Retouching the Canvas

I am not sure what it was-

A calling, a desire, a need

To start afresh; reborn-

Washed down to white,

A bare canvas to be painted on,

Once more, without mark or tint

Of what had been or came before

And yet, in this new rendering,

Each selected stroke

And technique of life and love

That had gone before

Shone out as if I’d laid

One too few undercoats

To cover up the replication

Of the previous interpretation.

But they were merely tones-

Hints of what had led me here,

To this city as old as time,

That so reveled in its own past

That it proved impossible

For anyone or anything to look

Directly in front of them

Without being aware of all

That lay in its shadowed history;

The heartless father- no longer

As ice stone in the memory,

Melting slightly with every sunset

Witnessed by the Pont des Arts.

How you tortured us,

I once thought, and yet,

With distance to enlighten me,

I see it was you who was tortured

By your own fumbling hands,

Unable to hold on to what you had,

But fighting to make it bleed as it fell

From your frightened clutch.

I’d cast you in my child-thinking mind

As impenetrable rock, and yet,

You were no more than base-empty,

Fool-hearted, stubborn image

Of lost boy, plunking manly grunts

Onto foolish quarrels that festered

Within you, as we pulled away,

Long before your slow path

To fated finish line- the end.

A line that I no longer saw

From the sanctuary of my own

Tiny life, all carved out

In new directions, opposite

To all of yours until my feet rested

On that fine day, in summer,

On the ground under which

I hoped you lay at peace, at last.

And so I turned from you,

With a nod of final forgiveness

To our past and flew back

To my future where firm footing

Claimed my title as accepted dweller

Instead of foreigner within.

I became an inhabitant

In my own right and a witness

To this city that stretched out

Before me as each new dawn

Rose to tempt me

With further offerings before

Wrapping itself around me

Once more as the sun set

On those journeys home-

Always bank side and lamp lit-

When this once walled city

Leant in and shielded me

From the loneliness of that run

From home; the free-falling flight

Of the frenzied Irishman to France.

Was youth my only excuse

For the naivety and lack

Of processions I’d arrived with;

A wallet not so bulging, a tongue

That had barely tickled the language

And a boy without a home,

Or friend or job to do?

And yet that was the desire

That bought me that once-off,

One-way, discounted, newspaper

Cut-out, couponed ticket.

My greatest folly and yet,

So too, my greatest joy.

My canvas may not have been

As blank as I thought but,

By the end, it had been

Uncompromisingly retouched,

The edges softened, the frame

Selected and, in my own reflection,

I saw colors I had never before

Imagined to be a part of me.

pont des arts

An Ending to the Season

Is this it,

Is this life,

Is this living?

Is this the reward for the struggle?


Is this all that was born from those battles won?

Is this the result of those wild Winter’s winds

And the all too shortness of Summer’s sun?


Is this it,

Is this all,

In a nut shell?

In the boxes placed in a huddle?


Is this all that is left from the life that we dared-

The trinkets on shelves we’ve yet to divide

As we pull apart the memories we’ve shared.


Are we done,

Is it so,

Is there nothing left to say?

Do I leave you without even a cuddle?


I thought that our troubles were a thing of the past-

I hoped we could spring from Summer to Fall

But it looks like this Winter is all that will last.


The ties unbind,

The sun has set,

Our season’s ended.


Summer Sun in the Marshes

Three boys and a girl,

Coasting carelessly

From teens to twenties

And coping lazily

With hangovers

Beneath the summer’s sun.

One blonde and three browns,

Laughing amid golden rays

That filled the most perfect of squares

In the once marshland of Le Marais

With it’s cobbled streets,

Men of elegance

And women-

Who followed their trend.

We were setting no trends-

The four of us,

But caught up in the richness

And comedy of it all.

We were Irish and English

And one of us French-

Young, unknown, foolish

And arrogant-

To everything but ourselves,

And ignorant-

To who it was that we were.

We were like the ground

We sat on;

A once sinking mess

Belonging to a world

Of daylight dreaming,

Where un-cautioned laughter

Tickled our sleep

Though not our feet,

But suddenly we’d found

Potential in possibilities

Seen through slumber-less eyes,

Far from dreaming.

I was laughing with one,

Blushing with the other

And was sleeping with the one

So typically French.

I’d befriended the one

I’d hoped to sleep with

And undressed with the one

I should’ve remained

Discreet with.

I would later miss her,

Lose contact with him

And wonder

How to stop sleeping

With the other.

But that day,

In that light,

In that heat of that summer,

We’d found our way,

Heard our voices

And finally found

What it meant to belong.


Darkness and Light

And so,

Once again

I’ve put away

Those tediously tiring,

Hypocritical pretenses

And prepared myself for a fall

From the smiles and laughter

And wonder of it all?

At last, I’ve been permitted

To speak and acknowledge it,

Allowed to stop this world

And finally accept it,

See it, reject it

Or perhaps, no more,

Than assimilate to accept it?

Finally, I’ve conceded

To feeling the Darkness

As much as the Light-

If not more, at times,

In times that come to stay,

Unannounced, unexpected

And with much more frequency

Than previously suggested?


Can you see me

From the outside

On through to the inside-


Slipping slowly

Beneath the tide,

Washing away

On the waves,


Below the water

In such slow and subtle ways?


I had it, for a stay,

Within my grasp

And fooled myself into thinking

That firm footing could anchor me forever

To a space

So bright and clear

That nothing dull

Or darkly austere

Could ever find me,

Tease me

Or wrongly treat me.

Had I grown

So confidently assured

That nothing could rise so high

To drag me down so low?

Down to that dismal place

Without breath to breathe,

Substance to see or

Harmonious heartbeat to hear.


And yet,

All along,

Behind the smiles,

I knew you’d return-

For why anchor myself

So tightly to the shoreline

If not in the notion,

However subconscious,

That somehow, someday,

You’d crawl to the surface

And, in a sweeping swoop,

Erase sanity from solace.

In small and subtle shifts-

You’ve secretly

Sucked at my substance,

Though I distinguish you now

More clearly-

I see the darker shadows

You leave in your wake

And the slower motivations

Of my movement

Which you make.


So succulently susceptible

To your slyly serpentine ways

Was I, the last time- that first time,

But now, older and worn in,

You no longer slip in

Between the seams unnoticed.

I see you for what you are-

Standing blindly

In all your Darkness,

In the colossal cacophony

You create within my head,

And even in the numbing nothingness

You kneed into me-

I can confidently distinguish you

And your Dark handed distractions

From desires derived

From my own daylight delusions.

You are no longer

Just another side of me-

But another self, entirely-

Despicably dug in,

Deep in the depths-

A deviant dwelling

To distract my days

With Darkness

And Darken my dusk

With Depression.


You have settled in

And set up shop,

Trading in nothing more

Than torrents of torment,

Melancholic miseries

And a deluge

Of dejection and desolation-

Filling a basement

With boxed-up beliefs

And packets of possibilities

Placed far out of reach,

My spirit

Left idle and useless

As you file away everything

Valid and vital,

Human and hopeful-

All connection

To confidence and character,

And dress me in foreign forms

Fit for nothing more than

Subservience and surrender.


You wish me

A whisper of what I was,

A memory of something

Once lived in

And a ship wreck

That once sailed above the seas

Into which I now slowly sink

As the Light surrenders to the shadow

And all life unwillingly bows to the undertow.


And yet,

Before the dawning

Of the Darkest day,

There is still something


Longing and familiar,

Beyond the shadows,

My eyes, as yet,

Unable to certify shapes

But from deep inside

My spirit shakes

And from the corner of my mouth

A smile slowly breaks…