When do songbirds cease to sing?
When you are queen and I your king
For nothing shall come near the grace
That fills my heart with joy, and shines upon your face
When do stars but blackened be?
Or when the sun we cease to see?
When gazed upon beyond thine eyes
Set a twinkling with my demise.
When she be man and man be she
Or when the moon the sun
Then you and I will always be,
Then you and I are one.
The Piano Man Plays
The piano man plays cool and
Soft like a summer breeze
As drunken clientele pass and shout
-hey you, you’re him aren’t you?
The one they sing for and adore.
Looking up from a river of wine
– I was that man, yes, in another life
Of summer sun and strawberry girls.
The women respect their expressive disgust
And he mourns for memories forgotten
And a song he never knew.
The piano man plays along
Forever mourning glories gone.
He turns his head and tips his hat,
Then slugs a short and accepts disgust.
An Ancient Soul I Am
I am an ancient soul.
Keys were heavy as I approached the house
I held them in my hand, poised, ready to attack
Each step closer my heart would pound.
One beat the louder one step the safer.
Trace-talks like tides inside as i
Ran my story through and polished details.
Then I was in the porch. Life going
On as normal outside my addled brain.
One. Two. Three. Deep breaths and
A slap for colour if I felt worse for wear.
I’d hold the key and hover for a moment,
Just to line it up and the smell of gum
And vodka would travel like smog that
Everyone ignored until it affected each in turn.
‘Y’alright ma?’ It was 10 o’clock.
‘How was the film?’
But now they think me old enough
– an ancient soul as some might say
And the scolding subsides to be
Replaced by empty threats of hunger
And stories of olden days.
So now I work and win the bread,
And take my sup in private.
An ancient soul indeed.
I know when I am old and
My hand will hurt to pour my
Will be my gift in parting
But if perchance my faith eludes me
I will brave the pain, make it short
And drift away innocuous.
The Old Men in The Roadside tavern
Written on drinking with the locals in “The Roadside Tavern”, Lisdoonvarna County Clare.
He pulls the pint with expert skill
And the man-with-taps has only been.
They let the bubbles rise to just before
The name Guinness on the glass.
They drink it fast the men of old
– 3 glugs is all it needs to set a soul
And poets free.
While leaving looking back upon thee
I pause to ponder what ye meant
My mind draws blank as sorrow strikes me
And tears from out my soul are sent.
Were you just a careless spree or
Forever will you stay with me?
Such companions I have never found
Than those that walked these hallowed grounds.
And such a feeling never felt
By king, nor calf, nor mighty Celt
Could ever hold a candle to
My short sweet life with you.
An Irish Summer
Half-tans skulk in shadows
As skin-flakes snow the air
And the men with whippy vans
And the life guards on the strand
Thank Christ it’s come again.
Tomorrow will be agony,
Today was made for lovers,
Both as red as one another
Both too blind to care
My life for those few hours
When everyone is young,
And we hang arms nonchalantly
From cars with ice-cold air,
We don the shorts, the shirts
Come off we are as pasty
As the next man who drove
Eighteen miles to see the beach
– And its only ten degrees.
For once we are content.
For once we won’t complain.
Give us sand by the bucket-load
And sandwiches wrapped in foil,
Give us a lack of modesty,
Common sense and style.
Let us leave with nothing
Come back with less.
Let our skin peel and crack,
Freckles scourge our nose
And stay with us in the
Depths of Winter as
With the Irish in the sun.
Delusions of Grandeur
As I looked out across the bay
Not a thing did my eyes delight to see
A lone red rose on a bare graveside
And the stump of an old oak tree.
Dressed in black you mourned and wept
While beneath the earth a hero slept
Raindrop tears flowing, golden sun glowing
He sleeps undisturbed, unknowing.
To The Night
Here’s to half truths and whole lies,
To cans, mixers and drunken slander.
Here’s to the tone deaf and colour-blind,
To long nights and livers locked.
Here’s to the star and the moons,
To fondling, fellatio and far off fun.
Here’s to the nights we all forgot
and a memory unmissed.
Here’s to heart-aches and toothaches
To hangovers, hungover hair of the dog.
To whiskey drenched cigarettes and
long walks in the rain.
Here’s to the nights we never knew
that beat the sun hands down.
