Poetry

  • The Poet

    The Poet

    Audio clip: Adobe Flash Player (version 9 or above) is required to play this audio clip. Download the latest version here. You also need to have JavaScript enabled in your browser.


    People often ask me what I do.
    Well, I say, last week
    I decorated the downstairs loo’

    ‘No, no, they say
    What is it that you really do?

    ‘Well, I say
    I make a dam fine stew,
    lamb and onions, carrots too’.

    ‘No, no, they say
    what is it that you do all day?

    ‘Well, I say
    I’ve been known to pray
    and every day I take a walk
    and I love to talk’

    ‘No, no, they say
    what is it that you do for money?

    ‘Oh right, says I
    I’ve got you now.
    Well, sometimes I make a little honey.

    ‘Oh right, says they
    (Pleased at last)
    where is it that you keep the bees?

    ‘Oh no, says I, I don’t keep bees
    I gather nectar from the wild,
    distil it all in little jars
    and call them verses
    one two and three.

    I sit upon the quiet shore,
    stroke the sun warmed rocks
    and sometimes they whisper songs to me,
    hidden mysteries of the dark blue sea.

    I watch the world unfold
    I hear the lonely crying
    of the lost souls
    come keening down the winds.

    I listen to the stories told
    by the gurgling of the brazen stream
    flowing wildly down the hill
    in a rhapsody of ecstasy.

    I glimpse
    a holy rosary
    of blue bells
    ringing in the woods.

    And I try to remember
    all of this to thee,
    In verses, one, two and three.

    But mostly it’s
    nothing much that I do.

    Though as I say
    I make a dam fine stew.

  • Saving The World

    Saving the World

    Audio clip: Adobe Flash Player (version 9 or above) is required to play this audio clip. Download the latest version here. You also need to have JavaScript enabled in your browser.


    Call me crazy, if you like,
    but I have decided
    to save the world
    and there’s a lot to do,
    I’m in good company too.

    There’s Tom, the gardener
    in the park close by
    rubbing his cold hands together,
    carefully planting snow drops,
    digging small holes in the rich Autumn soil
    dark clay beneath his fingertips.
    So that when Edith
    takes a shaky walk around the park
    she’ll see their brave heads
    pushing their way
    through the heavy snow
    and smile, properly,
    for the first time
    since her husband died.

    Perhaps Tom is saving the world.

    And Mike from the ‘Community service scheme’
    paying back society for his sins
    down by the neglected river bank,
    pulling out old condoms
    and half torn pages
    of used up porn.
    So that when Dave
    takes his kids for a walk
    (to give their Mum a break)
    they can splash in the clear water,
    dance for delight, clapping their hands
    in amazement
    at this world of ours.

    Perhaps Mike is saving the world.

    And Andy on the computer
    late at night and far from home,
    back aching and eyes sore
    from squinting at the screen,
    tired and missing the comfort
    of his warm bed.
    Putting the last touches to his paper –
    ‘Prevention of world blindness
    a way forward’

    Perhaps Andy is saving the world
    as a really special gift
    for Maria Okoro,
    blind for twenty years
    so that she can see
    her grandson born
    and the sun rise –
    all on the same day.

    So I have decided
    to save the world
    in the only way I can;
    I will take the tattered scraps
    of impossible dreams
    and stitch them into poems.
    Piece by careful piece
    I will place together
    their coloured edges
    to make a patchwork song
    and I’ll sing it right out-loud,
    in the middle of the street
    and you can call me crazy, if you like,
    but I have decided
    to save the world.

    Which is just as well really
    as there’s an awful lot to do.

  • No

    Audio clip: Adobe Flash Player (version 9 or above) is required to play this audio clip. Download the latest version here. You also need to have JavaScript enabled in your browser.


    I will no longer no more no
    Will I silent stand
    At the foot of the cross
    Where they hung my son
    And called it sacrifice
    For God.

    No I will no longer no more no
    Will I silent weep
    In the corner of the room
    Where they rape my child
    send my children out to war
    And call it sacrifice for God

    No I will no longer no more no
    Will I drink this poisoned cup

    No I will no longer no more no
    will I silent stand
    Upon the serpent of deceit
    whispering hatred in my ears

    for too long have I silent stood
    My child in hand,
    My heart upon my opened sleeve,
    My hands entwined
    Upon the rosy briar
    That bites and binds
    Blood red
    and smiled
    A pained expression of delight,
    Painted
    On my frozen face
    Of stone.

