ADVICE TO A SON – by Ernest Hemingway

Hemingway published around 20 poems in his lifetime – which is about 19 more than I expected!

Never trust a white man,
Never kill a Jew,
Never sign a contract,
Never rent a pew.
Don’t enlist in armies;
Nor marry many wives;
Never write for magazines;
Never scratch your hives.
Always put paper on the seat,
Don’t believe in wars,
Keep yourself both clean and neat,
Never marry whores.
Never pay a blackmailer,
Never go to law,
Never trust a publisher,
Or you’ll sleep on straw.
All your friends will leave you
All your friends will die
So lead a clean and wholesome life
And join them in the sky.



She sat huddled on the wall by her front door

More scarecrow than human being

Her dog cuddled on her knees

Looking at nothing; the sun-kissed morn unseen.

Her inner world was hers alone

Who knows what her dreams were?

She, who had passed many a word with me,

Now looked at me as if I was a stranger

Which I was, standing on her sun-dappled steps:

She didn’t know me from days of yore,

I don’t think she even knew herself any more.

The puzzlement on her face was evidence of that,

As the men dodged round her

Carrying her belongings in black bags

To the waiting car.

She was a child again,

A lost child;

A few months ago she was lively and bright

Chattering inanely about this and that

About how the seagulls carried away her cat.

Now she tottered along, clutching at the railings for support

Walking her dog

And sometimes forgetting to come back.

She watches the men now,

Their loading almost complete.

And as they move towards her

There is puzzlement, almost defiance, in her  face

Who are you, and why are you taking  all this stuff from my place?


A brilliant poem by a great poet.

Death of a Naturalist


All year the flax-dam festered in the heart
Of the townland; green and heavy headed
Flax had rotted there, weighted down by huge sods.
Daily it sweltered in the punishing sun.
Bubbles gargled delicately, bluebottles
Wove a strong gauze of sound around the smell.
There were dragonflies, spotted butterflies,
But best of all was the warm thick slobber
Of frogspawn that grew like clotted water
In the shade of the banks. Here, every spring
I would fill jampotfuls of the jellied
Specks to range on window sills at home,
On shelves at school, and wait and watch until
The fattening dots burst, into nimble
Swimming tadpoles. Miss Walls would tell us how
The daddy frog was called a bullfrog
And how he croaked and how the mammy frog
Laid hundreds of little eggs and this was
Frogspawn. You could tell the weather by frogs too
For they were yellow in the sun and brown
In rain.
    Then one hot day when fields were rank
With cowdung in the grass the angry frogs
Invaded the flax-dam; I ducked through hedges
To a coarse croaking that I had not heard
Before. The air was thick with a bass chorus.
Right down the dam gross bellied frogs were cocked
On sods; their loose necks pulsed like sails. Some hopped:
The slap and plop were obscene threats. Some sat
Poised like mud grenades, their blunt heads farting.
I sickened, turned, and ran. The great slime kings
Were gathered there for vengeance and I knew
That if I dipped my hand the spawn would clutch it.




Walking…just walking

Away from the hum and drum

Away from the hub and bub

Away from the whine and grind of this rusty city

Couldn’t take it, they will say

Well, let them

This place isn’t all it’s cracked up to be

I saw a man today selling boxes to homeless people

Business was brisk

Did you know that the stone from the Pyramids

Would build a wall round England ten feet tall?

They say John the Baptist was gay

Funny the thoughts that come into your head when you’re walking

There was an old woman who lived in a hovel

She didn’t have any shoes but no one cared

She fell down one day

The hospital put her in a trolley for a few weeks

Then sent her away

Back to her hovel, her piss-stained bed, her broken radio

Her clock that didn’t tick, her bare cupboards, her solitary chair

Carried her up three flights, stood her in front of a walking frame

Said ‘take care of yourself, dear’

The whole fucking world anaesthetised by indifference




Twenty one years of it;

I thought you might cry enough

You know – the tough gets going

When the going gets tough

But not a bit of it;

We are still going strong

I have wronged you on and off

But you have righted all the wrong

I hope you never get sick of it;

That love will carry you on

Me? I’m already in the thick of it

Clearing the path for another twenty one!



