'Darcy and O'Mara' is a novel by Arthur Cronin.
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Thursday, May 31, 2007


The University of Life

Sometimes it rains and sometimes it snows.
Sometimes a stick that wears clothes can scare crows.
Rabbits and hobbits build houses in holes.
Mansions and sports cars are footballers' goals.

Fighters have wounds. Watches are wound.
Boxers will fight till they fall to the ground.
They see stars and birds, and circling sheep
That referees count and it puts them to sleep.

I've seen lots of films and read many books
That end with the capture of villains or crooks.
I won't say what happens when Bond has been bound
Or spoil the great tale of the Baskerville hound.

Decades ago, in Victorian times.
Holmes solved innumerable, baffling crimes.
But with her new Watson, a man called Tom Cruise,
She has little interest in following clues.

Fish-seeking seagulls will follow the trawlers.
Fight-seeking DJs attract angry callers.
Liars, tale-tellers, the weavers and spinners
Of fanciful stories are after free dinners,

Or trying to conceal stolen goods beneath coats,
Or seeking election and looking for votes.
They fear the near-future. They're destined to fade
Unless they're elected. For too long they've played

In their County Council's well-kept bouncy castle.
They need to move on, despite all the hassle.
They're heat-seeking, seat-taking missiles until
Their victory provides them with five years to kill.

Roses are red and violets are blue.
Cats will meow and people say 'moo'
When trying to speak in a bovine-like language.
Translated to English it means 'One beef sandwich'.

Don't play with fires to avoid being burnt.
These are a few of the things that I've learnt
Since I enrolled in the college of life,
A growing collage of enjoyment and strife,

Of great highs and lows, of struggle and ease,
Of good friends and foes, of fortune and fees.
Those who've attended the school of hard knocks,
Who've gained all their knowledge from meetings with rocks,

Announce their decision to withhold their backing
For this broad curriculum. They say that it's lacking
In practical value and down-to-earth views,
Though not in those words, but that's how I choose

To articulate what the hard-knock students say
In their unique inarticulate way
When they discuss their hard-knock theories with me.
In other words, they hit me.

Kevin is a moron -- that's something else I've learnt.

Friday, May 25, 2007


Ruth's Leg

She's always as busy as bees in their hives.
To do all she does requires eight or nine lives,
But she has to fit it all into just one.
The start of each day is a legally-held gun,

And Ruth is the bullet, aimed at the night,
Merely a blur through hours of daylight.
If aimed right she'll end up embedded in bed.
While being re-loaded, the lights in her head

Illuminate scenes of her lightning-quick days,
Slow-motion dreams, glacial plays
That often contain some message or warning
Which she forgets when she's shot into morning.

Her dreams often tell her to look where she's going.
Of what lies ahead she has no way of knowing.
While on the phone to her young sister Meg
She trips on a step and she breaks her right leg.

Her leg's in a cast so she can't jog or run.
With crutches her days are no longer a gun.
They're more like a straight-forward delicate putt.
A stream of routine that flows into a rut.

She's forced into sitting for hours on her lawn.
Her days are a sketch with faint lines badly drawn.
They used to be paintings exploding with colour,
And interesting details, but they've become duller

Than rain-bearing clouds or watered-down stout,
Or a brain wearing boredom controlling a mouth,
Telling it endless small tales full of filler.
They're avant garde films. The past starred Ben Stiller.

She's forced into talking to her next-door neighbour.
Listening to him is a form of hard labour.
It's worse than a walk with her crutches and cast.
The present's reluctant to enter the past,

Refusing to leave like a president who
Becomes a dictator. His citizens rue
The day they elected this unpleasant fool.
They're sick of the sight of his face and his rule.

Or like teenagers hanging around in a mall,
A motionless, menacing Cold War-like brawl.
Slightly Hitlerian in their adolfescence,
With burgeoning hatreds and uniform dress sense.

But back to the neighbour. Niall is his name.
He's happy that this summer day is the same
As all its ancestors and days yet to be.
All yesterdays come from a family tree.

He loves his routine. It helps keep him sane.
He acts in a setting of sunshine or rain.
The script never changes. He knows it by heart.
He's very convincing when playing this part.

She asks him if he's ever taken a chance
And risked ending up in a field without pants.
He talks about Jane, an old flame from his teens,
Who's still in his head in some action-filled scenes.

They loved each other. It made his friends jealous.
He once had to climb to her window on trellis.
He got the wrong window and caused some distress
On catching a glimpse of her mother undress,

A scene that he'd gladly erase from his mind.
He'd give his right arm for a way to rewind.
She called the police and he swiftly took flight.
He hasn't seen Jane since that terrible night.

Ruth is determined to help out her neighbour,
Despite his spectacular fear of her favour.
He comes close to fainting when she tells him that
She plans to unite him with Jane for a chat.

For Ruth it's the dose of excitement she needs.
On drama and personal crises she breathes.
Despite his objections she finds Jane's address.
His script is destroyed in the whirlwind of stress.

He feels that his fate's at the mercy of dice
When Ruth presents him with this simple choice:
Go there with her or she'll go on her own.
It goes without saying he fears the unknown.

