Tuesday, August 30, 2011


The building broods.
Windows scowl.

Every stone sits uneasily on its mortar,
willing itself away  -  to be  crushed to dust, then blown by the winds out to sea; there to sink back into the ocean, to forget that they were ever a part of the evolutionary road that led to such beasts!

out from his grave
horrendous thistles:
grave of the torturer

Monday, August 22, 2011


Old miner.
I remember the day you took me below ground for the first time,
hurtling down and down in a rusty cage, then walking the dripping wet tunnels
for a mile, to meet up with your gang working at the face.

It was at this point, you turned our head lamps off, so that I might experience true darkness: everything but consciousness disappearing  -   a moment in eternity (sadly none of the others were aware of it)  - awareness freed from the World; from this identity I'd taken to be me; from everything; only IT remaining, aware of itself (the great journey completed)  -  the Zen Master’s
'only ever this!'

Guru, I salute you, on this, the day of your funeral;
going underground again  -  but there’ll  be no ‘lowsin time’.

touching his coffin  -
in the dark wood
loving eyes

                                                                      Note:  ‘lowsin time’ – finishing time.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011


They swim now, face to face in the calm waters of a glazed frame:
two seahorses.

I remember the day - a beach in Portugal, a little boy sidling up to me, asking, if for a few coins, I would like to buy:  holding out in his hands, these two delightful creatures, gentleness shining out from them.

I’d see him every day after that, wandering the beach, searching for the unusual to sell to the tourists  -  tiny breadwinner.

He will be a man now, and I often wonder, whilst looking at the seahorses, if he himself finally found calm waters, and if that gentleness still shines out from his eyes.

in the city
still hearing the sea
in grandmother’s shell

Monday, August 15, 2011


The dark rocks of Donegal:  
not unlike my own country, although perhaps not so mountainous
(this is the land of my wife’s people).
a flinty lot we Celts; maybe this is why: looking out on this hard rock for most of our lives.

Back here for a few days, and overwhelmed immediately by the perfume of peat smoke (or turf as they call it here) lazily rising from every early morning chimney:
that sweet smell of forest and vegetation perhaps thousands of years old!   -
the mason building his dolmen; the scribe etching his letters as the priest dictates;
the warrior-farmers, sharpening sword and ploughshare, all peer out from these mesmerising plumes.

Back for the festival: bars bursting with banjo. bodhran, fiddle and flute:
9/8 time slip-jigging out from every door. The balladeers; the story tellers, with their druidic tales of princess and unicorn, battles and magic  -  the childrens’ eyes big as saucers (a few adult tears).

The Celtic family gathered again around the hearth, re-tapping the root, connecting
to a past that is always present for us  -
when we leave, we leave only in the sense that the river running through the village races away, yet remains the river running through the village.

the moon tonight
fit a fingerboard
what a banjo!

(after Sokan)

Wednesday, August 10, 2011


this land of happy people, of dancing people:
everywhere the quivering rhythm; the seduction of bongos;
and everywhere they stop me to ask if I’m related to ‘Papa’  -  Hemingway that is  - it seems I have a look of this most honoured of men here in Cuba.

Later, in El Floridita, sure enough I find a bronzed Hemingway (literally) in his usual pose, leaning on the bar, patiently waiting for another daiquiri (I believe sixteen at one sitting was his record). After the mandatory photographs with him, I enjoy a mojito, and reflect on the many fine stories he wrote; the sad ending to it all, and the stories that might have been.

Later as we leave, we meet an old beggar lady in the street: calloused hands that lived through a revolution, reaching out to us, imploring  -  we suspect for money  -  but not so, she is asking, it seems, if we have a pen or pencil for her  – sadly we don’t:

but I leave, wondering what stories have been lost, for want of a pencil!

bongos beneath the moon  -
a bright peso
in a dark calloused palm

Monday, August 8, 2011


I remember mornings down by the harbour, not so long ago: the squealing of winches, jibs swinging their shimmering loads on to the quay: a silver hoard of herring (lying there, open-mouthed, staring at the land.) until: the lightning flash of the fisher-lassies’ gutting blades; their salty songs and tales; bubbling laughter; innards scattered back to the sea  -and the gulls, the ever screaming gulls (snowstorm on a summer’s day) drowning even the winches skirling, to bloody their beaks.
Boats rising, and falling.  Contentment!


Nothing here now but rusty jibs, broken creels, and two boats sunk in the sand.

The songs and laughter carried out to sea long ago.

A tattered net hangs its grid against the sky, where occasional gulls move from square to square, in a slow game of draughts.

old men
gaze seawards  -
glitter in their eyes