Mind The Gap

I married the woman whose husband jumped in front of the train.
He approached me; wide smile, lively eyes. His hand outstretched as if to shake with a friend.
A laminated business card.
“It has all my details on it”.
I took it.
He jumped onto the tracks as the 11:17 from Central screamed by.
His shoes never touched the ground.
She was younger, blonde and stick thin.
Never in shock, never surprised.
I wonder why he jumped.

I wonder why I’m about to now.

Good Boy.

"All gone. All gone now. Will you be good? Will you be a good boy for mammy? Ah-ah-ah. No. No. Are you going to behave now, are you? You don't want mammy to get upset do you? Good boy. Will you do what you're told? That's the good boy. All gone. It's all gone. No no, don't put that it your mouth. Dirty. It's dirty. No. There. That's the goooooood boy".
Terence spent most of his early to mid-thirties working through his inherent need to please others.

That's Handy

Of all the times to be here, I chose now.
I suppose it chose me really. That would seem more like it. Yeah, I guess that's it.
Thinking that the all-knowing universe might bow to my timetable seems slightly egotistical. No, not 'egotistical' - probably not the right word. I don't know what the word is, I'm not good with words.
I am good with my hands though. Always have been. If you want a table made or a bike fixed, I'm your man.
I can fix and build and create with my hands, no problem.
One time in school our teacher told us to make a three legged stool out of timber.
Not only did I finish it four days before it was due, but I sanded and polished and lacquered that stool so that it looked like royal oak.
So that's why I'm surprised to be here.
In a creative writing class.
Well, not too surprised. Not really.
She's Christine and she's sitting three chairs to my left.
That chair could use a bit of varnish, mind you.

To Too.

To be there.
To see that.
To compliment this.
To understand the other.
To be seen smiling at the efforts.
To say "Very well done" and "I'm so proud for you".
To hug for 'no reason'.
To allow.
To give space.
To Trust.
To Thrust.
To be unconditional.
To believe.
To be.

Easy Does It

Words. Coming from where?
Letters. Assembled in a chaotic spin cycle, without warning, occupying your mouth, filling it to capacity; the different shapes battling for attention - each an ego embryo.
Out they fire - rat a tat tat.
In order, usually.
Lined up for maximum clarity.
Impact soft or hard; unknown until landing.
Others unable to predict others.
That would make it easier.


You laugh, I laugh
You cry, I cry.
You sit in silence
So do I.
I'll be this way
Until I die.
The You that's You
The You that's I.

An Announcement

Longacre. Mr. John and Grundy.Mrs. A.R. (nee Chersterlain) announce
this day, the formal completion of four strips of bacon (streaky), six
sausages (pork), two eggs (soft boiled), two rounds of toast (white) and a
pot of tea (strong).
Heretofore to be referred to as 'breakfast'.
All food gratefully received by their loving children Millie (9),
Thomas (7) and Olivia (5).
Monies accepted by Tesco.

Dog Daze

Oh God, my dog is snoring
It'll be the ham at lunch
He's like an old man boring
No teeth with which to munch.
So he swallows every morsel
And gulps it down too quickly
He ends up on the floor mat
Either tired or weak or sickly.
Tonight the ham had cloves in
Lovely in the tum
But a doggies' s gullet's different
It expedited to the bum.
"Get out", we yelled together
The roar induced a fright
It's not the only thing induced
As out came a spray of...poo.
The canine lies contented
It's day of thrills is over
He dreams of cats and food and pats
This mutt we christened Rover.

Away With the Fairies

Waves leaping on top of one another in the race to shore.
The wind that drives them hurrying up the dunes, flicking
the hair across my forehead unaware of it's power and grace.
A fragile whisper shape flutters across the view.
Light, feathered, transparent.
Closer now.
Two sets of wings.
"It's all real y'know. Even the stuff you cant't see".
Once again, away with the fairies.

