Thursday, July 30, 2009

The pyracantha

As we had planned,
the pyracantha grew and, sprawling,
blocked out the breeze block back wall
of our square suburban home.
So high it stretched,
that it threatened to blot out
the early morning sun itself,
and I suggested, one evening, from the sink,
that it needed its wings clipping.
He disagreed,
child of the blackened chimney,
surveying his new leafdom
like a benevolent dictator.
He loved the wild entanglement of thorn and leaf
that would have made a great nesting place,
had the blue tits only thought harder.
And, he decreed, it stopped the early morning cats
using our back wall as a short cut,
as they swaggered jauntily home
after a night of wild carousing.
Left to its own devices, I argued,
it has lost all shape and purpose.
fine in the Amazon rain forest,
or an abandoned city centre parking lot,
but not here, among the sculpted lawns
and dead-headed roses, that we can see
stretching uniformly from our bedroom window.

One day, after he roared off to work
following another breakfast argument,
I took the shears from the rusting nail
in his shed
and clacked and snapped at the tangled maelstrom,
the thorns raising ugly red wealds on my bare arms,
as I drove the fierce metal
between the resisting briars.
In ten minutes it was all over
and I stood back, panting triumphantly,
as the thorny twigs lay around my feet
like the remnants of my marriage.

The Old English Sheepdog

Lolloping over the old English cobbles,
In bright July sunshine that licks at your face,
The old English sheepdog peers out of his fringe-hair
And smiles a mild greeting of ‘God be with you.’
Past the squat church with the rooks standing sentry
And past the young mums with their children in tow.
Past the red post box and past the newsagents,
Past the o’er-grandiose building society,
The old English sheepdog trots by with contentment
As children excitedly squeal in delight.

Other dogs pass in a light-footed patter,
Smaller, more wizened and fearful of tread.
The old English sheepdog looks down on them properly,
Grunting away through his stiff upper lip.
But here comes a mongrel who will not pull over,
Who will not acknowledge the well-defined law.
The street is a maelstrom of teeth and fur flying,
A belly ripped open ‘twixt resolute fangs.
The sheepdog trots on with an air of self-righteousness.
The mongrel limps off as the cobbles run red.

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Tarmonbarry May 2009

With Cubist strokes, the whistling sun had leant
Into the room and daubed the waking walls
With colour. Lost in delicious content,

My eyes switched open. Somewhere a lusty
Robin announced his news with strident calls
That swiftly unravelled sad night’s dusty

Blanket. Outside the stretching Shannon purred,
Tickled by the fronds of reflected trees
That lined the far shore. Beside me you stirred

Softly beneath the careless cotton sheet,
Like a butterfly inching by degrees
From winter’s cocoon towards summer’s heat.

A moment so true I almost cried in pain,
Knowing that the night would fall again.

But, determined, I lay back and succumbed
And drew imaginary pictures on
The blank expanse of ceiling and hummed
A jaunty tune as hidden heaven shone.


How sharp are now the cleaves upon your face.
The downy hairs upon your softened jaw
Show clear that claims of golden age are base.

Your feeble joints grow weary of the race.
Your back is bent, your slippered feet are sore
And can’t maintain the unrelenting pace.

Ornaments stand proud on crocheted lace
A life displayed in china – nothing more
Is needed to exhume each holy place.

Arms that cradled children in good grace
Now drip with skinny skin and bruise till raw
When lightly held in sorrowful embrace.

Justice flees and leaves no mortal trace.
The runner will not make it to fourth base,
The struggle more important than the score,
The wish to sleep more potent than the chase.


Is this a plant or is’t a weed?
My tender fingers feel the stalk,
Caress the leaf. Should I just walk
Away and not commit the deed?
My trembling hands begin to baulk.
Did I once plant this living seed?
Is’t better to pull out a plant
Or give a weed its murd’rous head
To strangle others in their bed?
Once done, ‘tis too late to recant.
No wonder God shrinks back with dread
And shirks the role of commandant.
The greater good? I give a scowl
And weakly reach out for the trowel.

This morning shone the sun again

This morning shone the sun again.
For three days we had plodded round
The dreary house and peered outside,
Tut-tutting at the teeming rain.
For three days we had fought and frowned
And I had yelled and she had cried.
This morning life began afresh.
I padded to the cherry tree,
Once thick with bulbous pregnant fruit,
But lo! the stalks hung destitute,
As hov’ring wasps buzzed round with glee
And gorged upon the juicy flesh.
Now nothing grows in Babylon.
I called to her but she was gone.

The vicious tempest

The vicious tempest flared up very late,
Too late for her to get her washing in,
Life pulls her like a river in full spate.

The rampant gale unlocks another slate.
She starts and draws the beads up to her chin
And prays aloud the storm will soon abate.

She tries to hide the banging of the gate
That crashes ‘gainst the jamb with fearful din.
The vicious tempest flared up very late.

Longevity does not deserve such fate.
Where is the balm to soothe her careworn skin?
Life pulls her like a river in full spate.

Must God destroy whate’er he may create?
Is justice only consequence of sin?
The rampant gale unlocks another slate.

A crackling spark vaults o’er the soot-thick grate
And smoulders on the carpet with a grin.
She prays aloud the storm will soon abate.

Jesus on the wall does not hang straight.
She reaches for another mug of gin.
The vicious tempest flared up very late.
Life pulls her like a river in full spate.

The furies scream their bitter songs of hate.
The picture on the wall begins to spin.
The rampant gale unlocks another slate.
She prays aloud the storm will soon abate.