The French House was humming

Bodies leaning on the counter

Furiously puffing the cigs they had been bumming

This was Bohemia in action

Rich and poor, straight and gay

No sign of fighting or faction.

Down the street at Bambino’s

The Very Miss Dusty O

Was manning the door in drag

A king-size always on the go

It wasn’t corporate, it wasn’t mundane

Way back then

And Francis Bacon frequently came by

To eye up the available young men.

There was Trannyshack on Wednesday nights

Where punks met pimps

And gays, straights, dragsters, hipsters and pop stars

Regularly mixed with Colonel Blimps.

And Grace Jones might be found

Dancing on a table to one side

With Gaultier and Donatelle Versace

Leading the Conga in the road outside.



Most of us in the packing room at Flahavan’s played soccer, and every lunchtime we participated in full-blooded games in     a nearby field. The packing room made up the bulk of the Kilmac minor team, and because I displayed some skill in the kick-a-bouts I was soon in contention for a place. For days leading up to a game all the speculation  concerned the likely make-up of the team. Teams were picked, lists were written out and taped to the walls – all futile exercises because the team     proper was never picked until the morning of the game, and was mostly dependent on who turned up.                                 At the top of Currabaha hill stood our pitch, Alaska Park, which the team shared with a herd of cattle. Our first task on     arrival was to clear the cowshit from the pitch. After the shit had been cleared away, the pitch had to be lined, and the goalposts and nets put up. The lining was done by spreading lime by hand from a bucket, a task rendered hazardous by the icy winds that invariably blew in from the Comeragh Mountains in the background.                                                                 For my first game I had been picked to play on the left wing, and I wasn’t doing very well. The Johnville defender was     kicking lumps off me every time I tried to go past him, and in an effort to escape his attentions I moved into the centre. Nearing the end of the game, with the score level, I found myself unmarked in the six yard box when a high cross from John Kiersey came towards me. Heading was not one of my strong points so I just stood there hopefully.The ball landed on my head and shot into the roof of the net.. I was a hero for days afterwards; we had beaten Johnville, one of the top teams in town.                                                                                                                                                                                    That was as good as it got. In and out of the team, I was tried in various positions – even goal-keeping – but I never     managed to secure a permanent place. Marginalised by my talent – or lack of it – I minimised my chances even more the day my dog ran on to the field of play and scored a goal for the opposition. The ball struck him and was deflected into our goal. It wasn’t the humiliation of being beaten by a goal scored by a dog that my team-mates found hard to take, but the fact  that the dog was owned by their own sub!                                                                                                                        Football at Alaska Park was warfare, not sport. Before ever a ball was kicked the bleakness of the place demoralised     opponents. Then there were the cattle, guaranteed to put in an appearance at some point during the game, their arses working overtime. This was the cue for the shovel brigade to dash onto the pitch. Naturally, the occasional green pile was overlooked, and if an opposing player went into a sliding tackle and came up looking a sickly shade of green…well, it was     just too bad. He should have familiarised himself with the terrain before making the tackle. These townies just shook their head in disbelief; they had never before played at a place where the cows outnumbered the spectators.                         If this didn’t demoralise them then the spectators themselves did. Partisan to a man, they were vociferous in their support. Every decision against the team was greeted with hoots of derision and torrents of abuse. It was so bad that some referees refused to officiate there. One supporter in particular – on of the team selectors –  stalked the touchline throughout the game, a hurley or blackthorn stick clenched in his hand, berating the official continuously.                                                   On Sundays that we didn’t have a game we went to Kilcohan Park to watch Waterford play in a League of Ireland game. It    wasn’t unusual to hear the same supporters screaming the same abuse from the depths of the stand.

