Tag Archives: Photography

Whiskey In The Jar – A Deconstruction (the Thin Lizzy version)

Whiskey In The Jar – A Deconstruction (the Thin Lizzy version)

I have often wondered why
when he encounters Captain Farrell
while going over the Cork and Kerry Mountains
(or are they the far-famed Kerry Mountains?*)
the protagonist first produces his pistol
and then produces his rapier.
Surely the rapier is redundant
once the pistol is produced.

(*In the Dubliners version, it’s “the far-famed Kerry Mountains)

Whack fall the daddy o.

Apparently people occasionally wonder what “whack fall the daddy o” means. Well it does not mean anything, it’s kind of like Irish scatting, what singers do when they run out of words.

I once wrote a sea shanty in which I used a variation on whack fall the daddy o. Here it is :

Sea Shanty

Oh. the herring were running wild and fast
as we sailed out from St. John
and the cod were plump as Mary’s arse
on a Sunday morning after early mass
with sausages on the griddle-o
and rashers in the pan
whack fall de diddle dairy oh
whack fall de diddle dan.

Take it away, Phil….

Bucket List (a ghazal, sort of)

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Bucket List (a ghazal)

mountain climbing in County Meath
put it on my bucket list

fly fishing in the Sahara
put it on my bucket list

snow shoeing in the Serengeti
put it on my bucket list

surfing in Saskatchewan
put it on my bucket list

stop hiding behind a shield of sarcasm
Really? Put that on my bucket list?

write a ghazal about everlasting love
aw fuck it, put it on my bucket list

stop peppering my poems with profanity
that’s a prohibition, it has no place on the list.

High Plains Sushi (2)

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High Plains Sushi

This bar’s insured by Smith and Wesson
Says the sign upon the wall
Vern studies his empty beer glass
Time slows down to a crawl

Audrey, the lank-haired waitress
Watches from the bar
Order something soon, she yells
Or get the hell out of here.

There’s a special on at Wanda’s Ranch
Tuesday night 2 for one
But Vern doesn’t have the appetite
He doesn’t have the wherewithal

There’s only one thing that he wants
And he’s going to get it soon
High Plains Sushi
High Plains Sushi
Hot Sake in a cup
Five thousand feet above the ocean
And he just can’t get enough

Two guys from the goldmine
Old Arsenic and Rock Face
Have journeyed up from the centre of the Earth
To join the human race

But no matter how hard they try
No matter what they do
In the glow from the pool table
They’ve still got that subterranean hue.

Something’s warming beneath a heat lamp
Looks like deep fried road kill
Beside a tub of mashed potatoes
It’s making Vern feel ill

There’s only one thing that he wants
And he’s going to get it soon
High Plains Sushi
High Plains Sushi
Hot Sake in a cup
Five thousand feet above the ocean
And he just can’t get enough.

 

I spent a little time once in Elko, Nevada. There was a sushi restaurant in the town which served individual portions large enough to feed a small Japanese village. Elko hosts an annual Cowboy Poetry Festival. Interesting place. The theme over at dverse is food poetry.

This version of this poem appeared before as a dizain, one of those poems that keeps changing shape.

Sound Heard While Replacing The Basement Toilet (plumbing tanka)

Sunrise over Planet Cistern

Sound Heard While Replacing The Basement Toilet

a ghostly whoosh
echoes down the open pipe
a toilet flushing

in a neighbor’s house uphill
yes, we are all connected.

I hardly ever do this but here’s a challenge to all you poets out there: write a poem about plumbing. There are no rules, write about anything – an ode to your favourite plunger, a sonnet about a dripping tap, a haiku about flexible hoses!

Link back to this post if you like, so I can read your poems.

The Sun God

juxtaposition

The Sun God

Myron volunteered once
as a caretaker on an island
in the middle of a lake
in the High Andes, North of Puno,
the Altiplano.

The top of the island
was as flat as an anvil
and every day he would climb up there
from his lake side cottage
to study the funerary towers
of Silustani over on the mainland,
using his large binoculars.

