Tuesday 27 February 2007

Some images from the weekend

Top: Storm clouds suddenly gathered reminding us it is only February after all!
Middle: view towards the Bray end of Sandymount Beach, shortly before the skies darkened and the rain fell
Bottom: Children at play in Februray Dublin weather, enjoying a Sunday afternoon.

I am not exactly the world's best photographer although a decent digital camera has provided some opportunity for me to indulge my fantasies of great ART . If you want to see some really good photos pop over to In Photos by Donncha O Caoimh


Food for the Soul

I take my inspiration where I can find it. I have never been a particularly prolific writer; to my mind churning out every piece of doggerel that occurs to you shows a lack of discrimination. I find that Imbas comes to me from a variety of sources; from personal relationships and moments of great joy or trauma. I find myself returning to small pockets of inspiration that occur throughout life, moments that stand out in the mind and soul. It may take years but those moments create and shape the imagery and word-craft of any poet - and they are rare and wonderful moments, to be jealously and appreciatively gaurded.
This weekend was for me, as an urban pagan, a rare and precious moment. A moment of Imbas, Inspiration. In the proximity of Love, and enjoying the uniquely urban setting of a Dublin beach, it crystallized in several key images the truth of urban paganism - an urban pagan is not one that dreams of being a smallholder in Donegal and who desperately tries to recreate a rural setting in the city but one who embraces the urban life, and who lives in harmony with those surrounding, sensing the nature of the beast that is the city and the energy of the people living there.
It also provided a complex layer of thought and feeling, an oasis of inspiration to which I will return some day, when the words are needed and the time is right.


Saturday 24 February 2007


As a serious student of the occult and a rational pagan, obviously I consider Horoscopes to be a big load of hooey. And yet and yet...I find myself leafing
through the pages of the evening paper and seeking out the predictions for tomorrow. Why ? I am simply not sure. I know they are more often wrong than right. I am aware that our brains latch onto the few coincidental accuracies and ignore the rest. I know that even the most avid proponant of astrology will demand to know your time of birth to the nearest ahlf hour before atempting to cast a horoscope. But I can't help it, I feel better reading that Venus is a-coming or that mars is leaving my house of career; or that it's not my fault I rowed with everyone today - after all Mercury is in retrograde.

Scorpio is dedicated to the guilty pleasure of the mass produced newspaper and
magazine horoscope and to our endless capacity for hope. And to the startling reliability of the Scorpio horoscope - either dire warnings or coy references to "kinky sensual natures."


So it has come to this, reading the future
in small boxes of text, in the Evening Herald
seeking predictions in lines of small font
seeking patterns and clutching at worn straws

Venus, where are you? I need some love
all we Scorpios get are dire warnings and sex
Mercury in retrograde and dark strangers
and ring this number for more information

I read and sigh, at the very same time
mentally berating the fools who believe
in this easy manipulation of our hopes
and peddling of chances, coming soon, tomorrow.

And yet, and yet I still read them, still frown
if they predict a cross and tiresome day ahead;
and smile in guilty relief when they promise
love and money and letters from old friends.

And I quite like the Scorpio profile
sultry and sensual and deeply and psychic
I'd sooner be the stinger than the Virgin
or the fish or the ram, or two-faced twins

So I turn, involuntarily, to the page of print
where the letters and the stars sidle together
and glance, just glance, at the latest revelations
from the mage that is the features editor.

Geraldine Moorkens Byrne


Friday 23 February 2007

Driving To Tara; lessons in terror and calm

First published in the PPP Save tara Edition last year: this is a short piece writeen about tara, its meaning to me as an individual and addessing some of the sttitudes displayed in relation to the proposed motorway.