   extract from THE SHINY RED HONDA, published by  Amazon


Thoughts Of A Stationary Writer00002314

What about that Julie Burchell on the Box the other night? An opinion of herself so high that anyone kissing her arse would think it was a moonbeam. Who would ever have thought that such a squeaky voice could emerge from such a burly chassis? And what about the Gooners yesterday? Worst performance of the year. Come on lights,fucking change. Can’t see any ridges on those trousers. Bet she isn’t wearing any.
You’re probably thinking I’m a bit touched, rabbiting away like this about everything and nothing. But have you ever sat at the traffic lights waiting for the green light; drumming your fingers or picking your nose? It’s hard to think about nothing; thoughts come into your head whether you like it or not. Just because you are a stationary driver doesn’t mean that your brain is stationary too. The reverse in fact. I find that I get most of my better ideas when I’m waiting at the lights or stuck in long queues. Well, it’s either that or crack up. Huge jams are the best of all; you get more time to delve deeply into your subject matter. I almost feel a pang of regret when that log-jam finally breaks up.
I got the idea originally from reading a weird book called ‘Notes On The Overground’; all about the thoughts of a commuter who travelled daily between Oxford and London. Whilst others read their papers or did the crossword, he wrote in his diary. Tiresias, what a funny name to call himself. Must look it up. Anyway, if some civil-servant from Oxford could do it for rail users, why couldn’t I do it for motorists.
He said it, my God he said it!
Brazen-faced to the watching millions
‘They should not leak’, he ventured
‘After all, they are servants to the Crown’

Leaking in public? How revolting!
And where would it begin?
A seepage from the ears perhaps?
Or a welling-up from beneath

All those starched collars?
Perhaps it would occur in the nether regions
Visible only by a steady trickle
Down around the ankles

My telephoned enquiry brought no joy
‘I can assure you we have no
Leaking civil servants here
Why don’t you try MI5’

( Excuse the diversion, but this just popped into my head. My thanks to the gentleman from some branch of officialdom or other who appeared on TV and actually said, ‘civil servants should not leak’)

Tiresias described the train as a battleground. He is wrong. Maybe in its heyday, before the world was overpopulated by cars, there was some truth in his claim; but nowadays all the real battles take place in the streets, the roads and on the motorways.
I sometimes think London is one great big lunatic asylum and the lunatics are all us motorists driving around on the outside trying to get in. It is not for nothing that the M25 has been christened ‘The Road To Hell’. A Dante’s Inferno of screaming and wailing motorists; lost souls doomed to revolve forever on this damned circle.

There are fewer more uncomfortable modes of travel than the car. A camel perhaps. ( one hump or two?) Although a friend once tried riding on an ostrich and found it an awesome experience. ‘Give me a bucking bronco any day’, he said afterwards. But getting back to the car; Imagine spending one fifth of your life crouched over a steering wheel, knuckles white from being permanently tensed up, constantly having to be alert for kamikaze pedestrians, and you get the general idea…

Seven AM In The Smoke

‘No Surrender’
The motorists battle-cry
Echoing through the smog and fumes.
Furiously-pedalling cyclists,
Sinisterly masked,
Towing technology in their slipstreams.
Legions of static transporters
Slowly going nowhere.
Human perambulators
Reeling them in one by one.
Phantom headlines flashing before my eyes

Onward to the asylum!

to be continued…………………


The best player on the planet.
When he plays on snow
He doesn’t leave any marks
He can’t walk on water – yet
Though when he farts there’s always sparks

I am like God
I never get ill
I am always right.
Football is a game of two halves
And is mostly a right load of shite

I wouldn’t say I’m the best there is
But I am in the top one
And that’s the only group to be in
If I walked on water
Some would say it’s because I can’t swim

Some believe football is a matter of life and death
But it is much more important than that
In football as in life
You won’t get far
If you don’t know where the goalposts are

The best way to relax
Is to drink pink champagne
Before the match and after
Then losing five nil
Won’t seem a total disaster.