Putting 2021 to bed

Dear 2021,
I will write you out of my life.
I’ll erase you.
That’s what you’ve been good for
– practicing the art of expunging,
– an excremental year.

I will forget you
just as I have forgotten
sins of omission,
unsuccessful resurrections
and heaven on earth.

You had the goodwill of surviving relatives to contend with,
You’re a year infested with anti-vaxxers,
shadows remembered

January, grim god of beginnings,
all you were good for were continuings.
More infections than genuflections, some said.
Others uttered “we talked about COVID more than we prayed to any god”.

Years ago, it was Occupy Wall Street,
this year it was un-occupy offices,
un-attend water coolers,
empty canteens,
beware public houses
silence confession boxes,
cashless commerce,
“click & collect” your dose.

March, war god of misgivings,
you plundered Cheltenham, St. Patrick’s Day, and Spring.
Months blurred into labyrinths of advice,
conglomerations of congregations in conflagration.
2021, a confluence of administered vaccinations,
a mess.

It was my brother’s birthday in March, my wife’s in April,
what did we do together?

There was another “We”, without which you would have been too cruel to bear,
drawn from the highways and byways,
from landscapes and mindscapes,
collaborating continents of voices that spoke volumes
with respect for diversity of origin, accent and colour.

I remember golfers practicing their conversations.

I remember contests of conjunctives,
alliterations of ailments,
hyperbolic hyphens,
all the grammar of generations grown on service to others.

I remember the election I lost
and consoling myself
with the conviction that it was well worth
the risk of embarrassment.

I remember the summer of contentment,
when three days in Lahinch was a feast
for Founders Day.
When the certificate arrived,
it was placed between two showjumpers
– because I’ve been living with leg on and leg off,
tack to be cleaned,
boots to be polished,
numnahs and socks
and not once did I hear the farrier fit shoes.

Oh yes,
it’s been a year of desolation,
un-attended funerals,
cancelled operations
and the Health Service Executive
cajoling porters
carrying the burden
of woe-begotten branches of “test & trace”
home visitors and the protocols.

We had a North-South traffic jam,
an all-Ireland festival of futile hints
that one day in our lifetime,
the four green fields will be fertilised by similar slurry,
sustainable signatories to one constitution
celebrated in a land
where the common cold didn’t sneeze.

Toastmasters thrived
while others died.
If it hadn’t been for Zoom,
I’d have been a zombie,
zestless, zigzagging from Netflix to the Premier League,
paraOlympics to Prime or Disney
aching for Bambi’s mother,
Mother Jones or the Mothers of Invention.

It was a year for nostalgic initiatives,
“Let’s go play in the garden”
“Let’s go pray for a visit”
“Let’s find our way to forgive
those who refuse to worship at the altar of compliance,
the tabernacle of conformity
the monstrance of hibernation.”

If it wasn’t for words,
I’d have lost my capacity for breath.

If it wasn’t for commas,
I’d have squandered the opportunity for chancing my arm.

If it wasn’t for sentences,
I’d have lost my freedom to mix metaphors

How many operations were postponed?
Marriages postponed?
Lovers postponed?
For goodness sake,
how much sexual intercourse was postponed or sexted?
A virtual year,
a virtuous cheer,
certainly queer.

And, as I quicken to your end,
you morph
Omni Cromnivirus Maximus,
you token turd,
you blind bigot,
you sour-faced, singularly persistent,
bastard of bad faith.

I plant spineless pions
to punctuate your particles
with Pi times your pronounciating pronouns,
Gibberish, Gomorrah,

May you perish,
and reincarnate the bodies of the departed
as whole paragraphs of poetry.
May you accompany Dante
from the wood,
like a wandering proposal,
pitched to posterity.



I drank coffee over bacon and cheese
writing autobiography,
as easy to swallow as Rapunzel and Guinness.

The woman in a cream suit
shook gold earrings and munched
waffles from Idaho
soaked in organic maple syrup
with her mouth open

reminded me of my mother,
Paul, close your mouth when you’re eating.

I read the wine list
in the mirror
behind my back.
That was as difficult to do
as swallowing cod liver oil neat.

How many autobiographies live unwritten
within this life,
under the surface,
scratching for release
from Purgatory?

