I saw a
girl that I knew
years ago. She hasn’t changed:
slim as an iris, long plait
swinging along with her sway.
I only knew her to see
from a distance: combat coat,
fur hat and jeans tapering down
to shoes that trotted along
as though the pavement had springs.
I was then a corner boy
too shy to whistle. But now,
face to face, she walks through me
as though I’m a mere shadow
best left to embrace myself.
IM Remy (1960 – 2021)
In a car covered with dead leaves
on the dark side of a mountain
a tortured artist came to grief,
and rests on a dried-up fountain.
He had ideas that wouldn’t meet
an aesthetic that always aims
at achieving the obviously neat.
But the beauty of his work still remains.
Landscapes that were vaguely defined
by horizons he couldn’t reach
due to interim stops of the mind.
Eternity is a tideless beach,
a desert deserted. He couldn’t touch
what was before him. All too much.
A Quiet Pipe
‘Le silence séduit la vérité.’ René Char
The silence between us is eloquent
as the pipe of peace that passed from hand to hand.
The flowering of a bouquet of smoke signals
promises an end to hostilities,
and a quiet evening at home with your tribesmen,
saying nothing, as nothing needs to be said.
Commit it to memory and cherish the moment.
Keeping a pipe alight in any circumstances
is an act of will that allows you to breathe.
Epitaph for a Defunct Journalist*
Here lies a scribbler who always lied.
The world’s a better place since he died.
His talents were buried in the dirt
throughout a life of dishonest worth.
Reality was played with - to mock it
and slant the facts to makes sales rocket.
His lifetime’s work is small print, fading fast.
Two lines in the back page spell his last.
New hacks concoct the front-page story
to feed the Powers-that-be their glory.
The legend on his tombstone hence is
“Friends say he cheated on expenses”
*Boris Johnson (1999). Published in The Honest Ulsterman (2000). He had been fired by the Daily Telegraph for fake news.
I am the mysterious stranger,
the lone diner who’s reading a book,
and doesn’t encourage stray questions,
only conjecture. Who does he look like?
Or who looks like him? In this village
everybody talks, I don’t.
It isn’t my politesse that silences them.
but the gun of a point-blank stare
It frightens the life of the curious.
Still my papers are in order.
Ask for them and I will ask for yours.
The police think I’m nobody
and let me pass. More fool they.
I complain to the proper authorities
in writing, enclosing a finger.
Unsigned and without an address.
I exist only in the imagination.
People make of me what they will.
What I am is not on offer.
Thinking myself into being
is not for sharing. I’m nothing.
A Helping Hand.
‘In my despair, there’s no hope’.
His voice half croak and half choke.
I say, BJ, you, ingrate
the world you live in is great,
and you are a creation
envied by the common earthworm.
Don’t give it a chance to turn.
He doesn’t hear, being a remote
soul whose bent on a cut-throat.
I want to say ‘don’t do it’.
But decide to let him to it,
offering him a kitchen knife.
‘You’ll have a purpose in life’.
’Tell me what to do’, he said.
I demonstrate and he’s dead.
Les Nourritures Terrestres
Passing through the courtyard
two peacocks gave me a long look.
Then with a stately stride
they approached me,
and picked the crumbs
out of my beard.
I prayed to the god of wanting to win,
and he answered, ‘Beat the devil. Sin
is his game. Don’t play it. Virtue’s enough’.
But the truth is avoiding sin is tough.
I prayed to the god of pain and gain.
He didn’t answer. So, it’s more of the same.
Then I prayed to the god of martyrdom
who replied, ‘Watch it. Suicide is dumb’.
I prayed to the god of just rewarding,
and he thundered back ‘I beg your pardon’.
I prayed to the god of devil-me-care,
and hear the idle laughter everywhere.
Thus, praying to the god of harmless fun,
I answer it myself. My will be done.
Alexander the Great sweated,
Caesar scratched his head a lot,
Nero picked his nose, the method
was crude but it cleared the snot.
Updating the not-so-nice
Great Men’s habits: a recourse
to ballot fraud, blatant lies,
and outrageous ego force.
Four known crooks leer for the press.
Expensive teeth and hair unreal.
Trumps in their own right, more or less,
for Britain, Russia, and Israel:
Yahoo, Putin and Bo Jo
Are skilled in corruption.
But being the devil-they-know
vote stooges put up with them.
The Cry of the Crumb
The cry of the crumb under the table:
‘Sweep me up.
No need for spectacles.
Just a broad brush and pan will do.
I’m tired of being trampled on.
If you like you can throw me to the birds.’
Homage to the Hand of Dom
Dominic has the most feared handshake on the quays.
