Monday, April 30, 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.

Sunday, April 29, 2012

Café on the Row

A friend comes here to sit and smoke
And watch people pass by,
To blow dark rings and sip hot drinks
Under the Limerick sky,

While girls stroll past with shopping bags
Proclaiming to all eyes
The brand names and the sources of
Their latest must-have buys,

While mothers fail to match their children’s
Wonder and surprise
Upon seeing Richard Harris
In his royal statued guise,

While sunrays flash on windows
Of the opposite high-rise,
And pigeons bob their heads at crumbs,
The rain-washed walkway dries,

While couples snack on sweet desserts
And share their secret smiles,
Oblivious in a café’s corner
To all but each other’s eyes.

Saturday, April 28, 2012

Some Day We Have To Share This Sight Together

You cannot walk these roads with me tonight,
And tomorrow morning feels too far away,
And so, instead, I force my hands to write
A pale impression of the Milky Way.

Every star that can be viewed by mortal sight
Carries over Moher’s cliffs and waves
A lonely message that I hope just might
Redeem my absence over summer days.

And if a man had wings to give him flight
I’d take a leap from castle walls to say
That Heaven’s quilt of jewels holds no light
To match the diamonds in your smiling face.

I promise that this sight we’ll one day share
As an embracing, starlight-gazing pair.

Friday, April 27, 2012


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.

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Escapist’s Woods

The soothing scent of conifers
And the aroma of cut grass
Haze slowly by, with dragonflies
Like winged rainbows or oil stains,
And twitters fly from hidden birds
In bushes bearing yellow bloom
’Neath rustling leaves as in a rush
The breeze plays branches like ocean waves.

An edge of broken rock protrudes
Its dirty point from underfoot
And prods into a booted heel
As clouds erupt from dusty path,
While daisies bend their sunshine heads
Away from shadows under leaves
And a beetle flutters emerald wings
But keeps its stroll along the track.

A single drop of water drips
To run along its streamy way
From blossomed branch to sweating brow,
Past a blinking eye and down his cheek,
Until it rests into his neck
Amongst his lightly sprouting stubble
And dries above his open collar
In setting orange evening heat.

He stands with chest half-bathed in light,
The other half, with right arm bare,
Shivers a little, under shadow,
And hairs stand up to catch warm air.
Alone in the woods, he flicks a hand
To ward a midge-swarm from his face,
And gently steps o’er moss and mushrooms,
Between cool boughs and into peace.

Tuesday, April 24, 2012


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.

Monday, April 23, 2012

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.

Sunday, April 22, 2012

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.

Saturday, April 21, 2012

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.

Friday, April 20, 2012

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.

Thursday, April 19, 2012

The Goalkeeper: Part 5

Another new era dawns, under flood-lights
On the wettest of dark Monday evenings
In early March.
He splashes through the black flood
Between changing-room and goal-posts,
A shower of water, momentarily gilded,
Flashing round his muddy feet,
And already flecks of brown
Disguise the white tops of his socks.

An icy gust blows drizzle on his neck
And exposed knees, and he knows
It will require dedication
For him to make the sticks and nets his throne.
He is brave, not one for sabotage:
What is to come will be an even contest.

Forty minutes pass and the grass
Has been hidden behind the same hue
That now conceals the once white socks.
There can be no pause for breath,
Even at last place in the line.
He strains against exhaustion and mud
To finish his battle in a victory
Akin to leading in the faster group.

They trudge off side by side.
This round ends a draw.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

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.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

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.

Monday, April 16, 2012


I make up pictures on the floorboards
from my vantage point, my seat.
Patterns of eyes and lines of grain
peer from the floor by a wise man's feet.
I search for shapes that might make sense
or form familiar patterns there,
There on the ground on which we walk
without a second thought or care,
I seek some beauty or some peace,
some clearing in a shadowed wood
Where tangled branches cloud the light 
and blur the line between bad and good,

I shield my eyes from dazzling glare
that shines from intermittent beacons
And turn away from those who may
innocently draw me to temptation,
I think, instead, of one who waits
and wishes for my swift return,
Her smiling face and open arms,
they make me wish I had not gone.
I see her dancing in a hall,
her perfect feet on a wooden floor,
And smile to realise that she’s
my very own Conduiramour.

Sunday, April 15, 2012

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.

