1998 Belfast, Good Friday


It was twenty years ago today…

Agreement or excellent fudge?
Not too sweet for shaking hands
that offered, amid begrudgery,
progress out of sinking sands.

Officially born as Jesus died,
ironic it yielded resurrection
after forty angry years had tried
to find us some new direction.

We were lost and losing hope,
struggling in a sorry state
of endless angst. We couldn’t cope
with love nor without hate.

But we made the best of it,
a normalcy under duress.
Perseverance, pride and spirit
in defiance of conquest.

In the stars peace shone
amid pettiness and bickering.
Moments of calm led us on,
they were brightness flickering.

Then in the absence of war
did we revel in it’s relief?
When asked ‘what are you for?’
Did our answers nurture belief?

We desired unions untainted,
where our present and history
were (shall we say) better acquainted;
where life was a joyful mystery.

But I am naive and thus exposed
by reality, unyielding like steel.
The emperor’s new clothes
worn by dreamers, worn by me.

We are two tribes, never more so.
Isolated, insular and ingrained
into our circles. We go
loyally with the ‘other’ disdained.

Who’s to say it is wrong
to recall death’s ferocity?
Anger will ever walk along
the echo of every atrocity.

And yet…we now fill each day
in a normalcy without duress,
(though our bank account say
things which do cause stress).

There is cross pollination
amongst incongruous seeds.
Growth or procrastination?
All is told in the deeds.

What future the outstretched hand?
Can harmony discord outlast?
Perhaps we might yet understand
2018, Good Friday, Belfast.

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Passing On

Stephen and Liam were unmet I think
but they were both interstellar.
Let’s raise a glass to them and clink
it, fondly recalling two fine fellows.

Their orbits streaked around the sun
and left behind such shining trails
that we who stare at either one
will see two of life’s fantastic tales.

One was left completely prone
and vulnerable but for his mind.
Voiced by quaint electric tones,
his genius never far behind.

The other a master of his craft.
A piper in complete control
and every note played a shaft
of light for Gaelic souls.

Today they were joined in death
and bid us… ‘fare well together’.
Briefly we will weigh each breath
to contemplate our own forever.

By their deeds we shall remember
to be curious, to sing each song
and by grasping fast the ember
we learn from what they’re passing on.

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Why are you here?


Facebook want this picture removed. It seems the West wants this girl to disappear. Her name is Ahed Tamimi. She’s 16, our daughter is 15. They live in two different worlds.
These are the charges against her – aggravated assault (a slap), interfering with army operations, incitement, making threats, and throwing stones.

Hold me back, restrain me.
Put me in jail, detain me.
Tie tight my hands, bind me.
Why are you here? Remind me.

Kill my family, shoot them.
Destroy my shops, loot them.
Fasten my legs, entwine me.
Why are you here? Remind me.

Clear my village, destroy it.
Tear gas can, deploy it.
Terrorist? Assign to me.
Why are you here? Remind me.

Invade my body, rape me.
Hunt me down, break me.
Convict me falsely, fine me.
Why are you here? Remind me.

I am sixteen, hear me.
I am many, fear me.
You will NOT redefine me
Why are you here? Remind me.

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Beneath a Bridge

judys bridge

Today we walked beneath a bridge
that carries all shoulder high
and every rocky, stoney ridge
meant magic, for them and I.

Those silent columns and the arch
span the river running free
over boulders defying the march
of our limited earthly destiny.

The lad (of course) is first to shout
and answering his ‘hurrah harroo’
come echoes from realms out
of where trolls might rule.

The lass, a while ahead in years,
examines spiderwebs and grass.
The arrival of her future nears
but not before such moments pass.

The lady then who stole my heart
walks behind our charges fair.
Content she smiles as they start
skimming stones and splashing there.

Eternal whispers of the wind
meet the never ending call
of water falling and so twinned
cast their spell for one and all.

That I may call them family
and hold them tight here below
is wizardry indeed for me
with secrets only bridges know.



