These poems originally appeared on an earlier version of this site.
Cyril on New Year's Day.
"The start of a day and a new year is here.
"On New Year's Day in the morning again.
"A good time to think about this time next year;
"Things to do now so you'll be better then."
He thinks of last night and the people he met.
And the list of things to do for the year.
He wrote it last night so he wouldn't forget.
A smile on his face but he reads it in fear.
The smile disappears and the fear takes hold
When he reads number five on this list he made:
'Help out the people who are homeless or old.
'Work in a home and never get paid.'
A moment of panic that passes away.
The colour of ink makes him think it's a joke.
A line added in by his friends yesterday.
Just like the one about buying a cloak.
He laughs and reads on but he stops at eight:
'Give up the drinking and join a gym.'
He stares into space and the laugh arrives late.
"It's all just a joke. They must think I'm dim.
"I'll start as I mean to continue this year.
"Improving myself and proving them wrong.
"Smiling at things and spreading good cheer.
"A spring in my step and singing a song.
"We'll skip through the snow and know where to go.
"Getting lost in the snow is so zero-four.
"No more aimless wandering to and fro.
"Last year I got lost within feet of my door.
"I'll focus my head to improving my mind.
"That was at nine on my list for the year.
"I must have written it in when half-blind.
"It looks nothing like what I wrote up to there.
"I'll go back to bed for an hour or two.
Don't quote us on that.
"I'll rest my sore head and then learn to play chess.
"That was at ten on the things I should do,
"But right now my mind I need to use less."
Any day now we'll have good times again.
And 'now' is soon or I'll eat my hat.
I don't know how soon, but sooner than 'then'.
When I say 'sooner' don't quote me on that.
Good times will come; so say the stars.
And don't quote the stars; they say what they see.
We can send rovers and robots to Mars,
But stars can't wear glasses or climb up a tree.
A horoscope won't always give you the details.
The stars are billions of miles from this earth.
The weather forecast will sometimes miss gales,
And their satellites can see stains on your shirt.
The stars are there to offer us hope.
Not tell you the things to do to get rich.
Even with the benefit of a space telescope.
They wouldn't see which path to riches is which.
And if you see things in our manifesto,
It's just a rough guide of what we will do.
Others will use words like 'hey' and 'presto',
Trying to make their promises true.
A promise from us is no idle chat.
But read the fineprint - it's there in the text.
A promise is a promise on the premise that.
You know what it is and what will happen next.
We're prepared to promise the things
We can't possibly know if they'll happen at all.
But assume that they're on until the phone rings
To say we've gone bust or the horse had a fall.
Others will promise the stars and the moon.
To the Birds.
We won't promise space; not even a hint.
Just remember the good times here soon.
But we may have to mug you - read the fineprint.
He sits on his own,
On his own, on his own.
He talks to the birds,
To the birds.
He waits for a call
From the bank about a loan.
He tells the birds about it
He walks across the floor,
To and fro, wall to wall,
In the dining hall
Of his hotel.
He waits for someone to call
And ring the bell in the hall.
But no one ever calls
And there's no bell.
He has a staff of three.
For them he has to care.
If he doesn't get some callers
He'll have none.
And just to avoid confusion
They're all called Clare.
And to cut down on expenses
They're all one.
He wonders what to do,
What to do, what to do,
About the empty rooms
In his hotel.
He knows he needs to do
Something new, something new.
He hasn't done anything new
Since buying the bell.
"I think I have an idea,"
Clare says to her boss,
"Why not put a sign
Outside the gate."
Clare wearing glasses and
A wig that looks like moss
Says, "I think Clare is right.
You need a bait."
He says, "What do ye think
About a sign over there?"
He's talking to the birds
That he just met.
Clare with a fake beard
Agrees with Clare and Clare.
But the birds haven't decided
As of yet.
My funds are quite low and cash I do owe.
The word 'ow' comes to mind - ow as in cow.
I say 'cash' and not 'dough', though they do say 'dough'.
And they are the people who'll make me say 'ow'.
And 'they' are my kids, Barbara and Bob.
These little persons rehearse how to con me.
They're certainly worse than the worst of the mob.
They look so smug when they've got something on me.
They know lots of things they know I don't know.
Their IQs are high and their heads are still swelling.
They read lots of books and make me look slow.
I'm going to lose money while sharing this dwelling.
Their education has cost me a fortune in cash,
From all their extortion attempts and their scams.
Their stash is expanding and making them brash.
They've been making money since they were in prams.
A Polaroid camera was first on the list
That they posted to Santa sometime in November.
I assumed that Santa would somehow have missed
That very first thing, but he chose to remember.
I found their latest demand in a note,
Stuck with a pin to the kitchen door's panel,
And a photo of me with the TV remote,
Trying to change the microwave's channel.
This was last week when some people came 'round
To say hello. They stayed for a drink.
It was late when I thought the TV I'd found.
And I think I put some mince pies in the sink.
I once tried to profit from their intelligence,
On 'Who Wants to be a Millionaire'.
I don't know a lot but I have common sense.
When I was on I made sure they were there.
A cough from the kids would tell me the answer.
The first one was easy; the name of a song.
People might say I'm a bit of a chancer.
But thanks to the kids I got that one wrong.
They knew the right one, and so did I.
I thought they'd help me, as my next of kin.
But they made me fail and when I asked why,
They said common sense says I just couldn't win.
They said if I'd won, who would believe it?
Instead of their help they hindered my plan.
I destroyed the tape but they managed to retreive it.
I pay them not to play it and so does their Gran.
The cash or the dough I need to find now.
Miles to Kilometers
Turn slush to snow or metal to gold.
Pity and mercy they'll never allow.
These little persons are being quite bold.
I drove into town on a narrow road down
A hill lined with hedgerows and trees.
With a tractor in front, and a horse from a hunt
In a field walking past me with ease.
Moving at snail's pace with water in ale's place.
I might as well walk and drink more.
I parked in a lay-by and hoped it would stay dry.
It wasn't a raincoat I wore.
I walked by the tractor. The hill was a factor.
The slope made it easy to walk.
The driver looked out, said hello with a shout.
The noise made it harder to talk.
I mentioned his speed and asked why the need
To travel so slowly out here.
He cursed the speed limit. He said that to him it
Seems like he's been here all year.
As slow as the ditch; he blamed the switch
To kilometers per hour from miles.
Sixty was fast but now he'd be passed
By brides walking down church aisles.
They rounded it down all over the town
And the limit for here is now five.
My maths isn't great but I thought I'd be late
For work every day if I drive.
A five mile round trip. At sixty a mere skip.
In kilometers the distance is eight.
But the limit is less. It's just a rough guess,
At five I might get to my gate.
I pointed this out and he said with a shout,
"The Council again are to blame.
"You can go for your coat when they sit down to vote.
The outcome is always the same.
"They argue and fight for most of the night.
But they might as well vote straightaway.
"It goes with the will of one party but still,
They're big into having their say.
"In the press it was noted the time that they voted
On where to locate a new school.
"With a prospect of fights, a choice of two sites.
One near the old swimming pool.
"And one near the lake where the herons look fake,
But flora and fauna still thrive.
"They argued and fought but it all came to nought.
They voted in favour of five.
"In Chambers and hallways the main party always
Put their weight behind five in debate.
"It's greater than none, an improvement on one,
But it's not as ambitious as eight.
"So when someone objected to someone elected
That the speed limit here was too high.
"They argued again but we knew who would win.
And it takes half an hour to pass by."
I said to him then would he risk doing ten,
Even for just half a mile.
"It's not worth the risk. Look at the disk.
This hasn't been taxed in a while"
Goodbyes were said and I walked on ahead.
But I thought about slowing my pace.
If I saw a speed gun at least I could run
Through fields and let them give chase.
One little goldfish in his very little sea.
Let's call this little goldfish number two.
I don't know his name and neither does he.
He said to the other 'how d'ye do?'
The other, number one, raised his head and said,
"Have you ever seen The Scream by Edvard Munch?"
Number two said he had, then he turned his little head
To watch a piece of food as it sunk.
That wasn't really truthful; he decided to pretend
That he'd seen the painting once or twice before.
But he's never really seen it and neither has has friend.
On the subject of The Scream they said no more.
Two tried to think of something other than The Scream
To talk about before he goes to bed.
The best he could do was 'do you like ice cream?'
So he stared ahead in silence instead.
One little goldfish in his very little sea.
By the Sea.
Let's call this goldfish number two.
I don't know his name and neither does he.
He said to the other 'who are you?'
We'll go by bus and stay all day.
You and I down by the sea.
Or is it 'you and me' I should say?
For you and I it's 'you and me'.
The birds are flying way up high.
The sea is where the sea should be,
Sitting there beneath the sky,
Reflecting blue and bringing glee.
You and me on golden sand.
Two dots beneath the blue above.
Sitting either side of 'and',
On seaside sand immersed in love.
"Look at the horse," she says to me.
"No, my dear. That's a post box."
"It's a bleeping horse you blanking B."
I love her voice and golden locks,
But I'm afraid I must insist
That that's a box for posting things.
And not a horse, unless I missed
A bushy tail or pigs with wings.