Driving To Tara; lessons in terror and calm

I go to Tara every month or so. It's a pleasant enough drive if you ignore the mad lorry drivers and the somewhat optional approach to road safety that is a feature of Irish driving. When I was a child, my parents brought me to Tara. It was one of those things we did. You see ours was a family that Went For Walks (once a 24 mile hike to the source of the Powerscourt Waterfall - by accident) and if we didn't go for walks we Went For Drives. This entailed being squashed into the back of a car with two sisters who either were not speaking to me or each other while my parents taste in music afflicted our senses hour after hour. Val Doonigan. Boxcar Willie. Trailer for sale or rent.
Child-line came along a few years too late or I would have been their best customer.

This was in the days before motorways and toll booths. It was a longish drive on pretty crap roads and we generally ended up behind a passing tractor or two en route. When we were little kids, once we arrived anywhere- Tara, Avondale, Powerscourt – we bolted from the car like rabbits emancipated from the stew pot. As preteens and teens we slouched from the car and mooched up the hill, with attitude. As young adults we simply refused to leave the house of a Sunday and thus an era of Drives in the Countryside came to an end.

As a grown-up I rediscovered Tara in my early twenties. It was accidental. A friend was learning to drive and asked me to bear her company.
She shared the common belief that an inability to change gear or stay on the correct side of the road was compensated for by having someone else in the car, even if that person couldn't themselves drive. After a very interesting and eventful trip we found ourselves at the turn-off to Tara. "Take the road to Tara" I remember screaming, solely in the hope of getting her off the main road. We jerked our way in first gear up the hill and arrived at the car park – after falling from the vehicle and kissing the ground I suggested a walk to calm our nerves and postpone the inevitable return trip. So we wandered rather glumly up the approach, clambered over the stile in the churchyard wall and through the moss covered graves in the churchyard.

From the narrow and earthly concerns of the churchyard through to the vista and spread of the Hill itself is a psychological moment . The wind – Tara is almost always freshened by a stiff breeze – hits you as you emerge from the church grounds, and the main thing you notice is sky. Tara commands a view second to none, with a limitless sky above you: the prevailing impression of each trip to the hill is dictated by this canopy of heaven; slate grey, azure blue, impossibly clear with a hot summer sun, crossed and chased with clouds that tell 100 stories as you lie on your back on the Mound of Nine of the Nine hostages…the sky and the horizon remind you of a time when your vision wasn't bounded by buildings and limitations.

I put the sense of relief and calm and welcoming to the sheer terror of our journey there: but I returned time and again and realized that Tara always has this effect. Perhaps it's just me: I don't think so though. I watch tourists thrill to the tales of their guide, feeling at last that here, here where kings dwelt and an oak temple supports the hill and bloody revolution was fought, here they have reached something of the Ireland of their dreams and imaginations.

When you wander around the hill, over to the witch thorns or up and down those impossible ramparts and earthworks and meet another fellow citizen, a little self conscious at being caught walking the spiral or meditating in the hollows, and exchange that look (half embarrassed half defiant) that says "Well, it is Tara after all" – then you realize what Tara is about. It's the place which transcends Rosary and Rattle: where everyone be they tourist and Irish, immigrant or native, finds something that reaches them: where every single moment of irish history finds some expression from the earliest settlers to the recent past. Tara is the heart of Ireland because it brings all things, all traditions and threads of irish life, to itself and has done for thousands of years.

Politics, Religion, Art, Mystery, Oppression , Invasion, Revolution, Oppression, Freedom – the great stock characters of a nation's history stalk the stage at Tara. It is possible to tell Ireland's story in microcosm through Tara and impossible to tell Ireland's story without Tara.
But what is all this in the face of "progress" or what passes for it nowadays? A new motorway threatens the archaeology of the Skryne Valley and Tara, and is set to inflict noise and light pollution at the least on the Hill itself. Oppose this road and you will feel the fury of the outraged "average citizen" who having moved to housing estates in Meath to escape Dublin house prices find themselves in dire need of faster transport into work in the capital. Oppose this road and, I am told, I shall be personally responsible for keeping mother and child, father and family apart; forcing parents to rise at five am to make a 9 o'clock start in the city centre; ensuring a generation grows up sans supervision and probably psychotic through lack of parental interaction; and not least I shall be a crank and a Luddite.

