Wild butterfly

 — you will see
the passing beauty of a butterfly — 


Egg, caterpillar, chrysalis, butterfly
this natural magic of transformation
can happen to you too. Time makes you
more beautiful. Human metamorphosis
liberates souls. Such a rare achievement
Requires an emptying of the mind,
a deep (and so painful) compassion.
to defeat your expectations;
to free yourself and you will see
the passing beauty of a butterfly.

Butterflies live for about a week
Butterflies taste with their feet.
Butterflies do not have mouths.
Butterflies need the warmth of the sun to fly by.
Butterflies can see red, yellow, and green.

A butterfly’s skeleton is on the outside of her body.
The wings of a butterfly are transparent.
Tiny scales give their wings colour.
The souls of saints fly by metempsychosis
Into the bodies of butterflies
As they flutter hour after hour from flower to flower
Tasting the nectar through their proboscis
Remembering the caterpillar’s cocoon
& speculating upon the depths and heights of eternity.


Angelus Bell

entry picture

The tone of the big bell settles in the dust
of this small market town in county meath
and on the stained glass window still
the sun-marked resonance of bell
circles of uninscribed sound
through all the cerebral centuries
chimes and chants for christ the king
chimes of crucifix, pyx and plate
these bells have blessed the insouciant faithful
buttressed, battered, no-man mattered
through all the occupied centuries
turning dust to dust again
& straining to the music of bells.

If Revisited

Photo by vishnudeep dixit on Pexels.com

If you can see the good in everyone
If you do not condemn the less fortunate
If you can speak the plain unvarnished truth
When all about you are prattling prevarications
If you are patient with those who lack luck
If, when faced with stupid bias you do not duck or dive
Or respond to haters with hatred
Or respond to the wicked with evil.
If you can modestly accept success and failure –
Twin deceivers at the feast of life –
If you can face up to disaster with smiles and laughter
If you can bear to look into the mirror
& truly see what others see
If you can accept that your words can be twisted
If your heart is big enough to glory in the success of others
If you can accept life-threatening illness without self-pity
If instead of “Why me?” you can sit for hours nursing parent or child
If you can smile and laugh when all about you is loss upon loss
If you can spot hypocrisy by a country mile
& damn the pompous with a winning smile
If you can skip the nets of race, nationality, religion, class
Yours is the Earth and everything that’s in it,
And — which is more — you’ll be a woman my son!

funeral plans

Monday 16th January 2023 8:17 pm

a psychic distillation
in the centre 
of this stinking nation
the poor’s unfocused struggle
for existence
this patient is bound up
in a charlie darwin struggle
in A&E: at 2am, 200 bpm
no sweat, he thinks,
the drugs’ll bring it down
& as the mist lifts
my heart skips a beat
 i see:
the frozen children 
the ‘failing’ families
the unwanted poor 
in the grip of
stinking bare-faced complacency

The family face

by John E Marks

Monday 26th December 2022 7:19 pm

I, too, was potentially everything at birth. I, too, was stunted, narrowed, warped by my environment, my outcroppings of heredity. Sylvia Plath

Right of First Knight: Or, Family Feudalism | The Chequer-board of Nights  and Days

The past is present in all our genes
and when you begin to recognize ancestors
running through your blood
you begin the blessed process of forgetting
the here and now, as a free-standing reality,
and so begin the unknowing of yourself.
Discarding the slippery glimmer of today,
putting on the face to meet
the faces that we meet.
We now can apprehend 
consciousness moving away from us nto the dark recesses
of the blood,
jumping along, generation after generation,
always arriving back in the present
bruised from the fight yet shining a light
into the dangerous past of Vikings, Jacobites
men whose hands were never clean,
those who shared their homes with animals,
young men who  Recruiting Sergeants marched off to war
by means of the old king’s shilling.
We carry the genes of victims
of Droit du seigneur (ius primae noctis)
which allowed the Lord to take the virginity
of all new wives. We can taste the ways
in which the past seeps into the present
and notice how our genetic inheritance
is left to do its work, again,
in this particular time and place.

The Oxen by Thomas Hardy


Christmas Eve, and twelve of the clock.

“Now they are all on their knees,”

An elder said as we sat in a flock

By the embers in hearthside ease.

We pictured the meek mild creatures where

They dwelt in their strawy pen,

Nor did it occur to one of us there

To doubt they were kneeling then.

So fair a fancy few would weave

In these years! Yet, I feel,

If someone said on Christmas Eve,

“Come; see the oxen kneel,

“In the lonely barton by yonder coomb

Our childhood used to know,”

I should go with him in the gloom,

Hoping it might be so.


I walk my dog, Woody, on a freezing day
He pulls on the lead, he needs to be free,
Soon, he’s outrunning Ned the whippet,
I glance along the forest edge
Up at the skeletal trees
Even the pines decline to leaf for me.
I count my losses – deaths natural
And suicidal. How can I reconcile
Myself to such losses. I do not know.
My beautiful children extend their hands
To me but they are busy with kids & work.
I try not to let my terrible hurt show
Except in verse for, I know well, enough
very one can master a grief, but he that has it.


Photo by monica di loxley on Unsplash

Tobacco spills into her tea-stained lap
as she squirms tightly on the chair
in the church hall this cold December evening.

Where to pick up the pieces from?
What to do with them?
She hears the serenity prayer
but cannot remember the story from the chair.

It gets better, they say,
nobody shakes & fears like she.

Inside, a kind of mad jollity
grips & guides her to the tea.
What is all this talk?
Taking it hour by hour?

She listens silently
to tales of male depravity.

She drank her last bottle 
twenty-eight days ago.
Outside, signs of the winter dawn
she hears the birds’ sing
she listens closely to every note.



Κωνσταντίνος Καβάφης

What a catastrophe; we are made
for ease, & nice times
when change stays away
& unjust fate just passes us by
encouraging me not to succeed
denying me the hindrances
of trivial habits, like breathing,
and small-mindedness, and indifference
on a cold winter’s day
i sit here typing with cold fingers
what a bad day to give in,
to let go and just give in,
to small indifferences, fate,
what a horrible day she is having
working in a cold warehouse
she feels like letting go and giving in,
but there are children to support
and rent to pay. I think of Kavafy
in Alexandria, at least he was warm..

What a disaster,
getting dressed in the cold
this morning
dream of beautiful women
flocking, like wild geese,
to travel endlessly
unfixed by hormones, genetics or fear
this unfair luck of ours always
catches me unawares
i place my granddaughter
in my heart, tenderly,
she is warm there
i accept the recent deaths
without despair
so many things I do not want
or need
for your sole sake i buy ornaments
in praise of the sophists,
their difficult and priceless blessings,
what life will we have without them?


Photo by Chanan Greenblatt on Unsplash

The trees are still today
Denuded of leaves 
Seemingly apprehensive.
Squirrels gather nuts — 
Against the coming storm.
The big freeze will fill
The hospitals.
People seek warmth
Seal windows
Door frames
Kick against disease
Poverty: defences disintegrate
Cold seeps in.
Dogs bark forlornly
Left to fend for themselves.
We begin not to recognize
Any common humanity 
Just competitors
Who eat, steal heat,
Try not to collapse or sob or grow old.
Can you save me from the coming war? 
Will the lord command
Peace and food and heat?
Answer was there none.