The Hood

This is a poem about one of the less pleasant features of our society. In recent years the hood has become a symbol for a particular group of young people who seem intent on both being unhappy and making others feel that way too. It is based on a real encounter I saw while out walking my own dog at night.

Old man shuffles
Stooped, shrouded, muffled
Against cold and damp
Uniform of age
Coat grey
Woolen scarf
Hi-shine shoes
Capped head bowed
Furrowed brow
Sunken cheeks
Age-dimmed eyes
Lines of life
Life lived
Duty done
Passes by
Nods hello

And the dogs watch
And tails wag

Young man struts
Perma-scowl
Too-young
Too-deep, furrowed brow
Thin stretched lips
Suck
On the last of ten
Smile proof
Sunken eyes
Beneath
The Hood

The Hood
Hides, covers
The accused’ blanket
The judges wig
Executioner’s mask
Hiding feeling
Hiding all

The skunk cloud
Beer puddled brain
Swaggering
With sham-strength
Confused values
Misplaced, replaced
Aggression, size
Anger, power
Resentment brimming
Arrogance wrapped

And the dogs bark
And he

Wonders why!

The Never Ending Journey

This poem harks back to a time before the modern car ferries or planes made travel “home” to Ireland so quick and easy. In the days of the old “Mail boat” things were rougher, slower and uncomfortable. But it was going home and that’s something the Irish will always do!

So!
I’m stood on the quayside
On a wild windy night
As the storm brews over the sea
And I wait in the rain
With a hundred others like me
For a boat that tosses this way and that
And just as I think
There’s no way we can make it
We will surely all drown
We’re rushed into the harbour
Of Dublin’s fair city
And a train that’s ready to leave
And it blows a loud shrill whistle
And we set off quite quickly picking up speed
Doing sixty as she crosses the Liffey
But slowing to a crawl up the hills
The heaters don’t work ‘cept in Summer
There’s no way on God’s Earth to keep warm
And our teeth and bones rattle and shake
Through the Midlands, Longford, Roscommon
To Mayo at last
To be met at the station at Claremorris
By Pat the baker and his son
In their rickety cart
As we jolt and bump to Kilkelly
Where every man has the gift of the gab
And you can take the man out of Ireland
But you can’t take Ireland out of the man
So of course I join in their chatter
To tell of my journey last night
So!
I’m stood on the quayside
On a wild windy night
As a storm brews over the sea
And I wait in the rain
With a hundred others like me

And Eagles Were Kings

This is a poem about what humankind is doing to our world and how nature will ultimately reclaim it.

Gliding in the clear blue
As a dream or a thought
Sun warmed broad aquiline wings
He surveyed all
And he understood

The smoke is long gone
Blown on a thousand year wind
And just the shell remained
Brittle and dry, sapped of strength
Empty buildings, old and burned
Skyscrapers, apartments, churches
Temples to industry
Abandoned and desolate

Men thought they had answers
Unrivaled intellect
Complex society
A global economy
Men had too much

He sees the bones of society
Laid bare
Picked over by vultures of violence
Crushed by the hyena grip of despair
Men couldn’t set those shattered bones

And they crumble to dust
Grains of memory
Of a time men lived
Long ago

And he stretched his wings
In the clear blue
As a dream or a thought
And he understood
And eagles again
Were kings

Dead Eyes

This poem is about children in conflict around the World, these are children too young to have any real concept of what they are involved in or why. It is perhaps one of my saddest poems.
Leaves photographed Summer 2008

Children’s faces stare
Blank and calm
Children’s small hands
Raise Kalashnikovs
Children’s thin fingers
Squeeze their triggers
Flying hot metal
Rips flesh
Breaks bones

Gunfire drowns out the screaming
Hatred drowns out the screaming
Closed minds drown out the screaming
Death drowns out the screaming

Smoke curls and drifts
Dust and ash settle
Dead eyes stare
The dead eyes ask
Why?

Children’s small hands
Lower Kalashnikovs
Rub sweat from their eyes
Eyes that can’t cry
Eyes that have seen
Too much
Eyes that have
No answers
Eyes that see
No questions
And the dead eyes ask
Why?

Standby

Sometimes modern life just doesn’t stop, we always have to be doing rather than being. This poem comes out of that. Max photographed here is really busy, runs and runs, but he knows when to stop!
Max – photographed 2009

My old television
Had a big old switch
On and off
With a clunk
My new one has
Standby

No switch
Just a button
Touch sensitive
And a little red light
It doesn’t ever really turn off
It’s ready
For my instant need
For entertainment, for news
To fill an empty moment
I can’t wait a few seconds
It’s on standby
Go on
Touch the button

My new computer sleeps
The screen goes blank
The disk winds down
And parks
But a little red light
Flashes
And then
Touch the button
It bursts into life
Back where it left off
Not asleep
Its on standby
Go on
Touch the button

This is the modern way
Life at the ready
On 24-7 watch
Don’t stop
Don’t go to sleep
When I close my eyes
The world keeps going
The world might pass me by
The world never stops
I wouldn’t want to be
Left behind
In a thoroughly
Modern rush

I don’t really sleep anymore
I close my eyes
Lie quiet
I might snore
But I‘m not asleep
I’m ready to jump up
At the drop of a hat
The bark of a dog
The rattle of the wind
The ring of the alarm
Not asleep
I’m on standby
Go on
Touch the button

I don’t have a little
Red light
I don’t need my own little
Red light
I’m surrounded by them
They’re inside my head
Glowing
Flickering
Light emitting synapses
At the edge
Ready to go
Not asleep
I’m on standby
Go on
Touch the button

And if I finish my days
In a hospital bed
Plugged-in
Connected
Then
When my little red lights go out
I won’t be dead
Resting in peace
Not dead
On standby
Go on
Touch the bloody button

Different Dad

Different Dad was written for fun and it isn’t really about my dad, or even me.
Busker in Galway – pencil drawing and photo combined

By day he looks like your dad
He acts like your dad
He even thinks like your dad
But my dad
My dad is different
He’s not one of us

Come the darkness
And the moonlight
He changes
Its in his blood

And it gets worse
He’s not like the regular
Once a month
Full-moon
Werewolf type dad
Changing for just one crazy night

Or the beer drinking
Once a week
Friday night with the lads
Hung-over Saturday morning
Type dad

My dad is different
He’s not one of us

It was once a week
A couple of hours
Cold winter nights
After dark
No harm in that
That’s what they think

As Spring Sprang
It was in his step
And as Summer scorched
Dad sizzled with feverish rhythms
As Autumn fell
It was too deep

It happens everywhere
Any excuse
A stuck-wheeled trolley
Spins and twirls down the aisles
The snow falls
The car pirouettes

Beautifully

He walks with the beat
Sashays and shimmies
Side-steps and slide-steps
Counting time
Not left right left right
But five, six, seven, eight

He mambas into Morrisons
Waltzes out of Waitrose
Sambas in  Sainsburys
Flamencos all over Farmfoods
Gyrates outside the garage
He even Tangos in Tesco

He’s not like the regular
Once a month
Full-moon
Werewolf type dad
Changing for just one crazy night

My dad is different
My dad thinks he can dance