Monday, December 24, 2012


The world came to an end today;

as it does each day twixt dusk and dawn
and just as surely as it ends
with morning light it is reborn.
This is a wonder far more deep
than tales and prophecies of old;
the miracle that is each passing day -
is the greatest story ever told. 


Saturday, November 10, 2012

She is Autumn

As she turns
I catch sunlight on her cheek,
fragile as crumpled silk.
Her eyelids flutter
   downward movements
      like zyphers
Her hair has changed colour
over the seasons and the years

As she moves
I see grace in every turn
smooth like worn stone.
Her hands make circles
   careless emphasis
     or metemorphosis.
She reminds me so much
of a fallen leaf.


Thursday, September 13, 2012

Emer's Poem; Sit Here

Some 30 years ago, this month, I met my best friend. This is her poem; I would like to assure her it's not written solely to embarrass her, although I will get a laugh out of that I admit. It's written because it's been thirty years in the writing, in pubs and clubs, over coffee and in hospital rooms, and once upon a time, in a school room in a convent on the Crumlin Road.This is one of those poems, that had to be written and that were in a sense always written.
After thirty years our lives have coincided again; we have always been there but at times our experiences have been out of sync. One married while the other was single, one away or at home, happy or sad; now the stars align once more and we share a certain common ground, marriage and motherhood. I don't know what has been sweeter in 30 years, the times when we were apart but still holding on or now that we are older, wiser, calmer, and more on the same path. Both times have their joys.
This is for you Emer, from the heart. From all us oddballs.

Sit here

I heard on the news, those dreaded words of childhood
“Back to school,” the death knell of summer, the last nail
in the coffin for the halcyon freedoms of our youth;
I heard it and thought, it’s September – remember! remember
when that meant schoolbags and books and copies and pencils
and suddenly thought, how long have I known her?
 How many years? How many seasons, since that first Autumn,
how many days, since that first day of a new school year?

I walked in, my usual self; constrained by my lumpiness and
dumpiness. I walked in and paused. My usual tactic was to
see where there might be a seat – unobtrusive, unwanted, unlikely
to offend anyone else. Perhaps on the edge of a group, that way I could
occasionally, if the omens were good, turn and talk or share a joke –
as long I didn’t push my luck. I couldn’t see a seat.
I saw her. She smiled and pointed to the seat in front. She had already
found a niche, made a friend, settled in. She pointed to a seat and then to me.

I don’t remember sitting down. I don’t remember the first halting chat.
I remember laughing. If I had to sum up the next thirty years, my friend,
her spirit, I would say…I remember laughing. There’s no end to her laughter,
her good nature. She is kind. Everyone who meets her, says that. She is kind.
She has a knack with us oddballs, she is Mamma to us all. She has a way of
making you feel as if you belong. She has made me feel that for thirty years,
while I did my best to cast myself adrift, while I spun aimlessly out of orbit.
I never knew until I returned, she held a thread and refused to let it go.

I know as she reads this she will – blush, shake her head, laugh at me (gently)
I know she will be pleased, and she will be perplexed. I imagine her shrugging
off compliments, with a certain giggle and a wave of her hand – ah go on!
But we, we who know her value, we must drag her back up to her pedestal
and bribe her up there with yellow rice and wine. We need her, her calm hand upon
the helm; her eyebrow raised. She is our fixed compass, our northern star.
She is my memory and my youth. She is one of the moments on which my life turned.
She is still that girl, the one who points and says, “Sit here.”


Tuesday, September 4, 2012

The Average House

I wrote this today inspired by a thread on a website celebrating the normal. average, chaotic household.

My abdomen is flabby but my clothes have got the rips
my garden is just perfect, compared to Dublin's tips
my house is like a museam, well it's got a lot of dust
And in any tour of horror sites, our bathroom is a must
Visitors must take their chance, and sit where e'er they can
We're not sure what we'll feed you, if it's easy I'm a fan
There's laundry in the kitchen, the remote is in the sink
the dog was febreezed last night to take away the stink
I hope you'll sit and stay a while, for our philosophy
is put people before housework, and make us all happy.
Geraldine Moorkens Byrne


Saturday, September 1, 2012

Get angry about Facebook Bullying; before it's too late

If you read nothing else today, read this excellent blog Her Crazy World:Facebook bullying, the new normal?

