Showing posts from April, 2012

An Early Return

There it is, although not lovely,
An odour that I recognise:
The smell of the college toilets, cleaned,
And polished empty corridors
Beyond Reception’s brand new coat
Of virgin blue and white.

New front doors and some fresh paint put in,
Just in time for a new semester to begin,
And yet it feels about the same,
Despite the shorter list of names
Outside the oil-thirsty door
Of the exam-hall on the second floor.

It feels about the same, and yet,
While climbing the century-old steps,
I also sense a change, a bit
More certainty in my footsteps.
The walls are still as broad, the ceilings high,
The people praise a trinity in the sky,
And though at most an inch is all I’ve grown,
Between these walls I’m ready to hold my own.


My spring is coming late,
With the first turf-fire’s scent
Heralding winter on the wind.
But still I sense a change,
A time of flower or bloom,
Warm and sure of self despite
Not knowing exactly what’s to come.

And so, as if ’twere random seeds
I’d thrown to carry on the breeze,
To land and grow in chances unforeseen,
So forth erupt new visions, thoughts and dreams
To decorate these pages that were clean.


Lá cosúil le haon cheann eile
ab ea an lá sin i ndáiríre,
An ghrian ag taitneamh i rith na maidine
is an bháisteach ag titim um thráthnóna,
Agus corp dearg eile ar thaobh an bhóthair
Cosúil le duilleog nó píosa páipéir.

Bhíodh páistí ag imirt le bréagáin, liathróidí,
agus Spin FM ag seinm do na mílte déagóirí,
Amhránaí ag insint faoina gcuid brionglóidí,
is línte á chóipeáil ag foghlaimeoirí,
Agus glao práinneach curtha ar na Gardaí
Is amadáin ar an idirlíon ag lorg an Army.

Bhíodh fir is mná ag siopadóireacht,
muirníní ag pógadh, caillte ina n-áilleacht,
Bachlóga glasa sna crinn, mar ba chóir san earrach,
is gach uile rud nádúrtha, faic as an ngnách,
Seachas scéal uafásach pléascach
Ar an Nuacht ag a sé a chlog.


Cheap mé, ní h-ea, bhí mé cinnte
Go raibh ár ngrá róchumhachtach,
Gur rud láidir ab ea é,
Rud a raibh gan locht.

Bhí tréimhsí ama againn
Lán le spraoi is gliondar croí,
Ní raibh faic chomh hálainn nó chomh haoibhinn
Ná sise 's mise le chéile inár luí.

Ach bhí dorchadas éigin i bhfolach,
Olcas a d'fhanadh i gcónaí i gciúnas,
Rud a bhí ann ón dtosach,
Is sa deireadh a chur stop lenár n-áthas.

An Cailín Eile

Shiúil mé go mall léi,
Mo chosa san uisce
Is a cosa ar an ngaineamh,
An gaoth fhuar ag séideadh
Díreach i m'aghaidh is í
Ag gáire faoin ngrian 'bhí ag taitneamh.

Ba mise a laoch
Agus sise faoi dhraíocht
Ar feadh dhá sheachtain tar éis mhí an Mheithimh.
Ach briseadh a croí nuair
A chuala sí faoi mo chuid bréige
Is an cleas a bhí mé tar éis a dhéanamh.

Closing Time

The nightclub undimmed all its lights
At half past two and sent us packing,
Allowing only time to search for coats
And exclamations of another job well done;
Another personal best for which prevention,
The next step, would out-weigh cure.

Then eight diverged to five and three
Outside the shining kebab shop door,
Allowing time for smiles, mischievous grins
And exclamations from a Donor-virgin’s lips;
Add a new favourite to the menu list!
Then back outside into the rain

To search after the other five
And make up eight for the wet walk home.

En Route to the College Library

A draft refreshes the corridor
As right foot follows left
Up a quintet of sticky steps,
And the steady tap of pacing shoes
Beyond, behind a corner passed,
Makes naked the fact
That here one cannot truly be alone.

And yet the goal is not,
As would be expected,
Company or chat,
But rather just to make the door
Before I’m forced to clear my throat.

I am cold.
My wallet, rasping open, echoes
The curse of lonely Velcro,
And a battered crow on a pike
Pecks at my shoulder-blade and back-
My wet umbrella screeched
As it was bagged, hastily closed.

A song from memory soothes me
As the fake plastic roof
Plays bubble-wrap to over-excited wind and rain,
And the draft sends waking shivers
Through an embarrassing hole in my jeans
As I side-step through one door
And stride toward the next.

For Seán and the Girls

The lit face of my phone declares
The time be five to one (at night),
White digits shining out against
A picture taken upstairs here,
A photo of two faces forcing
Smiles from tired eyes and cheeks,
But with arms tight round each other
So that chancers will not interfere!

There’s a clear view out the window
Of passing taxis and parked cars
With dipped headlights reflecting on
The drizzle-puddled path and road.
I slowly rise to turn and check
The dance-floor still holds signs of life,
Bowed heads dancing under coloured
Bulbs and lasers, sparkling balls.

I sit again and raise an arm
To hug the shoulders of a friend.
We each reach for a glass and laugh;
His knowing wink shrugs off my hand,
The window view obscured by now
By both my picture-girl and his.
We slowly rise: unsteady feet!
And ’neath the lights we join our muses.

