Tag Archives: poetry

Poem in Rattle Magazine Issue 79

A big thank you to Timothy Green for including my poem “Irish History” as part of their Tribute to Irish Poets in issue 79 of Rattle Magazine.

Read about the issue here: https://www.rattle.com/product/i79/

I encourage you all to pick up a copy, there’s some excellent poetry in there from a variety of poets, not just Irish poets.

Jim Feeney

Forest Fire (tanka)

Forest Fire

smoke obscures the dawn

there is no…no early light

oh say, can you see

the root cause, the root causes

and does it, does it give pause.

Another one for Brendan’s ekphrastic challenge over at Earthweal. Taking part in open link weekend over at earthwealhttps://earthweal.com/, since I’m late for the original prompt,

Angel on the Move (haiku)

Angel on the Move.

always, yes, always
take your pedestal with you
with you when you go

Brendan’s challenge over at earthweal is to write an ekphrastic poem inspired by the images he provides or one of your own. This is one of my own but check out Brendan’s images, you will be inspired!

Also taking part in Open Link over at dverse.

Limbo Blues/ Existential Boogie

Limbo Blues

today I remembered limbo
you can’t stand too far from the tracks

today I remembered limbo
you can’t stand too far from the tracks

some days you’re moving forward
some days you’re hanging back

Bob Dylan mentions Rimbaud
Van Morrison does too

Bob Dylan, mentions Rimbaud
Van Morrison does too

today I remembered limbo
Jean Paul Sartre, Albert Camus

existential boogie
do that existential thing

existential boogie
do that existential thing

you can do it in your armchair
summer, autumn, winter, spring

and if you’re looking for an answer
don’t ask Albert Camus

if you’re looking for an answer
don’t ask Albert Camus

that dude’s been dead a long time
he can’t tell you what to do

existential boogie
do that existential thing

existential boogie
do that existential thing

well, you can do it in your armchair
summer, autumn, winter, spring.

I was at a concert last night at the York Theatre on Commercial Drive in Vancouver . Walter Trout and his band were playing with David Gogo opening. Walter is a virtuoso electric blues guitarist, he’s played with pretty much everyone starting with Canned Heat and on through John Mayall. One of the best shows I’ve been to in a while, electric blues at its best. But not just blues, Walter is an excellent songwriter and his insights between songs into his professional and personal life were fascinating. Rock solid band too. Made me revisit the above effort at writing a blues song! If Walter is in your area , be sure to check him out!

For John D. (a Poem and a Deconstruction) …again.

For John D.

fecund, moribund, quincunx

fecund moribundity

moribund fecundity

rhizome, rissole, piss-hole in the snow

phenom, pheromone, genome

lissom, blossom, possum.

This poem is all about sound, association and perhaps, memory. The first three lines are an homage to the sound of ‘un’. The phrase -“fecund moribundity, moribund fecundity” –  was uttered by my friend, John Damery (John D.) during a discussion about the music of Neil Diamond – his oeuvre, his place in the pantheon. This was some time ago but it has always stuck in my head, it has a brevity and clarity  that could only have been brought on by the consumption of 5 or 6 pints and the ingestion of greasy chicken. After a long legal battle (not really) he has recently granted me permission to use  it in a poem.

The fourth line is the workhorse of the poem, the engine, the poem’s midfield general. It inverts the ‘mo’ from the first 3 lines to create the ‘om’ that dominates the last two lines. it also introduces ‘iss’ which makes an appearance in the last line. As for “piss-hole in the snow”, I defy anyone to find a finer example of bathos . The fifth line is all about ‘om” but note the clever inversion back to ‘mo’ in ‘pheromone’.

The sixth and last line has a slick softness to it like blancmange. As promised the ‘iss’ from ‘rissole’ and ‘piss-hole’ makes an appearance  before morphing into ‘oss’ and in a final stroke of nothing that remotely approaches genius, the transformation of ‘om’ into ‘um’.


quincunx (a word that flirts with obscenity):

an arrangement of five objects with four at the corners of a square or rectangle and the fifth at its centre, used for the five on dice or playing cards, and in planting trees.


a continuously growing horizontal underground stem that puts out lateral shoots and adventitious roots at intervals.