For honesty I'll always thank her.
She says some bleeping blanking words.
"You bleeping blinking pretentious blanker.
"You're worse than blanking bleep from birds."
Excuse me for a while or two.
Stacey and Kevin.
I was right about the post box.
In silence now beneath the blue.
On the bus by sea and rocks.
Stacey likes Kevin. "His name sounds like heaven."
That's what she said to his friends.
And made his life hell. She showed them as well
Some of the texts that he sends.
He used to word 'bunny'. His friends think it's funny.
He also used 'wabbit' and 'care'.
In another he told her that he'd like to hold her,
And tell her she's better than air.
He calls her his petal. He loves his death metal.
But he loves Stacey more than those bands.
Under blue sky or grey, they meet every day.
She's always just near where he stands.
In a text he once said that all over his head,
Her voice drowned the sound of the songs.
His brain and his feet can't wait till they meet,
And that's where his heart now belongs.
With his friends in the park as it starts to get dark.
Stacey will keep him awake.
His friends hold back laughter for three minutes after
She says he's as sweet as sweet cake.
With skateboard in hand, just by the band stand.
An idea in his head that seems rash.
He'll skate at full pace, then jump with such grace,
And land on the stand or else crash.
With skateboard on path he tells his friends that
He's going to do something thick.
He stands on his shoe lace and falls on his poor face
As he set off on his trick.
He stares at the ground, not hearing a sound.
No one is ready to speak.
Not quite like James Bond. A duck from the pond
Pecks at his head with its beak.
He gets to his feet from his cold concrete seat.
His friends are surprised he can stand.
No longer floored, he picks up his board,
And says, "That went exactly as planned."
His friends all nod at their new earthly God.
Call around for tea.
Some want to kneel down or bow.
Stacey says 'honey' and 'brave little bunny',
But nobody laughs at him now.
Alice and Barry, leave the house at four.
Visiting the relatives, Jimmy and May.
Parking in the driveway, knocking on the door.
I haven't seen you since your Auntie Flora went away.
"Yes we're here to say hello and to wish you all the well,
"So hello we'll say and then we'll go.
"Getting ready with the H and then the E, the double L,
"And yes we'd love a cup of tea before the O."
May brings the tea and cake on a plastic tray.
"I nearly lost my old jug - dropped it on the floory.
"Have a slice of cake; I baked it yesterday,
"And I broke a tooth today - different story."
"Will ye have another cup?"
"Just a little drop."
"Take another biscuit;
"Tell me when to stop.
"And how is so-and-so since her little fall?
"So-and-so's a so-and-so who thinks he owns the place.
"Have ye heard Jimmy's news? It'll drive me up the wall.
"He's going to be the very first Irish man in space.
"He's currently in training. They really test his wits.
"They sent him to an AA meeting; wouldn't be my thing.
"Then he had the course to ease the hatred of the Brits.
"Bloody Nasa; they forgot about the fighting."
"Well done Jimmy. Best of luck with that."
Jimmy nods his head and says, "They say it's quite a thrill."
"It's time to head for home. Did I bring a hat?
"I love the flowers in the vase on the windowsill.
"Ye must call over.
One Friday night.
"We'll tidy up the place.
"Thank you for the tea.
"Best of luck in space."
Alice would like to meet someone
Who's not too old or mad.
When she came home from work one day
She read this personal ad:
Single jangle jewellery
With chewing gum and hat on head,
But neither hat nor head on right.
Mostly living, partly dead.
Seeking thing with legs and things
And nothing much above.
Needs to have an open mind
And narrow view of 'love'.
"He sounds good," Alice said.
Her sister read the ad.
She had her doubts about this man
But he couldn't be too bad.
So they met up one Friday night.
A few drinks in a bar.
And then a walk as daylight left,
Beneath a single star.
They sat down on a bench and watched
The red lights of a plane.
Then he produced two glasses and
A bottle of champagne.
And on the label an image of
A man in a funeral home.
"That looks good," Alice said.
The glass filled up with foam.
"It's a very good year," he said to her.
"From somewhere in the south."
He saw a squirrel beneath a tree;
A small twig in its mouth.
He said hello and asked the squirrel
If his tail could brush or mop.
And: "Do you think you're Kojak
With your little lollipop?"
Alice stood up and backed away.
Tears welled in her eyes.
"I have to go." She turned and ran.
There were two brief goodbyes.
She went straight to her sister's place.
In floods of tears she said,
"He asked a squirrel if he was Kojak."
Her sister shook her head.
She said to Alice that time would heal,
And from this mess she'd climb.
She wanted to say, "I told you so."
But now is not the time.
Andy stares up at the sky,
In the park on the grass near a dog.
The clouds do things way up high
That they do down here as fog.
And they do those things in Andy's mind,
In the micro-climate in his head.
A can in his hand. If he looks he'll find
Another eight in the bag with the bread.
For over half an hour he's been
Standing there but nothing's really wrong.
He tries to think of the difference between
A divan and a chaise longue.
Andy looks down. His foot's on fire.
He looks at the sky. Still no rain.
He stares at a bird on a telephone wire,
And tries to think through the fog in his brain.
But he doesn't have to phone a friend.
He finally says, "Now I know.
"A chaise longue has a back at one end
"And a divan is just low."
"That's just the pain-killers talking,"
In a Tree.
So says the nurse by his bed.
For a week or two he won't be walking,
But he'll still get lost in his head.
Born in nineteen eighty fighty.
A whole week in, a night out now.
A witty anecdote, maybe, might be.
Ha ha ha ha ha ha ow!
A glass of wine or something stronger,
Something bought in a hardware store.
"A glass a day and you'll live longer."
Discussing this, ow ow floor.
Out in the air and climb a tree,
And wonder why he did that then.
Afraid of heights and cats is he.
Stuck with a key and a fountain pen.
Yes stuck in a tree. Now what to do?
Think think think, don't have all night.
Think 'what' not when nor where nor who.
Punch the tree. Why yes, that's right.
"Did you just say 'why yes, that's right'?"
So says someone down on the ground.
He swings a punch in the black of the night.
His friends hear a falling-from-a-tree-now sound.
That worked well. His head feels light.
Punching never fails, he's always said.
"Now who said I said 'thing that's right',
"So I can punch you in the head."
"You said that, not us to you."
"Perhaps that's true," he says out loud.
"You just said 'perhaps that's true',"
So says someone in the crowd.
"Who said that? Don't take all day.
"We'd have all night in warmer climes.
"So please step forward without delay.
"And I'll punch you many, many times."
Walking down a moonlit path.
Saying things and more things that
Amount to a simple word or two,
Or three if one of them is 'you'.
And one is 'I', or so it should be.
Having trouble talking, he.
For the past few months he's lived in song,
His iPod playing all day long.
Without the headphones in his head,
The only words he ever said
Were, "It can hold five thousand songs."
It's in his pocket, where it belongs.
He can't quite say the words right now.
He knows he really should know how.
She says it's such a lovely night.
"I love this place when it's so quiet."
It's quieter now. He tries to find
The right response within his mind.
He sees an insect on the ground.
"Ant," he says, or some such sound.
"They can hold five thousand things."
A Trip to Mars.
This 'ant' has very moth-like wings.
Their eyes are locked. He looks away.
He's said all he has to say.
Sitting at a piano,
Play a simple tune.
Sing a simple song about
The stars and the moon.
And then a little trip to Mars
To say hello to the locals.
Friendly little Martian
Smiling country yokels.
Out for the day from
Their hole in the ground.
Visiting the big hole,
Leave the cow they 'found'.
"I really like the holes
And the complete lack of air.
"And those reddish-looking rocks
That are almost everywhere."
They point towards a distant hill
Where they have just found ice.
I listen then as one of them does
His Robert Mitchum voice.
I say it's very good,
Then one of them says to me,
"Why did you bet a couple of grand
On a horse with a war injury?"
"Y' see," I say, and wonder how
I'll explain to them this case.
Poor dim Martian yokels
Staring into space.
I say I have to go now.
Marrying for a summer house
"But I really enjoyed my stay.
"The next time I come here to visit,
I'll definitely spend a whole day."
She said she has a summer house in Athlone.
I don't know if that's false or if that's true.
But there's one thing I do know,
I'll say 'I do' if it's so.
But she'll never hear a sincere 'I love you'.
I'll say it once or twice
Meeting in a Café.
In my 'I don't love you' voice.
I'll save my 'I love you' voice for the view.
She sat by the window
With tears in her eyes.
Matt wondered why all
The frowns and the sighs.
He said, "Can I help you?
Is anything wrong?"
She showed him her arm,
A tattoo that said 'King Kong'.
He saw something wrong with that.
"What's wrong with that?"
The tears flowed again.
She pulled down her hat.
She looked at her arm,
Said her name was Anne.
And the tattoo was supposed to say
'Get well soon Gran'.
But the artist was distracted
By a mouse eating bread.
"It's a very big mouse."
That's what he said.
Matt looked concerned,
And then a growing grin.
He said, "You could save it with
A few words added in.
"'is a very big gorilla'
Added on to 'King Kong'.
"It wouldn't cost very much
And it's not all that long."
Her tears began to dry
And a faint smile appeared.