Top of Grafton Street

They took away his footsteps
That took him to the Green.
The echo of his brogue heels
Polished, bright and clean.
Remarking to a fellow
As he doffed his hat to her
Attending to his duties
With diligence and care.
They took away his footsteps
As he walked across the road
Past the dressed shop windows
Before the Green Cross Code.
If you listen closely
You can hear his disapproval
As the installation of a rail line
Begets his past removal.
They took away his footsteps
Broke them up and drove away
I wonder who will come along
To remove our own one day.

Medical Charges

The doctor's diagnosis
For my constant malady
Was arthritis on my ear
And water on the knee.
"The first one we can treat for you
With cream and some saltpeter.
The other will be charged per week
By the installation of a meter".

'avin' a Giraffe.

To laugh, you need to think
Of some one, some  where, some thing.
Of words that once were spoken
A memory awoken.
An oak tree stands with pride alone
Not thinking of its funny bone.
It shares its grandeur with its own
Unable to find humour.
You can giggle with an ant
Or chortle with an elephant
But the belly laugh that’s real
And the emotions that you feel
Hide the others you conceal.
You should set free but can’t.

Ah Here

We need to get something in for the dinner.
Well will you take the baby and I'll go look.
No you take him.
He doesn't want me, he wants you.
He's five months old,he doesn't care.
Ah, he gives out with me.
Just take him. I have to look at mattresses.
We're not shopping for mattresses.
We're not, I am. You're looking after him. And getting the dinner.
Did you not see one you liked?
I want to keep looking.
Did you not see one though.
Yeh, but there might be a better one.
Why not just get that one?
It was dear.
They're all dear.
I want to get him a good one.
But you said he doesn't care.
Well I care. I want him to have a good one.
D'you want fish fingers?
What do you want?
But not fish fingers.
Donegal Catch?

Oh Jeremy.

Jeremy was an artist
He lived to paint and draw
Colours, lines and circles
For everthing he saw.
But when he drew my mother
In a state of full undress
The police called to her bedroom
Lifting Jeremy under duress.
An artist has a licence
To represent all of life
That's what he said the next week
While lying with my wife.

What About Ye Wee Brad.

Yer mon Brad Pitt was here
Looking fancy in his suit
Behind the railway station
Cameras rolling, acting cute.
In Belfast of all places
Far from Thelma and Louise
Still, one look at the lassies
And they crumble to their knees.
But sure his missis has him sorted
He won't step out of line
None other ill be courted
Not in this lifetime.
He's just a man like Daddy
Two arms and legs and eyes
Except he's better lookin'
The camera never lies.

Who Loves Ya Baby ?

Back in the 70s, lets say 1976 based on inaccurate memory, my brother had a certain mid-teen admiration for David Bowie. The music yes; the fashion most definitely.

The 70s being what they were, your average teen paper delivery round paid a very large smidgen under the amount needed to buy bespoke suits and flash rock star shoes. But hair - well, hair could be washed, gelled, waxed and hair sprayed into any design you liked. To look like anyone you liked.

My brother shaped the Ziggy Stardust coif to rebel-rebel perfection. No dyes needed, no mohican cut, just a tall blowdried hat of full Bowie-esque hair dancing like a musical mane.

He was lucky.

His hero was universally regarded as cool. To try emulate him was acceptable and brought admiration.

Back in 1976, I too had a hero; a man who appeared on TV regularly. Imposing, charismatic, electric.


Yep, that's right - Telly Savalas, Ltn. Theo Kojak, TV cop, bald man.

For an eleven year old boy, the problem lay not in liking the Kojak character but how to emulate him. Let's face it, at an age where blending in is the ambition, standing out with a bald top was never going to achieve the desired invisibility.

"Why don't you try some other policeman" my mother said.

The others included Jim Rockford and McCloud. One lived in a caravan and the other rode a horse. All of a sudden life in Ballymun drew some positives.

But no, it was Kojak for me.

The only thing to do was adopt his habits, his mannerisms. Slamming street scum against a wall and ‘booking' strangers on the street was off the agenda, so I needed to find the one aspect of his personality that stood out. It was obvious.

Off to Larry's newsagent, coins jumping excitedly in my trouser pocket. No Beano for them today, no ‘caps' for the pistol. That 85p, slapped on the glass counter top was destined for one thing only. The lollipops.

