Wednesday, 18 July 2012

Why am I doing this?

This is a collection of my poetry, written over the last 20 years. Much of it stems from my experience as a protestant growing up close to the Fermanagh border. This proximity to the starkest face of the modern Northern Ireland conflict has shaped me far beyond the claustrophobic grasp of a time and a place where terrible things could happen and often did.

I think that experience deserves to be written about. As you will discover, the majority of these poems are written from a Protestant perspective. For better or for worse, this is my tribe and these are the people I still claim to know the best, years later. If you have any sense, you write about what you know. It couldn't be more 'niche' but it's my niche.

I suppose I am trying to be a lyrical witness to an era of almost incomprehensible cruelty. I don't know why it's so important to me. It just is.

I don't know how right I've got the voices or the places or the tone - you be the judge of that. But I can say that this collection is dedicated to the 'quiet people,' whatever church they went to. The people that saw far too much but found a way of enduring through our dirty, intimate, lethal little spasm of inter-christian slaughter. For when all's said and done and the self-regarding propaganda is stripped away that's exactly what it boils down to.

So thanks for running your eye over these offerings. They aren't for everyone - they are stark, partial, uncompromising and, lets be honest, some are better than others! But any feedback -  for good or ill is gratefully received. I'm enjoying a modest following at the moment and many of the pieces you see have been published but not as a collection. Surfing editors, please note!


PS: I'm not too hot on the editing so please ignore the dates on each post. As a rule of thumb the ones closest to the top are the most recent.

Tuesday, 17 July 2012


Could you ever make room,
Standing round your well of sorrow?
Could you break that circle of mourning?
Brittle with age, but still serviceable,
And admit other foes
Who, maybe, bore the very essence
Of your heartbreak -
But, broken too, repent?
Would anything right get built
On such split ground?
Would anything hopeful stand
On plague dirt sifted
Of definitions, symbols - the clotted matter
That holds our dead closer to heaven
Than those who put them there?
Or must you stay on your bridge of bones,
Forever inviolate with rage,
With no landfall sighted either end.

Monday, 16 July 2012


We took Narcissus
For our patron saint,
Coming apart at the seams
In our abbreviate cantons,
With no great persuasion.
Our unrequited fealty,
Our nuclear paranoia
Needs a broader canvass
Than the frayed edges
Of this Kingdom will allow.

Sunday, 15 July 2012

Daedalus Way

There’s a maze without end
Here on Daedalus way
Now the kerbstone colours
Have faded away.
The lines in your head,
The blood that was bled,
The lurid cauls
On gable walls,
The shooting of one, 
The bombing of two
The tally of five hundred more than you
Those germinate seeds
Of tribal deeds
Still bloom in the head
But on the ground? Dead.

There’s a new dispensation
On Daedalus way
An insatiable need 
For tomorrow today
Sure there’s Polish cops
And fair trade shops
The people who fought
No longer sought
And no one to pine
And nothing divine
And tragedy hid like a bricked up mine
Convenient truths
To slake your druth
But the burrowing fear 
That it's All. Still. Here.
So clear in the mind
But outside? Blind.

So, they’ll aim for the sun
Over Daedalus way
Where a bankrupted past
Wasn’t made to pay
And you would too - 
Fuck your pious view
To excuse yourself
From the turn of the screw
To get out from under
To gratefully sunder
Those ties to the grave
Those debts to the brave
And the need to maintain
A deployable pain
What was it for? ‘ ask the kids
Here on Daedalus Way
Where nobody died
On the street today.

Saturday, 14 July 2012

Night flit

Dug out of the homeplace
In the small hours,
With the clothes on our backs.
A sorrowful convoy -
Highlanders at either end,
Young boys raised on crofts,
Sensitive to other clearances,
Helped us away to Lisnaskea -
The childer shaking
In the back of an army jeep,
Like beat dogs.
I wouldn't give up my few acres:
I'd sooner rats colonised
My hearth, ate my feed,
Than see it go the other way.
I'd as leave the lintel fell apart,
Than welcome interlopers
The parlour choked with briars
Than gone over to Rome
My sweat cut that peat.
My tears fed crabbit soil.
My blood abides there still.
Unspilled, it's true,
But soiled these many years
By my running.