Sunday, 20 December 2015

No bombs will fall here tonight

As I sit here, in this comfortable house,
and I know that no bombs will fall here tonight,
it's hard to imagine, but I know that it's true
that a mother is grieving, a child screaming too,
and I don't want to think about how it might be,
to have my child in pieces in front of me,
and I don't want to think about doctors in tears,
as they try to fix babies and children.

And the babies are screaming,
and the infants are screaming,
and a young boy is screaming,
and your taxes, my taxes,
pay for these bombs,
and someone gets richer,
here in the west,
and news stations speak of precision strikes,
and the papers talk of collateral damage,
still the children keep screaming.

And I sit here safe.
No bombs will fall here tonight.

Saturday, 12 December 2015

Open your eyes.

Open your eyes.
Too many children lying
broken on the ground.
Too many children are
Floating, sinking,
Washing up like driftwood on beaches.
Open your eyes.
Too many children are
Walking vast distances,
Crossing closed borders and
Sleeping in tents in the mud.
And parents mourn and move on.
And the media mourns and moves on.
And the ghosts of the children
Float in the air, float in the water,
Small fingers reaching out uselessly now.

Sent from my iPhone

Monday, 30 November 2015

Death of a chicken,

(killed by the dog next door).

And flesh is vulnerable.
So easily torn.
What was whole and alive
becomes still; the eye
turns white and cold.
We dig a hole,
just deep enough,
and lay her in.
"She looks so pathetic",
you say, with a sob.
I agree.
"Why?" you ask.
I can't answer.
We fill the hole with soil,
leaving the head till last.
We search around
and find an Iris in a pot,
and plant it over you.
"Now we'll remember her
every year, when it flowers",

Saturday, 28 November 2015

Sad boys

Cruel dad.
Sending them
overland to Nepal
to escape him.
Cruel mom.
Sand boys.
Taking the bathtub
out to the garden.
Sad boys.
Caught out.
Not Nepal,
just two up
two down.
Torn newspaper on a nail,
and two sad boys,
blowing smoke in the air.
Church on sunday.
Tablets on time.
far away Nepal,
and before that
the beatings.

Monday, 23 November 2015

Seagulls circle the boat

I can barely breathe, I'm packed in so tight in the centre of the deck. The people around me are much taller than me. I can't see anything, only the funnels of the ship, high in the air, the blue sky, and the seagulls wheeling overhead. I can't see the shoreline we're leaving behind. I can see my sister and my brother. We're packed chest to chest. I'll never see the twins again. They're buried back there, somewhere in Uzbekistan. These adults packed tightly around me are not my adults, not my parents. My parents are back there somewhere on that disappearing shoreline which I can't see, getting further and further away; lost, buried, who knows where. The ship's hooter sounds, one long mournful note. One note, for all that is lost, all that is gone for ever. I can barely move, barely breathe, we're packed in si tight. "Heniek" I say "I need the toilet". "You'll just have to go where you are" he says, and I realise the deck beneath me is already wet and slick with urine. We'll stand like this for hours, days, as we cross the Caspian Sea. Leaving behind all that has been. Leaving behind the child, who's innocence was lost two years ago, when they piled us onto cattle trains, and took us to Siberia. Now leaving the Soviet Union for ever, as the boat sounds a second mournful note, and the seagulls circle the boat, and steam rises into the air from the rusting funnels.

Sunday, 15 November 2015

Maybe it's time to explore blue again

Dream after dream
blue after blue
fabrics and textures
and blue.
Wake thinking of blue
sleep dreaming of blue
no names
but I want (them)
I recognise
each blue.
Last night when I woke
from another blue dream
just this:
Maybe its time to explore blue again.

Monday, 9 November 2015

This sinking pebble is spent

This sinking pebble is spent
Worn out.
Older now, and aching,
Hardened, somehow.
And unexcited at what
Life has to offer.
The toad sits quietly,
Deep in its layers of mud
Down at the bottom of the pond.
Small bubbles
rising to the surface.

No ripples.

Sent from my iPhone

Left, right

Left, right, left, right, left, right.
About -turn. Marching. Marching.
Grey uniforms. A scrap of colour at the throat.
Keep in time. Keep in time.
Get it right. Keep in line.
Left. For all the people left behind.
Right. To make it all right again.
Left. Alone. Afraid.
Right. This trickster, life.
Left. For whom the bell tolls.
Right. Laughing and joking, she ran out
Left. It's with an aching heart I
Right. Hiding among the reeds and giggling
Left. Have to bring you this news
Right. With just her red bow visible
Left. All the marching feet of armies past
Right. All the laughing girls and boys
Left. Is always and ever will be
Right. Sunlight glinting on the water
Left. World without end
Right. For ever and ever

Sunday, 25 October 2015

Miner's Village

Yes, they lived here,
Whole families
In sight of St Kevin's bed,
Which meant nothing to them
(Why would it)
When your life was
Mining the lead
And silver, betimes,
Yes mining
From birth till death,
But a beautiful valley,
And a river coming down,
And the lake at your feet
(But keep the children away
They'll sink in it's depths)
And its not a bad old life all the same
Fresh water
A wage
And we'll teach the children
What we know.

