Shaftesbury, the Poor Man’s Earl


You shrewdly observed the pathetic poor

that begged, brawled and slyly swindled;

compelled by command to unlock doors:

jubilee justice and anger slowly 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 proxy mother was mindful maid

who whispered nightly maternal prayers;

your despotic father’s petty rules obeyed

until inherited title named you heir.


With statesmen you sat in House of Lords

giving many mill children hopeful starts;

on dull committees struck common chord

softened hard parliamentarian hearts.


Paternal debt damaged your family estate,

sullied that seat, tarnished proud crest:

you sold off paintings and silver plate

to ensure justice for tenants, late-blessed.


Much energy expended after many years

on penniless workers freed from slavery;

your state funeral caused farewell tears:

even critics saluted such biblical bravery…

Bless us Big Brass Bells!


                                                                                                                                                         Grigory Sysoyev/TASS


Bless us, big brass bells:

toll between our earth and clouds,

bless the solitary in busy crowds;

sing thy song, long and loud!


Bless us. softer sibling sounds:

descant downfall, sensual peals,

bless ringers fingers, feet and heels:

hope pulled rope much mercy reveals.


Bless us spirit-sparked icon song:

holy harmonies, slowly accelerating,

bless towered music  – saving, creating:

satiate hearts, no hesitating!


O aural icons, O sonic saints,

haul down hope for land and nation,

full circle chimes the best creation

cleanse stale hearts with God’s incarnation.


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…

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.