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Christmas Beli(EVE)


Christmas Believe

Around cribs flame thoughts gain brightness.
Their glow fuelled in reminiscence and recall
of December’s curious contrast, her kindness
in spite of sleet and snow, storm and squall.

Such inclemency, mirrored in behaviour,
is overcome in what good will remains
and the birth of a child some call saviour.
For others their children bring similar gains.

But either or both, if your heart’s invested
generosity of spirit is fair consequence.
Where faith is strong truth can’t be contested
by voices debating all innocence

captured in youngsters, wondering and waiting
‘neath elfish eyes that would spill the beans.
All actions noted, imaginations salivating
at the promise of magic.The demands of teens,

now wholly involved in our festive charade.
Children, but a childish layer they’ve shed
and in that one might pause, even feel sad.
But no, our master stroke is soon to be played.

Long lists, long gone in longing looks at fires,
the smoke the dream deliverer as bed beckons.
Tomorrow rarely so excites or youth inspires
in its tick to morning, the ecstasy of seconds.

Prepared we look in, sleep has them sound.
I envy their calm, but there is not the will,
or need to complain. Cool wrapped the ground,
for footsteps roof high I listen still.

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Must doo mi bessed

I’ve always found writing easy but it’s not the case for everyone. 1e84c3e64e4ccbb593bc099365bfe836_teacher-reading-to-class-clipart-panda-free-clipart-images-boy-writing-letter-clipart_350-293


Wunce there wuz a littel boy,                 

he fownd it hard to spell.

Wurds and letrs jumbilled up

and it was difecult to tell


wat a sentins ment

and how the commas wurked.

It left him feeln down

as feer inside him lurked.


Instead of luking forwurd

to advensures with a pen

he preferd anything else

than spelling tests again.


Eetch day a little darkr

his sunnee wurld becayme.

Mum and dad were sad

because himself he blamed.


‘Dad, I must be sillee.

I can hardly reed.

My scors and tests ar rubish…

wat is rong with me?


Evrybody in my class

is doin raylee well

and I’m in the bottom haf

I cannot seem to spell.’


‘Well that just issint tru,’

his mum did swiftly say.

Children lurn at difrent speeds

but each lurns evry day.


OK you’ve maid a fyue mistakes

but that is NOT the plan.

Let’s ignore wat you kant

and check out wat you CAN!’


His littel face brightly shone.

‘I think aisle be alrite.’

And picking up his pen

he again began to right.


In the days that followed

with help from mum and dad

the wee lad’s courage grew

and lots of fun he had


geting lost in pyrit books

and writing just for fun,

imaginashin and a pen

sure nothing can’t be done!


Life is NOT perfection.

It’s not all tests and cups.

Life is doing yur best

and NEVER givving up.

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My grandmother loved the radio. I find now that I do too.

Detached not distant. Not at all.

From whomever the words come

she accepts warmly and shall

feast on conversation’s hum.


She falls asleep and will wake

to information; the news, pips

hourly, the weather. The break

of day, breakfast, school trips.


As much company as anything

and loyal friend; reliable, ready

to silence silence, from silence sing,

assuring her the ship is steady.


In time she may not fully listen

to every word. It matters none.

The voice itself serves to christen

the new day and is work well done.


Other opportunities arise

to tune in. The dial is alight

at arm’s length and contact’s prize

shortens roads late at night.


And what of the voice’s source?

What mouth might make mention

and features yield to discourse?

Who is it holding her attention?


Ultimately she does not care.

It is one voice with many faces

that daily flies her along air

waves, dreams and dreaming places.


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On the Bunk

You recall those days when you should have been at school but well….ye weren’t?

On the Bunk

Who knows whose plan it was.
We did it just because

we could and in Hill Street met
near the aptly named You Bet.

Our going was good to fair,
promised land for colt and mare.

But we not quite as fast
gathered near the old flag mast.

