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tips the candle
slowly slowly

until the pain is bearable
our fingers scream
wax stealing our fingerprints

we laugh in the dark
peel off each other's fingerprints
they lie there

alien animals
cooling on a saucer
sleep finds us

wearing each other's fingerprints
( you me
I you )

years later
not even Death
can steal you from me
Me and my big sister Junie entertaining ourselves before the advent of telly back in '63. We made replicas of all ten prints and swapped...she wearing me...I wearing her....become someone else even with this one little gesture. And indeed she would walk into my mind as easy as a lift the latch and walk right in. I too was free to walk into her thoughts and visit how she saw the world. Wrote this for Women's Day because this gentle 18 year old woman meant the world to me. Still does....always will.

And there was Spring
( but not any old Spring )
but that particular Spring
lying up against that Winter.

And there this Summer
you surely remember
side by side
with an unforgettable Autumn.

All neatly nestled
in the Family Album.

It amused us
to throw time together
to have the seasons
have a page of their own.

And here we were
all caught up in our living
as if time
were a golden coin

that could never ever be
spent entirely.

And me a child
or rather various children
turning first into
this man and then that

seeing how change is
the only constant.

Page after page
remembering who we are.
The people who we forget
we were

living out
our black and white lives.

Laughing now
in Kodachrome.
The moment
instant as a Polaroid.

Us as us
hardly knowing ourselves
before we become
someone else.
A good snapshot keeps a moment that's gone from running away.”

– Eudora Welty
2d · 38

"What did I do
in the war?"
I kept on trying not to be dead

all my friends were no good
at staying alive
( I keep them alive in my head )

the voices of the dead
shouting why are you
still alive & not I

good ole' Fred
lost his head
easy as a nursery rhyme

Tom holding
his guts in his hands
trying to stuff them back in

all we found of john
were his boots
with his feet still in them

"What did I do
in the war?"
I kept on trying not to be dead

I kept on trying
I kept on trying
to get back to you
His daughter was annoyed nay angry at both him and me. She blurted out: "He never talks of the war...never tells us anything...yet he tells a stranger like you everything.!" He started crying and told her it was easier to tell a stranger and not a daughter who was only a baby when he left...the terrible things he saw...the terrible things he done. He saw monstrous things and he didn't want her to think of him as the monster he had to be to live only in the moment and try to survive the next moment and to leave his humanity aside. He said it was all about trying to stay alive or in a single piece at least and to get back to his baby and to see her grown up to be the woman she was now. He was very angry at the first man he had to **** because the German had tried to **** him and so stop him from forever coming home. He shot the German over and over in the face and had to be pulled away from him by his mates. Once he had killed it became second nature and he hated that...hated himself. He kept on repeating: "I have seen terrible things...I have done terrible things!"

out of the interlocking needles
a sock

hanging from its needles
the sock
a chrysalis

Auntie Marge's socks
as if a rainbow
had grown two feet

Auntie Marge's
infamous rainbow socks
flying off for Christmas

Paris..New York...Termonfeckin
nieces nephews children grandchildren
all wearing rainbow socks

the half grown sock
tick of a grandfather clock
wait for the mourners to return

her needles in a cigar tin
standing to

sticking their heads
out of the bin
some large crochet needles

"As sure as shoes is shoes
I kept warm the feet
of this here family!"

clock cuts up Time
into little bits
so that the humans can understand
( To Jazzman John Clarke )

It was as I

there was these
angel chicks

playing on harps
on Cloud 9

other angel dudes
playing trumpets and horns

but man
there was the Big Guy himself

playing a mean baritone

like he was Gerry Mulligan
or something

the lyrics were
you know

hard to catch
" are the music while the music lasts..."

or something
Eliotish like that

I strode up
to the Big Guy

checking his *******
with a grin

"Man, that's real
solid gone!"

"I shall be made
thy music..."

The Big Guy

one long long
final note.
John Robert Clarke as facebook suddenly decided to call him was of course known to us as Jazzman John Clarke and was a revelation on the spoken word scene. When I first started going to poetry events here I would invariably meet John homing in on the venue at the same time I did. I always knew I was at the right gig as John would always appear at the same time.
We were trying to cross a busy road and he was so caught up in what he was saying that he stepped out into the road and nearly got run over but I managed to pull him back just in time. "Woah....thought I was a goner there!" he wiped the sweat off his brow. I told him he could have been an angel on a cloud by now and picking the trope harp.

He laughed and said" "Hell no....that wouldn't be my Heaven...I would be a young man with a horn and blowing up a storm. I'd blow with Bix and Gerry Mulligan. Then all night he was scatting to Mulligan's  Song for Strayhorn.. Four years after that and many gigs later I wrote him this poem. It was four years before he died and he laughed and said I had written his obituary but too sooooon man....tooooo soon.

Stopped at
a red light

when who should pull up
beside us but Death

driving a fancy
invisible car.

He is dressed in
the usual trope

cowl and scythe
how cliched can one get.

He just sits there in mid air
tapping a boney finger

on  a wheel I
can't see.

His scythe sits
in the passenger seat

looking like a tame

smiling with neon
and moonlight.

He nods to me.
I nod to him.

"Hope you haven't
come for me!" I grin.

He shakes his skull
back and forth.

"Just practising...what's de matter
you ain't got no sense of humour?"

He points a long boney finger
at the green car jumping the lights.

"Holey Moley!" I holey moley to myself.
"If that car don't stop it's gonna crash into us!"

And into us
it does.

But before it does
time goes AWOL.

The moment stretches into infinity and
the next second lasts for ever.

I nonchalantly watch the green car
hurtling towards us for an eternity

and just wish it would
get on with it and be done.

Even the rain falling
stops in mid-ari.

