To have the freedom of the drowned sailor #repealthe8th

I am a big college pointer,

Travel sick without moving.

 

I am a 22 year old shop worker,

Unable to walk on water.

 

I am the belle of the Barn,

Hiding beneath Emmet’s bridge.

 

I am a dystopian virgin,

Crouched and cold and slick with dirt.

 

I am a fifties country girl,

Creased and crazed and fraught with fear.

 

I am the child crucifix,

Abused and broken with arms outstretched and feet mud frozen.

 

I am the isolated mother,

Business heels and taut gym skin.

 

I am your walking sin.

 

I am the watcher on the banks,

Trapped between the dank black stilliness and the drowned sailor.

 

And yet

I am the watcher on the bridge,

Caught behind the sailor’s pearl dead eyes,

Listening to a republic’s dying sighs.

 

I am your nurse, I am your teacher, I sold you shares, I am not your mare.

 

Bells ring and bibles beat,

Swallows swirl and dive and dip.

One by one they pick an oil skin to lift.

 

A long dead sailor is carried from this wasteland

While I remain

bathed in the glory of stained glass light.

 

A long dead sailor is carried from this wasteland

While I remain

choked  on rhetoric and  the poverty of sand.

 

A long dead sailor is carried from this wasteland

While I remain

gagged by the past and  weed clogged waters.

 

I am the woman threading time’s spinning wheel,

waiting for a chance to choose but forced to kneel.

I am your prisoner, trapped and dying.

Now is the time to repeal, repeal, repeal!

#repealthe8th #righttochoose #timetoact #ifonlywomencouldwalkonwater

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Moon Dust in your Face

 

I lift you to my face

And you leave behind the faintest trace

Remnants of another time, another universe, another place.

 

I settle you on our bed

And in you see the faintest thread

Dust woven from stars and moons into a history of saids and un-saids.

 

I rest your head in my hand

And lay you chin against my lifeline,

My palm, your cheek and eye resting flush with its broken rejoin.

 

I lift you to the sky

And watch all those other moons fly by

Spinning galaxies of stars reflecting your helix, your eyes, your smile, your cry,

All bound in you with the touch of a never-ending tie.

 

-For baby Clara who has brought about the undoing of us all!

infant

An homage to Middle Abbey Street, Dublin

Middle Abbey Street, Dublin

is a suntrap.

On a clear day, just as noon ding dongs its approach,

Sitting behind the glass of a café window on the northside of the street,

early summer will broadcast its arrival

– warming your hair, your face, your shoulders, your back, your being.

 

Sun shadows will throw themselves across the floor,

Catching dust in their wake

Capturing the contradictory density of light.

 

Middle Abbey Street, Dublin

is a suntrap.

On a bright day, just as lunch time busies its approach,

Sitting behind the glass of an old bar window at the top of the street

afternoon heat will rise and accumulate

calling your face, your shoulders and  your closed eyes to the sun.

 

Glinting light will bounce from a passing Luas,

Catching the speed of dreams,

Hibernating since last year’s July fervour.

 

Middle Abbey Street, Dublin

Is a suntrap.

On a bright, clear day, just as tea time slows in its approach,

Sitting on the stepped stone of a bookshop in the middle of the street

Evening sun will splinter light into prisms

Casting rainbows all around your being.

 

Middle Abbey Street, Dublin

is a suntrap built for the realisation of awakenings

Once thought long lost and almost forgotten.

Smithereens

The mirror I have been hanging
for two years
now
lies at my feet
in smithereens.
The reflection
it had caught
careered me into shock.
Me, my mother in  a recent photo on the opposite wall,
and her red coat still hanging on a wooden crook beyond
the open door
to the porch.
That shifting picture, her face, her red coat,
made me think  once more
I saw her.
***
Ephemeral visions make hands jump
and now the mirror has
slipped from that newly driven nail
and lies,
in smithereens,
at my feet,
on the floor.
Trembling, I turn
to catch the image of my
transparent
figure in the
window.
See through.
***
In the light  beyond the frame
I see a solid figure lift our daughter to the sky.
He draws him to her in a kiss.
Only the fragility of glass and an open door
lie between that happy pair and I.
Driving a nail into my grief I abandon the smithereens
of flinted mirror to the floor and walk through
to join them.
The solidity of  definitions merge and I think,
later, we will sweep those pieces up together
like we have a thousand times before.

-For Steve, the always solid amidst the shock of the ephemeral.

Gone: Part Two

Brick houses on Warwick terrace stretched upward from flights of stone steps. Detective May  lifted the door knocker noticing  the half moon fan light above the frame . ‘No spy hole’ she thought. The house seemed to stand as it had been built. Heavy curtains and a piano sitting inside the window suggested the interior  had avoided the concern for contemporary refurbs among Ranelagh’s 21st century property owners. All was had it been built over one hundred years ago.