Tuesday, 20 October 2015


The cranes are going up all over Dublin again,
And those lucky enough to have survived
Congratulate themselves,
And quickly forget the days
Of out of date supermarket food,
And working till three in the morning,
Just to keep paying off debts.

The country is split into two parts,
And as you drive further away from Dublin,
This becomes readily apparent,
In small town main streets full of
Empty shops, and still empty houses
On the outskirts of town.

But Dublin's a different story now,
And the cafe's are full at lunchtime again,
And the fashionable shops in Monkstown, Dundrum,
Restock their shelves and
No longer have to sell off stock
At only fifty times what it cost to make
In some multi storey deathtrap factory
Somewhere far away.

And hand-made kitchens are back in vogue,
And if you want new windows you'd best join the queue,
And the car parks are full,
And the pavements are full,
And the homeless hostels are most full of all.

It's recovery, you see,
And like anyone in recovery,
We boast our success.
We're the envy of Europe once more.

Sent from my iPhone

Tuesday, 21 July 2015

Shhh Now, Baby.

I thought this lying awake at 4am had gone,
still, here it is, back again.
There's a slight ache in my lower back,
and my right knee feels strained.
The house is quiet.
For an hour, I've been lying here,
telling myself to sleep,
wondering whether to just get up
and get started on the day.

At 4am, things loom large,
and blessings are hard to count.
Minutes that pass, with no sign of sleep,
are counted more easily.
It's already 5 now, and I'm wondering again,
whether to just forget the night,
whether to just get up
extra early for my 6.30 start.

Or can I sink back to sleep?
Find the sinking spot,
where the bed finally feels comfortable again,
the pillow crisp,
aches slip away,
my body a small child now, which
I tell "shhh now - go back to sleep".
Shhhhh now, baby. Shhhhh

Sent from my iPhone

Wednesday, 15 July 2015

Pubs like The Cherry Arbour don't exist anymore,

Pubs like The Cherry Arbour don't exist anymore,
tucked down a back lane off the Stratford Road,
with a front bar, a back bar, a side bar,
a small lounge which no one ever used,
and a serving hatch to the hallway.
One central bar serving them all,
and the outdoor served through a separate hatch.
Old Bridie sat in the front bar,
from opening time till closing time each night,
and Irish labourers rubbed shoulders with turbaned Sikh's,
who left at 7pm prompt,
while the young Irish men stayed put
until well after closing time.
"Have you no homes to go to", we'd call,
as the landlord poured slops in the slop bucket,
and we put the towels up on the taps.
The juke box played the same song,
no matter what you picked,
and in the back bar George and Sam
played guitar, harmonica and ukelele,
and everyone drank lager, or bitter,
or mild or some mixture of the three
with the odd bottle of Guiness
and once in a while Campari and lemonade,
Or Babycham for the ladies.

When it snowed, the whole pub turned out
to help dig the car out of the snow,
and when the sun shone, the sweet smell of dope blew back in from the garden.
Pubs like The Cherry Arbour don't exist anymore,
It's all gastropubs and fine dining,
Speciality beers and microbreweries.
And young Irish men working in England
don't need to stay all night in pubs,
to avoid their digs and stay warm;
and barmaids don't take half a lager
when they're offered a drink,
or add up the cost of a round for eight people
in their heads. The slops don't go
back in the barrel in the basement,
and the landlord doesn't make
cheese and onion sandwiches
on white bread, with his own hands,
in his kitchen.
It's different days, and different pubs,
and The Cherry Arbour's not there any more,
but the values in Cherry Arbour Court are rising,
and the occupants go to gastropubs
in the city, or drive out to
quaint country pubs,
where no smell of dope blows in from the garden
when the sun shines.

Sent from my iPhone

Tuesday, 13 January 2015

And still, once a week or so,

And still, once a week or so,
the thought comes to me,
"I'll call my Tata today";
and I remember again,
that it's two full years now,
two full years since he died.

And where is he now?
In these tea towels we use?
The photos that hang on the wall?
The electric corkscrew, the saucepans, the side plates,
the pictures, the lamp or the book?

Is he in the memory of a zip wire,
flying kites from a roofrack,
or digging for worms in the park?
Driving at night, or
driving a Zephyr,
or driving a white Hiace van?

Is he in red wine or white,
Benedictine, Calvados,
Italian restaurant or French?
Avocado, strawberries,
salad with dressing,
Fresh coffee, brown sugar and cream.

Boxes of fruit, apples and oranges,
collecting fresh fish from the market?
Coffee and pastries in Drucker's patisserie,
bistros and candles at night?
Beer in a jug in the heat of the summer,

Is he in the drive to Cornwall and Devon,
to Barmouth through Bala,
to Bristol, and Weston and Bath?
To Ashby La Zouch, and Norwich,
and London, and walking through Soho at night?

Maybe I'll call him, I think.
I can't call him,
but maybe his call's all around.
When I drive, how I drive,
when I speak, how I speak,
even how I shake hands,
even that.

Sent from my iPhone