A bird's flight freeze frames
above the stilled trees

despite the bluster
of the wind.

Then as if someone had
pressed a button

infinity snaps back
into the moment's reality.

The green car bites with a roar
into my side door.

I watch it buckle and
stop a centimetre from my thigh.

I go out like a light and
the world does a runner.

The darkness is so
thick solidifying around me.

And then the world shamefacedly
comes back to me.

"Wot's yer name..." a voice keeps
asking "do you know uour name?"

Over and annoyingly
over again.

"*******!" Death

"How in Heaven's name
did you get out of that!"

My voice forms a cloud
in the cold night air

like a cartoon
speech bubble.

This breath is the sweetest
I ever have breathed.

The joke's on Death.
Death ain't happy.

"What's the matter Mr. Death..."
I quip all cocky like.

"You ain't got no
sense of humour?"
CECI N'EST PAS UN... poème!

It's always
the same

the adverbs
blame the adjectives

the adjectives
the nouns

and the nouns
the verbs

for the imminent
collapse of this poem

The images declaim
we're not to blame.

The rhyme just
buggers off.

The figurative language
can't be bothered to get

up of their ar..

A senile simile smiles

in a to be or not
to be voice.

The metaphors
have gone on strike.

Oh for Gawd's sake
doesn't anybody know

wot de !%&
they're !%&

I ask
using the demotic.

There is a sudden silence...

all that is to be
heard outside

a weeping willow
weeps for me.

How pathetic can one poem

No...don't answer that
it was a rhetorical question!

The words all
look to me

to pass
sentence. . .

I tell them
that's it

( there is a collective
moan )

I'm calling this poem
- off!

"Keats? Sure
I remember the fella.

Emigrated from
that there England.

Buried up there in
Cave Hill Cemetery.

Louisville was mighty
proud of him.

Always said he never expected
to be living on the banks of the Ohio.

Went from rags to riches and
back again.

Did some business with know the bird guy?

But it sank quicker
than a stone.

Became then
a big *** in the saw mill

took to it faster
than a  squirrel.

But then lost it all
in the Panic of 1837.

Very brainy guy more books
than you could shake a brain at.

We called his house
'the Englishman's Palace.'

One of his daughters met
Oscar Wilde one time.

That was another of them
English fellers.

Another daughter it was rumoured
committed suicide.

Always went on about
his elder brother John.

You know...the poet guy.
Would recite by heart

"Blue! 'tis the Life of Heaven"
always made me cry.

But that's all I can remember
George Keats (28 February 1797 – 24 December 1841) was an English businessman and civic leader in Louisville, Kentucky, as it emerged from a frontier entrepôt into a mercantile centre of the old northwest.

He was also the younger brother of the English poet John Keats.

Emma Speed met Oscar Wilde when he lectured in Louisville in 1882, and later sent him an autograph manuscript by her uncle John Keats of his poem 'Sonnet on Blue'.

Isabel Keats died, a likely suicide, in the family home months after her mother's remarriage.

The descendants of Georgiana, Emma, Ella, and Alice ultimately numbered over 500.

Blue! ‘Tis the life of heaven, the domain

Blue! ‘Tis the life of heaven,–the domain
Of Cynthia,–the wide palace of the sun,–
The tent of Hesperus and all his train,–
The bosomer of clouds, gold, grey and dun.
Blue! ‘Tis the life of waters–ocean
And all its vassal streams: pools numberless
May rage, and foam, and fret, but never can
Subside if not to dark-blue nativeness.
Blue! gentle cousin of the forest green,
Married to green in all the sweetest flowers,
Forget-me-not,–the blue-bell,–and, that queen
Of secrecy, the violet: what strange powers
Hast thou, as a mere shadow! But how great,
When in an Eye thou art alive with fate!
Feb 20 · 20

The blackbird led
his wife

up the garden path

as if the crazy paving
had been laid especially

for them &
their kind.

I thought it odd

they walked instead
of flew

as if they were acting
the human.

They both
deep in conversation

about bird
current affairs

or gossip
about those noisy robins.

When they hit the deck
they both stood

in a deck chair

continuing what
they had been


Maybe blackbirds
had taken over

the world
& I

the last human
to know.

Or, all humans
had been changed

into blackbirds.

They suddenly
made loud caw.

I took to the air
& flew.
Feb 20 · 35

I'm no runner me
weak kneed and knobbly
but God almighty here I be

on the starting line
between two tough guys
Flanagan and Reed

know I don't
stand a chance only
here because I have to be

an Army 800m
and me a raw recruit
and poet-to-be

a gun barks and
we're off and already
I am paddy last

**** Reed pride of our platoon
and a smile that would win a prize
Flanagan his bitter rival

always there to
buoy me up
raise my spirits

"Sing me Peggy Gordon ****!"
and he beams and beams
and sings his heart out

but now Reed and Flanagan
are two tiny dots in the distance
neck and neck both in the lead

but as we come around
the final bend they
trip over each other

I now am third
and race towards
the tangle of arms and legs

I hurdle the cursing pair
and hurtle towards and
break the tape with a gasp

I win a long lost plaque
and a photo survives
the ravages of the ages

I laugh to hold it now
I the infamous non-runner
the winner

**** almost dances
with glee
hugs me

"Good man Dempsey
ya beat Flanagan for me
ya deserve a medal!"

"Sing me Peggy Gordon
that will be my medal!"
and he beams and beams and sings

his gorgeous voice
pinned to the summer
of an Irish sky

and I still listen
as his voice echoes
through the years

"O Peggy Gordon, You are my darling
Come sit you down upon my knee
And tell to me the very reason
Why I am slighted so by thee"
Feb 17 · 40

He drinks in
my vision

of a world
contained in a matter

of minutes
all that can be seen

in this here
& now.

