‘River Liffey Inciden’t . . . Pen & Wash . . . WHB – 1994


Suicide on a whim
is not unheard of
but few such perpetrators
live to tell the tale

one such
rescued from his indecision
by the Gardai
lived through his trauma

sweet Liffey run softly
while I tell the story

distraught by his
gambling debts
and the drinking
his only way to a conclusion
seemed to him to be
he thought
that he wanted to die
part irresolute

in a single moment of wavering
he had jumped
just fell perhaps
but the fear
and the cold water
soon hit him
hit harder
than the twenty foot drop

an instinctive cry
escaped him
you could call it
a change of mind
his cry for help
was a second thought
an unintended consequence
of his half-hearted conviction

and now he was held
grasped in a rescue bid

but did he wish to be salvaged
to be pleaded with
would that bring him
the closure he craved
attention unwanted

but secured
attention secured
but unwanted

and still
he could not let go
the ladder
his passport to life
a life he did not desire
could he bear to go there
yet again
to continue
victim to more pain
to yet more anguish

but temporary chagrin
is no killer
his cri de coeur
his indecision

is it heads or tails
is it stay or go
is life’s hurt
greater than death’s pain
is future shame
worse than eternity’s

we will never know
the prognosis
I suspect
he is still amongst us
ever indecisive
a suitor for attention
defaulting on his debts
not stopping at three pints
one of life’s
protean chancers


Oh why does loving hurt so much?
And bite so hard with such smooth teeth?
And clutch so tightly at my heart
As though to stifle every beat?

Just one dark look, one heavy word,
Is like the lash of some foul whip,
And lacerates my tender frame,
And brings a quiver to my lip.

In vain I try to stem the ache –
Othello’s antique pain.
The handkerchief is suspect still
My anguish will remain.

[ First published on blog on 5th October, 2016 ]



How can you love me
When you do not know me?
But could you ever know me?
Could anyone ever truly know another ?
For what is love?
And what is knowing?

I love it that we share our minds
I love it that you care
life is not simple
nor is it kind
I cannot tell
I will not tell
what license I will find
when I am free
to give and take
to open my closed door
I hate it that I cannot share
my honest thought with you

You cannot love me
When you do not know me
How can that be?
Love incites jealousy
Demands a tunnel vision
How can you love me
When you do not know me?

How is it that you care?
why do you say
I am your hope
your strength and future
when we have hardly ever met
and how do I respond
to what your heart holds dear
when I am filled with dread
that what you see in me is
no more than a wish
a thread of passion
based on hope
on a need unspoken
and unknown

But can you love me
when you do not know me?

Why fantasise
why  build daydreams
on that insubstantial
illusory quicksand
of hope
when caution’s imperative
holds good
perhaps for ever

Please do not love me
Until you know me

Loving brings distress I know
heart’s ease
can never please
for long
for us
nor promise what
it withholds
out of pain and anguish
exigency does not let up
its grip forfeits

So where does that leave hope
and reassurance?
In fortune’s limbo
offspring of circumstance
kismet confronted
life’s lottery held
in someone else’s hands

You cannot love me
Until you know me!
And then … ?
Oh … what is love?

We will not know
Unless love happens
Until love happens


The poem was based on the invention of scenarios around some of the paintings by the Scottish painter, Jack Vettriano (1951 -).
The images used above are from Pixabay.