Thursday, December 31, 2009

Festival of Light, Let it Shine!

New Years Eve, temperatures plummeting, the fire flickers in the grate and a full moon outside about to be eclipsed, partially.A decade is dying and 2010 is upon us, a futuristic date for the present, how lucky are we? (Wasn't Sharon Doherty in Beverly Hills 2010? hee hee) Anyway, a happy, healthy, peaceful New Year to one and all, I raise my glass to each and every one of ye. Pip pip!

Talking of which [the pip pip bit, I mean] my maternal grandfather, Frank, wilder than a bush and as kind as you could meet, used to say, Pip, pip! and also, ' We'll rise again' (him being an old soldier from Sligo) every time he raised a glass, and he raised one often.

He fought as a teenager in the first world war and The Battle of The Somme as an Irish guard, ate dog in the trenches, saw many horrors and survived (physically) without a scratch, apart from one-eared deafness from a shell burst.He came home and fought for Ireland in the war of Independence against the very people he had fought with in the trenches, again without a scratch. Then he fought for De Valera in the Irish Civil War against the very people he had fought with in The War Of Independence, against even his very own brother.He was shot twice, one bullet in each leg.

By the age of 21 he had fought in three wars, been an athlete, won a gold medal in the Olympic trials for the triple jump[alledgedly], played soccer for St.Mary's, Sligo and had his left leg amputated, married his nurse, was destined to spend the rest of his young life drunk on crutches an athlete no more, his later life drunk in a wheelchair, and eventually to die a sane man in the horrors of St. Colman's lunatic asylum in Mullingar. He outlived the wars but the wars outlived him.

To him and all those gone before me I raise a glass tonight and light a candle tomorrow. Pip pip!

Here's a list of other people lighting candles.
Hilary Wakeman
The Watercats
Granny Sue
Dominic Rivron
Susan at Stony River
Susan Sonnen
Sandra Leigh
Jayne Harnett Hargrove
NanU, Moira , ArtSparker ,Mrs Niamh ,Femminismo ,Junk Thief, Rachel Fox , Poetikat Phoenix C and Jeanne have written posts ...




Mrs Niamh


Junk Thief

Rachel Fox



Phoenix C


The Parting Glass

I hope ye are all getting the candles ready for New Years Day Festival of Light, if we all light them together the scientists will think it's more evidence of global warming. The photo is of Lough Mask in County Mayo. I fell into it the next day but, despite being unable to swim ,miraculously survived. Then nearly killed myself laughing.

I always tell people I never learned to swim to give me respect for the sea, even though the only boat I have ever been on is the ferry to Holyhead. Actually I was on another boat once in The Clyde Estuary and nearly drowned that day too. Oh, and a canal boat on a weekend holiday in Staffordshire in FEBRUARY.I didn't nearly drown that time but I did fall on some ice down into the canal on the way back from the pub.

The locals were the strangest people I've ever met in my life, they also bought me pints of Barley wine and I had no idea how strong it was.

We left the parafin heater on all that night and got sick with the fumes. We had also travelled way , way, too far down the canal to get back in daylight , so we travelled through the pitch black night. The others stayed snug below while I was at the front frozen to death holding a torch and a bottle of whiskey and shouting directions to my cousin who was steering at the back. A freezing fog had descended combining with the black night to give zero visibility. We seriously annoyed all the bargees moored up and asleep, the engine slowed to less than half it's normal pace because nobody had listened to the boat hire man telling us to keep it topped up with water. We sailed(?) at less than a snails pace through the long night but got back too late for the morning check-in deadline and had to pay extra. Least he never checked the engine.