Sunshine broke through
And all the clouds cleared.
"Thank you so much," she said.
Restoring a Mansion.
"Won't you sit down?"
Two broader smiles you won't
Find in this town.
They bought an old mansion without any doors,
Or windows or roofs, a slight lack of floors.
It hasn't been lived in for eighty odd years.
Even the ad said it needed repairs.
But they've nearly restored its original look.
Two centuries old; they read in a book
About the original galleried hall,
With heads of deer and guns on the wall.
They don't support hunting. They bought the deer heads
From the same man who sold them the four-poster beds.
He said all the deer died a natural death,
And he's had this confirmed by a very good vet.
With their young daughter, both their breaths bated,
They asked how she'd like her room decorated.
Her answer came quickly. She smiled at them too.
Just two simple words: 'Scooby' and 'Doo'.
Her mother said, "Sweetie, we love Scooby's face.
"But we've spent twenty million restoring this place,
"Just to make sure that it looks like the way
"It looked years ago on its very first day."
She smiled and they felt that she'd add to their cares.
She said, "What about the jacuzi upstairs?"
"The jacuzi was invented in 1784.
"It's an original feature we have to restore."
She just stared back. They felt that they'd failed.
A Bar on Saturday Night.
She said, "Scooby Doo." The boat had now sailed.
They had hoped she'd choose a red taffeta curtain.
She won't want it now; that's almost certain.
When she looked right in my eye
And said, "Do I know you?"
I said well now she looked just like
A girl my brother knew.
"Did your brother steal my car," She said,
"Just because I mocked his hat."
I smiled and said, "That's him alright,
"He's always doing that."
So she kneed me in the groin.
And left me on the floor.
"Kindly pass that on," she said.
And waved 'bye at the door.
I can't let down a lady.
That's just what I believe.
But I'm sure as hell not doing
Such a girlie thing to Steve.
I'll have a word with his new girlfriend.
He loves the ground below her.
I'll say he's only going out with her
For a bet to win an old lawn mower.
And I know she will believe it.
Last week he bet his friend
That he couldn't eat a turtle
Without meeting then his end.
A game of chess. A very big crowd to see
The two best players in the land.
One player or the other is very soon to be
The very best and about to win a grand.
Or maybe not soon. Or no time soon at all.
It's hard to see a winner from here.
Joe stands up and looks towards the wall.
Ted is leaning back in his chair.
The clock ticks on and the tension starts to rise.
The players try to focus on the play.
Some members of the audience have to close their eyes.
They've been watching people sit or stand all day.
Ted breaks the silence, and wakes his younger brother.
When he points towards the board and says to Joe,
"Why don't we let them jump over each other?"
The idea doesn't get an immediate no.
He isn't sure at first, but Ted says then,
"It's how I beat Kasparov before."
So Joe says yes and he takes his seat again.
They won't be here for many minutes more.
It's Ted's move next and without a lot of thinking,
He picks up his one remaining rook.
He jumps over a knight and kicks over the king,
Just three or four seconds it took.
"I can't believe you fell for that," Ted says to Joe.
A Little Brown Mouse.
Joe shakes his head from side to side.
The crowd cheer Ted and then very quickly go.
Joe wants to find a place to hide.
A little brown mouse in a dark grey suit,
New shoes and a bright red tie.
Only yesterday he was swimming in a boot.
His mother wonders where is her boy.
"Why the suit and tie?" she says to her son.
"And why are you drinking gin and tonic?"
"Some people say that my talents amount to none,
But I've been asked to play with the Berlin Philharmonic."
He shows her the letter. She reads in their dim lighting.
But she says to herself before too long,
"That looks just like the cat's handwriting."
Something here is very surely wrong.
She looks at her son, so excited with his news.
She wonders if he's right in the head.
And is it really wise to express her views?
Or should she just humour him instead?
She says, "I'm sure that you're going to be a hit,
And your brothers have also got their break.
"Billy just discovered that the wire that he bit
Was in a cupboard full of sugar and cake."
His eyes light up and he slowly backs away.
He's starting to remove his suit and tie.
"I might put the music off for another day."
He runs and says a very quick goodbye.
I met them at the gate post.
They said they were engaged.
I asked who stood to lose most
If they died before they're aged.
She pretended to be angry.
And he kicked me on the knee.
I said I'm very sorry
And respectful I would be.
I slowly got up from the ground.
I asked how did he fare
In his two-grand bet on a greyhound
Called 'I fell off a chair'.
He tried to change the subject.
She kicked him on the knee.
I feared their plans could be wrecked,
And all because of me.
I said, "Like birds or ants or bees
"Ye've got so much to share."
Like kicking people's knees.
But I didn't say that there.
She said, "I'm sorry sweetie."
And he said sorry too.
She called him Warren Beatty,
And he said 'I love you'.
I wished someone would kick me
Or I could kick some thing.
Then came the two-hour story
Of her engagement ring.
He saw her in the corner
At a table with her friend.
He felt his years of searching
Had come to this fine end.
He'd seen her in his dreams
Very many times before.
She left him with a dizzy head
And a need to get to know her.
He drank his drink and stood up,
And held on to his chair.
He took a few steps to the jukebox
And ran a hand through his hair.
He put a coin in, pressed a button.
He tried to clear his head.
He went to her and stood there,
Looked at her and said,
"Please don't tell me where to go
Unless you'll go there with me.
"I'd like to get to know you.
Knowledge makes me happy."
Just as she was going to give
Her answer to his plea.
She listened to the song he chose,
And just then so did he.
He thought he'd pressed the button
For his favourite Garth Brooks song.
But this for sure was not 'The Dance'.
He must have got it wrong.
The song was about a fight between
A monkey and a squirrel in a tree.
The monkey had lost his stapler.
He thought he knew where it could be.
He was ninety-nine percent sure
In accusing the squirrel of theft.
The squirrel hit the monkey with a branch
After saying, "Look to your left."
They listened to the song in silence.
He just didn't know what to say.
And neither did she at the end of the song
But then she smiled and said 'okay'.
When Noah build his famous ark
He knew a man now passed away.
As has Mr. Noah now,
It's very sad to say.
But this was long before today
When they had things to do,
Like rounding up the animals
For Noah's floating zoo.
This man who Mr. Noah knew,
So many years ago,
Helped his friend to build the ark
When the water was still low.
Not so much a friend at all,
As just a man he met,
When Noah started working late
In fear of getting wet.
He bought the wood to build the boat,
The flooding he would flout.
This man appeared and said he feared
The project was in doubt.
"The Planning process takes too long
And maybe they'll reject
"Your plan to float the animals
And then we'll all be fecked.
"Flouting, floating boating things
Can take ten years or more.
"And if you build without their say
They'll knock it to the floor.
"I can help you out with that.
I'll move the thing along.
"A word in someone's ear from me.
I'll do it for a song."
An expensive song, but Noah paid.
He didn't need delays.
Before too long the shore would rise
And valleys would be bays.
But then his friend, this man again,
Noticed something wrong.
He pointed out to Noah that
The ark was much too long.
The ark was on the neighbour's land.
He said he represents
The company who owns the field
Just beyond the fence.
Noah couldn't see a fence,
And this man didn't know
Who was in the company
Or where the cash would go.
But Noah paid the money.
He couldn't take a chance.
His friend walked down the hill again
And did a little dance.
Two days passed before this man
Came back to Noah's ark.
He said, "I've heard of plots and plans
Of which you're in the dark.
"The cows have their own rival plan,
An ark and concert hall.
"But I can get the cows to back
Your plan to float them all.
"And they've been spreading rumours
About safety on your site.
"They say at least two Eskimos died
And you tried to keep this quiet.
"Ten percent of what you earn
Is all I ask as pay."
Noah knew he'd make no cash.
That's why he said okay.
All of nature's animals
Were heading for the ark.
Noah met this man again.
The skies were getting dark.
He said he had to lodge some cash
In his bank account
On a small Pacific island,
Miles from this great mount.
He asked if he and his fine wife
Could travel there with Noah.
Noah let them share a room
With a man called Mr. Boa.
But it wasn't such a pleasant trip.
He nearly killed a bee.
So Noah stopped and let them off
At an island in the sea.
The dog's third birthday was yesterday.
He tried to eat his party hat.
We bought a ball for him to play.
He got a birthday card from the cat.
The card just contained the following line:
"Do you know what a rawlplug is?"
The cat seemed content with a ball of twine,
And sleeping all night in a hat that's not his.
So we were surprised by his question for Rover.
I held a rawlplug in front of the dog,
And said the word 'rawlplug' over and over.
Rover remained as still as a log.
He sent a 'thank you' card to the cat,
With just one word written in ink.
'No', it said, and that was that.
I shook my head and started to think
That Rover might not be so clever at all.
The ball hits his head when I throw it to him.
When I tell him to sit he'll normally fall.
The bulb in his brain at its brightest is dim.
Two little lambs on an old wooden pier.
They stepped into a small row boat.
One bit through the rope without an ounce of fear.
Down the flowing river they float.
The other lamb said, "Why did you cut the rope?
"I've a feeling there's a waterfall nearby."
"It may look now as if we'll sink without a hope.
