Love Letters to Presence: Three Poems


My name is Mícheál ‘Moley’ Ó Súilleabháin. I am a poet from Ireland. These three poems are love letters to presence. That presence we feel when we are close to the source of this life. Gratitude, Wisdom, Determination, and Belief.  All three are excerpted from my poetry book, ‘Early Music’ (Many Rivers Press).

The first poem, Turas d’Anam, means ‘journey of your soul’ in the Irish language. This piece is an invitation to grant permission to yourself. To experience a deeper sense of meaning in this life. It reimagines set backs, or conscious retreat, as a strengthening tool. This poem is an invitation to realise the restorative power of rest…and the often agonizing wisdom of hindsight.

Turas d'Anam

Often times

the step backward

lets the soul catch up.

So that all our happy

hindsight’s harmonise

and wisdom builds.

Share your luck.

Be miserly only

with misfortune.

In each seismic

shudder we learn

to trust the ground

again, humble again,

knowingly broken,

unrepentantly wounded,

proud to bare pain.

Laying claim to

the joy factory

of your body.

No more tariffs, or sanctions.

Wage cuts and glass ceilings.

Conventions, expenses paid, nor

lanyards or company position.

Often times,

this way you can live

in ways others simply

will not, develop sides

of you others simply

would not.

So feel the rhythm

beyond the beat.

Begin with a break,

and let your soul

catch up.


This next poem, ‘What To Hand On’, hopes to inspire your aspiration. To spy the playful, and often impossible, standards we place on ourself. This poem is a prayer to naivety and is meant to reclaim our power of intentionality in the face of that which we cannot control (which is almost everything!).

What To Hand On

I’d wish to grow wise,

through gears of existence.

To read the gradient

in each phase of life

just to coast down the slopes

beyond travailing times.

To know the right hat

for the right company, and

rhythm of each interaction,

chiming in from the periphery

to read the grain

of every conversation.

To fall in love

in the prime of life, seeds

sown of deathbed smiles.

Waves of wellbeing

lap at low tide, imploring

your reluctant side to break,

even one cycle, learned

as a child.

For wisdom knows

what to hold, and

what to hand on.

Which to give and

what to keep.

Where to dig and

what to bury.

When to wake, and

how to sleep.

Our wish for wisdom

still a whisper,

the source of which

still buried deep.

So, soul brother, and

 soul sister, are we changed

 by what we meet.


The third poem ‘This Is My Prayer Room’ is an account of my first time praying with my Hindu mother-in-law, Maya. She invited me to sit for her daily Puja at her home in New Jersey when we first met. Maya emigrated to America when my wife was just 6 months old… I am from Ireland, so this was my first taste of Hindu prayer ritual. I was so inspired by the similarities  between my own mothers love for daily prayer and the palpable joy in my Maya’s prayer life. This poem recounts parts of that ritual at her personal mandir, from her perspective, while mixing some imagery from my own Catholic background.


This Is My Prayer Room

(For Maya)

This is my prayer room,

no one comes in.

I anoint icons here

with sandalwood and

pour milk over deity’s,

chanting a throaty mantra.

I sat cross legged

till I could no more

but don’t worry,

my god already knows

my aches and pains.

This altar holds my trinkets

of faith, the tools of prayer,

instruments of hope

and rag offerings

to my elephant god.

If you wish to pray I’ll let you,

turning halfway through

my rosary making sure

your comfortable.

Tuesday’s prayers are slightly longer,

you see.

The incense will rise for you and I,

for there is peace in worship

at the foot of a virgin mother

and a blue skinned baby.

The gurus and martyrs,

the saints and angels.

And when I hand you 

the bell, ring it.

Not once, but

keep ringing till I tell you.

Pray with me, say the words,

ring the bell, we’re almost there.

This part is my favourite,

it’s where god feels the closest.

So ask for mercy, or for help,

or forgiveness, no need to tell.

For my story is your story,

is every body’s story.

Let the bell stop ringing now.

We’ve prayed well today,

thank you for your silence.

I know my god is pleased

to meet you, sees your sad

eyes and sweet spirit

and knows you

have much more

to do.


The above poems have been excerpted from ‘Early Music’ (Many Rivers Press) by Mícheál Moley Ó Súilleabháin. Mícheál Ó Súilleabháin is a poet, musician and teacher from Limerick, Ireland. His first book of poetry, 'Early Music' was published by David Whyte's Many Rivers Press. He offers online courses and creativity coaching at Mícheál works with his brother, Owen, and his mother, Rev. Nóirín Ní Riain offering online courses and 7 day experiences in Ireland. More at


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