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Aircraft Hangar, Baldonnel 2017 photo: (c)Michael J. Whelan

 

 

HANGAR

Baldonnel Aerodrome, 2017

 

Except for a sparrow

that came upon the scene,

I am the only one,

the only human being

in the history of the universe

since life began,

to witness the wagtail

glide through the vast emptiness

of the aircraft hangar

and land perfectly

on the hangar floor.

I watched it walk out

through the great hangar doors,

which is why I speak of it.

 

The wagtail standing there

looking back in,

studying me as I pondered our meeting

from within the metal cage.

I have reached 47 years of age,

the temporary hangar 100,

built to house aeroplanes

during the Great War,

the birds might be as old as the recent summer

and there we were

and still are

contained forever in 200 seconds

when our lives and history

crossed over each other in mystery.

 

Even now my mind’s eye still sees

that curious wagtail stretch its wings,

bounce its tail feathers

and examine the human standing there

blown away by the magic

that forms in the gifts of time,

hanging forever on the span of moments.

 

Michael J. Whelan

 

Published in the poetry ‘narrowsheet’ FLARE 05, for The Sunflower Sessions – October 2017.

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Michael J. Whelan  – RTE Nationwide (screenshot)

 

Hi all, please see the link below for recent exposure given to my PEACEKEEPER poetry collection on a popular Irish television programme. I am really very pleased with the feature and very grateful to all those involved in its production… Michael

SOLDIER POET/REPORT VALERIE WATERS – RTE Nationwide 20th October 2017, 7pm

‘When we think of the War Poets, those of the era of WWI usually come to mind. We have today a serving airman in the Irish Air Corps who is a published poet. Reporter Valerie Waters went to meet Michael J. Whelan to find out about how the experience of serving as a Peacekeeper over seas influenced his writing’

Section on Peacekeeper is in part 2, or after the commercial  break – see link below!

https://www.rte.ie/player/ie/show/nationwide-21/10792379/

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Hi all, so this week has been brilliant for exposure of my poetry collection PEACEKEEPER in the Irish press, this review in The Irish News – Belfast was published today Thursday 28th of September 2017, is the second this week in Irish newspapers, which is fantastic and I am very grateful to Fergal Hallahan and the staff at the newspaper for it.  The book was published last year.

Please have a read….. Michael

 

 

See link below:

https://www.irishnews.com/arts/2017/09/28/news/book-reviews-frank-ormsby-s-birthday-collection-and-poetry-by-an-irish-peacekeeper-1147181/

 

‘Peacekeeper’ by Michael J. Whelan. Poetry collection published by Doire Press – April 2016

 

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Irish Examiner review – Peacekeeper 23 Sept 2017 by Colette Sheridan

 

Hi all, so this week has been brilliant for exposure of my poetry collection PEACEKEEPER in the Irish press, this review in the Irish Examiner on Saturday last 23rd September 2017 is fantastic and I am very grateful to Colette Sheridan and the staff at the newspaper for it.  The book was published last year and although there has been a number of wonderful reviews this is the first in a national newspaper.

Please have a read….. Michael

 

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Flock of Gulls – (c)Michael J. Whelan

 

THE CLEVERNESS OF HUNGER

 

In my garden on a wet summer day,

while big crows mustered

and seagulls squawked in anger

at the cleverness of hunger,

small birds clustered

to feed each other damp crumbs,

and there I witnessed a tiny sparrow

drag a half slice of bread

(which I had just thrown

onto a flat-roof shed)

under a small table

to keep it from the reign.

 

Michael J. Whelan

 

Published in A New Ulster Magazine, issue No. 60 – Sept’ 2017 –  See: https://issuu.com/amosgreig/docs/anu60

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Irish Peacekeeper - Lebanon 1990s. Photo: (c)Michael J. Whelan

Irish Peacekeeper – Lebanon 1990s. Photo: (c)Michael J. Whelan

 

BATTLE SIGHTS

 

(Rifleman John Curley, U.N. Observation Post 6-40 – Haddathah,

 Irish Area of Operations, South Lebanon – 1989)

 

 

Everyone was shooting before anyone was killed.

Sometimes you have to defend yourself.

Your body was tense, selecting through your battle sights

the one trying to kill you, his bullets

kicking up dirt on their way to your head,

you never took the shot.

Being a Peacekeeper in a warzone

and being prepared to use your weapon

was a lesson you learned very early.

 

Later, when you smashed their Russian

made machine-gun to bits on a rock,

you were only venting your rage at the carnage.

Two AMAL dead and five Irish injured

after a stand-off at a U.N. checkpoint

over who was to keep possession of the thing.

Flesh has no resistance to bullets

aimed by dead freedom fighters

squeezing triggers as they fall.

You still see it all.

 

After the fire-fight blood filled your vision.

It poured from the floor of an APC,

where two of your friends lay wounded,

their bodies punctured.

 

You worked on them as they screamed,

rolling the most serious onto his side to drain his lungs,

while he pleaded with you to keep him alive

to see his daughter.

 

When you destroyed the machine-gun that day,

with blood on your face and on your hands,

everyone remembered how a human skull

is disintegrated by a rifle switched to automatic

and no one dared stop you.

 

Michael J. Whelan

 

AMAL – Lebanese Resistance

APC – Armoured Personnel Carrier

 

Published in A NEW ULSTER Magazine, issue 60, Sept’ 2017

see https://issuu.com/amosgreig/docs/anu60

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Rifleman Shay Singleton, South Lebanon 1988 (Copyright – used with permission).

 

THE SOLDIER YOU WERE

(Rifleman Shay Singleton, U.N. checkpoint 6-38 Alpha, Haddathah Village,

 Irish Area of Operations – South Lebanon,  winter 1988)

 

I will always remember

that Peacekeepers, like Icarus, sometimes soar

too close to the flames of a violent sun,

that warriors are drawn by the gods

to the night-time’s phosphorous tracer

bouncing like molten solder

under a welder’s torch,

 

that glory and honour take many forms,

and a Greek falling at Thermopylae

was as real and important to antiquity

as you buying shoes for a near barefoot child

and your reading these words now.

 

So these lines are for the soldier you were,

for that Peacekeeper all those years ago

because you’ve often wondered

if the months you spent in that burning land

were worth the time away from home

and your family’s fret,

what the things you did and witnessed meant,

 

for though all warriors seek the glories of the Spartan

and armies, for millennia, have ploughed the soil of Lebanon,

history shows that enemies aren’t always victims of a war,

the poor and innocent too are taken by the sword.

 

But, even warriors are known to save lives,

like the day you refused to let a schoolboy die

or the greatest pain explode among that winter’s classroom,

or his home.

Though he thought better

than gift a secret hand-grenade to you – an Irish soldier,

you gave him every dollar you could muster from your pockets

for the deadly contents of his bag.

Michael J. Whelan

 

Published in A NEW ULSTER Magazine, issue No. 60  – September 2017

see https://issuu.com/amosgreig/docs/anu60

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