How We Love

Your hand in the night
before sleep,
before waking,
patting my hair
so lightly,
your fingers
telling the story
of how we love,
the song we sing
secure in silence.






Winter and Spring

Life Within


Smoke from a chimney,
the faint spread of light,
cold hand of winter
on bare trees,
thorns exposed
on the flowerless rose;
life within an ember
opening our eyes
to see in darkness
the shape of things to come.




Spring Rain


Trees pulse and wave,
green flags fluttering;
the gentle touch
of spring rain
guiding us forward.





The Mission

Ireland, 1919


Shaking him from sleep
they came in the night,
rain falling off their wet clothes
like the sky he’d soon be under.
“We want you to go with old man Heaney
to cut down young Martin.
The Tans have hung him from a pole
in Kilbeggan. His brothers can’t go,
they’re already drinking
and likely be shot on sight.
Even the Tans won’t shoot a boy
with an old man coming for his son.”
Kilbeggan, Jesus, that’s a day in a trap,
even with Heaney’s stout horse
but no one was asking him, they never did,
just telling him, and he’d go.
“Good boy Mickey” they all said;
they needed a boy who could work like a man.
Though he hated obeying them
feeling wanted was reward
and relief from his grandfather
snoring to wake the dead
and his grandmother groaning
before the awful cough began again.
All the way to Kilbeggan
not five words between him and the old man;
when they got there full light
though rain dim and empty in the Square.
The damned horse wouldn’t hold,
the death smell frightening it,
the body already stiff
with gaping holes in his chest
where they’d shot him.
Mickey grabbed the corpse
as the old man cut the rope
with the knife he used on pigs.
Mickey could hardly hold both his breath and the horse
but when they got the body down he turned the trap,
the old man sitting there with the knife in his lap
and his dead son in the back.
Two Tans smoked in a doorway
under dripping slate:
“Let them have the body,
take it back to them all for a sign.”
It was dark by the time they got back to Heaney’s,
the dooryard full of smoking men,
the two brothers drunk and swearing,
crying as they took their brother in the house.
“You can’t wake him” the priest said, “he’s been dead too long”
but the brothers said “we’ll do as we goddamn please Father”
and they did. Put that stiff corpse on the kitchen table
then closed the door so the women could clean him
and lay him out in the parlor.
The men were roughing his hair, clapping his shoulder,
saying “good boy Mickey,” but he didn’t care.
He wanted to stand by the stove but not with that smell
so he stood out in the dark with the men
while the brothers swore and fired their rifles,
cursing at the sky, the Brits
and the rain that wouldn’t stop.



Nan, Carmel, Patrick


Drowning the Memory

What fool would listen
to ghosts beside the river,
the shades of ancient trees,
of badger and wolf
when proud buildings
fill the waterfront,
roads sleek and strong
rise above the spring flood?
Lost souls beneath the bridges
hear these voices
and the plaintive sound
of creeks beneath the pavement.
We climb in tubes of steel,
see far from great towers.
Let old ghosts rant
and abuse the trolls.
The sound of highway thunders,
the music of our new lives
drowning the memory
of the dark forest
and all that went before.