Not Fade Away

Not Fade AwayNot fade away

We see them on our screens running
from an enemy, unseen and cunning.
They are mostly soaked in dust and blood
with children, or some remains. What should
be children but are less, no more.

We see the greyness of a town’s destruction,
steel punctured, concrete shelled constructions.
There are plastic pots and colourful clothes
amongst the stones and rubble which propose
a normality that resided here before.

We hear them squeal at loss and death.
Their hands flail, they gasp for a breath
of air to inhale against the annihilation
of life. We imagine their situation
and fail. We can’t imagine pain that sore.

We see the doctors, green clad and tired.
Holding babies, consoling parents mired
in the turmoil of bereavement.
They work on amid all, an achievement
shared on each and every floor.

We hear the leaders explain their actions.
‘It’s the fault of warring factions
upon whom we must deliver fire
and wind. So that they may not aspire
to equality, they shall remain poor.’

We must not believe all that’s said
by those who’d reconstitute the dead
as some noble cause; as some thin facade
for genocide. Policies of men made mad
who listen to the truth no more.

Soon enough the next war will end
and calmed by desire to see all mend
we’ll turn away. Our attentions shift
to other issues, leaving those unseen to sift
through what horrors lie in store.

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Second Glance

Second glanceWhen someone catches your eye…

Second Glance

It isn’t you I see in the street. I know that.
But curious the way she smiles,
the way she flicks her hair forces me
to look. For a long second I am beguiled

again but I walk on past this stranger.
It isn’t you I see in the street. I know.
But in this instant it is as if another
has stolen you and in my mind I follow

until she meets him and laughs aloud.
They, unknowing of attention, kiss
and walk to the café at the roundabout
to create a future, perhaps this.

It isn’t you I see. I know. By what gift
these moments occur? My eyes compare
many faces and unwittingly measure
idiosyncrasies in just too long a stare.

Recollections of such; on trains;
on buses; in shopping aisles as chance
lets us meet later and discuss likeness.
Seeing you, beats every circumstance…

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Much mirth and merry making

Nut Hollow has recently seen the latest fairy to make it to 200!  Tafferne, daughter of Taffer and Nerne RIP, celebrated in traditional style with a party at the foot of the Learning Tree.  After several very short speeches mostly consisting of one or two words and a bit of a well intentioned grunt from Greagle, the good people sang, ate and drank long into the early hours.  It was noted that many of the local robins were in particularly good voice especially Rithacus himself.

So moved was he that he recited a new poem called the ‘Dream Sniffle’

‘The humans above, that disastrous lot
Have very large noses all bursting with snot
With tissues and hankies they eternally blow
Stuff through their nostrils, ‘tis bright green you know

They splutter and cough and moan with the cold
Worse than dear Grochin if truth be told
One night for fun while perched on some roses
A fairy thought of a trick for their noses

“If we linked by a spell their colourful dreams
To each runny snout they’d come out in reams
Then when asleep and started to snore
Released would be dragons and creatures galore!”

And so to the bedroom late in the night
Quick flew the fairy to find asleep tight
The latest recruit to the mad cousin clan
Young Pádraig dozed unaware of the plan

His mum and his dad snored so loudly nearby
The windows did rattle as the fairy the did fly
And over their noses she sprinkled a potion
Then sat back and laughed at all the commotion

All of a sudden Padraig’s dad gave a sneeze
And from his left nostril a hippo did squeeze
Green on one side and pink on the other
Followed out fast by his polka dot brother

His mum rolled around and took a deep sniff
And out from her nose came a skunk! What a whiff!
But the smell was of flowers all fresh and new
The skunk was confused, “I should smell of poo!”

Padraig’s wee nose then started to twitch
Small fingers rose to deal with the itch
But before he could get it out came a goat
Made of ice cream with a pink overcoat!