When dreams are hard to come by
and impossible to rhyme.
Here’s to the night and hoping.
Who Art in Heaven
I weep as if left in the cot and yet I know you not
I know not how, I know not why, I know not when or who.
You not me. I know not you. Yet I pray you live life anew.
Today we put him in the ground. Today we let him go.
The greatest love I’ve ever found – yet man I yearn to know.
Now there’s dirt atop and dirt beneath and dirt both left and right
And a lone white cross upon the heath marks never-ending night.
Your seeds been sewn the wind has blown
Unto an early spring, your remnants etched in
Stone remain the beauty of thy being,
But be you still beneath that stone?
Nay. You are alive and well, in heaven thy eternal home.
All in The Month December
All in the month December
In an ale-house on the Quays,
I met an Angel soft and tender
A’ sipping Christmas wine.
She looked at me perchance to smile
And so I thought to pass the time
I’d take a drink
And sit awhile.
There we sat midst Christmas cheer
And drunken reverie
When her face grew wan and
She laughing said to me.
It was Christmas day now long ago
I lost my bonny boy
And so I drink my wine the
Long year round to keep him in the air.”
“Fool”, said I, “it is not wise
To dote yourself away
We – all of us must one day live
To see lovers turn to clay.”
“To clay? Not he” (her temper in a flare)
“More likely to the innocent
Or to the judge’s snare.
Alas the trees now ever-bare
Alas regret too late.
I lost it all that winters day
With Christmas in the air.”
Now I perplexed and she in tears
Sat silent in the place. Minutes
Passed and drinks were downed.
When I smiling took my leave.
So I took it as a lesson learned and
Went my merry way with dreams
Of loved ones (and of wine)
Awaiting Christmas Day.
And though frequent I have been
To that ale-house on the Quays
And though frequent I have seen
Faces pretty as can be
The one that still escapes me
Is the one that captivates me
– the one I left behind.
So I spend my time berating
Whatever fate awaits me
By the window of an ale-house
A’ sipping Christmas wine.
Let the sea howl by night and the wind that blows on sleepless shores
Carry with them past romance and each essence of seasons passed
Let them in turn bring us summer when the sun has fallen short
And in winter let them scream and curse that we may never be alone.
Let trusted dogs wait for us, silent at the end of day.
Let each friendly face be missed when gone,
In sorrow, as in joy.
Let each village ghost perform her silent duty
That we may, forever be, unchanged.
My Life as a Heretic
It was long ago – longer now than it seems. It started with a smokeless cigarette lost in the Eden of a foggy night. Ignorance is bliss, or so people say – ignorant people who know nothing else. The same people who say life is hard and you can only reap what you sew. There are liars in this world who may try and force this belief on you, but life? Life is easy and complete. Life is nothing more than an adaptation of randomicity in which the randomers are begotten by strangers, the believers by the non-believers and the truth by a lie so thick and solid shit couldn’t stir it.
A smokeless cigarette hung out of the slack jawed mouth of the believer as he hit me with roll after roll of quarters, he bought my poetry and he sang me songs. He slept near enough that I could feel him stir in the night – yet far enough to allow him another cliché of the modern world. – Looking back to find humour in depression, beauty in disaster and love in times of loneliness. Time heals all apparently.
My story – if it can so be called is not one of regrets and one on which time’s healing hand has yet to caress. Timeless clichés be the plot, liars and thieves the personages – one of those stories in which nothing happens but casual observations on the modern world. One of those tales that despite the nothings and the nevers, the neithers, nors and ne’er do wells serves to captivate and intrigue. It is the all applicable story of life and love in the Foggy Dew.
It is the never ending circle of lies forever circling, here, there and everywhere – floating and dreaming.
We slept side by side and the smoke filled by lungs as unuttered threats span around my head. I heard him stir in the night and I felt him shudder with storm-sounds making the air reverberate. The Believer had fallen from the Grace of God and landed on the cardboard beside me. As my story is one of nothing, his was one of everything-lost. A story of riches and women, chalets and champagne, openings, closings, and regenerations. He had had it all, seen it too. He had the picture-perfect wife, two kids, the postcard villa in Spain, everything money could buy – solid gold dancing girls, purple orange juice and a soft spot for space-tourism. But alas ignorance became his downfall. So often is it hard for two emotions to co-exist, so often had he turned a blind-eye, pretended not to see the signs and so as the ignorance grew so too did the love diminish.
