Shaftesbury, the Poor Man’s Earl

You shrewdly observed the pathetic poor

that begged, brawled and swindled;

compelled to un-bolt unjustly locked doors:

scripture command and anger-kindled.


Children slept under weaving looms,

and tugged wagons deep in coal caverns,

roasted to death from smoke stack fumes;

parents impoverished by gin taverns.


In childhood, your kind, mindful maid

whispered maternal minded prayers;

despotic father’s ruthless rules obeyed

then you inherited title, became heir.


Laws crafted in House of Lords

gave English children fresh starts;

on consensus committees a chord

struck, re-fashioned harder hearts.


Prior debt damaged your family estate,

tarnished the sterling silver crest:

sold paintings, set service and plate,

tied-tenants were generously blessed.


Energy expended after many years,

indentured labourers freed from hell;

at state funeral hankies wiped tears,

prostitutes and royalty bid final farewell…


O Sonic Saints!


                                                                                                                                                         Grigory Sysoyev/TASS


Bless, big brass bell, bless:

slowly toll, over earth, under clouds,

celebrate thy song, long and loud;

bless all exiles, beaten, bowed.


O smaller sibling softer sounds:

Downfall descant sensual peals,

bless hands, feet, fingers, heels;

hope-pulled rope, new mercies reveal.


O spirit-sparked icon song:

eager melodies, slowly accelerating,

melodic minds, constantly creating;

satiate hungry hearts, no hesitating!


O sonic saints, buriers of bells:

awaken us from self-drugged sleep,

drag us up from drowning deep;

orchestral hope we treasure-keep.


* buriers of bells: In the time of merciless Stalinism, millions of believers were  imprisoned for their faith in Siberian gulags, or plain murdered and mass-buried. All this for merely bending the knee and bowing the heart.

Churches were blown up, or turned into warehouses and cinemas. A small band of the faithful managed to secretly bury the blessed bells until better times.

Why many Russians freeze when they hear bells…


Creaking Carriages, Stuttering Slow


Creaking carriages, stuttering slow,

children wave and off we go,

speed parts their innocent smiles,

blurred black and white platform tiles,

rocking rhythm, cracked record style.


Squat country cottages – you smile so!

Good things in garden plots grow,  

sentried by slap-dash lean to‘s:

mismatched timber, weathered hues

all held by rusty nails or screws.

Shuttling, shouting – engines go!

pistons tandem not solo;

engines applaud, shunting the sun,

pilgrimage long distance now begun,

freighting blessings by the ton.

Soon rural station shouts hello!

Energetic engines start to slow,

window down, burnt peat

and porridge oats in air smell sweet;

cocks crow, cows moan, sheep bleat.

Workers shout that train must go!

Giddy swallows glide down low,

old fashion station in need of care;  

hand shields eyes from summer glare,

manure perfumes Portarlington air…

Words can Harm, Words can Heal

Words can harm, words can heal,

words restore what satan steals;

words can sing, words can spiel

holy words once multiplied one meal.

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Wise words win, terse tongues blunder,

spiteful words pull people asunder;

still small voice, powerful as thunder –

Word-soaked souls no man can plunder.


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Words  can pray, words can plead,

merciful words kill cruel creeds;

words weave stories, words can bleed,

words spur surrender: proud people concede.

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Words bring anger, words speak peace

charters redeem slaves, words release 

words can start, words can cease

hope-sparked words help spirits decease.

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Words from the young, words from old,                

words can become prophecies foretold;

words can be timid, or gain toehold,

lumpen like lead or glittering like gold.

From Scrap Planks and Pram Wheels

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From scrap planks and pram wheels

our go kart was assembled,

Forumla One resembled;

brake-slowed by scraping heels.


Roads raced, paths of Ardagh Park,

rope steered, comic-book speed,

short-trousered knees would bleed

after crashes, lad laughs – what a lark!


Traffic infrequent, caution not needed,

Self-propelled, crouched low,

see swift spokes sparkle so:

imaginary engines revved unimpeded.


Records broken every time,

proven by male pull-push pride –

“It’s not fair!” this crushed boy cried,

muffled now motor mouth mime….

Her Loss of Love our Personal Gain

Screenshot 2019-02-01 at 18.52.37!/browse/film/1781/janis-little-girl-blue


Her loss of love our personal gain,

she sang-screamed deep primal pain.

Janis rocked hard, almost left the rails:

no warning whistle – but heart-wail.


Convention fore-fingered, she didn’t care,

blatantly dismissed modesty: absent brasserie.

Pioneer, prodigy, the first female rocker:

A feminist Mick Jagger, a femme Joe Cocker.


Wilful and defiant, smiling to the last,

promises of promiscuity failed her fast;

her battered heart weary, fully broken:

heaven far away, she failed to stop hoping.


A sobering story: drink, drugs and disarray:

hankering for validation, debts none can pay.

An accidental overdose, her spirit robbed:

song nuances spoke, hearts silently sobbed.

friends are all for give and take

photos: Dora Kazmierak (Louis’ 60th birthday party, 2017)

david : lena

“….it’s worth identifying who among the many people you encounter in your life are truly friends. Who makes time for you? Whose company enlivens, enriches and maybe even humbles you? Whom would you miss? Who would miss you? … what friendships have in common is that they shape us and create other dimensions through which to see the world…”

– Kate Murphy,from article: Do Your Friends Actually Like You?



friends are all for give and take

friends build up, friends don’t break,

friends readily grieve our aches.


friends respond to texts and emails,

friends stand by when all else fails,

friends keep secrets, friends don’t tell tales.


friendship grows through thick and thin,

friends forgive our stupidity and sin,

friends always want a wondrous win.


friends readily kill the fatted calf,

friends don’t ever do things by half,

friendship is an ever-giving carafe.


friends remember important dates,

friends arrive early, they’re never late,

friendship shows many tolerant traits.


friends are never intentionally stoney

friends love you best when lost and lonely:

friends are humane – only God is holy…

before the party


Haul Shipwrecked Sailors into Advent ark

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Decorations dangle on trees,

chosen presents hope to please,

foreclosed families will surely freeze.


Nativity stories re-told in bathrobes,

guardian angels pace and probe,

stars compete with service strobes.


In city streets raucous choirs sing,

candled dreams, church bells ring

– will hard hearts crack to let Him in?


Will there be hope beyond kindly glow?

Will there be slow-mo cinematic snow?

Will any sweet chariot swing down low?


Deeply loved: divine-lit our dark,

scorch our lives with sacred mark:

haul shipwrecked sailors into advent ark.