Pat Toland

Patrick Toland is a graduate of the new Masters of Creative Writing in Oxford University. His most recent publications have been in Harlequin, Crannog, Skylight 47, Poetry 24, The Chattahoochee Review, The Irish Independent, Iota, Swamp Magazine, Fortnight Magazine, and Prairie Schooner, which nominated one of his poems for the Pushcart Prize and Best New Poets selection, with the full selection of poems winning theEdward Stanley Award. Recently, he was shortlisted for the Lightship Poetry Prize 2011 and was a winner of the Bodleian Science Library Poetry Competition 2011. He was selected as an emerging writer by Windows Publications in 2010 and for the 2012 Poetry Ireland Introductions Series. In 2013 he was nominated as an emerging poet in the Hennessy Literary Awards.

The Bad Workman


Today is the day
Of the bad workman.

I apply the wrench
To my lover’s mood, go out

And scold the grass
For its incessant growing.

The only thing done right
Is pulling back of curtains,

Letting morning light begin its work
Of nimble fingers and good choices.

See, it has already turned
My lover’s mood. And even the grass is listening.



My father says the worst part
Of getting old is the lack of dreams

And he seems, suddenly, like a pale
Northerner too absent from the sun.

Not dreams of cadillacs or fortunes found.
Not flying, or skipping buses

Or discovered naked in your boss’s office.
He misses the whole shebeen of dreams;

The whole kaleidoscopic, panopolic
Parade of what he’d ever seen

Or done or thought to dream of doing.
Days pass after that regard

And I wash his suit and thaw
His meals and never think to think

I was part of the dream.
How some of me extinguished also

Like a burning bin and all remains.
Worse than this, I’ve become the worm

That visits every day and gnaws
Away at what he can’t recall,

Who draws it from him like a thorn.
And still, he sleeps the night

Like a grey mizzle, like a hood
That sneaks the passing light

Of alleyways and market stalls
And unfamiliar smells and the strange

Calls of a kind abductor
Who speaks softly and knows his fear.

A Prayer for the Present Time


No one shall die tonight.

Your loved ones will journey
Through the dark, emerge
As if they bathed in milk.

The drivers of the fast cars
Will make their turns
And the old maids

With their one bar heater
Will feel as flush as summer.
The wards, where the mothers

Sleep, hold every child
Snug like champagne corks
And the night-workers

Get tenderness for once
That leaves no bruise.
Even the worst of us

Have chosen thankfulness
And take that wrong address
And cast it in the stream.

No one will die tonight.
Not the restful or the waking,
The honest or forsaken.

No one will die tonight,
However the dawn reddens
And the sky is breaking.


Copyright remains with the author