The now loveless Believer, believed not in his family. He traded his children’s names for another glass of brandy. He forgot his wife’s face. Too many parties had left in a state of numbness from which he could not easily escape. Blinded to the problems, hiding eyes from hacking coughs.
His wife is on a hospital bed. He watches her life-blood drip daily, slowly fade away. The believer unshaven and a mess is anywhere but by her side. So he returns once more to his core belief, the redeeming effects of money. Love comes in the form of flowers, and he sends all the health and happiness he can in a mug of random sea tea.
All in vain. She dies alone, he weeps alone.
The Believer stirs again beside me, in his hands grasped is a cigarette packet empty. A poem penned and a picture footed is all I see. A gathering of some sort, people mourning, and in the distance a huddled shell of a man – flameless cigarette ablaze. The poem read.
As I looked out across the bay,
Not a thing did my eyes delight to see.
A lone red rose on her bare graveside
And the stump of an old oak tree.
Dressed in black they mourned and wept,
While beneath the earth my angel slept
Golden sun glowing
Raindrop tears flowing.
I watch undisturbed – unknowing.
While the believer boasts a host of characters, my tale is mine and mine alone. I am the be all and end all of my world. These people come and go; they give me pieces, the half-truths of belief. And yet they flock to me – the forgotten generations of loneliness searching for something new and unseen. I am the man you see, the man you humiliate with shrapnel in a paper cup – don’t look at him children. I wear my coat of darkness to keep elements from my back, i wear this hood and cap so you don’t see me staring back. I have been too often avoided, too often have children been shielded from my life, but to what avail? Join me in Eden wont you? If I’m lucky you may bounce a coin my way, no nod of recognition. I am here, I have arrived. Your generous donations get squandered, squandered on the casual necessity of cans.
He is better than me though; belief can do so much for a man. He is one step up on the proverbial ladder. He knows you people from another life, of summer sun and strawberry girls. He knows your customs, your witty anecdotes yet you refuse him. On passing you dip your hat; you cross the road or simply play the fool. Ignorance is bliss.
The Believer is gone now. To where, who knows? Perhaps he found his Rushmore, or another dancing-girl. When I awoke he was gone. He comes to me now and then, in dreams. He tells me not to fear the world, tells me his story over and over. I still feel his presence even now that he is so long gone, I see him in a laughing child, or the young mother struggling to smile. And so I keep one now, just in case, one cigarette forever flameless awaits him on his triumphant return to the life of a randomer.
And when we are reunited, we will live together in our Random City. We will await newcomers to our world and we will show them the how-tos and the whos, we will mould them. The kind and the gentle will be the new Believer and the bitter and violent will take my place when I am gone. These will be the new peoples of The City, they will be awash with new-birth lost in a mug of random sea tea. They will be beautiful and they will be ours.
They will join our forces and as i drift into death they will live. We wish you well and ask you kindly to wipe your feet – this is something new and never-experienced. This is our life, in its truest form – where the lovers are begotten by the rapists, the flames begotten by blooded and the lies begotten by stone-solid belief.
I saw him first by Joyce’s tower. He stood alone watching the waves crash and foam over the rocks. Now and then his gaze would lift; he looked back at the tower – trying to see what great men had passed before him. Then in a swift roll of his neck he watched on forever as the fast disappearing horizon concealed by fog merged with air and sea alike. And there was nothing.
That was long ago though. Now I see him as he is. Not the miraculous dreamer or struggling writer but as the shallow, shell of a man he is. A dreamer through and through. I wrote a story for him. Not about him as such but about all the dreamers in this world who drink and smoke their talent away. I find it easier to write from point of view, I feel like a spy. I get my rocks off below the radar where no one will care if I fail or fly.
When I was younger I was far from normal, perhaps I am worse off now. The world has changed, is changing and will constantly change. The lies will flow and the Devil will tempt – such is the way. I do not fear the changes as some do. I know not when or how they may come about but I dream of them day in and day out. I dream of the places I may one day hold, the hands I may shake and the faces I most certainly will forget.