It was never quite clear to Myron
what exactly he was taking care of.
He had a house,
a dread-locked alpaca
and three guinea pigs.
The guinea pigs were housed in a wired compound,
inside the compound was a miniature mud hut
with a thatched roof
and three open doorways which the guinea pigs retreated through
every time he approached.
He thought that,
perhaps he was supposed to eat the guinea pigs
it was clear that they thought this also.

Located close to the funerary towers
were the remains of an Inca temple
worshipping the Sun God,
at that time in his life
Myron was losing faith in atheism
and the Inca worship of the sun god
had a certain logic to it.
Without the sun where are we?
Where are we, indeed!
He wasn’t overly keen on human sacrifice
but he had to admit that the Incas
dealt with the blood well,
channels and drainage being an Inca thing,
knowledge they acquired along the way.
Subjugate, assimilate,
and so it goes forever.

Myron thought he would use this time to write
but mostly he sat looking at a blank page
listening to the tinnitus in his left ear roar
and in the absence of his fellow human beings
he began to think that the alpaca was judging him,
the way it stared at him from under its matted fringe
and down its long nose.

One night he found himself shouting abuse at the alpaca.

The next day he left for Puno
and got drunk on gassy lager
in a pizzeria on the ragged, dusty town square

not far from the shores of Lake Titicaca.

This poem was previously published in The Galway Review. and also was posted over at earthweal.

Taking part in Open Link over at dverse.

Of Fish and War (Edit)

Of Fish and War

In the city of Nha Trang, Vietnam
at the National Oceanographic Institute
among tanks cramped with
circling neurotic fish
(Hit the glass. Stop. Turn around)

there is a multi-colored specimen
whose toxin,
according to the description,
renders its victims

“unconspicuous or even dead”.

Conspicuous behind glass
further north
in the Hanoi War museum

lie the dog tags of dead American soldiers

to a man
young, buzzcut and hopeful.

This poem was written a number of years ago, after a visit to Vietnam. The news out of Ukraine this week, for some reason, made me think of that visit and what happens to a whole generation on either side of a conflict when leaders decide to go to war.

It appeared in Open Link weekend over at earthweal.

Now also in Open Link over at dverse

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Photo  taken outside The Hanoi War Museum

The Trucker Convoy Protesting Vaccine Mandates Crosses Burrard Street Bridge

The Trucker Convoy Protesting Vaccine Mandates Crosses Burrard Street Bridge

as seen from the park below
the trucks look like toy trucks
driven by children
which is partly true
given that the logic of their rhetoric
resembles that of a petulant child
and I’m being hard on petulant children

the blaring horns sound like
the dying groans of white male supremacy
the Canada geese look puzzled
the crows go crazy in the trees.

Taking part in open link weekend over at earthweal

Forest Gumption

Forest Gumption

Sometimes driving by an empty field at evening
on an island somewhere
where we have gone to get away
from whatever it all is
I experience, out of nowhere, a primal longing
and I imagine stopping the car
and crossing that empty field
to enter the forest beyond
a forest that is shutting down for the evening
all rustle, chirp and squeak
and walking through that forest
I encounter in a clearing
a deer illuminated by a shaft of sunlight
the deer stares at me doe-eyed as I pass
but does not move,
as I continue down the trail
a ball of white gas darts between the trees
keeping pace
there’s a whiff of sulfur in the air
in another clearing I come across a log cabin
moss on the decaying cedar roof,
a thin wisp of smoke exiting the chimney
I walk across the slick green of the porch
and open the door to a room
smelling of mold and mouse shit
there is no furniture except for a table,
a chair, and an old fashioned typewriter
I walk to the table, sit down
and start to write this poem
I get to the point in the poem
where I sit down to write the poem
and there’s a knock on the door
I walk across the creaking floor
and open the door to a tall stranger
dressed in black, his wide-brimmed hat
pulled low over his eyes
“I’m in your poem”, he says,
in a voice that has travelled centuries,
“I’m in your poem, what happens next?”

(apologies to Stephen King)

Over at earthweal, Brendan asks us to write about “wildness”, that’s what I started with!

Also, taking part in Open Link over at dverse.

A Scarecrow Looks Back on his Life (Edit)

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A Scarecrow looks back on his Life

Before Oz
I had control of my life
I had a purpose
a reason for existence

a modus operandi:
stand in a field
and scare crows
that’s it, that’s all.

