Posts Tagged ‘Michael J. Whelan Poet’


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

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




(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


Read Full Post »


Kosovo Sky 2001 (c)Michael J. Whelan

Nectar of War

The ground could feel them,
returning to nests with the arsenals
of their colonies,
rotors vibrating the air
on convoys of black silhouettes
zipping by,
dozens of helicopters
swarming overhead
like eager wasps,
tail-booms jutting out
like giant stings
with artillery pieces,
heavy mortars and vehicles
slung beneath their painted bodies
like sacs full of the nectar of war.


Michael J. Whelan


Published in the ‘contemporary Irish poets feature’ in issue 22 of Rochford Street Review – July 2017

see https://rochfordstreetreview.com/2017/07/06/michael-j-whelan-five-poems/

Read Full Post »

I will be taking part in this event to celebrate the 50th issue of A New Ulster (Ed. Amos Grieg)
With David Rigsbee 
and Peter O’ Neill, where I will also read and discuss poems from the Peacekeeper collection (Doire Press), which were first published in ANU. Please come along to what promises to be a fantastic event in Books Upstairs on D’Olier Street, Dublin City at 6.30pm next Tuesday evening 15th November 2016.

Hope to see you there

See details below

Michael J. Whelan - poet, Lebanon 1994

Michael J. Whelan – poet, Lebanon 1994




Celebrating the 50th issue of A New Ulster
With David Rigsbee,
Michael J. Whelan and Peter O’ Neill

A New Ulster magazine was established in 2012 and is celebrating its 50th issue this month. To mark this milestone, some of the magazine’s most prolific contributors will come together to read and discuss their poetry and translations. On the night we’ll have guest of honour, American poet and translator of Joseph Brodsky, David Rigsbee, as well as poets Peter O’Neill and Michael J. Whelan. A New Ulster magazine promotes contemporary literature across all 32 counties, publishing poetry, fictional prose, translations and transversions, reviews, interviews and art works from writers and artists not only from Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland but from the USA, UK, and the EU making it a truly international literary journal which, in its four intensely packed years, has made it truly a force to be reckoned with.

David Rigsbee is the author of School of the Americas and Not Alone in My Dancing:  Essays and Reviews, as well as the forthcoming Dream Baby (Lapwing) and This Much I Can Tell You (Black Lawrence Press). He is the recipient of a Pushcart Prize, two National Endowment for the Arts Fellowships in Literature and awards from The National Endowment for the Humanities, and the Academy of American Poets. He is the author of critical studies of Carolyn Kizer and Joseph Brodsky and has coedited Invited Guest:  An Anthology of Twentieth Century Southern Poetry.  He lives in New York.

Michael J. Whelan is a historian and award-winning poet. A serving member of the Irish Air Corps, he is currently curator and keeper of the Irish Air Corps Military Aviation Museum & Collection at Casement Aerodrome, Baldonnel. He is the author of two history books and his poetry has been published in Ireland, Mexico, Paris, the UK and included in The Hundred Years’ War –Anthology of Modern War Poems (Bloodaxe UK). His debut collection ‘Peacekeeper’ (Doire Press, 2016) is the first of its kind to reference the role of Irish citizens on international peace support missions.

Peter O’ Neill is the author of six collections of poetry, most recently Divertimento The Muse is a Dominatrix(mgv2>publishing, France) and Sker (Lapwing). He edited And Agamemnon Dead, An Anthology of Early Twenty First Centurywith Walter Ruhlmann (mgv2>publishing). He is the founder of Donkey Shots, an avant garde poetry festival which takes place in the spring in his home-town of Skerries, north county Dublin, where he also hosts The Gladstone Readings.


Tickets are  €5.92 and available at the Eventbrite link below



Tue 15 November 2016

18:30 – 19:30 GMT



Books Upstairs,

17 D’Olier Street

2 Dublin



Read Full Post »

Defence Post, South Lebanon -1990s Photo: Michael J. Whelan

Defence Post, South Lebanon -1990s. Photo: Michael J. Whelan



 (Observations in Irish UN Operations area S. Lebanon – 1990s)


Just before the night

white plumes on hillsides

mark the end of journeys

as artillery bombs sweep the ground

and machinegun bullets

rip through wadis

in a reconnaissance by fire

along known approaches,

tearing up usual routes

just in case

they’re already there


priming themselves

and then,

through darkness-spilled


the silence is torn again

by the shrieks of screaming metal

cursing with hate.


Sometimes the best defence

is to attack

even when

there are no targets.


Michael J. Whelan

 Wadi = Dried up riverbed/valley


Part of a sequence of poems titled ‘Holding The Road’ which was published by Mark Ulyseas in Live Encounters Poetry Feast December 2016 see link below


Read Full Post »

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/

Read Full Post »



Flock of Gulls - Michael J. Whelan

Flock of Gulls – Michael J. Whelan




(After conversations with Lebanese exiles -)



Some words we don’t read them,

we taste them

deep into our souls,

some bring back our missing memories,

our loved ones to our hearts.


Many times I saw their wives and mothers

lay flowers in my country

near the places of their martyrdoms.


My heart is like a room

big enough to receive many visitors.

My heart is a wing

to fly your martyrs on,

to reach heaven


to make them meet at the river,

to hug and kiss their children,

to sacrifice and water their thirsts

of a land with pure blood

spilled far from home


flowing from peacekeepers

into the valleys of my country

where the cedar grows forever

and remembers everything.


Michael J. Whelan

Published in A NEW ULSTER magazine, issue 34, July 2015

Read Full Post »

Kosovo (c)Michael J. Whelan - c.2000

Kosovo (c)Michael J. Whelan – c.2000




Narrow lines of yellow tape

stretch up into forest hills

marking places where it’s safe to trek

between unexploded bombs

and dead refugees waiting to be rescued.


This is the day

a peacekeeper is blown to bits

clearing a path to a suspected mass grave

near an empty village,

where booby-trapped doors wait to be opened,

made safe before it might live again.


His friends finishing the search

before gathering all the parts of him,

zipping him into a dozen body bags,

each soldier sweating in his own skin

as the dead look on,

relieved it wasn’t them.



Michael J. Whelan

Published in ‘A NEW ULSTER, magazine, issue 32, May 2015

Read Full Post »

Older Posts »