An ordinary world
of the mundane moment

joggers and *******
running side by side

somewhere the distant barking
of an invisible dog.

Litter being taken
for a walk

by a skittish wind
changing direction on a whim.

A swan
sitting on its own

on a park bench
gazing at the water.

My Da gulps down
each happenstance

each moment
of unimportance

knowing he will never
see such things again.

The ordinary made precious
in the dying light.

Each meagre moment
bereft of beauty.

Soon he will have
the Last Rites

and even this story
will be lost.

But now he listens
almost greedily

as I tell of a shadow
scattered upon the grass

as if it existed in
a dimension of its own.

He can almost taste
the sunlight.

See the wind
hustle the leaves.

How beautiful
is mud?

What a thing
is rain?

How wondrous
a footfall

opening up the silence
flowering into

the ragged breathing
of an obese jogger

her earphones
leaking Christmas music.

A Christmas long gone
that will not come for him again.

Father become child
wanting the again and again

of this fading

Spring in all its glory
shyly approaching

the dying
of his day.

“Be thou my vision
Oh Lord of my heart
Naught be all else to me
Save what thou art.”

There is a photo of me and my Da heading off to Sunday mass in our Sunday best. I am holding his hand and so proud that this man is my Da and totally in love with the moment. In mass  we will sing Be Thou My Vision and it will be an epiphany. This is the moment I will be remembering when the doc throws us out for a while and  I go out to the nearby park. Everything I saw and there was nothing much to see...******* and shadows....joggers and swans and a dog that could not be seen. The dog was in a housing estate a good bit away but his bark was right beside you. A swan was sitting on a park bench and wouldn't let anyone else sit on it. The music leaking from the jogger's headphones and she trundled by me in pink spandex was...The Little Drummer Boy. This in March? When the doc let me back in Da wanted to know everything I had seen down to the littlest detail. He was able to tell me that when a swan goes loco with is called busking. He was always able to tell me such tiny bits of knowledge. Even the shadow on the ***** grass got gulped down by his mind. Only after did I realise that all these details of things he knew he would never see again. They had become precious...even the mud...even the rain. In my mind when he was dying I would sing to him all the songs and hymns I sang with him in all the different Da's he was.

The old Irish version of the hymn says it all for me>

Be thou my father, be I thy son.
Mayst thou be mine, may I be thine.

Rop tussu m'athair, rob mé do mac-su;
rop tussu lem-sa, rob misse lat-su.

Such intense immensity held in these scrappy details of a nothing day.

Be thou my father, be I thy son.
Mayst thou be mine, may I be thine.

Rop tussu m'athair, rob mé do mac-su;
rop tussu lem-sa, rob misse lat-su.
Feb 15 · 56

Only remembering things that have not yet happened

I nail the dream of you
to the back of my mind

until the memory of you
bleeds & bleeds &

pleads with me
to un-dream you.

Your kiss is a shadow
tortured with sunlight.

Your touch is a page torn out & thrown away.

Your absence is a hate
I create & re-create

to torment a mind

that only remembers things that can never happen.

Me dealing with( or not dealing with)a friend's suicide...I was amazed at the intense  sadness and immense anger released in me and the poem reflects both those conflicting emotions. The anger I had not expected to was anger at the circumstances that brought her to this point and anger for her depriving us of her presence. Her absence was like a paper cut to the soul...sheer animal grief. I guess we all cry for ourselves as well as the person who has left us forever and left us stranded in the here of this now.
Feb 14 · 58

"Oh my God is...that the time!

12 o'clock and not
a poem in the house written!

Quick! Wash those adjectives!
Quick! Bathe those verbs!

Feed those nouns!
Have you adverbs gone back to bed?

Come on 'Smile!'
Like a simile!

Noooo! Don't
wear the same metaphors

you wore yesterday

And so with a little playful
smack on its btm

the poem is sent
out into the world.

'See good'

A poet's work is
never done!"
As a child I was sick and poorly and often missed school so that I found myself at home with me Ma and doing all the Ma things that she had to do....I followed her about the house helping out and seeing what an amazing myriad of things she had to do in order to make our life run like effortless clockwork only I found out it wasn't so effortless. "Dónall son....!" she'd yell from the bedroom amidst sweeping and bed changing and making....will you cut the potatoes for the chips love!" And from bedroom to kitchen we would sing all the Ray Charles we knew.
She would always say the same thing like a little work mantra...
"Jaysus...oh Holy Jaysus....12 o'clock and not a child in the house washed!" And a whole litany of things yet to do. These were like well worn beautiful pebbles being rounded and smoothed in a stream of language....I loved hearing them even for the thousand time! So I cross pollinated all her mad cap hell for leather sayings into this making of poems poem to get the same urgency for tidying up my brain and getting the words washed and up and out making signs upon a page so that other brains could decipher my thoughts.

On one of these being my mother days I was watching "Telefís Scoile" RTE's educational prog. when up popped poet Brendan Kennelly. Now despite only starting my secondary education I was reading all around me so I was reading the Leaving Cert. poems as well. I was having a hard time with Hopkins but then Brendan started to recite The Windhover in his lovely Kerry accent and I at once understood it as the music of his mouth brought the words to life in glorious sound that I at once fell in love with and it splashed against my mind like a wave breaking over the headland that was my tiny mind. It was an epiphany.

Years years later I met Brendan in a pub having a quiet pint by himself at the bar and I went up to him to tell him of this moment made glorious for me by him and Hopkins. So he started to recite it for me again after all this time.

"I caught this morning morning's minion, king-
    dom of daylight's dauphin,"

And I said the next bit.....

"dapple-dawn-drawn Falcon, in his riding
    Of the rolling level underneath him steady air, and striding
High there, how he rung upon the rein of a wimpling wing
In his ecstasy! "

And then he...

