Thursday, 1 March 2018

Monkey See

Monkey See, monkey do,
holy monkeys throwing poo.
Ignore them or abhor them,
they know well what they do.
They're impossible to civilise,
though they dwell in marble rooms,
with no connections to real life
but plenty to baboons.
They don't pretend to make good sense
They hide behind things creedal,
and you know their own tale of wealth
and a camel and a needle.
Monkey See, monkey do,
holy monkeys throwing poo.

(Explanation: This is my reaction to our former President, Mary McAleese, being barred from speaking at a conference at The Vatican.)

Thursday, 1 February 2018

Still Life

February changes everything,
the old routine makes way,
the sounds of Thursdays no more sing
the end of our busiest day.
Our Tuesday afternoons repaid,
though I still don't have the time.
I have always hated Tuesdays
and been often justified.
I watch a glassy night sky,
crissed and crossed with streams,
growing white and fading light,
it's like a string-art piece
worked through nails on a board.

I think of Rita Rembrandt
and how she was so calm and quiet,
I remember her quoting Ingres,
"draw lines, young man, draw lines"
to Delacroix, a man after our own hearts.
She worked in ramshackle rooms,
few of the buildings were not falling apart
(Sr. Martin's foot had once gone through
the ceiling of the class below).

Spring is up and I'm still in bed,
my thoughts are back in 1994,
I can see my life-drawing sketch,
double-checking the head-to-body ratios,
though it is too late to change anything.

(Explanation: I was lying on my bed one evening and saw a number of plane streams in the sky, it was absolutely beautiful.
My Leaving Cert. art teacher was Rita O'Connell. Obviously, we called her Miss O'Connell to her face, but we called her Rita Rembrandt behind her back, not a bad nickname at all if you knew what we called other teachers. What a lady! I don't know how she put up with us.
I have been waiting for 2018 to properly start at our house, we did two rounds with the 'flu, one person at a time out of me and my two daughters. My husband got away with it, not one sniffle. So, good riddance January and please let us be back to normal from today.)

Monday, 1 January 2018

Just A Game

It all begins with a connection,
and cannot be completed without same,
it may be that you do it in small sections
or you may see only the endgame.
You may suffer the severest  of frustrations
when someone else sees how it all should fit,
indeed, you might reach a point of desperation
as others finish while you're stuck on the same bit.
Sometimes you'll be sure you know the answer
until you make your move to bind the parts,
and then the join requires a strike by hammer,
but you know you cannot force a work of art.
The last piece of the puzzle can seem obvious
until you place it and you need a different aim,
the picture you want cannot exist without the edges
and you can break it if you want a change.
You can consider every option, every angle,
you can look and look until it's ineffective,
but, mostly, the best view is not a gamble,
a simple standing back brings new perspective.
It's just a game of interlocking plots,
a pile of  jumble seeking to be shaped,
it's mixed up and quite safe within its box,
but working on it will enhance your days.

Friday, 1 December 2017

Secret Weapons

We TDs on mission afar to a North behind barbed wire,
bearing gifts we follow the star or maybe it's missile fire.
We're bringing cheer across the miles, our group of wee folk three,
decked out in our very own green style, britches patched at knee.
Tin whistles in our holsters, bodhráns on our backs,
the disdain of Irish voters as our personal soundtrack.
Diddley-idles learned by heart, we've prepared a little medley,
worldy wisdom for to impart, we've the cúpla focal ready.

We're boldly travelling back in time, to the year one-zero-six,
to seek a godman born on high, as mad as it gets in politics .
We're bringing four leaf clover to the head honcho of the lads.
he'll surely be won over by the successes that we've had:
We'll regale him plainly and he'll be beguiled, we feel,
we're proof you can insanely follow your wildest, raving dreams.
We come from an enchanted realm where happiness abounds;
food and shelter, health and wealth lie thick there on the ground.
The waters round our island make crystal look like muck,
our people always smiling and polluted with good luck.
Magic floating vehicles, convey our citizens with ease,
each journey's like a miracle wrapped in glitter and world peace.
Rival gangs of well-wishers run our safest, cleanest turf
and often it's a bystander who receives an ill-aimed hug.
Our budgets are received with joy, ours is a land of plenty,
everyone is gainfully employed, no bank account is empty.

You can't but hear us coming and not just the ballads that we tune,
there's the constant rhythmic drumming of our sean-nós dancing shoes.
To no avail resistance, you've never seen our like,
we're a kind of slick pied piper band when we're doing a hornpipe.
Our secret weapons are the bones, played mesmerisingly:
We've led dictators and supremos to embrace democracy.

We're just simple ambassadors compelled to rove and roam,
(ironically we have a North much, much closer to home).
Watch out world, for us wee men, in waistcoats and caipíns,
we're decommissioning warheads at international céilís.

Wednesday, 1 November 2017


Could Hallowe'en be better suited to any time than this?
The nightness so foreboding and the morningness of mists;
the darkness clinging though the day comes riding through,
betraying short-lived shapes and glistenings on paths of shiny dew.
A newness hangs in waiting, there's closure in the air
and community communes in ways it seldom ever dares.
Lights shine, there's a settling, a temporary hold,
a path for nods and greetings before Winter takes control.
Two women shout and gesture at each other across the road:
The younger one looks busy, the older one looks old.
Plans shared, routes discussed, though they stay on their own sides,
maybe they'll meet later, maybe another night.
A window offers moments for exchanges rare and slight
and just as soon it closes, pulls the curtains, dims the lights.
The spell drains and reveals that all is as it was,
bittersweet and then relief that magic's life is short.
The children carve the days, the months and years come through,
to be betrayed by shapes and glistenings new;
the nightness so foreboding and the morningness of mists,
could any time be better suited to Hallowe'en than this?

