Posted in Before the Rain


For three months a gypsy’s life,
finish one crop, move to another
berries – hops – tobacco.
The trick the old hands said, was a tree job
apples or pears – a solid 3 or 4 months,
not a few weeks like the vines and bushes.
The best came last –
an orchard at the tail end of the season.

closing fist-like to the hills.
The sun came late and left early
when alone
and when light and shadow colluded
The Deliverance came to mind.

“Generous Mike,” we called the owner
example: serve lukewarm tea and coffee
“ you’ve finished your drink – back to work.”
Blood from a stone? Perhaps not,
but eight hours + 2, 3 or 4 minutes – everyday.
Later I learned of his large mortgage
half a million
when being a millionaire was still a landmark.

Five permanent staff and four seasonal –
an American midwife,
a cardiologist to be,
a Bank of Ireland economist on sabbatical
and a brand-new graduate.

One break time we asked about attractions
any recommendations?
We could go to the beachside campground
one replied,
and see people without clothes,
he often did – circuiting slowly in his car.



Most of my life has been spent on the bench, occasionally called into the game by extravagance or attenuation. Waiting has turned a loner into a recorder - nondescript and inconsequential, more not noticed than overlooked - the non-vantage point of children not yet considered old enough to understand. Orphaned Islands (Un)poetry is a lifetime of picking anecdotes up and not throwing them away. Stories collected like odds and ends placed in a box in the basement, the garage, the garden shed - uncertain as to what their use might be but knowing that one day there might be one.