Girl on a Beach
You were just a little girl
Sitting on the beach,
With a pen and scraps of paper;
While a storm raged on.
You could have run away,
Sought safer ground,
But you wanted to capture the fierce beauty
That lay within the winds.
Sand blasted your face,
Stinging your eyes; grit in your teeth,
But the words kept coming,
Your hand kept moving
And you stayed to catch them all.
All around you waves crashed off rocks
Hurricane strength winds lifted sand-banks,
Changing your surroundings.
You clung to the edge of your towel,
Grasping to something familiar.
The tides rose higher and higher,
The waves crashed closer and closer:
Caught between the moon and the Earth
In their giant game of tug-o’-war.
It was too late for anyone to save you;
No lifeguard on duty, nobody watching.
Swept away in a deafening roar,
By an awesome natural force.
Your pen, clutched by a lifeless hand,
But the scraps of paper blew inland.
The ink was running, wet from sea-water and tears,
But the words, the beautiful words, could still be read:
You suffered, gave yourself as a poetic sacrifice,
So we could know the beauty that lay within a storm.
One Year Later
Even though it has been a year since you left,
We didn’t stop thinking about you.
We couldn’t stop,
You were in every ounce of our lives.
When we tried to sleep at night
You were there telling us stories,
In a hushed soft voice.
When I closed my eyes to cry
You were there to dry the tears,
With a soft protective hand.
There will come a day
When we can walk with you again,
Hear you laugh and listen to your dreams,
But until then we will love you
And think about you everyday,
As if you are here with us.
We miss you Mam,
And pray that God holds you dear,
As you were dear to us in this life.
St. Mary’s Graveyard, Killybegs 2004
People live and people die,
They die all the time,
And we are left as witnesses
To their ever fading memory.
Names engraved on marble,
Flowers dying on gravel,
Weeds growing up the side
Of a once thoughtful memento.
Hatred and hurt buried
No voice, no release,
Only memory and words left behind
To vouch for the fallen.
Every one of them walked these streets,
Breathed this air
And mourned these plots,
Never imagining that one day
They too would fill the earth
And return to the Universal Mother
What they had only borrowed.
I want to cry for you all.
But not a tear will come,
The well is empty,
Only ‘cause I know
That perhaps someday
I too will lie beside
You and gather dirt and weeds
Alongside my own memory.
But till then
I will be your witness
And withhold my judgment
Leaving you all at peace
In your plots,
The last place you’ll ever live.
Connect the Dots
If you were to connect all the dots
Since you learned to hold pencil between
Forefinger and thumb
What would the picture look like?
A red summer sky setting behind a mountain,
Bursting skywards, mushroom like
Above a Japanese City:
Or would it be a million lithe Gazelle jumping over a bluff
Into the jaws of a thousand gapping crocodiles.
A muddy faced child playing in a ditch,
Wondering where his parent’s are,
And why does his belly hurt so much?
Whatever picture it is that develops
When one connects to two, two connect to three,
It is a picture of the unique, of the individual soul,
One that only you can connect.
It’s your pen, no one will add the dots
Or place the numbers: only you.
Once upon a time…
A young Vine grew in the spring rains.
When the summer came it met the Sun
Reaching out its leaves to catch the warm rays.
Every morning the Sun and the Vine met
And began to love each other,
Giving each other happiness and life.
Then the fruit of their love was pressed
Into the most beautiful wine,
Bottled and stored,
As a special marriage between the Vine and the Sun.
There have always been things that I’ve loved,
There have always been things that I’ve missed,
Cried for and lusted after.
But what have they all been but bitter disappointments,
So tonight I say fuck ‘em all, to hell with them,
I will do without, ‘cause once I get them, I just want more,
They cause a gluttony in a man’s soul and when he thirsts for such things
He can never be satisfied.
A savage beast is not so out of necessity,
It is out of a cruel inbreed want of pleasure,
Born to the marrow,
Killing for the joy, to feel the strength over the weak.
A carcass nibbled and left to rot on the side of a mountain.
The beast must be tamed, brought to bear it’s wrath,
Held up to its head like a mirror,
To see the waste that has lain in its trail of years,
Perhaps then it will only take what it needs to survive,
Or is it too late, is extinction the only real solution for
Such an abhorrence of nature, one that lives so far outside the
Realm of even animalistic civilization?
Should it be fossilized and buried under a hundred feet of rock.
Left there for someone treasure seeker to find a million years from now
And imaginatively try to piece together a romantic and heroic story for such
A savage beast cast in rock.
Will the chipping of the rock chip away its guilty conscience?