His legendary swoops plunge out of nowhere to seize
your unsuspecting paw. It may be only a squeeze,
but strong men have been known to grow small in self-defence.
A useless ploy. He descends out of the heavens
and subjects you to an out-of-body experience,
a feeling of being drawn into a welcome world
of how-do-you-dos, where politesse is not imperilled
by distinctions, such as who you are. You are whirled.
One pounce and he’s off to find more flesh to press.
Nobody is safe – man, dog, child. Save the pretty miss,
or two, who seem to welcome his double-cheek kiss.
Alas his hand’s been tied by rules Covid impose.
Still, he has created the foot shake for those
that take off their shoes. Together they twiddle toes.
(Revised for his 80th birthday)
After Baudelaire’s Voyage VIII
Old captain Death, time to burn our boats.
Land life is going nowhere. Let’s set sail.
Overhead ink black clouds a storm bodes,
but you know our lightened hearts won’t fail.
Your potions will fortify us crew.
for the fire below deck, and square scares.
We’ll plunge to hell or heaven (who cares?).
Unknown depths could raise up something new.
Covid Booby Trap
The civil servants made a dupe
of Nip-it tyrant Hula-hoop,
with a Trinity sinecure,
plus, a pension as a lure.
Both State-funded. What a coup?
Doctor Tony Hula-hoop
has taken a jump backwards
through his gold gordian loop*.
A trick he has done before
when shuffling the Nip-it cards
to start, stop and start once more
when, say, reversing a vax boob
and therefore, costing lives. The poop
this time’s due to the folklore
that he’s a national treasure
and, thus, promised rich rewards
for being in his viral book
always right, by hook or crook.
Now Doc’s leap of faith accords
with his stock gobbledygook.
And Hoop’s downfall is, for sure,
humbling, with enforced leisure
in a leaden afterwards.
The brass handshake, a rebuke.
*As the Minister of Health knew
nothing about the sinecure
that doubled his money, sure
Hula-Hoop was in a stew.
And (dis)gracefully withdrew.
** As the good doctor retires it is reported that three-quarter of the Irish population have had Covid-19. A tribute to his great success in spreading it. UCD has offered him a job.
I’m not dumb. I’m an addendum.
I’m not a con. I’m a convenience.
I wish I was Freddy Grabolosa*.
Everybody needs electricity.
I give myself a treat sometimes
And fantasise that I have friends.
Hallo cloud, come down. Give me a shower.
I wish I was Freddy Grabolosa.
In dawn’s cold light I sweat it out.
You die alone. I live alone
And so, get plenty of practice.
Everybody needs electricity.
It’s said in life you suit yourself.
And if you depend on no one
you are never let down. Not true.
Even Freddy had power-cuts.
For self-pity leaves yourself down.
Sharing it at least brings you shame,
and can lead to a short-circuit.
On your own the shock is not yours:
‘Who can be that miserable sod
in the corner? Could it the life-
enhancing joker, we once knew?
How has it come to this? So sad’.
* M. Grabolosa (1927 – 2022) had a monopoly of electricity in Perpignan
1. My Bladder’s Blather
Being the comic organ
in the body corporate,
mine has a chipmunk voice
with a piddle delivery
on the porcelain bidet.
Staccato is its pizz.
Incontinence is reserved
for scoffs at toilet jokes,
But with my advancing years
it tends to go on a bit
with terminal dribble.
Its urgent ‘dying for a pee’
is ‘down the plug, drop by drop’.
2. Up the Republic
Young Rousseau was invited
to Versailles by the King
(a song of his delighted
his majesty who would sing
it in his bath). But for sure
he missed the accolade:
because of a call of nature
which could not be delayed.
But pissing off could be
seen as treason by some.
So dehydrated, he
returned to the soiree.
And was duly struck dumb.
His song was being sung
by Louis in the wrong key
and out of tune. In sum
a life’s pension was his.
But he wasn’t overcome.
And offered a ring to kiss,
Jean Jacques wasn’t sold on
the idea and said, ‘Sorry
I must not be beholden
to God or man’. The king
wouldn’t doubt which was Him.
And didn’t take it amiss
‘At least you’ll have your quills’.
Courtiers were cut to the quick.
‘Penny-less, this Rousseau
dares to have principles
and God-knows who’s to know’.
But in his heart, JJ thrills
to Up the Republic.
3. Bladder Mores
My bladder lacks manners.
It blurts out in splutters,
And has to empty itself
behind a bush, or bin.
One way to perform it
without going public
would be to wet oneself.
But relieving in my pants
does not please my bladder, ‘Shame!
I’d prefer to be cut out’.
Manners doesn’t make a martyr.
And I’d miss no doubt it’s sprout.
So, I found a convenience
that follows me like the Queen
of England’s on a royal tour.