I realised then I'd left my wallet with train tickets and house keys back in the pub. My cousin had a car , it was only a 2 seater but he gave me and Miss EEjit, sitting on top of me, a lift back to the pub.The Landlord (Fair play to him and the people drinking with us who found them) had given my wallet and keys to the police station. So we drove there and hid the car around the corner as we didn't want the Police to see three of us getting out of a 2 seater car. The friendly policeman explained that all lost property is taken to the police station in the next village, that he was heading there and we were to follow! So we dawdled hoping he wouldn't notice what car we got into, but he kept coming back, it was like something out of Mr Bean. Then eventually he fecked off and got into his car and we followed him from as far back as human eyesight would allow us, again hoping he didn't twig. We got away with it, I think he did notice us all piling out of the tiny car (Fiat x1-9) but either felt sorry for us ,or couldn't be arsed. Anyways my cousin drove us back to the train station but I'd missed the train I needed to be back on time for work. Already on a warning for always being late, I asked the ticket man when the next train was due hoping it would be ten mins, or half an hour at the most, 'Tomorrow' he said.

Never liked that job anyway.

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Photos for the Festival of Light

Dad aged about 9 on a fine horse.Don't know who it belonged to, we only ever had donkeys, ducks and chickens.Think it may be belonging to 'The Big House' where my Great Aunt Mary was employed.She was a real character who read tea leaves and told fortunes with a deck of cards involving getting or not getting your hearts wish. As a child, I earnestly believed that a turn of a card could decree whether Dolores K would love me or not! Dad loved horses and lived and worked with them as a lumberjack felling and delivering trees. Once on holiday in Killarney he stopped and calmed a bolting panicking pony laden with trap and tourists. Me, being a little shite, was totally unimpressed. Dad aged about 19, posing with his dad's pipe. Dad was born in Tipperary though the old family home in Offaly is pictured here behind him. I really wish I could have got to know him as an adult. I was in my own teenage bubble and sometimes it seems like a different person lost him, not me. I hope he would like me now, and I him.

Uncle Jackie (My Dad's brother) my favourite and much missed uncle, seen here as a young man with family dog and young neighbour Seamus taking the reins. I remember this same cart many years later used for 'drawing in '(transporting from the bog) the turf in the summer.As a family we never had a car.Bicycles only for transport

This is a photo of the Dublin side of my family, my favourite Auntie, Maura ,and her husband (My Mum's brother Timmie) They seemed very glamorous and sophisticated to us, living in many parts of the world including Germany and Africa.Here they are on board a ship. Maura was the kindest, most interesting, genuinely funny woman you could ever wish to meet.Everyone who ever met her loved her, I spent a large part of my life around her and I miss her .

Another picture of the old family home in Offaly, now sadly demolished last year after mucho trouble and fall out after Uncle Jackie's death in 2003. Far left is my Dad's other brother Jimmy(still alive in Tipp) holding a cat, neighbour Chrissy , my Dad's young sister, Eilish , now living in England, Jackie looking small and frail as usual, in fact when their mother was dying she asked Dad (the eldest) to mind Jackie, yet he outlived Dad ( who was strong as an ox) by almost 30 years. That's Dad on the far right.
Some of my happiest days were spent in this house, never have I felt more secure or more alive.The fire(the only source of heating and cooking) was always lit winter and summer, the front door was never locked, open wide all summer and only closed over in winter.People( the kindest most genuine you could wish to meet) would call in day and night, to drink tea, give news, play cards and tell stories, particularly ghost stories and they were experts at them.The most scared I have ever been is listening to these old men by the fire. You would burst your bladder rather than brave the sheer blackness outside(no indoor toilet, truth be told , no outdoor one either, just nature's wondrous charms) Actually the most scared I have ever been in my whole life was outside the Tipp family home whn I heard the Banshee, but that's another story.Incidentally before I was born my Dad used go rambling across the fields at dead of night night to visit neighbours and often had the Banshee for company she was incredibly beautiful and never bothered him.

When I light my candle I'll be thinking of many , many people including... Dad, Uncle Jackie, Granddad Frank, Grandma Philomena,Granddad Peter, Grandma Molly, Aunt Mary, Uncle Timmie , Auntie Maura, Uncle Liam , Auntie Mona, Michael K, Roy N,Sheila O'.

See previous post for candle lighting details. Pip pip!

Monday, December 28, 2009

Festival of light

A new year beckons as the old one fades and it inevitably brings moments of reflection on days gone by, a taking stock, a time of new beginnings, of hope and often of sadness.In reality it is no more than another day same as all the others a man-made cut-off point, an imaginary line drawn in the sands of time.

