Monday, October 2, 2017

Autumnal sunshine

Autumn sunshine

The yellow leaves are blowing
Across the station wall
And down the railroad tracks
A north wind to their backs

Young men still wearing tee shirts
Old women dressed in shawls
We exit red brick houses
To the sea that opens wide

Autumnal waves race along the bay
The sea a greeny blue
Broken with white spray 
Of waves that race from Howth
To Bray. 

Out of the shadows the golden sun
Kisses boys and girls
Who tumble out of school
With angel faces and golden haloes.  

Light and shade, heat and cold
Arm wrestle for control
And autumn makes heat the winner
For another week or more. 

Delicious, honeyed, autumn moments
Sweeter for their brevity
Leafy riots of color
Yellow, brown and orange. 

Saturday, September 30, 2017

Summer Jobs

Summer Jobs

To put it in context, I was born in 1951 to a middle middle-class family who moved into a new suburban estate in western Dublin in early 1953 called Churchtown. My memory was that there was always work for those who sought it. 

Maybe we were just fortunate. A mile or less up the road lay the Hughes Brothers Dairy. My earliest memories - perhaps mistaken -  are of horses hooves on the roads pulling milk carts. Anyway, by the time I got to the advanced age of eight or nine they had progressed to electrically propelled carts. My very first job involved accompanying the milk man on  a Saturday to help collect money as we went from house to house. After six months internship  I was allowed to drive the milk cart which had a top speed of four miles an hour. My little chest puffed with pride especially if I was allowed drive the float up our own road, Landscape Park. I think I got paid sixpence which was perhaps twice my pocket money allowance at the time  and was capable of buying enough sweets to rot my teeth. I'm sure other children on the toad were forbidden from taking this work by their well-meaning mothers. My own mother's attitude to life could be summed up in her admonition, which she repeated ad nauseam ( and my mother could certainly repeat herself) was  'if they invite you, always say 'yes''.'

I had to wait a further two years until I was nine to get my first summer job. My good friend Paul Mc got me a lovely little sinecure in Spawell, Templeogue. A couple of farseeing  local dairy farmers started a modest pitch and putt operation in their fields. This modest enterprise  graduated over time into a major complex involving a driving range and one of the first super pubs and restaurants. My job entailed my cycling the forty or so minutes journey to what was a gap in the hedge and spend the mornings handing out clubs, balls and tees from a tiny makeshift tin hut. We also sold chocolate and minerals. A bonus of the job was that unlike the Ryanair staff of today we were allowed a bottle of Fanta orange to stave off the thirst. The pay was again  sixpence a day which allowed me buy enough sweets to rot my teeth fillings which were spreading at an alarming rate. 

My next four summer jobs were unpaid which in modern terms could hardly be regarded as progress but I loved them. They were spent in Connemara helping on the farm where I stayed to absorb the native spoken  Irish. I learned to unsuccessfully milk cows and deliver calves, cut grass with a scythe, plant - or as they called it - sew potatoes on the stoney Galway soil, and most frequently foot (arrange) turf on the bog to allow it to dry. I can still recall the sweet yet putrid smell of the turf as it was calved from the bog with the 'slean' (is this an English word?!) - a giant blade like spade that the locals could handle like Harley St. surgeons. The turf was handled and re handled perhaps six or seven times in a back breaking routine of turning it to dry and creating ever greater stooks (word-spell doesn't like this word, actually neither did I). 

It meant drinking endless cups of tea made from black bog water. Strong cups of tea with three heaped spoons of sugar and fresh milk from the cow that morning. And best of all, doorsteps  of bread cut with a penknife freshly cooked that morning in the turf fired range, smothered in butter churned only last week by the lady of the house who packed quite a punch in her sinewy arms that had reared ten children for emigration. 

We, her summer Irish students, were the children she couldn't hold onto living as she did  on a marginal, unsustainable  west of Ireland  farm. She invested her love and maternal instincts into her little summer charges with a mixture of soft sentiment and steely determination.  

Then came my big break. Aged sixteen years and ten months I headed to Paris for three months  in early June 1968. Our pilot proudly announced as we touched down in Beauvais airport that we were the first civil flight to land following the student riots locally dubbed les manifestations de Mai. I can tell my Gallic readers that the riots meandered into June because my earliest memories were of sitting up in bed listening to the gentle poofs of tear gas exploding and walking streets without cobbles that summer. 

My job paid me £12 a month delivered  in French francs. My summer job entailed helping out in the HQ of the de la Salle brothers in Rue de Sevres. France was definitely foreign  in the sixties. It took me ten minutes on my first morning to deduce that the round bowls I imagined for a non existent cereal were in fact used for the most delicious coffee mixed with warm milk. Then followed hours of cleaning tables, washing and drying dishes, cleaning the corridors, and the toilets - the stand up kind - where shit flew everywhere. 

Thursday's saw us rise at five and travel to the food market in Les Halles. The afternoons were free after serving and clearing up after lunch. I was interviewed at least a dozen times that summer by plain clothes detectives while I innocently listened to the Tour de France on my tiny transistor radio. Fortunately I waited until I was safely into my sixties to develop an interest in politics.  On Sundays the procurator would bring me on cultural visits to Fontainebleau and Chartres and Versailles. My companions resented his long lingering  hugs and bad breath born of garlic and constant sweets. I just thought in my innocence that was the way all French men behaved. 

From 1969 to 1976 I embarked on a very different kind of unpaid work - my speciality. I studied/worked for a Mexican order in Dublin Salamanca and Rome. The work was mostly a lot of fun. I served at various times as a sacristan, receptionist, farmer (yes, potatoes again), recruiter, youth club founder, study Centre organizer in Ireland and Spain and finally, the job that led to my eyes opening about the Order and its strange Founder, archivist of the vast photo collection in Rome. There were lots of part time jobs including impersonating UCD students in Madrid, getting insurance for cars that had been driven uninsured for some years. All in the line of duty. 

On my return to Dublin from the Legionaries of Christ in the sweltering 
Summer of '76 I confounded my father who told me there was no work to be had by getting a summer job within 24 hours. Hughes Brothers dairy had morphed into HB ice cream and were working three shifts a day to produce ice-cream for our nearest neighbors in England (we never referred to the U.K. Until perhaps the nineties). Working in the freezer section meant my many fillings contracted and complained as did my ingrown toe nails. I was paid overtime which allowed me expand my wardrobe which had consisted of the clothes I stood in when I alighted the plane in late July. I was the only person in Europe that day wearing an Aran Sweater. 

 
During my eighteen month sojourn in the Diocesan Seminary in Clonliffe I managed two Christmas jobs and one summer job. Christmas 1976 saw me working as a security man in Dublin City Centre for Roche's Stores. Lacking curiosity, then as now, I left it to the last working day to enquire how I had got the job when only a month earlier I had been told there was no work available. 'Oh you didn't know? The previous lad was knifed by a shoplifter'.  Ignorance is bliss. 

Summer '77 was spent working on the MV Leinster - the ferry between Dublin and Liverpool. 

My final part time job was at Christmas 1977 working in the sorting post office in Sheriff Street - the biggest in Dublin . In a different life on a different planet many years later I was to fund a development and regeneration of the post office and indeed part of the lands on Leopardstown Road where I had spent five years in the Seminary. 
That's why I believe life is a series of concentric circles. 

I left my job as temporary post man and spent the Christmas holidays weighing my future. I was looking at quitting my second clerical career after eight and a half years with nothing to show for it. 

My class mates had fruitfully spent the intervening  years and now had university degrees to show for it, and careers and houses snd mortgages and wives and mustaches.    

I sailed into lay life with a smattering of French, Spanish and Italian, philosophy, liturgy and theology. None of which were used, formally at least, in later life. I didn't have a degree, not even a diploma. 

It must have been my summer jobs  that saved me and landed my first 'real' job. As admin assistant in a German oil exploration company. An obvious and logical career development.    

PS thank you Eddie G for putting me on the unexpected career of accountancy. I never thanked you. Indeed I never thanked so many others on the winding road I call my career and cache of summer jobs.  

Tuesday, September 26, 2017

Deck chairs

Deck chairs.


With years of experience
The waiter moved the chairs
Here and there upon the decks
All the better to observe the ice
That gleamed and glistened
Under the starry April sky
Of nineteen twelve. 

First class seats for first class folk
To view the ice and stars,
No space alas for deadbeats. 
Champagne glasses sparkled
As the conversation wandered
To the weather in New York

A century later and still no wiser
Still busy moving the chairs
For the first class fares. 
As for climate change -
Who gives a care?
Why should we learn to panic
As the orchestra plays
On the decks of the new Titanic? 

Friday, September 22, 2017

Weep not for me

Weep not for me

Weep not for me 
Oh daughters of Jerusalem
Sitting high in SUV's
With glasses riding high
On furrowed brows
Above the cheekbones
Applied with rouge and blusher. 

Weep for your children
Who will choke on diesel fumes 
Of needless cars on needless journeys
To school and gym
And in between 

Weep for the future
For it lies behind you 
In all the stuff you bought
And never wore 
For all the rotting food
Bought in the store

Without a care
For who had grown it
Or delivered it to your door. 
Weep now with salty tears
Of desperation while the tide
Flees your greedy shore. 

