To profess love

To profess love

Gone, the red brick                                                                                                                 pavement on Grafton Street –                                                                                                      gone.

Yet, the sombre corners                                                                                                             around Four Courts still                                                                                                                      in place.

English ghosts behind the red                                                                                                      brick facades edge off as a modern                                                                                              haste takes over.

There is still that seedy elegance                                                                                         MacNeice was writing,                                                                                                              scoffing and sneering about.

The Liffey brown and grey                                                                                                               and the sky’s the latter too –                                                                                                            too often.

Days are not soft to forget –                                                                                                         tough enough to remember the bullets                                                                                            in Clonee, the Liberties, Drumcondra,

vermin pushed through side lanes                                                                                                    to the precinct. Still there is time                                                                                                     for thought –

by trade and by free will,                                                                                                                  and I stroll around with a smile                                                                                                        on my lips to find

her heritage remains. Georgian                                                                                                 Dublin still stands still –                                                                                                                   red brick upon brick.

 

(Published in The Blue Nib Literary Magazine, July 30, 2019)

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Child

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Child

Wind in the leaves is the lilt                                                                                                                of lullabies half-recalled underwater.

Time leaves ever more traces                                                                                                              of her tiny feet on your body.

Willow cascading down gives over                                                                                                    its grief and tears to the river

the way you have tried over                                                                                                             and over again for years on end.

Child stretches, reaches up for your hand                                                                                 every day at the embankment

but cannot connect through surface                                                                                        tension separating streambed and father.

 

(Published in ROPES Literary Journal, Issue 28, July 1, 2020)

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DUIR, Inchiquin Valley

DUIR, Inchiquin Valley

(for John Walsh)

 

Silence is part of the enterprise                                                                                         sometimes. It is a space to grow,                                                                                                 space to be, my pace dictated

by the world around. That crown of mine                                                                              slightly tilted in the wind, I stand                                                                                              firmly rooted looking down through hawthorn hedges

and over machine-baled fields –                                                                                                     dry hay rolls arranged in scented rows.                                                                                         My view from here a journey

into everywhere and to an abandoned cottage                                                                                at the wayside where a blacksmith                                                                                             shoed horses many circles of growth ago.

The ghost of a way of life lies                                                                                                           like a shadow on the land.                                                                                                                But sometimes sky clears; here

rhythms are much slower, only an occasional flick                                                                        of swallows. All my friends come                                                                                                       to welcome me home at dusk,

their chirping telling which colour was the sun.                                                                     While they gather in my shadow, I suck life                                                                                  out of meadow and wood glade soil.

I have witnessed the joy, the screams,                                                                                            the kisses and cuts – M + S – ,                                                                                                        and the growling of a feral mother cat and wind

rock me to sleep. I dream of tomorrow:                                                                                another mute journey into the green and blue.                                                                     Silence is part of the enterprise.

 

(Published in Fly on the Wall Magazine, ‘Identity’ issue, April 10, 2020)

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Bus to Clonee

Bus to Clonee

John’s long-gone fiddle in the concert hall still echoes                                                                 in my ear on the bus from Belfield to Clonee –                                                                          back from the office, back for the night.

A booze-shrouded construction worker next to me,                                                                  who hopped on at Ashton Quay, opens another Karpackie,                                                 facing a masterpiece of solitude in the dark windscreen

of the upper corridor in which nobody can make their stand.                                                  We hold on to handrails and our incognito day after day                                                   driving back to our bedroom towns full of strangers

like ourselves. We buy what’s broken, put cash in hand                                                             for a place to stay, to live, ignorant of previous tenants’                                                            dirt between floorboards we’re supposed to learn to call

home. In the evening sky I spot a flicker of lights following                                                       an invisible path down somewhere, out of here,                                                                         into the distance of night. Back in the house I should make time

to write a letter to my family – another letter I won’t send                                                  telling how I spend time between a place I love                                                                          and a place that I’ve ended up in, if only for now.

I will write my way into this new life, one line at a time.

 

(Published in Writing Home. The ‘New Irish’ Poets, 15 October 2019. Dedalus Press, Dublin. Edited by Pat Boran & Chiamaka Enyi-Amadi)

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Upon arrival in Dublin

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

This is the first of two poems published in Writing Home. The ‘New Irish’ Poets by Dedalus Press. The book is an anthology of migrant voices writing from Ireland and is probably one of the most imporant books of poetry published in Ireland in 2019. The wealth of different writers and styles is amazing, and I am deeply honoured that Chiamaka and Pat have chosen two of my poems for inclusion, which appear here in slightly revised versions. Do check out the entire book – it’s well worth your time! 🙂

 

Upon arrival in Dublin

In this run-down place with its wide stairs                                                                                  and landings I will sleep for five fitful nights.                                                                                At this small basin I will wash, and in it will clean                                                                      my clothing and linen – I teach, research, flat-

hunt from a six-bed dormitory. One foot in the door,                                                                 the other on the streets, constantly hopping from hostels                                                           to hotels to B&Bs and back, for the better part of three                                                      month, at some times halfway living in a UCD cube farm.

