Archive for February, 2012


You couldn’t help yourself

Though the sign hung on the door

The desire became too much

Heart pounding

You quietly turned the key

And pushed it open

And there he lay

Like in your dreams

Only better

Only real

The statue beside him on the locker

A beam of sunlight bouncing off it

The shock as he stirred

You’d broken the a golden rule

But it would only be the first.


You mumble your apolgies

And withdraw to a safe distance

Flitting in and out of rooms

One eye forever on his door

Last night the world watched as he

Walked the red carpet with her

This morning you saw him asleep, alone

For a moment he was yours

And then it was gone

But not forever.


When he does arise, unshaven

Clothes draped around his frame

Like they were still hung on a chair

Innocently you arrange to be

In the hall as he passes

On the way to the elevator

The award poking awkwardly

Against the canvas of his bag

His half-smile, tired eyes still bright

The muttered “thank-you”

The ping of as it arrives

(Like in the movies

He doesn’t have to wait)

Then it swallows him, and he is gone

And your heart is beating faster.


You run to the room

And breathe his scent

Cologne and sweat and sleep

Darkly chilling, filling you

Fulfilling you

Mind made up,

You strip the sheets from the bed

Folded quickly, carefully,

Stowed away at the bottom

They won’t be laundered today.


You finish your rooms and park your cart

The sheets disappear

Nod your goodbyes, make your escape

Swiftly you exit the scene

Hurry home, not looking anyone in the eye

Inside the door, straight to your room

Peel the sheets from your bed

And put his on instead

Undressed, you crawl in between

Mixing your scent with his

As you watch his speech repeat

On the TV, over and over

His smell overwhelms you

Close up

A moment of intimacy

He will never know he was part of

He might have the statue

But you have the sheets.


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an open letter to nico the german economist

from the smoking area in copperface jacks



i meant it when i said your skin was nice

i didn’t when i said sorry but i had a boyfriend

(i’m not sorry at all)

your sophia shouldn’t have done what she did

but the anger will subside, people roam

you’re far away now so don’t be letting

the changeable nature of one still growing

stop you growing yourself

you’re angry, i get it, but

believe me when i promise

those three years weren’t wasted:


no time shared

linked at the hearts and head and the hands

is a wasted

no time horizontally plaited under duvets or skewed upon sofas

or bickering over how old these mushrooms are or aren’t

or how the jar of peanutbutter

looks suspiciously like it’s been eaten with fingers

or living on the other coast of the country

conducting love through pixels

or explaining that you’re not ready for commitment

while they’re still undressed

or cheating with people who ferment in your brain

til it’s drunk and stupid with lust

or going back again and again and again,

just because he said he missed your smell

or passing out early and waking to the sounds of his girlfriend’s name

addressed, accidentally in sleep, to you

or being gaslit and shrunk to the size of a rotten tooth

or being left for girls you loved more than them in the first place

and tattoo artists

or drinking too much and making stupid decisions on beaches

or getting taxis across the city at 4am every night for a winter

so as not to wake in the freezing depths of his flat

or spending all your spare money on credit

just to see his name flicker on the lcd screen of your nokia

even though he’s going out with your best friend

or running through train stations in nice, terrified of being stranded

heart in mouth, head swimming, hand in piano-playing handed


god none of it is wasted, how could it be


the stories you will tell and the things you have learned:

you will be all shades of human and hurt and love

you will be every colour of alive, nico

so thank you for the lighter

for the story

i hope you find everything that you ever need



(i can’t wait to go back and re-draft this.  i promise i’ll stop writing confessions and go back to writing about food soon. if you’re reading this, nico, you’re awesome.)


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Today light was the same

As that morning when we walked up Dorset Street

And into Drumcondra

Not a drop of drink over

In the house we just left

Boots clinging to the carpet

The sun outside climbing in the sky

Like the house lights going on

At the end of a gig

But we weren’t done just yet.


For our encore we walked up the hill

Up Grace Park Road, singing

The residents behind the red-brick fronts

Roused by the ballads

Some cursing us

Some knowing us

Some of them not yet home themselves

When none applauded, we walked on.


Going our separate ways on Collins Avenue

It pained us to part

No matter how many Saturdays we’d shared

No-one else could know

They hadn’t shared this one

They weren’t there

We’d relive it all over again tomorrow

But first the blissful sleep

Hindered by the light of the cold spring morning

The walk home had never gone quicker.

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highlights from the houseparty, a love story

(the one where i got shot in the eye

with a supersoaker full of dark oak rum)

for ceri who is leaving for our new life in 18 days

your arm around my waist, or lower

we sway with beats older than us

my eyes hurt from the smoke still i drag on

my fingers on the leather of your belt to pull you closer

your laugh is soft, filthy, stop that

in the other room folk sit on the floor

drinking beer bottles full of water to sober them

sci-fi bbc adventures projected on the wall

god it’s late

we dance as though on a pier at the end of the night

almost falling in but i am caffeine adrenaline twisted

with the excitement of it and you

you’re eight cans of something german later

i kiss your mouth and it is new

if we stop i’ll go to sleep

dear god it’s late

circles grow and close as people move over the floor

we part and communicate with our arms and hands

your body an uncoordinated choreography, somehow just right

i point and you punch the air – i watch you

you are a 1997 clean cut timberlake stonewashed pierced ear

dream boat heart throb

i laugh because i am exhausted

it’s getting bright out

take me home





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The story so far

I’ve lost count. All I know is we’re over the halfway point and it feels good.