    I will remove these saintly garbs,
    the pious blue and saintly white
    I will remove
    the over ripened pollen of the flowers,
    The cloying bands of sweaty creeds
    that cling about my legs
    and dare to tell me
    who I am
    the Mother of their God

    For you have raped
    And you have ravaged
    You have plundered
    And you have pillaged
    The garden of my soul
    You have taken my name
    And called it yours
    You have placed yourself
    On tin pot thrones
    And claimed dominion
    O’er the land and sea.

    And I will no longer, no more, no
    will I stand for it

    I will rise
    From the bottom
    Of the deep blue sea,
    Move
    Through the dark bowels
    of the earth,
    follow
    To the beat of my own drum

    I will Destroy
    With the fury of my rage
    Howling
    Down the winds of time
    I will break
    the silence
    Of the seventh seal
    dance upon the scattered
    Bonds of time.

    I will conceive
    With the flames of desire
    Licking at my womb
    Open
    To the power of my love
    And come
    In the glory of my soul

    And no man shall dare defy my name.

  • Running Away

    Running Away
    I have decided to run away.
    Mind you, I decide this
    Practically every other day.

    I will live in a hut
    on the top of a cliff
    precariously near the edge,
    with the sound of the sea
    booming in my ears.

    I will stay in bed
    ‘til midday at least
    then I’ll get up
    and potter around
    in an old dressing gown
    making tea – No
    I’ll buy me a new one
    in satin
    that clings to all my curves,
    like the ones you see
    in the old black and white films.

    I’ll sing to myself
    as the kettle boils,
    loud arias, in all the wrong keys
    with all the wrong words
    in Italian.

    I’ll write long epic poems
    all about passion and love
    at a little wooden desk
    overlooking the Atlantic,
    pausing frequently for cups of tea –
    or better still, hot whiskeys
    laced with lemon and cloves.

    I’ll take long walks
    when the wind is high
    and the moon is rising,
    stride out along the wild cliff tops
    with the sea
    sounding in my bones
    and I’ll dance
    on the edge of the sea
    by the light of the moon
    with nothing on at all.

    I’ll take a young lover
    foreign of course,
    who doesn’t speak a word of English
    so that we won’t be disappointed
    when we can’t understand each other.

    I wonder if they’ll miss me
    When I’m gone.

    I have decided to run away.
    Perhaps I’ll even do it
    come some rainy day.

  • A New Story

    Speak up !

    Audio clip: Adobe Flash Player (version 9 or above) is required to play this audio clip. Download the latest version here. You also need to have JavaScript enabled in your browser.


    There is a new story,
    only you haven’t found the words yet
    I am still telling it through your dreams.
    Perhaps, you will discover a language
    without any words.

    Let us set sail!
    for there is a new story.
    I can smell it on the winds

    But lash me to the mast of the ship,
    for I carry the bad words in my body,
    they are eating my flesh
    corrupting me,
    maggots feeding on my soul,
    until I am but bone
    clean.

    Oh let us set sail!
    far away,
    to where the horizon drops
    groaning in the wind.

    Then; will I breath
    new words into your bones,
    growing flesh and blood
    layer upon layer
    concealing secret stories
    whispered
    by the light of a full moon.

    Until you are born again,
    conceived on some distant shore
    far away,
    where the horizon drops
    groaning in the wind

    Then will you see your story
    in my eyes
    and mine in yours
    and though no word be spoke – yet
    will my flesh answer yours
    and we; we will be known.

    Oh let us set sail!
    far away
    to where the horizon drops
    groaning in the wind,
    for there is a new story
    waiting
    to be told.

  • 5 Mins Late

    Audio clip: Adobe Flash Player (version 9 or above) is required to play this audio clip. Download the latest version here. You also need to have JavaScript enabled in your browser.


    Walking one day, briskly
    to a very important meeting –
    he had his grey suit on
    with a red tie
    for a splash of colour.

    Suddenly he stopped.
    Saw the wild Autumn trees
    garishly waving their brazen branches,
    shrugging off their old leaves
    in a frenzy of yellow and red
    and burnt umber.

    And he wanted….he wanted….
    he wanted to run down the hill
    brandishing a fallen stick
    arms outstretched wide,
    whooping and hollering
    like a wild Indian.

    But he was two minutes late
    and it was a very important meeting.

    Oh, but he wanted…he wanted…
    he wanted to meld into the darkness
    merge with the undergrowth,
    stalking his prey
    like a Celtic warrior,
    with a sun blazoned shield
    riven with gold.

    but he was three minutes late
    and he had this really important meeting.

    Oh, but he wanted…he wanted…
    he wanted to plunge his naked body,
    deep into the forest pool,
    drench himself in icy
    lung-fulls of water
    gasping cold
    and emerge glistening,
    like an Adonis

    but he was four minutes late
    and it was a really important meeting.

