Family Photos

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Syd, Emer, Cormac 1986


Bridie Slattery 1896-1978


Sydney Clark .Smith, 1889-1939


 Emer & Auntie Mary

Danny, Cindy, Sydney,  Dugort, Inishbofin,  1972


Emer & Papa

Syd 1986

Cormac 1986





Mini, in Bofin


Family Group With Feelings


our baby the time and motion scrutineer

in paradise, watching every hop of the ball

fingering the now only. he depends -

it is nice to be depended on.


the wife wearing herself out with bustle

and conformity to never-formulated

norms of a stricter father-in-the-mind

we are all at the mercy of until

we rise up in our own (is it?) pseudonym.


are we disfigured by work for subsistence?

without a sail to our mast

drifting from charm to charm

at the mercy of the wind of feelings,


Rabelaisian love of crack in the pub: heavy social man

neglects duty of plastering house

plasters himself instead.

there will not always be time...


why worry? more than half

enough turf for the winter

spuds carrots cabbage and sprouts

mackerel in the salt; other things


more than half done - the soul

more than half saved from bitterness

- at what? envy of tele-reputation?

envy of those with an audience and ease?

regret for lost love-moments? slide-rules of


reason help one to slide from day to day

across the greater currents of affairs.

yet the plain subversive fact of the matter

we may not pronounce - the slavery of 'free

enterprise,' - the Gadarene consumer gallop -

it's even taboo to mention on the wireless

Widgery the Lord Chief Square Leg Umpire

unhesitating in his l.b.w.

decisions against any Derryman

struck on the bat by the British Army.


so I rise from the stone I had turned

upside down to sit on the dry side of,

stretch the arms in a Yoga morning greeting,

take in acres of blue sky that had drifted

over the sea to the south,


touch my toes on the little clifftop

and down through the yard in disorder -

wall half stripped, the plastic sacks

of old cans, the rotting wood,

impromptu chick wire, round the corner


and up the front step, and there on the floor

of the living room behold our better half

shovelling preposterous armfuls of babytoys

- enough to fill a frugally dug grave -

into a tea chest. hold it there. touché.




Momentary Landfall in Subatomic Night


on the morning of our tenth wedding

anniversary, take a look around

the sleeping house, the grasses waving

sheepfree on a fenced cliff. what else

begged freedom to grow all these years

besides the clover and the plaintain visible

from the kitchen table? the silence

roomy with wind. were the risks worth

taking? you came all the way.


last night I dreamt I was arrested in Madrid

as an accessory to some event

planned it seems by Irish academics

and driven in a limousine to a

luxury prison. prospect: a long sentence

but in conditions good for work - the prisoners

sauntered about in patent leather shoes.

passed through an identity check

our group was left oddly free to wander

through the prison. promised in the schedule

a lecture on the theme: "tranquillity

remembered with emotion." 


small baby warbles. I bring you in coffee.

he crawls happily back and forth between us.

the two other warriors sleep on.

desultory sniping will resume

later, time enough.


the chance was offered me to change my coat

and walk out into the street... too likely to be

picked up again, thought I, & chickened in.


where the dream ends clichés come crowding round.

are those wild oats run to seed on our cliff?

Danny  went out last night

and from the dark brought in two purple

clover flowers, a buttercup

& a disused dandelion.

the world that he goes out into from here:

industrial desertmakers organized

stripping the earth more wantonly than sheep

to stuff the pampered and to starve the poor

- the all-consuming multi-national grab

meticulously shredding resources...


from such centrifugal living, run away -

lie in the yoga corpse-to-be, rise

to balance in a shallow bowl of mind

like Jodrell Bank cosmogonies and cosmos

trillions of stars, each with as many

nuclear bangs however estimated

by the minute bursting in my

whoever-I-am... nerves and stars coiling off

the littered-all-over hope

of getting it together any time

recedes at infinite velocity.


climb where there is nothing to hold on to,

elusive self, handflung irresponsible

tiny green gleams, firepoints a

while of an eternal microsecond

in subatomic night.

Mini asleep breathing with the universe

giggles in his dream. he wakes

we rock we are safe we have avoided

unmentionable disasters.



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