Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Archive for the ‘Writing’ Category

Yesterday, 27th July 2018, I was a speaker representing the Irish Air Corps at the unveiling of a stone plaque memorial at Glasnevin Cemetery, Dublin to commemorate an Irish pilot of the Royal Air Force Major Edward ‘Mick’ Mannock, who perished during the Great War. I was asked to write and deliver a poem and some historical context to that period of history and the connections of Irish military aviation to it and afterwards.  This was an event forming part of the RAF100 anniversary and I am extremely grateful that I was given the opportunity to contribute to the remembering of Ireland’s role during the conflict and beyond, but especially the commemorating of the Irish who were part of those sizemic events. The poem was included in the Glasnevin Trust’s event programme (shown in images), for which I am also grateful to the manager, historians and staff.

 

‘WHEN WE FLEW; Death of an Irish Airman in the Great War’ by Michael J. Whelan – published in THE Glasnevin Cemetery event programme for commemoration of Irish WWI pilot Major Mick Mannock VC  – 27TH July 2018

 

WHEN WE FLEW

 

 (Death of an Irish Airman during the Great War)

 

 

O how I witnessed worlds amongst the clouds,

that peace, the freedom, those futures and the past,

to patrol a morning’s sun to its final spark,

spilling out a day’s horizons.

 

Remember, I alone, chose this path,

to roam the skies above the autumnal Earth,

short lived but truly spent.

 

And, when that moment came

to fall from heaven’s breaths,

only the fields of France embraced me.

Yes, I am of Ireland, do not blame the enemy,

for as brothers, in that same ground, we rest.

 

But think of us,

in all the years to come,

when you contemplate our war,

that when we flew

we were part of the few

who gave for you our all.

 

Written and recited by Corporal Michael J. Whelan at the RAF commemoration in Glasnevin Cemetery on 27th July 2018

 

‘WHEN WE FLEW; Death of an Irish Airman in the Great War’ by Michael J. Whelan

Advertisements

Read Full Post »

A collection of responses to the poetry of Patrick Kavanagh edited by Eileen Casey

Very happy that my poem titled MELANCHOLY, inspired by Patrick Kavanagh’s Wet Evening in April,was published recently in The Lea-Green Down collection of responses to the poetry of Patrick Kavanagh edited by Eileen Casey and including work from many poets, including:
David Butler, Gavan Duffy, Geraldine Mills, Joan Power, Tanya Farrelly, Brian Kirk, Doreen Duffy, Mae Newman, Paula Meehan, Brigid Flynn, Trish Nugent, Eileen Casey, Enda Coyle-Greene, Grace Wells, Marie Gahan, Maria Wallace, Orla Grant-Donoghue and Susan Condon.

This collection of responses to Kavanagh’s work contains many pieces of diverse and interesting verse, please seek it out, you wont be disapointed!

 

MELANCHOLY
It is Spring time,
birds sing in the damp trees
a poet’s song recorded through the ages,
and because I once witnessed a crow
rise up from a skeleton forest
in a medieval winter, I will listen,
I will spread open a tulip with my fingers
to watch the bumble-bees gather nectar,
the petals will be like warm skin,
the flower an amplifier for the beat of wings
and I’ll be reminded of
Kavanagh’s Wet Evening in April
where upon my lips will speak the words
When I am dead a hundred years from now
when the Autumn has its time,
each cluster of fallen leaves
will be a crowd of voices
lamenting my melancholy.
 Michael J. Whelan

Read Full Post »

 

EXISTENCE

 

A new snow covered the meadow

and I didn’t want to touch it.

I wondered, too late,

if ever a season had passed

where man had not left his mark

crossing this landscape.

I knew the lives of wild animals were short,

a year might be their whole existence,

the winter their declining months,

this snow would one day disappear.

I felt ashamed then among the whispering trees,

ashamed that such beauty

could be ruined by a single footprint.

I wanted to leave that place to the deer,

to the hibernating bear,

to the rabbit and the fox,

to retrace my steps to the road

and in my mind

scrape the human race

from the surface of the moon.

 

Michael  J. Whelan

 

Published in FLARE 06, Winter 2017-18 – Readings From The Sunflower Sessions.

FLARE – the narrow-sheet journal of the Sunflower Sessions held in Dublin is edited by Eamon Mag Uidir and published by Declan McGloughlin

Read Full Post »

Ethnic Cleansing – kosovo (Michael J. Whelan, 2001)

 

FOUNDATIONS

(Kosovo)

 

There are times

when you question the truth,

the wisdom of being in this place,

and if what you’re doing helps

when the digger sits dejected

gleaming yellow

in a bitter winter sun,

‘cause the C.O. wants his inspection done,

while the homeless need foundations dug.

 

Michael J. Whelan

 

C.O. = Commanding Officer

Published in a sequence of poems titled TRUTH by Mark Ulyseas in L.E. Poetry Magazine, January 2018 issue.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Read Full Post »

Irish U.N. Patrol - South Lebanon c.1990s Photo by Michael J. Whelan

Irish U.N. Patrol – South Lebanon c.1990s Photo by Michael J. Whelan

 

TRUTH

 

Sometimes a muzzle flash

follows the bark of a gun barrel.

 

Sometimes the ground erupts

before anyone hears the screaming shell.

 

Sometimes a house disappears in the silent distance

all that echoes is a mother’s tears.

 

Sometimes a peacekeeper hears belligerents say

war is ended, there is no enemy

 

But they would kill him

those enemies of truth,

 

he being a witness

and standing in their way.

 

Michael J. Whelan

 

Published in a sequence of poems titled TRUTH by Mark Ulyseas (Ed) in L.E. Poetry Magazine, January 2018 issue

Read Full Post »

DUST: Photo: Michael J. Whelan

 

 

DUST

        (Kosovo)

 

Returning to base each night

covered in a layer of grimy dust

that fell from the sky,

thick and slimy when wet,

I was always reminded of extermination camps,

(people were still missing from the war’s

ethnic cleansing),

but we were told by our superiors

that we had nothing to worry about,

the dust was from the chimneys in Obilic.

 

Michael J. Whelan

 

 Published as part of a sequence of six poems titled TRUTH by Mark Ulyseas in L.E. Poetry Magazine, January 2018 issue

Read Full Post »

Michael J. Whelan. Photo: Michael J. Whelan

 

HAUNTING FLIGHT

(Irish U.N. post coming under attack,

South Lebanon, c. 1990s)

 

 

Vibrating rings expand to edge of cup,

if I close my eyes it will be gone.

The one o fives and one five fives are curving through the night,

my ears pick out the distant crump, crump, crump.

 

A tank-round bursts the silence,

transforming blast-walls in a multitude of sparkles,

lit up by a million flechettes puncturing concrete slabs.

The dancing shrapnel illuminates our billets to the violent night,

the echoes search, as red flares pop into haunting flight.

 

Then our radios whine up, their fans belch out a constant drone

of shoot reps and a firing close in response to RPGs,

panicked non-human voices fill the sweating room,

the carnival is back again but much too soon.

 

My chest rotates in anxious sickening trip,

it’s nights like this I feel that I could quit

the arc of noise and traffic through my sleep.

 

Michael J. Whelan

 

 

RPG = Rocket Propelled Grenade

Flechette = Isreali anti-personnel shell filled with long shards of metal

One o fives and one five fives = Artillery shells

Published by Mark Ulyseas in L.E. Poetry Magazine, January 2018 issue under the sequence title TRUTH

Read Full Post »

Older Posts »