Les poèmes sont des pommes

Poems are like apples,

Some, ripe before the rest,

Tumble from the bough.

Unlaboured they lie,

cradled by the grass.

Their soft flesh browns away,

All undrunk cider and slow decay.

Those perfect poems

That give the scribe the slip,

That flit from our lips and

masked in utility are missed.


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Capital Punishment

That’s a deftly dealt dig,
That little “d”

This is colonial correction,
The River Fleet corrodes and cajoles,
This the disarming power of the capital,
Laying bare the disdain,
For our little game.

The Grammar School chides the naughty neighbour,
No fada either, to dismiss notions of grandeur.

Gerry’s on trail,
and so is the nation.


Written in response to this article

Where an Dáil Eireann was deprived of its capital D and fada. I wrote to the Guardian and they amended the article within the hour.

(I shouldn’t even have to say, but at the risk of offending anyone I want to be clear this is completely tongue in cheek, I highly doubt the typo was some subtle political statement!)

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Filed under Grammar, Ireland, Language, poetry

Tongue part 3: Brother

My brother’s lips
once suckled at
My mother’s breast.

There he drank life and love
and grew.

When my own thirst
was first deep-sated there
His was yearning to drink in
the world and all its words.

Now those lips,
oceans apart,
form foreign shapes, spitting
oriental sounds.

From that same start,
our mouths have taken different paths.
We have taken different paths.

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Filed under Language, Learning to talk, poetry, Tongue

Tongue Part 2 : Hand-me-downs

Fadó, fadó they must have
sprung up eager
Pushing through damp earth.
Fresh new birth.

And they must have tasted strange,
like your first kiwi, green and biting tart.

Hurriedly picked by curious hands,
fondled briskly and peeled back to reveal juicy innards.

But now, these second hand words trudge forth,
resignedly marching from my mouth.

Threadbare thoughts, worn with use
like the heel of an old pair of socks,
darned with borrowed speech.

Passed from mouth to mouth of progeny.
Each one having licked, sucked, and chewed.
Swallowed, digested and discharged these tired words.

And I am left with grubby borrowed tools,
encased in years of grime, dulled blades and worn wires.

And so I sew on patches and take up hems,
these hand-me-downs are mine, for a time.

*from the series Tongue*

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Filed under Language, Learning to talk, poetry, Tongue

Tongue Part 1: Clipped Wings


A caged bird – spouting
learned words.

Teasing thoughts through
the bars
inconstant and arrhythmic.

Clipped wings and faded feathers.

I am not whole.
cracked mirrors and half-light,
a dim vision,
cage-bruised and ill-used.

My stuttering song will resound clear.

My languid tongue can not yet
  glean my teeming brain.

My limp lips yearn
for familiar forms
to fall
with lazy ease.

This bird will break,
this beak will sing.

Truthsong sing free.
Lord, rescue me.

*from the series Tongue*


Filed under faith, Italian, Language, Learning to talk, poetry, Tanslation, Tongue

I do not love you as though you were salt-rose. A translation.

I do not love you as though you were salt-rose, topaz,
or arrows of carnations that shoot fire.

I love you as certain dark things are loved,
secretly, between shadow and soul.

I love you like the plant that flowers not,
but bears within it the hidden light of those flowers.

And thanks to your love there lives darkly in my body
the close aroma that arose from the earth.

I love you knowing neither how, nor when,
nor from where.

I love you straightforwardly, without problem or pride:
thus I love you – because I know no other way,
but this way, in which I am not and you are neither.

So close that your hand upon my chest is my own.
So close that your eyes close me into dreams.

Translation – Aoife Beville

Original – Pablo Neruda

No te amo como si fueras rosa de sal, topacio
o flecha de claveles que propagan el fuego:
te amo como se aman ciertas cosas oscuras,
secretamente, entre la sombra y el alma.

Te amo como la planta que no florece y lleva
dentro de sí, escondida, la luz de aquellas flores,
y gracias a tu amor vive oscuro en mi cuerpo
el apretado aroma que ascendió de la tierra.

Te amo sin saber cómo, ni cuándo, ni de dónde,
te amo directamente sin problemas ni orgullo:
así te amo porque no sé amar de otra manera,

sino así de este modo en que no soy ni eres,
tan cerca que tu mano sobre mi pecho es mía,
tan cerca que se cierran tus ojos con mi sueño.


Filed under Language, poetry, Tanslation


Just below this post there’s a video of me performing this one, but here’s the text.

This is my body
– broken and brusied
This is my blood
– well-spring of life
This is my bride
– radiant in white
Before the cockerel’s cruel cry
the bride’s rock spewed lies
at a fireside.
Sullied his robes and scorned his Saviour.

We will wear white.

One body. One flesh.
We are one bride –
crimson ransom paid.

Come wash your dress –
this is your wedding day.

I know a well
hot, deep and red.

Come wash your dress –
Come on, let’s get drenched,
dip it deep, soak it through.

Thunder’s tumult and the
cacophonous chorus of waters.

The wedding march plays,
the groom beams with pride.
We’ll all be dressed in white.

You’re the eyes
and I’m the ears.
You’re the toe
and I’m the armpit.
You’re the wrinkled knee,
I’m a folding eyelid, or an elbow.

We’re the most beautiful thing he’s ever seen.

We’ve been wooed by a warrior,
won by a prince.

Precious bride, put on your white dress,
dance the night away.

This is my body.

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Filed under bible, faith, poetry