Poems

Gerry has recorded a selection of poems from his previous collections. You can listen to them here, and you can read the poems on screen. 

We’ll update this page every few weeks, so drop by often, and share with your friends. 

Thanks for visiting.

*****************

in the space between

the pillow wears the round indent of your absent head 

you have walked out on me many times 
always I was at the door waiting when

a long time later 
you would come back 

I have one foot on the grass 
one on the carpet beside our bed 

somewhere in the space between 
is where I spend my nights 

listening to the distant city exhaling 
its citizens to the suburbs 

to here 
where we live

this morning I awoke in a warm bed 
turned to inhale your sweet breath 

took hold of your hand and squeezed it 
opened my eyes to find myself alone 

you read me like I read the clouds 
but better 

you know me as I know you 
but better 

you leave me as you always leave me

*****************

cinematic

it is like a scene from a French movie 
except this is Grafton Street 
on a wet winter Sunday 
and when she turns and walks away 
there is no Montmartre in the distance
no Eiffel Tower beyond the rooftops
there is only her as she fades out
into the crowd of disinterested extras
and him at the top of the street
a crushed Bogart look-a-like 
paralysed with something that should 
feel like remorse but doesn’t 

he imagines the camera rising slowly 
the audience in the aisles torn 
between the fear of losing sight of her 
in her quaint Parisian rain hat
scarlet above the glum throng
and the need to stay focussed on him
the tragic figure in this movie
rooted to his slab of pavement
mouth still partly, comically, open 
the way it had opened and seized
when she threw in the towel
walked off into the crowd

*****************

winding down
(from Gerry’s Watching Clouds Collection)

suddenly I seem to have got older
I wouldn’t mind if I could pinpoint
a moment a date a period an event

then I could say yes
that was it now it makes sense
but no nothing like that

everything moves more slowly now
as if someone prised me open
in the middle of the night

removed a battery
perhaps even two
yet couldn’t be arsed to tell me

give it to me straight whoever you are
is this how it’s going to be from now on
a battery here a battery there

until my troubled heart gives out?

*****************

Sandra is Heading to the Capital
(from Gerry’s Watching Clouds Collection)

she’s lost again, this eternally hopeful
thirty-something short-haired blonde
making the best of what God gave her

the men have taken over the conversation
one in particular with his Seymour-Hoffman voice
his talk of Warhol and Pollock, of Columbia and MGM
a brief treatise on documentary film making at its best
it’s a steady stream of references and name droppings
hard won deals, agents and lawyers
and getting the backing blah-de-blah-de-blah

his captive, a slightly older man
with suave glasses and greying hair
who seemed reasonably content to go along
with the blonde’s amiable chat
now reverts to type, defers to Mr Big opposite
in a refined New York accent
he asks the right questions
shows the appropriate level of interest

Sandra, I am calling her Sandra
has dropped her head in submission
has opened her new Maeve Binchy
has not read a single line since Mr Big got on
she hopes he will disembark at Maynooth
but frankly she doesn’t hold out much hope
these guys are heading to the capital
where Mr Big will meet other Mr Bigs

Sandra too is heading to the capital
she will meet no one as she makes her way
via her local Supervalu
to her neat little box flat by the river
where she is guaranteed
to feel safe and lonely.

*****************

cargo

we’re in the slipstream of your fear
a fear that fouls the wind tunnel
of these high hedges shadowing
mean northern roads

we shut the windows
the stench would turn a cast-iron gut –
worse, the sleeping child will wake
with questions we cannot answer

your journey has just begun
across endless motorways
and seas that dip and rise
to the camouflaged slaughterhouses

of Cairo and Metz and Gdansk –
there will be the usual welcoming party
as you stumble down the ramp
a greeting undreamed of

as you grazed the soft meadows
over dark northern bogs

*****************

beyond the farmyard gate

the signs are ominous
in flat fields near farmhouses
clouds of sheep have formed

yesterday dogs brought
five thousand down
the northern hills

they stand and wait
for whatever lies beyond
the farmyard gate

soon yesterday’s panic will pale
amid the shouting and the banging
the falling on the fouled ramp

the breathless cramming
in the semi-darkness
of the transport truck

*****************

magician

like a magician he kept his cards up his sleeve
and like an illusionist he was unreadable

he lived in an exercise yard of the mind
bending occasionally to pick up a shard
of ancient pleasure, hold it up to the light

no one who knew him claimed to know him
beyond that smile he would let hang in the air
like a 19 th century levitator practicing his craft
before an awe-struck audience, only to deflate
their wonder in a neatly choreographed collapse

at such times
– his mischievous smile wrong-footing us –
we would be complete again
the rabbit back in the hat

once when we were abandoned for a year
the air that he left behind all but suffocated us –
his absence more poisonous than his presence
we breathed him in
spent poets walking towards the cliff face

we didn’t know it then but he was the black cards
in the deck, who shuffled our small lives
as we played fearlessly aboard the wreck

*****************

What kind of love..

The first time was the last time,
fin de soireé, Châtelet les Halles.

Do you laugh like that now?
Does your face still light up train carriages?

Do you still traverse that sleepless city
late at night?

I cannot see you older
or changed in any way

though just now I may have imagined
your fifty-something self

chuckling with your grandchildren
in a small garden in the sun.

Mostly it is you at nineteen I see
your eyes settled briefly on mine

as I stare at you across the tracks.

What kind of love is this
that lingers in a dark recess of my memory?

Why do you,
least known, unknown

come to me so often,
like now, in this square room

reaching through the years
calling to me to cross the tracks

follow you home?

*****************

GLOVE

Don’t let me ever lose these she says,
handing them to me in the car park,
for the sea air is sharp and my hands are cold
and her dead father’s gloves are a perfect fit.

The next morning I’m back again,
praying to Saint Anthony to find me a lost glove.
I peer over dune grass and into crevices,
make a fool’s errand to a strip of tossed sea wrack.

Alas, much like Monty Python’s parrot,
the glove is dead and isn’t coming back.
And yet it does just that;
like a small miracle it is there,

in the boot of my car
that I have turned inside out
not once but five times
and one more time just in case.

I steer clear of miracles.
Before you know it every damn thing
out of the ordinary is miraculous.
All I can say for certain is:

it was not there, and now here it is.

*****************

ROSSES POINT

Rosses Point is where we go when the earth has turned
and winter weakens its grip.
Once more, we fool ourselves that all will be fine.

The beach’s gentle curve, terns clustered on the shoreline,
a cormorant skimming the flat sea, and there, rising as one
to the dog’s bark, a flock of geese above the brine.

We step upon the damp sand. The air, already clearing
winter’s congestion, feels soft on our cheeks,
like the gentle caress of a mother’s hand,

or the touch of a god we’ve barely known.