Fragments from Another Life: A found poem

Frost on my mind.

“Nothing gold can stay…” 

The red tailed hawk builds a nest in the adjacent orchard, another hawk on the next tree.  

Lights flash. Warning signs. 

In deep water the octopus stretches its tentacles and embraces the current.

Badges and postcards litter the desk. 

A letter from an ex-girlfriend’s mother to my aunt and uncle, written on the occasion of my grandmother’s death.

Years later I’d fall in love with this woman’s daughter.

Two weeks after I moved to California my father hit a hole-in-one.

Ancient scripts from Old Ireland.

My mother’s cousin wrote, “You would not believe a father could say such things about his daughter.”

Beechmont Lodge, Navan, County Meath: Sunday.

A photograph of my mother as a child with her cousins, also relatives of James Joyce—John and Desmond Murray.





Return to a Watery Life

Remember that day you caught the sun? When you crested the first of the waves my heart fell as the sleek seal’s head disappeared under the swell and did not return. On land I had no idea of the secret harbored inside you, the birthright of Neptune, Poseidon, fish-gods both.


Slope of sun across streaked red sky, the trajectory traced in letters too large for the eye to comprehend. The time you stared through the pinhole at the sun, seared a memory to take beneath the water. Lighthouses cast steady beams, wide and near, the rocks beneath were where we met. Somehow the pelt didn’t suit you, and that desire to land on shore became too much.


Crushed sand dollars decorated your hair the first time we danced at the foot of the lighthouse all those years ago. Turn and turn again, the quitting sun splashing fire across the sky, we moved in anti-clockwise circles, the land, the sea, the land again. Every now and again the sun would catch the shimmer of trapped quartz in your hair, blinding flash, terrifying premonition of a return to a watery life. On the edge of the rocks the seals collected in pairs, saltskinned and apart, no bitter irony in their eyes.

Deathandtheclosingyear’s Childe

Celebrity deaths: 5

Pages edited: 0

Books read: 1

Pages written: 3

Times played “Listen Without Prejudice Vol.1”: 3

Piles of shit on my desk: 9+

Bottles of Oban to drink: 1

Selfies taken: 20+

Introvert tendencies experienced: 20+

Plastic cups on desk: 2

Stations of the Cross: 14

Times Jesus fell: 3

OCD moments: 22

Stormcloudsdropwisdomonearthsday’s Childe

The sound. A bubbling over, as if millions of child-blown bubbles are popping all at once, small ones running here and there to explode them. Triptaptriptrap. The loneliest time of night is 3am and the lit moon slanting in the dusted-over window. Dog shifts; a snort, a rumble of dissatisfaction.

Across the world my mother wakes from unremembered dreams. Everything she does these days is without memory.

“Thank you” and “Thank you,” the chorus of voices. Scoliosis. Backs bearing weight today will be irredeemably arched like the bow of a harp some thirty years from now. Then it will be me unable to bear witness to the unfolding day and the small events that make up life in a small place.

There are times I keep good company in my writing life. Between the pages of a journal. Sandwiched between stories of apocalypse and flight. These days the words are petulant; not wanting to emerge from the dark. Meditation might open roadways to progress. Not enough hours in the day.






Death on the never never. Bass baritone spine tingling chill of the Irish Sea. Walls sheathed in snow like frosted cake on the dining room table at Christmas. The decorations of childhood are now no more. The sled. I remember the sled, and Santa urging the reindeer onwards, the back packed with parcels and bows.

A glass bead sits on the desk. The future reflected in its glow can’t quite make me understand. A list of sorts. Payment for services rendered. Boxes without packing slips. Meetings to discuss trivial things. Worry too much about checking off standards and measures, and not enough about impassioning the young students who want to be thralled.





A slow falling rain. The gauge ticks steadily to three. The downcast eyes of a stained glass Jesus. Before my time. Giant clips constrain the pages of disappointed manuscripts. Energy and effort are lacking. The writing must wait. There’s not enough time in the given day for all to be addressed.

Meat dried on a prairie. The lone coyote at the far end of the box canyon waits for the dim light of night. Men on horseback click tongues and move through the grey slush. Acres. Thousands. Widgets create wealth. A line item on an agenda goes unseen. The pastel painted card askew on the desk is a reminder of what’s left to accomplish.

Every falling drop is hungrily absorbed by the dried earth as it flexes its girth and welcomes renewal.

Sometimes I wake in the night and stare at the beams and their painted weight. Dreams remain forgotten. A hint here of what makes one anxious, a taste there of what engenders fear. A grave holds five coffins. There’s plenty of room for more beneath the frost-rimed surface. Don’t fool yourself to the ache of impermanence.


Halfpastdecembersday’s Childe

  • Complete messes on desk: 2
  • Christmas cards on desk: 4
  • Books in mail today: 1
  • Train journeys this week: 2
  • Broken pieces of wooden antlers on desk: 2
  • Pages written this week: 3
  • Phones confiscated today: 3
  • Property tax bills paid: 1
  • Books to read on shelf: 6


Cityofangelsnight’s Childe

  • Druid’s Theatre plays seen: 1
  • Vegan bhan mi’s eaten: 1
  • Homeless encampments seen: 10+
  • Post-play conversations with audience members: 1
  • Cups of Complan: 0
  • Kimberley biscuits eaten: 0
  • Pages written: 0
  • AAA Batteries on desk: 8
  • Bins of fruit picked: 6
  • Pages left to read in book: 120


Nighttime Travelers: Los Angeles/Dublin and Back Again.

Ireland is cold. Freezing. Fog clasps the midlands in an embrace that chokes the breath in a man. Red berries tinged with white. The grave is the same; waiting. The old home town looks the same. Cafés, pubs, church, and the house our family called home, mid-century, post-war. Bananas and pineapples were unknown refugees on rich people’s tables.

A distillery peddling bitter whiskey to thirsty tourists. Rip-off merchants.

“Goodbye, Ireland, I’m off to Kilbeggan.” My father’s war cry.

My mother sits in the armchair, engulfed. A missing plate on the wall beside her. Careless caregiver knocked it off and shattered it to bits. She knows who I am. The same questions. On repeat.

“Have you seen any of your old friends?”

I answer each time as if it’s the first time of asking.

Receding. Hair white as a summer cloud. Collapsing in on herself.

“Have you seen any of your old friends?”

The house is empty of familiar furniture. Sent to auction. Give away for tuppence. 40% commission leaves little for her coffers. Simple needs these days. Hair done monthly. Cigarettes smuggled in by brothers.

Angelus bell at noon.

“The angel of the Lord declared unto Mary…”

“Heathens,” my father said. We didn’t know our prayers and it was her fault.

A kite hovering above the motorway.

“Have you seen any of your old friends?”

The cold gets into your bones.

Kiss her forehead.

Say goodbye.

“See you tomorrow.”

The plane leaves at 5:55am.

“Have you seen any of your old friends?”

Everything is the same. Nothing is the same. From her you sprung. Nothing needs to be said. Everything is understood. There are silences. Walking across the parking lot to the rental car, the sobs send seen breath onto winter air.