Sunday, 1 December 2019

Glad

I am glad this time of year,
I am glad it's nearly done,
I am glad to stop and breathe,
I am glad when drummers drum.
I am glad to have managed,
I am glad that we are here,
I am glad to look forward,
I am glad for a new year.

Though I am glad I'm slowing,
I'll be old in time,
but I'm sure it will be glowing
when I look back and revise.
I've been lucky in my life,
I married a good man,
I hope that luck holds tight
because I've got future plans.
I had a golden childhood
with parents that were great
if my children feel they had it good
then that will ice the cake.
When it's all gone
and I make known
a wish for younger days,
remind me kindly
I can't, quite rightly,
have it both the ways.

I was glad for every year,
I was glad that we were safe,
I was glad to live in peace,
I was glad when coursers came,
I was glad to have a home,
I was glad for mountains wide,
I was glad for children grown,
I was glad to be alive.

Friday, 1 November 2019

Midí Bhocht

Here is told a story sad,
of arán and im and, of course, ham.
A petrol station is the scene,
and the year is twenty and eighteen.

Ár mbanlaoch is homeward bound,
lena fear chéile and the clann.
It's late and she is well aware
her fridge and cupboards are wholly bare.

A twenty-four-hour service shop
draws our travellers for a stop.
Ham sandwiches are all they need
They are aon ní if not easily pleased.

Na seilfeanna trom le ceapairí:
Sicín tikka and jalfrezi,
egg and turkey and even jam,
but not a trace of a slice of ham.

This máthair then tells her fir
to order at the deli counter.
Alas, what's left is stinky tuna,
there's no-one serving, tá sé dúnta.

Back to the shop with our Midí,
she's hatched a plan, íosfaidh siad.
She buys a pack of unsmoked ham,
butter and a white sliced pan.

Starving now, payment taken,
they all collapse down at a table.
Construction starts to feed the troops,
only to be told they can't use their food:

"No chance, because of health and safety,
no way," the raised voice of the lady.
Agus so they sit there, blanky staring
at the béile they had been preparing.

On this mother, lán le dread
to a kiosk that fills rolls not bread.
As for liamhás, they do not sell it,
so buttered rolls were then requested.

Behind the desk the server swooned
Níor chuala sé riamh rud so rude.
How offensive to be asked for butter,
this customer must be a nutter.

By now the family are way past ocras,
Midí takes five rolls not stuffed up.
Seventeen euro paid that night
for a family dinner of arán bone dry.

And so to end this sorry scéal,
An almost unbelievable tale.
of bia so varied in one venue
that butter and ham is off the menu.

(Explanation: You would be surprised at how little artistic licence was indulged in here. This poem is very closely based on a true story told to me by Midí Walsh.)

Tuesday, 1 October 2019

Shoestring Haiku

Ready for action
Now she can tie her laces
Up another step.

(Explanation: When my daughter, Sadie, learned to tie her shoelaces it made me think of all the things she doesn't need me to do for her anymore).

Sunday, 1 September 2019

An Séasúr

Tá m'iníon bheag níos sine
beagnach críochnaithe deich mbliana.
Nuair a thóg mé abhaile í
bhí na sméara dubha lán 's aibí.

Tá na sméara dubha arís ann,
mar a bhí siad nuair a thosaíomar clann.
Cuimhním gach Lúnasa
an séasúr mo chéad naíonán nuabheirthe.

Thursday, 1 August 2019

Silent Garden

A pale blue night
in the silent garden
brings my eye to heights
before silhouettes descend
to underscore eerie paths
back at ground level.
Dark corners reveal
what the daylight hides.
I act like I don't see
the cat at the far end,
we both decide
just to pretend
so as not to lose the way
of hard won time
at the end of the day.



Monday, 1 July 2019

For A Dime

The Child Of Pragues are staving off
the rain for the fêting of
the man who wants to build walls.
There are freshly stained benches
matching freshly stained fences,
and a stars-and-stripes merchandise stall.

Boards prepared for treading,
with the cast all at the ready
for the open air performance of all time.
But the theatre's so grand it blocks
the town's natural beauty spots
and all that could impress the cultured mind.
In one character's aside
he pompously denies
the threats to biodiversity.
In his sililoquy he notes
how easy 'tis for him to quote
that there simply is no emergency.
There's no hint of any sentiment
about the plight of emigrants,
our own on so many foreign shores.
And it seems that the decisions
rowing back on rights of women
are met with flags from a discount store.

At the interval a choir trills
of loving sinners not their sins,
of the land of the free and of the straight.
They sing of white supremacy
and strict religiosity;
the most important banners to yet wave.

The babies that were ripped
from their parents' breasts and hips
are scripted but as parasitic pests.
And above the stage fire
there's a gun that's been hired
to give the desired effect.
Above that again
are props that represent
trophy heads so cruelly obtained.
The backdrop seems to promote
entitled men who kill for sport
and entitled laws of an entitled reign.
In this scene there's a priest
with a set of heaven seats,
an indulgence he can grant for a dime.
No such guarantees
for his local parishees,
they'll have to serve their time.