To escape the ever watchful eye
of observant teachers walking by

we from our bags fast removed
old clothes that quickly proved

a neat disguise. In we blended
but success it still depended

on getting up the Barcroft Hill
before doubt might wilt our will.

My mate shared an age with me,
the girls the same numerically.

I liked Anne, her laugh was rude
and in her eyes I understood

that she was as mad as any.
Al was shy but of the many

forays dark discoes saw
Michelle held his heart enthrall.

Against the tide of uniforms
bound for multi subject storms

we four crossed the grey canal,
the sky the same, quite banal.

Excited, anxious at the deed
we increased our walking speed

until a quarter after nine
we set out on the steep incline.

On we pushed higher, higher
until we saw the skyward spire

of the Cathedral, arrow straight,
going back was now too late.

There beyond the din of faces
we had reached the best of places,

a silent and abandoned shed,
in place of cows us instead.

After that the seconds slowed
as several bales we threw below

and used as desks. Well not quite
but at the time they felt just right.

We talked and laughed, tensions eased
our great escape all had pleased.

A cigarette by Anne was lit
and calmly blew the smoke from it

to douse the match. Oh how cool!
Far better craic than French at school.

We shared the hot ash-ended stick
after which I felt quite sick

but did not let on in case Anne thought
by tobacco I was overwrought.

Michelle and Al checked their bags
and both pulled out a box of fags.

I left them puffing for a while
and knew that smoke was not my style.

The time slowly moved till noon,
afterwards did not come soon

until at two and more miles walked
hunger’s army us had stalked.

In the tempest of the feat
none had brought a thing to eat.

Allied now with mist and drizzle
all I could hear was the sizzle

of a Pat’s burger as he said
the immortal words ‘onions…red?’

We set out again back to town
from Carnaget, a long way down

the Barcroft Hill to Dominic Street.
Damp of clothes and wet of feet

we trudged slowly to the square
and saw school mates meeting there.

We brave faces to them showed.
Praise and awe swiftly followed

as we relayed a raucous day
on the bunk mid straw and hay.

Michelle and Anne bid us farewell.
Impressed or not we could not tell

though ever since each time we met
Anne offered me a cigarette.

Of course she knew that I’d refuse
but would always ask ‘any news

about the boul’ Michelle and Al?
Ye mind the day on Newry canal?’

Memories remain almost complete
so that when I see upon the street

a gang of four or six or eight
and for school they are too late,

that wonders wide fill their eyes
before time slows, before time flies.On the Bunk



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They could be heroes

One can only applaud the bravery of the women who have recently come forward and rumbled these predatory sleekit cowardly c*nts. I hope the abusing bastards burn in hell. Some thoughts…

They could be heroes

Worth investment it would seem.
At least until such times as truth
erodes the myth, explodes the dream.
Dreams are but reality’s druth.

In their select and selective arena
some element of excellence
requires them, like court subpoena
attend the court of reverence.

And oh how we revere such skills,
to the point where sins are blurred.
To the point where obedience kills
reason, dread the only sound heard.

Fear and loathing in Las Vegas,
in Westminster and many’s the parish.
Until those auras that plague us
are revealed and in exposure perish.

Now watch their towers of straw
collapse, fast blown away.
Quality we need value over awe
forevermore than one day.


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No Glory in War


With all the pomp going on re 100 years anniversary of WW1 I felt this piece appropriate in light of the realities of war as suffered by innocent civilians, remembering too that soldiers are pawns of higher authorities.

No Glory in War

A rat is eating my brother’s left eye. It is not thin
or scrawny and clings to life, unlike my brother.

He is bent over at wrong angles and his pallid skin
denies hope. The air is rancid around us. Other

smells include vomit, shit and piss. The gas
mask is some relief although I threw up in it

yesterday. That was his last day. He fell as
we laughed about a cow at home. I lit

a match and held it to his cigarette.
He inhaled the tobacco and drew no further breath

as it was taken by the push of a bayonet
through his stomach and on to death.

