Outburst Magazine #15


The age of the triumph of the  lowest common denominator is upon us, it seems  from the   RTE short list of Ireland’s best poetry of the past  hundred years, and the so predictable winning choice, Seamus Heaney’s potato peeling sonnet from the ‘Clearances’ series in The Haw Lantern . The majority  of the ten named  poems  indulge the national predisposition to wallow in the sentimental and the anti-intellectual,  Derek Mahon’s ‘A Disused Shed in County Wexford’  being the notable exception, though this, we fear, will be misread  by a people who shy from poetry that challenges the cerebral.  Yeats’  ‘ Easter 1916’ a pre-Beckett  poem that in its irreducible essence addresses the relationship of language to perception is included, we fear, as a sop to the vulgar Nationalist agenda that has long sought to hijack the  outstanding work for  ideological  purposes. Eavan Boland, for too long side-lined by a Southern, guilt driven urge to doff the cap to the  Northern Ireland block, has written  poems that confront the lazy inclination to sentimentalize, but ‘Quarantine’ is not one of them. With a few exceptions the shortlist sits firmly into the death and potatoes tradition and struggles to escape the tired vocabulary of Catholic ritual and the bleeding heart victim. The list, of course, will be lauded by those with vested interests. It’s a bad day for poetry. The few who encourage innovation, those who struggle against the  influence of the Heaney sycophants, has been dealt another cruel body blow.


The Day the Revolution Came

[Revised 25 August 2014]


The day the revolution came

We attacked and sacked the parochial houses first

Knowing them to be the enemy’s ears and eyes


My heart was fit to burst with pride and joy

In our just cause as humans

Equal in everything as we are in flesh


And then we marched upon the palaces

For that is what the Archbishops call their residences

And we demanded retribution for their crimes


But seeing no retribution was forthcoming                         10

From the devious bastard servants of the Vatican

We exacted the retribution of the people


And stripped the fuckers naked

And hung them high as befitting their exalted state

By their heels from the nearest lamppost or tree


My heart was fit to burst with pride and joy

In our just cause as humans

Equal in everything as we are in flesh


They squealed like stuck pigs – some screamed

Nor did they call upon their god to save them                       20

But seemed irremediably lost, confounded by the pain


A pain they’d oftimes preached about but never felt

Nor ever dreamed they’d feel in their own flesh

Rather was it an instrument for sowing fear


Among their so-called flock – as if we were sheep

Fear of what would happen were we to dare

Live by our own lights, take our own counsel


Ignoring the siren call of paradise

Which invariably seats one at the right hand of their lord

Promising all but never, ever having to deliver                      30


Fuck the lord! We are all equal here!

He who would be master – let him hang!

He who would be a servant – he is a slave already!


My heart was fit to burst with pride and joy

In our just cause as humans

Equal in everything as we are in flesh




The nuncio was intercepted at the airport

His diplomatic bag still intact

About to board a flight to Rome


Such a sweet catch was he!                                  40

We proved immune to his diplomacy

Our ears inured to his threats


His excommunicatory frothing at the mouth

Had us rolling in the aisles

His belated imprecations to mercy fell on deaf ears


We mulled over having him buggered to death

By some paedophile clergy he’d helped hide

Or whipped in public by a cat-o-nine tails ‘til he expired


Instead we plumbed for the pyre

Poetic justice for the burning times                               50

In remembrance of the murdered millions


Slaughtered at the hands of Torquemada

And his minions of the Sancta Inquisición

Our answer to their burning question, as it were!


My heart was fit to burst with pride and joy

In our just cause as humans

Equal in everything as we are in flesh


The nuncio was afforded a luxury single cell

In Mountjoy Gaol with the jingle jangle

Of the auld triangle as a special dispensation for matins and vespers          60