It's about a repulsive page that is filled with hateful graphics, many of an overt sexual nature, featuring a 5 year old child called Adalia Rose who suffers from Progeria. The teens responsible for this piece of obscenity claim they did it because Adalia Rose was being "exploited" - although to date they can't explain how comments exhorting her to "just die already" and pictures showing her mouth with the caption "place your penis here" address exploitation of a five year old or are in any way justifiable. Interestingly when some wags created pages aimed at lampooning the main offender, a teen called Bree, she posted in high dudgeon that she was "appalled" and that she should be left alone as she was only 15. It seems being 15 confers some immunity to criticism denied to those who are say, 5 years of age and afflicted with a horrible disease.

By the time of writing, it's possible the page in question has been taken down. Hopefully. However the issue is still hugely important. These teens, filled with hate and a warped sense of entitlement , and no sense of perspective, caused immense hurt to a child and her family. They did so for weeks and months thanks to Facebook's inertia and apathy. I personally know that hundreds of women reported the page. I reported the page. Despite links to photos and graphics and comments that undeniably flouted Facebook's own rules, we all received the same "We can't see anything wrong with it" email. One person was banned from FB for 24 hours for reporting the page too often; FB deemed her a spammer. The pages that lampooned the troll pack of teens responsible were taken down in a day. The Adalia Rose Memes page stayed put.

Facebook has a case to answer here. Please help make sure they do answer it. These teens periodically take down the page when the going gets too hot for them, then put it back up, thinking they will thwart any inquiry. Check regularly to make sure it's not there and if it is, report it. Then report it again. Then ask everyone you ever met in your life to report it.
And when you get the PFO email from FB, take their survey and tell them how they're doing.


Saturday, August 18, 2012

Pussy Riots or Ailurophobia in Russian Life

The conviction of the three members of feminist Russian collective Pussy Riot is a disgrace and a challenge to feminism worldwide. It is also yet another attack on secularism, free speech and the rights of the artist.
Ailurophobia is the irrational fear of pussies. Or cats.

Three of the cats who stood
Iconoclastic in their ritual,
Worshipping at the alter
Of free speech, and expression,
Obscenely repressed by
The powers that be;
Three of these pussies
Are to be caged,
Declawed and toothless
In a system long decayed.

Trolleybusses and scaffolds
Are ok, it seems, for girls
In balaclavas or women shouting
The odds, but not a church,
Oh no, women’s voices should not
Be raised in a church.
It’s nothing to do with politics you understand
-it is their bold bad lack of respect for Him.
(not him, Putin, but the other
God of Russian politics.)

Burn your flags, my lovelies,
Far far better than fiery bras.
Bite back, shout and torch the churches,
Roast them on a spit of lampoon –
There is no place for the feminine divine
Among the patriarchs of Russian life.
Three cats jailed by frightened men
and an apathetic nation, still the Party’s bitch.
Come! Let’s be Hooligans, all, and light the way.
Start by saying, today, I am Pussy Riot.


Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Forgiveness, Some ruminations by Maureen Aisling Duffy-Booze


Tuesday, August 14, 2012

The Jester

A poem inspired by recent ruminations on Truth

I went to see the Jester in her court
she wore her tattered rags with pride, I saw
pulled at the holes and gently sighed about
the lack of courtly manners in the world.

I listened to the Jester as she sang
her words ringing hollow in the halls
"my cloak I wrap around me in great pomp"
as she pawed the ragged edges with clawed hands

I asked the Jester if she ever wore the Truth;
she eyed me like a spider eyes its prey
I say, It's not that hard a question, to be sure?
she thanks me for my visit with a smile.

I would have pressed her further if I could
she bandies words around like weaponry
forgiveness is a scalpel in her hands
and justice is an axe she likes to throw

I wouldn't trade for all the gold you offer
but the Jester is quite happy, I believe
Our reunion was a success in her eyes
She'll weave a song about it and I'll sing.


Friday, June 15, 2012

HIstory Memory and Truth, writing and re-writing the past.

Several things have made me ponder recently. It happens. I do try to avoid it as I prefer to open myself to Imbas and inspiration before the clumsy affectation of intellect intrudes itself; the conscious creative mind should polish and refine not dictate. But occasionally a lot of thoughts accumulate around a given aspect of writing and poetry and I need to give them free rein. This is one of those times.

There's a tendency to dismiss Firenne, Truths, in modern life. In writing it has become more advantageous to be glib and clever than to have either heart or truth at the heart of one's writing. Each year, prior to having my son, I read the shortlist for the Booker. I lost count of the number of times I closed a book at its final page and thought....meh. Well written but utterly pointless. Nothing new said, nothing original posited, only style. (One reason I was so delighted Wolfe Hall won was that for any flaw it boasted, it more than made it up to the reader with heart and originality.)  
One advantage among many of writing on the Fringe, and one of the joys of being involved in publishing independent poets like Inga Brigitta or Maureen Aisling Duffy-Boose * is that one gets to read or edit honest, heartfelt writing, with real and identifiably genuine voices. I also like to read blogs and news articles; opinion pieces and polemic. I like to read truth, even if it's just that one person's truth, even if I disagree with it. I hate inherited opinion, unthinking comments, glibness. I hate the clichés of apocryphal writing - stories that are urban legends retold as one's own experience.