Today, I am crammed into water and mud,
ankle deep. I don’t feel my feet. The feet

that walked excitedly with his. If I could
retrace them now I’d choose a different street.

Not the one with the posters and Royal approval
of fighting for freedom in this great war

of cousins. The cause of our uniformed removal
from home, loved ones and all that we are.

Now we are no more than a reason for rifle
salutes and bugles. No more than a lesson to learn

in futility. My eyes are scorched so that we stifle
an empire and build another as thousands burn.

My fellows lie about me, shell shocked, half dead,
half mad. They babble of Coventry and Leeds.

Some call for their mothers. They squeal as the lead
crosses flesh borders and are far from daring deeds.

I shall not inter my brother. He is fodder for vermin
and flies. His stench betrays the life our mother gave.

To die like this after her efforts. Religion has no sermon
to redeem the likes of me. I have found my grave.

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Zomboy and Scream Teen

Zomboy and Scream Teen

‘I haven’t eaten brains in more than a year,’
Zomboy sighed, releasing a tear.
He missed skin and bones and all sorts of goo,
stuff they wouldn’t even eat in a zoo!

‘I know what you mean,’ Scream Teen replied,
nibbling on fingers, crunchily fried.
‘Patience,’ she whispered picking her teeth,
Halloween releases all underneath!’

Zomboy smiled and said, ‘I can’t wait.
Vampires, werewolves and us all up late.
Plenty of victims asleep in their beds
oh how I love the insides of their heads!’

One of my faves is brains and fried ears,
especially the waxy ones, tasty my dear.
Next, nostril soup, so full of snot
bogeys are spicy believe it or not!

‘I like my brains raw,’ Scream Teen declared
‘Squishy and bloody is most preferred.’
The two chatted on, appetites growing,
the clouds moved away the full moon was glowing.

Howls followed then the two of them winked
‘That’ll be Will,’ glasses they clinked.
‘What big teeth!’ Zomboy applauded
‘Brushes em daily,’ Scream Teen nodded

‘Finest fangs this side of Dublin,’
the cauldron nearby loudly was bubblin’.
‘Let’s go and eat,’ Zomboy did say
Halloween doesn’t last more than a day!’

The worlds did their bit, closer together
they moved like birds of a feather.
A doorway appeared and in they pored
ghouls, ghosts so loudly they roared.

Carlow, Clare, Castlewellan were filled
with horrors as inward they spilled.
From the realm all things fantastic,
meant that surely events would be drastic.

Zomboy slow sharpened his deadliest sword
And held it high for the murderous horde
‘Let’s feast on flesh this Halloween.’
Blood chilling yells now set the scene.

From house to house and door to door
The walking dead wreaked havoc and more.
Gruesome and gory they emptied each house
No pets were spared not even a mouse.

The trail of blood down the street was a sight
No one in Carey would forget this night
Houses so silent all rooms now void,
death’s cold hands busily employed.

Suddenly Zomboy felt very strange
as around him slowly the room rearranged.
In through the window daylight’s beam
awoke him. It had all been a dream!

‘I’m Tóla not Zomboy,’ he calmly reflected.
‘It’s Katie not Scream Teen,’ he now recollected.
But there on his door twisted and bloody
his sword. (He couldn’t be could he?)

Katie asked grinning, ‘You fancy some food?
We’ll get some tonight? Gonna be good.’
‘But it was only a dream?’ Said Tóla unsure
‘Fraid not bro, for us there’s no cure!’

‘For some sleep means rest, not me n’ you,
Each Halloween the old curse comes true.
Out we must go and those we might meet
Ask them this question…Trick or eat!’


