LOVE CRIES: Poems for November


Love cries
Because it loves

Its tears selfish
And not selfish at all

It cannot bear absence

Not loving the one
For whom it would
Give its whole life

If it could be measured
It would have
The length and depth
Of tears

Floods and Oceans

For Love is water
In all its shapes
And temperament

And when I die
Do not put sweet words
On my lips

I will not say
That I am only gone
To the next room

I will not ask you
Not to cry

I should not tell you
Anything about how
You should grieve

But if I would
I should ask you to cry
And cry as you must
Until the time for letting go

And I would ask for the flowers
Of your garden

Cascading their fragrance
Like incense all around
About us as testament
To our loneliness and loving

The loving that is perfected
In all its expressions

THE SCARF (In Memory of my Mother)

We do not grieve
Like those who have
No hope

But we mourn
All the same
And weep like Jesus

For death is loss
To those who remain
Our letting go
No casual achievement

We labour and ache
For contact
A physical connection

I pick up the scarf
I bought for her
In Paris

Feel the smoothness
Of her skin

The soft scent
Of her perfume
And carry it with me
A year or two
Until the fragrance

Fades away
No longer

WHEN THE TIDE SUBSIDED (In Memory of my Father)

He lay there basking
Content and nicely proud
Wandering back in time

A dreamer dreaming
Alone on a beach
Waiting for the tide to come

The tracks of his feet behind
And before him
The quiet sea seemed not

To move
But it stole steadily stroking
The sand

Lapping about his feet
Surprising him from sleep
To a waking moment

Waiting for us to come.

“It would want to be soon”
He said and sounded

Like calm clear water

Suddenly sweeping him
In the silence of the night.

And when the tide subsided
There was nothing left of him
But his remains

Arched backwards
Like Jesus shocked
Upon the Cross

“Into your hands O Lord
I commend my spirit”

For the last time.


White light shivers
On a black metallic sea

A mischievous wind
Chills the bone

And I like stone sink
Into the darkness

Of your absence

You are so absent
And I am so lost
Without you

My earnest desire
Is to expire
Retire with you

In the cool cloisters
Of a heavenly sun

To run
From all that is unbearable
run, run, run

Before the dawn
Breaks again.


She leaned forward
From the back seat
To speak of the singular
Beauty of the sky

Her right hand resting
On my left shoulder

Our eyes meeting
In the mirror

For the last time

For the last time
We walked the Prom
And never said goodbye

Or anything significant
As a last saying
That I might cling to
As some kind of assurance

IT WILL SPRING AGAIN (In Memory of Maura)
I went faithfully
Among bare trees

When life was cold
And hope obscure

And grief like frost embittered
In my taut and tightened heart

Dried out

Kneeling beside her grave
With my backside in the air
To kiss the damp and grey
Brown earth instead of her

And aching to touch
And aching for some kind
Softening warmth

To Spring

And it Sprang, so it did
For a while
And it will Spring again

LONELY ENDING (In Memory of Paul)

The stillness of a staring horse
Residue of Autumn rust
On near-bare trees

November mourners
Gaze at the opposite
Shore of the quiet lake

Pondering what was witnessed
There by God's creation
The lonely ending

A wounded beautiful life
Pushed beyond the edge
Of no return

Into the deep emptiness

Denied the right to love
And see and touch
To hear and hold

His one Beloved Child

And in the cold
Dark stillness of the dawn

We are left with unanswerable
Questions, unspeakable


But this I know
That God is close
To the broken hearted

And always sends his Angel
To attend to the Gethsemane
Of our lives

THIS PATCH OF EARTH (For the Children)

I have dabbled
In aloneness
Dipping my toe

Into the shallows

A safe distance
Close enough to feel
The comfort of friends

God with skin
God shedding skin

He tripped me
Into ice black
I fell

Descending right down
To the lower regions
Black panther prowling

Where Christ has gone

The deep recesses
Mother of all sorrows
That knows no solace

This patch of earth
This grave
Those standing round

The only environment
In need of saving now

This patch of earth
This grave
Beautiful body

Dearest child
The third to sleep
In this soil

Parents riven
To shreds

I am plunged
Into their

My soul abandoned
On the altar


Lost for words
When God accused
Is held to account

That he did not take
Me instead of her

It's what I asked
(Earth Day, April 22, 2016)


I am present
At his passing
This fine strong gentle


Builder of boats
Husband father grandad

Deep strength of faith
On his knees even

In his agony

I brought him

He loved the sea
In me and made


Made me feel

While we talked
Galway and other
Common ground

Fingering old timber
Caressed like the tender
Flesh of a loved one

The last call
Talked of hours


Time to heed
Better instincts
Without hesitation

All generations gathered
Around his fading moments

To sing and say
Final farewells
Whispered in his ear

One by one
Unrestrained Love

Sé do bheatha
a Mhuire

Child's head
Resting on his breast
He falls asleep

Slips away


(In memory of my cousin Paul who found solace in the words of this poem and whose tragic death has given these words another meaning. November 3, 2012)

Place me on a shore at dusk

By the sea’s healing waters
Where thoughts like boats
Go floating by my mind’s eye

Some circling round
Or anchored to distract

Yet not to hide your Light
My Love

Place me at dusk on a shore
Where the soul’s calm sea

Is stormed and laid to rest
At your command

To contemplate your Light
My Love

This I ask


In the end
When there is nothing
Left to say

And I cannot pray
Prayers properly

With the finger of silence
Resting on my lips

May the Holy Spirit come
As breath

Breathing over
The outer whitewashed

To the shabbiness
Of my inner being

Whispering the Name
That is dearest to my heart

Delight of my eyes
Passion of my soul


The only Name
The final Prayer
The ultimate Word

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