Consumed by greed
You ate tomorrow's dinner
Intended for your children
And wore next winters clothes in summer

All it takes is ten just women
To point us in the right direction
We who follow can turn around
Our hopeless plight. 

Perhaps it's not too late 
Perhaps the chiming clock
Has stayed its hand from midnight 
And grants us freshly minted minutes. 

We pray. 

Tuesday, September 19, 2017

Every new dawn.

Every new dawn

Every new dawn never taken for granted.
And every sunrise surprises
The limpid sun on the Wexford shore
Makes me yearn for infinitely more. 

Another day is another gift
Of light and heat or rain and shower
Every noon a blessing
Every eve a turning home.  



A life of uneven halves

A life of  uneven halves. 


You're running, running up life's hill
It's hell for leather, going for a kill. 
One day soon you'll reach the summit
From now it's downhill, blast and damnit. 

You've been looking up, straining madly
To reach the goal you want so badly
And now you've got it, so now what?
With the rest of life that God forgot 

To tell you now the rules have changed
Better slow down or you'll be maimed
Or even worse, meet your end
A lot sooner that you might intend. 

Life's a game of unfair halves 
The first is fun, but the beach now shelves. 
A life for spending is now for hoarding
Stashing minutes in your wardrobe 

Filled with pills and prescribed potions
To extend a life now filled with caution
It's a long time since you read the ticket
It's one way mate, you can't exchange it. 

A bruised reed

A bruised reed 

A bruised reed he will not break
A smoldering wick he will not take
Kindness is his playing suit
His love and gentleness will take root

In this stony heart now moved to tears
It's just in silence that he hears 
And mercy flows in gentle streams 
And grace flows on silver moon beams.  

A French rose for an English girl

A French rose for an English girl

He kissed the ground
He kissed the air
He waved to strangers on the shore
There greeting him as he arrived
In Weymouth from Dunkirk 

The French arrived without their boots
From bloody fields in Normandy
Grateful to be saved
From death by tiny boats. 

My mother stood above the rail
And saw survivors climb to land
From baby ships that risked their lives
To pluck the French from German hands. 

But a girl of fourteen years
She still recalls as if last week
The soldier who threw this gift 
A bracelet that she holds today

A dainty silver rose, 
His precious chain, who knows
To an English girl in a Weymouth crowd
A Dorset rose today. 

Why do we kill those we do not know?
Why to stranger do we throw
Our dearest charm in life? 
To a young English girl who
Became my fathers wife. 

Quiet Quaker Meeting



Quiet Quaker Meeting

The meeting is slowly centring down
Sunday morning in leafy Monkstown
A silence fills the quiet void 
My eyes wander towards the tree outside
That frames the window in the sky

Sitting and waiting for the Spirit to whisper
At times it's wonderful but mostly it's littler 
But it's honest and equal and ever so caring
At times quite somber yet oft entertaining. 

We come here to worship
And pray without knowing
What effect it will have
On a world that is growing
Apart every day. 

Whatever about prayers 
At times  actions speak louder
Is it the social justice
Of which we are prouder?

With an eye for the poor,
The distressed and the maimed
With a passion for causes
That receive no acclaim. 
But humble and worthy 
All the same. 

Then comes the coffee
The tea and the chat
The friendly smile 
And occasional pat. 

With always an eye
For those who are absent
Though illness or old age
It's uncommonly decent. 

Slowly the room drains
All that remains
Is the sudsy wash up
By the regular crew 
Always the reliable few. 

Come to me you who washed and dried
You who catered and you who served
The coffee and the tea 
For in feeding them
You were feeding me. 


 

Walk the walk

Walk the walk

We  talk the talk 
These days with Skype
But shall we walk
With Christ in service
The quiet paths of Galilee? 

Who will walk the walk
And cross the path to Calvary?
Who dares to break the spell
Of drowning in the ordinary?

It's quiet in the hall  because all have left
Our promises behind on comfy chairs 
And chatter in the corridors 
Following the call to follow. 

Is this it? As many think.  
Or is  it indeed
A rehearsal of some sort. 
A prologue to infinity
But only if we want it. 

Will grace break through on village streets?
Will concrete yield to mercy?
And bright flowers bloom again
Amid decay? 

Are we children of one short second?
Or we do we live forever? 
Do we fail to see the stars
Because of city lights?  
Too bright to see? 

Not releasing summer

Not releasing summer

Early September and the busy world is back at work
Children return to school a little browner.   
The curtain falls on holiday halls
Seagulls reclaim their ocean kingdom. 

The sea waters lap a gentle shore
Warned by summer breezes not yet spent
Camper vans still meander on wexford roads
Seeking sites still open while the season lingers. 

Stretching out a summer ever longer
Not willing to release the sunny promise
Or bid farewell to August heat
While autumn shadows lengthen in the lanes.  

Sweet season of the soft farewells
We want to hold you closer, longer. 
Won't you linger and pretend to give 
What you desire but cannot deliver? 


IPhones on a train platform. 

With their back to the sea
It's a mystery
Dublin Bay beckons
But all they reckon
Is to stare at a phone
While pushing buttons
While life goes ahead
All around them. 

Blackrock train station
And the sun is shining
On the September sea
That gleams behind. 

Commuters with furrowed brows
Examining screens
While pushing and swiping
Missing gulls that scream
Wheeling above furrowed waves
Stretching out to handsome Howth. 

Simple beauty blows free
On a crisp autumn breeze. 
Shadows lengthen as summer
Gently retreats across the Dublin hills. 


Taste and touch
Grasp and feel
What is here and now
Clean, pure and free
Magic yet real. 

The jump

The jump

 Over the cliff he jumped 
Into the arms of hope
At the end of a live well-lived
Just to eternally elope
To a galaxy of gas and atoms
Far beyond the stars
Beyond his furthest dreams
Beyond infinity 

Monday, June 5, 2017

Planning for death

I'm building barns till the cows come home
I'm feeling poorly but I'll keep building on
I can't bring money to heaven, they say
They could be wrong, I'll save anyway.

I'm too old now to learn how
To set aside the rake and the harrow
Not for me sailing or beer
Making useless money is my cheer.

They could be wrong and to be sure
I'll stitch some pockets in my shroud
I'll stuff some dosh an' pills an' stuff
Surely that way I'll 'ave enough.

Haymen

Monday, May 29, 2017

Where trees embrace the sky


Where trees embrace the sky

Along his woodland walk
Enjoyed the birdy talk 
Feathered friends on the wing 
Knowing much more than him
'Bout trees 'n things.  
They taught him how to sing
The silent forest chant
Lifting spirits in a dance
A trance of mystical delight
With wordless hymns
And soaring leafy chords
To high infinity
And far beyond. 


Grave words 

Sitting hunkered on the granite surround
Along the grave of mother, father and dear sister
Lives once laughing breathing loving
Now speaking wordless love and memories

Remembering the windhover
How it sailed and soared
Far above souls in a quiet graveyard
Forever still, forever eloquent 

Sail on dear hearts
Deeper into the Milky Way
Further closer deeper
Forever on a maiden day in May. 


Slow down, for feck's sake!

Slow down, you're going to die
Why then make the hours fly
What's the hurry, what's the rush?
You'll  get to die, no need to push. 

Why not saunter? Why not stroll?
Looking forward never round
You'll miss the beauty that is found
Stress and hurry takes its toll. 

Stop a moment, gently linger
Absorb the magic in your finger
The simple things are the best
To see a miracle at rest

The heaven's stooping down to kiss the shore
Where time and eternity conspire 
To weave a seamless cloak
Visible only to those who stop and care. 

You're in the car, he's up your tail
Wave him on for he'll be there
And you enjoy the extra moment
Some day 

Our Ladys Island Sunday Afternoon

Lazy September noon on Our Lady's Lake
The early autumn breeze rinses the rushes
That guard the isle to Our Lady's crown
The Sunday faithful have melted 
And the silence enters again.
 
A shrunken lady with a tiny dog
Walks the pilgrim path in peace. 
The ugly loudspeakers fallen quiet
No need for loud calls to prayer
For it has gently landed on our hearts. 

And still the Sunday breeze makes ripples on the lake
That whisper of summer dreams
And keep away for another day
Cold thoughts of coming winter. 

At this time in our lives days rattle
And whole weeks disappear
We accelerate on the final lap around the island 
awaiting the winter shadow of death 
And holy deliverance. 
   

September morning

The schools have opened 
The anxious children sit in benches 
And still the September sun
Says welcome to a lonely beach

Gone are the shrieks and cries of little ones 
In one small weekend the world turns 
But not the sea or tide. 

Waves Crashing gently on the shore
With dappled sunshine dancing on the eddies
And little birds sing in parting chorus
Ahead of travels south to milder climes 
 
And here I sit in silence 
Pensioned off and welcomed in
To natures treasure
Always here for all our pleasure. 

Jesus and Buddha

Smiling Jesus

If Buddha and Jesus were friends 
They would smile upon meeting
Exchange a man hug greeting
Share a meal as the day ends. 