He shudders when thinking of what Ruth might say.
He enters a new and unique summer day.
He goes to see Jane with a woman on crutches
Who's somehow ensared him in her evil clutches.

She rings the doorbell. He takes a deep breath.
He soon sees a face he could never forget.
But sadly the face is not Jane's. It's her mother.
Whatever she's thinking it triggers a shudder.

Niall runs away. He just wants to hide.
Ruth stays behind. She's invited inside.
According to her, Niall's her employer.
He pays her a fortune and often he'll fly her

All 'round the world on his own private jet.
She's lost track of all the world leaders she's met.
News of his wealth brings a swift re-assessment.
His sight of her state of partial undress meant

The mother was rash in allowing her brain
Assume he's a criminal and then convince Jane
That he's like her uncle whose clothes conceal ferrets.
But now she's determined to highlight his merits.

Friday, May 18, 2007



Magnolia's face always showed some surprise.
She looked at the world all around with wide eyes.
Images danced and they filled her with wonder.
Each thing had the drama of lightning and thunder.

The postman was always aspiring to give her
Beautiful letters. Each day he'd deliver
Buttercups into her letter box with
Circulars brimming with bull rhymes-with-bit.

The milkman sang songs, sweet notes from his mouth.
Powerful harmonious voices drowned out
The sound of the truck that emptied her bin.
But she disappointed each one of these men.

She married an Arctic explorer who'd lost
Two fingers, three toes and his head to the frost.
In place of his head, he had a balloon.
Sometimes it deflated and whistled a tune.

He wore a mask of Gregory Peck.
A fine hearty laugh still emerged from his neck.
They met by the coast and they'd married in months.
They had fourteen children but not all at once.

Three came together, and two sets of twins.
All were delivered with sparkling wide grins.
Sometimes they fought and they screamed and they cursed,
And made such a racket their father's head burst.

But always they lived in a household of love.
Despite his balloon he felt blessed from above.
He helped all the kids make a fourteen-man sled,
And cold winter air filled his feather-light head.

It flooded his mind with familiar old dreams
Of travelling lands where the once trickling streams
Are frozen in ice for most of the year,
Blocked off from people by fences of fear.

So with all the children, his wife and the cat,
He set foot on mystery's worn welcome mat.
They journeyed by boat instead of a flight,
A train through the snow-covered land late at night,

A chain of gold lights full of vodka-soaked voices,
Warm joyous accents that hid a deep crisis.
They went to the Arctic. They all felt elation
On leaving the civilised world at the station.

They met little people who lived in the ground
And loved the deeply melodious sound
Of the cold Arctic wind sung from nature's great mouth.
The little folk there never ventured far south.

Some wore peaked caps with initials 'BC'.
One had a T-shirt with 'I shot E.T.'.
They could use magic to make them invisible,
Or unveil a beautiful librarian called Isobel

Who spoke at great length on the merits of Joyce.
His luminous words were adored by her mice.
Before she moved on to her treatise on Beckett.
She suddenly vanished. They heard her say 'feck it'.

The small folk conferred and then one of them said
They'd make Magnolia's husband a head.
They made it from snow. They sculpted a nose,
Two ears and a mouth that could form perfect prose.

The startling black eyes were just two lumps of coal.
They cut his snow hair with the help of a bowl.
He wasn't as handsome as Gregory Peck,
But for this new head he wrote them a cheque,

A six figure sum. He insisted they take it.
They told him his head would last years, but don't bake it.
His two working eyes filled his head with new sights.
The one of his wife could light thousands of nights.

Before, in his mind, she had been just a blur.
He saw why the postman and most men loved her.
The kids all made snowmen that followed them home,
Via Vienna, Helsinki and Rome.

Friday, May 11, 2007



When Edwin was born he was wearing a smile
And a sweater he'd knitted to pass the time while
He waited with such bated breath till his birth.
He wanted to make a red tie and a shirt.

He grew up in Kerry and never felt worry.
Years drifted peacefully by, in no hurry.
He passed the time idling and dozing and chancing
Till winning his first Nobel prize for break dancing.

He spent his prize money on buying a choir
To be his alarm clock and warn him of fire.
Instead of a guard dog he used some race horses.
All these expenses soon drained his resources.

But soon after this he'd regained all his riches.
Gone were the long days of sleeping in ditches.
He wrote his life story, from living with rats
To making his fortune through drugging pet cats.

His memoirs inspired many copy-cat schemes.
Hopping cats turned into still balls of dreams.
Great moral outrage and lawsuits ensued.
Wherever he went he was heckled and booed.

He went off to Sweden and bought a house there.
He married a woman with long golden hair.
She'd made her money entirely from smiling.
The look in her eyes could be very beguiling.

But she hadn't smiled in a decade or more.
No feeling lit up the expression she wore.
They visited Canada, France and Nepal,
Recording warm memories they'll gladly recall.

They climbed a high mountain. They swam with a dolphin.
They also adopted an African orphan,
A middle-aged man who worked in accounts.
They bought him a dog, a Saint Bernard called 'Bounce'.

