Happy St. Patrick’s Day!

May the devil write your obituary in weasel’s piss. –old Irish curse

Hold on — how did that get there? Either the devil made me do it, or me computer is up to no good (which wouldn’t be the first time). To be sure, me fine lads and lassies, this post is about curses in verses, but a curse alone does not a poem make. As for that derelict curse above, there are no weasels in Ireland unless you count the sloat (which is often mistaken for a weasel) or the lowly human (which often acts like a weasel, but technically is not).

Be that as it may, I haven’t got all (St. Patrick’s) day, so let’s get on with it. Here is a cultivated selection of VERSES WITH CURSES which, not least among its Hibernian virtues, could serve to show America’s petulant President how to insult his inferiors with a bit more savoir fairy (class, in plain English) than is typical in his limited vocabulary:

THE CURSE by John Millington Synge

Lord, confound this surly sister,
Blight her brow with blotch and blister,
Cramp her larynx, lung, and liver,
In her guts a galling give her.

Let her live to earn her dinners
In Mountjoy with seedy sinners:
Lord, this judgment quickly bring,
And I’m your servant, J. M. Synge.

from THE CURSE OF DONERAILE by Patrick O’Kelly

Alas! how dismal is my tale,
I lost my watch in Doneraile.
My Dublin watch, my chain and seal,
Pilfered at once in Doneraile.
May Fire and Brimstone never fail,
To fall in showers on Doneraile.
May all the leading fiends assail
The thieving town of Doneraile,
As lightnings flash across the vale,
So down to Hell with Doneraile.
The fate of Pompey at Pharsale,
Be that the curse of Doneraile.
May beef, or mutton, lamb or veal
Be never found in Doneraile,
But garlic soup and scurvy kale
Be still the food of Doneraile.
And forward as the creeping snail,
Th’ industry be, of Doneraile.
May ev’ry churn and milking pail
Fall dry to staves in Doneraile.
May cold and hunger still congeal
The stagnant blood of Doneraile.
May ev’ry hour new woes reveal
That Hell reserves for Doneraile.
May ev’ry chosen ill prevail
O’er all the imps of Doneraile.
May not one prayer or wish avail
To sooth the woes of Doneraile.
May the Inquisition straight impale
The rapparees of Doneraile.
May curse of Sodom now prevail
And sink to ashes Doneraile.
May Charon’s Boat triumphant sail
Completely manned from Doneraile.
Oh! may my couplets never fail
To find new curse for Doneraile.
And may grim Pluto’s inner jail
Forever groan with Doneraile.

RIGHTEOUS ANGER by James Stephens

The lanky hank of a she over there
Nearly killed me for asking the loan of a glass of beer:
May the devil grip the whey-faced slut by the hair,
And beat bad manners out of her skin for a year.

That parboiled imp, with the hardest jaw you will see
On virtue’s path, and a voice that would rasp the dead,
Came roaring and raging the minute she looked on me,
And threw me out of the house on the back of my head!

If I asked her master, he’d give me a cask a day;
But she, with the beer at hand, not a gill would arrange!
May she marry a ghost and bear him a kitten, and may
The High King of Glory permit her to get the mange.


And so we can see, Donald T.,
What the problem may well be:
In your entire immigrant ancestry,
Of Irish blood, you’re entirely free.

But on St. Patrick’s Day, luckily,
Every man is an Irishman, glory be!
So depart for today from your family tree,
Uproot this curse, branch out, and be free!

From ass act to class act, verily
This very day, you can transformed be….
Therefore, by virtue of the Irish in me,
I dub thee, please God, President Donald O’T.





“Would you explain your writing to me?”
“Certainly — I write what I see.”

“So, what you see is what you say?”
“In my mind, I see it that way.”

“But things aren’t always what they seem.”
“In that case, I write what I dream.”

“Pray, how to tell the two apart?”
“Some might say, therein’s the art.”

