Sunday, 1 October 2023

Are You Right There, Marty?

You may talk of the pros of going railing
up, down, and across this country,
and all of the petrol fumes saving
by transporting yourself publicly.
You'd run for the train in the morning,
but you'd have to be there before eight.
And why bother with all of that jogging
when Renault's got wheels at your gate?

And as you're driving all terrains,
you hear yourself sing this refrain:

Are you right there, Marty, are you right?
As you travel free by morning, noon, and night.
RTÉ pays you for runnin'
a car that Renault's fundin',
it's the life, now, Marty,
it's the life.

Friday, 1 September 2023

Different Worlds

I did not know her,
but only a little time threw
us to different worlds.
Her power lay not where it might strike you;
in her shining eyes, her lithe legs, her lack of hair,
or her jaw that cut the air ahead of her open
arms that dashed all before them as her figure moved like a blade.
Her power lay in her focus.

The same country, but mine allows.
An accident of time gives me grace.
But, she had to dig her heels in, hold her ground,
a side-effect of living in her space.

I did not know her,
but her relief feels like mine.
Women's shapes reshape the place they stirred,
a perfect silhouette as in her life.

(Explanation: RIP Sinéad O'Connor.)

Tuesday, 1 August 2023

Shell Haiku

Vacant sculpture
One careful owner
Feeds the birds.

Saturday, 1 July 2023


And, the last straw; 
a glowing, bright-yellow, siskin
pounces and walks
the peanut feeders, in
luminous streaks,
showing off his abundant health.
His nuclear energy 
pokes my pinpoint pupils, pelts
my patience, and strips 
my nerves of resistance.
I bring a photo of this annoyance
to my daughter, her illness
pauses while she smiles
at the image of my torturer.
We will soon be fine,
and will tolerate the brightness.

(Explanation: We got Covid. After all this time of avoiding it, we got it. Just having the virus was upsetting, but, being sick made a lot of very small things seem annoying. We had beautiful weather for our quarantine, and I spent as much time as I could sitting outside. That siskin really wore away at my last nerve, but my eldest enjoyed my story.)

Thursday, 1 June 2023


Non vascular, slow-moving,
creeping coloniser, brooding
before taking action,
ever changing, ever fractal.

Save the water, save the sower;
let the moss come, take us over.

Monday, 1 May 2023

All Of the Days

Dressing up, dancing, drawing,
or maybe none of those things.
She might have loved picking daisies,
and making chains of bracelets and rings.

Was there something particular she liked to wear,
would she sometimes get terrible knots in her hair.
How was she with homework and projects,
and did her teachers ever despair.

Was she in drama class, did she play chess,
did she insist on her dad checking under her bed.
Maybe she knew every garden bird's name,
and could tell them just by silhouette.

Were carrots a favourite, did she drink juice,
did she have a preference for one type of fruit.
Could she have been a bit of a rogue,
always trying on Mam's high-heel shoes.

All of the wonder, all of the fun,
all of the ice-creams out in the sun,
all of the days when nothing went right,
all of those days and all of those nights.
All of those years now stopped in their tracks,
all those ahead to spend looking back.
All of the promise, all not to occur,
we should all be so lucky to have parents like hers.

(Explanation: R.I.P. Vivienne Murphy, an 11-year-old girl from Cork, who, considering where and when she lived, should still be alive today. Her parents spoke to Joe Duffy, on RTÉ Radio1, and her mother mentioned that Vivienne means 'life'. What they've been through is so sad, and yet they were campaigning for improvements in the health service in the hope that no other child will suffer and die, like their little Vivienne. Link to an Irish Examiner article here).

Saturday, 1 April 2023

The Dead Fish

Mrs. Twomey chalked on the board,
a crude fish with a frowny face,
and little lines for the water flow.
She taught geography, often replaced
by this particular advisory:
"Now, girls, don't be the dead fish 
that flows with the stream."
"Which fish should we be, Miss?"
We'd delight in distracting her,
in a place where a nun would often
tell the class that she knew there were
two in the room intended for the convent.

Wednesday, 1 March 2023


I saw a chilling photo:
Bashar al-Assad
at the bedside
of an earthquake survivor;
maybe also of gas,
and/or air strikes.

I can't help but wonder
if it makes him mad
that so many have died
without deploying sarin,
or an attack craft,
from the skies.

I saw a chilling photo:
Bashar al-Assad.

(Explanation: RIP the 40,000 people, and counting, in Syria and Turkey. On 06/02/2023 the Kahramanmaras earthquake - that reached a massive magnitude of 7.8 on the Richter scale - and thousands of aftershocks, levelled the region. 
I am so sorry for all the suffering, and I am so sorry that the people of Syria had been suffering for so long already before this natural disaster).

Wednesday, 1 February 2023

Lost In Kilmac

There were two of us on Main Street
(a misleading name,
that might be more appropriately
called Only Thoroughfare).

She walked a little ahead.
She stopped in her tracks,
looked right and left.
Then up and back.
She laughed, and shook her head,
"Isn't it a fright to be lost in Kilmac."

We are so safe here, and
this village is an easy mark.
Over in Mashhad,
it's no joke to be lost.
Law shifts like sand,
injustice at its beating heart.

Our own Bernard Phelan 
is being forcibly detained
for being a touring European,
and, when not in jail,
promotes Iran as a destination.
Seemingly the only dual citizen
to ever use a passport,
he was the one-in-a-million
to take photos,
see the sights,
send postcards.
And now he is on hunger strike.


When I was writing this poem, Bernard Phelan was on hunger strike. I am relieved to hear that his sister persuaded him to return to eating, but I am so sorry that Bernard Phelan has not been released yet.

Sunday, 1 January 2023

The Geographer

To find Ireland
the globe was turned.
She sounded out Russia,
and expressed how it upset her
about it invading Ukraine,
and how it has so much land.
She looked then for Italy, Spain,
Germany, and France.

Countries and continents moved,
oceans and hemispheres twirled.
She is six, our Ruth,
and a woman of the world.