Actually as a hard worker and a Dubliner myself I naturally feel a great deal of sympathy for the poor sods buying homes in the sticks because Dubliners have been priced out of Dublin. However if I were them I would have checked a few things like infrastructure first: and I would blame the greedy developers and the county council and the planners and the government who ignored the lack of sufficient infrastructure when allowing over development and overbuilding in what was an essentially agricultural area. Nor and I am aware how harsh this sound… nor did I ask them to have kids. I'm sorry but other people's lack of thought and planning is threatening one of our most precious national sites. When anyone protests we're called cranks and those in favour of this unnecessary and badly thought-out road bleat "what about the poor families?"
Well what about them?

Well if I were them I would put the blame firmly on the heads of those responsible, and try to think a little beyond the obvious. What about these families? Think of the children? Well if anyone was really thinking of the children they would have opted for railroad over the gross environmental and cultural fallout of yet another road. They might have thought they would like their children to grow up in something other than a glorified car park, breathing something approximating fresh air.

And should the rest of the country and the world, because Tara and the archaeology involved has meaning and importance for the whole world, be held over a barrel to satisfy the short term wants of a minority?

Tara has 'til now always brought me peace: I leave feeling recharged, refreshed; once more aware of the core and the centre of myself. But now when I think of Tara I feel anger. Rage. Outrage. I am sick of hearing smug politicians dismiss the protests of thousands of people, hearing them imply that somehow an involvement with and care for our past makes us ridiculous. Outrage at hearing a community beg, and plead for the means of destruction of its environment and heritage, to get into work a few minutes earlier.

In the end the big boys may win, but we owe it to ourselves, and to Tara and to our history and to the environment and the future, not to give in without a fight. We also owe it to our future to provoke the discussion, how many more roads do we actually need? How many people have to die on main roads, speeding under the false illusion of safety, before we rethink our transport plans? Why are other plans, like railways and alternate routes dismissed out of hand. There are a myriad of small battles to be won on the road to saving Tara, and each of them need to be fought, for all our sakes.

So when they call you a crank, smile sweetly and say "I'd sooner be a crank than a selfish shortsighted slave to instant gratification."
If you can manage a "yah boo" as well, so much the better.

Copyright Geraldine Moorkens Byrne


Don Miguel Da Capo

Everyone knows a Don Miguel. he is the One Most Likely to Become a Rock Star who never quite made it. He is the big fish in a small town, still holding court in his forties to a crowd that is half-admiring, half-jeering; still the class joker, still the clown and the only one in his group to still think in terms of what is "cool" and "not cool."
Or he is the one with complete delusions of granduer. The one who learns to play all the cool songs but plays them like a nerd. Whatever he wears, whatever he does he looks slightly ridiculous. But in his head he is irresistable.
In his equally weedy peers, self-deprecation and good nature overcome the opposite sex's unaccountable prejudice in favour of muscles. In a Don Miguel, resentment grows as women fail to fall at his feet. It is this later incarnation of Don Miguel that inspired this poem, although his alter ego above is just as common and just as annoying..


He plays guitar.

Strumming chords, and humming to himself.
And when he wants to seduce,
draws out a few bars in the classical style,
and thinks he sounds like a Grandee
of the court of Philip of Spain.

He stretches out his legs
in faded jeans, and hikes the collar of his fleece
He is Don Miguel da Capo, brave and suave
and above all,
and no woman as yet
has managed to resist his charm.

He plays guitar.

Half hidden in the corner of a room:
A fixture at our parties.
He never plays loud enough to hear
His humming is a strangled whisper
And no women to my knowledge yet has swooned
Or begged our Mick to play her one more encore.

Yet he remains sanguine,
For he is Don Miguel da Capo,
and all must see the grandeur of this man.

