Mike Durack

I grew up on a farm near Birdhill, Co. Tipperary and I was educated at Nenagh CBS and U.C.D. I worked as a teacher for 36 years in my old secondary school and am now enjoying a life of retired leisure in Ballina/Killaloe. I was a founder member of Killaloe Writers Group which was a dynamic force in my community for about 15 years after its inception in 1991. My poems have appeared in many literary publications including Limerick Poetry Broadsheet, Flaming Arrows, InCognito, The Burning Bush, The Cafe Review (Portland, Maine), The Stony Thursday Book and Poetry Ireland Review. They have also aired on local and national radio. A chapbook, Nothing to Write Home About, was published in 1988 and A Hairy Tale of Clare, a comic narrative in verse, was issued in 1994.

In recent years I have been collaborating with my brother, Austin, on a programme of poetry and guitar music and we have produced two albums, The Secret Chord (2013) and, Going Gone (2015). We have been performing our programme at arts centres and festivals throughout the Mid-West.






When I was knee-high to Brenda Lee,

I fell hopelessly in love with Farah Diba.

It was love against all the odds,

she being much older and a non-catholic,

not to mention her engagement to the Shah of Persia.

Nothing ever came of it, of course.

Subsequently I lost my heart to others -

Connie Stevens, Sandra, Dee, oh yes, and

Jean Shrimpton, Julie Christie, Tuesday Weld.

Invariably, my love was unrequited.

Then, sensing that I was just a plain, ordinary sod,

I resolved to settle for local goddesses

with names like Maureen, Sheila, Mary, Anne,

from places like Birdhill and Dromineer,

and it was fun. I inclined to shed my dreams

of London, Beverly Hills and Teheran,

took up the guitar, grew a beard, and became

captain of the local rugby club.


Sods make their own importance.






Ceaseless sweep of big muddy water,

carry the soul of Magnolia State,

spirit of forest and cotton field,

soul of Caucasian, Negro, Choctaw;

spirit of Jackson, Natchez, Starkville,

borne by dugout and paddle-steamer

past bluff and levee and delta silt

down to the Gulf of Mexico.


And, spirit of Shannon, wend and surge

by long meadow and royal fort;

glide underneath the white bird's hill,

and carry a tale of Sí and Árd Rí,

of Norse and Norman, of Gael and Gall

with barge and cruiser and sailing skiff

past Diarmuid and Gráinne's silken bed

to the yawning sea by Lovers' Leap.


Beneath white horses of boundless ocean

currents course, eddy and mingle -

waters of Clare and cool Tipperary

caressing the tide of warm Mississippi

ferried by Gulf Stream and Atlantic Drift.






My head once filled with clean, electric sounds

from Hank B Marvin's red Fender guitar.

The Beatles poured in raucous harmonies

and far-out, echo-chamber-voice refrains.

Then came the Byrds with Dylan rhymes alighting,

all jangling  twelve-strings, cymbals cascading;

the Beach Boys' sleek West Coast falsettos;

Simon and Garfunkel's cloister-euphonies.


Now it's the subtle, unplugged Muse who plucks

the big bass notes and sets the words at large

to swell and wail and chime and echo,

and images to float on purple waves.

Printed poems strum rhythms in my ear

insistent as the racy Mersey beat.