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Curtain Up

Many years ago I was in a school play. (Though mine was a small non speaking role I’m told it was pivotal in the play winning an All Ireland Irish language competition 🙂). Our daughter is involved in her school’s performance of Alice in Wonderland. We went to see it last night, it was fantastic. Really, some effort by all involved. It brought back some memories…

Curtain Up

A soft barrier moves in wisps,
dark green, precursor to invasion.
A doorway, fantasy’s occasion,
accompanied by crunching crisps
and plastic prone to persuasion.

Building two sides the expectation.
We without sit and wonder
as those within last minute under
darkness practice, so recitation
be pure and devoid of blunder.

And low the lights fade around.
We inhale prepared for all
and are bewitched, big and small.
Mystery’s cloak leaves the ground,
the unknown us has enthralled.

The characters enter one by one,
inviting us into their story.
Each line said a private glory
for youthful players as undone
anxiety is in fantastic furore.

Yet a character unseen remains
off stage, hidden, happily heard.
Voices on high would be absurd
without music. Her skilled refrains
lead to scenes joyfully altered.

Till at the end, the curtains fall
and we exit wonder land.
Alice takes us by the hand
back into an old school hall
and magic better we understand.


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Lucky to be Superstitious

For the day that’s in it.FB_IMG_1507905658495

From slumber’s dreary number and the bed I arose
And acting inexactly I stubbed all me toes
No relief from my grief could I find in the house
Like a plastic gymnastic I put the foot in my mouth

With gumption from the gums son I sucked on each toe
All eased and me pleased to the day I could go
Each foot in then put in a sock full of holes
And trousers were houses from me hips to me soles

I’d need a bailiff for me midriff but a shirt it would do
And my collar like a dollar from the vault brand new
To be lucky went my plucky rabbit’s right paw
And my three-legged beggar was the bravest you saw

The breakfast table well able to houl’ my boiled egg
Perched there like a lurcher atop a clothes peg
To slice her or splice her I could not decide
So I peeled her and keeled her into a cup’s inside

In my haste for the taste the salt I dispersed
But bowled ‘er o’er the shoulder for fear I’d be cursed
Now fed up I sped up myself to go out
But disaster was me master I let forth a shout

My front door where fate stored two windy washin’ men
With ladders like adders would I leave home again?
Engagements are enragements but the bullet must be bit
So under and rent asunder by the bucket I’m hit

My fingers shortly linger through my hair and I drip
With soggy feet on down the street enduring the trip
My eye there on the sky air I gaze to the light
A lonely magpie I now spy to add to my plight

From my mouth then heading south then a green spit I fire
So tomorrow before sorrow on me does retire
In desperation at my station I look for his mate
But what dog’s do on the both shoes I’ve left it too late

The foul stench like an oul wench I gave the brogues a scrape
And gambled as I rambled to see mouths all agape
Council workers the shirkers like men cutting corn
And they’re frettin’ and bettin’ on who’ll fell the fairy thorn

“Holy Jaysus don’t leave us! At risk are your lives,
Any man dear that lifts a tool here gets this bunch of fives
The fairy folk without a joke will be less than pleased
At JCBs and machinery disturbing the peace.”

Well I raced free as they chased me like the hounds that they were
And cut me face all around the place on those branches hangin’ there
Nearing death I regained me breath ‘twas time for a drink
To the nearest bar like a jaguar I needed time to think

One John Powers for such hours I gave him a quick end
With a toast to the host who was now my best friend
A Guinness and my sins blessed with a whiskey from Coleraine
New bravery agin such knavery I headed on again

In the fresh air returned the pressure when there across the street
A black cat, me on me back and me arse for me feet
“To hell with you rusty horseshoe you didn’t work at all!”
But ‘twas upside down causing me to frown and hence the fall

The latest twist on this fateful list I thought a pure disgrace
Council men circled me again outside Tom’s place
“You’re trouble mate at a double rate not a sinner in the town
Will touch the tree for money free never mind cut it down!”

