Peter Adair by Ricky Parker Photography-2Peter Adair lives in Bangor, Co Down. Once worked, from labourer to bookseller. Silent for some years but having a late rebirth. Poems have appeared in The Honest Ulsterman, Four X Four, Panning for Poems,Snakeskin, I am not a silent poet and other journals. Was pleased to have a poem in the poetryni online chapbook of anti-Trumpery. Has featured in Poetry Originals at the Lagan Press website.

River Song

i.m. Robert Welch

You’re reciting Hyde:
My grief is on the sea,
How the waves of it roll,
your voice warming us
like a hot whiskey.
Then you lilt the Irish, lose me.

Or the professor at his desk.
The ache of silent students
till I – diffident –
murmur Young Ireland
and cross a border
to share the island

from Cork to Belfast,
field or farmyard
where our dead
spoke a different
tongue, endured
a common toil.

Or at the Riverside
when Van is chanting
In the Garden,
you’re a pilgrim:
his voice of fire,
your face aglow

with joy or grace
while the wind blows
over hillside graves,
the path by the Bann,
torcs and swords
buried in dunes.

On a Dying Sailor

Surprised as a child he gazed from the sheets, smiling at our gifts,
his veins like faint streams trickling out, his face a rock
winds and waves had thinned. Lifted up on the pillows
he span his yarns, the nurses laughing at his witty charm.

Sea and cloud enlarged that ward, we half believed,
as he lusted after slopped-up meals, salty wobbles
to the rollicking privy, islands glimpsed through a tumbler of whiskey.
Washed up on the shore, he tolled with his tongue the lost voyages

till brick and steel dripped with myth. He told this epic
panting for breath: how tall men of the West friend him from the bay,
two currachs each side of his boat. Gone such grace,
he sighed. Now tourists desecrate the place.

When his eyes closed and his head dropped on the pillows
he lay like a ship becalmed, each breath a breeze, a sign.
I wondered if he saw those radiant men, ageless in the dawn,
raising their oars to send him home.


Is there a drug
that quickens a poet’s beat
like cheating runners?
Heaney Helicon
or Spade?
Muldoon Brownlee?
Longley Gentian?
A rhyming drug
that lifts talk
into take off,
makes sonnets orbit
or flare like comets,
makes haikus
take a moonwalk?

But if this dawn
soars less high,
let the day sing
in an easy metre
and make no moan,
dirges, trochees,
be no Sophocles
busking on the lawn;
just delight till dusk
in birdsong and birdwing,
leafsway and cloudswing
till the moon runs off with the sky
till the moon runs off with the sky.


Somewhere they’re tired of torture stories or last year’s massacres.
-Derek Walcott’s ‘Elsewhere’, Selected Poems

There’s only so much pain
we can take in at a sitting.

Somewhere a boy squats
in a ditch, shitting.

Somewhere a man explodes
and shatters twenty bodies:

loaves, fishes, limbs scatter
in that blast of holy breeze.

Such pictures, we know,
should bring us to our knees.

But there’s only so much pain
we can take in at a sitting.