From College, With Love

Three years ago on a day like this I
Had enough free time to stare carelessly
Out the window: a darkening blue sky,
Puddles in the yard, swaying limbs of trees
And other such mundane sights caught my eye,
So, not being busy, I scribbled down
Some words about the other lads, “the guys”,
The princes, jesters, pretenders to crowns.

Another restless, sunny afternoon
Around the same time (or slightly later)
I wrote about their messing up the room,
Sighing that no group was esteemed greater.

Three years, and three more summers and springs past,
My dad was right: my best were with that class.

A Note to Chris

Not usually the jealous type,
Certainly not when it comes to art,
But oh so disappointed when the part
Of the rebellious writer proves to belong
To someone else, reducing you to one among
The many faceless under hyped.

And so before I allow myself to sleep
I lethargically almost meditate
On words to which you so long could relate,
Then, suddenly awake, realise that you were right,
So, if you wish, rejoice in the delight
Of this young man’s shallow words now proving deep.

Uncertain in November

I sat down in a seat and sought
Some comfort in its cushioned rest,
About half-way above the ground
Where people walk in by the door,
And stared at leaves through blinded glass
Against a backdrop of thick cloud,
And leaves through an open fire-door,
And extra, stacked-up, blue-backed chairs
For those who may wander in late,
The three hundred, or maybe more,
Heads and shoulders glistening hair,
While still seeking some comfort there,
And numbed my ears to “last night” chat,
To laughter and to scattered words,
To beeping phones, to squeaks from floors,
And to noises through open doors,

But found no respite in that place,
Nor comfort from places outside,
It was not right to try to hide
While failing to conceal my face.

Never More

Add the finished book to the shelf,
The worn pink t-shirt to the pile,
The old joke to the clichéd list,
The name and number to the file.

The purpose served: I was enlightened,
Kept warm and comfortable in the cold,
Kept amused and happy, briefly,
Kept text-mementos of this story told.

Read pages, chapters, epilogue,
Played costumed actor to the world,
Played jester in this tragic farce,
Played final message-game with this girl.

Situation Critical

There’s something in the air,
I can feel it,
Something there
That might suggest that
A fight could be
On the cards tonight.
It’s not just me:
I have seen the eyes
Flicking round
And darting down
Like raindrops ashamed of their clouds:
Static in the sky
And tension in the atmosphere
Building up.
We could get thunder in here.

Too many strangers
With too little space,
Exams and life’s stresses
Worry every young face.
The smallest noise
Could be the trigger,
For every big boy
There’s another bigger,
The walls are too close,
The ceiling’s too low.

To wait, to measure landed blows?
Or to get out, escape, go?


Flowing from my fingertips
Like flowers blooming in a bed,
Calling bees and butterflies
To bask in bright colours
Or to cool in the darkness of shadows.
Courtesy of Cillian Keogh/Xtreme Graphics, and best viewed on

Upwardly Mobile

I remember that when I was younger
I had in my possession a toy “tractor”,
With two pedals (one to each side)
And I think it was blue with a little black seat.
I remember when it was wrapped
In a big black plastic bag
And dumped, shortly after my sister
Learned how to walk unassisted;
She may have tried to pedal it
And she may have fallen off.
Or worse.

But these days, well she knows
How to dress up sweetly for discos!
And I am learning how to drive
A dark blue car with three pedals,
Three mirrors, a hand brake and a gear-stick
(But with the same shaped steering wheel.)

At least I cannot fall off of it…

Strange Daze

A single night of peaceful sleep
Could cure me of what ails my mind.
But as it is, it hurts to think
And there’s too many answers I cannot find.
I think in hurricanes and destruction.
The sudden moments of respite
Worry as much as the commotion,
Whether I lie in darkness or walk in daylight.

The Dark Room

She came to me in a dream
Last night
And told me to forget,
To forget about her
And how she was
The last time we chance met,

To quit my efforts and my dreams
Of one day,
Again, her face seeing,
To forget about her
And how she kissed
Me when we were fourteen.

A Note to a Critic

Is it your wish to see
Feelings flow in fluid motion,
Like the river
Restricted by banks and walls
And harnessed for greedy purposes?
Or, like raindrops dripping
On a window to a steady beat,
Falling to the mossy concrete ground
And turning to mud as they are tainted?
Or perhaps controlled like an actor’s tears,
Mere aesthetics for your enjoyment
And lacking substance like mist in the headlights?

Why should expression be reined in,
Subjected to your suspect licence
So that you can take pleasure from the
Ornate niceties of lovely lyrics?
The message is more important,
That is the long and that is the short of it,
Not to be limited by the length of lines
To please a casual merchant of rhymes.

Nostalgia - My Mistake

Memories and emotions
Tangled up in confusion,
Visions that appear and reappear
When triggered by
Familiar faces in photographs,
Sleepless hours of supposition,
Never knowing
How things might have happened
Had I done other things differently,
“What ifs” and “I wonders”,
Never being far from tears
And never knowing
What they’re doing now,
Nothing but negatives and
Constant contradictions,
More memories
Flooding my mind like the
Freezing cold ripples that lapped around our feet
When we walked to the sound of bigger waves crashing
And saw nothing but sunlight on the horizon,
Then the thoughts of the floods of tears
That cancel out and contradict,
The tears that made me realise
How much I came so close to losing,
That made me losing something else instead,
And confine it all to photographs
And memories and painful moments of