Geraldine Moorkens Byrne


Thursday 22 February 2007

Sometimes inspiration strikes in very odd ways

I just read the news snippet below...
Dentists Gone Bad: The British General Dental Council found David Quelch guilty in January of professional misconduct for pulling two teeth of a patient, against her will, without anesthesia, because she had complained about previous treatments. He supposedly said, "That'll teach you ..." [Daily Telegraph (London), 1-13-07

And this fragment came unbidden into my head:

Pulling teeth
getting a compliment from you
is like pulling teeth.
My knee on your chest
My hand in your mouth
wrenching out some words
ripping them up root and branch
and laying waste
to the soft red tenderness of your gums
Pulling teeth
getting words from you is like pulling teeth.

I am not at all sure what I'll do with it but there you go. Sometimes these things happen....it'll get re worked and parts of it will appear again, or maybe its the irritant in the oyster. but I quite like it, I like the picture.


Wednesday 21 February 2007

The Joust

This poem was written as a result of a recurring dream. I suffer from several interesting sleep problems including clinical insomnia and lucid dreams; night terrors are a common occurance in my sleeping brain. Sometimes though my dreams are like movies, incredibly "real" and I experience them as if they were happening. The scene below is one that haunted many a dream until I found the words to write it. What it means I still don't know; is it something I saw in a past life or a symbol of feminist struggle in a patriarchal society that filtered into my subconscious? Or did I read it somewhere or was it that i ate too much cheese? All I know is on some level I did witness it, watched her walk, understood the story and its significance and I lay it out for you here.

The Joust

Holding a sword like a talisman
Weighed down
under it’s deadly weight
It’s cold beauty mocking her
Her arms aching
Straining every sinew to hold it high
As high as her head
as high as her heart

And across the courtyard she catches his eye
In shame he looks away
Only one person took the challenge
And the champion of the Queen
Was afraid
Held his life and watched her walk
Unsteady into the lists:
The queen’s own child, his princess,
His reproach.

And as the roar of the crowd
Swelled in disbelief
She swung once
With hope
With honour
Once more
With pride
And all with faith.

Holding the sword like a talisman
She became legend
Warrior queen
Cold beauty mocking A haunting dream.


Tuesday 20 February 2007

Crime and Punishment

Originally uploaded by charlesbyrnemusic.

Crime and Punishment

A lie fluttered on the air
Lightly dropped
from glamorous lips
breathed from between bright-pink gloss
and hung,
paused for a moment before it took flight.
I witnessed this,
amoungst other wondrous things;
miracles of human nature.
Saw its springing into life
Heard it throb from lip to lip
the tinkling champagne chatter counter-pointing
its fine and tremulous rise.

In the heat of summer
growing fetid
I stood and judged
Was jury, clerk and court
Magistrate in common cause
While vacuous heads
Under shiny hair
Nodded to the pointing of a dozen varnished claws
A quiet shadow gone from group to group
Taking evidence
Giving them rope
Letting them tie nooses
Dumbstruck by the power of illusion
Working on the bluntness of small minds

What sentence ,then?
What balancing of the scales could tip and turn
this cruelty into redress
Was I the one to cull the herd?
Would I say the harsh word against my own…
Loaded words, like bullets.

A lie was uttered
Soiling air and ear alike
Spite and malice bandied round
Tearing reputations, making
Of love and trust.
I wore black
With white gloved hands
And for each tiny thoughtless wound
Planned a thousand in return.

Geraldine Moorkens Byrne


Saturday 17 February 2007

Making Amends

This poem is about the loss of innocence. not in the conventional sense; but in that loss of illusion, loss of comfort sense. The illusions produced by ignorance, which is really another word for innocence - lack of knowledge - are sweet and impossibly pure. They are the illusions of loyalty and friendship and love that make our childhoods and adolescence so vivid. The loss of these illusions, no matter how much better off or safer we are in knowing, is something to be mourned.
And now I pride my adult heart/For adult sins to see./Yet as a dupe in innocence/In summer games and pretty play/My heart was far more free.
I wrote it in my late twenties, which for me was a time of realisation in itself; when the seperation between adulthood and childhood, youth and maturity, innocence and knowledge became set and unyielding.