The question of what is truth arises when one person's version rubs off an other's. It's easy to say that all truths are equal or that there are many truths - until someone lies. Then one begins to think in terms of absolute truths. If I write a version of my past that lies, is it mine to reinvent or do the other players have the right to challenge it? If I recreate myself, and invent my emotions, at what point does my illusion impinge on your reality?

I usually accord a wide latitude to self invention. I mistrust people who never learn, never change and grow and changing often leaves a person far from their origins. I don't begrudge anyone the right to smooth the edges of their life. But there's a point at which lie and truth simply can't coexist. The same is true creatively - without some truth, and some purpose to your truth, you are left with glibness and gloss.
There is no way in my experience to be an honest writer, or artist, without knowing oneself. Acknowledging our flaws, our darkness...more, valuing these things in ourselves...lifts us from scribblers to poets. Our past is as important as our present. We cannot divorce ourselves from the reality of our past without placing 0ur future in danger.
Memory is notoriously unreliable. We all know the example of eye witnesses at an accident who give conflicting accounts of the event. Without rooting ourselves in community, without those old friends and family whose accounts of us help keep us honest, who are guardians of our memories of self, we are rarely true to our pasts.

In terms of poetry, and writing, nostalgia is both a curse and a trap. Equally tempting is the desire to dramatise ourselves, attribute to ourselves wisdom in retrospect, that belies our essential self in that moment and overlies it with some knowing interpreter who refuses to let the older you talk. Even when that's the effect you wish to produce, the secret is to let the original speak and then overlay it with the present.

When you begin to write about shared history, your memories of family, place, society, childhood, youth, it becomes more and more important to respect truth. While you can lie to yourself, lying about others is intellectually dishonest. If you try to present some aspect of truth, warts and all, against your own self if necessary, your audience feels the honesty in all characters. If you try to weight the truth only on your side, the fake peeks through. It's like an acquired accent; you might fool the casual listener for a few sentences but it falters over longer periods and betrays your roots mercilessly.

If you write in truth, even those whose memories differ from yours will find some common ground. We can all, as eye witnesses agree that the crash happened, if not what the driver looked like.

* Maureen Aisling Duffy-Boose's first collection "Songs of My Heart" will be published later this year by PPP Publishing


Thursday, June 14, 2012

Lovers in Green

If I were to paint lovers
it would be in the green
perhaps beneath the shade
of some old tree;
perhaps in the autumn
as the leaves turn and fall -
perhaps in the summer,
perhaps not at all.
I would set them among
freshly mown grass,
as the wind gently sighs
and the students run past.
I would paint you in the shadows,
you and I to one side -
smiling and running
your arms open wide.
There would be a bicycle
and a dog chasing ball
and the lovers would sit there
and smile at us all.


Sunday, June 3, 2012

Check out a great new blog - "it's her world"

Great new blogfrom upcoming writer Aimee Oakley, a wry look at life, motherhood and the vagaries of crafting. Very enjoyable and definitely one of my "pleasure shared " on this grey whit weekend. Take a look and let her know what you think, we writers need feedback :) In other news if anyone can suggest a good book choice for July for a book club I'd be eternally grateful ! Plus rather chuffed that "at Cluann mac Noise" was used for a poetry workshop last month - hope the participants enjoyed it!


Thursday, May 3, 2012

Pomegranate: A poem in honour of the launch of the Pomegranate Charity tonight

Today is National Infertility Day and it coincides with the launch of the wonderful charity Pomegranate . Pomegranate raises funds for those who cannot afford expensive infertility treatment but who yearn for a child; and it also raises awareness of the issues surrounding infertility.
Without SIMS Clinic we would not have been able to have our beloved son. The idea that others are denied the services of such clinics, because of the expense, is tragic. We were extremely fortunate. If you do nothing else today read the Pomegranate website, and donate - no matter how small an amount, you will be helping end the pain of infertility for some future parent. (I have no connection with Pomegranate other than thinking they're a great cause.)

Pomegranate's launch is tonight at 7pm in the Russell Court Hotel (Dicey Reilly’s) on Harcourt Street, Dublin 2. Guest speakers will be Conor Pope of the Irish Times and Steve McGettigan of the Sims clinic.