"But Superman will save us from the sky."
"Superman is fictional," the other lamb said.
And in his voice a tiny trace of fright.
The little lamb thought in his little fluffy head:
"That would make a lot of sense alright."
But he said to his friend, "He's as real as me or you.
"He wears thick glasses in disguise.
"He sells sheep dip and his Transit van is blue.
"He's always looking around with his eyes."
"Oh him," the lamb said. "I know the man you mean."
In the Garden.
He looked up at the sky with a smile.
But not little friend; a flaw in his plan he'd seen
The river hurried on all the while.
Sit in the sun on the grass in the shade
Of a tree by the old red brick wall.
Read the newspaper and drink lemonade.
Or watch as the kids play football.
The dog starts to bark at the tree once again,
But the tree shows no worry or care.
The ants in the grass look on and then
They laugh at the dog so he'll hear.
Their laughter stops when they hear the sound
Of an ice cream van just down the street.
They run to the gate for the ice cream man's round,
But they stop and look down at their feet.
The sound is really from little Louise
Hitting an old metal bucket
With a shovel she found when she ran from the bees,
Left by the hedge so she took it.
The dog starts to laugh at the two little ants,
A long and deliberate laugh.
He rolls on the grass and breaks into dance.
The ants are regretting their gaff.
I got up and walked from this calm shady place.
I don't know.
I stood on a rake by the wall.
The handle flew up into my sunburnt face,
But that wasn't funny at all.
An evening garden party.
A chance to meet and drink.
And a clear blue evening sky
Above us all.
Yes I'm fairly sure we've brandy.
There are glasses by the sink.
And a barrell of something sinister
By the wall.
There's a man away from Milly.
"That Milly'd drive you mad."
There's a man with Milly.
"Oh how Milly's fun."
These two are the same man,
Unless we've all been had.
Or to put it slightly differently
There's just one.
They walk around the garden
As the stars come out above,
While other people
Look into a box.
They stop and talk in moonlight
With all the look of love.
He's staring at the rockery
And its rocks.
Milly says to him,
"What type of tree is that?"
"I don't know, Milly,"
Is all he can say.
"Is that fish staring at me?"
She says and lifts her hat.
"I don't know," he says
And gets away.
There's a man away from Milly.
"God I need a drink."
And there's a man with Milly.
"Milly I really like you."
And this is not the man
Pouring something by the sink.
Or to put it another way,
There's now two.
The man now pouring something
Sees his Milly with that man.
He drinks what he's just poured
And he goes outside to be
With his darling Milly.
He says without a plan,
"Will you Milly marry?
Will Milly marry me?"
A 'yes' from dearest Milly.
A smile lights up her eyes.
A happy scene with music
From the birds
"Why's that mouse on your head?"
She says and then he sighs.
"I don't know, Milly,"
Are his words.
Off to visit Uncle Peter,
Never less than entertaining.
Measures drinks out by the litre.
Adds in extra when it's raining.
Hello there, how are you?
Not too bad, come on in.
Love the carpet. Yes it's new.
The old one's sitting by the bin.
A plate of cakes and a cup of tea,
And a 'no sign yet' of drink.
Wondering where his glass could be.
An 'and you'll miss it' blink.
"Why the lack of alcohol?"
I said eventually.
"Why no drop of drink at all.
"Just little cakes and tea."
He sighed and told his story,
Some details I have missed.
Never one to bore me,
But this is just the gist:
Sitting by the fireplace,
Fire fire fire.
No one there to share it with,
Foreign maid hire.
Tell her where the bath is,
Show her how to use it.
Wrap around a towel,
Damn I always lose it.
Now she's more than just a maid,
Though she helps him make his bed,
For which she's still well paid,
And she occupies his head.
But she's into health and fitness,
Always on the go.
She'll never find a witness;
No one now will know
If he had a little whiskey,
Something very small.
But he said it's just too risky.
Anyone could call.
There's a daily quota now
For drink but not for bread.
He drank as much as she'll allow
To help him out of bed.
I said, "But surely not the wine.
"That's barely alcoholic.
"Wine in kids of eight or nine
"Will make them run and frolic.
"And gin is just a woman's drink,
"Forgotten in a minute.
"And vodka too," I stopped to wink,
"If you put an umbrella in it."
He soon was back to his old high.
He poured more than enough.
He said, "It's down to you, my boy,
"To house the stronger stuff."
A tear of joy rolled down my face.
For him a look of craving.
He opened up a wooden case
Of whiskey he'd been saving.
When she came home she saw him with
A glass like an upturned bell.
With a small umbrella perched in it
And a long red rose as well.
She asked about the drink he had.
"What this, a drink?" he said to her.
He laughed as if that sounded mad
And the rest is just a happy blur.
Humpty Dumpty tripped on his laces.
He fell down some steps to a concrete path then.
All the king's men had gone to the races.
And all the king's horses were off with the men.
Frank came along and said to him,
"Do you need some help? It looks like you fell."
"I'm grand," he said, and with one working limb,
He waved to Frank and smiled as well.
Frank then said, "Are you sure you're okay?"
"I'm fine down here, but thanks all the same."
Frank looked around at where Humpty's bits lay,
And thought at the least he'd surely be lame.
Frank said, "What if I put this bit here?"
He moved an arm lower towards a loose hand.
Humpty said, "Perfect. That's much better there."
But it didn't seem likely that Humpty would stand.
Frank looked on with a frown on his face.
The face on the ground looked very content.
Pieces were lying all over the place.
And on his poor head a sizable dent.
"Are you sure you're okay," Frank said once more.
"I couldn't be better. Thanks ever so much."
Frank said that surely he must be quite sore,
But he said he'd get home without even a crutch.
They said their goodbyes and Frank walked away.
He stopped and looked back at a very wide grin.
He tried to think of something to say.
They waved goodbye and he walked on again.
Stay in the shade when the sky is still blue.
Out in the red when the blue fades away.
Be in the black with the stars and the dew
Rest your head at the end of the day.
All of the plans I had in my head,
I wrote on my hand to leave nothing but air
Above in my brain as I fall into bed,
Things for tomorrow, which now is quite near.
The plans involve Jane and wondering how
The fridge in the kitchen exploded last week.
Things I didn't have time for till now.
But I'll do them tomorrow, answers I'll seek.
Wake up after nine.
Then again in afternoon.
Outside it's very fine.
Leave the pub sometime soon.
Three hours talking to a goat about a fox.
"He somehow stole my glasses. I left them on my head."
And then another hour or two staring at a box.
Until it's after midnight; time to go to bed.
Look at the hand; damn I forgot.
Supposed to meet Jane; she'll make my life hell.
I still don't know why my fridge is now not.
I'll find out tomorrow and meet Jane as well.
Write it on the hand.
Meet her on a boat.
Or maybe see a band.
Blame that bloody goat.
These poems originally appeared on an earlier version of this site.
My wife turned thirty three days ago.
Or something like thirty – I don't want to know,
And neither does she. That's where our minds meet.
I took her out for something to eat.
They brought us a menu. She ordered a water.
She thanked me again for the teapot I bought er.
We ate and drank in faint candle light.
She mostly drank, but she had a good night.
I looked at the bill, then down at the floor.
I took a deep breath and counted to four.
Then back to the bill but still my mind stalled.
It looked like a will. The waiter I called.
I showed him the bill. He told me about
How keeping afloat is always in doubt.
Their business is busy; their charges are high,
But costs and expenses are clipping the sky.
Young couples on dates will share a beer,
But the bill for their rates is rising each year.
So they have to charge more to cover the cost,
Or else they close down and jobs will be lost.
The rates are for water, or so people say,
But there's also a bill for their water to pay.
And a sewage bill too. We've money to burn.
You're paying again for what you return.
And then there's insurance. People will trip.
A tap is left on and someone will slip.
Water on tiles; a man on the floor.
A doctor and stretcher will come through the door.
It happened before. A man hit his head.
He was seen playing golf when he should be half dead.
They lost in court. They didn't have proof.
And the bill for insurance has gone through the roof.
The waiter explained that they're just a small boat.
They're sinking in bills and they just want to float.
Water everywhere, but a glass will cost more
Than the price of a chair in a second-hand store.
I paid and we left, but I still didn't know
Into whose pocket does my money go.
Water will leave us and come back in rain.
Money will run like a dog you can't train.
I pay the bill and they pay the others,
And others have friends and lovers and brothers.
Somewhere in this, someone is winning.
Someone is driving an Audi and grinning.
We walked down the street and stopped at a pool.
A leak in a pipe. I felt like a fool.
I paid for stupidity; no one will win.
The money will rest in a drain or a bin.
I looked at the pool and thought of a fall.
A slip and a slide; a 999 call.
It would cover the cost of our next evening out.
If I sued and I won to put food in my mouth.
But if everyone did it, taxes would rise.
And so would insurance – the wrong type of highs.
I'll just have to sit back and say it's not fair.
And learn how to cook by this time next year.
The leprechauns are all alone.
Their rosy cheeks should get them a wife.
But they might as well have leprosy.
Their height will hold them back in life.
The little men, throught thick and thin,
Will guard their gold until they're grey.
They'll be in their grave before they let go.