We fixed upon the Papal cross as the venue

For the consummation of the rite

This to placate the Jesuit Opus Dei mob


And passed word round of a Papal intercession

Whereby the nuncio would resurrect himself

From the flames, as the legendary Phoenix had


But fire being notoriously fickle in these climes

And the weather more so, meant a stay

On the traditional burning at the stake


We held a bankers’ barbeque in its place                   70

At the Garden of Remembrance; anyone with a steak

Was invited, the wine was free


Courtesy of the Provost of Trinity

Who’d graciously donated the contents of his cellar

To the Revolution in return for his august head


The Department of Finance was represented

By a rotted pancreas in a jar

Brought from the College of Surgeons


We roundly cursed that dynasty of traitors, now fled

To a place they mistakenly think they’re safe                     80

Living off the riches they’ve stolen from the people


My heart was fit to burst with pride and joy

In our just cause as humans

Equal in everything as we are in flesh

– Patrick Stack


28 Days Later

Not about the will of chainsaw surgeons

or campus jocks’ repartee of curveball skulls

to return the serve of waitresses who pull

on guts like taffy, not the exquisite gun

rack in the sports shop going free today,

shells spitting change like vending quarters,

the ready-when-you-want-it-parking-bay

at the bank, safety-deposit simple fortunes

you spurn for a desert plain’s abstractions,

tumbleweed’s eternal curse of questions.

You have no answers but a well and shelter,

wind howling; dreams split into fractions

of the life you led and now lead are testing

your resolve to live, the fact you killed her.

– Alan Garvey


The Weight of Water

You have earned the hatred and spittle of generations unborn –

droplets of sweat from Judas’ brow, you sell what falls from the sky

on our homes, our gardens and streets in exchange for the certainty

of a salary.

Salted men, bitter as tears will be the bread you break in your homes.

Bitter will be the rows about where the money goes and to whom.

Bitter is the day you crossed the picket line of your people

and sidled over to the bosses and their side,

swinging their winnings

from a nationwide fraud,

scam of the century

you fitted in place, dayglo

and smug against the green

of a children’s playing field

in your visi-vest and hard-hat





who will let the world know

when he comes home

angry and sweating

through what labours and trials

he has won the right to be right

where it is he who brings the money home

bunched in his fist.

– Alan Garvey



My boyfriend was driving me crazy,

Always being so insecure about

The size of his knob.

“Look, for fuck’s sake,”

I finally snapped one day,

Sick to death of him

Constantly banging on about it.

“As far as I know, you’re about average.

Okay, so you’re not as big, say,

Chris from Accounting,

But I know for a fact that you’re

Almost certainly bigger than Sam

From Personnel,

And you might even be edging a tiny bit ahead of Martin,

The guy on Reception, and Jack from Maintenance.

NOW will you shut the fuck up about it…?”

Well, I think I managed to put his mind at ease.

– Sandra Harris 


Random Musing on Penises

The penis might actually be

The only organ that works better

When it’s swollen.

I find that fascinating, don’t you?

I saw a penis once,

On a guy from someplace,

I don’t remember where,

But I do remember thinking,

He can bring that with him anywhere,

Which must be handy enough for him all the same,

Or at least not inconvenient.

– Sandra Harris 


Ode to a Social Media Addict

You will sit up nights
watching minutes

withering away like celebrity-buzz-words
until the sky bores itself bright again.

Your new I-phone run-down,
the little life-light flashing in defeat.

Your hands stiff
from holding that awkward plastic slate,

from gifting little yellow smiley faces,
“omg’s and lol’s”.

And you will finally crash
having liked every nonsense status;

had your say
on things you know nothing about.

Been the four
hundred and fifty six thousandth

lucky viewer of “Politician
Getting Hit in The Face with a Water Balloon, ”

and made friends with a hundred and seven
people, you will never meet.

– Clifton Redmond


Fast Track 

Oddly like a waiting-room at a train station

The same gruff fidgety anticipation

Yet an absence of baggage, an absence of destination.


Comical, almost, the way we middle-aged men

Take in the TV news, slaughters alien

Remote as cartoons, remote as going home again.


Absurdly thrilling, the opening of that door

The no-nonsense nurse, a glimpse of the corridor

Her files resemble old mail, one falls to the floor


A child’s excitement, this human error

But no one, not one man, moves to help her

Pick up this sheaf of hope and, God knows, terror


Names are sweetly called, but not you, not yet

You’re still a blank page and maybe they’ll forget

Or lose you, better still; still, the train-clack fret

`                                      Not yet, not yet, not yet.

– Fred Johnston 


New Order

I enter a new order of things

learn the language of blood tests, platelets,

reticulocytes, an Absolute Neutrophil Count,

lymphocetes; even the chance, however remote,

of Rocky mountain spotted fever –

somehow I am in that zone where blood will out

where all things are fatal until proven innocent.


