OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERATim Cunningham is Limerick-born and has worked in education in Dublin, Delaware, London and Essex. His sixth poetry collection, The Lyrics to the Nightingale’s Song, was published by Revival Press in March 2016.




Visiting hours. And again
They are playing her song,
A song without words
Since words dispersed their letters,
Scattered them beyond meaning,
Beyond retrieval in the strange
Labyrinth that was once her mind.

But love’s vocabulary
Is not corralled, fenced in by words.
She knows that sound,
That familiar, familial music
Played on the strings and percussions
Of her children’s tongues,
Clear and eloquent,

Echoes of infant gurgles
Spluttering towards language,
The not quite words
She best interpreted
As she now best translates
Their song without words,
Love surfing on sound.


‘The sun is not a god but a red-hot stone.’ Anaxagoras

Athens, fourth century B.C.,
When the sun was god
And Anaxagoras banished for atheism.

So many gods between then and now,
Chiselled by time, place and circumstance.
And always in man’s image and likeness.

So many aspects to mankind;
So many aspects to his gods.

Guaranteed the best stories,
Superhero gods sally forth
Under the colours of love,
Fear and sacrifice –
Soundtrack always
In a major key.

Prevailing faiths are hurricanes
Fanning flames to infernos,
Laying waste all before them.

Money and fame squat behind
The golden door of today’s tabernacle.
Swing a thurible before them
Or face exile from the century.

Ephemeral deities.
Easier by far to genuflect
Before that ‘red-hot stone bigger
Than the entire Peloponnesian Peninsula’.