Where I come from waiting for the green man to appear before you decide to cross the road just does not happen. It is not uncommon to see mothers push their prams on to the street without any thought of whether cars are coming or not. They just know the cars will stop. The idea that jaywalking is something that is against the law is laughable to us.
In contrast, I remember the first time I went to Germany and stepped out of the hotel to see a group of people at the lights on a car-less street all waiting. Waiting for what, though? I bounded past them, crossing the deserted street, looking back to see if they followed. They didn’t. But their looks all said that I had just done something wrong. Something bad. Something illegal. I had not waited for the green man to signal that it was now safe and now within the law to cross the road. That there were no vehicles of any sort in sight did not matter. You wait. You obey.
But I am from Cork, we cross when we and where we want to.
And this brings me to the photo I am posting today. A photo taken on a wet night in late August on Cork’s Western Road. The building is Cork’s courthouse, an impressive edifice. I have taken a few shots of this before and knew what I was looking for. I wanted to get a blurred shot of people passing. And that it was raining and that there would be umbrellas in the shot all the better. But! It would not be that easy. Western Road is a busy road. It leads directly out of the city centre. Stationed on the opposite side of the road, the passing traffic could obscure the view.

I waited. I wanted to shot and I was willing to pass the time until I could get it. And time did pass. And the rain continued to fall. Times like this I get very self-conscious, especially in my hometown. Passersbys’ attention is drawn to a guy standing in the rain with a camera in his hand. They look around and examine the scene to see what could it be that he wants to photograph; to photograph in the pouring rain. But still I hung in there to get that shot. 

Then it appeared. Further up the road on the opposite side was a group of people, walking in couples and groups of threes approaching. And all seemed to have umbrellas. Perfect! This was it. I could get the shot and get home. I was, at this stage, soaking wet. I was sniffling and cold and impatient. On they came. I checked the settings on the camera. Checked the focus (or lack of it!). I glanced up and down the road and saw there was no traffic coming. Excellent. This shot was going to be exactly as I wanted it.

And then I saw the couple at the head of the group stop. Those behind too and soon a large swell of a group formed, all standing, all waiting at the pedestrian crossing of the intersection just before the courthouse.


Again, I shot a glance up and down the street. Not a car in sight. Over at the crossing they were at, not a car in sight. Yet, there they were waiting. Cross the road, for fuck’s sake cross the road, I found myself saying. But they waited and they waited and of course, cars came by on all sides. The view I had, unobscured on to the courthouse was now gone. Those damn Germans. Couldn’t they just cross the road. It was ten, maybe fifteen steps from either side. No, they preferred to wait in the rain for the green man to appear.

And then it did. The beep, beep, beep signalling it was safe to cross was audible from my side. The swell of the group stretched out into a long file as they crossed the road and began to come into frame. But by this time cars were passing on my side of the road blocking my shot. I had no choice but to get out on to the road past the cars on my side. There were no cars on the opposite side. I could get the shot. I dodged between the traffic. Not that difficult to do as Cork drivers expect people in the city centre to step out in front of them.

Click, click, click. I got it. One of the Germans saw me in the centre of the road taking their photograph and drew his friends’ attention to me. I gave a quick wave and ran back through the traffic to my side and headed home happy.

I had got the shot.



press 1


Press 1

I knew the phone would be passed to me. I knew this once she took the call. She showed me the caller ID as it rang and vibrated in her palm. Hello, she said, her gaze fixed on me. Yes, she said, this is me. She lowered her head and listened intently. Sorry, she said, can you repeat, she said. She turned from me and walked a few steps ahead. I see, she said. Yes, she said. Yes, what? I said. She turned again and raised her head and looked at me, mouthing something. What? I said. With her arm and hand fully extended she passed me the phone. You talk, she said. Hello, I said. 

Someday I will just drop off this world

When I was a child in school the teacher told us the world was not flat, that it was round. I had never thought of the world having shape. He seemed too pleased to tell us this. He said people had believed we could just walk and walk and eventually would fall off the edge of the world. He demonstrated by walking his two fingers along his desk, stopping and looking to see if we were looking and then dangled his two fingers over the edge and screamed a little until it changed into a laugh. We all laughed too.