Rising early next morning
Jesus is praying while Buddha is sitting
Awaiting the dawning

Both in love with mankind
Sharing compassion with healing
Feasting and fasting in turns

Sadly the friendship is cut short
By a death Jesus would want to abort
No pleasure for him in the pain
Or the agony of the cross. 

But happy their deaths do not define 
Their teaching of love and of care
Far outlives the mortal coil they shared. 

So when I think of Jesus at table
Through his broad smile I am able
To see his friend Buddha
And his humanity. 

Though he died on a cross
He lived smiling and most
Of his time was spent laughing with friends
On the winding paths of Galilee. 

So people of God in your chapel
Along with cross put the table
Where Jesus broke bread every evening
Loving the good world that god gave him. 

Many people wrote the Bible

Many people wrote the Bible
Some were busy, some were idle
Caring God managed the odd look in
Though many were obsessed with sin.  

Some were happy, some were sad
A few were sane but most were mad 
It wasn't easy for a God
Who gave men freedom and allowed
The freedom to describe the indescribable. 

He must have smiled and laughed at times
When we described in terms of human 
The infinite and the eternal. 

Some humbly closed their books and prayed
At the awesome world that God
 had made 
While others faked the drawing plans
With silly stories that were man's. 

Why would authors go to trouble 
Describing God in a bubble?
When all that's needed to encounter 
Is sea or sky or solemn mountain ?

The altar boy

The altar boy

The incense filled the morning air 
His long soutane and rebel hair
He gave reply in Latin verse 
His simple soul felt it might burst
With happiness. 

So very young and yet so wise
He sensed an unhurried peace
In the old priest's eyes. 

A life of quiet prayer and contentment 
What more could young men wish 
Following a higher pitch?

Heaven met earth
And time stood still
His young clear eyes 
Beheld eternity. 

White starched surplices
Black shiny shoes
Heads bowed in humble adoration 
Happy in unchanging faith. 

Faith of our fathers
Standing straight in pews
That filled to overflowing 

Faith of our mothers 
Cleaning, sweeping, toiling 
endless, endless cups of tea 
Look, on the stove the water's boiling. 

Not for them the shops of London 
Not for them the break or pause
Martha's sisters fret and spin
Serenely for their faithful cause. 


Insane

Only the insane
Are the truly sane
In this mad savage world 
Of contradictions. 

At the end of a bough
Not knowing how 
A friend saws the branch 
Just imagine our surprise. 

We come tumbling down 
Like a silly old clown 
We couldn't doubt our fate
Just a question of how late 

So it's not if - but when 
This world we borrowed
Comes crashing below. 
Tomorrow's no show. 

We've locked them all up
Lest we half hear the truth
That we're wearing the world thin
As we promise 'just one more spin'. 

Pat Welby from Camus Iochtar

Pat Mairtin Welby

Poor farmer Pat kept his cap
On day and night in rain and bright
He'd push it back when lighting pipe
While chatting in the cottage.

A quiet man, not full of stress
With a wrinkled smile of happiness
He'd puff and play the baccy
At end of day, contented.

Cait the wife and mother
To children now long gone
To far off shores and lands
Her's the voice and life of Camus.

Every day a loaf or two
Cooked in the trusty range
Butter spread churned last week
And cups of tea to beat the band!

Oh simple, spartan, happy days
Protected on the wall
By photos of the pope
The sacred heart and all.

Sundays after mass spent dozing
Half listening to the game
That hissed from ancient radios
But precious all the same.

Now the little feet
Of great grandchildren
Echo on the floor
Resounding out the open door.



Kevin Andrew Murray 1920-1980

Cut down cruelly by a stroke
Though not yet fifty one
He never once complained
But accepted his fate with faith.

Blessed at school with good results
But lacking father, mother
His career never achieved quite
What with good advice it might.

Lily said he'd have made a great priest
A bishop or a cardinal
Without direction fortunately
He duly formed a family.

Stern but fair, he didn't know
What hadn't been shown to him
Losing father just aged four
While mother moved to Britain.

Raised in part by sisters
Who kept an eye on him
But must have worried plenty
As he attacked life in his twenties.

But meeting Lily slowed him down
And having family steadied him
Being a father suited him
How he enjoyed his garden!

With an intellect as wide
As the Barrow in full swell
He read and studied avidly
The 'good' room was his library.

Devoted to his God and church
Learn-ed more than many
So called experts in the cloth
Peerless intellectually.

Devoted to his rosary
On the carpet floor
The evening prayer with trimmings
Always room for more

For one more prayer or cause
An unwell friend or Africa
Nothing too small or far
The gate to the spirit left ajar.

For eight years more
He soldiered bravely on
Things were tough at times
But he rose above them.

Till at last he passed away
On the floor of a grocery store
Buying chocolate as a treat
For my younger sister.

The last cheque he made out
Was to Bunny Carr, a charity
Lily questioned why the wealthy
Didn't pay as much as he
'Lily' he said 'it's simply
The rich, they can't afford as much as me!'





My poetry

My poetry

My poetry is bad I know
But then you haven't read my prose!
With poetry at least
There's little room to wander
It's careful as we go.

Poetry is half there
Between the books and silence
A tension between what's said
And what is left unspoken.

Poetry suggests and sketches
What readers then fill in
Like listening to the radio
It whispers more than conquers.

Free at last to dream and sigh
For days to come or nigh
It's an aural coloring book
It's cultural DIY!

Brevity

Brevity

Every poem should be short
And sweet and memorable
Brevity is what's needed
That's it

Stepping Stones

Stepping stones

A poem is a stepping stone
That brings us cross the river
A poem is a steady rung
That brings us up to heaven.

A poem gives us the time and space
To join up all the silences
Beguiling with soft cadences
Suggesting with mild sentences.

It springs the inner self
It mines the deepest treasure
It scales the peaks and valleys
A constant lifelong pleasure.



Alive today!

It's great to be alive today
It's better than being dead
I say that as a patient
Who's been in and out of beds.

The slender thread that keeps us here
Is extremely thin and tiny
Just one per cent here or there
And you've cashed your chips finally.

When you've woken from induced sleep
You count your toes and blessings
Life never is the same
Nothing can be taken for granted.

You bless the doctor and kiss the nurse
Life is so exciting!
Smells and colors no longer seem
Dull and uninviting.




Sunday, May 28, 2017

In memory of Kevin and Lily Murray

Kevin Andrew Murray 1920-1980

Cut down cruelly by a stroke
Though not yet fifty one
He never once complained
But accepted his fate with faith.

Blessed at school with good results
But lacking father, mother
His career never achieved quite
What with good advice it might.

Lily said he'd have made a great priest
A bishop or a cardinal
Without direction fortunately
He duly formed a family.

Stern but fair, he didn't know
What hadn't been shown to him
Losing father just aged four
While mother moved to Britain.

Raised in part by sisters
Who kept an eye on him
But must have worried plenty
As he attacked life in his twenties.

But meeting Lily slowed him down
And having family steadied him
Being a father suited him
How he enjoyed his garden!

With an intellect as wide
As the Barrow in full swell
He read and studied avidly
The 'good' room was his library.

Devoted to his God and church
Learn-ed more than many
So called experts in the cloth
Peerless intellectually.

Devoted to his rosary
On the carpet floor
The evening prayer with trimmings
Always room for more

For one more prayer or cause
An unwell friend or Africa
Nothing too small or far
The gate to the spirit left ajar.

For eight years more
He soldiered bravely on
Things were tough at times
But he rose above them.

Till at last he passed away
On the floor of a grocery store
Buying chocolate as a treat
For my younger sister.

The last cheque he made out
Was to Bunny Carr, a charity
Lily questioned why the wealthy
Didn't pay as much as he
'Lily' he said 'it's simply
The rich, they can't afford as much as me!'


Lily with a 'B' 1919-2014

Lily, Lily, quite contrary
To spell your name with a 'B'
Yes, that's 'B' for Bridget
And the passport man
Is just as confused as me.

Known through your life as Lily
For some strange reason though
Some bills come addressed with the L
And some addressed with the B.

Saving from a school girl
Until you well passed eighty
The prudent virgin in the tale
Like the sailor out at sea
You always trimmed the sail.

Always careful, always frugal
Though generous to a fault
Kind to young and old
Except to yourself of course.

Sitting here in the sunshine
Of my country paradise
How many meals did you forsake
That I might enjoy this place?

How many things did you not buy
To how many things said 'no'
That I might sit in the sunshine
Is it too late to say thanks somehow?

Maybe the secret is sharing
What I've got, what you gave without caring
The bill, the cost or the price  
The only goodness is the giving.

All here because of your saving
That started in Sligo post office
A good seventy years ago
Thanks Bridget, thanks Lily
 We've something special to show!






The nun

There is the quiet courage of the nun
Who makes her troth with God
Forsaking man and men
To be free in virginity.  

To walk the walk not just talk the talk
Within the convent grounds
To scale the doubts that assail the walls
Challenging sanity and loyalty.

