The rain was downpouring on Monday evening.

Cork city centre was dark at 7pm because black clouds hung low. No one was outside on Oliver Plunkett Street.

I certainly wasn’t. I was warm and snug in the Hi-B, halfway into a pint of Guinness. Myself in the corner next to a couple who were leaning into each other.

I can’t resist eavesdropping. A habit from childhood.

Why have I never told you you have wonderful teeth?”

Thinking about it “could anyone resist listening in to that?

She said nothing at first, as if she’d misheard.

Your teeth are precious.

I saw him cross his ankles & tuck his legs under the seat. He pulled back from her eyes smiling.

How do you mean … precious?

They sparkle, so white. I’ve never seen teeth like them.

In all my fifty plus years paying wrapt attention to the intimacy & frivolity of others, I’d never seen anyone woo anyone by complementing their teeth.

It reminded me of the teeth poems I’d written when I was working for the National Trust.

The cleaner who changes her toothbrush 47 times a year…

The father who manages on two brushes a year…

Sounds like you fancy my teeth?

That’s not all he fancies, I said to myself.

Diary note No 18 – Matterings

What matters most to me now?

Not these days,

Not this week,

Not today.



  • The evaluations I was given last night at Carrigaline Toastmasters Club, especially the points made by Deirdre O’Mahony (no relation)
  • Brexit
  • Another cup of tea in this kitchen
  • Seeing my brother Peter
  • Visiting my son, grandchildren & daughter-in-law near Guildford UK
  • Cutting the grass
  • Completing the work on Swedish Higher Education for Eoghan O’Leary
  • Another cup of tea.
  • Which poem will I introduce & read at Blarney Tosstmasters this evening
  • A second cup of tea

The attraction that lasted


I fell in love with the nose that nuzzled near the nape of my neck,

her fingertips touched mine on Baggot Street bridge that night in May.

We walked with electricity between us.

I talked to myself about the way she spoke through lips I longed to lick.

You could say I was attracted to the ambiguity of her personality, the style with which she tickled my boxers.


I grew familiar with her nose.

The fingers lost their tips.

When the Sun came up, the electric light dimmed.

I got used to talking to her.

The summer sun sank below the mountains, below the plain, lost from sight.


The Fall moon peeped from behind clouds, drawing the tide, going and coming.

Every Night, Dawn, Morning, Day, Afternoon, Dusk, Evening,

every Cycle of Life.

she came to me, to the house of my youth, slipped into me with an ocean wave,

flickering, feasting, flowing.

I married her blue eyes,

and we all lived lively ever after.

How’s your swing?

You wake up on the golf links, as you do every day.

You tee off as soon as your feet touch the ground.

You have no idea where your ball is going to land – you pray for a decent lie.

You may find yourself buried in a bunker, up against the face, without a stance.

There’s also a good chance you may have rolled into the middle of a fairway – you may be sitting pretty.

Otherwise, there’s always out of bounds, a water hazard, ground under repair, even a hole in one …

You’re not in charge of the wind.

You don’t control the slope.

You can’t command the bounce.

You may even lose your ball.

Wherever you are, you are not lost, you have your clubs, and another ball.

No matter where you lie, you have your swing – you always have your swing.

No matter how desperate your position, you will have another shot.

There will be another ball to strike, another hole, another round to play.

You just have to keep on swinging your clubs, and playing the ball in front of you.

You will finish the course.

You don’t have to keep the score.

Cork – City of Sanctuary

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Marshlanders of the World,
Asylum seekers from the Wars,
Boatpeople with seawater and the nation’s welcome port;
Sturdy, hardy, chattering
City of the Big Stories:

They tell me you are desperate, and I believe them, for I see your bloodshot eyes plead for sleep and peace from death.
And they tell me you are starving, and I believe them, for I hear your children howl for a bowl of rice, a tablespoon of porridge, even a saucer of tripe and drisheen.
And they tell me you are dying from thirst for friendship, for an arm outstretched ready to pull you ashore and wrap you in swaddling clothes.
And having scraped together, I stand against the crowd that scoffs at this my city, as if they offer a better bed to beggars:
show me the city of your dreams with choirs singing Hallaluia at the docks proud to hug strangers with fire in their eyes,
flinching from complaints, yet carrying on the twisty fight against the lethargy of liars, the hard-of-hearing heads that resist irresistible grace;
cute as a hoor those occupiers of property that lockout migrants from hell, stitched together with courage fit for humanity
planning, restructuring, re-building
Under the fog, tears dribbling on cheeks, smiling with dimples,
Proud to be making history smile to children of the street,
Smiling loud through blackthorn and brambles, out into lanes and alleyways
Laughing with the laugh of the Lough and the Island and the Well where sparrows nest
Clasping travellers, boldly, loud in honour of half-dead strangers found abroad,
Proud Marshlanders, a safe harbour for ships, a market safe for the whole world, heart-makers, soul-shifters.
A City of Sanctuary.


Cork City Council support 

City of Sanctuary Movement

Places of Sanctuary Ireland

Invitation to launch of Cork City of Sanctuary Strategic Action Plan on March 29th 2019


If only Picasso had podcast

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If only Picasso had podcast

from a smartphone,

on his palette,

Guernica might have had more impact.

Women and children might have brought Franco down.

Picasso might have screamed

“The Luftwaffe made paint cling like barnacles to this bloody canvas”.

Le noir, blanc et gris

Das schwarz, weiss und grau

The black, white and grey

The bull and the horse


These may be episodes from Season One,

recorded in a Paris studio.

As it was, Pablo did the best he could,

to spread his message

like a virus pulling subscribers,

reproducing itself,

seeping into the ears of a few strangers who watched him work.

If only Picasso had podcast,

and shared his sweat on Twitter,

his voice would have gone viral,

Guernica would be alive

wherever massacres matter.