.”

“The carrier pigeon met a hawk.”

“There was an hurricane, an earthquake, a volcano – and I forgot.”

“The tsunami sundered our prospects.”

Today I became unconnected. I lost it. One moment I was in full flight, rapport growing by the nano-second, smiles igniting all round the room.

And then she dropped me. Cut me dead. Zoomed off with her friends. Not so much as a funeral.

I tried to get back in touch with her. But nothing worked.

I thought we had a good thing going.

That’ll teach me to take her for granted.

When I reflect on my life

which is a dangerous occupation, I notice too much. Especially too much time lost. For example, this morning Roger Overall and I were scheduled to record the Business Jazz podcast from 09:30. As usual, every Friday morning, I was running a few minutes late.

Intent on catching up, making up for lost time, I hurried onto Zoom. Laptop booting up while I joined the meeting via iphone7. A man with two joining devices.

A man with no sound. The smart phone was quick, as usual. The MacBookPro slow, as usual.

Here’s how the time of my life, both of our lives, was squandered.

Silence. I couldn’t hear Roger. He couldn’t hear me. We were reduced to text messages. You can’t record a podcast via text. (Poor effort at humour)

Eventually, we recorded the podcast via Skype.

How much time was stolen from us by that unwelcome gift of silence? (Perhaps I am a better person for the unpleasant experience?). But it was a horrid time – so horrid I dare not remember, or calculate, how much of my life was squandered.

This is a theme of my return to blogging: remembrance of lost time. A la recherche du temps perdu – remembering Proust – and the time I was able to speak French well enough to converse (never well enough to be subtle with it).

The time I pause here – the time in between sentences, phrases, and even words – is purposeful. Gathering energy, clarity, and alacrity – that’s time well invested.

The time of my life.

Writing from impulse

Teeth are complex growths.
There are a lot of things that can go wrong with your teeth. You know that from experience, and when I woke up this morning I was aching. Top right, about half way along the row.

It was five o’clock, and dark. It’s a good long time since I woke that early and struggled unsuccessfully to go back to sleep. Imagine the rest…

Chances are you’ve been there. The human condition…

It’s the same with dogs,
Louis’s vet told me on Tuesday. “I wish every dog-owner would brush their dog’s teeth” were her words. I bought a toothbush and asked for instruction. The advice came free. Louis may have a troublesome back tooth.

Teeth are complex,
and mine have been fill with all sorts of things ever since my first dentist insisted every crevice should be drilled.

I’m impelled to touch on my teeth because the impulse to write on this topic came while I was saying to myself “I must embed this new habit. If I write here every day. for 1,000 days, I’ll do for the rest of my life. Probably.”

Start with what you know.
Was it Hemingway or Aristotle who first said that? I know what it’s been like to experience the pain fading away. It’s midday, it’s gone.

Should I rush to the dentist? Take my time? Place it in the box marked “Bad Dream”?


My MacBookPro (vintage 2012) infuriates me.

Not, used to infuriate me – not, infuriates me some times.

All the time.

It’s so slow it’s best for me to make a cup of tea in between keystrokes.

I’m not interested in complaining. Un-inclined to rant. Not given to bile. None of those tension-relieving releases does my emotional health good.

Where would I be without patience?

For the last two years my laptop has been a ‘godsend’ – it has been teaching me patience every day. Continuous coaching.

Be mindful Paul. Take it easy Paul. Breathe my friend. Stay calm, this is a gift of an opportunity to be in the moment, to notice your being – thoughts, feelings, imaginations. Watch your being float by – as if froth on a flowing stream of river water.

I’m fortunate to have such a lousy computer. It’s helped me achieve what I have achieved. Without it, I’d have achieved so much more that I would have been vulnerable to hubris. This bloody machine has kept me safe.

He’s done his job. Soon it’ll be good to put him out to grass, bury him with honours & relief.

And welcome his replacement. I trust she’ll have a smile on her face.

