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MÁTHAIR (Mother)

Her kitchen, quiet, layered with dust,

aged a decade deep,

Her table laid and draped in cloth

before she fell asleep.


The oven framed her bread of crust,

sliced up for all to keep.

Time unwound and ticked no more,

before she fell asleep.


Three shirts to dry lay mouldy, in a musty

laundered heap.

Her life had spun in cycle,

before she fell asleep.



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At midnight, I'm still awake, 

waiting on sleep’s blurred 

hypnagogic state,

a fleeting mirage like journey

crossing at nightfall.

I stretch to cut the bed diagonally, 

her legs retract unconscious

beneath her folded sleeping body.

A knot of blue sky fills my gut,

a worryglow from earlier, flittering 

like a young fish 


I sit up, anchored at the bed’s edge, 


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Some days no one comes.

I meditate like an old sage,

glad for the conversation of wind, 

the Willow’s back scratch and

the moss boot cuffs. 


The days when they came,

I remember a summer coat, 

celebrated in snowcem white,

concrete tall and plastered plumb. 


Those were the days when

young boys leaned, fingers clung, 

with boots dug in well worn ledges.


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Mask Poem


I dreamt of my mother’s egg-blue peg bucket

and how the clatter of rain

on the scullery window sent

her heartbeat racing.

I remember us scurrying

down the backyard

to free her hung dry clothes

from their pegged wooden captors.

She watched as we yanked disrespectfully,

faded jeans and t-shirts flailing

and the pegs snapping,

reluctantly letting go.

I remember wat...

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If I could, side by side,

with an eagle, soar,

or crawl, mouse like,

under barn door

and run and chase, with crafty cats,

like Pangur Ban,

I would,


If I could, I would, sway,

in the way,

a flower grows, and drift

and swim with trout, below,

between the rock and river flow,

I'd stop, and breathe,

out, and more,

and wonder why I'd

not before.



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We’d cram into Dad’s Austin Wolseley, 

like tinned kippers, unrolled 

and unsalted in the back seat. 

Smoking class was reserved, up front,

on our Sunday pilgrimage to visit Nana.

First to spot the waterfall was the winner.


Ben Bulben was fixed on our horizon,

feeling like a compass point,

it arced our path along the south coast of Donegal.

We never felt far from ho...

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growing upireland


Little in the dark of a Donegal sky 

gives way, until the eyes soften

to a clarity where hidden 

ancient light reveals itself. 

In time, when there is space 

for clouds to shed their cloak,

star trails streak slow in circles, 

like cool astral spirography.

Joy and wonder never fail, 

standing rooted and barefooted

in my front yard, earthed,

like a human lightning r...

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nightskydark skyastronomy

On Water

I’ve never forgotten the Glen river’s  

smell on those wet Donegal days.

Its convoluted arteries drained

through bogs of purple heather,

to emerge in petrichor and painterly swirls.


Just boys, we traipsed its fern banks

on mizzled days with wet feet

squelching. Off balance, our eyelines

like gunsight, skimming black stones

in flat counts to the far bank.



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It was the copper-green crust on 

salt fingers that hinted

the well was dry.

It had been months, years even,

of arid unconscious blessings.

A ritual, like the quick of bitten nails,

formed in the dousing of us weans.


It had been our mother’s blessing, 

foreheads drenched on each departing. 

Her three fingered aspergillum

observed from the flickering neon.


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