Saturday, April 14, 2012


Why do we stand here shivering
In the post midnight
Cool of a wet May Wednesday?
Why the fascination with a pair of swans
Who hold their heads under the rippling surface
And pay us no heed as we make them mythical?
They stay together forever, you say.
But still they show no interest in our liquid-fuelled fun.
They still hold their heads under the river’s surface, startling you.

And then a solitary ship sloths slowly by,
The latest centre of our attention.
But we had to wait too long for it,
And it meant nothing, was just a distraction
From the white-winged elegants,
So we stopped our waving.
And anyway, we’re still shivering.

Our musings turn to art and how it’s made,
What words mean and what they’re worth,
And how great it must feel
To create something wonderful.

It’s a little bit too cold,
Even with fluid fire in a flask,
But still we bask
In the freshness of the night and become philosophers.
Is this why we stand here,
Shivering at low tide on a little pier?
Another mouthful and satisfied sigh,
Another strange car’s lights flash by,
And as we all panic together things start to make sense:
We stand here shivering together as friends.

Friday, April 13, 2012

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.

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Last July

Watch the ripples glisten
As they dance around your feet,
The little light-reflecting waves
That run along the beach.
Watch the iridescence
Of the shell-carpeted sand,
The coloured stones and bright tributes
To dolmens as they stand.
Watch the shapes and pictures,
Stream-like words declaring love
(the art of teenage hands and hearts)
As eyes look from above.

Now watch the water in
My eyes, stone behind my gaze,
The fallen rock that is me as
We go our sep’rate ways.

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

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?

Tuesday, April 10, 2012


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.

Monday, April 9, 2012

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…

Sunday, April 8, 2012

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.

Saturday, April 7, 2012

Ripple Shivers

I have seen twenty different kinds
Of whites and yellow lights reflect
On the opaque water of the river
When night has fallen on this city.

I have stepped around the broken green
And clear glass pieces on the ground,
The flattened blue and gold beer cans
And smouldering ends of cigarettes.

I have heard the roar of engines pass,
The screech of tyres as they brake,
And snares and beats of stereos
That blare from cars stopped at the lights.

The smell of damp from alleyways,
From exhaust fumes and scattered chips
Half-drowned in salt and vinegar
Assault the air on nights like this.

I have felt the breeze pass through the streets
Between the buildings, damp and cool
With bits of dust and dirt and rain
From scaffold cages on new hotels.

I have turned my head and walked away,
Looked down on the river from the bridge,
Seen formless ripple-shivers there
And preferred those to the real city.

Friday, April 6, 2012

The Goalkeeper: Part Four

What is his worth, this young fellow
Who stands behind the others and protests?
His hair is wild like that of a madman,
His knees muddy like a child’s,
And yet he can be eloquent,
His head raised prouder than any other.

What brought him into being, this walking paradox
Of unrestrained emotion and controlled action?
They laugh at his seriousness,
They sober at his humour,
And yet without him they lack all direction
And, more so than otherwise, fail to function.

Should he be measured by his strengths,
Or is it fair to hold him by the weakness of the others?
He is neither ornament nor decoration
(in that he serves useful purpose)
And yet is as fragile, needing extra breath and seconds for some simple tasks,
Until suddenly illuminating games with sublime motions.

Thursday, April 5, 2012

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.

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Under a Horse-chestnut’s Blossom

While walking in the fading light
Of fading April’s final Sunday,
I paused beneath the bending leaves
Of a tree that grows between the road
And mirror of the river’s
Platinum reflecting surface,
Just to seat myself and take some
Weight from off my feet,
To clear my head so that it might
Be a clear April’s-Sunday–night-
And-starry sky of luminous ideas,
Not the dusty road of echoing footsteps past.

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

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.

Monday, April 2, 2012

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

Sunday, April 1, 2012

Party Time

To drink what one wants, to want what one drinks,
To spend your weekends balanced against someone’s sink,
And look up with a smile and a nod and a wink
Whenever someone walks in (just in case they should think

That you don’t really know what you’re doing at all)
Then stumble and crawl down the stairs to the hall,
Again balance yourself against the kitchen wall,
Drain the last from your glass and make sure you don’t fall

Then tonelessly shout out the words of a song
(Too many times you repeat them, you don’t know you’ve gone wrong)
And tell all of your love and how much they belong
With you, there on those nights, and how it’s too long

To wait ‘til next time, the next big event…
Then wake up Sunday morning. Remember how Saturday went?
And you can’t see or stand up, your money’s all spent
And you’ve made too many promises you never really meant.