Writing on the Wild Edges:
Participant Poems from Michael Philley

At the end of August, 17 creative souls gathered with us for our retreat on Inismor – Writing on the Wild Edges of the World. We had a wonderful group with participants from all over the U.S., Canada, Singapore, and Australia. I am delighted to share some of their poems over these next few weeks. Pour a cup of tea, imagine yourself on a windswept limestone island in the Atlantic, and savor for a while.

These haiku were written by Mike Philley: 

ancient beehive hut—
grayed stones etched with gold
prayers of lichen


winged peregrine
soaring above the sea cliff
the wind its muse


at the holy well—
a gnarled rag tree, steadfast
altar of blessings


wild blackberries
ripen on fences of stone
teaching patience


gravestones of ancestors—
names lost, weathered away
all facing the sea


the labyrinth twists
through a field of rabbit holes
ever opening


the currach’s thin ribs—
canvassed, coated black with tar
buoy an oarsman’s faith


pillars of sharp stone
guard the walls of Dun Aengus—
now only silence


abandoned abbey—
shadows fleeting in sunlight
like dancing monks


two women talking
in Irish, their Gaelic tongue—
one stirring the soup


Michael Philley, retired from government service, now lives with his wife, Sue, in Boise, Idaho. Several of his short stories appear in Writers in the Attic, a literary anthology. To spur his imagination, he also reads and writes haiku poetry. On a recent pilgrimage to Inismor with Abbey of the Arts, he wrote haiku expressing the island’s ancient rhythms and still abundant traditions of Celtic spirituality.

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