An Israeli army Merkava tank is pictured from the Lebanese side of the border, near the Wazzani river, during maneuvres by Israeli forces in northern Israel just off the border with Lebanon on October 17, 2013.

Tank  on the South Lebanon/Israeli border




Mechanical echoes drift

down from a black hilltop

with the threatening coughs

of an angry monster

moving clumsily

in the still night

like a drunken demon

about to chastise

his fearful children,

gearing up to spew rage

and venom

at half sleeping villages

where some await

the thunderous splash of lights

and others

holding their breaths

prepare to die



Michael J. Whelan


Published my Mark Ulyseas in Le Poetry Magazine, October 2016 issue

see  http://liveencounters.net/2016/09/20/live-encounters-poetry-october-2016/

The Green Line, Beirut 1994 (c)Michael J. Whelan

 Lebanon (c)Michael J. Whelan




Eyes sunken deep into her face,

searching frantically but not seeing,

pleading to an unforgiving world

she battles along the crowded road,

her life’s belongings strung about her

body in hastily filled bags

bulging at the seams,

children trailing like a desert caravan

in a sea of misery,

escaping the mortars smashing her village

into sand.


Michael J. Whelan


Published my Mark Ulyseas in Le Poetry Magazine, October 2016 issue

see  http://liveencounters.net/2016/09/20/live-encounters-poetry-october-2016/

Winter War sketch (c)Michael J. Whelan

Winter War sketch (c)Michael J. Whelan




Early snow laid quiet the land,

kept still in silent slumber,

streams curving under frozen shields

caressed the virgin wonder

and scars of war upon the earth

were hidden to the sky,

for in that morning’s dawning breath

both man and bird could fly.

But in the woods bold soldiers woke

a bear from angry sleep,

their marching songs fuelled his hate,

brought bloodlust to his teeth.


And in the field a stomping mare

feared her awful fate,

biting and kicking she fought to live

until the fateful claw

that laid her quiet on the land,

blood stealing all the snow.

As she died her heat rose up

like steam from all her wounds,

her organs bled the air above

and soldiers warmed their hands.


Michael J. Whelan

Published by Mark Ulyseas in Le Poetry Magazine, October Issue 2016

see  http://liveencounters.net/2016/09/20/live-encounters-poetry-october-2016/


Local children - Kosovo - 2001 (c)Michael J. Whelan

Local children – Kosovo – 2001 (c)Michael J. Whelan



Passing A.P.C.s

and troops at every corner

between the clanking,

twisting clatter of metal

caterpillar tracks on

hulking tanks

and the labouring monsters

of armoured cars

hovering close

to keep them safe

from hand grenades

and open windows,

K.FOR soldiers

escort children to school

hand in hand,

two by two

through narrow lanes

of yellow tape

with skulls and bones

warning of unexploded bombs

on cold thin mornings

in Lipjan.


Michael J. Whelan


APC – Armoured Personnel Carrier

K.FOR – Kosovo peacekeeping forces

Lipjan – Town in Irish area of operations



Published by Mark Ulyseas in Le Poetry Magazine, October 2016 issue

Link to LE Poetry October issue :http://liveencounters.net/2016/09/20/live-encounters-poetry-october-2016/






Tall Ship – Mikey


 for Mikey


The sun brings out the colours.

From my back garden seat I view a tall ship

half way through its long voyage,

journeying across my teenage son’s bedroom window,

sails catching a strong wind,

he is away from us.


My daughter dances in the kitchen,

she doesn’t see me catch her moves,

the radio plays to her spirit.

My wife is a poem,

she reads her book on a sun-chair.


A robin redbreast studies me from the roses as I write.

Lots of sparrows have arrived

and the dog is chasing shadows.

He will come home again, soon.


Michael J. Whelan

Included in the forthcoming ‘Virginia House Writers’ 20th Anniversary Anthology,’ 2016 edited by Maria Wallace.

Mikey - Tall Shi

Mikey – Tall Ship

This poem was written a few years ago when my son Mikey had been away from home for few days. Over the next couple of days our family will celebrate his 19th birthday and the reason I post this poem now is because even though I am so proud of him and his sister Emily – the strong independent people they are growing into, it is till not easy for me to let go of being a dad caring and worrying about them as my young children…. silly I know but I suppose we all have to evolve.

Where have the years gone, love you Mike, happy birthday – dad!

Photo by Michael J. Whelan



Medieval Warriors (c)Michael J. Whelan, 2009

Warriors (c)Michael J. Whelan, 2009



Five thousand through the approaches of Ivernia,

to the land of the Scotai we sailed,

five thousand strong were we

and the enemy met us there

at Drumanagh where we rammed the Navis Iusora ashore


and I remember, yes, I Quintus of the 9th Legion,

before I drew my gladius,

before I jumped into the water,

I threw my pilus ashore

and in the name of Mars I swore,

as it killed the first barbarian,

to protect the aquilifer,

I followed to keep the Eagle free,

I would not betray it to this enemy,


and so in Ivernia we fought for Agricola’s glory,

we lit the funeral pyres,

built our palisades on the promontory,

for while we held this foothold

our soldiers died,

our tents were blown, but

though the long grass was reddened

and the winter that came was long

I held my gladius strong!


Michael J. Whelan


Inspired by a visit to the (supposed) Roman settlement on the Promontory at Drumanagh with Peter O’ Neill and Eithne Lannon – 2016

Published by Amos Greig in ‘A New Ulster’ Magazine, issue 38, Aug 2016

Flowers 2 - by Michael J. Whelan

Flowers 2 – by Michael J. Whelan





To see things you have always seen – again

but for the very first time – as if new,

like the orange flowers hanging in the sun

from the tops of long grass at the bottom of the garden

or the tiny twig trapped by designs of a weathered spider web

in the corner of a back garden chair,

flying as if an aerofoil tested in a wind tunnel,

the web – a wing, the twig – a rib,

formed rigid like a child’s kite in flight,

the sheets pegged to the clothes line above my head

as if sails on white clouds journeying across the sky,

the light and shadows on dancing leaves,

the birdbath’s reflections flooding a sparkling river – everywhere,

insects busy in their short existences,

a seagull gliding high and the warm breeze – invisible as always,

the trees playing its music softly like a distant ocean’s sound,

bushes rolling as if waves along a shore

are moments for life’s repair .


Michael J. Whelan


Published recently by Amos Greig in ‘A New Ulster’ magazine, issue 48, Aug 2016

Photo: Michael J. Whelan