They'll leave without losing a penny or stay.
The poor little leps, they slip on the ice.
They fall on their face when running from thieves.
Replacement hips and weeks of rest.
A bed of feathers and letters and leaves.
They can't afford a coat or the gas
To keep out the cold on a dark winter day.
They sit on their ass and look at their gold.
They'll freeze on a stone before looking away.
They can't afford a car or a cart
To carry their gold, to let them take naps,
To lighten their load; the leps are too proud.
That's why they look old. The poor little chaps
They'd die without cat flaps on long winter nights.
A warm hall to rest their aching backs,
Stiff from the cold, bent from the gold.
Dawn is the time to start making tracks.
Or the sight of a cat – he's after the pot.
Cats and geese they like the least.
The neck of the goose can get them in bed.
The cat wants the gold; the goose wants a feast.
We propose to work on their house.
We'll tarmac their drive, all within law.
We'll build a coal fire and not just a tyre
In a barrel with a box and a basket of straw.
We've got to go to get the geese,
To frighten the leps, to lighten their load.
We need them to leave, to work on the house.
They won't be turned out on the side of the road.
'Hunting' is such an emotive word.
One thing for sure is our mission to help.
Bunting to lure the leps to our trap.
A stereo system to drown out their yelp.
But please don't get the wrong idea,
With talk of traps and drowning and yelping.
If there's drowning at all it'll just be the cats.
With the leprechauns we'll only be helping.
The leps need our help; they need to be forced.
Of course they'll feel trapped and try to escape.
They'll shout themselves hoarse when they can't find a cat flap.
They'll kick and throw stones the size of a grape.
But the leprechauns will see our aim.
We'll chase the cat and cook the geese.
But not the cat. The thrill's in the hunt.
The cat is just a trophy piece.
Its goose is cooked and so is ours.
The leprechaun, we'll open his door.
He'll sit down to eat with a book on his seat.
His little feet two foot away from the floor.
A new day is dawning; an evening of dancing.
A night of singing and laughing and drinking.
A new life of ease with a lovely new house.
No tripping or falling or drowning or sinking.
The leprechaun, with a tear in his eye,
We'll say goodbye and send him home.
Minus his gold but he knows all he needs
Is a fire and a coat and a cap and a comb.
So it's not really hunting, unless you count cats.
We do count the cats and the bats and the geese.
And in no way it's stealing. We're strong in our feeling
Of love for the leps and wishing them peace.
Some people say that we're getting away
Throwing things at things.
With a leprechaun's savings, a lifetime of woes.
But a pot of gold is a worthless wieght
If it stays in the pot and never buys clothes.
Throwing stones at things that break,
Or things that break at things that break them.
At the lake with things that sink.
If things don't sink or break then take them.
Making fun of people's phones.
Laughing at ring tones and slim phones that break,
Or other things their owner owns,
Like clothes that look funny or shoes that look fake.
In a field with things to do.
People to talk to, bets to win.
Things to throw or drink or drop.
A stone or a can or a bottle of gin.
Sitting down in lonely fields,
Saying things about things you know.
Drink and drain the last few drops.
A tree to aim at, a bottle to throw.
Sit in silence. The stars come out.
The grass is wet with evening dew.
There's not much else to throw or see
Or say or do or know that's new.
Time to go home and get out the books.
The exams are less than a year away.
The end of school, the start of life.
Leaving the fools who'll study next May.
I'm going to be a doctor.
Or something in computers - I'll wait and see.
I'll wait for fate to make the choice.
Let chance and fate decide what I'll be.
I might decide to marry young.
I'll hurry things if things I need.
Exchange of rings and food and bed.
In that order and at that speed.
I'll buy a Merc, like the one at home.
Maybe my wife will be the doctor.
Our second son will be adopted.
Our daughter will kick the boy who mocked her.
We'll tell her it's wrong to use physical force,
But even my wife will be secretly proud.
Our sons will make fun of the kids with the horse.
When Mammy needs sleep, they'll never be loud.
I'll spend some time with my wife each day.
When she gets home I'll kiss her nose.
I'll be so proud of the work she does.
My wife the doctor; my beautiful rose.
I'll take my kids to see the match.
I'll let them talk rugby all day long.
Players kick the ball and the carp out of each other.
And I'll tell my kids what they're doing wrong.
Sometimes I'll have to say to the kids,
"I've got a headache. Leave Daddy alone."
They'll make me a card; they'll ask their Daddy
To get well so they won't have to play on their own.
My heart will melt; I'll play in goal,
A house near the woods
Between the shed and the wheelie bin.
I'll do my best despite the pain.
And I'll hardly mention the headache again.
Out in the woods with the wind and the rain,
And the tiny little birds in the trees.
They sing their little songs full of love or even pain,
But not the latter when together with the bees.
Jimmy and Susanne have just bought a home
Near the woods above a gentle stream.
Every morning they look out to where the water starts to foam.
They wake up to a brand new dream.
Jimmy loves this life with the total lack of care.
Sue would like a shower that's warm.
The song of the birds and a big deep breath of air,
And he'll walk with a smile through a storm.
A walk through the woods with a feather in his hat,
A present from his wife on his head.
A walk through the heather to the seat where he sat
When he met the deer he now calls Ted.
He takes the feather out so as not to scare the birds.
The shotgun on his shoulder is for show.
The book he read on guns is just a lot of silly words.
How not to shoot is all he needs to know.
Susanne will walk as well with a tonic and a gin.
"You need a little drink to leave the door.
"A little lack of sun so you have to plug it in.
"If you want to look as tanned as before.
"I wish it didn't rain and the wind didn't blow.
"And I didn't know I just ate an eel.
"Jimmy says he caught it and he nearly shot a crow.
"But I wonder if the gun is even real.
"I've got all I need with a stove that's really Mom's,
"And a bedroom with a mountain view.
"A sunbed with the force of ten atomic bombs,
"Like the ones they used in World War Two."
Jimmy never tires and there's always things to do.
Little things can make him high.
"The green and grey and orange of a walk with Sue,
"A little bit of blue in the sky.
"A nuclear war would be a source of endless pain,
The newly weds.
"But at least this place will save my life.
"Walking in the woods with the wind and the rain,
"Standing right behind my wife."
With a garden in the back and a shed for the bin.
A house in the middle of the trees.
Milly and Tommy and a cat called Gin.
The first few months together were a breeze.
A house and a home and a 'welcome' on the mat.
A cat on the O M E.
A knock on the door and a loud voice that
Sparks a word meaning 'oh dear me'.
The cat would sit on the U and the C,
But even Gin would recognise the word.
Its curly tail would cover the K from you and me.
The cat is more concerned about a bird.
Milly's parents at the door have heard the word before,
And they've heard the voice that said it say it too.
If their brand new son-in-law has a flaw or two or four,
Number one would be the words he says to you.
Or eight or nine or ten, and the words would be at two.
Number one would be the times they appear.
And the people there to hear – the when and the who.
When Milly's parents come to stay he tends to swear.
He opens up the door. Gin leaves to chase the bird.
They say it's such a lovely day.
He nods and says hello in the way he said the word
That you spell 'F Cat Cat K'.
The silence is more civil when there's nothing nice to say.
The bird gets on better with the cat.
Milly comes along and the tension fades away.
She brings a smile beneath the flowers in her hat.
But it wasn't always so. Things used to be much worse.
Like when Milly broke the news of their big day.
Her father said he'd go in the back seat of a hearse.
Tommy said he'd drive and learn to pray.
They never liked the language and the hair on his head.
Or the piece of metal just above his chin.
The cat would have a job to cover everything he said.
Some of the words were written on his skin.
His hair was mostly green and sometimes slightly blue.
And once or twice it wasn't there at all.
Milly's father asked him why he couldn't settle on a hue,
And did he shave his head to imitate a ball.
Tommy said inside his head he had a brain that couldn't stop.
Like his hair his life was never dull and grey.
"But the brain that makes you talk is very like the hair on top.
"Going grey and disappearing by the day."
He'd call around for Milly and bring her back at dawn.
Her Dad could only shout and lose his hair.
"You really haven't liked me since I passed out on your lawn."
Was the one thing Tommy said without a swear.
But Milly fell in love. There was nothing they could do.
He didn't come and go with fashion trends.
When she first met Tommy they both felt something new,
And she sent a thousand texts to her friends.
Each text was full of words only they could understand.
Unlike the words her parents had to say.
And all the words from Tommy and the gestures with his hand.
Every meaning was as clear as any day.
The words got worse after they became engaged.
But things began to change before too long.
An argument once ended when Tommy was paged.
The impression on the parents was strong.
They don't know what he does but he's the leader of a team.
A software job and he'll go far.
As sons-in-law go, he might not be the dream.
But he can pay for Milly's phone and the car.
So when the parents come to stay they can talk over drinks.
Sun and Sunglasses.
Tommy won't say much but that's okay.
The cat would need kittens to cover everything he thinks.
They all have thoughts on hair that they won't say.
He met her last month when he went to a match.
His friends all agreed that she could be a catch.
And catch her he did. She let herself fall.
He bought her a watch and they went to a ball.
A walk or a seat in the park by the pond.