Both words were used in an article in the Irish Times on the poetry of Seamus Heaney, sent to me by John D; ‘Cartesian dualism’ and ‘Binarism’ were also mentioned (and Jesus wept).


a compressed mixture of meat and spices, coated in breadcrumbs and fried.

My mom used to make them, although I remember them as being more like a hamburger patty without the bun…thanks, mom!

Photo: English Bay, Vancouver, A-MAZE-ING LAUGHTER, by Yue Minjun.

Taking part in Open Link over at dverse.

This is also for Glenn Buttkus who passed away recently. Glenn was a regular contributor to dverse. He was an excellent poet and a man who liked edge.



My friend, Slim Volume,
had a girlfriend once.
called Delilah.
The relationship did not last long
and it wasn’t exactly a passionate affair,
mostly they just liked to watch television together.

I’d say hey Slim, what are you up to this weekend?
and he’d reply with an I’m glad you asked grin
Samsung and Delilah, he’d say
Samsung and Delilah.


Prompts sometimes send me in a completely different direction than the prompter intended. For example, this week Brendan over at Earthweal came up with the following prompt/challenge
Honor an element and invite it to our poetry commons

and although I knew he actually meant sun, wind, rain etc, I immediately thought of The Periodic Table of Elements , yes Brendan’s prompt got me into an elemental mood


When I think of Antimony
I think of acrimony
and Scott McTominay
who plays for Manchester United
and Scotland
then I think of carbon and oxygen
and their troublesome offspring
carbon dioxide
and I think it’s hard to write about chemistry
and not sound like a geek
then I think of copper and lithium
and how we need these elements
to make the batteries to power our electric cars
and how we will have to drag these elements from the earth
by means both fair and foul,
but mostly foul.
Then I think of the time I spent
in a copper smelter in southern Peru
trying to start a system for extracting sulfur dioxide
from the smelter off gas
ahh sulfur dioxide the product of a back alley encounter
between sulfur and oxygen
what is it about oxygen
it just won’t leave those other elements alone
geek on, geek on.

The operators of the smelter
were the descendants of the Incas and the conquistadores
and sometimes both
one night I spent a whole shift
with an operator who had the features
and head of an Easter Island statue
he spoke no English
my Spanish was poor
it was a long night
I wasn’t in my element.
In the mornings
after these night shifts
I would drive back to the fishing village
where we were staying
in a house the locals called Casa Gringo
I would drive past the huge pipe
discharging effluent into the blue ocean
and always there were vultures circling the outflow
and perched on the pipe.
I would drive past a patch of waste ground
the size of two football fields
covered in waste metal and other debris from the smelter,
(hello, arsenic, my old friend)
and always there were scavengers
combing through this mess
and what did I learn from all this
I learnt that the devil is always in the details
the devil is always in the details
and the footprint must be managed.

Poem for Jordan Peterson with apologies to John Lennon


I am he

as you are he

as they are they

and we are all together.

(Jordan Peterson is an alt right lite, self styled intellectual, described by Maclean’s magazine as the “the stupid man’s smart person”. Naturally he has thing about pronouns)


A Song on the Radio

Yes, our song “Willie’s Oasis” has been played on the radio, RTE Radio One (Ireland). The show is Country Time, host Brian Lally , and he has some very generous things to say about the song. Here’s the link.


Our song is 3 songs in , but check out the whole programme, some great stuff on there , including some Willie Nelson .

If you like the song, let them know at


Jim Feeney

Spare Me

it came as a gift
now it sits in the corner
like a sulky child
demanding attention


you learn that
on a trip to the Arctic
frost bit the tip
of Harry’s todger
making him a
not so jolly Roger
a less than artful dodger
when he’s an old codger
he will remember
the day he froze
his dingus, his dong
his John Thomas
his todger
but for now his royal cannon
is just, well,
tabloid fodder.

Watching Prince Harry on Colbert I’m Reminded of a Previous Post involving Oprah and Chickens

Oprah among the Chickens

As I watched Oprah, Harry and Meghen
standing among the chickens
standing at the epicenter of an event
that sent shock waves
throughout the free world
I asked myself this question:

Is a rescue chicken
a chicken that has been rescued by people
or is it a chicken that rescues people?