Neither fitting in with the properly settled property                                                            owners nor with the boozy folks at the inner-city                                                                evening corner, with English too good for a foreigner,

not good enough to be Irish –                                                                                                              a philosopher treading on unfamiliar terrain. A strange                                                        heart looking for home and a foothold. A new beginning.

 

(Published in Writing Home. The ‘New Irish’ Poets, 15 October 2019. Dedalus Press, Dublin. Edited by Pat Boran & Chiamaka Enyi-Amadi)

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Melodies like stories waiting

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Melodies like stories waiting

We said an early farewell to a not-cold-enough winter,                                                     worried if spring, once more, would be a too-dry season                                                  because of a climate catastrophe we could not fully comprehend.

How small our worries then – or so it seems now!                                                              Locked in, locked down we listen                                                                                                      to birds returning, building homes on branches, unperturbed,

in trees growing beside our homes we become                                                              acquainted with again, have even learned to despise.                                                         Homes we have quickly learned to be hacked off about –

we sit and watch television                                                                                                               will not be revolutionized, so, after all, there might be something                                             to be said, to be sung in favour of birdsong –

melodies like stories waiting to be heard.                                                                                       Or we’re out and about as far                                                                                                             as we’re allowed for a stroll down by the river,

into the countryside where system-relevant                                                                         farmers have resorted hard clumps of soil –                                                                             earth turned upside down after the ploughshare.

The day will come when we can unlock and catch up again                                                        by the river, in the fields, in pubs and pavement cafes.                                                              Let our voices, then, be a summer’s green –

melodies like stories waiting to be told.

 

(Published in PENdemic, 20 April 2020)

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Postcard

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Postcard

For the most part, the weather is acceptable,                                                                               the sun already warm over Falcarragh Beach                                                                            were it not for nasty gales hitting us cool                                                                                     and unexpected. What does it profit us,

this beautiful land- and seascape, when all                                                                                    we can do is open the windows, but are barred                                                                         from stepping outside into spring and spray,                                                                            from digging naked heels into wet shore-sand?

We socialize in our love, keep distant                                                                                          from out neighbour’s squat house                                                                                                  half a kilometre behind the dunes. He seems half                                                                           a life away. Yes, there is good weather. At least

that’s something to cherish in difficult times.

 

(Published in 100 Words of Solitude, 15 May 2020)

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Unlive, unlearn

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Unlive, unlearn

(i.m. Hamdi Talab Na’asam, father of four)

Shot in a car on your way to work. It might have been                                                                   a German riffle – they like to purchase those                                                                            from us but despise our advice when we talk international                                                     law, occupation, illegal settlements. Only our arms and ammo                                                are welcome, useful to do to you what my ancestors                                                                   did to theirs. You were not on our news today though –                                                humanity constantly unlearns its lessons.

 

(Published in Turangalîla-Palestine, eds. John Ennis and David Mallaghan, Dairbhre, Sept. 2019)

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SHOT!

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

SHOT!

(i.m. Hassan Nabil Ahmed Nofal)

The search for shelter led you six feet deep –                                                                                   I imagine you playing football, wooden goal boxes, dusty hot ground.                     Spectators see: SHOT! The boy leaps into the wrong corner.                                                 Now his team must even up the score. Then: SHOT! The boy                                                falls into the corner, motionless, blood spilling from under his body.                                   The world, like spectators, stands disgraced by his grave.                                                        The only shelter for the dead are wooden boxes.

 

(Published in Turangalîla-Palestine, eds. John Ennis and David Mallaghan, Dairbhre, Sept. 2019)

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Windhover

Windhover

And someday, when summer expires soft on your face,                                                           take some time and make your way into the landscape,                                                        down into a field after harvest, in late August, September, when nature                 transforms into machine-sculpted bales interspersing the acre’s                               indifferent brown revealing a den of the common vole                                                         under weeds and scythed stalks with golden clumps of hay.

No clunk of a baler in the season’s late hours, but a windhover                                      circling, looking for prey. Your eyes closer to the sandy soil                                           wouldn’t find what the ravener spots from under off-white clouds,                                        his dark-patterned plumage confidently balancing on air.

Now distant, he approaches a weathered stake, his proper                                         watchpost, to eye the roamer-through                                                                                  through black polished marbles, as a mild headwind brings to your ear
his screech –
all tense you freeze, bogged-down in a bolthole, blocking                                                         the vole’s pale-brown entrance. The bird retreats into an orange                                sundown. Will he dream in colours borrowed from fields?

 

(Published in The Bangor Literary Journal, Issue 10, Aspects Edition, October 6, 2019)

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