Poetry in English

Here are some of my poems, including translations of some of the poems in Irish. Enjoy!


Theology books
stacked by my mother’s sickbed:
DeLillo – and more.

“Serious guys, these,”
her priest said admiringly.
He’d only dipped in.

Despite deep reading
– that was her studious side –
her faith was simple.

She “missed him so much.
And the Lord works … well, you know.”
Cancer was a Means.

Now, just the waiting.
As she sank, her eyes brightened.
Patient and hope-full.


The land holds its green.
The low sun favours one hill.
Ruined tower broods.

Huge, silver-lined clouds,
fraying at the underside,
trail violet threads

of cold, Autumn rain
across North Cork’s tree-trimmed hills
and blue-green beet fields.

Like the land we’re poised.
Helpless before circumstance.
Stasis. Primed. Waiting.

Published in A Bowl of Mysteries: Poetry Ireland Introductions 2017.

Pheasant songs                     Southword 22. June 2012

( i )
Brackened pheasants rise
from invisibility

( ii )
A pheasant barking
like an old starter-motor.
Flowers yellowing.

( iii )
From the bog-silence
an explosion of pheasant.
Shocking suddeness.

( iv )
Diamond Hill glitters,
silver bulk ragged as the
pheasant’s whooping cough.

( v )
Strangled yodelling
of a pheasant’s Tarzan call
– Lord of the Bracken!

( vi )
Gorgeous finery,
the “Autumnal Hill’ palette
faithfully adhered.

( vii )
Bronchial love-song:
a pheasant comes a-courting;
music to her ears.


St.Brigids Day       (click for original Irish)            (winner Poet’s Podium 1995, Samhlaíocht Chiarraí)

The sun awoke us.
Like a fanfare
or a burst of wild laughter.
Spilling in along the floor,
Splashing up the walls,
Streaming through the ever-open door.

We didn’t, at first, understand,
Failed to recognise
the bright clamour of the sun.
Then we remembered the words
that you, druidlike, had spoken:

“The Sun will come back on St.Brigid’s Day.”

And a welling of Hope,
Pagan and Pure,
Came rising inside us,
Sitting in bed,
Brigid or Danú,
The Winter defeated:

“The Sun will come back on St.Brigid’s Day.”


Lost Crickets                  (Published The SHOp 24, Summer 2007)

Whistling and whirring,
the soft, dark night pulsates with
tireless cicadas.
Determined suitors,
nocturnal lotharios,
troubadours of love,
they scale olive trees
– each and every vantage point –
for optimum range,
volume, resonance;
some warm-up exercises,
arpeggios, then,
without more ado,
launch into their yearning song,
their lonely-hearts ad:
“desperate insect,
loves night-life, extravert, seeks
several females
for a one-night-stand
(must love music – and cricket!)
to raise family.
Lots of stamina.”
And who knows what subtleties
and what nuances
and what heart-winning,
cicada-breath-catching notes
form his repertoire?
He trills an “A” note
but the chord’s tone is minor
– like all the sad songs.
And it brings me back
to turf fires in wide chimneys,
gently glowing hearths
and soulful solos
by pale, rheumatic, freckled,
lonely bachelor
Irish grasshoppers,
lone uileann piper to their
lusty Greek chorus!
Central-heating and
double-glazing have put paid
to their leg-music.
My grief! We’ve lost them surely,
our only playboys.


Looking at Japan from a futon in West Cork        (published Southword)

My bedroom windows are like Japanese prints.

In Spring, puffs of apple blossom,
chiffon toutous,
pink-tinged pomme-poms,
dance on an azure background,
framed by the wooden skylight
in my honey-panelled ceiling.

In later days,
the countless leaves, sun-doused,
lap and overlap
in everchanging layers of light and shade:
immaculate composition.

And now, at Hallowe’en,
a few sure brush-strokes,
stark against the blue, blue sky,
worthy of a Hokusai.

Through the lower window,
when I turn my head,
a mossy bank slopes left to right.
And curving up and arching gently over
with ineffable grace,
a willowy stand of young bamboo.

Each morning
I can look at scenes
as Japanese as Fujijama
from the occidental warmth
of my West Cork bed.


Epilogue                                  (Published in Southword Feb/Mar 2010)
.                                                   (also in I Live in Michael Hartnett, Revival Press, 2013)
for Michael Hartnett

Like a wren he was,
bright and quick and brown,
head angled to miss no trick.
Hair like down

brushed, feathered
around the black bird
eyes. And what
a sound we heard

from that almost-elusive
giving full throat

to all he saw or felt
we missed. For any
naturalist of song
to hear. And he

flits among the brambles
of our thoughts. His song
caught, hedged `round,
a sound that proves them wrong.

Reading at Éigse Michael Hartnett

Reading at Éigse Michael Hartnett


Hilltop, Aghatubrid                  (published in The SHOp 14, Spring 2004)

The parent tree, still bare,
shivering grey limbs
in the grey sky.
a million tiny sycamores,
little green flags,
claiming the land,
naming this field.
A speckled cross,
all sharp angles,
bleeding rust
through a crack on the
north side,
salt and pepper camouflage
one colour
with the stunted gorse
on this scrubby hilltop,
waving, stiff-armed
at the toy, blue trawler
straining, foam-hulled,
circuitously past Adam’s and Eve’s islets.
Away to the North,
the Drinagh windmills
tilting at clouds.
God is Energy,
Energy is God.