How did I stumble here, when did the colossus

yield to sand, where was I when the Sphinx

moved a blasted paw under my feet

and I went face-down into a deceit of years?


When did the heart fail the rose, I didn’t see that

coming; with my skull in the MRI scan’s pulsing

sheath, what verses did I compose to its beat?

It’s a shock, I tell you, to become like everyone else

to be human, frail as God, ordinary as grass

collapsing inward, drying up, unheroic, alarmed.

– Fred Johnston




It will be like this, a fusion in bright light of flesh and steel

Blue smocks that never tie up properly, one’s backside hanging

Out like a flag; the quick jabbing nicks and scrapes, days in limbo –


Hung up between knowing and not, it’s no place to be

Try reading a book while they pass sentence somewhere

And then go for tea; try to imagine love in such a storm


Better to know, pedestrian opinions say; but it isn’t –

You’ve seen your father strain between morphine sleep

And bone-scouring fire, it comes to you in technicolor, frame


By frame. Better, you say, to hop a ‘plane, outrun the thing

Commit unfathomable sin, kill an old enemy. Go beyond ordinary

Law, go down in flames. But you’ll do the everyday and pay


A bill here and there, sooner or later pretend nothing happened;

Keep up the scribble, keep shtum, wash the windows –

They may stamp your visa in the end, they may yet wave you through.

– Fred Johnston



Over one thousand indecent images of children,

it reads. And the print begins to blur

as I’ve my own images to process: his face

(familiar to me over pint glass and newspaper)

lit blue by the screen – hairless skin, thin limbs

flashing across his spectacles – and any emotion

it may betray; guilt, the one I search for,

my gut depressed by an ambiguous weight.


Faces of other friends, then; scarred by slashes

of sunlight through the windows of the bar.

Some expressionless, awaiting the full

magnitude to load; bellies, troubled seas of beer.

One or two spout mob mentality, recollections

fabricated to substantiate the case against

the accused. Strange to miss his company

though no longer desiring it.


It is later that they parade before me –

the children; not what abominable acts were committed,

not what he must have got off on, just fragile

body after fragile body of broken children

circle the bed. I do not believe that he lay

a finger on any. That is no absolution;

let him sit in front of parents, stare intently into the monitors

of their eyes and assure them that a childhood can be retrieved.

I attempt to log off but my server is not responding.

– Brett Evans


Hot Club de France

They’re making love: the Gypsy’s and the Jew’s
six-string guitar and hot-jazz violin.
First notes are intimate as taste, then carnal
acceleration to a frenzied bacchanal;
illicit lovers charged by a medicine
of passion; taboo jazzing up their blues.

The attentive stroke of bow across the strings,
its confidence and sultry melody
arouses responses of cocky, staccato licks:
hammer-ons, pull-offs, virtuoso tricks.
Both push their dangerous tune, ferocity
born of their obsessive imaginings.

Poor companions for me, the Gypsy’s and the Jew’s
six-string guitar and hot-jazz violin,
who incessantly speak of lust, seduction, sex
in red-hot tones over one’s frets, both necks.
On nights I cannot kiss her freckled skin
I hear their appel direct, can read their billets doux.

– Brett Evans


Private view

A house in darkness,

lighter at the window

facing the river.


In the sitting room, antique furniture

and porcelain, where she sits

for nights and days


among mocking bronzes;

this vault,

these aching portraits.


She remembers speeding

around the fast corners of those

brilliant social ceremonies,


exhibitions, his voice crooning

about her incomparable beauty,

as she folded into him;


his dance with all

her summer

in high, ornate rooms.


The air is suddenly cold,

heavy as ice

as she considers him now


igniting the world

with paintings

of his latest muse.

– Afric McGlinchey 


Or perhaps


A woman sits by a picture window.

Rebellious, perhaps.

Spread on the table in front of her, translations

of the work of Homer and Catullus.

She stares out at the view.

The cat is rubbing his grey head

against her wrist

which lies fallen on her thigh.

Eventually, her wrist twitches.



She appears to be

gazing intently at the grass,

its sharp blades pointing at the sky.

Her mobile phone

shudders on the table, crashes to the floor.

Her right hand reaches for her left,

until the left responds, begins to knead it.