It still looked like a home, like a house where someone sat at a Shearton sewing table  finishing their needle work before the evening light dimmed. If Mahon had worked here as Finola suggested it was unlikely he did so as an accountant. A gardener perhaps, but not an accountant. The door had yet to open and this line of investigation already had the mark of a wild goose chase.

The length of time it was taking for the  knock to be answered made May think there was possibly a one hundred year old person shuffling towards the door on. ‘They could be deaf’. She hammered again.  African Lilllies lush and full swayed  in a huge pot beside the door.  ‘Finola – something did not quite fit with her – she clung to moments from the past as complete and defining life markers. The disappearance and violent death of her life partner in the present did not seem to register at all. Why had Finola insisted she come here?’

In any case  the door remained shut. Any answers to the question of Jim Mahon’s death that  possibly  lay on the other side of the Warwick terrace  Georgian door were beyond May’s reach. She turned to leave  before her frustration grew.

‘Yes? Who are you?’ Already two steps from the bottom of the stairs Detective May turned to see a medium sized woman in her sixties standing  in the door way. Taking her in May realised she could be any woman of a similar age  from the affluent burrough.

‘I’m May, Detective May,  from Harcourt street. Here’s my ID’ she answered proffering her badge and Garda number.

‘Yes – I see. Well, what do you want’?’

‘Do you know this man?’

‘Jim? Yes, of course I knew him.’

‘Knew him? So you are aware he is dead’

‘Is this a joke? Are you atually a Detective? Of course I know he is dead.’

May had a flash back to Finola’s anger. Perhaps she didn’t connect with older women? Wy else would they become so irate when she questioned them? At least the earlier anticipate goose chase seemed to be off the table. She identified the man in the photo as Jim. They were on first name terms so whether he was an accountant or a gardener this  particular woman certainly seemed to have known the deceased well.

‘Do you mind if I come in? I have a few questions about Jim and your relationship with him while he worked here.’

‘Worked here? What kind of a detective are you?’

There was the question again. May was definitely not connecting with these women.

‘Jim didn’t work here. He lived here. He was my husband for 35 years. If you don’t believe me just drive down the road to the cemetery. Find his headstone – third row in, fourth from the end. When you have done some proper detective work come back. St Finbars- is down the road. You can’t miss it. The gates are always open.’

The door closed with a thud.

‘No wonder Jim had proposed not to marry Finola. He was a potential polygamist in the clothes of a bohemian’

 

Gone: Part One

She rolled over.  His space was empty. He was always there.  ‘Where is he?’ He wasn’t in the kitchen either.

‘Early to work?’ ‘Hardly – he hates it’

She hadn’t even heard him budge. Later with the police quizzing her she strained to recall traces of heat in the bed beside her when she woke. But the warm space where he had always been – the  kind of  warm  you could just sink into – was, she thought, cold. But she couldn’t be sure.

‘How long had he been gone?’

‘Gone?’ She had no idea. He was always there.

‘What did they mean by gone? Gone where?’ They were always together. There was no accounting for him being anywhere without him. She couldn’t tell how long he had been gone. The very concept was unfathomable.  She simply couldn’t reconcile their life together  with what gone meant . Their life – always together.

She stared at the Detective. She was speaking to her again.

‘Do you understand Mrs Mahon? This is serious.’

‘Mrs Mahon, Mrs Mahon’

‘I understand’

‘Mrs Mahon, we need your help’

‘I’m not Mrs Mahon – we are not married – we never married. You know we just  decided one night in the concert hall that we would never marry. I’m not Mrs Mahon.’

‘Mrs Mahon do you remember anything else about that night?’

‘Of course – I remember everything.  Sparkling chandeliers, violins. The night we decided not to marry. I remember everything. It was more important than deciding to marry.’

‘Not that night Mrs Mahon – Tuesday night, just past. Do you remember anything about Tuesday night?’

‘What kind of a detective are you? I’m not Mrs Mahon!’

‘Sorry. I’m sorry Mrs… Finola.  May I call you Finola?’

‘Yes, yes.’

‘Tuesday Finola. Can you remember anything about it?’

‘Yes, Tuesday. It was every night. We went to bed. We left the radio on. We always leave the radio on until we go asleep.’

‘Was it on when you woke up Finola?’

‘Of course not. We don’t leave it on all night. We are pensioners. Jim works part time still but we are pensioners. Do you know how much electricity costs? Or could you even find out …. Detective’

‘So the radio – the radio was off when you woke up. Who turned it off?