The wind in her hair; of that sight he's quite fond.
A walk then a seat when her feet start to hurt.
She's sore in those heels and he's cold in that shirt.
He stares through his shades at the grey sky above,
And wonders is silence the first sign of love.
He talks about football and what his job pays,
And how it gets dark so early these days.
They go for a drive in his brand new two-seater.
She rolls down the window and turns up the heater.
She'd like the roof down and the wind in her hair.
"Let's wait for a while 'til the rain starts to clear."
He brings in his elbow from outside the window.
He thinks he can feel it and senses some bloodflow.
He turns on the lights. It's dark at half-five.
His arm is still numb. He feels half-alive.
He thinks of last month, the match where he met her.
She didn't say much 'til the weather got better.
While it rained all she said, apart from a call,
Was, "Look at the dirt on the man with the ball."
They talked about dirt, so he tries that again.
As they drive in the evening with night setting in.
"Look at the dirt on the side of that car."
She looks and says 'ooh'. He's one under par.
It works again when he points at a van,
A truck and a sign and some kids with a paint can.
She looks and says 'ooh' to all of these things.
He thinks of churches and flowers and rings.
He stops on a side-street and she steps out,
Near a puddle so deep it might have some trout,
When a kid on a bike goes by through the water,
And splashes her feet and the handbag he bought her.
She stares at her shoes that used to be new.
She can't seem to speak. What should he do?
Right now there's nothing but shock on her face,
But later she'll ask why he didn't give chase.
But you've got to be careful with kids at night.
Some carry cans and can't wait for a fight.
He sees a way out with the shades on his head.
He'll say he couldn't see. She should have said.
He walks 'round the car and says, "What's wrong?"
A Little Birdie.
She still can't speak, but that won't last long.
He lifts up his shades; in this he won't lie:
"There's dirt on your shoes." There's a tear in her eye.
In the garden at the back, Billy doesn't say a word,
Waiting with his little sister Jane.
They want to win a competition with a photo of a bird.
Jane is well protected from the rain.
She tied a length of thread to keep the hat upon her head.
A breeze tried to take it towards the sea.
And a tiny piece of bread on the hat beneath the thread,
So a little bird will land and stay for tea.
They tried it once before; for half an hour they sat.
They'd wait for half the day to win the prize.
Billy took a photo of a robin on the hat,
And the fear in his little sister's eyes.
Jane had to laugh when she saw the look of fright.
It was silly to be scared beneath the hat.
The bird was on her head for the bread, not a fight,
Or maybe he was hiding from the cat.
So it's time to try again with the bread and the thread,
Standing in the garden near the trees.
Jane knows straightaway when a bird lands on her head.
When Billy sees the bird he seems to freeze.
He stares above the hat. She wants to know what's there.
"It looks like a robin once again."
She says it's very heavy; the hat is on her hair.
He tells her that the other one was thin.
"Hello Mr. Robin." She waves and tries to see.
But she can't see the bird above the brim.
She looks back at Billy; he's as still as any tree.
She thinks it's just because her brother's dim.
He finally takes the photo after such a long delay.
His sister has a smile upon her face.
The bird sees a rabbit in a field and flies away.
There's only one winner in the chase.
Billy talks to Jane so she won't turn around,
To see the 'robin' and the rabbit say hi.
He talks a little louder just to drown out the sound.
The bird is with the bunny in the sky.
They walk across the lawn and meet the man who lives next door.
He says he lost his latest pet today.
He's always taken care and never lost a bird before,
But at feeding time his falcon flew away.
He won it in a bet about a fight between a hound,
And a fox who ran away – he didn't lose.
Jane says they would have noticed if a falcon was around.
Billy just looks down at his shoes.
They won the competition – the falcon beat a dove.
France 0, Ireland 0.
After Jane chased her brother 'round the place.
She nearly fainted when she first saw the birdie up above,
And Billy took a photo of her face.
(A World Cup
qualifier in Paris on the ninth of October, 2004)
A nil-all draw that felt like a win.
Even though no one scored, we won the fight.
Tens of thousands of Irish got in.
Someone in green must have scored on the night.
Thousands of leprechauns went to France.
And they probably brought the pot of gold.
They looked just like tourists; they all took a chance.
The muggers could have been three-years-old.
Thousands of leps in the city of love.
Some went for the love not the city.
With gold they won't need the help from above
To get the girl who's more than just pretty.
They won't need the car or the clothes or the fame.
The end of the rainbow, it's hard to say where.
But the girls couldn't miss all the leps at the game.
They ran through the crowd holding flares in the air.
So instead of the rainbow you'll find the gold
Yes, Minister, you're sitting on a car.
Right beneath the bright red flare.
If we make the World Cup, the car will be sold.
We'll all wear red beards and green hats on our hair.
A Minister for Tourism, let's call him Bob,
Once opened a pub in a big tourist town.
That night in the pub nearly cost him his job.
The permanent smile for a while was a frown.
In the official photos Bob could still stand,
With a pint in his hand and a smile on his face.
But a photo appeared of Bob with the band,
With a glass on his head and lacking in grace.
The smile was still there but the drink in the glass
Was then in his brain, with some on his shoes.
They went through ten rounds and not one did he pass.
Before he passed out he ordered more booze.
A piano was there to keep him upright.
He was trying to sing but the words came out wrong.
Some took offence at the language that night.
He used the right words but he sang the wrong song.
In his defence he said there's no harm
In having a drink, or two, or ten.
It's the light of his life and the source of his charm.
It's what unites the boys and the men.
"I've been drinking like this since I was fourteen.
"It did me no harm. It's a fountain of fun.
"There's a funny story; I once tried to lean
"On a chair that wasn't there when I thought there was one.
"I can see more than anyone the ills of drink.
"It killed my father and my grandfather's dog.
"Granddad shot the dog when he seemed to think
"That he aimed for a stick attached to a log.
"No one does more to fight this disease.
"It breaks my heart to see our youth
"Out of their heads, hiding in trees.
"As young as fourteen. It's a sobering truth.
"And it's not just our young who need to give up.
"It's you and me too, and especially you.
"A nice cup of tea will be fine in our cup.
"No one sees more than me what you need to do.
"But if you're a tourist with money to spend,
"Come down to the pub and we'll drink 'til the bell.
"But don't tell the wife or my life will soon end.
"And don't tell the press or they'll make my life hell."
This is what Bob said to the press,
With the Cousins in the Country.
But he stayed in his job for more than a year.
When he finally quit he blamed the stress
From all the late nights. His work rate was rare.
Walking to the river. Walk, walk, walk, walk.
Walk away from Mrs. D; talk, talk, talk.
Climb the gate to get to the path. Climb, climb, ow.
Cow, cow, bull, cow, shed, gate, cow.
Run, run, run, run, run, run, trip.
Just a few feet away from the gate. Damn, duck, flip!
Flock of birds, flow of words. Help, help help.
Listening for the bull's approach. Bark, bark, yelp.
There's a dog with the bull making friends, friends, foe.
The grass just minds its business. Grow, grow, grow.
I can hear the sound of an engine; the sight of a tractor.
The voice of a woman who says the bull once attacked her.
But she scared it off with stones. Throw, hit, throw.
She steps outside; the bull runs off. Ahm, ah, oh.
The woman from the tractor is attractive on the grass.
A bit too easy on the eye. Sky, ground, tree, mass.
I can see our life together; a farmhouse full of love.
I can see me quitting my job. Know, where, shove.
I stand there while she talks. Nod, nod, nod.
Stand, stand, nod, stand, think, ask, God.
Please God, a little hint, a word or two to say?
Nothing, yet, blank, blank. Any time today.
Why won't God respond? Stand, stare, body.
She asks me what my name is. Mind, blank, "Noddy."
Did God just make me say that, just to make me fail?
My mind has lost my name. Gnome, noon, nail.
She says she had a dog called Noddy who met a nasty end.
Gun, bang, blood, cry. Goodbye my dear old friend.
She shot the dog herself after Noddy found a snare.
If she knew who was behind it she'd have shot who left it there.
So I remind her of a friend she shot, a dear beloved pet.
Is that the place to be in her mind? Me, grief, death.
But still she seems to like me. Nod, smile, charm.
We'll meet again but now it's work. Farm, farm, farm.
The man above works in mysterious ways. A blessing not a curse.
And now my name is Noddy. Big Ears would be worse.
Big Ears is her new dog. He seems to like me too.
Sky, blue, sun, air, tree, love, true.
She gets back in the tractor. Big Ears climbs in with her.
Cows moo, bulls hide, little birdies twitter.
A street in the suburbs, full of the sounds
Of a street in the suburbs outside a large town.
Children are playing in communal grounds.
But Aaron's inside. At his desk he sits down.
He's up in his room writing songs for his boyband,
Even though there's no band, just a boy on his own.
He needs four more members; they just need to stand.
He's given them names so he's not all alone.
His parents think of the things they hear
About kids his age who drink and fight.
But that's not like Aaron. He won't even swear.
They pray to God that some day he might.
Why can't he be more like Alex next door.
He's in a punk band. He sings and plays bass.
They do a song about taking a whore
To meet the parents in a house outside Naas.