Unless I write this now

I may never write what I want to write now. So blooming obvious. So silly maybe. You see when I started blogging in 2005, I had an audience. I had one person I ‘knew’ would want to read whatever I’d write.

She wouldn’t bother reading me for another 25 years – that didn’t matter to me because all I needed was one human being. If there was one person interested, besides myself, that was enough.

I didn’t care who else read the blog. They would be welcome guests but I wouldn’t write for them. If I started writing for a wider audience I’d be distracted by thoughts that would slow me down.

My mother was still alive.
She wouldn’t even read my stuff and I didn’t mind that. My brothers & sisters, my wife, my ex-wife, my sons – none of them mattered. Of course they mattered. They might appear in the blog but I wouldn’t be worried about them.

An infant was the one person in the world that mattered to my blog. My daughter Grace who was born in August 2005. She was my audience. We were about to move to Cork Ireland. That’s why it was called “From Bath To Cork With Baby Grace”. Such an easy title to invent.

I was in Cafe Beva
in Glanmire this morning, talking with my best friend, talking about his wife. Her writing practices. They are a secret because I don’t want to run the risk that she might find out we were talking about her talent.

What matters
to this blog is that the conversation about one writer’s behaviour has influenced me to change – to stop not writing.

I don’t know who my audience is. It was easy in the old days, 15 years ago. I had confidence in what I was doing. I’ve lose that clarity. Whatever I wrote in that first iteration of this blog is done. My daughter knows enough of me that I don’t find it easy to imagine her reading this.

Without an audience,
I may give up. This may be a flash in a pan. A false dawn. Any appropriate cliche.

Who cares. The future isn’t here yet and I dabble in living in the NOW.

I’m not making time to add a photo to tart up this blogpost. I don’t care. I might do that later.

Your Field Of Dreams

I slipped onto the stage that Wednesday night,
our audience in rapturous applause.

I bawled my way into their hearts.
The Path I’d come was a long, nourished, winding road.

The midwife grinned, concluded her Service,
and tucked away her fears.

I was born to cry,
it was not time to speak.

If you’d known me then,
you’d have judged me unique.

My father, the bookseller, could not bear the pain
of reading my mother’s face
as she bore the body language and every laboured move.

My father slurped his pints, with friends,
in Murphy’s bar on Catherine Street
until he was turfed out
to meet me on another stage,
with Respect 
– before the cock crowed.

If you knew me then,
you’d have counted me (Eh) a child with Potential.

After that start, and before I came to greet you
I joined the club. Together we chartered “Excellence Born From Fun”.

You, my friends, you know
the way you came into the world of faltering phrases.

You know
the years at school were not enough to wipe the jitters from your heart.

You know
what it’s like to be married to Trepidation, to be caged like a tiger separated from her Confidence.

You’ve lived on stages and danced with clogs
on floorboards creaking for flight.

Today, of all days,  let us join together and thank the gods.
This online day you come divorced, divorced from the Demon Doubt
that on your stage once reigned.

Come here, dear friend, from every field of Earth.
Let us separate together
from a spouse that vowed the worst on you, that vowed you’d fail

and celebrate.

Un-vow that contract with Trepidation
It was made under duress
Annul the marriage of unlike minds
Cast off the shackles that hold your larynx tight.

Arise angelic audience
Arise and sing together the lyrics Smedley sang
Your “Song of Champions”,
Champions of the World.

You know what it’s like to be a flower born to bloom on stage.
Rise up
and Promise
Promise you’ll trust that sweet melody of Integrity 
that’s growing in your field of dreams.

The Cauldron

Let’s not go back through the whole story
– who was right and who was wrong
– who was trite and who was strong.
Let’s not chew the cud nor blaspheme
into the eyes of the other side.

All us elephants belong together,
no matter the weather,
even if we carry opposing memories
in trunks weighed down
with the affluence of a river stream,
weighed down under the influence
of our tribe of scribes.

Don’t you remember … ?
Haven’t you forgotten … ?
Surely it was a dream
conjured up in daylight
suffered by night
under O’Ryan’s belt
or Murphy’s plough
– the one she gave away
to her infant star?