    Oh, but he wanted…he wanted…
    he wanted to let go, take off
    soar on winged feet,
    unfurl his rusty wings
    and fly.
    Icarus eat your heart out.

    But he was five minutes late
    and he had his best suit on –
    grey, with a red tie
    for a splash of colour

    And if he didn’t leave now
    he never would.

  • The Masterpiece

    Audio clip: Adobe Flash Player (version 9 or above) is required to play this audio clip. Download the latest version here. You also need to have JavaScript enabled in your browser.


    I wanted to write a poem
    Oh God, I wanted to write a poem.
    A masterpiece. Superlative
    A veritable feast, of sumptuous words
    A soaring sonnet for the soul
    An orgasm; of delight.

    I wanted to write a poem
    Full of deep and hidden text
    But couldn’t decide
    Quiet what to put next.

    I wanted to write a poem
    An epic poem for our times
    With lots of lovely little rhymes
    And adjectives of course
    And nouns and verbs and metaphors
    I like a metaphor, or two
    Or three or four, or even more.

    I wanted to write a poem
    To share it with you first
    And though I know your spirits thirst
    For words of wisdom on this night
    I think that you’ll agree with me
    This poem’s full – of shite..

  • The Sea

    Audio clip: Adobe Flash Player (version 9 or above) is required to play this audio clip. Download the latest version here. You also need to have JavaScript enabled in your browser.


    I move beneath the surface
    of your plastic domes.
    Crack the plaster of your careful walls,
    erupt in a vast surge of foam and spray,
    dark green and purple blue , colours
    washing through your empty streets.
    I water you a holy Baptism.
    Pull you down,
    down to the bottom
    of my story beds.
    I lap you softly in my arms
    like a lover, tides moving through us.
    I place silver shells on your eyelids,
    plait your long dark hair
    with golden strands of starfish glittering.
    I adorn you in the colours of my soul
    until you are beached clean.
    Then; I whisper your name
    and you, you remember me
    in the flow of your blood
    and in the valley of your bones
    and I breath your name again,
    grow me a new body from your bones,
    return you to the land
    to walk again on ancient feet
    made new, like a child’s wonder.
    And when you sit on my warm sands
    paddle in my pools,
    I whisper your name
    and you, you remember me
    in the flow of your blood
    and in the valley of your bones

  • Rita’s Miracle

    Rita's Miracle

    Audio clip: Adobe Flash Player (version 9 or above) is required to play this audio clip. Download the latest version here. You also need to have JavaScript enabled in your browser.


    Rita went looking for a miracle
    when she was fifty five.
    Her family said she was crazy
    claimed she’d lost the plot,
    they blamed it on the hot flushes
    of which she was getting a lot.
    But Rita was determined
    she said she’d had a dream,
    she was looking for a miracle
    a magical phenomenon
    a burning bush, a divided sea
    a sort of mystical Tsunami.

    Rita climbed Croagh Patrick
    in bare feet
    in December
    in the snow
    and got blisters for her sins.
    She tramped around Lough Derg
    (again in bare feet)
    in the rain – twice
    drinking only black tea
    and saying decades
    of the holy Rosary.
    She stayed up all night
    singing in Latin
    high as a kite.

    Rita was looking for a miracle
    a magical phenomenon
    a burning bush, a divided sea
    a sort of mystical Tsunami.

    She flew to Lourdes
    On a Ryan Air flight
    (for an extra penance)
    jumped into the icy water
    lit candles, got up
    really, really early
    for the first mass
    drank the holy water
    and took some home
    in a small, glow in the dark
    plastic bottle, in the shape
    of Our Lady of Lourdes.

    Rita was looking for a miracle
    a magical phenomenon
    a burning bush, a divided sea
    a sort of mystical Tsunami.

    She invoked the saints
    in a long litany
    of difficult to pronounce names
    beginning with Z.
    She left offerings at holy wells
    muttered ancient pagan spells
    smeared her breasts
    with wet ash
    she even smoked
    some dam fine hash.

    Rita was looking for a miracle
    a magical phenomenon
    a burning bush, a divided sea
    a sort of mystical Tsunami.

    She consulted priests and shamans
    yogis and yonis.
    She joined a naked commune
    in the U. S. of A
    got up before dawn
    every single day
    shaved her head
    learnt to bake bread
    took her guru to bed.
    She found a charlatan
    to put her in a trance
    she even learned
    to belly dance.

