such harmonious madness

Museum of Natural History, Dublin

robin, mounted 1902, your breast
is not so vibrant now more spring days
have sprung from mouldered ground
than your brief bones could number

your dignity is you are not froze in hunger
like the seven young beak-open absenceward
whose gullets stiff could not imbibe the good stuff
and profane the mortal still of this cute tableau

you have thrived the century far above the corn crake
accounted under a thousand since prompter cutting
of the hay aborted their essential nests

only from time to time on Shannon plains is heard ‘crex crex’
the mating call by which their meagre count is noted
not wholly extinguished where the seep and surge
of the Shannon prevents the harvesting of grass
until what time those bits of chirp have feathers

nor are these cases done display their antique shells of spirits blithe
skylark, you wing that bit of weed since 1897 and unheard
music is not sweeter: sing, skylark, sing –
behind your congealed ebullience your mate prepares
your squeaks a worm and you should sing
or may the brief coherence of your cells
discover dust, its solvent calm

Is it possible to write poetry during Aleppo? Ceasefires don’t last. An estimated 100,000 children trapped. Less than ten days away from starvation. People call an end to the slaughterhouse. The bombing continues. The world goes on.


Howth sky. The hem of Apollo’s tutu.



Howth pier. Lipstick lid. Sun over seaweed-rock and rope.



Dublin. Dixieland jazz and dry cider cannot console the clown on the wall.



The National Archeological Museum. Peat-digging machine discovers bog body.



On route to Culture Night in Limerick.



Along the Liffey.



variations on a mottled theme

a tree stands lone
against the sun and with lone leaf stares
from its cracked ground

morning knuckles creak; hill-hide ripples golden
mat of fur about to rise, about to rise and growl

you said, sometimes i think the trees are hairs erumpent
from follicles of some vast beast whose skin we prowl

i said, i cannot watch too long the stars or i would stay
the night in keening

iris-glitter dulls within the memory mausoleum

gone the crevices of your voice
gone the nights our tongues dueled
the old sea beating bitter

the sand crabs have not vanished nor the tread-trace
upon the shells, sea urchins denuded to pink intricacy

bones too abide in subterranean precincts
the skull shuttered to withstand meaning-gales
as yet, the sky has not been singed