‘Not me. I never turn it off.  It must have been Jim. Probably after the concert broadcast from Vienna finished. Yes, Jim turned it off. It couldn’t have been anyone else. There is no one else. There is just Jim.’

‘Where is he?’

‘Jim?’

‘Yes, Jim’

‘He’s dead Mrs Mahon. He’s dead. He is at the mortuary. I’m sorry Mrs Mahon but we need your help to find out what happened. If we could just piece Tuesday night together we might be able to figure it out.’

‘I told you, I’m not Mrs Mahon. For god’s sake. I’m not Mrs Mahon.’

Himalaya

 

Icy waters pour into the country as a  reverse tide pulls silt, animals, stones, plants, power and shards of beauty from all over the world.  Below flapping birds, the river stretches ahead providing a perfect landing strip. Skimming their landing surface, the striking striped heads of  Baa Headed geese can be seen through the light of morning.  Their  goslings are nearby and ready to fly. All of the world has arrived.

The city is a vast playground where the fluorescence of rhododendrons and atomic primulas mingle with the bass sounds of markets.  The music of the people modulates the air with the deep  beats of the Caribbean. Young men move through the crowds parading their cultivated spikes of joyful colour confusing the Baa headed geese.

How can you compete with a Mohawk celebrating the life of circus red and electric blue? The geese, it seems, are not the only show in town. Soon they realise they share their platform with the intoxicating sounds, colours and textures the river pulls into the core of  the city  from around the globe. All  the world is here to see in all of its intoxicating beauty.

Young women stripe and curl their hair, listen to the screams and melodic tones of punk and rap vibrating in time with the urban scape they navigate. Their boxed leather jackets rub shoulders with Drag Queens picking their precise steps to the disco superstore.

Fragrant trails of elegance hang in the air moments after those statuesque queens have moved on, turned a corned and disappeared. Somewhere a clock is ticking, licks of fire whisper to life  and a user slips into the numb haze of the opium addict. Free of their pain they miss the distracting glistening of the mini globes turning and spinning in every area of this vibrant world.

Icy shards that made the perilous journey from the Himalayas float on the surface of the river. Glinting like mirror balls they attract the giant Himalayan bees who  have followed the  path of the  breakaway ice as it cut across the plateau of Tibet into the ocean and towards the city.  Busy and bee like, the constant buzzers  build  three-foot-wide homes on the remains of what was once a glacier.

When their combs finally begin to slip over the edges of their ice floats the giant bees retreat to the crevices of the metropolis’ rising buildings. Window washers smoke the bees and pull nets of thick gauze around themselves. They pull 15-foot sponge extensions across the giant screens of London offices that let  workers  look out at the ever growing world.

Only the bravest screen cleaners  have been known to poke the combs with their long poles in the hope that some Himalayan honey would be theirs. Largely unattainable the uninvited poking usually sends combs spinning downwards instigating chaos on the ground hundreds of feet below. The bees survive; they have, after all, survived the Himalayas.

For now, their honey is in ruins but soon the bees will join the huge Himalayan Cranes standing 20 feet high in the Thames. They will begin to build their homes again.  Just as a wonderful Crane swallows an electric eel whole, a stalking Queen passes the river and marvels at the wide flapping of the birds wings and the halo of bees around its head. Perhaps I will add Crane wings to my next show she thought and moved around the corner. Someone in this world of worlds is bound to like  it.

Time Capsule: Part Four

Hoking in the foundations Ryan found more bones.  Night was showing  and his boots were already mud heavy. Jude’s was desolate with only the scratching of his spade breaking  the dusk. He thought of the clatter  of the cash box on the tiles.  It had fallen from his grasp as he rummaged through handfuls of notes and whatever coins were left. The clang of tin on tiles had echoed through the school as he stuffed the notes into the paws of the  JCB driver. Reflecting in his own condescending way  Ryan thought only  a witless alcoholic with  a thirst  and an old fashioned fear of the dead would have taken the money without a question.

He had  pushed the notes down into his pockets indicating to Ryan he could never be convinced to hand them back. Ryan had watched the driver as he had scurried from the school without querying the bones he had seen fall from the foundations. ‘He was no better than him’ the priest thought to himself. By now the driver would be spitting porter stories and spittle  at whatever other miscreant had the misfortune of sitting beside him in  Slatterys. Ryan could picture it.

He would talk. Not at first but he would definitely talk. No would would believe  the driver or at least, initially, no one would  believe him. But Ryan knew it would be only a matter of time before some sod turned up at the school emboldened by  the chip some clerical brute had carved in his shoulder decades earlier.  Ryan knew they would confront him or worse they would poke around for evidence and that would be that – it would all be over. His aspirations would incur their final crushing blow.