"85p worth of lollipops please. Any colour, your choice".



"Are you sure"?


Enough for a week. Who loves ya baby?

Thursday night, Top Of The Pops. Brotherhood of Man, ShowaddyWaddy, Darts. The pre-punk charts more likely to cause cavities than my newly acquired habit.

Then on he comes, singing about love, feelings and some woman while wearing a peach coloured open neck wing collar shirt as he strolled through a flower filled set. The hard talking, crime beating, New York city cop sans lolly and very much sans credibility. Crest fallen yet ultimately relieved to still have hair, I did what every self-respecting loyal fan would do. I jumped ship. To the flash new golden TV crime fighters. BBC2, Saturday nights. One Starsky and one Hutch. Now this was the future. Running, jumping, joking, fighting and always looking sharp. Oh yeah.

Also, no, way you'd catch Hutch on Top of The Pops singing about love.


Any Day

Funny how bright light can bring dark
How chatter is silent
How busy stays still
How change is forever constant

For change it never will.

Testing Times

“So Michael, the results of your tests are in and it’s not good. Your cholesterol is off the scale, blood pressure is through the roof, you have a tumor on your liver, the onset of early Alzheimer’s and that freckle on your face is a melanoma. You are also developing rabies, ebola and bird flu. Your heart is weak, show signs of type 2 diabetes and could have a stroke literally any day”.

“That’s what I was afraid of”.


He flicked the light unknowing
Put down his keys and hat
Took off each shoe quite slowly
On the kitchen chair he sat.
The rain outside had tapered
Patting lightly on a pane
Inside a dot past chilly
Turn up the heat again.
Dinner in the freezer
Not much of an appetite
A bare and quiet evening
Hope for hurried night.
Another day has ended
Along with its vibrant sun
The world outside has ended

A silence has begun.


So easily it falls
After climb so hard
Relief releasing form
Returning now
To practiced ways

Comfort through a norm.

Windsor Carpark

I had to look twice, without obviously wanting to look twice. One of those snap-your-head-back-into-position moves that happens after the event.
Looking in the mirror, I noticed the hair first, then the red cheeks and puffy eyes.
“Here” I said to my friend Paul when I got back to our table “Guess who I just saw coming out of a stall in the loos?”
This was three days after we beat them one all in Belfast (yes that is possible).
Paul looked up and raised an eyebrow. Never one for wasting words, our Paul.
“Billy Bingham”, I said.
Eyebrow arched closer to the hairline.
“Billy Bingham? Northern Ireland manager?”
“What was he doing in there?”

“Number two, I think”.

Navajo To Go

He-Who-Fights-Bears stood beside his onetime enemy and now friend, Calming Wind.
‘Bears stood over six and a half feet, broad shouldered, eyes that could turn black with a wayward thought. His solid silence in contrast to Calming Winds’ slender, lean tautness.
Together since dawn, they had gathered whatever the hours allowed them in order to see the day through. Both men aware of the unseeing eyes passing them by.
As the sun tired of watching from high and eased itself slowly to sleep, He-Who-Fights-Bears and his friend Calming Wind emptied the contents of the small leather pouch they now shared, to inspect the day’s cache.
Five dollars exactly.

Enough for two hotdogs and a chocolate milk in the 7-11. 

Strike Three

Neil had made three major decisions in his thirty five years.
One, age twenty six, was to get married. Ended in divorce.
The second, age twenty nine– obtaining a mortgage. Re-possession.
Third, last night, attempting to sever the arteries in his wrists.

Funny how failure can sometimes save your life.

Cuppa Joe

He had always been told that it was important to smile at others – make them feel nice about themselves. Coffee shop worker, bus driver, lady in the street. So he did. Sometimes they smiled back.
But he didn’t know their names. They had names, everyone has names. Other people knew his name – official people from the bank or electricity company. They knew his name and used it as a commodity.
Someone who would be happy to hear his name.
He did know one name – ‘Buddy’.
He saw Buddy one afternoon, standing on the path between the gate leading into the neighbour’s  house where he lived and the grass verge by the kerb. Buddy was just standing there. Looked like he was thinking, pondering, wondering.
Looking up, Buddy’s long tail waved gently, clearing the air for his friend to pass by. His eyes smiled.
A pat on the head is important, especially from someone whose name you know.
“Hey Buddy”

Hey Joe. 