My world of dreams does not disappear when the cock crows and the suits scurry to the station, my world of dreams is not held captive in a sleeping cell. It can be found in dirty side-streets (if you care to look). It is the disbarred bordello and the teenage-mother’s toothy smile. It may not be a pretty world to live in, but beauty can be found where ever seldom sought, the bottles and the brawls hold more to me than man. I worry about man. Nine to five, straight and narrow – The Suits. The suits serve only to hide the man, crush the soul and leave the rest of us on the back burner waiting for dole-day.
This harsh mechanized world of today has no place for the meek. “The meek shall inherit the world”, that’s what they say isn’t it? All the part-time preachers who cling to their faith like a mother’s teat. They dream too. They dream of Heaven and Hell, long white robes and flowing beards, they dream of halos and puffy clouds soft enough to put a baby to sleep yet sturdy enough to hold humanity. But these are all dreams. Dreams based on a silvery sliver of hope shining through the clouds and making way for the birds and the bees, the men and women of God’s own creation and the lovers enshrined in lust in the new and everlasting forever-night.
My dreams are not powerful, they will not inspire. They will not gather a following of billions. My dreams serve only to entertain, if no one but myself. I dream during the day. I dream of Joyce and Behan. I watch the night fade slowly to the day. I watch the moon rise and the stars fall, the ocean alight in a beauteous glow of hope. They say that the dreams of millions are what make the moon shine, the stars rise and the night what it is.
I dream for the millions, on the hour every hour. I dream of nights I’ll never know and the places I’ll never see.
But you will never, know, you will never see myself as I do – the great savior of humanity. You see a madman, a lunatic. My dreams terrify and my dreams deceive. I made a conscious decision long ago to do as I please, dreams included. When I am not dreaming I read. I read Behan and Yeats, Joyce and O’Connor, Kerouac, Kafka, Poe and Vonnegut. Each time I read I am born anew. They spurn my dreams and burn the candle. I don the mask and I belong. I am the lonesome traveler; I am a spastic in time. I am everyman. They inspire me, they come to me when I am alone and hopeless and I take whatever piece I may read and I turn it upside, inside, downside out. Each time I am a different character, each time I act it out differently. Each time I am new. And then I am no longer the stranger to himself, I am no longer a mind warped by the paranoid tendencies of an insomniac. I am and shall always remain; a dreamer who dreams his life away.
After nights stacked high with sleepless-dreams the sun will come. It will banish the fairer moon and conceal the horizon once more. And just as the night now laying silent where I can not reach her she will jolt my weary mind and shake my writing hand. The time for change is coming and I can feel it. The meek have had their chance now the dreamer must step to the plate. And yes we come and go under the radar; we study the masses and look upon the world with contempt. We of ever-setting suns, we the unshaven and we, as ever, the Noble Underdogs will dream. I dream of life’s odd coincidences, the whistle of a train or a crisp clean shirt. I dream of these and those, this, that, then and there. I dream of keys clicking and toes tapping. I dream of the future and the lovers we have laid to rest. I dream to wake the moon. But most of all I dream for the sake of dreaming. I dream to escape reality.
A Hero Dies Tonight
T’was the night before Christmas, or the morning after, maybe mid-June for all its worth. My memory no longer serves me; it comes and goes with sobriety. I am master of nothing but my mind. Time and place is unimportant, the details even more-so. You need not concern yourself with my comings and goings, ignore me in life and shun me death.
I was born in to a broken home – an unlit tenement. I was a chain smoker by twelve and an amorous alcoholic before I had blown out sixteen. I spent my eighteenth birthday under lock and key and twenty-first with the fairies. I was and to this day remain alone in my world of dreams, where I am Judge, Juror and Executioner.
The night it all began, be it Christmas Eve or the twelfth of Never I was in the pub with a family I never truly belonged to – a tradition if ever I knew one. And as you very well know alcohol, “That liquor sweet and most divine”, loosens tongues and hardens nerves. One thing led to another. Dreaming demons of the past arose from out the drunken haze and i was left alone. Here. Darkened underpass.
My so-called story maybe one of many moons; it may be life on repeat. My memories are borrowed and reek of pity like the overcoat that conceals the hollow shell of a body I call my own.
