Winged Thoughts in the Age of Air

Month: June, 2014

Son of Erin (for Gerry Conlon)

Gerald Conlon


He’s a West Belfast boy
he’s an Ulster lad
through the Tyrone branch
he’s a Conlon man, sad
that forced conversion
in Sasana, so sad.
In the rivermouth city
raised, it’s too bad
the Troubles took away
the childhood he never had
here’s the Harland
and Wolff shipyard
now he dreams
he’s a sailor like Sinbad
another street-kid
in cold wintertime half-clad;
climbing through the sky
with some comrade
he flies the blue pigeon
on an ironclad
rides Liverpool-bound
with a newspaper ad.

Innocent sailing
to the Promised Land
the downfall of the
Gaelic Order of legend
is seen again in your fate
well-intentioned man
with no real hatred for England
with your long black hair
and your hippy headband
don’t go insane
as you look ahead, damned
sailor destined to be cast up
on the sand
where skulls of madmen
slowly whitened
burn under suns imperial, grand:
fifteen years is a lot to stand
in a prison beneath
the Gardens of Fand.

Sleepless mysteries
looking back at night
as the contraries
lock together tight:
a bed under mirrors
and a house full of light
a prostitutes lair
and the squat out-of-sight
where the goddesses
made you feel alright
but the jealous freaks
still wanted a fight;
and then the whole world
was set alight
with nitroglycerine’s
‘might is right’;
and that was when
the dove took flight,
and disappeared in
the azure height:
and they locked
a scapegoat up in spite,
and Gerry
God forgot about you

Until your father
came to your side
though you cursed him
in your bitter pride.
He came because
you had been denied
your freedom, and he
alongside you suffered
like Christ, for He was tried
and he too, your father
with nothing to hide
was sent down to do
many years inside
and through the pain
of those years you suvived
as they pissed and shat
in your food, applied
lashes with coshes
in your mindstate pried
tried to make you, Gerry
commit suicide.
And when, after your
father had died
and when for your father’s death
you’d cried
and when at last
the prison door stood wide
the judge could only say
‘The officers lied.’


Gerry Conlon One Of The Guildford Four Accused Of The Ira Pub Bombing Murders In Guildford In 1974. He Is Pictured Leaving The Old Bailey With His Sisters In 1989 After Being Freed. Ira Bombings - Mainland


And then the tabloid
monster of Satan
from high-security
jails of Britain
traumatized, ashen
he whose good name
they tried to blacken
whose neck the screws
wanted broken
ran down a one-way street
a free man on News-at-Ten
like shot-from-a-cannon
because now at last
it was known for certain
he’d been treated worse
than a common felon
for fifteen years though
he didn’t weaken
ever become something
less than human
among his solid
Celtic brethren:
the long-suffering Irishmen.

But freedom came
like a dark demon
with the dirty money
of compensation
for the time of your early
manhood stolen
and, Gerry, the cocaine
wouldn’t loosen
as you sought to numb
yourself and sweeten
the memory of all
those years so barren
behind the cell bars
made of iron.

And all I can say
with lips bitten
not expecting
that words can hearten
is that you, Gerry
were never beaten
forgiving even
what they did to you
in prison
all those years, my friend
Son of Erin.


Gerry Conlon dies



2 beautiful doves from RV copy

Up in the jet-
stream is love
floating above
the stratosphere
in one step
breaking every

The field of
the impossible
as love begins
her mysterious
‘Hold her below’
say the lords of hell
‘she’s going to transform
the whole earth!’

See! She
puts aside
all self in
the mortal wars
of pride;
is her revocation
of what
some have called
their right.

can be her
but the conjunction
is her end;
will mean
her descent
she mounts her
tender attack.

Listen, she
something new
her own
she never dies;
trivial names
may seem
to kill her
under an
incubus she lies.

But love
will teach
her lesson again
she will leave
no heart intact
she will make
idiots that
were men
strange fools
go to her
blue skies.

Love is
the new
along the days
to be discovered:
every zeitgeist
of an age
moves beneath
her excellent

Love must
be lifted
every morning
from all
with the dead;
love must be
laid down
again each
as though for
the first and
final time.

Where is love
in the scheme
of things?
Is she doomed
by seismic
ancient vulcanism
plagues, sombre
horrors of
our condition?

Love is here
to sand
with gems
old rubbings
she is here
to enlist
all forces
in the service
of another

Her army
marches under
the moon
her music
is fresh green
her road
is smooth as
polarised light:
you glide
on a highway of
silver glass.

is love, see her
the earthbound
utopias have
no significance
for her
because she
is always
searching ahead.

Her ray
drives the
whole universe
towards the bright
situation of oneness
state we revisit
we are open
to the very
fortunate possibility
of love.

Love, let me
go with you
I hate this place
an insular
people of
vindictive reflex
show me
your own country
very often I’ve
seen your light-blue
coast in dreams.

Love, take
me to you
soon, tomorrow:
don’t leave me
here with pessimism.
The cities are full
of interfriction
I’ve seen enough of

Love, take me
with you, where
you think best
but if I must
stay here
show me your
face in every
face crossing
my path as I go
passing below through
the shadowlands.

image: Roman Vester

A Yellow Crescent


A yellow crescent
moonboating on the gasworks
by the roundabout.

Alarms of the Super-Rich


Alarms of the super-rich
whiny voices shrilling
high on the wall.

Haiku on the Solstice


Midsummer maypole:
Great Spirit’s finger of light
pointing at the oaks.


tra mmm

Down by the river
stands a giant tree
a century towering
there in silence.

A girder of the natural
world must be the
greying prisoner
of its eminence.

But look where a
wooden viaduct of green
transcends the basic
root-life underneath

Ornament of the void:
this serene, lonely
reaching-out of
the furthest leaf.

Here is our transmarine!
All people, regard this
bridge from one side
to the other run.

To span a different
zone of air is hard:
we all shall overpass
before we are done.

She comes to meet us
on a bridge, they say
in the crossing of
that final day.

To A Dancer

TAD4 mm

Translation that races
along the sky at dawn
white music where
rain slides backward
feathered language
compelling the sun
who will tell your
legend in the morning?

Along the canal steep
towers of perfume;
and an essence washed
down in the night
warm yellow dust
transports us with
laughter to unknown
celebrations with water-music.

Here is a bird which speaks
to passers-by, rider of black
skies speaking in riddles;
here is a boat that was
hauled through dark
sleep to be docked in
circular ports of sunrise.

O majestic decision
you brought us here:
it was your golden engine
heard in the wind.
Today it is sacred
to remember nothing
to look to the present time
which is far ahead.

Song of Returning to the Golden Age


Your eyebrow
traces the flight
of a comet
around the brilliant
sun of your eye.

Once every twenty-six
thousand years
O goddess
the comet comes
soaring out of
the thick black hair
which accumulates
behind your head
in deep space.

Then all people
in astonishment
look up to see
the promise:
your bright omen
coming back.



Echoes from stone
not answers

Fountains playing
but not happily

Clouds passing
no blue showing

Wheels spinning
no closer at all

Rain falling
no one bathing

Sun shining
no fruit reddening

Heart singing
but not in tune

Love flying right
out of control.

Riverside Blues


A bulldog
eats a piece of
buttered toast by
the old green bridge
trying to curve
like a moon.

I hear someone
saying: ‘The possible
risk of coffee’.
The surface
is an analog of
clear overheavens.

A boat passes
dividing blue sky
for a while;
wipe-out a reflection
a black tree.

It only takes
a slim keel
moving slowly to
upset the heavens