Hate. Torch light flickers over university grass,where imposing bronzes are as hollow as their deliberate message,rewriting history and celebrating ignorance,demonising orange pickers and glorifying slavers.
Valletta.Sun burns down on city streets,bringing in the light, beauty,in the shadows, mystery,lost in ancient rows of homes and steps,cracked flagstones balanced one upon the other,or rooted into living rock,tight alleyways frame views of a wave tossed harbour,an artist might go blind from the wonders,or mad from the ceaseless wind.
Mother Jones. She was 93 years old,grandmother of all agitators,immigrant teacher's words stirred men to action,she wrote her story down,passing labours flame from Pennsylvania,from coal mining heartlands built on the bones of union,tales of the silk children's knight crusader,charging the power of the mill. The call of the woman of the north side,fell into the ear of the ragged trousered wretch,growing straight in the regimented pines,arrayed through the ruins of famine homesteads,hemmed in by the meandering dry stone walls,built from their shells,pray for the dead,fight like hell for the living,in mines and bogs or dockyard slips,the boot seeks a neck,the company scales the pocket picked,join a union
The Island. Angels voices soaring to roll off the ceilings curves,numb hands pressed against grieving ones,roaring winds pulling at the aged stones,no threat to peace or pain inside the vault,sharing the seeping warmth of love departed. The lintels still carry chisel strikes,left by rough hands that toiled,a hundred years of rain have yet,to find their way inside,each stone as tight together as the families,who sit in hushed mourning rows beneath,
Tibnin Bridge. In 1999 I drove over Tibnin Bridge in the sweltering heat,as the UN bus rose a trail of dust,billowing up behind us,the laughter onboard almost distracted me from my task,the careful watch of the road signs,my finger following the road snaking through South Lebanon,on a trip from Tyre up into the hills. I was only a baby when you died here,but not much later my older brothers went to serve in that land,which was soaked with your blood,I heard your story while I was still so very young,in the weeks before the first of them left for the Lebanon,they spoke in hushed tones in the kitchen,but I heard from my games in the hall outside.
Seen It I have seen the love,when Father makes himself into a bed,to raise the weary child from off the deck,cradling all the treasure of the world,within his arms, underneath thin blankets. I have seen the love,of brother held fast to brother,sleeping, no support but each other,I had not the words to ask,did they even share a Mother?
Ruins of Houses In the shattered ruins of abandoned houses,Lie secret notes on scraps of paper, Tucked beneath the mossy stones,Silent questions to be buried under falling needles, Hopes and fears unanswered in the rough pine forest, The cairn of broken plates and white clay pipes, The thick round pot rims, orange and smooth, Marking the commitment to the woodlice, Of the lonely pain.
Peters Fish Red, golden, green, the scales of Peters fish,stretched and nailed to the curve of the dome,held up by pious prayers, feverish pleas and hope of the wounded,the hospital arches of yellowed stone, barred with wrought iron,twisted and anchored deep into faith,by head and feet, anointed shells of men, bent battered forms.
The Tower of Il-Gardjola We hear it all,the endless message,carved high into the battlements,conform and heed our call. We see it all,the lidless eye is never sleeping,stays dry mid widows weeping,for the husbands who lay bleeding.
Towering Giants. The rusty frames have faded into the background,beyond the comprehension of the busy lives bustling underneath,the silent gaze of the towering giants,steadfast vigil beside the dark river,strangers eyes see the flaking struts,derelict complaints can’t reach the pigeons nesting over Verolme,
From Pontus to Sophia. Currently, in the Central Southern Mediterranean LÉ Samuel Beckett is on patrol, with fifty-six Irish service personnel embarked. She is the physical embodiment of Ireland’s commitment to a Europe Union (EU) mission which is determined to break apart the callous criminal enterprises which have extracted huge profits from the misery and death of thousands of innocents.With both an EU and United Nations (UN) mandate, the roles begin played by the Irish Navy in EUNAVFOR Med ‘Operation Sophia’, are very different from those which were undertaken by the other Irish vessels who have deployed since 2015, when LÉ Eithne first went south to answer the call from our Italian partners as part of the EU response to what has been interchangeable referred to as, the ’Mediterranean’, ’migration’ or ’refugee crisis’.
Muscle and Blood LÉ SAMUEL BECKETT is a fine ship. She represents the first of her class and already in her four short years of service she has travelled far and wide, and she has been involved in several substantial and difficult operations. Yet despite all her exceptional engineering, her advanced technology and her substantial firepower; she is but an inanimate collection of steel plates, electronic cables, and marine fuel oils; rendered redundant in all her marvellous sophistication without a crew.A crew of sailors is needed to provide the ship with its muscle and blood; without them, this wondrous craft won’t ever weigh anchor or slip from a quayside. The metaphorical ink is still wet on this page, as the first responses to the swell rolling into Cork Harbour are felt onboard LÉ SAMUEL BECKETT as she proceeds past the twin forts of Meagher and Davis, towards Roches Point and the Atlantic beyond. This is home for her crew of forty-six, during this next Maritime Defence and Security Operations (MDSO) patrol. She will provide everything they need to sustain themselves during operations off the Irish coast and they in their turn will tend to their ship, while carrying out the duties assigned by Naval Operations Command (NOC).