Dear Palestine

Merry Christmas Mister Sand Men

Stay hidden in your pods

I’m dreaming of white phosphorous

A present from our gods

A blazing western charity

That burns down canvas streets

High calibre instalments so

Tear off the linen sheets

A payload of democracy

From a war we didn’t start

That arrow that you tossed at us

We’ll thrust it through your heart.



You’d think you would be grateful,

It’s for your kith and sin

We wash away the antiquity

And cleanse you from your kin.


If we step upon a serpent

It grows a thousand heads

Had to build a quiet camp for you

But still your hatred spreads

We lost a generation

Those deaths aren’t on your hands

But the cold corpse of my holocaust

Still wanders through these sands.

My righteousness is written on

A withered desert scroll

In blood upon the back of it

Is etched your body toll.



You’d think you would be grateful,

It’s for your kith and sin

We wash away the antiquity

And cleanse you from your kin.


The junk food logos shelter us

And keep the world in line

They pay for two-faced satellites

With pop-stars on its mind

Humanity might care for you

But their leaders stay aloof

They trade a blind eye for an eye

And we take a tooth for truth

Your friends are only occupied

By their private revolution

There’ll be no spring in Palestine

From a UN Resolution



You’d think you would be grateful,

It’s for your kith and sin

We wash away the antiquity

And cleanse you from your kin.


May 1974

A herd of Fords and Massey Fergusons

Closed the bridge today

In broken ranks.

The big ones blattering clean

In party colours,

Shite still clinging to the muttering men

From the twisty lanes.

The trailers hidden in hedges,

Stern cudgels and risible glasses

Sharing a joke with the Sergeant,

‘You may get your bread in Clady the day, boyo!’

Yesterday’s bread.


I mastered corners on a two-wheeler that morning,

Entertaining the troops in my head

With a dropped knee,

Lower and lower.


At five o’clock, the power was off,

At ten past, so were they,

Grumbling that their handiwork couldn’t be seen

On the evening news,

Supposing we would just forget,

‘Them’s new pinks just dug, Mrs. O’Neill’

I learned more than bicycles that day

And I knew where he could stick his spuds.

St. Mullins

A ring of dead-ends
In endless rings
And endless dead,
Moon-pulled bled
As salt-plants bend
To a forest wall.
Where the water runs up
And round
And down
To Moling’s cup,
Through a stone-cell hole
On a flooded floor
And out the door
To where briars crawl
Over watercress,
Where Sweeney rests.


The Ballymaguigan Bus

The Ballymaguigan Bus expelled

A low, deliberate draft,

Churning up the silence

And uniquely overstaffed.



Its varied route was partial,

From The Glen to Washing Bay.

No returns, no questions asked,

And change at Castlereagh.


Tuaim Inbhir

No faux-Tudor blight might outdo

My Ivied Tuaim Inbhir bedsit

Luminous stars lining

Its sun and its moon.


Gobbán Construction turned the sod

But you know how that went

And someone’s God

Thatched it in the boom.


Bullets cannot touch me there,

Rain falls past

My bright orchard

Where no fences loom.


Translated from Anonymous 9th Century Monastic Verse

Suibne Geilt.









The washing machine man sat
Side-saddle on the ridge tiles
Tracing the border,
Tools loose in the cup of his boot.
Unity from an aluminium spine,
Monochrome and vague.

The bigger booster and flick-switch
Sent us grainy half-forwards using the space,
Conjoined to wispy ghosts.
Elegant Kerry’s satin bands twisting
Under cumbersome Dublin names;
Hickey, Brogan, Hanahoe.

The Angelus was a blow,
News in a brace of tongues.
Close-down came early,
Mocking the anthem
With a Birgidine livery
And a test card full of grey-scale rectangles
In a theoretical circle;
Standing idly by.

February ’86

A gentleman came calling

Through the window of my aunt,

The concrete visitation

Of an angry preacher’s rant.


He spoke upon the mantle falling,

As if nothing untoward

And took out a triple word score

From the lamp-lit, scrabble board


He rested next the dresser,

Grinning in the candle glow,

At a chalk-bright line that he had cast

To tell us simply, ‘No!’


His accomplices are cornered now,

I see them apprehended,

But the Sergeant kindly cautions us,

‘Less said, soonest mended’.


No sandcastles on this Spring beach,

Only chalk rings around shells and

An ocean, silent on the tar.


The Transit’s tin exit-wounds lunge

Barrels of fragile light

Over mitred off-cuts discarded,

Blemished driftwood in the lapping pool,

Blood drying in a half-bag of dozed skim.


Punctually, the tidal ranks glibly rehearse

The alliteration of condemnation,

Delicately tightening a question-mark

Around the dead.