The drinks and the wool
are being not expertly pulled
by the wolves decked out in sheep's robes.
The controlling of the strings
and the understudying
is by the emperor with no clothes.

(Explanation: Early in June 2019, Donald Trump, and members of his family, paid a visit to Doonbeg in Co. Clare, Ireland. Having followed the coverage I can only say I felt embarrassed to be Irish when I saw how the people of Doonbeg turned into Trump sycophants. 
When interviewed the locals seemed unanimous that Donald Trump's hotel in Doonbeg brought so much employment to the area that they owed him the worship.
There are other businesses in Ireland that are foreign-owned. I know of one in particular in a village in Co. Waterford, which has regular visits from its French owners. And I know firsthand those visits don't send the whole village into hysterics.
I can understand the people of Doonbeg choosing not to stage protests, but I think they could have just gone about their business as usual.
And don't get me started on Fr. Joe Haugh promising the Trumps their places in heaven. In my opinion, this behaviour just cements Doonbeg in the Middle Ages.)

(Update: Mike Pence is due to spread more of the Trump infection by visiting Ireland next week, on 2nd September. The most polite thing I can say about that is, "yuck.")

Saturday, 1 June 2019

A Life's Work

Hopes and fears
summed up
in a calcium
spiral cup.
A life's work
left to us
who inherit the earth.

Just one story
left by the snail,
that leaves only
beauty in its wake.
Slow and steady
from growth to empty,
life is art, art is plenty.


Wednesday, 1 May 2019

The Derry Air

So many sets
of many songs
of life and death
and rights and wrongs.
So many contests,
none so rare
as where commenced
The Derry Air.

How much has been
of much regret
of what they've seen
and can't forget?
So many people
not to be spared
to live and breathe
The Derry Air.

All that's done,
keeping time,
all that's sung
and made to rhyme.
So many dreams
like Creggan hares
still run free in
The Derry Air

(Explanation: Journalist and author, Lyra McKee, was murdered in Creggan, Derry, Northern Ireland, on 18th April 2019, she was 29 years old. I had never heard of her before hearing of her murder and now I know she stood for everything that could be good about Ireland and Northern Ireland, freedom and equality.
The Derry Air is a tune used by a number of songs, for example 'Danny Boy'. Its origin is unclear but it is an internationally recognised tune. It is used as a sport's anthem by Northern Ireland when victorious at the Commonwealth Games.
The Creggan White Hare is a song about a hare that eludes hunters.)

R.I.P. Lyra McKee.

Monday, 1 April 2019

Dearest Uri Gellar

Dearest Uri Gellar,
in the stainless steel dimension,
I submit my open letter
to implore your intervention.
My husband talks all year
about the cutting of our grass,
and though that is extreme
the worst is yet to pass:
Sunny days will dawn,
and that means he will go
to his beloved lawn
to mow and mow and mow.

I've marked out the perimeter
with shiny polished ladles,
I've caged that bloody lawnmower
in a slotted spatula cradle,
I wait patiently every night
for my husband to sleep sound,
then I put teaspoons on his eyes...
So I've prepared the ground.
I've become a nervous wreck,
so please send me a sign
that you'll keep the grass in check
or control my husband's mind.

While you're at it can I have
a new car and clearer skin,
a conservatory, a ball of cash
and a marble-counter kitchen.
My daughters said to ask you
for a pony and a pool,
they've spent their pocket money
on a set of silver spoons.
Theresa May is not receiving,
so why not focus on my plea?
Or my husband will be leaving
every Summer for Tel Aviv.

(Explanation: Just when I thought Brexit couldn't get any stranger, Uri Gellar published this open letter to Theresa May. Uri, they are beyond help, focus on me instead!)

Friday, 1 March 2019

A Like Task

The birds fly left and then back right,
Catfiáin is mesmerised.
He crouches low and hides his legs,
peering just above the ledge.

His instincts keep his focus keen,
he's ready for some winged cuisine.
Though still and silent he must fail;
elation waves his wilful tail.

And anyway, against the grass
his dusty white's no camouflage.
The birds see him, he's in denial,
he's held in place by something primal.

He's watching and I'm watching too,
I'm fixed on every tiny move.
I, and Catfiáin, my cat,
'tis a like task we are at.

(Explanation: One of my favourite poems is this translation of Pangur Bán, (original Old Irish text here) scribbled by an unidentified scribing monk at the side of his manuscript, around the 9th century. It is one of Early Ireland's most famous pieces of writing, written in or near Reicheneau Abbey in Germany. When my daughters got their kitten in October last year I wanted to call him Pangur Bán, but my daughters insisted he wasn't white enough to merit that name. They settled on Catfiáin, which means wildcat. I was pleasantly surprised with their choice as Catfiáin easily subsititutes for Pangur Bán in the above-linked translation by Robin Flower).