Bodies are weak and deceiving a mere compendium of muscles and bones could never do justice to the soul trapped therein. My body is as old and feeble as the next drunken louts but my mind powerful. I live in my mind. In here I can be whatever I want; I am the behemoth of the booming transport trade, the saviour of the soulless subway stations. I am a Herculean hero whose incomprehensible histrionics save the world daily.
I shall not spend eternity in a pauper’s grave with worms as my chambermaids where they gnaw my already mangled frame. My death will not be one of desperation and hopelessness like so many I have seen before. It will be one of martyrdom and people will celebrate my life as the great redeemer of humanity long after I am gone.
The divil may be dead but tonight I rise from out the shadows of my heroes, I laugh at the crowd clawing at my feet. I join the martyrs, and I am free. Tonight in the infinite darkness of a desolate tube station a hero dies. In his own words, by his own hand. It is my will. It is done.
A Chance Meeting
Only the week beforehand I had been reading an article about him. Now here I was, drink in hand waiting for the man who could make me a hero. The lights wre dim and I was having trouble keeping my eyes on the door, something I had neglected to factor into the equation when choosing a place for our meeting. I knew he liked a drink and thought it best to keep him happy but now the clientele had become louder and I was wondering if I would be able to hear him at all.
I wondered too if I would even recognise him, the only photo I had of him was from the dust sleeve of his older books, maybe twenty years old by now. I ordered another glass and asked the barman if he had ever heard of the writer T.P Loughlin, he said that he used to drink here and his father knew well once. The last he had heard Loughlin was still living in Australia, off the radar. Ashe walked off to serve other customers the door opened, I heard it without seeing, the man had walked straight passed the bar and into a backroom when he emerged a few minutes later his wet jacket had been lost and his broad hat was in his hand. He sat in a corner booth and nodded to the head barman who in turn, climbed on a stool and reached up to the top shelf for a vintage bottle of Powers, he put it on a tray with a jug of water and two glasses then left it down for the other man. A man whose visage didn’t warrant any special treatment, his face was gaunt and pale, back stooped he looked like a man down from the mountains for the night. I decided this must be my man.
I finished my drink and went over and sat opposite him, he was reading the newspaper and poured me a glass of Powers and pushed it towards me with the glass of water. I introduced my self as the man from the paper and asked him how he knew it was me when I sat down. “I didn’t”, he said “ but you looked like you could do with a drink. How did you know I was the man you were looking for?”, I tapped a copy of one of his books in my breast pocket, “you haven’t changed all that much Mr. Loughlin”. He leaned in closer to me and tapped his nose with a gnarled finger “The name is Whelan, T. P Loughlin died in a brushfire nearly 15 years ago, now I hear you found an interview in your attic?”.
A Winter Wedding
She was married on a Tuesday, Tuesday the 23rd of June to be precise. I remember the date because I had just landed in on business when I got a phone call – My invitation must’ve been lost in the post I was told, if I wanted and had the free time I was still more than welcome to join them. She emailed me the details and a map I never needed. Ho w could I forget that church.
A bedroom: Three daughters dress their mother, through the window the country side rolls on for miles, some fields barren some farrowed in waiting to be planted again. The girls tie ribbons on a carefully constructed bun. They tie a corset around the waist of their middle aged mother; she feels the weight of the world on her. No time for tears now. The younger daughters lead down the hallway to a dining room, where her people wait for her. The oldest daughter carries her train and hides behind her mother. Outwardly she smiles and shakes hands, she doesn’t agree wit her mother’s choice. These are her people, his wait in a small church in the village. It is still early morning, plenty of time yet.
I was meeting with investors in the city; we were expanding into the European market. Ireland was the first inroad. We finished early. It had been snowing and commuting was a nightmare. I was in time for the last train, still running with 3 hour delays. I arrived after midnight.
Tuesday morning, Wicklow: Again my phone rang, they wanted to know where I was staying, I thought it best to keep it to myself under the circumstances. I had checked into a small b&b in Wicklow town, I rang a taxi and went to see them. I met her I the small pub, opened early for the occasion she was drinking powers and ginger ale, I had the same to settle my nerves. We talked pleasantries, my leg shook and I thumbed a ring on my finger. She would return later with her sisters and I would welcome them with drinks as many the time before. I would toast their mother and her new husband, then be gone on the early train and fly home in the new breaking dawn.