Archive for the ‘Drawings’ Category

War of the Worlds


Concrete, stone, metal

all drawn from earth.

I want to climb the white pylon,

this alien thing and search the horizons,

spit on the power lines if I could reach above them.


I feel the urge to be a god too, though not Arcadian,

to be more powerful than Agamemnon at Troy, braver than Achilles.

I would turn this empty world upon its head,

shake the tribes of Babylon and Sodom & Gomorrah

out of these empty streets, see them fall towards Elysium.

They would have newspapers between their hands

with the scripture of Abraham and Mohammed, the WORD

etched on the tablets swallowed by Moses every night

with a glass of water.


It seems this empty stage is the apocalyptic amphitheater,

cold like the ancient tiered steps of history – tired.

I imagine the exhausted voices of actors

reaching up through the epoch’s throat,

reciting the tests of time much like democracy’s genesis

might have imagined us in our failing landscapes,


as if commandments warning us ‘What use is the flyover, the streetlight, the motorway,

the playground if their only witness is the grass?’

Each was first an idea, they measure better as the arteries of a city,

the meter pulsating with lives – not these rinsed holograms

that the Cold War and the Twilight Zone planted in our minds.

There was no dying, no droves of bodies once pitted

against the scythes of enemies, they did not go down like flies

under gas, before the scouring guns. They were marched.


The streets are cleansed, uncrowded, but why does my conscience hurt?

See there, there – the fly that scouts the half empty coffee cup,

the flurry of cherry blossoms twisting on the wind above the trash heap,

the shadow clouds roaming over the hills, look at them, see their existences!

Life – you occupied my senses for so long but where have you gone?

what are you doing?


Michael J. Whelan


Truth or Dare Response to “An Altered Land”, exhibition by David Fox at the Olivier Cornet Gallery, Dublin on Thursday 2 May 2019, where I read this poem for Poetry Ireland Day. Exhibition runs until May 12th 2019.

The paintings by David Fox in his exhibition reminded me of empty streets, villages and communal areas that had been affected by the ethnic cleansing and violence of the wars in countries I served in as a United Nations Peacekeeper.




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WWI Scene – Soldier on Wire (c)Michael J. Whelan, 2009



I have seen the wire
that caught on the uniforms
of unlucky soldiers,
touched the pointed barbs
that pierced their skin
before the bullets
that took them,
stood where the missing lie.
In my pocket
is a poem
that brings me back
like a bridge.
In my pocket
is the blood coloured rust
of the rage of men.

Michael J. Whelan


Published in ‘One Hundred Years From Now,’ a sequence of poems by Michael J Whelan in LE Poetry & Writing, Edited by Mark Ulyseas, Volume One December 2018



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Today is Armistice Day 11/11/1918 – 2017 (99 years),

it’s also a Day of Remembrance in many countries resulting from many different conflicts, and also for Peacekeepers!


No Fear of Sleep & artwork by Michael J. Whelan



No Fear of Sleep


An old man wishes

No more to dig

To hide

To fear

To bury the dead

Protect his head

To cry

No more to fight

To kill

To maim

To see the slain

Be coverd in their stain

Rebury the dead

No more to dig

He wants to live

To sing

To go to bed

No fear of sleep

And dreams that creep

Reliving the pain

That trenches frame


(c)Michael J. Whelan

from ‘On Hurting Ground – Poetic Silhouettes On Soldiers, History, Love and Tragedy’ 2009


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Today is Armistice Day 11/11/1918 – 2017 (99 years),

it’s also a Day of Remembrance in many countries resulting from many different conflicts, and also for Peacekeepers!

On Hurting Ground by Michael J. Whelan


On Hurting Ground – poem & image by Michael J. Whelan



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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/

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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

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 Reading The Lines – Easter 1916 Commemorative Edition

Really happy to have a poem included in this publication, where I and other poets took a line from the famous Yeats poem….check out the wonderful artwork too, enjoy!

live-encounters 1

live-encounters 1

“The idea behind Reading The Lines derives from William Butler Yeats’ Easter 1916. Poets  were invited to choose a line from this iconic work which resonated for them, either culturally, politically or historically. The chosen line was then given a new lease of poetic life, forming a transitional bridge from the now of 2016 to a century ago and the events which led up to or followed on from Ireland becoming a Republic.”
Eileen Casey, Irish Poet and Writer


Click here to connect to Live Encounters where you can read or download this beautiful publication for free!






Editor of Live Encounters, Mark Ulyseas, has served time in advertising as copywriter and creative director selling people things they didn’t need, a ghost writer for some years, columnist of a newspaper, a freelance journalist and photographer. In 2009 he created Live Encounters Magazine, in Bali, Indonesia. It is a not for profit (adfree) free online magazine featuring leading academics, writers, poets, activists of all hues etc from around the world. March 2016 saw the launch of its sister publication Live Encounters Poetry.


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