AFTER GOD (a memoir in poems) by Michael Whelan

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MICHAEL WHELAN’s After God, a memoir in 40 narrative poems, is the tale of his lifelong lover’s quarrel with God, presented in three phases of his life: First Knowing, Unknowing, and Unknowing Squared. “Clay Feet,” a poem in that collection, first appeared in the Martin Stannard August 2013 Collection featured on The Best American Poetry blog.

Currently, éirways, a new Irish magazine on Irish life and culture, is featuring a set of his poetry and prose about the late, acclaimed Irish writer Dermot Healy, mentor and friend.

Whelan’s personal essay, “Enchantments of an Irish Boyhood,” appeared in The Washington Post, The Boston Globe, and The Philadelphia Inquirer.  It also ran last year in Irish Central, an online daily publication on Irish news and culture. Some 2,000 of Irish Central readers “Liked” the piece on their Facebooks.

Whelan won first prize in poetry in The Leitrim Guardian 2012 Literary Awards.  His poems have also been published in The Coachella Review, The Elegant Atheist, The Healing Muse, The Little Patuxent Review, and Innisfree Poetry Journal.

As our guest writer at the Hopkins 2016 Spring Writers Retreat (end of April), Michael will be sharing some of his poems with us as well as speaking to the changes he’s made in his writing process. Michael confides that in the past year he has written more than 150 poems but in the year before that, only 10.  

With Michael’s permission, we’ve reprinted “Clay Feet.”  –m



Yesterday, when I was walking exiled

in clay feet in the cool of the evening

outside the garden of the Tree


of the Knowledge of Good and Evil,

God slipped into a pair

of clay feet too


We walked foot to foot for some time

and being that close, I noticed that

God is:


More earth than air

More of here than of there

and all of now


Bounding in and out of ifs

Abiding boundless

inside is


Transcendent most

when curled

in the crannies of creation


As much a She as He

and She is also we

and God forgive me, also me


Creeds cannot catch Him

nor churches cage Her –

He keeps no throne in Rome


She has no test for us to pass

no will for us to bow to—

He burns no hell


She yawns when She hears “O God” intoned

by preachers over the pews

but He cups His ear when


a lone soul whispers

“O God, help

me make it through the night”


That’s when She leans in and that’s when

the lone soul may be opened to

the abiding hum


that soundless carries His response

from the ground

of His universe:


Nothing to do but be, dear,

Nowhere to be but here

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Visit Poet Michael Whelan at      

After God, Tintean Fine Press is available at

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6 thoughts on “AFTER GOD (a memoir in poems) by Michael Whelan

  1. Thanks for putting poems in front of us. I usually don’t seek out poetry, but when someone shows me one, I read it and feel enriched. Reading “Clay Feet” left me feeling as if I’d prayed.


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