Then she places – no presses – it

flat against the surface of the table.

A faint expression in her mouth.



Or perhaps a man, whose head is shaved, is pacing.

He manipulates his hands, one after another.

We want to nuzzle up against that skull,

rub our lips across the bony, sensitive exterior.

His eyes dissect the driveway.

Hanging in his mouth, a name we do not recognise.

He cannot say it.

The grasses wave their swords.

They are waiting for the wind

to blow them over.

We keep listening for the name.

– Afric McGlinchey


Promising shape, then falling silent

Massive hands move clockwise

across four corners.

A wheel is plundered.


A horse snorts yes. One groans.

Jets of steam.

This is memory.


Scavengers cart away

redundant people.

Here and gone.


There and now.

Waves bury themselves at our feet,

swallowing hard.


The chill hurries into grey.

There’s nothing casual

about turning away.

– Afric McGlinchey


All My Thoughts* 

I didn’t take your face between my hands
like a cup filled to the brim with water
or trace the outline of your shoulders
or learn the grace of each separate part.


I learnt nothing of your language,

but watched your glasses steam up

as you passed from street to pub

then slowly clear again, two ghosts


disintegrating on the lens.  I didn’t

walk the edges of the sea, or learn

how a border shifts like smoke,

only knew you, wrapped inside your coat.


We stood, my forehead pressed against

your chest, your hand stroking my hair.

I couldn’t look at you or speak,

you whispered tell me, tell me and this


felt like a forgotten hurt, your lips

on mine, while the birds of my thoughts

wheeled overhead and the life (the life
I knew) called to me in sadness


open, let me in and so I did.

I watched you go and all the wolves

and all the stars went with you

and I went back, back across the bridge..

– Kim Moore

* ‘All My Thoughts ‘  was written as a response to a Strauss song – the text of which was written by Felix Ludwig Julius Dahn and was set to music by the composer Gemma Balmoody to be performed as part of the Strauss Celebration Season at the Bridgewater Hall in Manchester.


The Costa Coffee poem

‘Saving Ireland from Mediocre Coffee.
Welcome to Costa.’

A train with not enough track,
just enough to roll forward and back.

Brian Sweeney Fitzgerald needed Italian opera.

A faded Toulouse-Lautrec hangs
on the wall of the coffee dock.

These people know fuck-all about art.

The heavens perspire against me.
The morning wet and slippery
like a newborn calf, not quite sure
whether to sit or move.
The burger of the future is a health food.

‘The span of a man’s open arms is equal to his height’,
according to the text under Leonardo’s Vitruvian man
but his self-portrait is vanishing.

A cappuccino has no link to Italy
and usually exceeds the height of the cup.

I embrace styrofoam, white like snow and it crunches.
Run my dry index finger across an iceberg
until a tiny splodge of blood breathes a universe
and somewhere a poet is revealed.
Kate O’Shea


Bell is Ringing

I do not know why I am here

Or why you come now

To ask of me


I do not know where this is

Or why I have come now

To this place


I am but a beggar and a thief

And ask of you

To give thyself to me

For I am not of material things

Nor do I seek

To be King or Queen


In these grounds I am found

And years of journey

Are now arrived

Upon this sacred ground


I am fili not poet

I am spirit not blood


In this place

I hear the screams of those

Who are lost


In this place

I hear the sound of everything


I am a prayer,

A cup of words

Not formed,

A chalice

Of sound


To the all of every living thing,

To the all of every dead thing,

To the all of all

My only answer

Is yes


For questions

Long forgotten

Are restless around me

Brendan McCormack



You are not a river, though you flow

Between embankments, and sunlight

Flickers upon the ridges of your current.


Though I am witness to the silver flashings

Of fish swimming within your water,

I do not believe that you are a river.


What trees crowd your banks and dip

Branch softly over your reflections

With leaves trembling in this breeze?


And shapes of men and women, even some

Boys and girls, somersault through the air

Into the crowning splashes of your waters.


I am not a witness to you not a river,

In this not a world, with these not

People, and spawning these not words


In this not a poem.


For I am no poet


I am no worker of words into rivers

For I am not a river but something else


And it is frightening and I am a dog

In the deep darkness of these lands

For I have no other words but words


And in these prisons I know what

Is captured is but a dream yet I

Hear myself barking far away all through the night which has no end


Possesses no darkness

Shines with no light


And this is a mystery


But the barking

Is so delicious          and

My ears are eating everything my eye


can not see.


