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….

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.

Let’s Cut to Chase

photos: Dora Kazmierak

Lou hatch

Let’s cut to chase

Let’s hug and kiss the human race

Let’s put some smiles on every face.


Let’s not tweet in upper case

Let’s all repent, get back to base,

Let’s be blind to creed and race.


Let truth be what we try to trace

Let lies get smacked across the face

Let haters get to know God’s grace.


Let’s conserve and not just waste

Let’s dream big, let’s touch and taste,

Let’s celebrate but let’s be chaste.


Let’s esteem, let’s showcase,

Let’s fight friends corners, make haste

to praise good people to their face.


Let all dangers be far displaced

Let all hurts be tight embraced

Let thirst for justice be fully slaked.


Offset Psalms

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photo: Dora Kazmierak


Rotary drums beat rhythms out,
offset engine racket-shouts,
rubber rollers turn in formation,
duct nodes twisted: calibration.

Sheet-fed separation: air hiss,
chrome claws suck, proffer kiss,
paper lifted, registration pause,
image transfer: pressure caused.

End-stacked reams: printed paper,
print-room perfumed: chemical vapour;
paper-cut stings, ink-tattooed palms:
this failed-trainee sings offset psalms.

Praise for printers who dare dissent,
not to dictators their knees are bent;
in our mind some truth imprinted:
on our heart some hope is hinted.

Boarding School Summer Scenes

Photos: Dora Kazmierak


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‘On The Boards’ blared from boarders dorms,

rock songs sound-tracked sunny second form:

Rory’s voice strained, scarred Strat wept blues,

faded denims, plaid shirt –  fully paid dues.

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Swung racquets, balls bounced on taut strings:

mini-skirted girls made hearts pine and sing;

slim athletic limbs, white runners, short socks,

contoured t-shirts, ear tucked blond locks.

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On Saturday, up the Arts Block stairs ascended

to authors and artists in library books; I pretended

to understand Surrealists deep spiritual despair:

that warm wood-panelled space became place of prayer.


Boarding School Troubled Teen

Whenever it is discovered that someone attended boarding school, the focus of conversation gets interesting questions. Is it really like the Harry Potter novels? What was the food like? Did you join the pillow-fights? Did many run away?

Girls frequently ran away. One of my girlfriends did. So did I. It was quite unusual for a boy to run away. As you will read, I ran away after being beaten up by a master. I was returned the same night by my naieve mother, persuaded by the headmaster ….

photo: Dora Kazmierak

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Pulled by long mop top hair,

pushed down two flights of stairs,

the master had the upper hand,

I tumbled terrified – (you understand….)


Fists impacted my frame, furiously,

border-boys peered out windows, curiously

not even the prefects intervened –

I was utterly all alone, it seemed…


Reluctantly I apologised – (because sore)

the beating stopped – but not the score:

my empty school desk evident next day,

a homebound train carried me away.


Naieve mother sent me back that night:

(just before Easter) – school always right;

collected from station by worried headmaster:

teen defiant drama became pastoral disaster.


Confidences disclosed: father’s school debt;

self-exile decided (later, much regret)

sealed by stupidity, fragile teen’s fate:

overburdened by too much family freight…


Decades later, I walked through those doors:

sweet remembered scent, waxed parquet floors.

Newtown: I got my first good-start there.

Newtown: reluctantly I left my heart there.


Fifteen of us re-united thirty years after,

poignancy was present but also laughter,

long-gone bully, not worth name mention;

met kinder teachers: affection retention.


Newtown, fed my hope-hungry heart,

almost-redeemed me with music and art;

I still yearn those years, still easily upset:

this poem refunds that tremendous debt….

Boarding School Scrapbook Scenes

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Harboured from harm by high stone walls,

unacademic and sports-coach never called;

– spartan-lunches schooled us in justice,

Quaker-soaked silence this rebel trusted.


O sweet those three special girls adored,

shoe-skidded those waxed parquet floors;

readily I joined rowdy-night pillow fights,

unsanctioned walks in early-dawn light.


Long-anticipated each supper dance,

psychedelic strobes, surreptitious glances;

late-sixties student, born to be wild:

underground sounds, flower child.


Art, English and Music held appeal,

nothing else needed, my Achilles Heel;

grateful for many issued detentions,

bullies long-gone, names I won’t mention.


School report true: my existence “aimless”

my challenging conduct, far from blameless;

this academic failure, sometime class clown –

still missed old school – farewell Newtown…

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photos: Dora Kazmierak

First Night Lights-Out

I had always been an adventurous child. Being the youngest of three, I was frequently the first for any new experience: smoking, kissing girls, solo travels and boarding school. That boarding school experience was both the making and unmaking of me. I have an unutterable fondness for all that Newtown School gave me…


First Night ‘Lights Out_

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