Shaftesbury, the Poor Man’s Earl

You shrewdly observed the pathetic poor

that begged, brawled and swindled;

compelled by justice to unlock doors:

scripture commanded, anger-kindled.


Children slept under weaving looms,

tugged wagons in deep coal caverns,

choked in chimney stack, soot and fumes;

parents wages wasted in gin taverns.


Your childhood mother was mindful maid

whispered her nightly maternal prayers;

your despotic father’s petty rules obeyed

until you inherited title, became an heir.


With statesmen you sat in House of Lords

gave many children hope, fresh starts;

on dull committees you struck a chord

softened hard parliamentarian hearts.


Debt damaged your family estate,

spoiled the seat, tarnished the crest:

you sold off paintings and silver plate,

to ensure tenants be generously blessed.


All energy expended after many years,

indentured labourers were freed from hell;

at your state funeral many wiped tears:

prostitutes and royalty bid final farewell…


Bless, O sonic saints!


                                                                                                                                                         Grigory Sysoyev/TASS


Bless, big brass bell, bless:

slowly toll between earth and clouds,

bless the solitary in busy crowds;

celebrate thy song, long and loud!


Bless, smaller sibling sounds:

Downfall descant soft sensual peals,

bless hands, feet, fingers, heels:

hope pulled rope much mercy reveals.


Bless spirit-sparked icon song:

Ever eager, sonics slowly accelerating,

bless melodic minds, constantly creating,

satiate hungry hearts, no hesitating!


Bless, O sonic saints!

Awaken us from self-drugged sleep,

drag us up from drowning deep,

teach God-hope to treasure-keep.


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

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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.