The Pregnant Man

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The Pregnant Man
My Bucket List

Not much:
The fortitude of Nelson Mandela,
The single-mindedness of Che Guevara

The wit of Oscar Wilde

The voice of Richard Burton

The Integrity of my father

The compassion of my mother

The energy of my grandchildren.

Not a chance:

There’s a hole in my bucket.


My stepdaughters especially helped me access my feminine side and re-enter that magical child space. I wrote them this lullaby.

I'd like to lullaby you,

Lift you up,

off forest floor flowers,

Slip you past the sleeping shadows,

Dance you past the midnight hour,

As the owl whoo hoots

in the trees,

leads you light as a breeze,

To dew-wet open meadows,

moonlit, glistening, all-aglow,

Dance there until dawn's trees come to life,

all birds aflitter,

And your own eyelids flutter,

And wake you to your dreams.

Dead Eyes

Over a short number of years I learnt a lot about the truth, lies and deception of images, particularly, from Gene a friend. This poem was written after I previewed some of his soon to be award-winning exhibits.

By a winter’s fire,

Gene, “I’m an image maker”, impressed me.

His flickering glasses magnified the size of his eyes

as he filed away some photography;

people, shadows and light.

I reached out for the black and whites.

A blind man stared dully back at me.

Raising mine, in time, I said,

‘His eyes are dead! Blank!’

But unblinking, waiting, baiting,

Gene’s huge eyes bored.

I dropped mine to the blind man’s
white eyes

round black pupils


round me, over me, through me,

past all pain and time.

Over good coffee

Gene, the image-maker, impressed me,

For he had ability

Not only to turn negative into positive

but to make blind eyes see.

Inner City Predator

After being kidnapped by police, thrown into a police car and taken to a subterranean passageway under Dublin’s Bridewell police station in the small hours of a morning in 1976, and tortured there, police cars somehow never looked the same again.


round the corner,


into the stream

of traffic,


Eight eyes peering,

Engine purring,

Metal clasps

about to clamp

outspread wrists.

Within its bowls

and from the gutter,

Mechanical voice-over


"Foxtrot One! Foxtrot One!

'Detain youths

On corner Main Street. '


Although this poem is short, any period of loneliness, between moon night and morning, can last many months, even years.


is in the bedroom

staring at the ceiling,

Listening to rain

tap his window pane,

car lights passing

without feeling.

The moon

breaking through the clouds

lights him up alone,

Pacing in his room,

Peering at the gloom,

All night,

Dawn time

loneliness gone.

Eight women and Counting

I’ve had many female relationships since I was nine years of age, through puberty and, early manhood. In the following poem I wrote about some of them. The poem obviously says more about me than it does about any of the eight women.


She lived

in a forest

with yellow cane,

shallow swamp,

surrounded by terraced tombs

and released his childhood.

Now, pupils dilated,

oblivious to pain,

with compassionate friends

and her flowing frocks,

she fades,


of the virus


Belfast Barnsley damsel

seeking a shining knight

in a dirty Dublin weekend

and a Bangor bang.

A date in London

never worked out:

apolitical incompatibility,

within a rifle-shot

of Marx's grave.


A teacher

fearing life,


grasping her innocence,

adolescent hand in hers,

they stood

on edge of sand

and ocean,


by sparkling sulphur,

the toneless

lapping motion.

misty morning meanders,

watching rabbits reaching

for the sunrise.

Gliding gulls crying

he wrote,

tear blurring vision


the ship slipping out to sea.


East End pirate

who knew junky Soho,

cemented human pillars.


she mothered men.

Clutching child and carpenter,



she slipped away to Somerset,


her analyst,

who exhibited

her therapeutic mural.


Angelic anarchist

whose Island

never existed.

Grasping life

her men

washed over her

in waves.

Her diary

recorded rivals,

even her lover's cramp.

Her rejection embittered,


against emotion,

even when

a red bus

battered her body bloody.


Gorbal’s girl,

a derelict

washed up

by the urban sea,

Punctured arms

and colandared dreams,

surviving on a soul of ice,

lovers living

in her children's faces.

In her thighs

her lies

woke and broke him.


on the run,

needing one;

cold comfort

from memories

of son

and butchered comrades.

While he,

whiskey dizzy,


accepted prison,


in their knowledge

that he had nothing

to give

nor take.



by the industrial revolution;



head full of urban fairy tales.