The animals smiled and said ‘How do you do?’
It’s not often I’ve seen the likes of you.
This room will need room for magic galore.’
Padraig’s proud parents continued to snore

Next from a nose came a three headed ape
With chocolate arms and a marsh mallow cape
Up to the ceiling floated five mice
With fur made of fire and tails made of ice

With the hullabaloo Pádraig opened his eyes
Can you imagine at all his total surprise?
His father and mother were slowly awaking
And both squealed aloud, in bed they lay quaking

“What madness is this?  Look at your nose!”
Said Dad, as from Mum’s came liquorice cellos.
Oh no! Look at yours!” All heard him wail
As slowly reversed a white elephant’s tail.

Meanwhile the fairy giggled and laughed
“I’d better stop this or else they’ll go daft.”
With a click of her fingers all disappeared
Relief spread around as noses were cleared.

So next time you snooze with a fairy about
Beware of the things that come out of your snout
Just to be sure unwanted guests don’t impose
Keep fingers up nostrils when you think you might doze!

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Séan Nós

A piece trying to capture the magic of Irish old style dancing.

Sean Nós
Echoing heel through the ages
as it lands hard and true.
Without shining lights or stages
just enough for either shoe

to show the ancient trodden way
found in kitchens, parish halls
and bars which suddenly convey
the dancer and excitement’s calls.

The previously unnoticed face
now assumes a focused air
and floats it seems to a place
among other Gods encircled there.

The viewers whoop, the toes reply,
the knees bend and fingers fan.
The arms loose and legs comply
to rhythm’s energetic plan.

Every step does bounce and roll,
the body glides from left to right.
Back and forth the skilful stroll
into the patterns of the night.

Then as if by secret sign
another dancer takes the floor.
The two pass by, eyes entwine,
a smile, how the crowd does roar!

The bond eternal, tune and tap
brings them on one by one
until embraced by cheer and clap
we are drenched in Gaelic fun.

But all good things the saying goes,
respite for the wood well worn.
The room returns from the throes
of magic and a world reborn.

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There are moments when art attains almost to the dignity of manual labor. ~Oscar Wilde
I laboured for a while here and there…To all those that labour for a living, this is a piece for them.


Such men do not use a brush
to sweep the kitchen floor. Nor do they rush
behind the door to hang a coat upon a hook.
At home they are not inclined
to do all asked. They’d rather be reclined
than be tasked with little jobs they overlook.

Today I saw them stand together
layer wrapped in boots against the weather,
their working suits, the uniform of rough and ready.
The winter wind did heartless blow
as escaped their breath against this foe
that felt like death observing, calm and steady.

I bade them greeting as I passed.
So humbled by their smiles and all steadfast
I hoped such trials behind wherever more I went.
I thought perhaps I would not choose
this manner of accrual. What courage must enthuse
through those gruel clouds before a day is spent.

For there against the edge of cold
they tidied. They swept the brush, as a voice not old
their wishes kept in the hours that wile away.
Pride and will are forced to wait
on another opportunity. These men obey or negate
with impunity whatever profit made that day.

I ask myself has fortune shone
on me that no more does rise before the dawn
to labour’s chore and scattering of my soul?
Or by not grafting in this way
am I unequal? My warm and convoluted day
has no sequel that can match the digging of a hole.

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Makes Perfect

I heard Katie, our daughter, practising her piano tonight. It’s a tricky piece and she stumbled here and there. However she got up again and again. This is for her and anyone who has really worked hard to learn something.

Makes Perfect 

It then disappears, like lighthouse light,
leaving me at odds, lost, all at sea.
But some thing drives me on. The sight
of it, the flash awakens determination in me.

I pull back the oars of my discipline,
a time goes by without want of measure.
I repeat and fail ‘til patience wears thin.
Another beam, as if guiding to treasure,

forces me deeper and battle is met.
I fear the tide will drown my endeavour
and I bob in long moments. Oh, me beset
with improvement! But wishing never

gained a yard of ground. I re-bury fatigue.
I doubt my eyes but it soon re-appears,
not beyond the outline of land, a league
away. Not too far, not as far as my fears.

Dawn. It’s promise creeps into me
enough that I raise my head to the call
of other boatmen and women. This company
of sailors, I greet each one and all.

