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A New Challenge: Songs Without Music


1. Poets Go To Dublin

2. I Choose the Shining Path

3. Under Diamond Hill

4. How To Carve a Celtic Heart

5. Rain Gear

6. Say Nothin'

7. Stones



1. My dad asked my brother "Where's Doug?"

"Doug is a poet. Poets go to Dublin. That's what poets do."

Poets go to Dublin

That’s what poets do

To brood along the Liffey

And stir the coals anew

They are haunting the canal banks

And the pubs of Baggot Street

Rewinding vanished traces

They mostly meet defeat

They jog along Ullysses’ trail

On the 16th day of June

They stray on storied cobbles

Genuflect in dusty rooms

They raise their eyes to Wicklow

Howth and all the rest

Embark at Heuston Station

Out to the fabled West

They drain a glass in Dingle

They grace the Galway shore

They take a seasick journey

To the forts on Inish Mor

They climb in Connemara

Croagh Patrick in Mayo

They rest under Benbulbin

With the master at Sligo

On the trail of Seamus Heaney

Kavanaugh and Yeats

Swift and Shaw and Beckett

Oscar Wilde and all the greats

They seek to solve the mystery

If anybody can

The language here is English

But the spark is Ireland

They are hoping that the lightning

Might strike here again

They can always hear the thunder

But all they get is rain

2. Written upon reading in the "Stones of Aran - Labyrinth" by Tim Robinson of the secret ancient shining paths across the Limestone flags of Inish Mor

I choose the shining path

It may not shine for you

For me it’s traced as clear and strong

As angels in the dew

And like all paths, it’s broken

And the way is never straight

Stone walls cross it’s borders

Knocked down to make a gate

The way is marked quite clearly

Or so it seems to me

Always on the cliff edge

Towards the back lit sea

It shines because the others

Those who went before

Burnished with their footsteps

As they travelled to the shore

At the end begins the journey

Across a darkened sea

Wave after wave that opens

Other waves of mystery

The path is always shining

Sun and moon and stars

Illuminate and educate

Where we’ve been, will be and are

3. So if you write in praise of Ireland, as I have and will again, I think you have to mention another side of the country that is not so palatable or praiseworthy.

In Connemara there is a pretty town called Letterfrack. At the St. Joseph's Industrial School there, young boys were abused and tortured and, it seems, killed.

Letterfrack sits beneath the "12 pins" - a backbone of beautiful mountains. The closest outcrop is called "Diamond Hill".

It is a gorgeous area that I have visited several times on the bicycle tours.

The past is a far off country

But under Diamond Hill

The Christian Brothers raised the beast

And Ireland trembles still

12 mountains in the distance

Crowding all around

12 apostles in their bible

Faces folded towards the ground

100 graves are scattered

In the woods above the town

100 lives were shattered

With nothing written down

There’s a sorrow on the coastline

A sorrow in the glen

At a roadside shrine on the edge of town

Sorrow once again

I think I hear the pipers

At the closing of the day

I think I hear their voices

How can I turn away

4. How To Carve a Celtic Heart

I climbed out of bed to find that the rain

Had slammed downstream from the river again

And the fire was out and hills were gone

Wool socks and coffee needed

Half an hour later it was under control

Van on the box for a little soul

What can I do to swim through the day

Maybe carve some Celtic Hearts.


First draw a grid on the bass wood block

Sketch in the weave so the corners lock

Celtic knots with the edges clear

The tighter the grid the better

Always good to make a plan

I tried when I was a younger man

I thought I saw a place to stand

With somebody beside me


I remember a day when the wind was high

Kites in the field and you and I

And our dopey dog all charging round

I’ve never been so happy

Old grey house and an old green car

That caught fire one day and there you are

Rolling down hill and sliding away

Everything on fire


There are four hearts in that Celtic knot

And at least four times I gave it a shot

But the hearts only join in a passing strand

And the centre just stays empty

Two coats of stain and soft beeswax

Hone the chisels and flatten the backs

Another day and the seasons change

Just me now and the rain

5. Rain Gear

On the rack behind my rain gear

I found my beginner mind

It still fit!

I slipped inside

And stepped into a morning fresh and new

6. Say Nothin'

I was walking along the Liffey in Dublin and two wannabe's singled me out. In the end nothing really happened but in my John Wayne mind, it bothered me. As men we are taught to confront and never back down. Taught by whom?

Not sure...


"Whatever you say,

Say nothing” says I

You might as well leave it at that

Those hard boys from Dublin

Will never be talkin'

But they’ll sing at the drop of a hat.


Two of them called out

“Hey Dad are you walkin’”

It gave me a bit of a chill

I left one on the walkway

And one in the Liffey

He might be swimming there still.


So that only happened

In my tiny mind

I just kept walking that day

They started to follow

And threw out some insults

And then they wandered away.


So funny to think

That now I’m a victim

It wasn’t always that way

But white hair and poundage

Has softened my image

And now I’ve got nothin’ to say.

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7. Stones

One stone

Of all the stones

On all the broken beaches of the nine worlds

Stops your eye

You polish it and keep it on your shelf for forty years

One soul

Of all the souls

In all the maddened crowds of the nine worlds

Stops your eye

You polish it and keep it in your heart for forty years

We were handed sharp and dangerous tools

We shape and cut and polish

We choose, react, manipulate

We think we find the perfect stone

But the stone dreams only of the sea

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