They watched moondust

reflected in their eyes.


Swallowed each other whole

becoming one.





he caressed her body

with his bruising fist;

More than once,

searching for herself,

she pierced

his body

with sharp fragments

of his own heart.

They survived

only to separate

both victims,

both imprisoned.

But from the embryo

of their love,

warm from the womb,

two sons

whose being is paramount:

through them the Love noun

has become the verb.

The Pregnant Man

Birthing my inner child was a painful but awakening experience.

They waited. Outside. Patiently.

A little away from the place.


Inside the place,

sweated face,

He lay,

On the mattress,



Puffed eyes


And then the push,

Once more,

More than before,

And the groan came,

Grew to a scream,



And through the tears,

And terror,

All alone,

He yelled at the nurse:

"Fuck you!

I'm trying as hard

as I can!"

And cursed

at the top of his voice

His wife, brother,

father, mother,

And yelled

And pushed,

Tears ran,

the crown began

to show,


Head first,


Outside, anxious,

They heard the shouts,

A few nerves broke

for a smoke.

One bloke

tried to sleep

to cut it out.


He felt it move

and pushed,








Raw eyes red,



his terror aside,

Felt the umbilical cord



He lightened...,



Laughed! And hugged his child.


into his face

from his space.

He felt warm, reborn.

Éalú/ Escape

While serving 12 years penal servitude for something I never did, for short periods I escaped every night..

Ciúnas oíche,

Binneas feadóige,

ag éalú

ó chillín amach,

Ag éirí 's ag luí,

Ag lí

an aeir,

Amhail drúcht

na maidine.

Éalú oíche,


ag macalla


an eochróra.

Night silence,

Whistle sweetness,

from a cell


Rising and falling


the air

like morning dew.

Night escape

Broken brutally

by the echo

Of the screw's

Discordant footsteps.


Trying to find stillness in jail is not easy.

I don't sleep well any more,

haunted by human gargoyles,

rattling barbed wire.

A silent wind flames my hair,

steels my eyes.

Icy fingers clutch my throat.

Moonbeams impale the yard

through racing clouds.

My starving mind

nibbles knowledge


A nicotined finger

fails to wipe grime

from a child's moist eye.

Transistors wail Utopia.

I don't sleep well any more.


by a fool's aimless whistling:

his boots stomp the prison yard all night.

High Hopes

On Inis Oirr, a small island on Ireland’s western seaboard, we let loose our romance into the atmosphere, not sure if or when or where it would land.

Destined for great heights together,

no surprise when soft rain drizzling

cool refreshing a balmy night

air fuchsia silent filling

stilling shallow pools

reflecting full moon shimmering,

we splashed across the sky.


This poem deals with a couple coming to terms with imminent death, the grief that followed and life-force’s healing..

His bleak deserted body

Dying in autumn,

Death’s harvest,

-ugly, unfriendly, unromantic,

unlike a russet leaf


tearing itself from a rooted tree,

silently spiraling,

sun-streamed kaleidoscope of colors,

twisting in the wind,

-falling to the still ground.

Misted burgundy berries

A final joint wish

Plucked for two,

-her palmful of lustrous purple blush

coldly, glossy, staring,


dully and seeping ,smeared juice glinting,

their grainy succulence,

one after the other on their tongues,

totally tasteless,

-falling from his stilled hand.

After Autumn’s cold slaughter,

Fears’ numbing chill;

Winters’ thaws,

Spurting Spring shoots and sprouting May buds;

Drifting friendships; shoreline


summers. Blackberries clusterdancing

for a fruitful Autumn,

Lips life-force lift, insight excitement

through new empowered eyes,

harvesting our smiles.

The Coward

He fears:

Moonlit snow,

Children's eyes

Woman's clasping crotch,

The wind's footsteps,


That avoid

Confirming his sight,


that imprison his body,

The bareness of barbed wire,

Emotions and

Exposing impulses:

The weary weight

Powering his pen.


It was early in a relationship, a transitory time for both of us, a time for reflection - a weekend away from Dublin city to Galway’s Burren.

On a Dublin High Street

Reflected in glass sheets

'Mongst silent mannequins

She stared.

Amongst bonsai hawthorn

Moist moss Burren born

She smiled.

Like the cukoo and fox

Over creviced crag rocks

Cautious and dexterous

He trekked.

To the bark, lichen laced,

Pool reflecting moonface,

Together past springtime

They laughed.

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