But for all that, it still brings a significance with it , a chance to think of the past while looking to the future.It is within this spirit that I propose a festival of light at midday (12 noon) on New Years Day.

The one thing we all have in common, regardless of age ,race ,colour or creed ,is that someone close in mind body or spirit will have died, whether it be in the last 12 months or the last hundred years.

Often we may have been loving and close, other times there may have been tensions and difficulties, even anger, guilt, or deep regret. My own Dad's death when I was 16 is something, for different reasons (all on my part) , I am trying to come to terms with slowly throughout my life.

My proposal is that at 12 noon on New Years Day we simply light a candle, both for those gone before us ,and also as a symbol of hope for ourselves and the future- whether we be atheist, or of a religious disposition ,or whatever.
To maybe just be silent for a moment , listen to a favourite piece of music, or say a prayer, to sing, have a drink, or hug a tree or a car or a person. I'm a bit of a tree hugger by times-only old one's that have lived hundreds of years and seen it all. I'll certainly raise a glass.

I might put a list of people I am thinking of on my blog, you might like to do the same.If you do, let me know and I will post links to your blog so others might read the names and have all in mind as they light their candle. There is often something special about communal gatherings, even when only virtual , and a load of candles can only bring warmth and hopefully a small degree of peace and of hope.

Happy New Year to everyone!

Saturday, December 19, 2009


Yes folks, The Poetry Bus is back for a one-off Christmas special. Einstein is still working on the official bus, So Santa Claus has kindly offered to help out. Many thanks to the fat beardy one.Obviously he's fairly busy, so get your poems written before Christmas Eve as he needs the go Kart for an around the world trip.

Due to government cutbacks Santa's magnificent sleigh is in a shed in Carlow and has been replaced by a four wheeled plank of wood.

All Santa's reindeers: Rudolph ,Splinter ,Horsey ,Donna ,Spritzer ,Slasher, Dave, Dee ,Dozy, Mick and Titch ,or whaever they're called ,are all on various high class supermarket shelves this year.Yummy, but expensive.

Anyways why don't you, yes YOU, I'm talking to YOU reading this, write a poem for Christmas and post it on your blog before DEC 24th? Let me know by leaving a comment in my comments box and I will publish links to all the poems to make a magical Christmas poetry mystery tour aboard Santa's plank. Ho ho ho - hic!
(Thanks to Argent for the nudge!)

Here's mine to get the plank rolling.

This Christmas we

Stretch the fabric of life
Buy kerosene by the gallon
Cut washing up sponges in two
Surf supermarket car parks
For the abandoned trolley’s
Shiny reward
We raid jam jars
Pluck gold from sofa, armchairs,
old coats trousers and dusty drawers .

We drink brought-home Spanish Brandy
from other people’s holidays.

We mend
We contract
Cut back
Shrink and save.

We winnow
but keep it all
We are not yet old
Not yet finished

We reduce
reuse recycle
We cope we survive
in first world luxury
Rejoice in hope
And are glad

Did I tell you there are free mince pies (warmed) with double cream, glasses of Baileys ,mulled wine and when we all get a bit merry, food and carol singing around the open fire in the castle?

First aboard is Kat

Prof Jeanne
and also here



Carmen (Carmen has a few Christmas poems posted if you scroll down her blog)

Uiscebot ( Mr RTE ,Colm Keegan)

Emerging Writer


(Totally) Mad Aunt Bernard


Rhyming Rachel Fox

Mrs Niamh

Peter Goulding (Has a few-poems not drinks!)

(The great) Lesser Weavil

Sandra (I like Turtles) Leigh

Jane Moxey

Dominic (Yorkshire chainsaw massacre) Rivron

Heather (Feed the birds)

Liz (she's a right miracle) Gallagher


The Wonderful Weaver of Grass

Science girl NanU
and also

The mighty pooch Titus

The multi talented singing Watercats

Granny Sue

(See the wood from the trees with) Phoenix C

(Do not forget) Domestic Oubliette

(There's no stopping) Lesser Weevil


Monday, December 14, 2009

Stony River Challenge

' I could win this feckin race' thought Mr Magoo ' if I'd only chosen the winged horse instead of the skateboard '

Susan at Stony River posts a weekly Monday challenge . A picture to which you must add up tom 140 words.Go for it!