No one hears at dead of the night
The silent cries from heart and soul
That yearn for man and child
That every woman knows

Kneeling on cold stone
At the altar of her giving
Can she just picture now
A savior more forgiving?

And yet and yet there is a joy
A compromise with nature
A satisfaction so profound
And sanctity surrounds her.
The returned missionaries.

Let me speak of the few
Though once we thought they were many
Who forsook wife and family
To serve in a faraway territory.

Decades later to return
Health often ravaged and unwell
To an Ireland they can scarcely recall
Which in turn forgets their hell.

Forgets the boyish faces
In photos of black and white
The broad smiles of the sixties
A time of trust and hope.

Yes of course, there were bad 'uns'
As in every walk of life,
But these poor privates didn't make the rules;
They just served in self sacrifice.

Oh Ireland how fast you forgot them,
Honored by thousands abroad
Oh Ireland how slow to remember
How they often shared your load.

Bread eaten is quickly forgotten
By men with  a message to pen
That sell papers and books
Forgetting or choosing to hide
That most coins have another side.
The pale blue skies of Wexford


Oh give me the pale blue skies of Wexford.
The pleasant chill on a sunny spring day
When wisps of white cloud scurry over to France
And all is well in St. Helens Bay.

The air is clear and the ozone cleanses
Body and soul of city stress
Bronzed lobster men head out to sea
Bright fishing boats in blue and green.

A sacred corner, an ancient shore
The ruins stand a millennium old
Saint Vogue looked out in daily prayer
God in his mercy returned his stare.

The dog goes racing to the water
Excited, rushing breaking waves
The birds rise wheeling in an arch
Ahead of flying out to sea.

County of welcomes and the friendly wave
Hardworking and honest as the day is long
What did I do to deserve the good fortune
Of walking the lanes of Carne and Broadway?



God doesn't talk, you know



God doesn't talk, you know
It's only you and I somehow
Who speak to him or her
At times we get an answer.

But the words returning are
The words we framed ourselves
God never speaks
Except through nature and our world.

He never changes, only us
Who switch the channels on the radio
At times we listen well
At times our static dulls our mind.

We find him at the core
He's always there if we only look
He's there in every man
In every plant and being.

Revelation is just the act of finding
What's always there
It's mind bending
He's simply everywhere

But absent where there's hate
Or violent despair
Hope spells his middle name
With love and peace and care

Stepping stones

A poem is a stepping stone
That brings us cross the river
A poem is a steady rung
That brings us up to heaven.

A poem gives us the time and space
To join up all the silences
Beguiling with soft cadences
Suggesting with mild sentences.

It springs the inner self
It mines the deepest treasure
It scales the peaks and valleys
A constant lifelong pleasure.



Friday, May 12, 2017

No longer

No longer

Taking for granted, the air that we breathe
Taking for granted, the simplest of deeds
Now we must pause, for time has run out
Last drinks in the bar, were finished last night.

We envy the old woman, walking with ease
We envy the couple, unaware of this  moment
They saunter along, enjoying shared minutes
They breathe without effort, the simplest of things.

For then the simplest is no longer for sale,
The familiar recedes before our eyes,
While the whole world spins without a care
And heaven weeps a silent tear.

To return

To return

To return to the mother's womb
Through death to pass again
From whence we came
Without fears or tears.

Noli timere - 'do not fear'
Embrace the eternal space
Breathe in the galactic breath
Exhale the distant stars.

Atoms flying through the universe
In mysterious symmetry
Surfing with divine geometry
To be and to about to be.

To believe is to welcome
Sleeping naked in God's light
Embracing time and space
Dissolving in divine delight.

Nada te turbe,
Rest in God's hand
The race is run
From raging sea to dry land

The cycle's come
Full circle and we
Join all of creation
In ecstatic mystery.

Jump or fall
Submerge or rise
One question remains
Vade mecum?

Monday, May 1, 2017

The Norman Way

Walking slowly along the Norman Way, Co. Wexford.

I ambled down the leafy lane
Listening to the songs of birds
And slowed awhile to marvel
At nature's brimming treasures.

Free to all who stopped a mo
To drink the charm and sip the fragrance
Of wild wallflowers in a riot
And bluebells tumbling down old walls
In glorious confusion.

Let the ambience sink in
From  whistles and from cries
Of spring time birdies
Calling from all sides.

The pigeons cooed
And blackbirds shouted
Above the melody
Of thrush and blackbird.

Beside St. Catherine's church
Along the Norman way
Eight centuries lie in ruins
By a well kept cemetery.

Old Wexford secrets peeping out
From garlic and from undergrowth
Ancient stones stand slanted
Like aging sentries in their boxes

We who are still alive salute you
Your stories live on in churches
And through age-old cemeteries,
Witness to a half-forgotten century.




The here and now

The here and now

I love this precious moment
This very special minute
I live this now and present
So priceless and so intimate.

It's only now and near me
A second lasts infinity
It's now and forever
Savored eternally.



I'm happy here

I'm happy here

I'm happy here
To greet one flower at a time
To kiss its petals gently
Embracing it eternally.

Gone are the days
Of restless travel
And times misspent
In noisy stations -

Temples to our fear
Stoking our need to flee
The here and now
For greener hills.

Stationed in a sacred space
Tethered to our spirits home
The infinite in unity
Ecstasy is simplicity.

Fear no more competing colors
Relax your ears from many sounds
Draw closer to the one and only
The trusted and the homely.


Less is more

Less is more

A poem with a single verse
Is all I can remember
For me there's nothing worse
Than stanzas never ending.
A line once learned in school
A constant friend, a lifelong tool.

The poetry that stays with me
Is just a line or three
Enough for me a simple thought
A prize for life once caught.

Keep the flipping poem small
Four neat lines should tell it all
In forty years from now
It's all you can recall.

Why did I mention it all?
Why didn't I stay stum?
Why did I blabber on?
I cannot quite recall!

It's easy tripping a poor man
When already down
He seems the useless loser
But guess who is the clown.

To speak no evil from a pure heart
To wish him well puts you apart
From clever jokes and smirks
In purity true greatness lurks.

How deep does kindness go?

How deep does kindness go?

How deep does kindness go?
Out from his lips, down to his toes?
Or does it end as quick as light?
Does darkness make his soul take flight?

Are we Complex beings, confusing souls
Growing in virtue as age takes its toll?
Or do we become fearful and conniving?
Generosity that dries on the surface of living?

The answer as always
Is not black or white
It varies through ages
But hope leads our fight


How dep
Was she always unobtainable?

Was she always unobtainable?
It ever seemed so.
Always perhaps the wrong time
Or maybe the wrong year
First it's you, then it's her
Never a way to bring it further.

Courageous and timid, you lost her
You should have moved slower and faster
She belongs to another one now
Yet hope springs forever somehow.

Oh! how it might have been
When she entered on your scene
Doubting how she might respond
You ducked and dived on the pond
Whose currents led to safety
And out of danger and love
Safe and foolish above!

Yes! Fortune favors the brave
A coward he cannot save
Nothing to fear but fear
Was it too much to say
I'm head over heels in love?
With you.

Tuesday, April 18, 2017

Our parents' parents

We've now become our parents' parents
As they slowly slither into senility
We take their hand and guide their steps
As once they did, with humility.

Knowing well that unlike us
Their steps will not progress
For closed in ceilings
Replace the summer skies
Of hope and growth.

The world grows small in tiny rooms
Of the most expensive nursing homes
Gone the freedom and the wish
To to rush away and run.

A world that's ruled by dinner bells;
Smells of soap and polish stay awhile
While relentless time marches on
In disinfected file

They sometimes know us, sometimes not
They live in times the world's forgot
Vivid for them the world of fifty years ago
More than the present and the now.

Defend their dignity
Protect their fragility
As they once cared for us
Babies in the cradle.


We are the resurrection people

We are the resurrection people
So Father Martin said.
It doesn't matter if on this Easter
You're still curled up in bed!

Salvation is for all of us
Not just for those in Churches.
The news that Jesus gives
Is for great for every person

Christ is risen, what can it mean?
Was he heard and and truly seen?
Or maybe it's a feeling so very strong
That he's never far away all along?



Friday, April 14, 2017




Crucify him!

Reflect not on the bleeding Christ
But on the crown of thorns
We daily weave for a bloody
And a weakened world.

A world we wound with greedy nails
Upon a cross of climate change
As life lies hanging from a cross
Our last breath dies on a poisoned wind.

Three times we denied
Before the cock crowed and died
Three times we denied
That climate was our fault
We didn't know and didn't recognize
What stared us in the face.

We got a pass from Pilate
As we washed our hands, not his,
Of any thought of cutting back
To live a poor and simple life
That the poor might simply live.
Bad Good Friday 2017

Religion has come of age
Casting a long deep shadow
On the universal stage

After years of trying
At last they got it right
The world at last is dying

And we are blowing out
The eternal flame
That warms our world.

All this talk of an angry God
Was mistaken, better we
To finish what God had started.

The lights grow dim in China
As haze and smog linger
And poison clouds grow stronger.

Miami's under water since fifty years ago
The alligators swim freely
In shopping malls you know.