"then off, off forth on swing,"

And we traded lines until we had completed the Hopkins.

And then he said: "Well wil ya...have a pint?"

And I said: "I I will!"

And then he said he loved my CRAZY LONELINESS HIJACKS MEMORY OF A BEAUTIFUL GIRL. And I said: "What! Ya still remember that!" And he said:" 'deed I do!" And so I recited it for him. It was so I felt I had come into my poethood!
Feb 12 · 30

"Who am I this time?"
I ask the mirror and the mirror
smirks....whispers:  "Make it up!"

The landscape looked like
it was from a previous century.

Oh...not the one
just before

but from centuries...centuries

long before I
had even come into existence.

The long long ago
of a fairy story.

It was a past
where I had made

my greatest

Where mistakes
appeared as ghosts.

Or they rose before me
like mountains.

Or regrets that roamed
this land of my mind

like dinosaurs
or fabulous creatures.

And you
the great regret

that would like a comet

and destroy
a me I used to be.

Now all this
can still be seen

only in the Museum
of Missing Words.

What was not said
greater than

anything that
was said.

I pay the entrance price
view the exhibits of my life.

Torture myself
with all that could have been

never was.

He had a face
like a FOR SALE

sign that
had been there for ever

with the kind of moustache
that smart-aleck kids

would draw upon
a poster of the Mona Lisa.

His eyes were kind of Dalísh
as when the great painter

announced his
own greatness.

Behind him
a yellow half-moon

perched upon his head

as if it was his
own peculiar particular pet

otherwise he was

a no-one
that no one would notice.

An announcement announced
that the flight to Dublin

would be delayed

Outside the snow was

It was a night
when flight

hadn't yet been

and only snow
took to the air.

I only noticed him
because a tear

silently and slowly
trickled down

his left cheek
and hung suspended there

for a century it seemed
before falling on the book

before him
that he wasn't reading

only holding as if
in defence against the world

and I wondered what
his grief was.

( for Shyam Sunder Sharma )

always in the background
of my mind I am

listening to

the ananda-lahari
of Arun's voice

speaking to me
in best Kolatkarese

as I ride

to the outskirts of

and there dismount
walking barefoot

into the town
of his mind

bowing before
his words

this here
this now

drinking his voice
thirstily down

to the very last sound
marking each syllable with turmeric

offering the ashes
of anything I can say

I the humble havildar

to the temple
of your thought

until you take a final drag
from a half bent charminar

flick it from fingers
laugh...tell me to. . .

"****** off!
Go on...!"

"And make
a poem of your own!"
Feb 2 · 35

my father is dying
I stop at the airport church
prepared to pray

despite my unbelief
raise my hands and eyes
to a cloudy  Heaven

but Heaven is not
prepared to hear
this prodigal son

I hold his hand
as lies dying
this good man

he the only religion
I could believe in
I pray to him

"Go gentle...." I tell him
stroke his dear face
". . .leave this suffering behind."

The dead were talking to me
in black and white.

Complained all the colour
had gone out of their voice.

Complained they lived their lives
like they were a movie.

The illusion of living
rather than the thing itself.

You know...that thing
"cinema is truth

24 frames
per second."

We call it
"Waiting for Godard" syndrome.

"Oh our "story has a beginning
middle and an end but. . .

. . .not necessarily
in that order."

Sometimes it slows to
just a still or

Godard help us
only a publicity photograph.

We look at your living
envious of your movement.

Your ability to
change and be

something then
something new again.

We can remember
doing that without thinking.

God it's hard.
So hard to see you

take it all
for granted.

What we would give
just to be aware

of a leaf
trembling on a tree.

Or a bird taking flight
into a summer.

Or see a stone
skim across water.

World has become
tiny as a tittle

on an i or
a j

or how was it the Bible put it
". . .till heaven and earth pass. . ."

Earth time is so

Blink and you
will miss it.

We thirst for even one
of your seconds

Hunger for the time
you so nonchalantly throw away.

Here....there time.

"Time is stopped!
Time is stopped!
Time is stopped!"

They kept repeating Japanese.
Jan 30 · 29

A bluebottle emerges
from a hedge

like an expensive and
repulsive flying jewel.

It settles upon
my ring finger.

I wear it with
fear and delight.

Its iridescence

This, the first
bluebottle I'd ever seen.

I thought they grew
in hedges.

I had a lot to learn.

It buzzes about
in my brain

as if 50 years
had not passed.

Welcome back
brother bluebottle.

It's good to see you
still alive.

Blue bruises
bloom on my skin.

I wear long sleeves
even in summer.

First, I lost
my smile

it somehow
floated away.

( Blue bruises
bloom on my skin. )

Next, I lost
my flesh

until I was nothing
but skin and bone.

My *******
vanished into themselves.

I quoted to myself.

( I wear long sleeves
even in summer. )

The woman in the mirror
who claims she's me


A stranger holds
my eye.

looked away.

Blue bruises
bloom on my skin.

I wear long sleeves
even in summer.
I was very honoured to have my words read by Florabelle. The lady in the poem said "I wish I could write a poem like you...will you write the story of me so that my voice will not be lost." I use her words and only shape them into a form that will carry that story...that voice. He was a brutal bully of a man...cruel beyond belief. She was so slight and had lost so much weight. I really feared for her. I did finally manage to get her away to a refuge. I got some idea of the physical torment she had to endure as he beat me to a pulp trying to find out where she had gone. I didn't think it was possible to turn such a sorry life around but she did so and is now in a loving relationship and has a beautiful adopted daughter. If my poem and her words can give hope to others then at least some good will come of this terrible situation.
Jan 28 · 36

Time was
when wheat was

a living gold
that moved with the wind

moving me
to tears

unable to hold
the ecstasy of its beauty

or the green of trees
alive with sunlight

made me cry that I
had no words to touch it

and all I could do
was to love it so

with all
my soul

before words came
and attached themselves

to these ordinary

the world teaching me
to say itself

to understand
the ravishing of the senses

the language of feeling
written on the pulse

"Am I supposed to be dying. . ?"

that person from Porlock

quietly ". . .yes."