Through such journeys small and unique
our destination is shared in that distance.
In meetings, of what tales we will speak
we who see the worth of persistence.

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I’m about sixteen and have discovered that strange things happen when you mix cider and tins of beer.  Pishwater we call it but it does the job. There’s about ten of us standing out at the top of Dromalane Park.  It’s cold but we have enough beer to see us through for another hour or two.  The older fellas are talking about girls.  They are using terms like ridin’, shaggin’, what ye’d not do’ and the like.  My mate and I just listen in.  We don’t add to the conversation much.  We are revelling in the company of elders.

The other side effect of beer is urine.  The bladders here need emptying at regular intervals.  We walk like the damned to the end of the plank and whizz liberally down the tarmac path.  There is a mistake of green grass (a ten foot square play area at one time) growing alongside with dockens leaning over the broken mini kerb.  The steam off the fresh pee rises up into the night.  Each contributor watches his share trickle away until after a while there is the damp patch from Hell.

We continue through the tins of Bass.  I don’t think they sell that brand now in tins.  Topics vary from the IRA, the Brits, the cops to soccer to women and drink.  The slagging is intense.  Each misdemeanor brutally exposed and ridiculed.  We continue to listen more than speak.  It is my turn again to add to the urine lake.  I return relieved and receive a compliment of sorts.

“You’re really gettin’ into the Dromalane ways now, ye wee fucker.”

I had long awaited this acceptance into the group.  But the moment it came I realised the peak of this mountain was shit.  This was not where and how I wanted to be.  The night was over and I trudged the few hundred yards home tipsy and crestfallen.  What the fuck was going on?

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Tadhg and the Pockel – The book trad music has been waitin’ fer!!

Please find below folks the first chapter of the new book.  Tis not a biography as such but all the events described have happened to me or close friends.  Tis time to celebrate the session.  Time to celebrate those who keep traditional music alive in pubs, clubs, bars, corners and wherever else they can up and down Ireland and further afield.  C’mon in, there’s always room for one more.


1          Morning has Broken


Tadhg – A well intentioned civil cratur with a fondness for drink.

Pockel – (noun) – A bollox!  A fuckin’ ejit, a dose and pollution.


“What sort of a blue fuck are ye?  Jesus fuckin’ wept!” he said.

Where the fuck am I?

He was afraid to open both eyes at once in case his head blew up.

Right one first.

A haze of grass and mud invaded and then there was the taste in his mouth.  The one where the bear opens it up and shits in it.

“Ah Jesus,” he moaned.

He began the first of the upper body movements, still with one eye open.  He was face down and his brain now slowly informed him that his hands were palms down by his sides.  He pushed himself up in a way that would remind you of a fit gymnast doing that stupid running about thing with the ball.  Of course he was as far from gymnast like as it was possible to be and looked like a homeless snail.

He felt his left big toe moving inside his sock inside his boot.

Where there’s life there’s hope, he thought.

He decided to wiggle his toe a bit longer, in preparation if you will.  It sort of kept him calm.

“Right you prick, up,” he ordered.

The morning light sat on his head like an elephant.   It was grey and heavy and the trunk of a hangover slapped him full in the face.  Tadhg’s eyes were as red as a slapped arse on a frosty morning along Newry canal and his breath stunk like a labourer’s sock.

Christ, what happened? 

It was one of those rogue thoughts he didn’t want to acknowledge because if he found the answer it would lead to a barrel of shit.

The surrounds now were becoming familiar.  He recognised that white door, the ornate stonework around each of the many windows.  The grass now swirling round his mouth was well cut, the apple trees and various flowers were well mended and trimmed…he was in the garden of the Parochial House.

Oh fuck, what day is this?

Both eyes now open.


“Jesus!  Mass!”

Then he felt something…like a soft lump around his arse.

What the fuck’s THAT? he howled inwardly.

He gingerly moved his hand down to the seat of his jeans. 


He pushed it in…it moved with that terrifying consistency.

“Ach no,” he said.

It felt like…like well…

“Oh shit!” he moaned.

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