Close your eyes for one minute. Just one minute.
What do you see?
A palm tree.  A desert island. Old school friend. His house, kitchen, mother smiling.
The beach. People walking. The newsagents, ice cream, double decker bus. The sun. Cars. 
A horse.
All from the past.
All unregulated and scattered randomly without pattern.

All yours.

Nowt for Owt

- What do you want to do?
* Everything.
- That's a lot of stuff.
* I know. That's why I do nothing.

He Lied

He felt tired. 
Tired of the words, the footsteps, the thoughts tormenting his soul. 
Tired of the act, the game, the relentless slide to nothingness. 
Drained by empty platitudes voiced in a monotone air. 
Worn down to the root by the self-enforced, unreciprocated lightness that compounds the bulk of this temporary contract we call presence.

But instead he just said “Great thanks, how about you”?


Full and thrusting forward
Clamorous and mean.
Streets strewn with weighty footsteps
Faces rarely seen.
Meetings to attend to
Goods transported there
No place for the faint-hearted
No place for a rocking chair.
No time for honest greeting
Or how are you today?
Rendered through a benumbed body
More move out of my way.
Regarding all the mayhem
On a Monday afternoon
Sits one man on a blanket
His hat contains two 'loons'.
Name of Willie Johnson
Born in Thunder Bay
A stranger in this city
Who's name you know.

Next Door

I met my next door neighbor
For the first time yesterday
I waved a cheery greeting
As I went upon my way.
Til then the only inkling
That someone lived upstairs
Were footsteps in the morning
And the noise of moving chairs.
I wondered what he looked like
Was he tall or short or thin?
Conundrum solved one morning
As he rolled his wheelie bin.
It’s nice to know your neighbours
Creating a new friend
It’s nice to know your neighbours
That’s what matters in the end.
Imagine my embarrassment
As I rose my hand up high
The wave not once acknowledged
Be neither seeing eye.
His dog strained his tight collar
With inconsiderable ease
But I’d wager one new dollar
Guide dogs aren’t Pekingese.

Oh Charlie

Charlie enjoyed life as a fly. Compared to being a wasp or a bee, it was pretty great.  However his existence was called into question three seconds before his untimely death,
If your thoughts of who and what you are all live in the past (Charlie mused) and the past isn’t ‘here’ – then what are your thoughts for? Why does your mind automatically revert to the past? Where are the pictures held and how do they come to the fore? Wouldn’t it be better to think of nothing rather than something random like a horse or a tree? Can you do that – think of nothing at all? Is that death, or do we become thought when we die?
Bad time to question these things, Charlie thought.
If we are thinking past thoughts and the past doesn’t exist are we, in fact, thinking about nothing - something that doesn’t exist, i.e. nothing? And if the past is nothing, why does it continue to have a hold over us? Is it because we look to the future which also doesn’t exist? Spending our time thinking about how something that doesn’t exist influences something else that doesn’t exist seemed like an awful waste of time to Charlie. The only thing that does exist is this very moment even though that’s now in the past and so, doesn’t exist.

Charlie wished he’d thought of this before. Before he slammed into the windscreen of a Ford Focus 1.6 travelling on the M1 north of Dundalk.
Still...he tried to make the most of the moment. Before it was gone.

That's a Worry

How do you know if you are suffering from depression or anxiety?
First, do you feel depressed?
If the answer to this is ‘Yes’, then there’s a good chance you are.
However, if you are worried that this might be the case then it is quite possibly anxiety.
If your anxiety surrounding this is causing you to lose interest in daily life, that more than likely is depression.  That can be a worry.
If so, well then I’m afraid it sounds like anxiety.
Being anxious about depression can lead to depression and/or indeed bouts of anxiety. But we’ll leave that for another day.
Basically, if you experience feelings of anxiety or depression, you more than likely are. 
Depressed or anxious.

But I wouldn't worry about it.