When I leave Northern Ireland

After Colette Bryce When I leave Northern Ireland I want heavy rain,the damp in cars and clothes seeping into bones, coming out at bedtime in shiversthrough the belly. Want bedsheets and kneesocks pulled up high; the high drama of waterhitting window hard.Great drying and brave skies are for another day. I wish the weather would […]

Chance Meeting

To Belfast, with a visitor’s thanks At the top of High Street, in sight of Zara still, I’ll spot a copper penny and kneel down to pocket it. And briskly you’ll come walking down towards me and swiftly sweep me with you as you pass. And as we walk I’ll listen to your somersaulting voice […]


for my grandfather As he lay stretched out on the rosy setteein their brassy becushioned sitting room Next to the radiator running on oilthat never ran out, that was in abundance, Beneath the panoramic window thatgave on to the garden’s moss, bush and plush Under the rug she’d crocheted that winterof no return, against the […]

Truth (on my island)

Come visit me on my islandI have evicted the snakeswatched them swim and sink to a slow gravehave uprooted the apple treeleft it on the ground to rot that it might makethe earth more fertile come next spring or the one afterMy island now is full of useful things that do not blossomspinach, say, and […]

Ode to Bear

When you came into my life, we were the same size still:Three feet high, or there abouts, chubby, pear-shaped, proneto all things sickly sweet; raspberry jam, vanilla ice cream, mostly honey. Clumsy we were both but contrarian I was alone.You were of the quiet kind: Soft outside and in, going about thebeary business in haphazard, […]

The ninth will be a good year

Closure will make composure mine,Like Stephen Rea I’ll dance up on the parapet of the Pont Neuf(And like myself I’ll spit into the Seine). Like him I’ll knowMy measure, keep my balance, keeping pace. Breaking Into song when you expect it least, I’ll giveMy smile to everybody but my laughter to a few. I’ll grow […]

Covering their Tracks

Put the horses out to grass, the Derby’s cancelled:No more crowds this year, nor bunting strung across the inner city. Chose a windowsill from which to watch the world old-lady styleAnd learn how the sounds now scarce are what keeps you ticking overWhen the neighbours’ exhaust pipe is rattling no longer and their walled-inNoiselessness puts […]

Look at the Orchid

Look at the orchid, closely.Behold its obscene openings: five veined, spread-winged petals,folding outwards innermost (do I need to name the parts?): All bedazzle, all display. Its dark-green silken necksdo not snap unless you bend them hard, hold out promiscuous fruit,naked and disgraced when flowers fall, until bedecked again with tight, brown nuts. Not even its […]