The polar bear has gone
His ice flow melted sooner
He drowned and met his Maker.

Greed conquered all at last
As religion said it might
Just it's not the way
That prophets had in mind.

The lifeboat of Wexford 1907

Cast a tear for the lifeboat crew
Who lost their lives to save a few
They'd never met and never will.

They gave their lives in a winters storm
That raged four days off Wexford coast
This trip their last, let's sound the horn.

A hundred years ago
A thousand storms since
And yet we will remember them

For they battled through the waves
That crashed and smashed upon them
Thinking only of the shipwrecked crew.

Today the sea looks quiet and serene
Impossible to imagine the howl and fury
Of that sad night

We shall remember them
In plaques of stone
And heart so proud and sad

They will never be forgotten
By Wexford men so true
We will salute them, me and you.

Saturday, April 8, 2017

Have you heard the birdies sing?

Have you heard the birdies sing?
It's that time and it's their thing
It's a busy time, they're on the wing
Busy, busy builders while nesting.

They're chatting and chirping
Squawking, crying and whistling
With accents gathered from far and near
Their springtime chorus is so clear.

Another year, hope springs again
Looking forward to summer days
Lazy evenings lengthen, the sun reigns
Hope and courage course in our veins.

Nature takes and nature gives
And giving comes so naturally
To birds and bees and you and me
Let us embrace eternally.


Thursday, April 6, 2017

Goodbye to all that

We ate and drank
We slept and sat
Raped and shat
Our only world

Funny now that
An awful orange man
Will haste our exit
Like a stern vet.

Happily perhaps
Our pain will not prolong
As nature takes nature's revenge
Quickly, increasingly
Measured now in years not ages.

Is God weeping tears on his throne
Or has he half forgotten
The willful sons of eve
The stubborn hearts of Adam?

Is it time for God to reinvent
A less willful race
And temper progress
To a slower pace?

Will sentient being die?
Will the starry universe
Fall silent once again
Save for crashing stars?

Is this the end foreseen
Two thousand years ago
By prophets seeing the end
But not the means.

Blessed be the God of silence
Who could not save us from ourselves.
Creating galaxies but unable
To really rescue man.

Blessed be his holy name
Unspoken now, our shane.
Frank McDonagh RIP


The boats are bobbing now in warm Puertito Bay
As silently his body lies in church in far Portroe.
Two thousand miles and many shores apart.
And yet I sense his spirit in the tide
That surges spumy o'er the polished stones
His spirit lives with every tide
That ebbs and flows on every sea.

Burial awaits beside his faithful Maeve
Who waited nine long years even to the day
To lie together above Lough Derg
That feeds the ocean and the spring tide
That washes up on these very shores.

It is to sunnier lands that Frank departed
Take down the sail now the gentle harbor's won
Returned a son to his eternal maker
Reward to him who toiled till later.

A gentle and a funny soul
That touched each heart he came upon
With wistful tales of human hope and folly
Of bygone days now only half remembered
Of a world long gone
And actors far departed
The empty stage
Still echoes with our laughter.

Peace at last!
Anchored at eternal rest
They're laughing now
In heaven's parlour!

Kate from Kells

A will of steel and iron
Of soft and generous heart
Appropriate then perhaps
That she married Desmond Harte

Many decades to remember
As we mourned her last December
Kate the golfer, Kate the mother
Sister, friend, and life lover.

A gift for friendship
Not spread wide
But true and close
Right by our side.

Ever ready, ever true
To lend a hand
To me to you

Knitting, sewing, cooking, cleaning
Nothing ever too demeaning
Coming, going in her blue mini
Driving deftly as in a Porsche

Baby sitting, reading, teaching
Around her kitchen table
Tea in china cups
To the chime of carriage clocks.

In Marie's bungalow o'er the bay
A modest drink at close  of day
A  lively G and T at five
Helps the sisters to revive.

Ever ready, ever able
Just ring the phone
She'll never waver. .

Simple homely pleasures
Span the rolling years
Time sits still for decades
On sleepy Dalkey streets.

At last the call of time
Has Katie in her clutches
And so the days now shorten
As eventide drew nearer.

Never dim, but always bright
Her smile lights up our day
We knock, she turns
"Hello darling" I hear her say
Just as she peers in family photos
Her voice will echo through the ages.


Christ with a small 'c'

At the motel in Cana
The man that I met late that night
signed in with me
writing Jesus with a Big J
And Christ with a small c

Seeing our fatigue the night porter offered tea
Wearily he smiled as the night clock struck three
Christ of small c
Asked, turning to me
Would you care for a beer  possibly?
So drinking together we saw in the dawn
And solved the worlds problems
Before softly heading on.

Six months later and I'm back in town
It's approaching noon and I see him again
A sadder sight, as he stumbled and fell
Under the weight of a cross by the midday bell
Weak from his wounds he once slumped to the ground
His eyes fixed on the path,
making hardly a sound
Our eyes met in a glance as he rose to his feet
It seemed then as now he said 'no' to defeat

When weeks later folks spoke of rising,
The image I found more surprising
Of a man who fell thrice,
And thrice rose again.

The victory of spirit, rejecting defeat
He got to his knees by the side of the street,
'It's Simon'I said as I offered my hand
'To rise once my dear friend
is a feat but twice
and repeat Is rising indeed'.

Some point to a Sunday
And an empty tomb
But
For me it's the Friday
And the hill that looms
Against an angry sky
It makes me ask 'why'?

Some have waited two long days
They're grieving for my friend
But Never thinking  it the end
Happy to meet and greet
When after badly falling
I get back on my feet.


PMM 22/3/15

Saturday, March 25, 2017

Me in the middle

I'm a middle-aged man
With a middle-aged wife
Living a middle class life
On a middle class street.
Oh happy me!

Not too hot and not too cold
Not too high and not too low
Free from riches and free from woe
Free to come and free to go
Oh happy me!

Money comes and mostly goes
Like sand it streams between my toes
Not for me the sleepless nights
No stock exchange or money frights
Oh happy me!

Free from money, free from cares
Enjoying free stuff like fresh air
Breathing in and breathing out
Enjoying sunshine all about
Oh happy me!
Christ the light
Shining on The life
Christ the gate
Opening to God
Christ the companion
On the road the Father
Christ the pilgrim
On the road to Eternity
Christ who points to that of God
In everyone
Christ, friend to drug takers
Prostitutes and bankers.
Christ alone with nature
And enjoying a party
Christ who died too young
But with mission accomplished
Christ who died due to others greed and envy
No different today.
Christ whose death does not overshadow his life
And whose end does not cancel his message.
Christ who points and leads to the Father
In life and in death.
I told you I was sick
I've been saying it for years
But would you bloody listen?
Not a little bit!

Permit me now some salty tears
For complaining all my life
I knew t'would likely end like this
I even told the wife.

I think I'll give a miss though
To doctors visits now
They couldn't  even bother
Though it's fifty years ago.
For fifty years I warned 'em
For fifty years they missed 'em
The tell tale signs and more.  

Not a bit of notice taken
Though I've suffered ev'ry sore
Known to man and more -
They're just a load of chancers
Without a single answer
I knew I wasn't feeling very well
'Bout sixty year ago
But would they bloody listen?
The simple answer's 'no'.

I'll waste away and die now
Aged tender ninety three
I'd  go and bloody sue them
If they hadn't gone and died
Some years ahead of me!!!



Hunkered here beside the grave
Of mother, father, sister;
The midday lull envelops
While faraway a strmmer strims
But now the graveyard silence
Overwhelms the quiet noon
In Deans Grange cemetery.

Occasionally the busy noise returns
To invade the fields of death
Persuading  us that life reigns supreme
For now at least.

Dear mother, father, sister
Departed from this life
Lying closely in cold clay
But warm within our memories.

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Some poems

There's something beyond us
Yet living between us
An invisible thread
Through the Milky Way
That gathers and scatters
That joins and divides us.

The pattern of God
So near and so reaching
Beyond touching and seeing
At the pit of our being.

Asleep yet awake
Mute, still conversing
Immobile, still coursing
Each second, every day.

We see him in children
The blind and the aged
In joy and in anguish
Through love and through care.

He's here and he's nowhere
Both now and forever
The gate is marked 'hope'
Past the wall of despair.


Surge raging surf


Surge raging surf
A tempest through the sea
White caps break and crash
Upon the lava shore
Of blessed Tenerife.

Roar, surf roar
Come roaring home ashore
Gurgling o'er the rocks
Streaming through the cracks
In ancient battened stone.

The blue sea's stricken
With silver heaving furrows
From a jagged plough
That charges and retreats
To a distant beat

Drumming and destroying
Crushing and creating
An ageless pattern far
outlasting and sustaining
The life forms on dry land.





Sunday evening in sleepy Alcala

The midday sun has gone away
The children now spill out to play
The evening breeze blows softly now
In the age-old Canarian way

Grandmothers in ancient shawls
Children laughing,
Come for supper
A mother calls.

A life that's lived all outside
The noisy street's a playground
Where the children run
Old men smoke and dream on.

