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 


“Prayer” – new poem by Paul O’Mahony




They said they’d pray for me,
warmed and discomforted me.

Pray for us sinners” echoed
Get down on your knees and pray
in pyjamas by the bedside,
after I leant on the drawing room sofa
reciting five decades of the rosary
every evening
looking towards the fireplace, coal box, chess books and bibles.

Now mother’s accepted she’s the one who’ll do the praying.
No more pushing, she’s done her best.


To pray
is human.

My friend with cancer wrote
“I’ve prayed for my health and yours,
five times a day,

A hummingbird whispered
Surely you can say ‘I pray for you’
Shame on you.”

Like a guilty child I stumbled
May your heart be warmed by the love you give to others.
(I wish I’d added “… and yourself.“)


By the river that washed the soles of Bernadette
I rebelled:

Every step of my way’s a prayer
offered in hope,
in thanks,
in celebration of tickling mysteries.”

Now I stand in prayer, warm and discomforted,
my way, this day.


I promise

I promise

I will always act in what I consider to be your best interest

I will keep my promises to you

I will respect confidences you place in me

I will speak positively about you to others

I will strive not to embarrass you in public

I will alert you or seek your permission before publishing something about you

I’ll go on promising until the day after I die.

I promise I’ll be without promise from that day on.

You see I was once promising:

I had a promising future my mother said