Ferry journey to Father

My ninety one year old father, sending me sixty year birthday greetings and prior to yet another stair fall…


Just after my 60th birthday I went on a pilgrimage to my 91 year old father. To call it just a typical family visit would be an understatement. One never knows what kind of greeting might be given going from past contentiousness, and sometime over-touchy, father.

My train journey to Rosslare and the ferry across the Irish Sea to Wales adds to the sense of mission. My journey’s end arrival was greeted by a much-weakened father.

In his time-confusion, or more likely, anticipatory excitement, he decided to get up at 4 am to try and have a shave. I wasn’t due at his house for another nine hours. The shave never happened. Other events took over.

It wasn’t his rushing about that caused him to tumble down the last few steps of his corkscrew style stairs. Unsteady in socked feet, possibly in the dark, and carrying his clothes bundle all played into this drama.

Jane, his 59 year old wife (almost my sibling, at this stage) knows better than to intervene with such a stubborn, argumentative man. Anyway, she didn’t have her hearing aids in, so didn’t hear his final fall. Intuition then stirred her to follow her quixotic husband, only to find him groaning in pain on the kitchen floor…

Torn ligaments, or possibly a fractured bone, made it very painful for him to use his age-weary legs. The shortest of journeys from chair to front door were slow, even with usual aid of walking stick.

This visit was far more pacific than many other past occasions. There were none of the expected arguments, that usually brewed in his brain. Those thunderstorms were created from innocent, well-meaning questions or comments.

But on this particular visit, other minor and unusual issues occurred. For instance, I would be talking to him, only to discover he had fallen asleep mid-paragraph, head bent low. I just waited good humoured, until he woke and we continued the conversational thread, or initiated a new one.

His repartee wordplay and wit were still very much in evidence. But so were his very boring, broken-record, pedagogical ponderings. Who cares about half-baked generalisms about 1960s American society in Louisiana? And so what about the yeast ingredient of rock buns, made by his auntie in the 1930s? I came to visit with meaningful exchanges in mind.

A curious medical development has recently started, as his eyes finally start to fail. He has occasional Charles Bonnet Syndrome episodes. Due to lack of retina stimulation, he “sees” things that are not actually there. It is not dementia.

During one conversation, he complimented a “visiting woman” on her attractive drain-pipe style dress and thanked her for coming to the party. I just played along with this. He soon got back on conversational track.

I see him once or twice a year, so that his long-suffering, ever-giving third wife can have a creative break. I asked her to consider switching off her phone, while having much-needed personal space.

To relieve a bit of the somnolent, long, face-to-face conversations, I scrubbed down the cooker and counter top. Then I relieved the pantry of some stale and mouldy food. Occasionally I would retire to rest my brain, and lie on my bed, in a rented terrace cottage, next door.

I wonder when I will see him again? Maybe that opportunity will never come, if he has a third heart attack, or possibly a stroke. Life holds many unknown adventures for us.

I hope that his end is far happier than much of his life has been. Much of his pain is part due to emotionally violent teen circumstances. There is also  his misplaced patriarchal pride and also many self-inflicted wounds.

Kindly counselling was offered to him but declined. It would have gone a long way to reaching unfulfilled opportunities, both with he and I, and also with him and his now-grown grand-children…Much more than the Irish Sea has separated us for the past 35 years…



Louis & Jack

I have long dreamt about celebrating our rescue dog, Jack-the-Lad. I hit on the idea of trying to capture his character, via “a day in the life” type of approach. When I met photographer Dora Kazmierak, I knew that I had the answer. She has well-curated many aspects of this adorable canine companion…

photos by https://www.instagram.com/dorakazmierak/

Jack WEB. 1jpgJack WEB2Jack WEB3Jack WEB4Jack WEB5Jack WEB6Jack WEB7

Memories of Mount Ievers

A homage to a heritage house built in 1740, situated in Co. Clare. I have had some access to it for the past thirty years. Mount Ievers stands on one hundred acres of forest and field. It has survived many angry epochs of Irish history, and still remains in the hands of the family that it is named after.

Mount Ievers frontMount Ievers cattle : driveMount Ievers redbrickMount Ievers illuminationMount Ievers antlersMount Ievers lawnMount Ievers bedMount Ievers glass negs

Gallery of Mount Ievers photos: https://louishemmings.com/gallery/mount-levers/

Photographer: Dora Kazmierak https://tinyurl.com/instagram-com-dora

Which visit will be our final meeting?

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Sitting in your sunken sitting-room,

we smoked small cigars, at ease,

loud fond music, aural heirloom:

classical or jazz, both please;


air burnt-scented by Cuban cloak,

you cough, clear throat of croak.


Many years of lost connections,

kitchen-sink dramas once provoked,

paralysis cured, absent corrections:

time-short talk, not so choked;


we both ask questions more kindly,

soft words now bless benignly.


Shall we read some scripture

from shelved bible rarely read?

