'Darcy and O'Mara' is a novel by Arthur Cronin.
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Thursday, February 14, 2008


Poems from 2005

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.
"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."

Don't quote us on that.

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.
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.

To the Birds.

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
  Using words.

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.

The Photo.

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.
Turn slush to snow or metal to gold.
Pity and mercy they'll never allow.
These little persons are being quite bold.

Miles to Kilometers

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.

Little Goldfish.

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.
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?'

By the Sea.

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.

I was right about the post box.
In silence now beneath the blue.
On the bus by sea and rocks.

Stacey and Kevin.

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.
  Some want to kneel down or bow.
Stacey says 'honey' and 'brave little bunny',
  But nobody laughs at him now.

Call around for tea.

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.
"We'll tidy up the place.
"Thank you for the tea.
"Best of luck in space."

One Friday night.

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,"
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.

In a Tree.

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."
This 'ant' has very moth-like wings.
Their eyes are locked. He looks away.
He's said all he has to say.

A Trip to Mars.

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.
  "But I really enjoyed my stay.
"The next time I come here to visit,
  I'll definitely spend a whole day."

Marrying for a summer house
  in Athlone.

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
  In my 'I don't love you' voice.
I'll save my 'I love you' voice for the view.

Meeting in a Café.

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.
  "Won't you sit down?"
Two broader smiles you won't
  Find in this town.

Restoring a Mansion.

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.
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.

A Bar on Saturday Night.

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.

Grandmaster Ted.

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.
  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.

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.

Meeting Friends.

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.

The Song.

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'.

Noah's Friend.

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 Lambs.

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."
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.

In the Garden.

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 stood on a rake by the wall.
The handle flew up into my sunburnt face,
But that wasn't funny at all.

I don't know.

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.

Uncle Peter.

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.

The Fall.

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.

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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