Making Amends

You used honeyed words
I used wildflowers in a glass jar
It seemed mad to be at odds
While bees and flowers and summer sun
Conspired to make us smile.

All childish grief dispersed
Games and play resumed
Our chubby arms entwined
Like honeysuckle ropes that bind
Our idols to their throne.

And now I wiser am,
And hear beneath your tone
To all the use you have for me
To all the use you ever had
Had I but ever known

And now I pride my adult heart
For adult sins to see.
Yet as a dupe in innocence
In summer games and pretty play
My heart was far more free.


Friday 16 February 2007

Memorial Gardening

And this is part two of yesterday's poem; remembrance of them in death. It is a painful subject, but again with bitter-sweet and tender memories of a life that should have been longer. I tried to keep match the sense of loss, of the potential of this life, The carnage of nations surrounded my soul but I/ I am released with the individual himself, this unique and mad, eccentric and wonderful, tragic and comic soul we all lost too early.

To D.C.
Memorial Gardening

Revisiting the scene, it struck me at once-
how divine it all was;
how the angels of god were at play.
And I counted the stars from the plateau of steel
while the campfires grew dim in the day.

The carnage of nations surrounded my soul
but I, I am released.
I feast on the bones of a banquet grown cold
They’ll never grow old, the deceased.

Ah, I have the secret of dying for love
and I care not for dying of hate.
If this dance were to cease, I would cry out in rage-
as I carry the secrets of state.

I long ago realized how it began-
the man who was cheated made money
the money become the compost of souls
the holy flocked like the flies do to honey.

Ah! I cannot be burdened by Musings and dreams
Away with the shades of the battle-scarred dead
These contours of concrete are swaying like flags
The graves stones are huddled like sheep in a storm
And poppies are clouding my head.


Thursday 15 February 2007

Memorial 2000

This is part of a two-part poem, or perhaps more properly two poems both memorials to the same person. The first remembers them living and here it is. It's a sad and painful remembrance, but one that is also sweet and tender; hence the poem tries to reflect the rawness of remembering tempered by the bitter-sweetness of nostalgia and shared joys recalled.
To D.C.

Memorial 2000

You have caused me,
more pain in the remembering,
than any hurt in real-time ever could.

From out of nowhere,
you assault me.
Stealing time.

I smell the newly opened pages of a book
and see again
the white desked college library

in springtime sun-
the sweetest silence,
the ordered rows of books.

The smell of you,
your skin golden,
your eyes on mine.

I inhaled deeply
And held it as long
As lung and heart could stand

until the pressure made me exhale.
And rushing back
Came shop and street and traffic

and rain and wind
and thirteen hard won years
and adulthood.

And my very bones ached.

Geraldine Moorkens Byrne


Wednesday 14 February 2007

Anti-Valentines: Poems of Love - Sort of

Well to counteract the mushiness posted this morning (though frankly still in an exceedingly mushy frame of mind!) here are some Anti-Valentines to leaven the recipe. The PPP used to hold an annual Anti-Valentine event, inviting poems on the theme of not being in lvoe, love going sour, love hurts, and of course the perrenial classic "all men are bastards" although the male members of the PPP have put their foot down about that!

so here's to bitter, twisted, heat seeking, revengeful, cynical Anti-valentines: because we've all been there once or twice!

The Pass.

Sleep by me, he says,
as if
It would be nothing,
a graceful gesture,
like coffee on a workday afternoon.

We are estranged but not strangers.
And it
would be worse than mundane,
a social crime,
not to remain friends, my ex-lover says

And friends, he smiles his urbane smile
at times
seek comfort in
each other arms and beds
a very cosmopolitan affair, my good friend said

but I am urban not urbane;
I see
Your treaty flag as false
A pirate on the matrimonial sea
And I decline the salad and you, over lunch.

