Granny’s Orchard 1966

Early August. The growing suspense.
A waiting game as fruit swells and calls.
And its whisper is irresistible. And loud.
And sweet like a summer kiss.

Green as grass, the dewy plums,
A magnet to my sister’s greedy lips
Tumble, barely chewed, stones and all
Into her rumbling tum to burp and bubble.
Tummy fireworks, duodenal back flips.

And we play tig amongst the fruit trees,
Look for late hatched scaldies in the ditch,
And inspect windfall cookers for worms. All the while
Itching with grass rashes and hawthorn welts.

The journey home, asleep in the back
Of dad’s green Cortina is uneventful,
Save for my sister’s farts and groans
As the half ripe fruit claws and creaks
As she hunches double and fitfully sleeps.

Home at last. Carried in one by one.
Half asleep, and in my sister’s case,
Half dead. And there was no pity.
No comfort. Just a hot water bottle
And a clip along the ear. And stern words.

‘What did I tell you?’ My mother said.
‘Don’t eat the plums!’ As my sister
Gurgled and moaned and blew
Like a green volcano bound for the loo.

The next day, green around the gills
She swore that plums were evil and
She would eat no more. Ever again.

Next Sunday we went to Granny’s,
And let loose from our silent hell,
From our colouring books,
From the gaslit good room,
We raced past the duck pond to the orchard.
To the orchard where the dewy plums,
Green as grass, called out my sister’s name.


perfect crimes

i watch a herd of hoppity wagtails

flit from blue sky to black tarmac

bibbing, bobbing, galahumpazizing……….

i crunch another crusty malteser,

wolf down another bar of caramac








perhaps after lunch i’ll have a nap

and dream of better times and perfect crimes.

Mother Nature’s hissy fit.

Stained brown with overnight rain,
the river licks its banks as ducks ride its flanks.
Bobbing in the corkscrew eddies stirred up by
nature’s breath.

I sit, snug behind double glazed panes,
as gales and gusts whisper in pain. Snatching, grasping, snarling,
like a rabid dog whipping foam over the river’s skin.

Bewitched by the pushing, pulling, biting wind,
spindly trees enchanted, entranced,
dance to Boreus’s tune, releasing a snow flurry of leaves
to swirl and coat their underbellies.

In the grey rushing sky white tipped gulls twist
and fly, dipping in and out of harm like wing-ed lucky charms.
Playing the wind, conducting each stanza of Ein Aplensinfonie:
wings as batons beating stormy time.

I prefer to sit in my comfy lair, warm air and unruffled hair.
Playing Riders in the Storm on my stereo. Being in rather than being out.
Drinking steaming coffee and daydreaming of Summer 

as Mother Nature has her hissy fit.


Holyhead to Dún Laoghaire

The Sea.

Neptune’s trident churns and turns
snarling chastising chastiser.

Hissing boiling white water tips.
Punching the decks with salty fists.

Safe inside the threadbare snug bar
have a jar or two (purely medicinal of course)

and through a porthole eyeball the sea
as it eyeballs me.

And children.

Noisy feral snotty wretches.
Ruddy faced urchins, and teens with issues
and giggles and angst.

Teenage angst.

Run wild to a child.

And mothers soft with love
and hard with life talk shit
aboard the ship.

With headphones on
and volume set to 21.

block the insipid, driviolic chatter
with Level 42 and Sum 41.

As we near port,

the feral kids, their mums and I.

Neptune’s sea.
A millpond.

With gentle ripples
and salty kisses.

On land we lubber.

Engulfed by Irish wind and rain.

Feral kids blubbering
from a smack around the head.


It’s good to be home again.


a dangerous blue sky

on the fifth floor
in my vertical home
i am eye to to eye
with the sky
and the sky
is blue and delicious


and bloody dangerous

little people far below
are dotted here and there
social distancing aware
walking in little people groups
no more than two or three at most

an ambulance, all blues and twos
huffs and puffs and whizzes by
as little people far below
catch little people achoos
in soggy little people tissues

and i
press my nose
to window pane
licking the outside
with my eyes

i can taste
i feel alive

and then as i die a little inside
i curl up in a cosy nook with
my favourite Flann O’Brien book

“When things go wrong and will not come right,
Though you do the best you can,
When life looks black as the hour of night,

is 11.30 am too early for day drinking?
i wish i could day drink with you

and you
and you
and you


the humdrum city
rumbling and tumbling
in a bubble of vinyl.

espying prerogative-spiders
climbing pussy-willow-prerogative-walls
with a doffing of caps to 1959

(a good year. a piggie year)


I think of you
post hairdo.


you are a beautiful freak!


as the city lights twinkle
I dream my American dream,
in my tv world

hug my ochre cushion

a girl with short fingernails
strums an ovation guitar.

a sip of light beer
a simple chord progression
G to C to A Minor

an ambulance whizzes by
(I hope their patient doesn’t die)

the overtures from the stereo
pin me to my funky Ikea chair

(a girl with short fingernails
and an ovation guitar)

I think I’m in love with her.

Shit happens

morning mist strokes the river
as creatures stir and day begins.

a moorhen chick floats by.
charcoal-balled. lifeless.

natural causes?
no matter.
shit happens.

tugged by current,
snagged and jostled,
bobbing in the ripples,
floating on the river Styx.
Charon ferries his soul
to Hades and eternity.

(or moorhen heaven)

i lean against a garden fence.
rickety with age, bleached by sun.
i crane my neck to the river bend
as the fluffy charcoal ball disappears.

i’ve seen it many times before.
this seasonal sadness,
choked in river tears.

the mist lifts.

blue skies and cotton
wool clouds dance in the river. 
a fanfare of daybreak.

the sound of moorhens

the river is haughty.
strong, unhurried.
full of life and indifferent to weakness.

a nonchalant nursemaid.
a deadly assassin.
a fatal watery attraction.
a sanctuary and a grave.

the moorhen chick is forgotten.
a short-lived sacrifice.
an offering to the river gods.

new life will return.
return to this river.

new life
with the wonder
and the promise of rebirth.

and death will have its say.
death will have its part to play
in this soap opera we call life.