Falling off the edge of the world, he said. How ridiculous is that, he said. One boy, one who always loved asking questions, asked but how come we can fall of the edge of our seats. The teacher smiled at him and said it was because of gravity. He said it again, but this time he said it more slowly, breaking up the sounds and telling us that was why; gravity was the reason. The boy asked what gravity was. The teacher said it was a force that kept us fixed to the ground. The boy asked what a force was and the teacher smiled again, scanned the whole room, bit on his bottom lip and said it was gravity, gravity was a force that stopped us from flying away. Another boy said we could not fly away because we had no wings. The teacher said if there was no gravity we wouldn’t need wings, we could just jump and fly. I said why would we need to jump. He said because we would be on the ground. He jumped to demonstrate. I said but isn’t gravity what keeps us on the ground. He said yes. I said without gravity we would not be on the ground so how could we jump. He scanned the room again and said I had all the answers. I said that was a question. I said how could we jump if we were not on the ground. The teacher laughed. He said he would like to walk me to the edge of the world and let me fall off. He laughed again. The class laughed too. I said if we got to the edge of the world I would push him off. He did not laugh. The class laughed. But the world is round he said. You couldn’t push me off he said. He began to laugh. I said I would not be walking anywhere with him anyway. This time we all laughed.

The teacher picked up an orange from his desk and held it out. He rotated it in his hand and told us the world was like the orange.



Someday I will just drop off this world

this nagging knowingness


A clippety clop it goes

a clippety clop it goes
this nagging knowingness

a drip-dropping aloneness
a still-of-night remoteness

a head-flopping heaviness
this nagging knowingness

a shrunken world below us
a carved-out hollowness within us

this socketless electricity 
this unyearned-for-loss 

a clippety clop it goes
a clippety clop it goes
this nagging knowingness

it can end

this nagging knowingness it can end


The sheet slips from the bed

Photography for me is an entry. An entry into creativity. In many ways it is an easy one. It is hard to avoid what we see and to reproduce it could not be easier – just point and shoot, as they say.

The dream, the objective for me is to write. But I am ill-disciplined. Flickr has helped me to cope with that inconsistency. I post two photographs most days to my two flickr accounts. It is an exercise for me. Often, I am staring at the image when I have uploaded it to Flickr, emptying myself in an effort to see how the photograph can fill me; can trigger something to allow an interpretation in words come. Sometimes, it is as easy as opening a window to let air in, other times the window’s glass is replaced with brick. It may come in the form of a title, a poem, a dialogue or a story. When it comes, it flows.

Around the time of the birth of my son, my sleeping patterns got messed up and it was like I had forgotten how to fall asleep, insomnia Jumped in bed with me, and like any excited new bed partner, it just wanted me to stay up all night.  One of the many things I tried to do around that time (still in fact) is to write. Some of my photographs around that period are dark. I found the words, when they came, were initially vague and veiled, but revealing.

The image I have chosen for today is one of a reflection of a line of trees in the roof of my car. When I opened my front door in the mornings and step on to the elevated doorstep the car’s roof was below me.  It was silver-coloured. There were dark, scraggly lines of trees’ branches, seemingly etched into the silver. Deprived of sleep has its advantages. It hazes the mind. I stood staring at this. Then I realised I had to photograph it. I got the 55mm – 200mm lens, zoomed in, focussed out and below is the result.

Later, I uploaded it to Flickr and hazy-headed I sat and wrote:
The sheet slips from the bed. He turns and kisses me. Light streams in through the slit of the curtains to rest on the wall behind us. His voice is quiet, whispering to me. Our breath slows and rises with our sighs. I feel it warm on my neck. Lingering. The back of his hand runs down my cheek and pushes aside the hair from my face. He smiles.

He is here with me; here with me now. My eyes close and open, close and open.

Awake. I know he is not here. My eyes shut. I exhale. I will the dream to return. The images appear in fragments, fleeing me.



A week of my personal favourites

I was asked to post some of my own favourite photographs on the blog and to give some background to each one. The first one I have chosen is from a wonderful driving holiday I had with my brother in 2006 in the Spanish and French Pyrenees.

We spent a couple of days in Cadaqués, the birthplace of a little known Catalan painter, whose name escapes me.  Arriving there, descending the corkscrew hills into the little seaside village took forever. The traffic edged forward at a snail’s pace.

