Michael Dooley

Five Poems by Michael Dooley

Michael Dooley

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Walden, the Discovery

Cups chipped themselves
with this,
wedding bands felt again
vivacity in their pawing.
In your success,

you had not even amounted
to a children’s story;
no imported mirror chants
or ditch drunk paralyses
paid homage to your name.

Nor was it grunted
by bog blunt whiskied faces
who commended your way,
who were to swear
they heard your joints

crack the little lock-in hours.
What order did you put
to land deals in the bar below?
Or passing school-tied want
that swore eternals

in fat lethargic dusk;
to viral askings-after
in deep unfurnished tones
that rose through linoleum
as teeth whip-stuck in your back.

I heard of stuttered blinks
that followed the priest’s collar
around the room;
your rusted jaw
ground hollow greetings

through a lice beard.
He was to circle the trap cage,
its final comfort
of in-torn grass,
and your eyes, they bulged.


The suck and spit of milking
announce the evening’s main event;
a yard cranked into circulation;
bursts of local radio.

Pussíns curl with slow coherences
in beds of last year’s hay;
their paws sharp with nailed arousal
to the breadth of metronomic clacks.

Limp as ambition,
clusters soft-fought
hang in the aisle,
their necks like children’s bath-time.

The electric signature of news;
fashionable distorted bars
in threes, compressed like oily
water rats under the sluice gate.

In the small paddock,
a Hereford bull roots
short grass, in tempered
standings on his chain.

And cows stand
in the ironed yard
ears bent to the news;
up to their knees in it.


I saw Eternity the other night,
Like a great ring of pure and endless light,
All calm, as it was bright;
                                         -  Henry Vaughan

Cut in dark silence,
a stood car

touched by brown ground leaves,
listens to waves


The pitch over Galway Bay
is slit by defined light. 

A helicopter fawns
angry directionless wind



Two Gas Men, wasn’t that it?
… but one
alone, beneath our boiler
amongst the latts and linen
shone copper-glow in darkness.

Forty watts on the tools
at his feet;
The mechanical din
of rhythmic clicking
- apologetic clangs.

Alright ‘til tomorrow?
as closer came the voice
which left us
to a sharp November night;
my father’s furious etiquette.

A ticking radiator now;
the shake of my Motorola
on cheap French plastic.
The gelding gave his back,
faced droughted river.

And Peg, swaying
amongst her roadside flowers
in archaic bloom;
keening on the bodhrín.
His son on the bonnet of an Escort,

he, hanging in the shed;
an empty heat, this
blunt June afternoon,
and voices through the meadows:
“Haughey has died”.


The broken virility of a dew damped morning’s yardlight;
an exhaust-pipe spits into the air
Iron curls latent manure

to where school-tie and buttocks rest on a stove rail
I told her the name of the girl that I love

Boots cross the wet yard
then tractor noise and a blanket of cold;
a white-head heifer

I was for school

Michael Dooley

Michael Dooley is a teacher, and lives in Galway. He was runner-up in the 2013 Charles Macklin Poetry Prize, and has had poems honoured in recent Fish, Gregory O’ Donoghue, and Desmond O’ Grady prizes. His work has been published by The Stinging Fly and Crannóg, and is forthcoming from The Poetry Bus.