That’s not to say it’s easy – coming up with one idea and one poem every 48 hours is like putting a literary gun to your head. If you’re lucky, some of the chambers are loaded, the hammer clicks and you get a poem. If not you put the coffee on and the night stretches out before you.

What the hell will I write about next? And how?

I would have loved to go back over the “rules” of poetry, to look at different forms and meters, but there has been no time for such niceties. Life – journalism, films, book pitches, TV ideas, Irish business work, family, football – goes on around it.

Hence the poetic exercise is very much like my news journalism – fast, functional, to the point, forever trying to isolate the what, they why, the who and the how. The rest can be filled in by the reader.

I’ve been pretty hard on myself. Sarah’s days are down days and I don’t write – at the very most I may make a mental note of an idea or a word, but more often than not I wait until it’s my 24-period to publish something.

When it comes around I let the mood take me, and more often than not, it surprises me.

A poem about my grandfather – who died years ago – probably surprised me most of all. He had a pulley in his garage to exercise his arthritic arms, and the image struck me one night. It was written in minutes.

Death has been a recurring subject, mostly because of the loss and loneliness it leaves in its wake. SO has social justice. The world we live in is neither just nor fair, mostly because we don’t let it be.

The current state of affairs in Ireland has also cropped up more than once; with the tsunami of poverty and austerity, it’s like some bizarre, malign gift that keeps on giving.

The vast majority of what I write is written very quickly – for me, this is no exercise in refinement. It is about expression under pressure, about finding something worth saying and saying it as well as I can in a short space of time.

I allow myself few corrections and almost no edits – absolutely none after the 24 hours has elapsed.

I have seen several things I would like to change because I could have expressed them better, but that is not the point – they are what they are, to coin a phrase.

What has surprised me most is Sarah’s openness, her bravery in the face of expressing her feelings.

Don’t believe the hype- as a man it’s easy enough to keep them close to the surface, because you can always fall back on aggression when threatened.

For girls, it’s a lot more complicated and exposed than that – you can just as easily be castigated by your own kind, even when support would – should – be expected.

Like everything, there is a plan. I want this to be a book, and I want you to be included in it.

Yes, you.

Because if we can do this, so can you.


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Running on Empty

Running on empty

I’ve used up today’s quota of words

On everything from righteous indignation

To the height of human achievement

And still I owe you a poem

Eyes burning from tiredness

But if I go to bed and leave this undone

The empty page will be waiting for me

When I turn out the lights.


What if the day finally comes

And there are no more ideas?

No more stories to be told

No more angles not yet seen?

No more nuggets of wisdom

To be gleaned from normality?

Will the day finally come

When it’s all been done before?


Or has it all been done anyway?
Is every word and every brush-stroke

Since the dawn of time

Just repetition?

Just a new way of saying the same things

Over and over again?

Do our great ideas endure

Not because they are original

But because they are not ours at all?


In my weariness, the comfort

A song heard for the first time

Is a new song for me

Even if it has aged a thousand years

In the vat of someone’s soul

The treasure is not for every idea to be new

But to be the first to say

What has been here all along

And what endures.

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in which i pluck my own eyebrows for the first time

(and am somewhat conflicted)




at first i counted the hairs as i ripped them

from the brow above stinging eyes watering

the newness of the pain a shock

distracting me from one, two, three, four

i should of taught myself to do this years ago

isn’t this what all girls do

isn’t it prettier to look surprised?


i tweezed from a centre point

with a steel implement coloured blue

painted into a matryoshka at the handle

as though to make it less surgical

to make it a ritual like cleaning oneself

this hair is dirty, mother nesting doll

get it away get it off get it away from me


should i rip out my teeth too

while i’m here, make a day of it

they didn’t grow the way i wanted them to either

i’d need a bigger tweezers: i wonder

do pliers come painted like the toys of children

to make what i am doing to my body

less a horror, more a pleasure


my face is reddened now and cheeks wet

i consider the teeth only what a mess that’d make

and new ones wouldn’t spider out of my gums

like the hairs will in a week sure now i’ve done it once

i’ll have to keep strangling them, each a stray pup on my face

how dare they i’ve already told them

how much prettier it is to look surprised


i wonder could they give me a steel machine

painted china blue to match the others

to wipe the scattered freckles that pock my face

(how dare they, i’ve already told them)

except seventeen exactly on the bones of my cheeks

only the daintest ones are allowed here, no wanderers

oh, i’ve remembered how to count again


my face is a new thing in an old hand mirror now

more severe, a barer landscape

the hairs have been eaten by my clothing or the couch

evicted by this blue painted matriarch

someday they’ll meet my deserted teeth and freckles, sighing

god wasn’t she a lovely girl: bit of a late bloomer, mind

i suppose she’s cleaner now, more poised


she looks prettier when she’s surprised






(second in a series of body poems)


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