My skin is dark and purple

And stars shine from inside of me
And this is not a poem anymore.

– Brendan McCormack


Being drawn off                                

Soon little by it’ll be

There’s more red out

Of me than in

Side deciding for me more

Than crusting red can                              puddles

Tithe quotidian                                                             spatter

Red dripping whispers spill

In the black                                             balances

Totted shifting now

More outside red than in

Glomming to scintilla shreds

Particulates inch closer coalescing

Growing eager keen

For the red left specks of mine

Unhinge apoplectic with the pound

Of my red in

Side upon scraping my last         try

& Settle as

I never

My sickle a cell in your side

– Shaun Leonard


Nocturne for Voices One and Two 

Voice 1 :


Sea pummels shore, wind and reed knock trees.

Winter trees’ wooded music is not green sapped


‘under the Green-wood tree.’


But yet, yet but,

and alone,

the moon is all ?


Voice 2:


Moon is not all,

while the restive sea and you separate. Separated.






peace !



Voice 1 :


And sleep now ?



The bird skims dark waters

The bird skims silver streams.


Stream encroaches on the bay,

Stream sieves the sand.


Nocturne for Voices One and Two 

Voice 2:


And sleep now ?


In silence

or peaceably.


The moon is all,

it lights a trail.


Voice 1:


It is with the voice of longing that you speak,

Close your eyes that mock the moon.


Close your eyes that tremble on the reed,

Close your eyes that discern the wing.


Not distance,

not distance from.


Voice 2:




Nocturne for Voices One and Two 

V1 /V2 :


We do not in our bodies meet.


Voice 2:

The moon is all. It is an emptiness.


The moon is all,

The moon is all.


Voice 1:

And sleep , and dream with ?

Or a wisp of memory to wake a nothing from cold sun,


What now, sleep ?

Nor grieve.’


Voice 2 : Quiet !


The soul whispers reed (…)


Soul troubles the wing

Soul gathers in the dewy

morning, and the heart it ties to.

Quiet ! ‘ 

– Christine Murray 


I TO 10


no nothing of/ through which to/ no not a/ of the eye no merely nullified/ in procession bled/closed in upon/ in stagnate of/ asks of nothing more/ no nothing more of/ no not following on from ever-nothing/solace forgotten in ash cast upon bankrupt/a sky invisible/ absent of/ in settlement of blacklight/ sharp discard of all unto hollow in/ the reek of the un-saying/…


no/ no further asking of/ other than/ no/ voice what voice/ no not a/ if/ nothing of/ extinguished eye obsolete/ as if to have ever-having other than/ witnessed other than/ in/ of/ another/ another/ onwardly as if it were/ silent all the while/ nothing still yet solvent/ in mark/ seizure collapse of/ if no/ sung seizure embalm/ upon bankrupt/ yes/ no/ yes or no/…


no further into if/ (regards to the…)/ astray in hand/ shaft-black hollow/ ask what matter/ no further into if/ echo-echo absent now/ thin words that dissipate of/ no voice/ vacant space/ the imprint erased in silenteeism/ delible/ nothing no longer recognition through/ or of/ in/ no further traces/ distance no/ all distance yes  forgotten/ silenced/ origin forgotten/…



lapse non lapse/ utterance relapse undone/ silence silence knock upon no longer the vapours of/ burned clear/ not a sound merely simulacrum/ rot sound upon decay no longer the/ bind white no static yes no dark’s reclamation of/ the voice devoured/ remnants cast/ yet untraced returning as if to/ lock unto premise/ premise no no longer given axial suffocate of word/ what is/ ever if in now/…


viewed from lack of/ or vantage point of disappearance/ of the blood spent in/ expelled/ in view of/ naught of/ the lie the dream’s eradicate/ words no more than traces of a silent realm/ in-dream yet of a sun long foreign/ walls upon in given laughter tide/ beyond sight/ wilting echoing out into nothing claiming all/ spitting out the/ silenced by the…