GMB 2000

The Love Poem

You write out your love in fine letters
and point out the truths of my heart
Fine words of devotion, drenched in emotion
aimed at my soul like a dart.

I read them and try to ignore you
the eager desire in your eyes
determined detection, demanding affection
provoking me just to tell lies

I sit with your verse in my two hands
and swear that they rival Shakespeare
seem to attract you, I just can't distract you
you simper and pucker and leer.

I think I will keep this last effort,
the love it professes is
it may serve a function, when I seek an
the law says that stalking is wrong.

Oh god will this nightmare be over?
I cringe at the rythym and rhyme
I blush at the meaning and pray that I'm dreaming
-you say you've been published this time?

Well,my life is over I know it.
You stuck me in the title, I see.
so there's no doubt at all, when you say 'living doll'
the unfortunate referred to is me!

And Angel and Fairy and Sweet-heart
and what is that last bit again.
Ah yes, I'm excited, madly delighted
to be known as your soft fluffy hen.

No, really. Thanks. A lot.

GMB 2000

Lisa D is getting wed

lisa D.
the belle of half a dozen balls
who took a thousand calls
curtained, or otherwise
is getting wed
now ball and chain
where once was piece of fluff
is it enough, she wonders
to really really like?

When lisa d was like me, we used to dream
of white and cream
we played bridesmaid
we played bride
while mothers cried with maternal pride
and we were going to be famous
before we married a charming prince
much has happened since those summer days.

I stand gowned to her attend,
lisa d who was my friend
and by talking through the guest list one more time,
we may avoid saying goodbye.
for lisa d is getting wed. lisa d
is getting hitched.
Lisa d is shackled now.

GMB 2000


Valentine: The Ark of Lovers

Well the day that's in it, one almost feels obliged to post a love poem! This is one I wrote years ago, but not because I had found that kind of love. I wrote it in hope, in a frustrated longing for something I felt sure did and could exist, but that always seemed beyond my grasp. Being a rather pragmatic soul at ehart, as all peots are, I turned cynic and decided that that kind of love was a pleasant illusion. I offer it here as - well as a sincere valentine. A homage to the gods of love, to Aengus Óg, to finding out that there are relationships based on trust, kindness, chemistry and laughter.

The Ark of Lovers

Compact for me, O Gods, this single ark.
No covenant more do I need.
Build me a temple on these grounds
And I am freed.

Give me one promise,
And that promise, thine.
I need seek truth no longer
For thy word is mine.

Give me one troth
And let it be your own.
I will cast caution aside
Like the dark dream flown.

Give me one oath
And I need hear no more
In all the whole world wide,
I will make thee my shore.

And when they call the Judgment day, the gods
Will raze and fire the temple walls of men
But the shrine I build of trust and faith in thee
Will stand, and stand again.

Geraldine Moorkens Byrne

And elsewhere in the world of poetry:

A devotion that waxes and wanes
Valerie Lawson traces love poetry's fragile affair between the sheets of time.

PLATO knew that "at the touch of love, everyone becomes a poet". They certainly try to today, when the commercialisation of a saint's day demands words to accompany the champagne and roses.Valentine love lines range from the beautiful to the banal, from the borrowed to the freshly minted, and from inspirational to doggerel
Love poetry and The passage of Time

Nathaniel Mackey was a high school student in Orange County when he stumbled upon poetry. It was William Carlos Williams' "Pictures From Brueghel," discovered by Mackey at the Santa Ana Public Library.
It opened a new world to him. Before long, he got hip to African American poet Amiri Baraka, then known as LeRoi Jones, whose liner notes he read on a John Coltrane album. One poet's work led to others' -- Robert Creeley, Denise Levertov, Garcia Lorca -- but he always retained a special fondness for Williams, the man he calls "my initiator into poetry."