In the evening, rain fell as if the sky was emptying itself. It brought a freshness when it passed. The air was crisp and the smells of Ducados cigarettes and seafood  lingered in the August night. As ever, I had my camera with me. Then it was a little Nikon point and shoot.  And when before me a young girl dressed in red passed, I pointed and shot. Those days blur was an accident, a disappointment, and very often in those early days of digital cameras a blurred photograph upon inspection was quickly deleted. However, I remember seeing the blur of the motion, the colours seemingly dragged along and I loved it.

Many of the best things in life are the results of unintended actions.

I will post one photograph from my own personal favourites each day this week.



And with that she was gone



that moment -

you delight yourself with discovery -
you delay the differences -
sex up those similarities -

that moment-

aligned – magnetised – electrified with the now -

that moment -

you fear to open your eyes – to invite its finish -


this moment is forever…



Confusion photographs cause

Someone stopped believing me or was it I stopped? I cannot recall. The confusion photographs cause to my memory continues. Yesterday, standing at the sink looking out the window at the children playing in the sun it flashed in front of me and in an instant a single tear welled and fell. I shut my eyes until it passed. It always passes. What remains is an uncertainty, a doubt. Did it happen? Was I there?

I was walking along a street in a foreign country. The stone grey walls of the buildings, the darker grey of the road, the reflections of the cars passing in the windows and passersby, I can see them all. I see the car approach, not on the road, but on the pavement. Screeching towards me. I stood, I froze. The passersby rushing past me, shouting, screaming. The grey clouds of the sky reflecting clearly in the windscreen of the car as it smashed into me. Then silence. My face resting hard on the punctured texture of the pavement stone. It changed colour as blood ran over it. Faces tilted, speaking to me, speaking to each other. A leaf blew into my face, sticking to my mouth as I inhaled. A hand brushed it free.

Later in the hospital I was shown the photographs, taken by the police who arrived on the scene within minutes, they said. They were passed them to me, one by one. The events were narrated and the result of the impact detailed carefully to me. My recovery was outlined and planned. Hearing them talk like this, seeing the evidence, I believed. My family, who were here at my side, appeared relieved. I saw trust in their eyes as the photographs were passed over to them. Their heads nodded as I was told I would recover. They looked at me for confirmation. Of course, I nodded too. But

photo 2


- Is it easier to forget or to remember? I said
- Is it easier to forget or to remember? He said. Why are you asking?
- To forget seems much easier. I mean, we don’t even to have to try, things just slip away. but we have to try to remember things, don’t we?
- You ask the strangest things, he said. The strangest things.
- How do you know? Are your trying to remember other things, other strange things I have asked you. I said.
- No. He said. You just do.
- Maybe you forget the normal things, the not-strange things I have asked you. I said.
- You don’t ask normal things. He said. They are always weird.
- No, they’re not. I said.
- OK. He said. It must be easier to forget. It has to be, he said, otherwise our heads, our heads would just explode.
- Would they? I said. So, I said, what is the difference between forgetting and remembering? Can we choose to forget? I don’t think so.
- Give me an example? He said.
- An example? OK. Things that make you happy; what are they?
- Things that make me happy? What has that got to do with remembering or forgetting? He said.
- See!
- See what? He said.
- You have to remember. You have forgotten. I said.
- No. No, I haven’t. He said.
- So…
- OK. What makes me happy? What makes me happy? Ehm… He said.
- How about what was the last thing to make you happy? I said.
- The last thing? The last thing was… it was…Ya, got it. Waking up this morning and knowing I did not need to get out of bed to get to work. That made me happy. And as for something that made me sad, well not sad, but that just fucking irritated me. He said. The last thing to irritate me…
- Ya, I know, I know. I am irritating you. I said. But stay with me. What was the last thing you forgot?
- I forgot. How do I know what I forgot if I have forgotten it. He said.
- Maybe it is something you realized that you had forgotten when you remembered it.
- Right, OK. He said. Waking up and realising that I did not have to get out of bed made me happy. I had forgotten that, then I remembered it.
- So, is it easier to forget or to remember?
- Well, I can tell you. I can tell you that I won’t forget this conversation and I won’t forget how fucking annoying you are.
- Easier to forget, so is it? I said.
- I’m trying to remember why the fuck it is that I spend time with you. He said.
- I never forget that. I said.
- No?
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