A chat that goes till evening comes
And dusk takes prisoners of us all
Now captured by the tele
With soaps and noisy football

The cars pass slowly by
Along the  tree-lined lane
Where neighbours wave
And no one's strange.

The richness of a local tribe
Lived close together
With young and old
A seamless simple life.

Life and death are here
Discussed and parsed each year
Love and loneliness that's torn
The human condition is reborn

Stones


If stones could speak
What would they say?
Of homes and houses
Now in decay
In long abandoned fields.

Can you hear forgotten sounds
Of children going to school
The bedtime stories by the fire
As father fetches fuel
With shadows on the wall?

Can you feel and touch the table
Where the family sat?
When times were stable
Free of news of war
And time stood still.

Is there another world out there
Where Sunday lunch is spread?
And long forgotten loved ones
Make sweet returns instead?
Or is it time to bid farewell?


Feared missing, now found.

They found her body
As we had feared so
Lifeless at the bottom
Of the dry ravine.

Barely fifty, yet looking older
Still quite handsome
Once the object
Of men's glances.

Now a victim
Of the chemist
And the doctor
And the bloody pills

To help her wake
Then help her sleep
A twilight life
Of chemistry.

Had she no mother,
Father, sister, brother?
Jealous boyfriend
Or young lover

To pick her up
When she had fallen
To kiss those lips
Now blue and swollen?

What a waste
That one so young
So should exit life
To enter death alone

For every heart
There is a lover
For every breast
A warm embrace

There is no reason
For no affection
There must be someone
Now waiting for your touch.




The risen Christ

Pity me, of little faith
Who can but follow slowly
Along the path below
The footsteps of the sandals
That walked the Holy Land

Pardon me for failing
To follow you on High.
For me your rising's shielded
By centuries of time.

Sufficient for me therefore
To join you at the table
Where all are eating, chatting
Lacking written invitation.

Your message lives untarnished
Ungarnished by a story
That few of us can capture -
Ours to follow, not adore.

There's surely something out there
But devil if we can
Put words on something wordless
Beyond the ken of man.




An old lady atop the 46A bus from Dun Laoghaire

She drove the bus from stop to stop
And anguished from upstairs atop
And braked for cyclists and for more,
While knitting on the second floor

She willed the lights remain on green
And prayed to traffic gods unseen
She blanched as her behemoth
Whizzed past cars without a thought.

Her knuckles clenched and her feet dug in
When driver failed to see the truck she'd seen
She gripped the seat in holy terror
The trip to town to buy a mirror.

For forty years she'd done her lips
By the window in the porch
Now she'd paint her face
In her bedroom with so much grace.

She pulled her rain hat round her neck
And left the bus seat with a check
She slowly clambered down the stairs
Alone, competing with young shopping pairs.

49 degrees

It's hot as hell here
In boiling Tenerife.
The gauge's just cracked
At forty nine degrees
And people round the pool
Expose their peeling skin
To a blazing sun.

While meanwhile on our deck
The Saharan sand breathes heat
And hell's furnace fumes;
Lovely girls in skimpy tops
Rub sun cream along their legs
As listless boyfriends
Take cover under caps
Bizarrely back to front.

It's not as easy as you think
To relax all day in heat
While all the while wondering
What you're going to eat
And drink and wear with friends tonight
In the Italian restaurant.

Relaxing here's hard work,
Though little sympathy from home
Where locals shiver in the sleet
And fight through traffic jams.

It's a crazy world of halves
Where some are blessed and some lack breaks
Don't look for logic in this tale
It's not your effort, it's just your luck.


A final smile



A final smile before we die
That's how we stay till time is nigh
A peaceful and a happy death
Ends this life and starts he next.

As our atoms spill out into space
Twixt good and evil it's a race
To claim a prize that's binary
Accepted or rejected heartily.

Eternity is only there
For those who crave and those who care
Others far prefer honestly
To sleep in silence eternally.



Quiet Quaker Meeting

The meeting is slowly centring down
Sunday morning in leafy Monkstown
A silence fills the quiet void
My eyes wander towards the tree outside
That frames the window with the sky

Sitting and waiting for the Spirit to whisper
At times it's wonderful but it's mostly littler
But it's honest and equal and ever so caring
At times quite somber yet oft entertaining.

We come here to worship
And pray without knowing
What effect it will have
On a world that is growing
Apart every day.

Whatever about prayers
The actions speak louder
It's the social justice
Of which we are prouder.

With an eye for the poor,
The distressed and the maimed
With a passion for causes
That receive no acclaim.
But humble and worthy
All the same.

Then comes the coffee
The tea and the chat
The friendly smile
And occasional pat.

With always an eye
For those who are absent
Though illness or old age
It's uncommonly decent.

Slowly the room drains
All that remains
Is the sudsy wash up
By the regular crew
Always the reliable few.

Come to me you who washed and dried
You who catered and you who served
The coffee and the tea
For in feeding them
You were feeding me.

We are the luck bastards

We are the lucky bastards
And that I say for starters
The fact you're hungry never
Is not because you're clever.

It's just because the stork that brought
Your little self without a thought
Could just as easily arrived next door
Or to the lady on the upper floor.

It's all to do with Lady Luck
Who with a blindfold stuck
A pin that happened to be you
Let's just admit we've not a clue.

Forget this nonsense about hard work
Appraise the lad who cannot walk
Or see or touch or talk
Born with aids or polio.

If there is a God, he's long forgot
Mislaid the plan or lost the plot
Let's just be grateful and sincere
Thankful for the food and beer.

End of the holidays

The sunburnt we assemble
In the airport hall
Sporting bleached straw hats
Before more shopping in the mall.

We're swapping  tales of days
Spent in the Spanish sun
And evenings full of fun
Singing songs of Dancing Queens
And winners taking all.

Feeling no shame, just happy
To be still alive, reliving
Times that are old and happy
When life was fresh and moving.

We danced between the aisles
We danced on top of tables
Kicking off the shoes
Forgetting all the years
Exiling tears and fears.

I held her closely in my arms
Like that first date in Dublin
Wiser now but more grateful
For what life has shared and spared.

Our arms are wrinkled now
Her smile of folds and creases
Of joy and love and laughter
It doesn't  matter how
We lose ourselves in moments
When time no longer matters.

We board the busy plane
And stow our hats above
'We'll do this trip again?" she asks
"Of course we will, my love""


A cloistered life

She lived a life of stoic cheer
Rising in the early morn
To praise the Lord and greet the dawn
In a granite convent on a green hillside.

Not for her a man or bairn
Though she often wished for all the same
The little comforts that ease the pain
Along this pilgrim way.

Always with a cheerful smile
Always with a word of hope
Even when her heart was broke
When God was distant and she forlorn.

What inspired this life of service?
To undertake this Via Crucis?
To deny her loves and suppress her wishes
All to support her silent Sisters?

Soldiers brave who die in wars
Die but once in a blaze of glory
But to die each day a thousand times
Is an entirely different story.

An heroic life, misunderstood
By the great majority of men
A life that spans life and death
The present and all eternity.

Quietly


Quietly it's done
Without great fuss or problem
The words are left unspoken
The deeds do all the talking.

A smile, a touch, a hug is all
It takes for simple transformation
The spirit shines and the soul accepts
When dialogue has failed.

Some poems 2


Father I lost you.

Father I lost you to a cruel stroke
That left you half there
And half gone.

Able to talk
But unable to meet
Across the table.

Now over thirty years on
And the prodigal son
Returns to square one


What if Jesus were partly mistaken?

What if Jesus were partly mistaken
Two thousand years are shaken
Is it a waste or a wonder
That so many followed faithfully.

Was it the beginning or the end
Or perhaps just the middle
Of a complex tale of chaos
That struggles along a road

Who knows if the road to heaven
Is a single furrow
Or a Milky Way that absorbs all
With all of creation traveling

To a common goal
The end? No there is no end
It's an eternal journey
An infinite pilgrimage

Where the walk is the way
And the companionship of the path
Is our common coronation
And our eternal treasure travels
As we do.



Smiling Jesus

If Buddha and Jesus were friends
They would smile upon meeting
Exchange a man hug greeting
Share a meal as the day ends.


Rising early next morning
Jesus is praying while Buddha is sitting
Awaiting the dawning

Both in love with mankind
Sharing compassion with healing
Feasting and fasting in turns

Sadly the friendship is cut short
By a death Jesus would want to abort
No pleasure for him in the pain
Or the agony of the cross.

But happy their deaths do not define
Their teaching of love and of care
Far outlives the mortal coil they shared.

So when I think of Jesus at table
Through his broad smile I am able
To see his friend Buddha
And his humanity.

Though he died on a cross
He lived smiling and most
Of his time was spent laughing with friends
On the winding paths of Galilee.

So people of God in your chapel
Along with cross put the table
Where Jesus broke bread every evening
Loving the good world that god gave him.



Many people wrote the Bible

Many people wrote the Bible
Some were busy, some were idle
Caring God managed the odd look in
Too many though were obsessed with sin.

Some were happy, some were sad
A few were sane but most were mad
It wasn't easy for a God
Who gave men freedom and allowed
The freedom to describe the indescribable.

