“Follow your way” by blavandmaster is licensed under CC BY-NC-SA 2.0

You don’t have to agree

You don’t have to agree with me,
or your father.
You don’t even have to agree
with the gods.

The proof lies in your rebellion
against the power of the authority
that would lord over you
– if you let it.

You don’t have to agree with these few words
or what you imagine they mean
for your own good
– the only good you’ll ever have.

You don’t have to accept

You don’t have to accept
the sun in the morning.
You don’t have to accept
the stars at night.

You don’t have to accept
the scars of words
uttered in your direction.
You don’t even have to attend
the funeral of hopes you used to embrace,

nor love the company
of those who profess to love you,
of those who crave to care,
of those that breathe your name.

You don’t have to accept.

You don’t have to pay

You don’t have to pay attention
to wagtails, butterflies and magpies
in your garden
nor the song of newts, frogs and moths
– symphonic bedfellows.

You don’t have to pay attention
to the call of those who claim
to need your time,
nor the screech of mates, pals and kin
– major keys, minor discords.

You don’t have to attend,
to be present,
to what matters most
to you.

You have your way

You have the power to forget,
the right to deny.

You have the honour to refuse,
the right to be blind.

You have the breath to be echt,
the right to find

your way.

After the concession

After the concession

A black bird sits on a telephone line,

suspended between wooden poles

aged by water.

This is no day for tears,

no moment for regrets,

no time for tearing-out hair.

There are other black birds

and a seagull catching light

over the Northside.

There is a hill to descend

a twisting road

past cars

and fading disintegrating leaves.

There’s even sun in my eyes.

It’s easier to say nothing,

to notice the knot,

to register the wish

to lock the toilet door

and simply sit.

Oh yes, there’s reason to be thoughtful,

there’s always reason to reflect,

looking at clouds heavy with mist.

There’s always a will to inaction,

a will to ossify.

Black bird statues

behind a crooked spire,

the one with the lightening rod on top.

The off-licence shut,

the graffiti craves attention,

I see Aer Lingus was looking for my vote

‘smart makes the right choice

for Stateside flights this winter’.

The wounded leopard must go back for more food,

the thirsting camel must trek on,

the beehive must protect and cherish

and guard their queen,

even when forced to swarm.

This is no day for tears,

it’s a day my mother did her best to prepare me for,

and my father knew would come.

Remember Job is more than one man,

and black birds are ever present

whenever there’s a breath to be drawn.



A man I looked at twice

A man I looked at twice

I saw a man that reminded me of another,
grey bristles conjured up a face
I’d forgotten.

The forgotten put me in mind of the father
I’d lost, and that deathbed
brought back to life

the mother of my best friend
as she lay wasting
and the nurse checked the cathedra

made in a country where I’d visited
the Pied Piper’s adopted home
and fell asleep

in a single bed over which a portrait
of Saint Aloysius hung, next to the holy water font
replenished by an unknown agency.




I self-published the first version of this poem on my blog in January 2006