Beguin

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The way your freckles danced and winked
at my droll teenage wit
and how your yellow fringe ensnared
one eyebrow raised to quiz
Remember how your tingling spine
synced to a Hendrix riff
you played me Chopin’s Polonaise
with graceful flicking wrist
Those warm pink silly earmuffs
gave winter walks a hue
bikini blue was cheeky you
though you blushed de rigueur
Your warm palm always on my knee
when driving Dad’s old car
soft leather seats whose creases kept Continue reading

The Ballad of The Septic Tank Tomb

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The Saint for whom the place was named
Forsook their dirty souls;
Their mother’s sin for birthing them
Now barred them from the fold.

They sat apart and cried their tears
They knew their shameful state, Continue reading

The Bachelor

You waited for Friday night to come around. There were some weeks when it arrived in nothing flat and the other weeks when you’d nearly give up on it arriving at all.  You’d have the cows milked a bit early, shave, dress and when your father looked up from staring into the coals in the fireplace he’d say, “Are you goin’ out then?” Rather than risk argument, you’d remain silent, just nodding and holding your hand out for the ten-bob note that he eventually had agreed to give you.  A grunt would serve as acknowledgement, then off with you into the fading light for the two mile walk to the village chewing on a pig’s cheek by way of dinner. Within a mile the collar stud might be biting into your throat and you’d curse yourself for not leaving it out until you reached your destination. The old fella’s greatcoat from the war kept the mist off your brown pinstripe suit. The cloth cap you bought on your first and last trip to Dublin nine years ago kept your head dry.

The walk was distinguishable by its sameness. Continue reading

The Aran Islands

THE ARAN ISLANDS

That Celts arrived in Ireland via the Caucasus should come as no surprise to those familiar with Tchaikovsky’s ‘Swan Lake’ which shares elements with the story of the two figures from Celtic mythology, lovers Aonghas and Caer. There is an ancient fortress bearing Aonghas’ name on the Aran Islands off the west coast of Ireland. The location on the receding continental shelf of Europe identifies both the little archipelago’s geographical position, and its extreme isolation.

The dominant feature is not only the grey/white stones, but their layout. They weave a flywire grid of low walls enclosing the tiniest green plots that could never be called paddocks. In a remarkable achievement, the Islanders broke and cleared the stone. To dispose of the shrapnel, they created walls with it, forming the boundary of the cleared patch of dirt. This backbreaking, courageous labour is staggering at first sight. Continue reading

The Square

Belfast-City-Hall

You turned the corner into Donegall Square – trust the Brits to add the redundant letter at the end of an Irish placename; yet another separatist sore thumb dismissive of the border county of Donegal that birthed the O’Donnell line of High Kings right back to times in the mist.  Across the park the Belfast City Hall hit you with a pain in the eyeball. A monolith to monolithism that some would tell you had been constructed as a declaration of whose prick was biggest. It looked more like a folly that the Shah would have built for himself in the desert with his oilwells. It was an offence in scale with the city’s poverty when it was erected barely a hundred years ago when the builder and Messrs. Harland, Wolf and their ilk hired only workers who prayed at the right church. Continue reading

The hearth

For at least nine months of the year there was always a fire in the hearth in the Living Room. The tall coal-scuttle always shone in contradiction to the begrimed contents while its mouth yawned at the ceiling as if bored with staring at it. A large brass dog sat to heel in opposite alignment across the grate, cleverly concealing the four tools hanging behind in his hollow shell; tongs, poker, brush, shovel. Continue reading

Blight

He surveyed his domain from the hillock behind his family’s one-room, thatched cottage. The landlord’s domain to be precise, but for the four generations preceding this year of Our Lord, 1845, his forefathers had paid the rent that made it theirs to call home. All three acres and only half of it rock and stone.

He pulled his knit cap down to shelter his immaturely balding pate against the mountain wind and focused his steady grey eyes on the troop of Redcoats on the shore road far below. He released his breath when he realised they would not bother the family today.

He set off to the potato patch, his smock flapping noisily in the wind, his legs kept dry from the mist by coarse leggings. His bare feet found purchase on clod and stone with a dexterity that told of familiarity with the exercise. He moved neither quickly nor slowly, just with the efficiency required by the task in relation to the sinking sun. Continue reading