Among the dust and rubble
The broken bones and burnt flesh
The debris of a battle
We couldn’t afford to win
Not for the want of money
But courage, of spirit
Another such victory
And we would all go home alone.

What point is there in winning
If all we do in its wake
Is beat down others
And lord at their expense
What point is there
In rising to the top
By climbing rough-shod over everything
You hold to be dear and true?

What point is there in continuing
Tramping the wheel of failure
These precious moments, like children
Are here and gone, never to return
Walk the wide street
Pin the lily to your collar
And ponder
That glorious victory is not to prevail the battle
But to succeed in the drudgery of peace.


an open letter to the dickhead spiders in my apartment

3 weeks before i move to san francisco



i’d no birds to sing to, or rabbits or mice

so i coaxed the spindly dark things

that skitted around my feet as i cleaned

suggesting they helped

use their lace-webs to mend

cigarette holes in my scarves

burns in the curtains

keep me company like a princess

in an animation from my childhood

at a time when things

were too quiet in that flat


but they did not gather for the dance

just gave me eight-eyed dirty looks:

as though to ask why i’d been in my parents

instead of there with them


where have you been all week

it’s been awfully quiet around here

where did the tall one go

we liked him


so trilling scales just echoed

back from the hollows of

empty bookcases and charity-shop bound

plastic bags of things that

once were precious


their rejection was startling,

it awakened a fury, familiar


i vengefully considered trapping them

under glass tumblers from the disused kitchen

binding them to pyrex prisons

leaving them in the middle of the floor

and by the sofa, and in the bath

for trespassing, being over-entitled

being heartbreakers


here are your crystalline palaces, your majesties

as i lock the door behind me

this house is yours now

i’m leaving for ever, you bastards

this is your house now







best friend’s boyfriend’s teenage brother issues



i was a thin thing

all protruding rubs:

hunger pains unrecognised

for the fresh grief

that swam in me

and i’ve no idea

what led me to your room


it definitely wasn’t the film

you wanted us to look at

i’d seen it

it wasn’t great


i sat on your bed

you told me i looked sick

i suppose i was

then you brought me

a strawberry yoghurt

from downstairs

like you knew


i picked at it, unnerved

and the film rolled

the difference in us

a little more than two years

a barren expanse

i think it was the first time

i felt old


i moved, adjusting my angle

to the screen and

my vest rose slightly

with the alteration peeked

a white band of flesh

where my combats slung low

a hip bone taut against

skin, so exposed


i glanced to you

your eyes connected with

the angle of me, the corner

by my empty stomach

in a dense second

heavier than

just eighteen to just twenty


i let you look a moment

then covered it again

this breath

was leaden

i took a rich hit

from the possibility

of your admiration

it was all i really needed:

the suggestion was enough




Go now, while there’s still a little light in the sky

And race the sunset home

I’ve given you all I have to give

So now you’re on your own

And though the darkness soon will fall

On this evening crisp and clear

Use the night to gather yourself

Tomorrow will soon be here


And should the lightning rip the sky

And the rain come pouring down

And the wind whip down across the plain

And thunder shake the ground

Remember what I told you here

And though your heart does ache

The past belongs to others now

The future’s yours to take


Should doubt cast a shadow on your heart

Your hand be gripped by fear

Your anguish cause your mind to seize

Your resolve frozen by fear

Shake yourself and come again

With all your strength and skill

To banish doubt, remind yourself

“I can. I must. I will.”


For Griff, as she plans her departure.

on listening to daft punk while walking in raheny




my shins hurt and my back is wet

the suburbs and the village are

a narrow spectrum of blues, greens and greys

punctuated with the occasional

red flash of a car

the yellow wink of a spring flower


this is a comfort but in my ears

there are nebulas of synthesizers

i am not at all on this sloped road of concrete

but in the twisted knot of a black hole dancefloor

blood surging with adrenaline stars


hands leaving trails as they sway by my side

all i can feel of the is each beat

marked by each step of my feet

it is not stone beneath me

it’s light


then the track changes

so i am earthbound

flesh and tracksuit fleece

there is only the rush of cars

the murmur of my pulse in my ears

for three quiet seconds

next song, the ascent begins again




Went away

Because Ireland is full of expressions that don’t mean what you think they mean.


She went away

To England

Got a job through a friend

Great opportunity

Had to take it quickly

She left hastily

Not like the others

Who went away

To have their babies

Not her

She just went away


He went away

Family had a farm

And when someone

Came to harm

He had to go

A thing of beauty

A man of duty

Not like the others

Hanging from a tree

Not he

He just went away.


They went away

To Australia

Left the key in the door

Bills on the floor

He had a brother there

Borrowed off the mother

And brought them all

To start again

Not like the others

The car in the water

The bodies inside

Son and daughter

Still strapped in

Not them

They just went away.



de ja vu

de ja vu



we barely spoke the first night we met

heard each other’s stories

from the crowd around the microphone

you were a gunshot at a record player

i’d heard you before and couldn’t place how

you stilled me only to leave without conversation

diego, meet frida


months later when you first of all grabbed my wrist

and we stumbled down that garden hill

i knew truly we’d done this falling before

unsure when but certain this wasn’t

the first kiss we’d kissed

the first touch we’d pressed to each other’s lips


you were familiar and a thrill: a ghost-train

rollercoaster freefall taken as an adrenaline-high child

on a holiday in blackpool

a lover from a past life


your long fingers on my small wrist yes

my body against yours on a packed dancefloor

hips rolling arms braided we’d moved this way before

scott, meet zelda


your cleverness was an enormity

how much would we teach eachother

how much would we discover and uncover

over covers and under covers we were magnets

so polar: but still drawn

marie, meet pierre


i’d drive you to distraction while you out wrote me

then burned me in an asylum god i’d do it all again

i’d mourn you struck down in the rain by a carriage

addled with radation

i’d die in a bed i’d spent most of my life in

painting our pictures again and again


let’s see what happens this time

we might have a quieter existence but no less a tender thing

and know that when it happens next time

all will be changed

we could be cats, or birds

astronauts or children


regardless: we will still be us, i know it

i’d recognise your smile anywhere