She still didn't smile. She said it's too soon.
So while they were waiting they went to the moon,
Where Elvis was living and loving the view,
Admiring the black and white things that said 'moo'

While flying above like a slow-moving plane.
He thought they were clouds bringing drops of white rain
That made the moon's surface so white in the sun,
Delighting the earth-bound when each day is done.

But sometimes the moo-ing clouds' rain could be yellow,
An unwelcome sight for the suit-wearing fellow.
The snow from those clouds was anything but white,
And barely enough for a good snowball fight.

When Edwin returned to the earth with his wife
He finally emerged from his cat-drugging strife.
He got a warm welcome in Kerry's green hills.
They asked him to use his invaluable skills

On dangerous cats held in feline straight jackets
(Whisper when near them or talk within brackets).
He gave them a potion that made the cats purr,
And they became lovable, warm balls of fur.

The cats would play ball or fetch Frisbees for hours.
Some of them danced and they played with wild flowers.
His wife loved to watch them. She finally smiled,
Delighting her husband and African child.

Thursday, May 03, 2007


The Election

Brenda was on course to keep
  Her seat in parliament,
Despite her lack of posters
  And the pittance that she spent

On portraying a new image.
  She frightened little children.
They thought she had a cauldron.
  She was confident she'd still win.

She never could make promises
  To win the floating votes,
To say she'll push for tax cuts,
  Pay their bills and buy them boats.

She'd only bring misfortune
  With her evil witch's broom,
And a pin to burst the bubble
  Of our economic boom.

But she had a little puppy
  Who was permanently happy,
And he seemed to have the character
  Of Scooby's nephew Scrappy.

In the way the little puppy walked
  And looked he seemed so brave.
He could be fun and playful,
  But when called for he'd be grave.

He was never disconcerted
  By commotions caused by dogs,
Retaining his composure
  In a storm or plague of frogs.

He was always catching criminals
  Who pose as ghosts and hide,
Pretending to be disaffected
  Relatives who've died.

When he wasn't reading hymnals
  He was humming happy music.
No one could accuse this dog
  Of doing Scooby Doo's trick

Of hiding at the merest hint
  Of danger in the air,
And staying undercover
  Till it seemed the coast was clear.

She dressed him up as characters
  From Enid Blyton books,
Attracting the electorate
  With puppy's friendly looks.

And Beatrix Potter too --
  He loved to dress as her,
Despite some slight misgivings
  That he felt on wearing fur.

All of the opinion polls
  Had put her in the lead.
She said that to these figures
  She had never paid much heed.

But she started to pay heed
  When her healthy lead diminished,
Renewing public interest
  In a race that had looked finished.

Her rival candidate
  Made all the promises she hated.
He said he'd buy them boats,
  And his poll ratings inflated.

He always had a smile,
  Perfect teeth, a year 'round tan.
He was tall and handsome
  And he smelled just like a man

Who took great care to smell
  Like a man who took great care
To ensure that his appearance
  Was as perfect as his hair.

But a scandal broke and he was faced
  With trial in media courts.
He made this public statement
  In response to press reports:

"What Batman does in Kathmandu
  Is no one's business but his own.
Conversations with the Chief
  Remain confined to his red phone.

"If Robin keeps a rabbit
  Out of habit or a pet.
Details are entirely
  Between Robin and his vet.

"What Batman did in Amsterdam
  And hid with his unlikely tale
Should never see the light of day.
  Events like these should be like braille,

"Where people feel in fingertips
  There's something going on beneath
The story told in interviews,
  Something eyes should never meet.

"They should be blind to images,
  So valued by the press,
Of people in alternative
  Surprising states of dress.

"Should Spiderman decide to run
  For some elected post,
He shouldn't be confronted
  With a skeleton or ghost

"From the past when he was young
  And prone to gender-based mistakes,
When he couldn't tell the real ones
  From those two implanted fakes.

"And likewise with these photos
  From our burning summer nights.
Where I'm seen without a shirt on
  And, like Batman, wearing tights.

"People should ignore them.
  Erase them from your mind.
And don't construct the image
  With your mind's eye if you're blind."

With his superhero looks
  And charisma overflowing,
The scandal was forgiven
  And his ratings kept on growing.

Brenda had to put a lot
  Of work into campaigning,
Canvassing and listening
  To constituents complaining.

She promised boats and tax cuts,
  And roads and trains and money.
She dressed the puppy as a bear
  Who'd found a jar of honey.

Thanks to our great system
  Of proportional representation.
Both were deemed elected
  To the Dáil to serve the nation.

Their parties got together
  And they formed a coalition.
They found themselves in government.
  They shared a common mission.

Sadly, aims of boats and trains
  Were swiftly put on hold,
In favour of a fool-proof plan
  To manufacture gold.

Very Slight Stories

Henry Seaward-Shannon

The East Cork Patents Office

The Tree and the Horse


Words are my favourite noises

Previous Poems

Poems from 2004
Poems from 2005



Gizmo's (Non)sense

Pretty Cunning

The Dossing Times


Cruiskeen Eile
Kevin Myers' blog (sorry, Colonel Kevin Myers).

The Chancer

Sinead Gleeson



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A Walk in the Rain

 | poetry from Ireland

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