He must have smiled and laughed at times
When we described in terms of human
The infinite and the eternal.

Some humbly closed their books and prayed
At the awesome world that God
had made
While others faked the drawing plans
With silly stories that were man's.

Why would authors go to trouble
Describing God in a bubble?
When all that's needed to encounter
Is sea or sky or solemn mountain ?


Lazy September noon on Our Lady's Lake

The early autumn breeze rinses the rushes
That guard the isle to Our Lady's crown
The Sunday faithful have melted
And the silence enters again.

A shrunken lady with a tiny dog
Walks the pilgrim path in peace.
The ugly loudspeakers fallen quiet
No need for loud calls to prayer
For it has gently landed on our hearts.

And still the Sunday breeze makes ripples on the lake
That whisper of summer dreams
And keep away for another day
Cold thoughts of coming winter.

At this time in our lives days rattle
And whole weeks disappear
We accelerate on the final lap around the island
awaiting the winter shadow of death
And holy deliverance.


September morning

The schools have opened
The anxious children sit in benches
And still the September sun
Says welcome to a lonely beach

Gone are the shrieks and cries of little ones
In one small weekend the world turns
But not the sea or tide.

Waves Crashing gently on the shore
With dappled sunshine dancing on the eddies
And little birds sing in parting chorus
Ahead of travels south to milder climes

And here I sit in silence
Pensioned off and welcomed in
To natures treasure
Always here for all our pleasure.



Wexford Buddha

Buddha's looking in the kitchen window
And I am looking out
He's fat and he's smiling
He's jolly and content.

There's a nasty piece of ivy
Climbing up his face
He doesn't seem concerned
But I'll clean him all the same.

Peace permeates
And quietness overcomes
The city stress and lassitude.

Peace envelops silently
As cares drift away quietly
Unnoticed the salving balm
Of sea and countryside take hold.

The August evening sunshine
Slants along the sandy Wexford beach
From between the woolly clouds
The vesper rays run racing o're the shore
Sparkling on the ebbing tide that rears and sighs.
The hardy swimmers cast a lengthy shadow
And paddle in the shortened evening of departing summer.

The ocean air smells pungent from the foam
The seabirds squawk their evening song
On stubborn rocks above the swirling sea.
Hard to believe what science makes pure chance
The odds to me seem just too long
It seems more likely to be something else, beyond our dreams
Than an algorithm on a blackboard wall,
What decent, simple souls call God.

The airportees

The migrant ants scuttle through the airport lounges
Bearing the scars of far too much and far too little
Too much sun and sangria
Too little rest and composure.

Men with big bellies and women with low chemises
Ravaged eyes destroyed by wine and beerses
Sunken sockets from neon lights
No promised rest just a shocking sight.

Around the duty free they wander
Passing everyone while seeing no one
Shabby self interest clouds their tired eyes
The remaining euro spent on best buys.

The miracle of air travel no longer amazes
We have this ability to take for granted
Appreciate only what we stand to lose
When it's gone or going.

Salute instead the men and women
Who keep us safe tween earth 'n heaven
Appreciate the staff who clean and cleanse
The earth below  we share.

The virgins of Dalkey

The virgins of Dalkey
Are mothers to me
The old and infirm
They care by the sea.

The sisters of Bulloch
Rise early, retire late
Leading the old by the hand
To the pearly gate.

No families, no sons
No lovers, no daughters
In the battle above
Like lambs to the slaughter.

Yet maybe it's true that some day
The meek and gentle will have their day
The  fearsome lion lying neath the lamb
In eternal peace that claims the calm.

Insane

Only the insane
Are the truly sane
In this mad savage world
Of contradictions.

At the end of a bough
Not knowing how
A friend saws the branch
Just imagine our surprise.

We come tumbling down
Like a silly old clown
We couldn't doubt our fate
Just a question of how late

So it's not if - but when
This world we borrowed
Comes crashing below.
Tomorrow's no show.

We've locked them all up
Lest we half hear the truth
That we're wearing the world thin
On these old tyres  unfit for our spin.


Family grave in Deans Grange.

Sitting hunkered on the granite surround
Along the grave of mother, father and dear sister
Lives once laughing breathing loving
Now speaking wordless love and memories

Remembering the windhover
How it sailed and soared
Far above souls in a quiet graveyard
Forever still, forever eloquent

Sail on dear hearts
Deeper into the Milky Way
Further, closer, deeper
Forever on a maiden day in May.

Slow down

Slow down, you're going to die
Why then make the hours fly
What's the hurry, what's the rush?
You'll  get to die, no need to push.

Why not saunter? Why not stroll?
Looking forward never round
You'll miss the beauty that is found
Stress and hurry takes its toll.

Stop a moment, gently linger
Absorb the magic in your finger
The simple things are the best
To see a miracle at rest

The heaven's stooping down to kiss the shore
Where time and eternity conspire
To weave a seamless cloak
Visible only to those who stop and care.

You're in the car, he's up your tail
Wave him on for he'll be there
And you enjoy the extra moment
Some day


Where trees embrace the sky

Along his woodland walk
Enjoyed the birdy talk
Feathered friends on the wing
Knowing much more than him
'Bout trees 'n things.
They taught him how to sing
The silent forest chant
Lifting spirits in a dance
A trance of mystical delight
With wordless hymns
And soaring leafy chords
To high infinity
And far beyond.



Grave words and graver thoughts

Sitting hunkered on the granite surround
Along the grave of mother, father and dear sister
Lives once laughing breathing loving
Now speaking wordless love and memories

Remembering the windhover
How it sailed and soared
Far above souls in a quiet graveyard
Forever still, forever eloquent

Sail on dear hearts
Deeper into the Milky Way
Further closer deeper
Forever on a maiden day in May.

Slow down, you're going to die
Why then make the hours fly
What's the hurry, what's the rush?
You'll  get to die, no need to push.

Why not saunter? Why not stroll?
Looking forward never round
You'll miss the beauty that is found
Stress and hurry takes its toll.

Stop a moment, gently linger
Absorb the magic in your finger
The simple things are the best
To see a miracle at rest

The heaven's stooping down to kiss the shore
Where time and eternity conspire
To weave a seamless cloak
Visible only to those who stop and care.

You're in the car, he's up your tail
Wave him on for he'll be there
And you enjoy the extra moment
Some day


Sacred autumn sun

Sacred autumn sun
All the sweeter as you're fleeting
From another year that's seen
It's share of joy and keening.

Smiling warmly o'er the gentle fields
Of Carne in Southern Wexford.
The autumn lands lie quiet
But the sea breaks soundly on the shore
As foreign birds squawk and wheel
Towards African skies and warmer days
Than we can offer.

And yet and yet
The warm rays linger
Out-promising their span
Delicious though
The gentle heat
More welcome
Than a summer blaze.

These northern lands
Shiver at the prospect
Of a coming sunless season
Devoid of heat or light.

The snowy prospects of cribs
And Christmas fare
Fall short and we dearly yearn
This day may ever last.

Thank you for the now

Thank you for the now
Tomorrow's but a dream
And last night's past.

Just to enjoy the now
The here and now
It's sweet and lovely.
Future woes are banished
To future days
And all bad memories
Are filed and locked away.

Why not just enjoy this present moment
So special it could last a lifetime
And so it should
For good moments have immortal souls
Embrace them as a teenage lover would.

Blessed are the depressed
Who struggle daily
For you will receive peace and quiet rest at last.

Blessed are you if you have received electro shock treatment
For you shall be released from every pain and shackle

Blessed are you on medication
For you will be set free

Bless all with mental illness
For you shall enjoy the face of God
And your happiness will be multiplied
A hundred fold.

Your hunger for peace will be satisfied
And your thirst for joy will be rewarded
And your cup of contentment will flow over

Because the universe will not forget your suffering
But will salute your daily heroism.
Your daily Everest scaled with courage and good humor.

God has prepared an eternity
Where pills and sadness are forgotten
And where you will see through the happy and contented eyes of God

Where your soul and inner core will know delight beyond description

For this is your certain destiny.

Amen.


We who can only guess at your pain and struggle salute you!

Pmm. 22/11/15

The heart is beating

The heart is beating
Don't assume it
Beating all the time.

The day will come
No more assuming
It beats a final turn.

Thump thump, it beats
Once every second,
Ignored and jilted
Till last wilted.

Oh faithful servant,
Oh toiling friend,
From early start
To evening end.

The seat of vigor,
The whole of health,
Abused, forgotten
Ignored and ill spent.

Let's embrace you
And protect you;
If not for you, for us.

Let's find a cure
With love and will
To make a heart that's pure.

12/1/16

The Golden Goose

We hatched a clever devilish plan
We'd cook the goose
And eat it fat and bone
And soon as can
We'd steal our neighbors  goose
Quickly bring it home
Treating it like our own.
We would of course
Join our neighbor's curse
Of thieves and wasters
Making sure to hide
His goose when visiting he came
We even offered to share
Our roasted Easter goose
Breathing relief when he declined
Fearing he might recognize in death
What he failed to see in life
His beloved family pet.

God bless his trusting nature
And innocent ways
Blinded to the cunning bastards
His So-called friends and neighbors.