Happy snaps, poignant pictures,

and church shared wine and bread;


long silences now, daytime sleeping

– which visit will be our final meeting?

Bedded, blessed and bared

  • So many contemporary depictions of sex are crass, pornographic and over-idealistic, in novels and films. This poem attempts to be erotic, and at the same time, subtle.


    Plump and pretty, crowned with surprise;

    beautiful your buttons, delightfully they rise,

    gravity un-defied, our bodies slightly battered,

    tired limbs entangled, hearts somewhat tattered.

    Fumbling blind in your hinge-opened thighs,

    slow foraging fingers, sleep-sensual eyes;

    purse-clasp open, pressed pussy-willow tip:

    rhythmic spasms whip your shapely hips.


    My crooked warm wonder shows little indecision,

    bare bishop-head smooth, piston-like precision,

    sunken to hilt, my sword sinks to inner core,

    ecstatic neurons sing but tendons slightly sore.

    Silent bodies bump, deep in understanding,

    mutual submission, romantic that *commanding,

    long covenanted couple, deep our strong roots,

    bedded, blessed and bared, sweet shared fruit.


    * Sexual drives are strong, but marriage is strong enough to contain them and provide for a balanced and fulfilling sexual life in a world of sexual disorder. The marriage bed must be a place of mutuality—the husband seeking to satisfy his wife, the wife seeking to satisfy her husband…1 Corinthians 7: 2 & 3

    “The Song of Songs” – woodcut by Eric Gill, 1925

Down high hedgerow lanes

Douglas Percy Bliss


Take me down high hedgerow lanes

when happy summer sun is high,

past the somnolent old houses

as hallowed haze blurs the sky.


I will walk with stick on shoulder,

my skulking collie leads the way,

birdsong embroiders fertile foliage,

wild mammals tenuously stray.


Few cars colonise this rural scene,

noble trees wear leafy crowns,

I walk to pass the time of day,

I’m long since retired from town.


One day I hope to hold a hand

much smaller than my own,

seesaw sized, we’ll amble slow,

God says: not good to be alone.


Many quaint questions asked,

amusing toddler, serious sage,

keenly detected family traits,

annotated those poetic pages.


happy days for rescue dog!

photos by Dora Kazmierak http://www.instagram.com/dorakazmierak/


Tennis-ball dropped quite near feet,

then hidden behind tree he waits,

tick-tock tail-wag, smile so sweet

  • who taught such charming traits?


Paw-worn path around tree base,

forays remind, needed assistance,

– ball throw triggers manic race

speed pursued, terrier persistence.


Orb ballistic, racquet propelled

down the long garden at speed,

bounce area athletically smelled,

lock-jaw clenched ball retrieved.


Hard-chased any object thrown,

helter-skelter, pursuit crazy,

target-locked, predator-prone,

hotly pursued, Jack never lazy.


Slightly stiff this pup-at-heart,

dog-centric much domestic dialogue,

sparse canine time spent apart

  • happy days for rescue dog!


Vain the Patient Wait for Repeat Happenstance

I had been trying for many years to write a poem about the boarding school girlfriend, who started me off writing, in 1972. One day in 1980 she turned up, out of the blue….for just a few hours. I never heard from or saw her ever again…until someone kind found her online for me in recent years.


Lips long un-kissed, passion hidden by hair,

I long-rued my troubled muse: late my care;

unassuaged guilt, how far can this sinner fall?

Perhaps predestined that I caught your call.


Old school friends, we readily agree to meet:

your mini skirt much-admired on that city street;

many mementos we devoured in a dimly lit cafe,

significant that time spent – much to ask and say.


Amsterdam to Dublin for your anguish-event:

your father’s failed life edited, too-soon spent;

we squeezed extra time, we parted at midnight,

both bit back tears, our hugs lingered tight.


Decades later I discovered you online, smiling,

naieve my note sent, hoped for reconciling;

too long your silence, I yearn a second chance –

vain the patient wait for repeat happenstance…

Vivaldi’s Virginal Choir

Females seduced, babies took blame,

infant girls lacked needed surname,

at della Pieta discreetly deposited,

orphaned offspring, convent-closeted.


Music mentored, once-undesired,

Vivaldi’s brain melodically inspired:

quick-inscribed score, passion poured out:

hard hearts bow, joyful angels shout.


Venetian audiences deeply moved,

salacious souls briefly soothed

by lively lutes, violin strings bowed,

balconied singers blessing bestowed.


*Figlie di coro, lattice-protected

very eligible girls, half-inspected:

pinafore-plain, hair bundled in bun;

sacred songs about life-giving Son.


Wondrous such words, echo-flung

in Latin language, sweetly sung;

happy the heart that well resonates

In excelsis deo: transferred all weights.


  • Figlie di coro = choir of daughters

The Ospedale della Pietà was a convent, orphanage, and music school in Venice. Much of Vivaldi’s sacred vocal and instrumental music was written for performance at the Pietà, where there was an orchestra of at least thirty to forty elements, all females.