When they talk of it
It is assumed, only the fecund know
Where the heart lies
When it comes to babies,
When it comes to birth,
When it comes to dreams
Of sticky hands and kisses.
Oh no, no, we the Barren,
We too understand these joys.
We yearn for them in ways
Only we can understand
We are steeped in the mysteries of pain.
Oh but your words can sting us
Anything stirring? No news for us?
Sure would you not relax?
My sister’s neighbour’s cousin’s friend
Got pregnant using the scapula of some saint
 you probably should have tried when you were younger –
I’d never go to those lengths

Ah we know the heart of it all right
We hold their little hands and kiss their brows
A thousand times in our dreams
And the sweet drug of hope
Lulls us into the arms of sleep
Dark night, after night.


Friday, April 27, 2012

It Was At Tara

It was at Tara
that my love did stand
sword in hand
hand on heart
and gave me his pledge

It was at Tara 
that my son did stand
in front of clan
in the face of tradition
and was given his name.

It was the same Tara
that once took my pain.
 Beneath sweeping skies
 and in the teeth of rain 
Tara gave me peace again. 


Friday, March 23, 2012


First published as part of a calendar in 1993 to celebrate the reopening of the Music shop in Stephen's Street (Charles Byrne Musik Instrumente, est 1870)


As each note trembles
rises, quivers, dies,
so seasons turn -
and after sunrise, dusk and night
as bright to dark
as year will follow year
and out of Winter's dark embrace
comes earth in all its Summer's grace;
as out of one man's lonely hours
a cathedral built of Music towers
and from the pile of broken quills
a poetess her stanza spills;
as out of childhood's broken dreams
the adult learns what freedom means -
in every night, one evening star
so travellers see home from afar
and from their errors men grow wise
as from the ashes, Phoenix rise.


Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Bród, a poem.... #bródclub #Irish

RTE have a great initiative going at the moment thanks to Bernard Dunne

The idea is to get 100,00 Irish people who like me, have some Irish but rarely use it, to start using it again. Dig it out, root through your memory and sprinkle a cúpla focail through your conversations and texts and facebook status updates throughout the day.

I can read Irish fairly well but my spoken Irish is horribly rusty and my grammar was non existent (thanks, school!) til I did a Gael Linn course a few years ago. I still have terrible grammar but thanks to the excellent course I now know what I should be doing to re-learn the rotten Irish we were taught in school and make it better. I kept telling myself that all I need is the time, but you know what? I'll never have the time. So I am taking up the Bród challenge, not putting it off any longer and trying to reawaken then Irish I have and hopefully make it better as I go.

This inspired the poem below. My readers know that many of the forms and structures of my poems come from the Irish, from poems and poetry half remembered, and poetic forms that intrigued me far more than their English counterparts. So I owe a debt of gratitude to my langauge.


I searched through the foclóir of my life
Looking for my roots, mo Teach, mo Tuath is mo Tir
And found some little treasures I’d forgotten
Little seoda
buried here and there.
I found my bród hidden under layers
Of fear, of criticism and of failure.
I found mo grá in sound and form that flowed.
And in the words of poets long departed,
Found mo teanga náisiúnta
– still great and open-hearted.


Thursday, February 16, 2012

This is Not a Valentine

This is not a Valentine
for a start it's two days late
and will not rhyme.
This is not a paean to one day
to flowers or cards (ours unexchanged,
unwritten, stolen and returned)
I say again, this is not a Valentine.

This is not a Valentine;
it is a hymn to mundane days,
days without titles and nights
without expectations; when a weary
hand stirs a bottle, takes a turn,
loads a wash, puts on dinner.
No, this cannot be a Valentine.

This is not a Valentine.
No flowery verse would stoop
to describe the loving act of hoovering
or the romantic gesture of sweeping.
No flowers are delivered, when a cup of tea
is made and handed over with a kiss.
No, No Valentine is this.

This is not a Valentine.
They'll never teach this poem in school,
this ode to daily love. A kind word,
a compliment unearned, a gentle touch.
The heroic act of doing more than your share;
to quietly care. Ah no, this is no Valentine.
It is a poem of love.


Friday, February 3, 2012

On swings

I saw my son fall in love today
with swings
in a city playground
in the town I love.
Up til now, their charms
had left him cold;
this afternoon I saw an alchemy
of joy
A boy, a swing, the evening sun
cold air on cheek and childish fun
head - tilted back
and eyes half closed
legs reaching foward, arms straining
as the arc died
from glorious heights
to gentle rocking
one word;