I then asked myself another question:

How many Royals does it take to change a light bulb?

and a voice answered:

It’s a journey.
They must first acknowledge
that the light bulb
was the source of the light
that previously flooded the room
then and only then
is change possible.

Porcelain, Puppy Chow and Prince Harry (or The Ginger Vision)

Porcelain, Puppy Chow and Prince Harry (or The Ginger Vision)

You’re walking through your kitchen
looking for some granol’
when you do a Prince Harry
and land on your dog’s feeding bowl.

You’re lying there in the porcelain and the Puppy Chow
bruised, confused and cursing your luck
when Prince Harry appears and says:
Hey, you could put this in a book.

2023 and the Second Person Singular

2023 and the Second Person Singular

2023 dawns
and you’re still writing
in the second person singular

you think of the Ukraine war
and you think
satire is the first casualty of war
then you think
maybe you should throw out glibness too

you think of evil
and you see Putin’s face
you think of heroism
and you see Zelensky’s face
you think of Ukraine
and you see

headscarves and overcoats hunched around a guttering candle

and you think
this second person singular thing
is not providing the distance
you expected.

Taking part in Open Link weekend over at earthweal,

The Road to New Year

Just Before Christmas……

an Arctic cold front
Amazon trucks stuck
down snow-packed side roads.


Between Christmas and New Year

You review your blog stats, as one does, and you wonder why you you are using phrases like “as one does”, have you been watching too much Britbox?

Back to the blog stats, number of views is down from last year which was down from the year before. Your viewing numbers appear to have peaked in 2019. Why? In 2019 you had the pandemic of course and a perfect storm of subject matter – the pandemic, the Trump presidency, and climate change. Now you have said pretty much all you have to say about these subjects for the moment. But isn’t that the way of some blogs, they fade because they need a fresh angle. Also, you have gone back to letting poems marinate for a while to see where they are going, giving them some quiet time.

In the meantime you have been reading, and your top read for 2022 was “Our Country Friends” by Gary Shteyngart. You read the novel one chapter at a time, each chapter accompanied by a can of Yellow Dog Play Dead IPA. Why, because Gary’s prose is too good to rush. You also enjoyed “The Nineties” by Chuck Closterman and “April in Spain” by John Banville.

You listened to “Stolen Car” by Beth Orton, because of the lyric and the guitar figure that slithers through the song like a poisonous snake. You listened to El Camino by Elizabeth Cook because who else would rhyme “annull it” with “mullet”. You listened to “Under The Milky Way” by Church because of the expanse it conjures. You listened to “Jesus etc” by Puss N’Boots because it’s Norah Jones doing a Jeff Tweedy song.

You thought “Licorice Pizza” was the best movie of the year because of Bradley Cooper and everyone else in the movie.

And now as 2022 draws to a close, you are wondering why the hell you are writing in the second person singular.

Happy New Year everyone!


Stepping Out

Stepping Out

inside the mask
a faint whiff of grease
from this morning’s eggs

I find the outdoors
secure in its greatness
the sea still open
the sky limitless
the sky, the limit.

The challenge from Grace over at dverse is this:

The challenge for today is to write zen poetry, with a focus on attaining moments of enlightment – or true clarity of mind — by emphasizing singular experiences.

(This is an edit of a previous poem.)

The Stolen Reindeer

The Stolen Reindeer

Last year, just before Christmas
someone stole a reindeer from our front yard
we took it hard
we took it hard.

We checked our neighbors’ security cameras
we drove around in our car
we shook our fists at random strangers
we took it hard
we took it hard.

Then Christmas morning dawned bright and clear
and when we looked out on our snow-blessed lawn
the reindeer it was there!

Naw, just kidding
this is not that kind of poem.

World Cupoetry 3 (Lionel Messi)

Lionel Messi

I saw him once at Camp Nou
playing for Barcelona against Girona
he looked..what’s the word…unprepossessing
like a clerk in a 1950’s black and white movie
with an office in the basement of a New York skyscraper
the one who tells the hero that the books don’t balance.

