I was born in Reading in 1953, although my family comes from the West of Ireland. I was a Gregory Award winner in 1977 and my first collection, Brueghel's Dancers, was published in 1984. For more than twenty years I stopped writing, but have since published several further collections, the latest of which, After Hours, was published by Cultured Llama in 2017. My poems have also appeared in many journals such as Agenda, Ambit, The Courtland Review, Cyphers, The Frogmore Papers, The IrishTimes, The Interpreter’s House, The London Magazine, The Manhattan Review, The Morning Star, New Walk, Poem, Poetry Ireland Review, Poetry Salzburg Review The Reader, Southword and Stand. I also co-edit The High Window.
YOUR CHAIR After half a lifetime of early starts, and a few fly years that made you money, you finally softened round the edges and eased back, prosperous, into your chair. It's there in our mother's place: a threadbare seat of judgment, battered in the mayhem of a clattery open house, its wrecked guts sagging, its two arm rests coming adrift. And fixed immovably in that still centre you watched the racing on TV, shushed out our conversations, as Michael O'Hare's gabble of names stampeded to its climax. Another windfall? Or a better prize – To know you were flush enough for losers not to matter, in a different country to have attained a gruff serenity. That chair has hoarded the words you uttered, and releasing them at times, as we make our late decisions, can fill up a room with some cagey, warm, and toil-inflected phrase. Your chair is true North on a map of memory, and points out paths, the sanctioned ways still worth your approbation, the cuteness implied in 'Whatever would your father have thought?' WORK HORSES The clanking compound of the brewery, where my Dad did shifts when work was slack on the buildings, is buried now beneath the panels of the multi-storey car park and chat that drifts across from the cappuccino pavement. Born to a scant inheritance of rushy Sligo acres, my dad was bred like his brothers to follow the work, sending remittances home from London, Reading, and Philadelphia – for worklessness would have been their defining shame. And somewhere in the hinterland of just remembered childhood I am watching a drayman as he guides heraldic horses through a time-thinned stream of traffic. Their sinews barely tensed, they go unfussed about their business.
All poems are copyright of the originating author. Permission must be obtained before using or performing others' poems.
For Robert Johnson (08/05/2021)
The Night Out (17/04/2021)
Working Holidays (16/04/2021)
Work Horses (08/04/2021)
Shadow Boxing (07/04/2021)
Work Horses (14/09/2020)
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