"gently gently gentleness ...
...the dark was talking to the dead"

Louis I loved
your "drunkenness

of things being

you so "incorrigibly plural"

with your rather curious
Englished Irishness.

Me when I was
the me of 12 and a day

walking 30 miles
home from Dublin

with the record
of your voice

clutched in my hand

not noticing the miles
"Time was away

...and somewhere else."


In my childhood trees were green
And there was plenty to be seen.
Come back early or never come.

My father made the walls resound,
He wore his collar the wrong way round.
Come back early or never come.

My mother wore a yellow dress;
Gently, gently, gentleness.
Come back early or never come.

When I was five the black dreams came;
Nothing after was quite the same.
Come back early or never come.

The dark was talking to the dead;
The lamp was dark beside my bed.
Come back early or never come.

When I woke they did not care;
Nobody, nobody was there.
Come back early or never come.

When my silent terror cried,
Nobody, nobody replied.
Come back early or never come.

I got up; the chilly sun
Saw me walk away alone.
Come back early or never come


Louis was born in the Land of Ire but had a very English classical education( rooming with Anthony Blunt )so he is an Irish poet but a curious cross pollination of nature and nurture.

His little AUTOBIOGRAPHY poem was the first poem to reach into my life and tear me out by the roots. After that I realised the world...even my little world... could be contained in words.

For Louis it was his mother...for me my sister.

I walked the over 30 miles from Dublin to my home in the Curragh 'cos I only had my bus fare or buy the Louis MacNeice record it was! I arrived home in the wee wee hours of the morning.
Jan 26 · 21

The Future had come
to visit.

It knocked politely
on the door and

without waiting
for as much as

a by your leave
invited itself in.

"Come on in why doncha?"
my sarcasm lost on it.

"A word if I may..."
The Future said

"I know this is not
the done thing but..."

I noticed its sentences
never ended in a full stop

always an ellipsis. . .;

The room was full
of Donalls

the many mes I had
yet to be.

"As you can see..."
one of my Future selves

admonished me

"We, that is us, we
are not happy..."

"Oh!" I said facetiously,
"We is we?"

This Royal We business was
beginning to bug me.

All the other Future mes
nodded in agreement


"You go on the way you are..."
a me 20 years from now

spluttered in

"There will be no me!"

"And so it is that We
have come to...."

Here it paused
to find the right word

"Have a quiet word
with you. . ."

it coughed and ahemed

"Self to self
( so to speak ). . ."

They chanted as if
they were a Greek Chorus


"That's it?"
I said.
"Just that!"

"Just that..!"
the Future sighed


me to get on
with it.PULLING

the doodlebug cuts
its silence deadlier than its whine
a baby crying

where there was a house
there was a house no more
a rocking horse survives the blast

the neighbours
across the road
move to a place called Death

"The road had a ruddy big hole
with a bus sticking out of it!"
Death always only a heartbeat away

"1939 & I
were such good friends
only time Love walked in my door!"

"Such a card he was
but he turned out
to be a cad!"

"Oh he was cad but
he was my cad
but I loved the bounder!"

"Yes, dear...the War
the War got him...
...he never came back!"

on the middle of mantlepiece
a black & white slice
of 1939

Spring is late...again
"Where have you been!"
shyly it smiles at me in flowers
Jan 24 · 28

The tree
gathered its leaves

around her

stuck a passing cloud
in her hair

wore a little  sunlight
& a slight rain

changed clothes
every now & then

as the fancy
took her

now a brilliantly blue
sky made of summer

now a warm evening
with just the slightest breeze

then a striking sunset
before falling asleep

wearing only a night sky
with scattered diamante stars.
Jan 16 · 87

Schrödinger's cat

Schrödinger's dog

was always

under his feet

hungry for
...his Master's voice...a pat...the sound of his step...

The cat
(like anybody's cat)

couldn't give
a toss

(but that was neither
here nor there) .

It's hard to tell

if it's alive or if
it ain't.

It's one
lazzzzzzy cat.

He's never there
(when you want him to be)

and always there
(when you don't want him to be.)

Quark the cat
was just one big paradox.

The dog
was old and faithful

in the box

asleep or gnawing
a bone in thought.

The cat couldn't care

a source
of constant


about its

and the state
of its health.


here nor

or somewhere
else entirely

as if it lived
in a parallel universe.

Lived in a world
of its own.

Thus the theory of
Schrödinger's Cat

(beyond doubt)

that although
cats are nice an' all dat

are a scientist's

best friend.


In 1935, Schrödinger published an essay describing the conceptual problems in quantum mechanics. A brief paragraph in this essay described the cat paradox:

One can even set up quite ridiculous cases. A cat is penned up in a steel chamber, along with the following diabolical device (which must be secured against direct interference by the cat) : in a Geiger counter there is a tiny bit of radioactive substance, so small that perhaps in the course of one hour one of the atoms decays, but also, with equal probability, perhaps none; if it happens, the counter tube discharges and through a relay releases a hammer which shatters a small flask of hydrocyanic acid. If one has left this entire system to itself for an hour, one would say that the cat still lives if meanwhile no atom has decayed. The first atomic decay would have poisoned it. The Psi function for the entire system would express this by having in it the living and the dead cat (pardon the expression) mixed or smeared out in equal parts.[


There was a leak in my cistern in the brain stem. I didn't like to play dice with my universe so I called a quantum mechanic in. I asked him if it was bad. He said: Well, it is or it isn't...depending on how you look at it.. It's good for me...bad for you! '

'Now, about that cat? '

'Not that old chestnut....the cat is over 70 now...just fix the cistern will ya! I had the cat that's that! '

'Ohhhhh! '

' was a hypothetical cat! '

'Ya mean it wasn't real? '

'Oh...what is real?