UNC Chapel Hill dedicates dorm in honor of slave, poet
The Associated Press
February 13, 2007
It is well past time for this university to honor our native son, and to help ensure that, at least within the Carolina family, he is a known and honored hero
A dormitory at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill has been named for a Chatham County slave who became a published poet.
The George Moses Horton Residence Hall, dedicated Monday, is the first building at the university named after a slave.
Horton, who lived from 1798 to 1883, would recite love poems for students who bought them for their sweethearts. He later became the first black man in the South to publish a book of poetry. Horton's themes included the cruelty of slavery, Civil War-era politicians and campus life.


Tuesday 13 February 2007

William Blake: A Divine Image

A Divine Image

Just one of my favourite poems; one of the poems I read in my youth that caused a shift in my perception, in this case of divinity and creation. If we are made in "His" image - what a reflection. And yet, Blake does not deinigrate the reality of humanity, even while rejecting the sentimentality of Christian theology on the point. Humanity, in all its gripping reality, is divine; without ever needing to be derivitive.

A Divine Image

Cruelty has a human heart,
And Jealousy a human face;
Terror the human form divine,
And Secresy the human dress.

The human dress is forged iron,
The human form a fiery forge,
The human face a furnace sealed,
The human heart its hungry gorge.

William Blake


Saturday 10 February 2007

Look At Me Carefully

Look at me Carefully
Look at me, Look at me with care
can your eyes play tricks?
If you can see past the trees
you may glimpse me, just.
Look at me, carefully
look at the spaces between
see with your heart, with joy
find me among the green.
Geraldine Moorkens Byrne


I looked across

Originally uploaded by charlesbyrnemusic.
I looked across
and saw
a ribbon of silvered light
and the first
blush of rose dawn.
This was Imbolc, the calling of Bríd
and She entered
on a pathway of sparkling
I looked across
and my heart rejoiced
at the soft tread of her
across water.

Geraldine Moorkens Byrne


Friday 9 February 2007

Poetry News: Burlesque poetry

It's Poetry, Jim but not as we know it..

Burlesque Poetry Hour

Taking It Off for Your Art

by: Sandra Beasley

It was January 2006, and a new year always brings the thirst for something different. I was trying a new cocktail: the Down ‘N Dirty Martini (olives and a dash of Tabasco). A new scene: a banquet in the cozy, cherry-paneled Dark Room at the Bar Rouge on 16th Street. A new series: Burlesque Poetry Hour, which promised fresh, edgy poets in a swank setting. The inaugural reading featured Deborah Landau, of New York, and West Coast poet Kim Addonizio. I was ready for anything.
Well, almost anything.
After Kim Addonizio’s scorching set of poems on love, betrayal and the praises of gin, our hostess Gilda coaxed the audience into chanting:
“Take…it…off. Take it off!”

.burlesque poetry

In praise of a guilty geniusBritain has a curious ambivalence towards the poet and critic WH Auden, in part since he 'abandoned' England for the US in the 1930s. In the year of his centenary, Katherine Bucknell welcomes the new attention due a rare and questing spirit Sunday February 4, 2007


and the latest edition of The Poetry Life and Times is up and its excellent.


Thursday 8 February 2007

The Children of Lir Sailed into Bantry Bay

Originally uploaded by charlesbyrnemusic.

The Children of Lir Sailed into Bantry Bay
Four white breasts abreast in the blue harbour
How are you faring, i asked for something to say
Heartbroken at their endless wandering selves.

We are fine, they replied with courage
we sail where the winds allow and soon
we will find safe anchorage, in the bosum of Lir
and rest in the safety of our home.

How many years have I asked the same question?
How many times have you replied with hope?
I pray someday I will come for you, my four friends
and ye will be far away, finished wandering at last.


Saturday 3 February 2007

Irish Cowboys

First Published in Prairie Poetry Ezine

It's a very nostalgiac poem; the games and illusions of childhood and the fascination exerted on us by America - a place that seemed as real as Dublin and as unreal as Narnia, at the same time.