And they also do songs about fighting and drinking.
Aaron writes songs about love in his brain,
That he sings through his nose without ever blinking.
He closes his eyes and looks in great pain.
In one of his songs he gets shot in the heart,
When the woman he loves goes away in a car.
Just like in his songs about war, trees and art,
He's okay when she comes back; she didn't go far.
But Aaron and Alex meet every day,
And talk about things to do with their bands,
Like meeting with Britney, the things they should say,
Their future side-projects, their own clothing brands,
When to wear glasses and when to wear contacts,
To which worthy causes they'll lend their support,
What type of clauses they'll have in their contracts.
They'd both like to fight their bosses in court.
They both want to enter a show on TV.
They know they can win. They've nothing to fear.
They know they can sing. They're destined to be
Making their millions by this time next year.
It's all Aaron talks about after school.
Reading the news on TV.
His father buys him a bottle of whiskey.
But the show is next week; he won't be a fool.
A drink or two now might just be too risky.
At home after reading the news,
He looks for his shoes on his feet.
He stares at the ground with his brain full of booze.
He thought he had shoes on the street.
It's not just his shoes he can lose.
He loses the things in his head.
He didn't wear shoes while reading the news,
Though he does wear them sometimes in bed.
And then comes the vision of hell.
It wasn't just shoes he forgot.
He didn't wear socks and trousers as well.
Even for him it's a lot.
He curses again his luck.
He thinks about quitting his job.
He has to read news about dogs or a duck
Who rescued a baby from death by the mob.
"Some people say it's just reading.
"And any fool can do that.
"A fool would do better, or anything breathing.
"A boy with a D on his hat.
"If you've got half a brain or a third,
"You'll think about what you read.
"You'll drink to drown out every last word.
"You can't let your head pay heed.
"It rarely makes sense at all,
"If you think about what you say.
"If you try to make sense you'll stumble and fall.
"You'll stall and be there all day."
A sentence can be like a maze.
He once had to read out this line:
"It's the only time in as many weeks
"That their actions have issued a fine."
Try to say that when you're sober.
He tried but he couldn't stop thinking.
Reading the news could take half of October,
And everyone thought he'd been drinking.
"But now I drink and don't think.
"I don't have a clue what I say.
"I speak with such ease; I don't even blink.
"I'm as bright as a summer day.
"Words flow out of my mouth,
"After the drink goes in.
"Thank God I don't know what I'm talking about.
"The writers just want their next gin.
"And I don't have to watch or hear
"Reports full of terrible puns.
"I can filter the nonsense through whiskey and beer,
"Stories of bears with guns."
Tonight they had a report
On Ladies Day at the races.
Before the news on the war and the sport.
After celebrity court cases.
He heard when his co-anchor said,
"Hats were all new and bright."
The way the words sounded in his hazy head
Was, "That's all for now, goodnight."
He stood up and took off his mic.
Say too much.
And now he'd rather not know.
He knows there's no trousers; he hopes it's not like
The day he wore nothing below.
She loves her dog and she goes for walks.
Goes for walks, loves her dog.
The dog goes too and then he sleeps like a log
God knows why but they walk in a bog.
And she talks in the bog, God knows who.
To God knows who she talks in a bog.
The grass won't listen and neither does her dog,
But she talks all day and she writes in her blog.
She once had a bird. She loves her pets.
Loves her pets, once had a bird.
A multi-coloured parrot but he wouldn't say a word.
And even if he had, no one would have heard.
No one would have heard him if he ever said a word.
He never said a word coz he didn't get a chance.
She once was engaged. Her fiance moved to France.
He doesn't speak French and he listens to his plants.
She talks too much and she laughs a lot.
Laughs a lot, talks too much.
It's not a major flaw or a fault as such.
But she'd rather have praise and I'm walking on a crutch.
Coz I said too much. Much too much.
Said too much when I should have kept quiet.
I didn't need to say it, even though I'm right.
I asked her if her dog ever slept at night.
Coz she talks in her sleep. That was just a guess.
My guess was right. She talks in her sleep.
I wondered if the dog ever counted little sheep.
She hit me with a stick and I said 'bleep bleep'.
She's a pacifist. Hates violence.
Hates all violence and she loves her peace.
But she once threw a stone at a line of riot police.
And she injured both the ears of her ex down in Nice.
I didn't say a word about her tendency to hit.
I'd said enough so I didn't point it out.
She talks too much and she has been known to shout.
But she can be very nice, of that there is no doubt.
And her dog is deaf. I didn't know that.
A day in the life.
I didn't know before that her dog is deaf.
And her ex went to France for a job as a chef.
She left him coz he said too many words that start with F.
Wake at the day begin.
Coffee at the kitchen T.
Think who am I again.
Tip of tongue, Alan. Me.
Talk like a thingy man.
Walk like a talky thing.
Desk in the open plan.
Talk, walk, sit, ching.
Hi hall I'm home again.
Have a bit of dinner then
Out again to meet the friends.
Day just starts and never ends.
Ding, when you ring the bell.
Dong, and it's sung a song.
To the pub, might as well.
Ring someone's number wrong.
Talk to the person, he.
Walk with the people, they.
Smile at the figure, she.
Looking very sunny, say.
Looks like a Brookey She,
Breeds like a birdie bee.
Speaks with a softly tone.
Let's meet on Friday, phone.
Drink at the bar we are,
Don't forget to work tomorr.
Stare at her in light of star.
Bye 'til Fri, won't be sorr.
Float like a flutterbee.
Sing like a singy thing.
Sleep when the sky is B.
Talk when the tele ring.
This is the way my day I do.
Birthday yester number new.
Twenty-four or twenty-two.
Can't remem, write it doo.
This the way my day idea.
'I do' is what I'll say to she
Who'll pick out furniture for mea,
Who'll be a busy Ikea bee.
Maybe not the Brooke-alike,
But I'd like to look a lot.
Walking in the hills a-hike.
Listen to her talking not.
Skating on the ice, slide.
A cycle in the countryside.
Sitting on the sidle-bars.
Something in the back of cars.
Brain is start to shutty down.
Some say never fully on.
It's fully on when hitty town.
I'll sitty down when legs are gone.
Friday night, sure as hell,
Days away from shutting D.
Little bunny, Duracell,
Never last as long as me.
Now is sleep and dreamy head.
Now a Ghost.
At weekend different type of bed.
Do it like a bunny R.
Say goodnight until tomorr.
He lived in pint glasses and media glares,
Or so his political critics would say.
Forty-four years of worries and cares.
The worries of people he dealt with each day.
He lays deceased, to say the least.
To say the most he's now a ghost.
Or a poltergeist, as good as a beast.
He haunts a house and taunts his host.
He breaks the cups and shakes the doors.
He fights with the dog and frightens the cat.
He fills the jugs and floods the floors.
You can see where he sleeps where the carpet is flat.
You'll never get peace in this house of his niece.
Her husband and daughter would like him to leave.
She called in a priest but still he won't cease.
They drank and told stories they'd like to believe.
He likes his drink. They hear ice cubes clink.
It's more out of habit. He never needs food.
A brandy or gin will be gone in a blink.
They leave out a glass for the good of his mood.
He rattles his chains and battles his banes.
He whistles his tunes and bustles his way
Into the rooms; they're caught beneath rains
Of things on the shelves that now tend to stray.
Most people would curse him but things could be worse.
He's not as bad now as when he was alive.
There's no pain in his hip since his trip in the hearse.
He doesn't complain when his nurse can't arrive.
And he still gets the tickets for all the big matches.
He promised the priest a good seat in the stand.
He tries to be careful; sometimes he catches
The things that he knocks from the shelves with his hand.
But if they had a choice they'd rather have mice.
Mr. and Mrs. Snowman.
Their ghost is never as quiet as a mouse.
Each night they can hear the same words, the same voice:
"It was me who got planning permission for this house."
We sigh, we sing, we laugh, we rush.
We ride our horses on to the sea.
We stop, of course; we get out a brush,
And clean up what horsie left behind he.
Winter daysy, horse called Maisy.
And that's not me, as some would say.
Some say Dozey; my name Daisy.
Out in the fields on a clear cold day.
Cow says boo, horse lose shoesy.
Oops-a-daisy, absolusey, tranquilisey, horsie hazey.
Et so ee Daisy, maybe snoozey.
Toodle-oo while eyes go glazey.
I'm back again! A walk with Eddie.
My happy-go-puppy goes too.
His little legs carrying a happy little heady.
That's the dog, not Eddie. The puppy's name is Froo.
The head on top of Eddie rarely looks very happy,
But the outside doesn't look like the in.
He's as happy as the puppy, maybe not as yappy.
Within a year we'll be each other's next of kin.
That's Eddie, not the puppy. You can't marry dogs.
And you can't marry horses. I don't think that's funny.
My sister always says these things but she's afraid of frogs.
I'm marrying Eddie and he's a happy little bunny.
He's staying with us for a day or two or four.
Just him and me and all my family.
With Maisy and Froo I couldn't ask for anymore.
It starts to snow as we put up the Christmas tree.
Up at dawn and out we go,
And throwing snowballs in the garden.
Making snowmen from the snow.