He seemed considerably saddened by this and left without charging for the cistern.
I hate when after all this time Animal Rights activists disguise themselves plumbers in order to rescue the ****** cat that is neither alive or dead.

Next time it leaks...I'll call a vet.

She keeps the room
just as it was.

As if
Death had never entered it.

turns the eiderdown down.

straightens sheet.

plumbs pillows.

Brings breakfast every morning
just like before.

But there is no before

Even the future
has vanished.

One day it hurts her
this haunting.

The room has become
a shrine.

And she
its priestess.

So. She decides
to burn the past.

The wind turns the pages
as the books flame.

Dolls melt
in the witch hunt..

A rocking horse
is on fire.

"Go now!" she commands.
"These are only things!"

She hides her daughter
in her heart

where nothing
can touch her.

The fire reflected
in her tears.
( for Mary Forde )

See the dead
bring in the hay.

Hear them call
all the cows by name

as the evening
ambles in.

Take the horse
out of her harness

whisper their thanks
to her.

Hands...rough hands
that mend a fence

fix a hedge
collect eggs...feed pigs.

The thousand tasks
of a farm dressed

in the glorious summer
of long lost ago.

Call them by their names
as you call them then

the child you were
reeling them in.

See them come
eagerly alive again.

Loving that you
have not forgotten them.


Ghost voices
on the wind.

Fields fallow.
Home a ruin.

How time
crumbles away.

I gather you in.
Name you one by one.

Do not allow
time or death

to touch you.
Jan 9 · 74

"I'm scared...!" she sobs
"Of what love?" I cuddle her
"Of being in the world!"
This was when she was only a tiny little thing in the world of long ago but her words ring truer now in this rogue world of ours.

Her granny had just died and this all too too solid world of forever didn't seem as forever as it had before.  She no longer trusted it if a granny could vanish...would she vanish too?

She cried and "wanted to go where ever Granny had goed!"

She was looking at a globe and asked me if she were in the world. And is Granny not in the world any more?  And when Granny finishes being dead then will she come back? And what good is the world if Granny isn't in it. She sat on my lap and listened to auld Jemmy the Joist reading from Finnegans Wake with his own voice. I asked her what did she think the man was saying and she asked "Did he lose his granny too?"
Jan 8 · 78

she runs in to tell me
"A cloud has fallen asleep in the field!"
the fog can only smile at her
Jan 7 · 51

The kestrel
threw its shadow

on the path
that ran away from me

vanishing into the sun
before it could enter my eyes.

I saw and did not see it.

I had only ever seen it
in words

the poet's lines
hovering in my mind

until here upon my arm
in a football ground

deigning to allow us
in its presence

gazing into
and beyond

my tiny humanity.
Visiting West Ham United's original ground with a class we encountered a man flying a kestrel whilst the grass was being sown. Apparently the iconic shape of the hawk becomes imprinted on a bird's brain and it triggers the right flight response rather than "Hey....let's gorge on seed!"

After that kestrel and man were off to Highbury to do the same for the Arsenal.

It was like looking into the eyes of something from a very distant whom all time was the same and this awed man was nothing but a speck on its vision that simply didn't interest it. It was the only kind of itself and owned the world.
( for Mary Forde )

See the dead
bring in the hay.

Hear them call
all the cows by name

as the evening
ambles in.

Take the horse
out of her harness

whisper their thanks
to her.

Hands...rough hands
that mend a fence

fix a hedge
collect eggs...feed pigs.

The thousand tasks
of a farm dressed

in the glorious summer
of long lost ago.

Call them by their names
as you call them then

the child you were
reeling them in.

See them come
eagerly alive again.

Loving that you
have not forgotten them.


Ghost voices
on the wind.

Fields fallow.
Home a ruin.

How time
crumbles away.

I gather you in.
Name you one by one.

Do not allow
time or death

to touch you.
Jan 3 · 29

Tongues stained
with blackberries

we collect kisses

falling into ditches

being stung by nettles.

Your dress snags on a briar
and you cry in mock horror.

I cut through the tangle of thorns
as if I were your Prince.

Charming me
you undo
your buttons
& you
(step out of your dress)

as if you were being
stepping out of your self.

Your dress hangs
like a chrysalis.

You let down your golden hair
& we make love then &

there...a tractor & some cows go by
we laugh & try to hide.

The sun beats down on my ***
we giggle & come

to the big old *****


our blackberry picking days
into luscious winter jam.
Jan 3 · 43

the cat's in the crib
the Holy Family out on their ear
Dec 2020 · 46
Donall Dempsey Dec 2020

I resolve
to have no

New Year's

The resolutions
I don't make - I can't break.

I can...&...I will
I tell myself...

my self doesn't believe
a word of it.

New Year's Resolutions
a piece of cake!

The cake....wins!

My resolve

before a piece of cake
unable to lose weight

Let me -
"Eat cake!!!"
Dec 2020 · 45
Donall Dempsey Dec 2020

Like a tree
hiding in a forest

like a leaf
hiding on a tree

like a river
hiding in an ocean

like a wave
hiding in a sea

I see you see
through me

and my carefully
camouflaged love.
Dec 2020 · 185
Donall Dempsey Dec 2020

We dashed outside
as the sky was falling.