On the other hand

there was something otherworldly about him
it occurred to me
that he might be an extraterrestrial
a bit far-fetched I know
but for the first 15 minutes
he seemed detached
in the game but not in the game
the full back passed the ball to him
he passed it back
the full back passed the ball to him
he passed it back
then suddenly as if receiving a signal from somewhere
he passed the ball inside to the midfielder Busquets
took off on a diagonal run
took the return pass
laid the ball off to the striker, Suarez
took the return pass from Suarez
and then passed the ball with the inside of his foot into Girona’s goal.

It took a matter of seconds
It was poetry in motion

and ever since I’ve wondered
what signal did he get
what made him take off
did he sense some structural misalignment
in the opposing team’s defense
some lack of attention
was it a message from the mother ship
or was it just pure instinct
like a migratory bird
sensing the headwinds are just right
to start that journey south?

Willie’s Oasis (Looking for drink in all the wrong places)

Punam over at dverse asks us to “Write about your favourite drink (alcoholic/non-alcoholic), write about getting drunk, use drinking as a metaphor, in short: write a poem in a form of your choice with a drinking connection”. (Update: I omitted to link this to Punam’s prompt, so I am now linking it to Open Link Night at dverse)

Willie’s Oasis

Houses hunker in the heat
Out on highway 82
The landscape sweats and saunters
Billboards block the view
And this is not New York City
This is not Saginaw
This a dry county, son
This is Arkansas

And I need a pack of Pauli Girl
I need a bottle of wine
I’m heading for Willie’s Oasis
Outside the county line

There’s a woman in line waiting
Someone’s girlfriend, someone’s wife
Says she wakes up every morning
And asks:”Is this my life?”
Beef jerky on the counter
Pickles in a jar
This is a dry county, son
This is Arkansas

And I need a pack of Pauli Girl
I need a bottle of wine
I’m heading for Willie’s Oasis
Outside the county line

Good ol’ boys are chugging out
Storm clouds on the horizon
The water looks like iced tea
Birds are improvising
And this is far from New York city
Far from Saginaw
This is Ashley County, son
This is Arkansas

My friend John Mitchell turned the lyrics into the song above (that’s Ben Mink on violin, look him up!).

Hurricane Donald

Hurricane Donald

What mighty wind blows hard out of Mar-A-Lago
up-ending facts like trailers in a trailer park
ripping the roofs off reputations
revealing the gyrations in the bedrooms below
hailing down bombast and innuendo
on the corrugated tin of truth
a wind that makes Ian and Fiona
look like that nice Scottish couple across the road
(Is she Irish?), the ones you should invite over for dinner
or is it just a storm in a tumbler
is it just Donald raving
in the cocktail hour of his years.

Taking part in Open Link Weekend over at earthweal

Why did Yeats need Nine Bean Rows??


I will arise and go now, and go to Innisfree,
And a small cabin build there, of clay and wattles made;
Nine bean-rows will I have there, a hive for the honey-bee,
And live alone in the bee-loud glade.

Why did Yeats choose nine bean rows? Can’t say I know for sure, but let’s give it a try….
So let’s say that any number below five would not be enough bean rows for W.B.’s bean needs, then how about ” five”:

Five bean-rows will I have there, a hive for the honey-bee,
And live alone in the bee-loud glade.

It works, the “five” rhymes with “hive” and half –rhymes with “live”, but to my ear, there are too many “v’s”.

So let’s discard “six” because of that “x” and “seven” because of the two syllables and “eight” because it doesn’t chime with any of the other words, except maybe the “t” picks up the “t” in “there”. How about “ten”?

Ten bean-rows will I have there, a hive for the honey-bee,
And live alone in the bee-loud glade

We’re getting there: “ TeN, beaN, hoNey, aloNe,…….that “N” sound repeating but …..

”NINE ” wins !!! It has the consonance of the “n’s” and it also has that half rhyme with “hive” and “live”.

It’s almost as if Yeats knew what he was doing.

Footnote: A friend of mine told me recently that he had no recollection of studying Yeats at school. When he said this, those  opening line from The Lake Isle of Inisfree, sprang in to my head “I will arise and go now, and go to Inisfree”, which I have heard  so often that it has now taken on an orotund, stage Irish plumminess.

Our  English teacher, Mr Courtney, loved that “bee-loud glade”.