Peadar O’Donoghue







The Man Whose Head Exploded



That’s a trip you don’t want to take!

Stick to the familiar,

watch Eastenders, or

take up knife fighting.

Stay in the shallow end of life,

an umbilical cord to bring you back.

Thinking takes you out of your depth,

thought is a poetry death wish,

your mind’s eye a microscope

poised above the Petri dish

watching a million things divide and multiply,

‘Can you try this jacket on for size?’

See how it wraps you tight,

saves you from yourself,

think of it as a life jacket-

no strings attached.

Except of course that there ARE strings attached.

Padded walls? Suits you sir!

So the thoughts collide and bounce and bark

like Pavlov’s dog each time your alarm bell rings.

Whispers shout louder than things

that go bump in the night.

Minds more fragile than you might think-

than you might…imagine.

And then the answers, Oh ! The answers!

A billion bacteria for each amoeba,

that’s when your head explodes.





The Old School Tie


The schlock of the new,

out with the old brigade

(side-lined but

within influential reach)

Let’s go out now, lads, and preach!

Let’s tear down the walls!

(and build them up again,

we’ve got women now as well as men)

Walking not on the Wilde side

but on the one side,

shooting from the broadside.

This uncharismatic static,

this Status Quo, this un-revolutionary revolution

won’t be televised, just

radioized,localized, uncriticised,

kept within the dictated parameters,

poetry is not for uneducated amateurs,

(there’s a degree to this snobbery-

or an MA)

Old school/ new school,

The rising tide still lift the few,

the sides remains the same,

it’s only the tie that has changed.





Wasting the good years
(After a song by London Grammar)


All the dead end jobs,

all the pints every night

of the week,

were no waste.

All those sacred seconds, minutes, days, years

were nothing and absolutely everything.


Now is the time. And now.

Now is a million moments.

Now can only get worse,

Now can never be bettered,

let’s put the future behind us,

disappointment cuts harder than hate,

we are Wednesday’s children.

Let’s call it.





Footprints mark the land
(For Dad)


I’d say I heard the cry

when I was about nine, that

I’ve been haunted ever since.

He’d say I ran before I could walk,


that it takes strength to stand your ground.

When he was a boy, the eldest son,

he rambled the moonlit land all night

around the neighbour’s houses for cards.

The same Banshee walked with him,

kept him company,

never did him any harm.


He worked long days in the big farmer’s field,

got paid in butter, chickens, kind,

drawing the turf.

He left home for the saw mills

-and money.

Slept in a tin hut in the woods,

pulled timber with horses six days a week,

on Sundays after mass,

clashed the ash,

spared no timber  for Lorrha.


He got the rifle in The Emergency,

never ran from anybody or anything,

always talking, said nothing,

got a one-way ticket to a wedding in England.

Signed a life away.

The house. The bog .The land.


Some things can’t be asked,

even of the dead.

We’d all walk away,

given one choice,

or a chance.


I didn’t know how to love,

Maybe I still don’t, but

he’d say he just got sick, faded away.

Maybe he’d say,

‘Not to worry,

those ways are over now,

the country is a different past.’





The Angels Wanna Wear My Red Shoes


These elusive Elysian fields

are not for the likes of  us,

this shallowed hall is not a free for all,

there’s no room at the Gin Inn

crowd-loud –prow of

a titanic struggle ship with so few lifeboats.


‘SOS! Save our shoes’

Ah, sole, to shoes of different hues,

no grizzly bear’s arse would be as rough

as this just-us, sin, feigned

socialista twista champagne campaign.


Faux POSH –

Port Out Starboard Home

more ‘Piss Off Shit Head!’

So we plebs better get used ta

The Raft of The Medusa.

Pull the panic cord

but don’t head

Sur la bord.


Well –heeled, or drug- dealed,

makes no odds sods, your words

blurred, slurred, deleted, mistreated.

Keep ‘em peeled Spud,

even-keeled, before you’re keel hauled,

mauled for expecting some soul


It wasn’t just Oliver and his army

that wanted more; I thought you the finest fellow,

a proper pukka mucker, wore my yellow,

but though you lied to me Costello,

still I hoped for angels at the gate,

but the angels, oh the angels,

are just demons full of hate.











Peadar O’Donoghue is a poet and photographer living in County Wicklow ,Ireland. His debut collection of poetry is ‘Jewel’ from Salmon poetry. He co-edits (with his wife Collette) a magazine of poetry and illustration called The Poetry Bus. His ambitions are to have a really nice second-hand car and not to die in the night.

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