Let’s not dwell
on the hell
of the big bang
our sides faced
in silence,
the vacuum of peace
and war of the worlds
we each imagine
the other inhabits.

We elephantine serpentines,
we cling to the underside
of the all-knowing
Red Admiral.
We think we know better than to rage
against the fading meteorite.

In the puddle of blood we dribbled
from wounds our flashpoint celebrated
there isn’t an ounce of virtue
There is time in space
all about a place
as warm as a teddybear’s tummy,
as soft as powder down
on a heron’s breast.

We are witness.

Let’s move on to the pale moon light,
and wake the characters within
a freshly scrubbed cauldron.





The year I changed

my mind, priorities, concerns –

2019 was the year

I woke up to the end of the world

as we know it.

The future of human civilisation,

the future of animal life,

the future of vegetables.

All’s lost,

all’s on its way out.

Earth smiles knowingly:

off you go, you upstarts,

I’m tired of your foibles,

I recall the good old days,

when you lived on plains,

in villages,

hand to mouth.

Even your first fire was fuel.

Goodbye to ugly habits.

I love being Earth,

the future is bright

half the time,

The stars will illuminate

the way to dusty death.


The year I turned a corner

and bumped into my shadow

going the other way,


the art of resurrecting.


This has been the year I matured

into the light of a river flowing

with the voice of bones

creaking and cracking,


There was gin in the bottle

crying out for a taste,


at room temperature,

as the ice melted,

as Greenland peeled back her corset,

and the emperor penguins cried their way

towards their end.


The year I stood up straight

in storms, hurricanes, typhoons, tornadoes, famines, earthquakes, floods, lightning, thunder, droughts, volcanoes, collisions, crashes, massacres.

I’m living among refugees –

the people of Monasterevin, Carrickmacross, Oughterard, Moville, Rooskey, Ballinamore, Borrisokane …

The Laboratory Way

Copernicus was struck by sun

Galileo toiled on speed

Newton was premature

Darwin sailed to sea

All knew apoplexy 

Hawking a singularity 

Turing cryptography

Einstein messed with relativity

Aristotle lost his bottle

Let’s go to the Laboratory

Mix the chemistry

Let in the sun

Our failures breed us fun.

Communities are Conversations

We are collaborating

Communities are Conversations. Conversations attract Collaborations. Collaborations change Communications. I have noticed strong communities are nearly as strong as poems fit for purpose.

In this day & age, and in this place & stage, the melody of metaphors, allegories and similes is the best way to cut through cant. Unfortunately for many communities, the gestation of the foetus is done, the birth of the Individual has come. Recently …

The Magician turned her back to the sea and spoke to the Wind:

Come join us in our unity. Take your place at the table, you belong among us. Together we grow stronger than our surroundings. We rise above the ground that supports us. Feel yourself hugged by a multitude of villagers eyed with affection from every squinting window. Come inside your birthright, and sign the book of your life written in invisible ink. Let us understand you better than you understand yourself. Let us guide you past the temptations that fester under your skin. Let us make you whole. Our health, your health, Your health, our health. Unity in unity. Lose yourself in magic.  Speak wind, speak our language.

The Wind spoke:

“You touch me in every orifice. Your smell invites me into your cave. I see your shadows beyond the fire where I was forged, your reflections on my mind.  Have I the right to resist, the power to deny, the authority to cry ‘NO’?  I shall not be bent into shape like a plashed hedge” whispered the wind.  This breath is not for turning. You can keep your unity Community. I’ll be no village clone, I am grown to live alone. I belong to a grander table, better fed, vulnerable as the weather, fragile as glass. I am an elementary particle. Call me Neutrino, I am so small I pass through your imaginations unimpeded and undetected. Surely you see my city, Diversity. May you understand yourself so poorly you sink slowly from your throne. I am the Authority authorised to sing louder than your choir. That’s what you mean to me.”

And the Wind blew the Magician into her sea where she went in search of a victim weaker than an Individual Gust.