Five poems by Pete Mullineaux

Pete Mullineaux has published three collections: Zen Traffic Lights (Lapwing 2005) A Father’s Day (Salmon 2008) and Session (Salmon 2011.) He has been anthologised widely in Ireland, UK, USA & France including Poetry Ireland Review 100 (Ed. Paul Muldoon) the websites, & Van Gogh’s Ear in Paris. He has also had a number of plays produced for the stage and RTE radio.

Five poems by Pete Mullineaux



The cows have gathered in an adjacent field,

I can see their shapes in the moonlight –

a meeting of the tribes, they are here in their multiplicity;

black, brown, black and white – some all white,

like ghosts, or recent converts.


Just now I heard a moan from one of them

that had me awake as if I had been shot.

It’s the night before their calves are taken,

they know from the look in the farmer’s eyes.

They call him by name

although it sounds like ‘moo’ to us.


I listen at the window to their keening –

we make recordings of whales and dolphins,

say they are a higher species

as close to us as nature gets –

but the cows are singing in their camp,

refusing to be cattle

marking their loss

celebrating the grass

thanking the rain.


The females, even the males most of the time

are gentle, considerate, abiding.


But tonight the cows have run out of patience,

can ruminate no longer; they sing

their mass; make ready for battle,

tomorrow they will paint themselves red –



Salthill Air Show 

Looking out across the Bay,

something brushes my cheek – such cheek!

swallows and martins, bank, manoeuvre – switch

flight paths to avoid near fatal collisions;

displaying pale under-bellies, gun-metal backs

they follow the ragged contour of rocks

linked and guided by some other sense

beyond our limited radar –

the only air show in town.



Approaching Inishbofin harbour,

steering a fine line between

Bishop and Gun rocks,

eyes monitor your progress –

vacant stone windows

of Cromwell’s Barracks,

lifeless, yet still threatening.


Behind this tuneless fortress, tucked

into the curved clef of the cove

the tiny Glasoilean na bPiopi*

moored to the shore

by an umbilical spit of land –

visible and whole

only at high tide.

 * (Green) Isle of the Pipes


Raftery’s Buttons

Raftery, blind poet and fiddler

negotiating the rough back roads

of Galway-Mayo, stumbling

over fallen trees, circumnavigating

lethal drains and ruts, raging

against rivals, the status quo

and all who had crossed him –

according to legend

composed himself

by mapping out tunes

on his waistcoat buttons;

sharpened his wits

flattened the humps and dips,

bum-notes of hidden pot-holes,

the curse of a thousand

cuts and sprains

with a steadying rhythm;

staved off the elements,

mellowed cares,

re-jigging old scores

wild ramblings

into sweet strains

and settled airs.


Powell’s Doorway 

Sheltering from the rain

in this iconic arch, especially

now that Mulligans is gone

the best shop in Galway

to catch some trad –

a CD inside is playing:

Cathal Hayden’s fiddle

soft as water.


Then into Lord Franklin,

tragedy at sea, the search

for a north-east passage –

past Norway, over the top of Russia

to Vladivostock.


Here, anchored in my safe harbour

I offer thanks to nature

that the mighty waves

flowing down Shop Street

as yet are only lashing at my soles;

though later I’ll be saying

‘I was drowned.’


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