Sunday, 1 October 2017

Fine Framing

I planted that corner so I could see from my bed
an iota of order in a garden of dread,
now these early mornings when I sit there and stare,
I've a pang of regret for what I sat where;
It's growing, all growing, just like I schemed,
but now it's obstructing the faraway scene:
It's a two-storey, two-chimney house of all white,
surrounded by green and moody by night.
It would look right at home in very fine framing
and could pass for a genuine Rainsford Ryan painting.
It's a dream in the fog, blurred all around
and dazzling in sun, almost over pronounced.
It's skin deep, of course, I can't judge the depth,
but it's no hardship to see a breathtaking breadth.
It's the first thing I look for every day
but the plants that I sat are growing in the way.
We're soon to be parted , no longer connected,
when I reap the result of a narrow perspective.

(Explanation: I have never even noticed the house when we pass it on the main road, but, from my bed, it has looked like a picture for a long time. I can't see it anymore and I miss it. It is stunning, surrounded by green fields with the backdrop of Croughaun Hill. Obviously, I'm not going to take a photo of someone else's house but Emily Rainsford Ryan is an Irish artist, and if you look at this post of hers you might get an idea of what I'm referring to in the poem.

I wrote this back in April and I am very happy to report we regained control of the garden over the Summer. I mightn't be waking up to the view of the house I love but at least our garden is no longer dreadful).

Friday, 1 September 2017

Sparkly Ribbon

She stashed minutes away in jars and boxes
and hid hours in secret places for conjuring notions.
Like all magical stuff, no different to her offspring,
she knew they must fly off to soar and sing,
dreams to fruition and girls to women, so she permitted it,
fixing the faintest sparkly ribbon to the children's wrists,
and, with less regard, to the visions' endmost wisps.
Those were only bonus cards.
She counted her lucky stars when she watched the news,
and, notably, when sighing over crayoned walls and mucky shoes.
She would pull those strings sometimes
and at others forget they existed, though she held on tight.
Occasionally, she let them go, to rest her hand,
but, always, quickly snapped back the strands.
She knew that she might not see the outcome
but that at least a few of those visions could be passed on.
They may, she supposed, be useful for the next generation
to acquire unworked ideas on the faintest sparkly ribbon,
the beauty of the perk being in trying to solve the riddle
or, indeed, letting it go.

Tuesday, 1 August 2017

Keeping July

Dens of chairs and blankets,
a circus show at home,
lines and nets and rackets,
no-one keeping score.
Eight books each to represent,
a fox in socks surveys,
on July the first the power went
and the movie was delayed.
Calves the very height of style
in all their sepia glory,
starlings at the seaside
taking inventory.
Lettuce growing rivalry
in green and purple lines,
questions answered silently,
learning to tell time.
Rapunzel can no longer hide,
rooster calling on repeat,
gorse clicks and crackles from all sides,
a nineties dancefloor beat.
Chippings, pavers, rollers
our road consolidated,
filling, tearing, smokers
keep children fascinated.
A linnet pair on seedy heads,
thrushes gobbling berries,
an old pink paper licence,
explaining pounds and pennies.
Old heads of lavender
on thin but sturdy stalks
We edge through the calendar
these days not to recall.

(Explanation: This is the third of three Summer poems of 2017. The first is Collecting May and the second is Sorting June).

Saturday, 1 July 2017

Sorting June

Picnics in the leafy shade,
mighty hula-hooping,
debates of all things mermaid,
days of just regrouping.
A home-made wishing well,
ground consumed by weeds,
on June the first it rained like hell
and continued for two weeks.
Red admiral kaleidoscopes,
lilies back again,
streamlined swallows swooping low,
big plans for the train.
Cherries getting redder,
cloudless cobalt skies,
self-seeded mountain heather
has further colonised.
Best of ten in basketball,
children rhyming words,
sparrowhawks' high-pitched calls
disperse the other birds.
Racing, chasing tractors
as sun and heat maintain,
encrusted in sun factor
we're on a contrary campaign.
Plastic table dining,
wraps and dips hold sway,
water sprinkler sliding,
there goes the longest day.
Celebration of a decade,
eleven now together,
for better or worse it passed away
not to be remembered.

(Explanation: This is the second of three Summer poems of 2017. The first is Collecting May and the third is Keeping July).

Thursday, 1 June 2017

Collecting May

Great tit on the warpath,
a blue one they call Louis,
red collar on the black cat,
sawfly on the gooseberry.
Airy thuds of football,
two girls and their dad,
on May the first the cuckoo called;
a reason to be glad.
Cabbage whites crysanthemumming,
unwieldy fluffy bumblebees,
honeysuckle fast becoming,
sandy feet and salty sea.
Rabbit nesting just in time,
a dotted scene of lambs,
stretched out open cones of pine,
microphones without amps.
Guitar reduced to strings of five,
record-breaking skipping,
stabilisers off the bikes,
no holes in the knitting.
Machines in fields of evening rush
to beat the next day's rain,
hawthorn blossoms torn and thrust
like hailstone to the panes.
Still-sealed foxgloves popped on palms,
bubbles, ice-cream, jelly,
sounds and scents of cutting grass,
hedges getting leggy.
Sudden elderflowers,
karate-kicking robins,
roses in a bower,
all to be forgotten.

(Explanation: This is the first of three Summer poems of 2017. The second is Sorting June and the third is Keeping July).