eye of suspend/ vocal attribute snuffed/ silenced respond of the silent response/ no longer/ demise what yet of/ in/ structure fragment structure fade/ done with long done it cannot be vocalised/ (perhaps the stripped skin of animal a-breathe/ collective/ raw embers upon)/ no nothing/ no glimpse in that and so back to endless silent/ blind cataract of breathe/ spill upon/ negated/…



bleak yes the word/ out where there the word bleak yes the/ silenced/ no nothing more of the trail from/ the absent from/ erased/ lights fragments a clear film of shadowing/ in the whisper as if/ if the whisper were as if/ unto/ wall of sky a backdrop of nothing/ lights fragments deemed to be/ vocalised/ and yet unsung/collapsed voice/ the/ uttering none/…


the voice seeks distance beyond/ which/ stray bite upon absent air/ the subject shears it has no image collective/ impales the eye/ eye recoils into silence/ echoing out yet it clasps the severed light cast upon through eye upon/ through absent definition/ mere sound and the breath’s recoil from out of which/ the voice seeks/ the words of which fail/…


the bite it is the/ stone lack/ fades from out of design/ grasps yet from point of/ fails dry speech of retort of/ unto/ voice no/ clamour yes/ bite a-breathe of seek what matter/ nothing more vast nor detached than/ as if/ what matter if/ subtle/ violent/ inept/ spills from the lung of speech rot through of eye’s lock/ drift what clear/ in severance tide/…



ocular roving of in-speech/ of speech retract/ buckles under no not of/ emptily/ piss upon dead embers/ as if to enflame no not/ breath aligned no not of/ in or of/ there are fragments of till waste/ spoken/ burnt black/ clear as liquid undefined/ in the face of/ what this/ of this/ trace yes or no/ sunk spasm of cerebrum recoil/ eye/ un-eye/ in the dark/ rummaging finding only further/ unquantify/…

– Michael McAloran


PRIMARY, or the advantages of co-ed

My cousin’s desk mate was a penis artist.

He drew bigger and better willies all the time,

Variations on a theme, as long as his eleven

Years obliged, could envisage, could imagine

And these, his helpmate, she passed desk to desk,

Flashed them in an out of copy books with sums

Or the dog-eared pages of aistes, compositions.

And some were long and lavish like the master’s red fadas

On Na Tincéirí.  For some he must have been his own model,

But it would have been impolite to ask, test them against

The original. Though one hand might have held his father’s shaving mirror

On one thigh, kind of Caravaggio, while the other moved his pencil

To work the various stages of ups and downs and in-betweens.

He was our closet Michaelangelo, but he’d no sistine ceiling

For the beady bordello eyes of popes, no teensy specimens,

But full and fulsome willies, not those sad pre-school stick-ons

Vaulted on high to drape a lover’s fig-leaf over. No scaffolding,

Only his firm resolve when Religion followed or Long Division.

Whatever he could close his eyes on from the games of grown ups

Jostling at the Sunday urinals, and he in their Cusack throng just eking

As they streamed in from half-time seats, ads for too much pre-match

Guinness. Old fellows, hats back on their heads, their fearsome weaponry

They shook and shook, and shook, as if to coax the last little droplet

Out, those in their high teens pissing in contest highest up the wall

Oohs and Aahs and Mickey McGraths.   Paradise it was left and right,

Heads of willies bobbing up and down like willy-wag-tails in a yard,

Willies going a willy-waggle the length of the urinal. Some as big as jackasses’,

Some, disobliging saints cupped fingers round  as if they’d a lot to hide.

Some who left it minutes too late came pissing in at us in like racehorses.

“Son, ya practisin’ for the fire brigade or wha’”, he was plucked aside.

So, as they say, big ones, small ones, tall ones, stout ones, short ones,

Flaggers as long and flaccid as Tullamore sausages,

Ministers’ micks, a share of pps’ in his portfolio.

And no, he did not make it to Art College,

After we split at the primary school gate

But to the tech, a plumber’s apprentice.

New houses, the wayward clueless ballcocks

Of aging ladies in neat widowed bungalows.

But by this time his talent was discovered,

His mother searching for a satchel lunch box

Came across a fistful spilling out of old copies.

And when we asked him–  what she say      what she say

He just said O lots of Well, Glory Be; Well, Glory Be, sang

Sotto Voce at the choicest, Well, Glory Be and Mary Be.

Warmed her hands over them, sighed a long sigh.

