Friday, 8 June 2018

And I Danced

All packed up and ready to flee,
I left my unloved room for the last time,
walked across the hall and down
the stairs, then paused outside the opened
study door of that half-wit monk.

An argument is in full swing.
(How perfect! Does it ever stop?)
A red-faced peer is remonstrating
with Fr. Half-wit, but he stops
and turns his head as I appear.

‘I’m leaving now!’ I almost sing,
‘And never shall return! Farewell!
Adieu! And toodle-pip to all!’
My red-faced former comrade smiles;
replies in kind; the argument resumes.

I had no words left for that place,
and so I danced. I danced across
the gravel. I danced down the drive.
I danced towards the waiting coach.
I danced away from all those things.

Wednesday, 6 June 2018


'un objet trouvé' from my father's notebook
(from Duino Elegies: First Elegy
by Ranier Maria Rilke, with thanks to 
Colm Niland for sourcing it)

Maybe what’s left for us is some
tree on a hillside we can look at
day after day, one of yesterday’s
streets, and the perverse affection of
a habit that liked us so much
   it never let go.

Monday, 4 June 2018

Look Forward Now

The final act,
The big reveal:
Complete the turn
Of this life’s wheel.

To find out what
It is to know.
The past reset.
Move on, now. Go.

Look forward now.

Graveside Poem

for Lorraine
and in memory of our father, Christopher Niland (1940-1991)

I stood there
at my father’s grave
for the first time,
while the rain soaked my clothes.
The poem which I’d meant to write
before I had arrived
remained unwritten;
I’d found I didn’t have the words,
and so I stood there
at my father’s grave,
and listened.
My sister asked,
‘Do you need some time alone?’
I wasn’t ready,
so I put my arm across her shoulder
and we stood there
at our father’s grave,
Chris spoke, and said,
‘This is the end of a very long journey,’
and after I’d asked to be alone
I felt some chasm close;
I felt a feeling
deeper than the grave
that lay before me.
Tears and rain became one,
and in the almost silence
the words I could not find
arrived and spoke their truth
I was lost to you