    Rita was looking for a miracle
    a magical phenomenon
    a burning bush, a divided sea
    a sort of sacred Tsunami.

    She crossed the Gobi desert
    on a foul mouthed camel,
    she even made love
    to a gorgeous Tamil.
    She flew to Mecca
    to learn the Koran
    donned a veil
    followed Mohammed’s trail.
    She entered Jerusalem
    in an armoured van
    because that’s the only way left – you can.

    Rita was looking for a miracle
    a magical phenomenon
    a burning bush, a divided sea
    a sort of mystical Tsunami.

    When I last heard of Rita
    she was reciting verses
    from the Bhagavad Gita
    wearing nothing but a red silk dress
    living at a very illustrious address
    right under St. Peter’s dome
    in the holy city of Rome
    teaching the Pope
    an eastern mantra
    and the basic principles
    of ecstatic Tantra.

  • Behind The Veil

    Poem - Behind the Veil

    Audio clip: Adobe Flash Player (version 9 or above) is required to play this audio clip. Download the latest version here. You also need to have JavaScript enabled in your browser.


    You are in everything
    In the sea breaking softly on the rocks
    In the yellow orange lichen
    I remember you
    You are my re-membering
    And my body answers your call
    And my spirit summons you
    And we are together again.
    You with your long grey untamed hair
    loosened from it’s bonds
    Your soft smile hidden
    Behind the holy veil
    Two exiled women, walking again
    Along the stony shore in harmony
    And your smile echoes mine
    And my smile
    Is bursting from the centre of my heart
    Wheeling and spinning
    Like a Ferris wheel
    For the sweet joy and the ecstasy of it all
    And you are saying “yes
    Yes this is how it is
    And how it has always been
    And ever will it be
    And all the old taboos lie shattered on the floor
    A flotsam and jetsam of nothing.
    And we dance, wild women
    The younger and the older
    Untamed and free.

  • Opening Prayer

    Opening Prayer

    Audio clip: Adobe Flash Player (version 9 or above) is required to play this audio clip. Download the latest version here. You also need to have JavaScript enabled in your browser.


    You will begin again to trust
    the sound of the sea, calling you,
    and feel a ripple of response –
    like the answering cry of your souls body-
    echo through you
    like a prayer.

    You will begin again to breath
    In rhythm with the earth
    moving beneath your feet
    moaning in her ecstasy,
    a psalm, written
    in the body of your soul.

    And you will remember
    the opening prayer
    of a child’s birth
    moving through you
    like a dark river. In a line
    ancient and unbroken
    spanning the oceans of time.

    And you will know me here
    with you, dancing
    to the same beat
    on the same shore

    Dark currents pulling us home.

  • Churched

    Churched

    Audio clip: Adobe Flash Player (version 9 or above) is required to play this audio clip. Download the latest version here. You also need to have JavaScript enabled in your browser.


    My Aunties were churched.
    Gravely voiced women
    with low cut necks,
    wide brimmed hats
    and hands that kneaded dough
    and slapped it in its place

    I’ll not be churched again, she said
    me aunty Nora
    sitting there in her frock
    of brazen red.

    Six children did she bear –
    Ah, Sure what’s a little wear and tear
    for a woman like yourself

    Two others did she loose
    one was handicapped
    still is.

    Wombs and breasts and leaking milk
    quick, pass us the surplice made of silk

    That’s what she swore
    she heard them say –
    the clerics
    as they began to pray.

    I’ll not be churched again, she said
    and bow and scrape
    and bend my head.

    Sure what in heavens name
    would they know
    of mornings retching o’er the sink,
    of the giving up of the booze,
    the fags, the drink.
    of the giving up and the giving in
    and the hormones
    raging through me
    like an ocean
    full of sin.

    I’ll not be churched again, she said
    and bow and scrape
    and bend my head.

    Sure what in heavens name
    could they know
    of the life growing
    in my womb,
    how it moves
    and turns, swimming,
    in a dark galaxy
    of its own,
    and how I nightly roam
    the barren landscape
    of the moon –
    then throwing up
    again
    at noon.

    I’ll not be churched again, she said
    And bow and scrape
    And bend my head.

    Sure what on earth
    could they know
    of bringing forth
    a child, of the moaning
    swelling, growing wild,
    of the burning opening
    wide and free
    and my waters
    breaking
    like the sea.

    I’ll not be churched again, she said
    me aunty Nora,
    sitting there in her frock
    of brazen red.

    I’d rather go to an early tomb
    Than let them curse
    My blessed womb.

    Churching was a religious ceremony, performed by the Catholic church, on women, following their giving birth – a sort of cleansing.