“Now take the shaft,” the blaggard laughed, “I’ll have you swing first,”
My worst fears surely bound here I knew I’d be cursed
I was ushered in a great hush half the town held its breath
To defy me woes I crossed my toes and struck expecting death

But great relief belied my belief the strife soon began
But none to me as you will see the fate of each council man
Their bowels like vowels went A E O U
And atrocities at velocities through the air flew

Their underpants didn’t stand a chance and filled to the brim
With dreadful juice as from a sluice that made their toes swim
The squelching and the belching their insides insane
Sometime would pass before each sorry ass touched a fairy thorn again

So fair warning each morning now hear it from me
Take bad luck over no luck you never know what you’ll see
My conclusion to confusion is use all your wishes
And say it loud and be quite proud to be superstitious

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The Bedouin


A little piece of surreality on a wet October day…


The tent had been erected overnight, unknownst

to the bin man who had to manoeuvre his truck

around it. Not the normal first thing to be seen.

Not in this small town in a sectarian desert

where instead of sweet olive trees is grown

bitterness and mistrust by the hedge load.


‘Ye can’t be leaving that here!’ he growled

before getting out of the lorry. On removing

himself from within he was more considered

saying, ‘Are you aware that your tent is

in a restricted area? Deconstruction of such

may be the only option in this pre Brexit era.’


The Bedouin smiled the smile of no understanding

and pointed to the many wondrous items

hanging freely on strings. There was meat,

fish, chicken of all colours due to the spices.

The smells and smokes enticed the unsuspecting

council worker. His nose was overwhelmed.


His eyes felt the searing edge of the scimitar.

Its curved silver blade pointed at his wounded

kneecaps. ‘Ah the good old days,’ he mused.

He ventured further in under the rippling skin

and partook of confections, the likes of which

had never crossed his Irish dinnered lips.


‘So eh, what are ye doin’ here?’ he asked

more to be mannerly than anything. Confusion

leaned on him and duty cut salt like against

the sweetness of this foreign visitation.

The Bedouin pointed toward a small collection

of deeply filled pillows, ornately embroidered.


‘Ye want me to sit?’ ‘Well ok, but not for long

coz my boss will be here to restore order.’

Again the Bedouin offered a wide smile.

The smile of a confident man, assured that

welcomes and offerings and simplicity

outweigh suspicion and the call of clocks.

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For a variety of reasons, happy and sad, I’ve recently noticed many bouquets here and there. Some thoughts below…


Road relics looking back
sit beyond the reaper’s grasp.

They seem all white on black
in their bloom, the contrast

clear against the hedgerow.
I see them too held in hand

until falls the last below
on wood. The silent stand…

Where steel carries busy feet
and water flows beneath

they lie enthusing concrete
with sorrow us bequeathed.

But that would not be all…
Variety is their meaning;

vibrant, vivid, standing tall
for lovers and convening

hearts. Not noted such
is opportunity missed

and love is twice as much
when secret smiles are kissed.Bouquets

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Often word weight is too much.

In the telling it is over skimmed

till gradually the meaning of such

fades, the sentence neatly primmed.


Of the myriad ways to convey hate,

embarrassment, or official fear,

the appalling, ill-used ‘illegitimate’

slanders little children here.


That a human life can somehow be

‘not in accordance with the law’.

That babes born outside matrimony

be not treated with love and awe


is damnable to Hell or other place

where all hope is vanished.

For hope avoids a mother’s face

when from her her child is banished.


What saint or scholar deemed it fit

these infants to be bound in rules?

That made them wait in half lit

lines in segregated holy schools?


The unwed mother carries all,

from womb and on into the world.

Scorn and family shame does fall

on her and what abuse is hurled


by those walking quickly past

high stone walls and laundries.

No wash of water came unfast

the dirt of guilt’s quandaries.


Scattered to the wind like leaves,

divided by some scalpel pen,

two parts of one who grieves

and never sees that face again.


The fingers of our new born son

wrap around our hearts and souls.

Legitimate every single one

above decayed scribes and scrolls.