Cleansing it to a noble creature that may have roamed an ancient plain,
With grace and skill, will the lie remain buried with the bones
And a false truth told with petrified fossil pretenders of the real self?
I am afraid of the lies that will be read from this fossil long after the beast
Is gone, no longer able to tell its own vile story,
It own vicious tale of want and destruction,
Perhaps that yarn is best left untold, the reality too much
For the soft ears of a comfortable world.
So once again I say fuck ‘em all, to hell with them.
Ship in a Bottle
What delicate hands it takes
To place a ship within a glass bottle.
Sails extended after the final placement,
Then corked and sealed forever in a miniature prison.
There is no foreseeable escape from the world of glass,
That ship will never sail on open waters,
If a storm does rage, its power
Will be nothing but a deafened silence.
The captain of that ship is without a mission,
His sextet is useless, the North Star is but a
Fairy light twinkling for its own indulgence.
Deckhands are not homesick, never seasick,
For they know nothing of home or sea.
The only offered escape from such a vacuumed existence,
Is to smash the glass, shattering the bottle,
Destroying the delicate vessel inside,
Merely putting an end to an impossible way of life,
No problem solved, no real resolution.
But just as that bottle is broken,
Another delicate hand, gently maneuvers
Another ship within a glass bottle,
And at the very last moment, extends the sails
And places the fated cork, to begin again a silent life.
Poor Old Georgie Best
“Poor old Johnny Ray,” said Dixie’s Midnight Runners,
What about Poor old Georgie Best, the Belfast Lad?
He was sticking them in the net when I was born,
But there were too many distractions,
couldn’t keep his eye on the ball.
A fallen hero they call people like that,
Greatness squandered through a bottle.
Five years of magic it could have been twenty.
They’ve all been calling in requests for ya,
Singing your praises and Pele says you’re the best.
Your passing inspired me to get the boots out
And head to the park with my dog Guinness.
I kicked the ball up and down, tried a few flash moves,
The dog chased after me and the cold bit my face,
I’m out of shape, so I hobbled back to the car when a few
Youths came along looking for a game.
They say you had a new liver, a new life and you spent that one too.
Sure, if that’s the way your star shines, what are you gonna do,
You can only be the man you are, what’s the point in being someone else?
You could have easily ended up a fucking mess in Belfast with 12 waynes and
A job down Harland and Wolf; instead you took on the world and nearly fucking
Beat them at their own game, so to hell with the be-grudgers.
You’re the best Georgie Best.
History will polish up your blemishes and you’ll be remembered as a fine man,
And you deserve it too.
We’ll never know what went on in that head of yours,
But we can guess, and you had your reasons.
A drunkard and a womanizer, a footballer and a legend, a man and a myth,
Man United and Northern Ireland will put your name on jerseys and tomorrow’s Youth
Will wear them and when they pick teams and names
Out on the field at the back of the houses
I’m sure you’ll be among the names they choose,
He shoots, he scores, one nil, Georgie Best.
Flare Over St. John’s
Dad saw the flare from Dunkineely,
On his way back from work;
He didn’t think much of it,
But called it into the Coast Guard.
A few weeks later a big black Vauxhall
Pulled-up in front of the house,
They asked me if “Charlie Vial” was in,
I said I’d go get him.
He was wearing a black leather jacket,
And his bearded face looked tired;
She too wore a black leather jacket,
But hers looked too long, ill fitting,
Like she was wearing it because she had to,
She didn’t look tired, but sad.
Dad told me to make tea,
While they all went into the living room,
With the fake bamboo wallpaper.
Everyone held the mugs between their knees
With their hands cupped around.
They all stared into the watery tea,
A few words spoken, no answers from the mugs:
“So, you saw the flare?”
“Yeah, just over St. John’s”
When they left I asked Dad
“What was all that about?”
He said the flare was from
A Northern Irish Fishing boat,
Her brother was on it
And no-one survived.
Box of Kittens
Dad got the double-barreled shotgun,
The one Granda gave him with
The nice mahogany case
And filled his pocket with cartridges.
I helped him put the cat and all the kittens
In the box and carried it up the backyard,
And over the ditch into Danny’s field.
I could hear the mammy cat
And all the kittens scratching at the sides
Of the box as I laid it on the ground
And stood back.
Dad closed the shotgun from
The ‘broke’ position and fired
The box blew apart, disintegrated,
And kittens ran everywhere,
Dad fired again,
Like he was shooting clay pigeons,
Pivoted quickly, aimed, fired again:
After another reload all the kittens
And the mammy cat were dead:
We walked back to the house in silence
And said nothing to no-one.