Saturday, December 12, 2009

What's the word on the street EEjit?

The word on the street peeps is SNOW! Yes, it's snowing here at the castle and is likely to continue to do so way into next year or until I tell it to stop.

In other news, Submissions, haven't made any since Jan, how unambitious of me, ah well.

A new year beckons and if I live to see it I think 2010 has a nice sound and shape to it, it might be a good year to do things, have a go at things and stuff.I say this most years, but still.

Apparently it may soon be Christmas once more, which is really good news cos I thought I was getting the DT's again when I saw two elves and a polar bear in the shopping centre.

Talking of shops I've been entering into Niamh Bagel's PIS month (poems in shops) ,a great idea. ( )

My efforts have been brilliant poetically speaking, but rather scruffy aesthetically, so this week (yesterday to be precise) I used one of Rachel Fox's ( )most excellent poetry postcards (still available to purchase, hint -hint) in one of our local coffee shops. Unlike previous times I have mobile phone stylee photographic evidence, probably. I will post it if I can figure it out.

More news is that after the roaring disaster, I mean Success (always getting them two mixed up) of Liz Gallagher's Maximus Miracle blogstop/poteen party at The Castle, I'm pleased to announce that another favourite writer of mine , Nuala Ní Chonchúir , ( ) will be paying a visit some time in Jan to celebrate her just launched poetry pamphlet 'Portrait of the Artist with a Red Car' which I have just read and really enjoyed.

The other news is that blogs are kind of scary.I could type absolutely anything I want now, from a very rude word to a revelation to a lie to really slagging someone off.It's a bit like being on the edge of the platform with the train coming and a feeling that you could just give somebody a leeetle nudge , but something stops you. (probably the fact that you're not a murderer)

But right now the next word I type could be anything, I have one in my head and I'm going to type it,I just don't care anymore , this word won't leave me alone, it can be ignored no longer, it''s good I can't do it.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

ArtSparker challenge #3

That genius Arty Person Sparkey ArtSparker has set the world another interesting challenge.This time to finish off an old photograph.You might be able to discern the bits I've added in below.Why not have a go yourself or look at all the other efforts. None of them are as good as mine even though some of them are brilliant.I, being genuis at everything I turn my hand to,is always the best at everything innit.
Genius is a hard burden to bear sometimes.Pavarotti once said to me that he didn't own the voice, the voice owned him.I understand only too well what fatty was trying to say.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

The Song Of Life (Fuck this for a game of soldiers)

The song of life

I’m more tired than I’m sick
But sick and tired go hand in glove
Like the cult of I and phoney
Our germ free adolescence
A distant memory
Memories a choice of truth
Repeating itself across
The swings the random roundabouts
Neon crept in the sulphur glow
Fight for nothing
Nothing is worth dying for
Love to have hate tattooed
on my knuckles
wherefore art though art
without the pounds shilling and sense
the coppers in the greasy tills washed
up on the beach
the blind blade of youth
preserved us, naïve knife,
as if we could change the
tide by swimming against it
waving while we were drowning
in the ticking of the clock
and everything else grows in the heaps
of bullshit poet to politician to priest
in a change of tie
the blink of an eye
fooling everyone and no-one
my equal measure.
The tide goes in the tide goes out
The hard rains fall
And nothing but nothing
Will ever change.

Sunday, December 6, 2009

I've won the $50,000 Ray-Ban performance prize for poetry! Yippee.

Here's my winning entry.... Sunglasses(A performance poem)

Sunglasses the enigmatic chic for the masses
of people that buy them
Men will make passes at girls
Who wear sunglasses
What mystery do we hide behind them
Women and men
Insect eyed aliens
Blocking out the sun
Keeping in the mystique
Winter and summer
If you’re the drummer
In a famous band
Or on the beach at St Tropez
Heading to Dunnes stores
In April or may
June or July
When you fly to sunnier shores
Where shades are worn indoors
That’s for the uber cool
Not in Mullingar
In Murphy’s lounge you’d look a fool
I want a giant pair with writing on
Like Lennon,( Jinx not John)
I want a pair mirrored and bright
To cover the bloodshot veins
When I look a sight.
I’m buying them now while they are cheap
Half price winter bargain that I can Keep
Till the Summer comes
Here comes the Summer!
Here comes the Summer!
Here comes the Summer!
Ooh Baby,Baby what can I do
You know you drive me crazee
when I'm looking at you......
Through, through, through,
my sung glasses.