“Crunch...crunch...crunch! ”
chanted the snow

as our footprints
chatted to it

in a bold red
booted voice

and slowly a bird
wrote itself across the sky

with such careful calligraphy

& our laughter

right in front of our noses.
Dec 2020 · 21
Donall Dempsey Dec 2020

I don't
do this

you understand
but I am

staring at her

in particular
where her ample *******

meet in a more than ample

Did not this
awesome architecture

of female flesh this
confluence of mammaries

just go

it is

for all to see
in a daring low-cut top

a robin redbreast
in her cleavage

making all who see it

A tiny broken

with an injured wing
(poor thing)

nestling between
her *******

(well it is
Christmas after all) .

She feeds it
every hour

with a tiny

as it nestles

'Peep...peep! '
it pipes up

every so

Come Christmas
she gives it

the gift
of its


nothing but
blue skies

all day long
it returns

to its

as if it were
a living

Christmas card,
Dec 2020 · 39
SNOWSTORMS ( for Junie )
Donall Dempsey Dec 2020
( for Junie )

It was the most magical thing
I’d ever seen

a winter scene
with a stumpy little snowman

leaning on a broom
and snow coloured trees.

The snowman was always smiling.

Then the world shook
and turned upside down

and the blizzard began again.

Snowflakes falling in
slow motion.

I wanted them to fall forever.

My sister smiling at
my: “Again...again! ”

turned the little glass world
upside down

and once again the snowflakes fell
so slowly suspended in time.

I smiled at the snowman smiling.
My sister smiled at me.

I would spend time after time
forever after

playing with
suspended Time

stopping the world
to begin it again.

One day it fell
and spilled out

all across the lace table cloth
lapping at the evil smelling geraniums.

The snowman was plastic
(and the snow was plastic too) .

Time poured itself out to
the edge of the table

& drip by drop
pooled itself on the living room floor.

Time was only an illusion
its mystery

nothing more
than my tears

crying for what could never be

Somewhere in Time
a bus is crashing.

I can still see my sister smiling...

...a world falling out of her hand
Dec 2020 · 45
Donall Dempsey Dec 2020

He is cradling baby
in his arms.

We like iron filings
cling to his Dad-ness.

Sisters and brothers
cuddle into every side

of him

Two more siblings
clutch a leg each

unwilling to
let go

this prize position.

I am curled on the back
of the sofa

about his neck
like a human scarf.

We are laughing at

"... a horse is a horse,  of course, of course. . ."
we all chant in unison.

Or sing the theme to

Doesn't matter what we
watch as long as  we

can be
part of him.

"...our dad is our dad, of course
of course..!"
Dec 2020 · 36
Donall Dempsey Dec 2020

the past sleeps
like a giant in a palace
made of years

a moment...thought
lost for ever
sunbeams trapped in a room

they flick and dart
all over the ceiling
goldfish in a goldfish bowl

memory dares
to waken the sleeping giant
demanding the sunbeams being goldfish

from somewhere in the palace
made of years and tears
the Past produces the moment

"Here...take it!" the Past rasps
begrudgingly giving it back
I take the moment and flee

far far
into the future
where nothing can touch me
Dec 2020 · 43
Donall Dempsey Dec 2020

The fog strips us
right down to our


leaves out the shape or
the skin we're in &

even what ***
we are

we lose society's references
how it elects to see us

stumble around in
this cotton wool

& somehow now
we re-emerge

our selves
tentatively again

you most definitely  woman
I made man again

white skin
black skin

nothing now

Dec 2020 · 45
Donall Dempsey Dec 2020

You ask me

“What please
is the difference

between the verb
“to be”

& the verb
“to is”

“? ”

I laugh.

And you frown.


“Laugh please
not at me! ”

“I have the desire
to learn learning! ”

“I’m sorry...forgive me! ”
“I do too! ”

And today
you give me

the gift
of the verb

“to is! ”

I hating
to correct

your lovely

when I love
what they do

teasing the language
(fire from embers)

as they glow

Always & forever
my love

is the

“to is!
Dec 2020 · 30
Donall Dempsey Dec 2020

But now--Manhattan holds me
To a chair in the sky
With the bird in my ears
And boats in my eyes
Going by

Joni Mitchell -  A Chair in the Sky from her 1979 Mingus album


I break cleanly through the dream
gasping for morning
"Well, hello there!" smiles the newest day

I still had memories
clasped in my hand
but they lost their lustre  in the light

"Glad to have you back with us!"
shouted the room a little too loudly
and the furniture agreed wholeheartedly

they needed a human
to give them a purpose
otherwise they were just pieces of wood

sunlight grovelled
fawning at my feet
licking the tips of my toes

the window had arranged
trees and flowers and fields
to prove the existence of a world

the curtains breathed in then
out again
the lungs of the room

I gathered myself together
put on my Past...searching for my Present
"Now where did I put my Future?"

"Read me!"
a dog-eared book demanded
barking page 69 all the time

"Shut it!" I told it
shutting it
it falling silent

soon the morning came
fully into being
"How do you do?" it enquired politely

"Fine..." I lied "Fine!"
now where the hell
did I leave my mind

I found it under
some dried up dreams
that had escaped from sleep

my mind was a little rusty
but still worked
even if a little slowly

"Ok...ok!" shouted the day
"Let's get this
existence on the road!"

"Do you have to shout..?" I moaned
"No..." it whispered
"...but can we get on with it!"

Reality is...I thought
a foreign country
they do things differently there.
Donall Dempsey Dec 2020

breath & sax
unite to form
a creature made of flesh & horn

his sax calls forth
his own ghost
it dances before him like smoke

he closes his eyes
loses sight of everything
but the song

he plays
not knowing what he plays
until he plays it

the song seems to know
where it's going
it's the man he improvises

"...where the world has not
been broken up
into fragments..."

he longs to be taken
out of himself
so he can become himself

the last note
he comes back from the nowhere
that he's found

stuck now in this
somewhere he is
made ordinary again

now he's just
a man with a limp
just another drunk

his sax
the genie of sound
sound asleep in its case

he hums inside his head
the music heard
he the instrument now

tapping on the table
his cigarette dancing
to the invisible music

the notes
half man half ghost
tapped inside his skull

even the silence
full of sound

"...sometimes I wish
the music would leave
me alone..."