And so the story ended happily
Or near so - but
Our greedy son whose eyes
Exceeded his growing belly
Choked upon a bone
Was dead as a falling stone
His well fed corpse
Sliding to the wooden floor
His flaccid soul so far
From heaven's door.
He cooked his goose
Now neither's here no more

Land of luscious light

Land of luscious light
Where early mornings
Steal from yielding night
An hour before the dawn

It's hardly five o'clock
And yet the garden
Appears in limpid hue
Late April morning painted

The dogs are anxious
To sniff the morning
And smell the incense
Of their private world

While babe and burglar
Sleep in coils of sleep
An innocent  bleary sun
Peaks over Dublin Bay

The birds now own this time
Their little calls ring clear
And fill the ear with
With grateful wonder

Most precious time of all
Blessed with gentle promise
Of better deeds and truer words
Gifts of the dawning day

Some day all this will fade
For me but not for you
The daily miracle of resurrection
Resumes its modest run

As darkness yields once more
To pastel colors of the morn
An innocent hour reminds
The promise of each new-born.

PMM 21/4/16

It's Original Win
Not Sin
(an apology from God).


Dear people of God, I'm very sorry
That a typo of mine has caused you to worry
The 's'and the 'w'are sadly stored
Closely together on the querty keyboard.

I'll blame it on Genesis,
The book, not the band
The next bible I write
Will be slowly,  by hand.

The chapter on Adam
Was written by Eve
In a moment of anger
But never by me.

I thought you were clever
You'd soon spot my error.
To me it's abundantly clear
Unlike a dark Guinness
More like a Weiss beer

All I created
Is good and is true
Including all people
And certainly you
The glass on the counter
is more than half full.

Just ask yourself, silly head
Your intentions as you get out of bed
Is it to kill and maim?
Or head to work and take the train?

The world I made is clearly good
I just presumed it would be understood.

All this talk of sin and death
It's just bad logic and worse math
Open your eyes and smell the tea


What a typo, silly me!!





He drank every flower

He drank every flower
He savored every bird call
And siphoned every silence.

She grew drowsy on the summer wind
Intoxicated by the sunny shimmer
Below the yellow furze

The commuter train trundled
Through the rock hewn tunnels
Carriage to a foreign busy world

Sea green and blue
Breaks in white surf
On the grey granite shore.

The crested waves fall gently
In the grateful shore
And bees busily make their store.

The maidens crunch the gravel
With expensive shoes
Eyes fixed upon the sky

Pony tails bobbing
Chatting laughing pointing
Suffused in late May's charm

Tomorrow June returns
Hardly twelve months
Since last embraced in haste

Joy of joys mixed with sweet sorrow
As days and week and months
Rush headlong never to return

Where once the world moved slowly
And summer dreamily lingered
Time wheels down the drain.


Take the shorter path

Take the shorter path my dear
Enjoy the shorter stride
Tarry here a while my love
Await the evening tide.

Feel the earth beneath your heels
Beneath a summer sky
Embrace the moment drink the juice
Our date to leave draws nigh.

Hand in hand for now
Soon to be departing
Once we cross that stream
We enter heavens garden.

Apology to the millennials

Sadly he drove and sat
He drunk and shat
Never happy he
Forever giving out
'Bout this 'n that.

Never a word of thanks
For those who grew
His food or served his meals
Unhappy he

Smiling yet complaining
'Bout a world that owed him all
Not a generous fellow
Of spirit squat and small.

And on and off he trails
Knowing that poor health prevails
At the end there's none
To mourn the unhappy one.

Bray to Greystones.

The screechy awkward gulls clamber along the coastal rocks
Below the path that winds beneath the granite cliff
Joining the middle class and leafy gardens
Of suburban Bray and bohemian Greystones.

Then with a glorious sweep they climb
And wheel above the foam
With flapping clamor
Gracefully swooping o'er the rippled sea
Ease and grace inhabit every glorious move
On this sultry day in June

In another planet altogether
Pale students toil and study
For state exams that begin tomorrow.
Buying a ticket for the commuter train that will daily escort them to their light starved offices
Until, God willing, they retire at last
Free to walk again and watch the gulls
That harbor memories of  happy days long passed.


The gravel path wends its way
Along Killiney Hill
With birdy chirps in stereo
And shafts of sunlight
Lighting up the purple  gifts of Spring.

Couples holding hands
Mothers steering toddlers


I stop
And listen.

Competing calls
From busy birds
As early evening
Welcomes the daily choir.

An old man shuffles
With a crooked stick
Passing trendy mums
With sun glasses
Perched on dyed hair
Speak in loud tones
As much for us as them.

The bichon stops
It's nose a twitching
Catching scents and smells
Quivering from signals
Hidden to humans.

The beach lies naked
From the ebbing tide
Grey stones revealed
Along the waters edge

The commuter train
Winds its weary way
Along a shadowy shore
Worried men in blue suits
And texting girls in black tights
Close the working day
On their way home to Bray.

Clouds come and go
Above the Dublin Hills
And bring the eye
Along the Wicklow Way


A mile above high Taucho

Sitting on the stony wall
Of a deserted  house once home
A mile above high Taucho
In the misty morning mountains.

What were the vanished dreams
Of families who called this village home?
For centuries perhaps
What domestic joys and sorrows?

The volcanic stones whisper silently
To tourist and hill walker as they pass
The quiet monument to hope and loss
Once host to babes and departing brides.

Too many days of funerals and sad goodbyes
From homesteads abandoned
With a view that would wipe your eye
Wild flowers reclaim the land once farmed.

All the years of clearing land for what?
Re conquering nature laughs
At our puny efforts over many sweaty days
To tame what will not be tamed.

And yet it seems a noble call
To have fought and farmed
To have toiled and loved and lost
Better than no heartache at all.

Fearing rejection

Fearing rejection, she married the lad
He, Ugly and silent it was ever so sad
That a girl who had everything you sensed
Having looks and charm still lacked confidence.

Yet still the marriage lasted till at fifty three
She met an old flame and felt weak at the knees
Why didn't you save me from this life of hell?
you could always have knocked or rung on the bell.

And so life was spent far off the main way
By taking the first exit she felt that it would pay,
Have courage young lovers showing no fears
Following you heart though many the years.


You've merely borrowed what I've borrowed.

Amazed they, the poet smiled
Naked he without strong copyright.
Worried by his insouciance
His innocent embrace of life.

How would he feed his hungry kids?
How would he pay the mortgage?
No one could doubt their sincerity
Their concern for his security.

He did not think of filling pockets
Of his shroud with published books
Of unread poetry  but releasing words
Like nesting pigeons would find a home
In hearts that shared the meter
And the rhythm of his heart.


For everything comes early in Ireland

Autumn arrived today tho' barely August
Announced by rolling mists
Lumbering up from Dublin Bay
Before coolly kissing Killiney Hill
Whose shrouded woods and trees
Exhaled a  late summer sigh
Yielding early to the clammy rain.


For everything comes early in Ireland
Spring oft crashes the Christmas party
And through the January frosts peep
The sleepy heads of curious snow drops.

The soft submission of suburban  summer
Early to the party and early to leave
Has taught it's gentle native folk
To leave its host mid protest
While still wildly welcome.


Better this a thousand times
Than waved away with weary gaze
Leaving late a sleeping household
As postman whistles cheerily
An early morning air.


Where trees embrace the sky

Along his woodland walk
Enjoyed the birdy talk
Feathered friends on the wing
Knowing much more than him
'Bout trees 'n things.
They taught him how to sing
The silent forest chant
Lifting spirits in a dance
A trance of mystical delight
With wordless hymns
And soaring leafy chords
To high infinity
And far beyond.

Mankind Unkind

Mankind unkind
You don't need an angry God
To end a world you're
Daily killing.

No need when unheeded
Greed and stupidity
Destroy each tree
And soil the virgin sea.

Once I worried for you, man
Now my anger understands
Creation will be relieved
When you're well and truly gone.

It's sad for those who cared
But how can we be spared
When all we did
Was moan and pray?

Slow down!

Tarry here a while my friend
Slacken your hurried pace,
postpone the evil end
Withdraw your life from haste.

The faster the days
The sooner you die
Step off the thread mill
Go on, give it a try!

You be the master
Of time if not money
Gold can't  buy time
In life or thereafter.


Ive heard the thunder of the sea

I've heard the thunder of the sea
And the stammer of the surf
But sound most sublime  for me
Is summer silence of the trees.

They make a tall and sacred space
For little birds that chatter
And busy things on whirring wings
And welcome shade

They find their voices in the fall
When winds whip down from Teide
And fall silent then again
When winter snows their garment.


The virgins of Dalkey

The virgins of Dalkey
Are mothers to me
The old and infirm
They care by the sea.

The sisters of Bulloch
Rise early, retire late
Leading the old by the hand
To the pearly gate.

No families, no sons
No lovers, no daughters
In the battle above
Like lambs to the slaughter.

Yet maybe it's true that some day
The meek and gentle will have their way
The fearsome lion beside the lamb
In eternal peace that claims the calm.