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Tuesday, 22 April 2014


We have no special licence
Nor trophy of privilege
To assume we have a right to be here,
To claim our plots of land,
To breathe our share of air,
To leave our footprints in the dust,
To suppose time will care.

We have no legitimate claim
Nor permit of a beating heart
To demand titles and riches and status,
To anticipate equal chances,
To expect every key to every door,
To imprint ourselves in archives,
To be remembered for evermore. 

Our place in this life,
Our challenge on this earth,
Our struggle through the act of birth
Is to carry the cross of being human.

Monday, 21 April 2014


Sorrow is a frost that envelops the soul,
Chills the blood and numbs the mind.
Forgiveness is as hard as a granite heart - 
I am not a natural forgiving kind.

There are those with erasers poised and ready
To wipe the sins of the past away,
But the lifelong grief of the ones that remain
Might not allow their salvation day.

Some with guilt on their bloodied hands
Who pushed us closer to the grim abyss
Are still not worthy of a handshake grip
Nor the warm embrace of a Christian kiss.

Friday, 18 April 2014


I hold the dry leaf,
crush it in my fist,
then clap the dust from my hands.
As the leaf vanishes into thin air,
I shrug and fail to care,
oblivious to nature's grief.

Tuesday, 1 April 2014


January jokers
February feckless
March morons
May maniacs
June jesters
July jerks
August asses
September simpletons
October oafs
November nincompoops
December dunces

Every month we see them
But it seems it is the rule
That April is the only month
To celebrate the fool.

Monday, 31 March 2014


I've been told that I was stung in the face by a wasp
When I was a baby in my mother's arms.
She was on her way to the shop across the road
When the swift assassin struck me unawares.
I've been told that I screamed and my mother was frantic,
That I developed a slight swelling in the cheek
That Germolene or some such magic calmed eventually.

But I've had my revenge on hundreds of the little bastards over the years,
The stings of the father, you might say, swatted and squashed
By tennis racquets, rolled-up magazines, Irish News copies
And whatever else came to hand in duels to their deaths.

I have been stung many times since the first incident,
stings not so easily dealt with by racquets and magazines,
stings that didn't even involve the angry evil of wasps,
stings from shallow acquaintances and false friends,
stings that leave me with thoughts of vengeance, of loose ends.

Saturday, 29 March 2014


I used to work in BHS, Oldham Street, Manchester in 1976.  This is a fond memory.

He used to say to me: "You're a great man for the poetry,
so you are", in that double-cream-thick Irish voice,
undamaged by life in Manchester these past thirty years,
unpolluted by dropped aitches, truly a man out of Joyce.

He adopted me as his literary soulmate, giving
newspaper cuttings folded and folded and folded again,
offering me scraps of poems and articles about poetry
from his trouser pockets, like sugar lumps to sweeten the brain.

He was a porter, a lift-and-carry man in Bhs,
and his big physical bulk disguised an intelligent mind.
Some workmates goaded him with Pat and Mick jokes.
He shouted them down and stomped away to unwind.

He loathed them but he liked me because of our wavelength,
our fm compared to their medium wave, our need to scan
the written words, to read the metre, to understand the point.
I was a great man for poetry and he was a great man.