With that thought  Ryan felt the weight of time pressing on his mind. He tried to move with greater speed but the clay was heavy and the spade  heavier. He was not the man he once was. Time had taken care of that. Time. It was perhaps Ryan’s greatest enemy. Or at least he had thought it was until now. Right  now, the weight of wet clay was his arch nemesis.

He had thought it was staining and hiding  the offense of each bone’s brightness. It had seemed the clean limbs  were gradually being incorporated back into the earth. But  with each disturbance the spade seemed to encounter the suggestion of more bones and remains that felt closer to being a corpse than a skeleton. The tool seemed to be pushing through flesh and muscle rather than the brittle break of  femurs.

Could it be that the deterioration of corpses had slowed to a halt? In one mad moment Ryan had a vision of himself as the priest who uncovered the blessed and  untainted body of  a saint.  It is more likely I will appear on Top if the Pops he thought to himself in a rare moment of  humor that checked his own ego.  The absurdity of attempting to conceal what he instinctively knew was the mass internment of Jude’s lost and unmissed causes with wet clay washed him.

The more  clay he moved, the more unattached limbs, skeletons and corpses he encountered. ‘Give up your grave and walk’ he shouted. ‘Go!’ ‘Get out of here!’ Not even Ryan’s obscene pleas could alter the past. Each body, each corpse, each skeleton , each bone lay innocently  like a Time  Capsule releasing their story to the world. ‘This is what we are’ they whispered. ‘This is what you are’. Whispers surrounded Ryan, thickened the air and rose to a din. Both knees crumpled and kneeling in the flooded mud a cracked voice answered back:’All is over.’

Slattery’s residents were beginning to tune into the spittled tale of flood and bones.  Ryan lay face down and waited. Immersed in the breaking truth and suspended between his life of blank walls and the frenzy that was to come, Ryan waited.

The night lay dead and still. Nothing could be heard. Frozen Romans stared at the hanging head of a dying man. Lifeless elms stretched skyward and the windows of Jude’s, silvered by the rising moon, reflected  the scene below.

 

Time Capsule: Part Three

Death was constant in Ryan’s world.  Never far from his thoughts, it had become his closest companion. Death surrounded him, swaddled him and propelled happiness of any kind away from his heart. The Ryan wing constituted his last heave of ambition in life.

He examined the thick dust that furnished his living quarters. Sparsely decorated there were only a few  dark paintings of Romans at the foot of a crucifix  hanging on two of the four walls.Those paintings had followed him from cell to cell throughout his adult life. Imagined Romans frozen as their gaze turned towards  the hanging head of a dying man.   He felt just as sure of what they were looking at as their look  suggested: death.  He turned away. 

“Dam paintings! How many walls in how many countries have they slanted across?” His room echoed his words and threw them back. As always he was the only one present to receive them.  A life of blank walls  marked by  religious reproductions and plastic saints  stretched before and beyond him.  He drained his glass and luxuriated in the dry burning sensation it left behind. His version of dying  had rendered him bitter with a sharp tongue oiled by the shadow of a whiskey hangover.

Down stairs the front door closed. The far away thud of oak meeting its frame meant the school administrator was leaving, eight minutes before time.   Ryan watched  without moving. Through the corner of the window he saw her cut down the avenue towards another figure standing at start of the  elms.   Raising her arm in a wave she exposed a scrawny limb.  For a moment her  figure was a moving reflection of the dead trees reaching  into the fog.

“That rag and bone of a secretary! Who is there to meet her now?” Just as the couple  took the  turn of the avenue they moved out of view. Ryan envied her effort  but viewed her actions with  cynical misogyny.  He felt she had lived too much. Her choice of  evening tipple over dinner  and thick coffee over breakfast had taken their toll.  The accounts rarely balanced and the flesh had fallen from her frame leaving  worn twin sets hanging on angled clavicles.

He thought of the job that lay before him.  The day’s digging had  pulled lozenges of clay from the from sodden foundations. Weeks of rain had washed away the straight lines of  the new school’s  grounding. It  had only taken the JCB a few angular movements to expose the skeletons from their unmarked and unmentioned graves. Ryan knew those skeletons did not belong there.  Clean bones, white, straight and solid they seemed  longer than any human limb could ever be.

He had sent the digger away with a story of an unbaptized children’s burial ground.  It would take more than one drink to dispel the ache he now felt. Concealing the bones of lost children would deaden any life that had survived death’s tight swaddling.  One more whiskey and he knew he would face his own grave. It would be worth it for the school though.  It would be worth it in the end.