And when we missed him last year at devotions

Heard he’d died, was cremated as he wanted,

It was as if a cloud darkened the August sun

As we remembered his parade of willies

From old sum books and scattered aistes.

Even when the monstrance was raised

In the sunlight, our hearts dimmed.

His old help mate, she cried for him.

 – John Ennis


Mother Admonishes the Calves after Feeding

     Aililiú na gamhna na gamhna bána

       Na gamhna geala bána / Ag damsadh ar na bantaibh

A good daub a’ dung now now was what she’d twice yell at me

When the calves would start to suck each other’s mammalia,

Genitalia, as the case might be, their young tongues sweetened

By her pot-boiled water evened out into buckets of linseed-flavoured


My lot it was to grab the lath put by, scoop it

Under the fresh shit-pats in the paddock

Dart among the white-lipped mouth-slavering little heifers and bulls dispensing shit,

Rub them good and proper along the suck-spots, put a quick stop to this post-feed motley orgy.


Imagine!  I could have gone on to a right decent livelihood  running about males and females

Daubing for Benny, or Mit, or Frankie, picking up the crusts from their tables

To keep me in bread while I was at it.   Or for the bishops still out wagging

Tongues for the multitudes on their grotto days out, while they’re into the lamb trade for easter.

Feed my lambs too, not a bad motto wherever they bagged it.


Really, all the poor calves were crazy

For was a good suck to round off a good feed, frisk off then good and proper, behave

As good calves should behave, in her view, all high jinks down the long garden and out to graze

till dark in the forge field.

 – John Ennis


Things we now know for a fact

We now know, because we have been told:

There is no property bubble in Dublin.

The IDF never deliberately targets civilians.

The GAA is run by raving socialists.

Vladimir Putin is a decent man.

Barack Obama is a decent man.

God exists.

Ireland is a fair, open and humane society.

It’s easy to be gay in a catholic country.

It’s easy to be gay in a muslim country.

It’s easy and safe to be a woman anywhere.

It’s easy and safe to be a woman anywhere.

All men are feminists.

As is God.

Media advisors and communication specialists are essential to the development of any truly civilised society.

So are HR managers.

The rich care about us.

The super-rich care about us more.

The mega-super-rich care about us the most.

Powerful people don’t fart.

It’s Gods will.

The system works.

Ideology and Idiocy are never the same thing.

I am a poet.

This is a poem.

God help us.

– Mick Corrigan



Maybe she’s bored of being the Blessed Virgin,

being placed on pedestals and pulpits, adorned

on alters and chapel ceilings. She’s had enough

candles lit at her feet to burn Heaven down


forever. Maybe, she’d prefer to drape her blue

self over a bar stool, ponder life without

the drapery and hardware. She must be tired

of being hailed like a cab, evoked in the night,


and preyed upon by sinners. What she needs is

detox for the divine –to rehab old habits.

I imagine her lifting the veil and falling

like a rain cloud onto a street. She follows


footprints into a watering hole, surrenders

the life preserver and orders a Bloody

Mary. She tries to forget the eternal tides

that moon over her each night. She’s fed up with figs


and fish, wants to suck the blue marrow from a rib-

eye steak, dip wings in hot sauce and let devilled

eggs dissolve in her mouth. She doesn’t want a man

who makes things from scraps of wood, nor one who totes


nets and tackle. She wants to tremble like wild

wisteria, throw olives into a parched wind

and no longer appear as the nun getting none.

Maybe, Mary just wants to be idol no more.

 – P.C. Vandall


God’s Gift

The mystery did not lie in the fruit

but in the fig leaf she placed in paradise.

She was able to capture the figment


of his imagination, the apple

of his eye.  She strutted her garnished self

down the garden runway, a shimmering


peacock in the rising heat.  She didn’t fret

about panty lines, thongs or brief encounters.

She wasn’t crucified by bone corsets,


nylon nettles or satanic spandex.

She had it perfect in the beginning.

She turned over a new leaf and blew


his God fearing mind to kingdom come.

She knew he’d want to peel it off, nibble

flesh and plant seeds at her core.  She knelt down,


waited for the dust to settle and smirked.

She knew she could rise above it, had faith

she could figure out how to fabricate


good soles for her ‘to die for’ snake skin boots.