It was lonely at times,
I admit, particularly
at night, but occasionally
a farmer returning

drunk across the fields
would stop and tell me his life story
then fall asleep, snoring
and farting at my feet

and yes, oh yes
I listened in on
acts of intimacy
on hot summer nights

and heard sounds
that made my straw curl;
then Oz occurred
and it was no longer

about presence
it was about absence
the absence of a brain;
children would circle me

and sing that stupid song
suddenly I was pathetic, forlorn;
what got me most was the
sheer illogicality of it all –

to yearn for a brain, one must
have a brain to begin with,
sometimes, I think the sole function
of a brain is to yearn…..

hang on a minute
I’m sure I saw that same crow yesterday
Look! He won’t come within twenty feet of me!
I’ve still got it! I’ve still got it!

Taking part in Open Link Weekend over at earthweal.

Toad at the Gates of Doom (with extra verses)

Toad at the Gates of Doom

Outside the Gates of Hades
sits a cross-eyed toad
beside a burnt-out serpent
a broker and a phone

Outside the Gates of Heaven
sits an angel in disguise
beside a corpulent bishop
with ecstasy in his eyes

and the sign on the gate says:

Closed for Renovation
No judgement today

If you’re looking for accommodation
Clear off, go away.

God is on vacation
taking a well-earned break
there’s only so much suffering
one true God can take

So, get your ass back down there
be good to everyone

drink lots of water
and try to get along.

Outside the gates of Hades
sits a cross-eyed toad
beside a devil with a laptop
revising the Moral Code

Outside the gates of heaven
seven priests in a line
they’re longing for eternity
but this is not their time

and the sign on the gate says:

Closed for Renovation
No judgement today
If you’re looking for accommodation
Clear off, go away.

God is on vacation
taking a well-earned break
there’s only so much suffering
one true God can take

So, get your ass back down there
be good to everyone
drink lots of water
and try to get along.

Revelation in a Diner (wayra)

Revelation in a Diner

not the kind of place
for revelations, then boom!
awooga! there it is, the
unbearable flatness
of beige pancakes in the morning.

Over at dverse , Grace’s challenge is to write a wayra incorporating onomatopoeia. What’s a wayra? I’ll let Grace explain:

“The Wayra (Quechua – wind) is a popular verse form of Peru and Bolivia. It appears it originated in an indigenous Quechua language but has found its way into Spanish literature. It is a short syllabic verse form found at Vole Central and some other sites around the internet.

The elements of the Wayra are:

1.a pentastich, a poem in 5 lines.
2.syllabic, 5-7-7-6-8
3.unrhymed.”

Hal The Halibunist Looks Back On His Long Career (2)

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Hal The Halibunist Looks Back On His Long Career

halibuns about Haliburton
halibuns about halitosis
halibuns about Halle Berry
halibuns about Halley’s Comet

halibuns about Spiritus Mundi
halibuns about Rosamund Pike
halibuns about Solomon Grundy
halibuns just for the fun of it

halibuns at Sun Dance
halibuns in Halifax
halibuns about halibut
halibundance
halibundance
halibundance.

Taking part in Open Link over at dverse.

Thom Yorke takes a walk on Halloween Night(4)

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Given the week that it is, I decided to bring this poem back from the dead…..

Thom Yorke takes a walk on Halloween Night

The dead move slowly
through the graveyard,
they are few at first
but as they pass
each row of headstones
grey fists punch
through mounds of earth
in a manic salute
and the throng grows
and the throng grows
and the night howls
and the fog curls
and a thin cloud
bisects the moon
and at the edge
of the graveyard
is an old well
and at the bottom
of that well
is a little boy
and that little boy
is crying for help
and that little boy
is Thom Yorke

The Name is at the Bottom Blues (2)

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The Name is at the Bottom Blues

it’s a name that you come across
in someone else’s bathroom
beside the shaving cream
the Tylenol
and those pills that people use
and suddenly
you’re soaked
in melancholy
from your head
down to your shoes
there ain’t no doubt about it
there ain’t no doubt about it
you’ve got those Estee Lauder blues.