Their new best friends is who we are then.
Hello Mr. Snowman. His head is still unsteady.
He's standing in the snow holding hands with his wife.
I think I'll call you Daisy and I'll call you Eddie.
I'm sure they'll have a long and happy life.
With a carrot for a nose and a hat for a hat.
Eddie puts a carrot too far to the south.
He thinks he's very funny but I insisted that
A nose always goes on the face above the mouth.
Eddie doesn't move, as still as Mr. Snow.
I ask him once again with a smile and a please.
Still he doesn't move, which I take to be a 'no'.
Then he says that being bossy comes to me with ease.
I never complained when he swore at our cat,
Or when he told Auntie Jo how to hotwire a car.
Or the party for Granny; he hid beneath his hat.
In tracksuit and trainers he stayed at the bar.
He goes with his friends with things in their hands
To hit off their heads and fall down in laughter.
They'll look for the stupidest things to do and
They'll do them and boast about blood they lost after.
They love to watch Jackass and do all the stunts.
They think they're so cool with gold chains and blond hair.
One of them hasn't been quite right for months.
He drank a green drink and fell off his chair.
All of his friends think that I'm thick.
They forget that I'm there whenever we meet.
They all love to do things that make them get sick.
I'd rather be thick and digest what I eat.
Sometimes I think that he thinks that too
He laughs at my accent. He says I'm too posh.
He says he's embarrassed by things that I do.
And I should say more F words, not G words like 'gosh'.
I know I'll never be clever enough
To fall down the stairs at least once a week.
But at least I don't use the words 'and stuff'
In every single word that I speak.
He says his Dad worked in some coal mine or other.
And since the mine closed their lives have been hell.
His father's a barrister, and so is his mother.
Their darling Edward will be one as well.
He says I have the power to make the carrot disappear.
If I wear the clothes that make me look like cops in TV dramas.
But I have other ways. I have the power of fear.
A photo of little Eddie in his Spiderman pyjamas.
A wonderful sight. We're happy tonight.
Santa's on the roof looking happy in his sleigh.
Walking in the snow with the Christmas lights so bright.
It's never really dark in this never-ending day.
To get Santa and his sleigh on the roof took half a day.
A weekend for the lights and the illuminated ice.
Last night we got a phone call from Nasa just to say
That the crew of the space station think our lights are nice.
Last year people said that the neighbour's lights were better.
They spent a fortune on the reindeer going all across the roof.
Mrs. Murphy always mentioned them every time we met her.
And how Mr. Murphy hurt his hand on Rudolf's pointy hoof.
I met her earlier on. She was barely paying heed.
'Til I said, "I suppose ye got a call from Nasa just like us."
She said no. I feigned surprise. "That's very odd indeed."
I said I'm sure their lights delight the people on the bus.
Jenny said the neighbour's lights were nicer in the night.
I prefer the opinion of the people up in space.
They've seen the heavens and the earth in deep blue light.
Jenny only goes abroad to tan her legs and face.
Some people have suggested that by standing on our lawn.
You'll get a tan from the lights and the bright Santa Claus.
They say that when the lights come on the neighbours think it's dawn.
But it's not like putting elf shoes on your doggie's paws.
With Jenny's dog in shoes, he couldn't scratch an itch.
The Ghost of Christmas Whenever.
Her little boy was Santa. There are labour laws for that.
Animals don't get harmed when we turn on the switch.
There was that bird. A wire was loose. He died on Santa's hat.
The night before Christmas; Bob sat by the fire.
A brandy in hand as his brain starts to tire.
A sound on the roof of a hoof and a bell.
If he comes down the chimney he's heading for hell.
No need for alarm; he doesn't exist.
With brandy in brain and mind in a mist,
Bob thought for a while it was Santa and co,
Heading for harm and his last ever 'ho'.
But he did hear a sound from somewhere above.
He'd go for the roof, if push came to shove.
He sat there in silence and listened for sounds
Of nine airborne reindeer doing their rounds.
He heard the clock ticking. He'd surely hear hooves.
"Forget about pushing and shoving on roofs.
"Apart from the fact that they never make noise,
"Imaginary beings can't be seen with your eyes."
He sighed to himself when he thought of tomorrow.
For Bob it's a season that's verging on sorrow.
"Snowballs and sleigh bells and slow hells at dinner.
"Crackers with things for the bin for the winner.
"People in hats made of paper like tissues.
"A turkey that tastes like he died with deep issues."
He started to doze with his dreaming of doom,
But woke at a noise from somewhere in the room.
He opened his eyes and a vision appeared.
He closed them and tried to forget what he feared.
But he couldn't forget that stood on the mat
Was the ghost of a man in a black and grey hat.
Drink can play tricks with his mind and his liver,
But never before has a voice made him shiver.
"I am the Ghost of Christmas Whenever,
"And I bring people gifts on Christmas Eve, never."
"Or Christmas Whatever. I don're really care.
"It's your lack of interest that brought me out here.
"The spirit of Christmas is dying a death.
"We're bringing it back. On that you can bet."
With Bob on his chair, the ghost stood before him.
It stood there until this was starting to bore him.
The ghost gave a cough and looked ill at ease.
Bob offered a drink and the ghost said 'yes please'.
He stood up and poured two very large gins.
And tried to remember the worst of his sins.
Before Bob turned around the ghost took his seat
On the chair by the fire for the comfort and heat.
The ghost drank his gin in one go and then grinned.
The grinning continued. The sound of the wind
Could be heard in the silence and stillness of night.
Bob tried to stay calm to get through his plight.
The silence did nothing for nerves that were growing.
Bob only wished for this ghost to be going.
They sat there in silence and stillness until
The ghost held his glass out for Bob to refill.
Another two gins and then nothing again.
Bob looked at the clock, a deep breath and then
He said to the ghost, "Have you something to show?"
The ghost didn't answer. He didn't quite know.
Bob said that he thought a Christmas Eve ghost
Would show people things that they need to change most.
Things from the present or things yet to pass.
The day we descend beneath daisies and grass.
The ghost looked confused for a second or two,
But then an idea of what he should do.
From his coat pocket he took out a box,
A lot like the things Santa puts in big socks.
The box held a video tape that Bob played.
He turned up the sound. Attention was paid.
He felt as if this would bring knowledge and luck.
But the tape showed a dog running after a duck.
The ghost found it funny. "That's my dog," he said.
"There's a very good bit with the duck in the shed."
At the scene in the shed, the ghost couldn't speak.
Tears of laughter ran down his cheek.
Bob wondered why he was watching this thing.
He laughed when the duck hit the dog with its wing.
He tried to look deeper than just the mere gist.
There must be a message or moral he missed.
The ghost stopped laughing. Bob said to his guest,
"I must have missed something. I did try my best,
"But all I could see was a duck with a dog,
"The shed and the bucket, the lawn and the log."
His guest remained silent, not even a blink.
He stared back at Bob who was trying to think.
He went through the tape once again in his head.
He said, "Is the moral the way the duck fled?"
The ghost still said nothing. Bob tried again.
"Or is it the dog in his run round the bin?
"He loved to just run without worry or care.
"The simple things matter at this time of year."
Silence again, but a smile and a wink.
Bob felt elated. He needed a drink.
He filled the two glasses, pressed rewind and play.
He felt a warm glow in his mind on this Day.
Midnight had struck. Christmas began.
The ghost said goodbye to a happy new man.
Bob wouldn't let his guest leave without giving
A gift to say thanks to the dead from the living.
The ghost said, "Whatever. That's in my name.
"Or is it Whenever? It's all just the same."
Bob gave a bottle of wine to the ghost.
Who left with a smile and a wave for his host.
Bob was left full of good cheer and goodwill,
Despite the late hour and the room in a chill.
But then an idea came into his head.
Could the ghost just have been his wife's uncle Ted?
"It couldn't have been. At least I don't think so.
The Sky's Perfect Dome.
"It's all just the same. I don't need to know.
"Dogs chasing ducks are what matter the most.
"Not thinking your wife's uncle Ted is a ghost."
A woman down in Kerry in a hurry to her sister,
Who just won a foot spa in a table quiz.
She knew that Hölderlin wrote a poem called 'Der Ister'
And she knew what the Teletubbies' favourite food is.
As she drove she looked up to see the lights in the sky.
The moon and the stars and the bright spinny thing.
For how long have spinny things been there and why
Is that cow floating up to the lights in a ring?
Maggie's hurry became more hurried than ever.
She got to her sister's and told her the story.
But her sister maintained that most cows will never
Rise to the sky. They don't need the glory.
"The lights were just stars. The sky is so clear.
"Millions of stars light up this night.
"And the stars are always much brighter up here.
"Than down in the town with smoke and streetlight."
Maggie had doubts but she started to think.
"In the quiz she did get that question on food.
"She always had brains and they're untouched by drink.
"Decades of reading and knowledge accrued."
And then her sister explained that the cow
Was just a constellation of stars in the sky.
It made perfect sense. Maggie saw how
She saw the cow floating. Now she knows why.
She tried the foot spa after having some tea.
And thought about buying one all the way home.
A confused-looking cow stood under a tree,
And nothing but stars in the sky's perfect dome.