 – P.C. Vandall


Binary Oppositional Thinking

If I say I’m opposed, that doesn’t mean

I’m in the opposite camp, as if

there are only us and them, good and bad,

with or against. And neither am I

saying I’m astride the two, balancing


one foot on each of two wobbly plastic

floats on a sea full of hungry piranha fish. Or

the overlapping section of two-intersecting

circles, proving there are those who sit in both


camps to reinforce the idea

that the others never mix (or it’s a shock

and a scandal when they do, like the transvestite

vicar who has an interest in Buddhist meditation).


What if we lived in a non-binary universe?

It would sell less newspapers but


what if there were 27 possible ways to answer this question

some of which are held simultaneously and inconsistently.


Or until I feel heard, somewhere deep and unloved, until

the feeling loosened its grip and sloughs off down even to the hooks

that have left their marks under the hypodermis and I’m

a new person with another 27 ways to answer the question.


I speak in hypotheticals, of course.

There may be no answers at all.

– Hannah Linden


Delicious Ache

Pounding, ripened, deliciously sore

my bud  swollen for you,
because of you.

Desire craved in lust,

the quickening begins,

feel me, touch me, love me………
more my love, again, again…..

– Sher Gillard


Cede to Conquest
And how lightly I step.
My footfalls,
unfelt by you
as your dreams remain whole.

In earnest I cry out your name,
my body wracked
your pleasures taken,
and cede to the conquest
of myself.
You sleep now
wrapped in the arms
of Morpheus,
telling him of my secrets.

– Sher Gillard


Distant Rumbles of an Unfed Giant’s Belly

Again those bells peal out welcome and knell the faith-nodding to prayer.

But a bright Sabbath morning it is not, for it still contains the fetid play and booze-fed bullshit of Saturday night. Unrecognised bodies and limbs lumped Temporarily, your own gums glued inside a mouth espousing more lies through that thicker fur coating of dishonesty grown and harvested overnight.

For those of us on guard, Sunday has two feeling; a day for family, perhaps food and experience shared, or the loneliest day of the week. On any public hospital ward, a Sunday will introduce you to skeleton staff and all-alone patients who count the hours as they do assaults, and meal deliveries of human contact.

This Sunday is overcast with loneliness and the promise of rain; apparently, from east to west. It has my neighbours running for clotheslines and their cars, prioritising. In bed I lie listening to the sound of my family in all their loud, demanding food and attention, volleys of teen demands for the remote, to life and the sound of it in all its dysfunction, its tempest, all its silence, its shame.

– Sher Gillard


Je suis,Tu est,Nous sommes

Hypocrites , catalysts, reverse catalytic converters,
blue bloods, true blue, sacré bleu

unblemished, speak as we find robots

with proper post codes, unlike NF, BM,

we have a lovely palour,

pure as the driven knee-jerks.

All hatred is equal but some hatred is more equal than others
depending on the Sunday Supplement colour chart.
We are, Icons, avatars, educated idols,
our band wagon banjos duelling,

twinning thoughts like towers, like cities, like arranged marriages.

Talking of the fantasy, don’t make us angry either,

we’d probably fight to the death too,
someone else’s  in bloody rivers,
but never the R word because
we won’t be name-called, Ok? Specially by you

Lilly-Livered-need-to-grow-some  merchants.

– Peader O’Donoghue


Compatible Combustions

these are my wasted


the open pout of pussy never tasted


and head without a crown

hanging down.


i watch fate,

unsure of what her template

makes of me

glancing back at fallen beauty.


will she like the way i tingle

in her socket,

or my salad tongue

of tales singing heathen songs-

about strange

pagan customs,

crofting the floor

and her velour

surely meant-

that jingle

in her pocket

like loose change

fondled then spent.


i can make more

compatible combustions

out of


and love,

than those musical Etruscans-

whose heirs, have seduced each majority

into peaceful poverty,

by adding abstractions to its face-

altering nature’s position and place

evolving for minority.

– Mark Jones



a long ship in liquescence

pooling in the craft flow

of the aqueous byways

the visor clamped to tow

spots the promontory rocks

marking the northerly lying fjord

imagine him calling then

the sound breaking through the air –


history comes from such quiet

rough hewn pronouncements

whose aural trace resonates still

– Peter O’Neill.