“Then, that’s the art — to part the two?”
“No, that’s the part that’s up to you.”

“Up to me? But you’re the writer!”
“Truth be told, aren’t you the decider?”



There are too many books I haven’t read, too many places I haven’t seen, too many memories I haven’t kept long enough. –Irwin Shaw, playwright, screenwriter, novelist and author of Bury The Dead

The dead have spoken….
but the living have moved on.
Hear their voices left in your mind,
keep their memories in the images
that are reborn in shared solitude.
Who among us has not known the haunting fear,
whispering we might not survive the silence?


The title of my last post got me thinking about how much time I spend on the first paragraph of most of my posts, introducing or setting up what I’m getting at — sort of what I’m doing now, except I realize that some set-ups are necessary and others could just as well be dispensed with, thereby freeing time for better things, such as reading your stuff (if that doesn’t ingratiate me with you, you’re just plain un-ingratiateable). My point is that this set-up is necessary in order to explain what I’m getting at here, OK?

Now where was I? Oh, yes — inasmuch as the drain on my brain is a pain to explain, each of my next x number of posts will consist of a single poem, un-introduced and un-set up….so don’t be upset if you’re on your own to navigate the depths of such odes as this:


Now I lay me down to sleep;
I pray the Lord my soul to keep.
If I should die before I wake,
I pray there’s been one helluva mistake.

No need to get all hot and bothered if you don’t ‘dig it.’ Simply send $100 cash or money order (if you order before 10:01 a.m. next month, add $10.01 because I’m kinda busy right now) to the address on your screen, and you’ll receive an explanation that’s as transparent as the address on your screen. Satisfaction guaranteed, or double your dissatisfaction back. As our gift to you, the first 100 callers will also receive who-knows-what absolutely free (simply pay an additional $101 to cover the cost of bs&h*). This offer is limited to the first 100 callers, and because I’m not giving out my phone number, the odds against your being the 101st (or later) caller are all in your favor. So act NOW! And pay no attention to that man behind the curtain.

*bullshit and handling


My next guest in this series is a bunch
of 1930s musicians* who had a hunch
that most orchestras of that time
played less than lofty and sublime
so they formed a band whose bliss was
to fashion high-class music such as this was:

Speaking of a bunch, do you like bananas? I like bananas, no bones about it. Here’s why:

And now for a little traveling music….

Well, if you ask me, that’s taking traveling a bit too far. Why wander the world in limbo with limbs akimbo when I can settle down with a bimbo down on the Bamboo Isle?

And with that, Isle see ya next time, music lovers.




A homeless man in his 50s was found frozen to death the morning after Christmas at a downtown bus stop in the city I call home….though it might have been any city on earth where cold weather reigns this time of year.  Local homeless advocates said he was known to them: a drug addict who recently relapsed after staying clean for several months.

The homeless here have no ‘home’ in which to stay (homeless shelters are open only overnight, not all day), but each one has a name, a face, and (no doubt at some point in his or her life) a dream. The frozen man’s name was Ken Martin. His face was invisible. His dream? Perhaps it was something along the lines of this poem I wrote years ago:


Suppose a homeless man came upon
what survived of a tattered old jacket,
abandoned, like himself,
to the elements….
and in that tattered garment,
crumpled up inside a pocket,
a winning lottery ticket
might transform his existence.

But first, that paper future must be
found, and then, having been found,
not tossed like litter to the gutter,
unopened and unexamined.
Let us further suppose
the deadline to claim its prize
was coming at midnight
of that very day.

That night, in winter’s turn,
the man had a dream
that he could live his life
all over again,
knowing in his lost youth
what he knew now
so that all the choices
and hidden chances
of wasted turning points
again lay open before him.

But the thought made him cringe
— regret was a fire
that gave pain without heat.
He awoke in cold sweat
to the taste of snow
on the cracks of his lips,
pulling tight the collar
of today’s good fortune.
What luck to have found
a buffer against fate.