Winter Solstice – A Poem

I’m not a huge fan of Christmas but I love the winter solstice and all the traditions associated with bringing fire and light to the dark of the season. More than new year, to me this is the point of turning, when new plans can be laid down and seeds planted, as the creeping dark of winter loses its grip.

This poem was written in the white-out winter of 2010 / 2011, when snow fell from late November onward. On the morning of a fresh snow fall, I went out with a camera and photographed my local neighbourhood where, even after weeks of winter chaos, the clean white and muffled quiet cast its spell.


Winter Solstice

The evening is like snow, cold and fleeting,
a fading spectacle, churned grey and ploughed
to hard-rutted tracks, as commuters tramp and crowd

into its darkness; we lose all trace of ourselves
and take comfort: here we are all lost,
drifting deeper, and afraid of our own silence;

at the street’s fold blink white pockets, bright
in gutters, quiet sparks defying twilight,
as the orange of city lamp fogs all.

And dawn is like snow: an invitation;
it takes the courage of a child to seize it
and reveal, in each warm hand, a miracle;

we choose our shape in the whisper of morning –
the cave of a fallen leaf, the breath of feathers
on our own whiteness, the padding of beasts within,

pacing out the length and breadth of beauty
and, taken by surprise, we surrender,
falling, to the beat of a standstill sun.

Winter Solstice is included in the debut collection, How to Lose Your Home & Save Your Life, published by Bradshaw Books.


The Tiger’s Tail – A Film Poem

With self-promotion increasingly becoming the lot of writers and poets – and social media making it easier than ever to share information – I see many poets doing the spoken word thing, direct to camera, as means of bringing their work to new audiences.

I like the idea of my poems getting out and about but, being the shy, retiring type, I don’t necessarily want to put myself front and centre.

So I had a chat with photographer, Mike Bors, about a poem, The Tiger’s Tail, from my debut collection, and my idea for making a little ‘film’ to accompany it. I wanted to keep it simple, using a slideshow format, rather than live film. We talked about the kinds of images that would fit the mood of the poem – black and white, street photography, night in the city, weekend revellers – and Mike took to the city streets to capture Dublin at night.

The poem itself was written about the events of 30 September 2010, the day Finance Minister, Brian Lenihan, made an emergency broadcast announcing the bail-out of Allied Irish Banks, after the discovery of massive undisclosed debt. I was in Galway and as I walked back to my accommodation, after an evening out, the late-night streets bucked and reeled with gleeful debauchery: Nero, fiddling while Rome burned.

It’s my first attempt at this kind of project and I’m delighted with the result, especially Mike’s beautiful images.

I hope you enjoy it and, if you do, please share.

For more photography by Mike Bors, go to



New Poem: Right of Reply

Costume Shop Window, Dublin, Team Panti

My poem, ‘Right of Reply’ – an invitation to the journalists and Catholic think-tank at the centre of the Irish homophobia debacle and RTE libel case – is published today on Poetry 24.

Right of Reply

Come on your belly, if your legs can’t carry
the weight of your moral certitude;

set us an example in tolerance,
the noble art of rising above;

instruct us how to love one another,
as you have loved, as He has loved you;

teach us the lessons of physical restraint,
show us the stones in your pocket, unthrown;

Peacemakers, merciful, meek and pure
show us the rewards of righteousness are yours.


Poetry24 features poetry responding to current news stories and events and are always open to receiving topical poetry – here are Poetry24’s submission guidelines.

Photo: Costume Boutique, Castle Market St, Dublin 2 – one of a number of Dublin businesses showing their support for Team Panti.

The Ash Sessions: Cover of Love

Buchanan Street, Glasgow. Photo by Stephen Cosh.

For those of you who are in the mood for love, ahead of Valentine’s Day, The Ash Sessions event, Cover of Love, takes place this Sunday, 9th February, at Nick’s Coffee Company in Ranelagh, Dublin from 2 – 5pm. Various literary and musical types will be performing covers of their favourite pieces – poems, songs, flash and short fiction – all on the theme of love.

I’ll be there reading this, probably my favourite poem, The Unspoken by Scottish poet, Edwin Morgan, which name-checks my home-town of Glasgow and I first discovered in a poetry collection, in a castle library, deep in the Italian countryside.

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