Am I lost in Dante’s wood,
or sunshine?
Is this Idaho real,
or escaping on the page,
a fleeting fairy tale?

I couldn’t catch her name.

I’m not creative

I’m not creative,

except in the sense that every human being is creative,

and, if every human is creative,

the word is fairly useless.

I’m not a creative writer,

except in the sense that every writer is creative,

and, if every writer is creative,

the word is superfluous.


I am simply

a person who writes,

a person who writes frequently

a person who writes in a certain style.


(I used to write letters every day and thought my letters were attractive.)


I’m cheesed off by the quantity of left-handed people who are ‘creative’.

I know the word has colloquial meanings –

people with original ideas

people who find brand new ways

artists, designers,

theatre, television, radio, film people

engineers, architects

marketing people

people who get their work exhibited

many more I can’t think of.

(As if dentists & grave-diggers weren’t creatives)


How useful is creative as a distinguishing word?

How often do you wish to say

you’re a creative person, a very creative person

and, by implication,

that person over there isn’t creative,

has barely a creative bone in their body’?

(I like ‘creativity means not copying

Feran Adria from elBulli said that)


When I write something people call creative,

I don’t know what they’d label ‘ordinary’.

I don’t know what criteria people use.

(I fear the lowest common denominator is ‘creative’.)


If I knew what standards people used

to describe a writer as creative

I’d understand.


The one thing I’m sure of,

I don’t dream of myself as a creative being.








Easter Passover & Resurrection 


I rose from the dead 

We’d all love to rise from the dead
and snatch a second chance
from the teeth of history.

Which of you would refuse resurrection
and leave the stones in place
until the winter breaks?

My death was cold
and stank of feces
left by swallows fit to glide away.

I never knew how long my death would last
until I rose again from the jaws of a mystery made
before the stars exploded

and the universe was saved.


Loving you 


Loving you 

Loving you

does teach me

day by day

how deep the blocks to love

within me lie.

Loving you

is worth all

mistakes and blind


born on my weakest side.

Loving you

is changing me

bringing out

twin creatures :

one dying to bond

the other to be safe.

Oh to be wrapped with you.

November 1997

Poem by Paul O’Mahony: “Life-saving anthem: I stand against the crowd

I stand

against the crowd

I stand out from the crowd

I am an individual





Awkward in my comfort

Edgy in my skin

Alive in my own little way

I live my say

I give the best shot I can

Every day.

I stand against the crowd

of wasters who fritter

their life away their way.

I waste my life my way

I fritter my days into

the oblivion I fashion

every step I say.

Because I am who am


Condemned to be myself

I stand out from the crowd

comfortable in my discomforting way

that comes from every pore

every sore

every score of my expressions.

It’s my art

The heart of my song

The liver that cleans my spleen

seen in all my glory every time

I stand against the crowd

Each and every difference





Understandable me.

See that fella

hovering on the edge

the one who isn’t fitting in

the one with the shifty eyes

the glint of his own

You can smell that he’s

An outsider

A weirdo

An awkward one

An individual


A body of imagining




Scheming to survive

The crowd

The collective view

The “what we all think”


I stand against the crowd

I stand out from the crowd

Away from the crowd

Proud of my own way

Fiddling the melody

Composed of notes

I’ve assembled from the crowd

Playing the game I’ve invented

The rules I’ve annunciated

Predicated on the shoulders

of giants who have fallen

in battle

Against the crowd

Castigated on shoulders

Of heroes that have died

For the cause of being


I reject the way of the crowd

Every time my heart pumps

Blood from the flat of my soul

To the peak of my imagination.


I will cause

Conflagration to

instigation of the self


Author of my fate

Creator of my faith

Born to be wild

Not filed away in a box

I defy

I stand against the crowd

That would

Categorise me

Classify me

Entomb me in place

where they could ignore me

where they could make me safe

from causing a splash

from making a difference

from changing

The course of history

The dreams of others

The Universe.

For such a cause

I stand against the crowd

I stand out from the crowd

to welcome you

Fellow traveller

Fellow awkward person

Follower battler

For your way.

For your way is my way too

Your way is yours

My way is mine

Our way stands out from the crowd

We stand against the crowd.

We stand up for ourselves

We stand who stand.

Against the crowd

Unto death.