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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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When Next Snow Falls

How we love the snow!

and the spells it sprinkles,

her white shawl all aglow.

Our finger tips in crinkles

reddened at the touch,

oaking toes in wrinkles

in Wellingtons and such.

Adventures our desire,

(homework, not so much)

so out with sleds afire

high speed is expected.

Hidden holes conspire

and bums bump affected

cause laughter to resound.

These days joy confected

on freshly covered ground

will all at once rekindle

when next snow falls around.

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I dedicate this in general to all having to work on through this crisis. Those as they say at the coal face, the frontline, in the trenches, those risking too much… I dedicate it in particular to Catherine (my wife) teacher and carer extraordinaire…#NHS #stillworking #keyworkers #fuckcovid19 #aislebeback

A scalding fire devoid of flame
scorching bodies without shame
or errant spark to blame
as catalyst, ferocious came

with the ire of a hurricane.
No winds could we ascertain
but knew it’s anger would maintain
until we managed to contain

Then the world began to shake
though underfoot no tremor’s wake
or dust. Doubtless deemed to take
us all as realised at stake

were our lives together made.
Families scattered and afraid
of something cruel deeply prayed
to God, to clouds, to fate delayed

and placed their faith in fortitude;
in bravery, in an attitude
that did not quit. Thus renewed
we found a way and hope rescued

from Hell. They that faced
head on the threat were graced
with knowledge; worked with haste
in gowns and masks, not cased

in armour or any type of steel.
They did so much we dared to feel
the tide had turned, we could heal.
Strength did thus itself reveal

in each of them. To those who
choose to fight and bravely do
what yesterday was nothing new…
They save the day, that gallant few.



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FlagColonial powers place a lot on celebrating their ‘discoveries’. How could aboriginal people possibly be ungrateful? I mean imagine spraying paint on Cook’s statue! #invasionday


How could YOU discover ME?
Wherein is the reason that
after several weeks at sea

I was waiting to be found?
I have known each tide and turn
of the seasons underground

long before you built your ships.
I have held the blazing sun
and kissed the moon upon her lips.

I have gazed into the stars
and kindly asked them ‘light my way’
around a land forever ours

where I’ve chanted with the wind
and with it lifted sacred flames
to warm the souls winter thinned.

With your god and guns you came
and poisoned every billabong
without the merest hint of shame,

arrogant and too blind to see
I was your mother long before…
How could YOU discover ME?

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It’s about that which went before
and nostalgia is not an option.
So begins the road to the past
and I drive down Landseer street to park.
Land seer indeed. What things I’ve seen
and shared. But how to proceed?
Perhaps in prehistory; rocks and
the beginnings of life; a different
life in Belfast, aeons ago.I see myself
walking by as other people;
bright eyed and bushy tailed
not unlike that taxidermied hare
beside the world’s largest antlers.
I am layered like geological
features. I have ages and distinct
periods I could name. We stroll
through the Pleistocene all the way
down to the history of Ireland.
Dinosaurs to glacial progress; Gods,
religions, division all neatly divided
into glass cases. Labelled evidence
to learn from or most commonly
ignore. The Stranmilis setting also
means more. Yes, in memory; student,
drinker, idiot but the name itself. I
know it to refer to a ‘sweet stream’.
How we flowed, like water down the hill
to the traffic lights and on into Queen’s
Students’ Union, now in ruins (I lay in ruins
there too). My son urges me onward,
time travelling, consumed by
excitement. It is an unmitigated
joy to watch him run and look back
at me, at us. I see my next era as a
young father passing me angst ridden.
His face mirrors the stress on his
partner’s as their two charges lay
siege to the cuddly toys in the museum
shop. ‘What fucking genius set them
just high enough to reach?’ he asks the
world. There may be fatalities. We walk
out into the pelting rain and freeze of
February. There is too much to take in,
too much history which means only
a snippet or two may be recalled in
a quiet moment. We walk beneath
bare branches looking for squirrels
and the other memories running about.
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