I'm going to use it as my next 'Poem in a shop', poem. I'm spending the 50 k on mulled wine , corn plasters, and a donation to 'Save the Dingo'

It's sad,it's tiny, it's here...

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Mission accomplished.Word on the streets.

I've been neglecting my blog too much lately, letting real life and important things get in the way.Tis time to try and redress the balnce and post more often.

Well anyways it's put a poem in a shop month a project devised by Bus Poet and broadcaster extraordinaire Niamh Bagnell (Details here)

A simple but ingeniuos plan, write a short(4 lines I think) poem and place it on a shelf in a local shop for an unsuspecting customer, so that their tawdry lives may be changed beyond all previous recognition by the benificent magnificence of our words. Takea photo as a record/proof and post it on your blog.

This reminded my of Liz Gallaghers lost poetry notebooks and how cool it would be to find one.I also thought of messages washed up on distant shores in glass bottles.If the poetry bus (T.M) had kept going (or when it gets going again) I was going to suggest leaving the poems in remote out of the way places.Imagine finding one battered by the breeze pinned to a remote outcrop with a message saying 'Take me home'

So I didn't stick to the four lines but this was lying round so I put it in the book section of a local supermarket. Not wanting to draw too much more attention to myself (I was dressed as a spaceman) Iused a mobile phone camera to record the event.Unfortunately I have never used one before and failed to save the image.

Fortunately I had a back up pic at home showing Jimmy The Butlers pet mouse, Fergus Hyposperous, with the poem.The original idea was to send Fergus in on his own with the poem but as he has wheels instead of legs(terrible tragedy, don't ask) he couldn't place the poem above floor level,so I had to do it.

I will go back today and see if it is still there, grab a pic if it still is. Join in why doncha?

Performance poem

It wasn’t The Chelsea
It wasn’t The Shelbourne
Drunk on devils paints
dreaming of the eternal dream Of
a car brim full of petrol and hope
A V8 thrub to the coastal beat new paths
Less travelled horizons
Crescendo dims with the dawn
Reality is….
A monotone train on a single track
There and back
There and back
There and back

Ps.Did anyone spot the (almost) hidden sad face at the bottom right of Sylvia's grave pic?Click on it Blow it up to 100% and there, just beneath the first pale rock is a little sad face.Spooky!

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Ted reads Sylvia

I'm very interested by Ted Hughes and Sylvia Plath.There are the obvious reasons but also I feel ,rightly or wrongly an affinity, a connection.
Sylvia was the first poet I ever came across, ok , she was in her grave, but still. I was in Heptonstall with Miss EEjit and had never heard of Sylvia (or any poet) and Miss E had to explain to me who she was.It was shortly after thast I started writing poems.
Something about that place always stayed with me.I've been back once since, but would love to go again.
As for Ted, Birthday letters is perhaps the best book of poetry I've ever read.Ok there aren't many in my list, but still.

And here is a clip of Ted reading Sylvia's poetry , just reading it. How does that feel for him, reading his dead wife's poetry , a poetry above or beyond or behind the shadow of his own,the world looking, listening? What degree of responsibility does he apportion himself , how does it feel? Does he read her poetry as another poet or as the poets husband?Though totally different, paradoxically, I'm struck by the similarities in their delivery, Sylvia though American sounds (almost grand) English in many ways, Ted pure Yorkshire, and yet......

I have my own opinions but all is speculation.Both are now dead, but what a story, what a legacy. Ted's mistress Assia Wevill also gassed herself and their young daughter.Ted and Sylvia's own son, Nicholas, commited suicide earlier this year.Ted and Sylvia gave themselves totally to poetry, they did as it bid.They gave us a lot from poetry but they, and those around them, paid a high price.