"...the music is like
a very very big dog
taking its owner for a walk.."

"...note by note I am
until I am the music..."

"...caught in a riptide
what can I
do. . ?"
Dec 2020 · 142
Donall Dempsey Dec 2020

"Comes a headache you can lose it in a day,
Comes a toothache see the dentist right away;
Comes love nothing can be done! "

she wiggles her fingers
she wiggles her toes
tries to mouth the words

she gurgles in her cot
waves her head about
hits her mobile toys

I sing her old jazz
standards from the first
day of her life

from tiny tot
to the toddler
of now

she can join in
and sing
with relish and delight

and demand of Daddy
"Sing me mousey
Sing me mousey!"

"Comes the measles, you can quarantine a room
Comes a mousey, you can chase it with a broom
Comes love, nothing can be done!"

Comes love, nothing can be done

Comes love...nothing can be done

Comes love . . .nothing. . .can be. . . done

Spoken Intro:

I've studied up my trigonometry
and my geometry and history
but all all the laws of trigonometry
are no use to me
see they're antique.
It doesn't take a lot of figuration
and it doesn't take a college education
to know that when love comes to your door
to know that two and two just
simply won't make four...

Come a rain storm put your rubbers on your feet,
Comes a snow storm you can get a little heat;
Comes love nothing can be done.

Comes a fire then you know just what to do,
Blow a tire You can buy another shoe,
Comes love nothing can be done.
Dont try hidin 'cause there isnt any use,
Youll start slidin when your heart turns on the juice.

Comes a headache you can lose it in a day,
Comes a toothache see the dentist right away;
Comes love nothing can be done!

Comes a heat wave you can hurry to the shore,
Comes a summons you can hide behind the door;
Comes love Nothing can be done.
Comes the measles you can quarantine the room,
Comes a mousie you can chase it with a broom;
Comes love nothing can be done.
Thats all brother, If youve ever been in love,
Thats all brother, you know what Im speaking of!
Comes a nightmare you can always stay awake,
Comes depression you may get another break;
Comes love nothing can be done

"Comes Love" is a 1939 jazz standard. It was composed by Sam H. Stept, with lyrics by Lew Brown and Charles Tobias.

I used to sing this to my little girl and both she and our dog were both mesmerised by it. Og( for that is what she called him...she would cut a d of off every word)would just stand still and listen with all of his might and she would dance around him singing her favourite mousey bit.
Dec 2020 · 19
Donall Dempsey Dec 2020

Whenever I fell

my father came
& cupped me in his hands

carried me to bed
as if I were as precious

as water
in a hot dry land

or draped like discarded clothing
on a a garden

on a bench or a beach
I would be gathered up

& awake to find myself
back in the safety of my own bed.

And I would have thought
I had flown

or being magically
transported by a spell

but it was only the ordinary
magic of my father

cradling me in his arms
gathering up the littlest

of my scattered dreams
stroking my hair

& tip-toeing backwards
out of the room

his voice
full of tenderness

casting a spell
“Good night son...goodnight...goodnight.”
Dec 2020 · 31
Donall Dempsey Dec 2020

the objects
in his pocket

have lost
their identity

their significance
to anyone but him

a hairy comb
photo of an unknown

who can she be

a torn-in-two
train ticket

chewing gum
much masticated

yet put back
in his blazer's breast pocket

small change
a penny and a sixpence and

a button
from the cuff

no clue as to who
he had been

before the water claimed him
as its own

the disgust and fascination
of those

passersby who continue
to pass by

it such
a sunny day

for death to
intrude this way

the miscellany of objects
ownerless now

the waters of the Liffey
calm and unmoved


I was just coming up to O'Connell Bridge and the bus got snarled in traffic. It was a beautiful beautiful sunny day and as I gazed idly out of the window a body, sodden and shapeless but still all too human was being winched out of the river. So we were forced to witness this before the bus finally made it to the bridge. It was startling and cut like an emotional knife through the fabric of the perfect day.

My girlfriend at the time told of a friend of hers who had sometime last year thrown herself into the Liffey so that added an extra dimension to the horror. Everyone who had met her on that last day said she seemed so happy and were amazed that she had done so because " was such a sunny day." She only had a comb and a button and small change in her pocket...all she owned. A human life shrunk to so little.
Donall Dempsey Dec 2020

She would sit beside him
like a distant constellation

trying on what it felt like
to be human.

He observed her
through the telescope of his hate

as if a scientific study
of her distaste

would make her more
understandable to him

it didn't.

He remained earthbound.
She an ever expanding universe.

At night they lay like grey
alabaster effigies on a tomb

the close but not touching
classic cliché

except for the cobwebs joining their hands
the odd broken fingers...the chipped chins.

Both pious in the death
of this their marriage.

They tried to resurrect
their long ago selves

who had ate up all
the promises made

before vomiting up
all they had said

like drunks unaware
of puke in their hair

Now *** was engaged in
although boring beyond belief.

He said nothing.
She cried.

Affairs offering little
or no relief

from the prison
of their bodies.

Both their lives
like kitsch touristy souvenirs

gathering dust
on an un-dusted shelf

tatty flamenco dancer
chipped porcelain matador

how they saw
what they used to be.

As if life were a cat
and would with a swipe of a paw

knock them off
broken upon the floor.

How two humans
could come to such an impasse. . ?

Don't. . .
even ask.
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