Tim Cunningham – Three Poems

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERATim Cunningham was born in Limerick and educated at C.B.S., Limerick and Birkbeck College, London. He has worked with a brewery, local government, the National Coal Board and in education. His first two poetry collections were brought out by Peterloo Poets: Don Marcelino’s Daughter (2001) and Unequal Thirds (2006); and the next three by Revival Press: Kyrie (2008), Siege (2012) and Almost Memories (2014).


(‘ See the birds of the air;  they neither sow nor reap. . .’:    Matthew 6, 26)

Please don’t get me wrong.
I admire nearly everything he said:
The wisdom, the compassion, the poetry.

But to say we don’t work!
Now, I’m not one to sign letters
‘Disgusted of Tunbridge Wells’,
But this really is something else.

Has he even seen my nests?
Aeons spent collecting sticks
And building a sound structure,
Softening it with leaves, ferns, vine tendrils.
The glitzy furnishings, not to my taste:
Shells, flowers, feathers, stones, berries;
Even coins and nails, pieces of glass.

And all to impress madam, perched there
Like quality control, clipboard at the ready,
Considering which possible mate can build
The best house and fill it with the best,
In her eyes, furniture.   An alpha male provider.

On top of this, I have to dance,
Ponce around like some whirling dervish
While she gives marks out of ten
For content and artistic impression,
Wings folded, not a romantic feather in her body.

And I accept all this.   It’s the template.
It’s this or no hope of kids.

But to have to listen to ‘They neither
Sow nor reap nor gather into barns . . . ’.

The irony.   Coming from someone
Whose dad never worked for more
Than six days in his entire life.


( i.m. Tony)

The camera was found ‘not guilty’.
In that iconic photograph, we now know
That Geronimo’s rifle was not loaded.
Neither were his eyes that looked back
On the cactus flower of his people’s hopes.
It was not the camera
That stole his soul.

The camera was found ‘not guilty’.
In the photo of the child who played
At being Geronimo in cowboyland,
The side of his head was blurred:
Target for the aneurism’s bullet.
It was not the camera
That stole his soul.


When the road rises up before you
May it not be an earthquake.
May the wind at your back
Have gentle fingers.

May you never be short
Of a shilling for the gas.
May loneliness not whistle
Through the cavern of your skull.
May your health be as certain
As rain from the west.

May roses and daffodils
Spike every gun.
When the stranger knocks at your door
Remember the hunger of   ’44.

May greed fall off its horse
On the road to Damascus.
May the politician’s lie
Be a wasp on his tongue.
May church and state
Stay out of the bedroom.

May the gods of today and yesteryear
Break bread around the same table.
May the strings of the harp
Never be broken.




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