Irish Cowboys

The wild west for us
was never the stone walls
and fragments of land between them
the ragged, wild, bog-spawned
west of Ireland
It was a topography, a dialect, a code
as familiar as our parents
or our national tongue
gleaned from Television, old movies
dog-eared paperbacks.
We were born in Dublin
but we all, each one,
roamed the wild praries
hunting buffalo in our souls
spat tobaccy and smoked Marlborough
walked bowlegged - howdy pardner -
or grim and gimlet-eyed, we eyed the
scorching sun
talking in monosyllabic knowing exchanges
about drought, and cattle dying, and crops failing
thwarted in our childish hearts by
near incessant rain
and insolent verdant green.

Geraldine Moorkens Byrne


Friday 2 February 2007

Alan Kennedy Photography

Wonderful photography site!

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Human Nature simply doesn't change

one of the things I find fascinating about history and archaeology is that from our early ancestors right on down to our own urbane modern polished selves, human nature simply doesn;t change that much. Sometimes this is a bad thing, but more often I find it comforting, endearing. I love the sense one gets that five thousand years ago for example some woman put on her best clothes and make-up and went out to meet a bloke she hoped would finally propose that night. Or some father anxiously watched his children as they entered adolescence, hoping they wouldn;t get led astray by the adult world and choices opening to them and wishing he could protect them longer. Strip away all ritual and religion, and what you ahve is the core of humanity; our hopes and dreams and fears. The rest are simply the trappings around them by which we seek to make them tangible or protect ourselves from thigns going wrong.

And of course if there is one factor of human existance that will never change its that no matter how noble and grand and significant the edifice the ordinary joe soap who has to build the damn thing takes his pleasure and his comfort where he ca, And noone throw a party like a bunch of bulders!


The Weekend

My shoulders ache from hauling rock
each huge unyielding building block
the high priest is an awful fool
and the foreman really isn't cool
I've worked from dawn for days and nights
put up with cold and whips and slights
but come tonight I'll be just fine
if I have some food, a wench, some wine!
This stone circle will ne'er be built
I've had this project up to the hilt
but if I work like a dog all day
I'll party all the night away!


Thursday 1 February 2007

The Ugliest Woman in the World

posted by Sara Curran on livejournals this is a great piece, a lovely ingenious fairytale...thoroughly enjoyed reading it!

The Ugliest Woman in the World


The Armchair Expert

This poem was inspired by a poetic "conversation" with another poet, Mad Mickster Murphy; we like to exchange our increasingly outrageous views on a variety of subjects but this is one (perhaps the only one) where we found ourselves in complete agreement!
One one level it's an appreciation of the careful patient study that turns talent into skill, the hard work that underpins the greatest success. On another it's a sigh of exasperation at those who like to criticise but never actually do, never contribute, never take the risk of creation.
Whatever the art form, when you produce you risk; part of yourself, part of your ego, part of your inner landscape laid bare. Those who will not take the risk, but want the privilege of criticising - these are the dreaded armchair esperts

The Armchair Expert...

There are a race of little blighters
full of venom, full of spite
known to all who make or build
as 'youknowyouhaventdonethatright'
this strange species never make
nor build nor fix nor e'er create
their only purpose is to watch
the work of others and berate!

They see each flaw, and always think
if only they had had a say
they would have made it bigger, better
superior in every way!
They trot out all their cliched phrases
'you should have, could have, done it thus'
the worker tries to show their error
but this just leads to greater fuss.

'Oh you're just jealous,' comes the chorus
'you see that I could do it best.'
The worker bows their head and sighs
and tries again to show the jest.
How they, by hours of patient work
have learnt the skill and mastered trade
the scars on hand, the calloused fingers
show the price each one has paid.

How to silence monkeys chattering?
How to stop the wittering birds?
How to bid the 'expert' silent
when they have nothing but their words?
The worker suffers slings and arrows
shafts of venom, jealous jeers
but words fade with the last faint echo ...
the thing he builds outlasts the years.

Geraldine Moorkens Byrne