Did the souls of boys,cut down in France,come home again,to rest in lush ditches,by English country lanes,as bright summer poppies, So, each year unending,free to dance once more,joyful remembrance blooms,headless of the rush,of passing motorcars,in home-counties soil, Red now their clothes,heads sway rejoicing,on wildly weaving stalks,stout-hearted amid weeds,no brown wilted youth,inside worn frames, Ebullient life... Continue Reading →
New Triangles. Wear the new triangles, behind the chain-link fences, orchestra of crying children, dread anthem of the summer sun, Separate the little ones, no need to sew the yellow to their shirts, they wear their badge forever, on their skin, Build the wall and mend the wire, with bricks of fear send it higher,... Continue Reading →
In the dampness of the low valley,all rows are remarkably dry and kept,a handsome sty from rushy field,brings the wandering foot,to light upon the hard-packed earth. Fingers intertwined,hard grip to hold back,a binding in the throat,of a half-remembered smokey knee,beside the range,memories of the exuberant release of the dark bottled gift,illicit suck of bitter suds,tasting... Continue Reading →
Toll. Bright tolls that hideous bell, varnished edges biting at the collarbone, unprotected by the cheap white shirt, damp from the last wearing of the cassock, burning incense from the dark interior, lacquer from the brass handles, cloying and heavy in the heat, last night’s fighting as raw, as the nervous marks on my left... Continue Reading →
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,
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.
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.
Nuestra Senora de Gardtoza, January 30th 1990.
The Aer Corps have a motto 'Go Mairidis Beo' its accepted translation is 'So others may live' which echos the US Air Force Pararescue motto. It stands as a statement of commitment from the people who will place the lives of others above their own.It also is very apt to apply it to Irish sailors, who in all weathers will put to sea in small RHIBs, against the fury of the ocean and into the face of the storm to save their fellow mariners who are in peril on the sea.On the night of the 30th of January 1990 the LÉ DEIRDRE was at anchor in Lawrence's Cove in the shelter of Bere Island from severe gale force winds. A terrible drama was unfolding close by, the Spanish fishing vessel, Nuestra Senora de Gardtoza, (Our Lady of Gardtoza) had run aground on rocks near Roancarrigmore Light, North East of Bere Island in Bantry Bay. She was taking water and she had 16 souls onboard.LÉ DEIRDRE received the 'MAYDAY' at 2100hrs and as quickly as she could, the crew weighed anchor and headed out of shelter into the severe gale towards the distressed vessel.
Coaxing the Fire. The poker methodically at its task,guided by the sure and steady hand,rosy glow of the embers coaxed back to flame,nursed from deathbed to resurrection,throwing warmth out over worn tiles and a grey mottled cat.
Béal na mBláth
I often wonder how that young Private felt,when he saw the blood flow from Collins,to mingle with the dirt in Beal na mBláth,struck down by a ricochet,the echoes still reverberating,ringing through the decades.
As the rain it fell,they stood in silent sentinel,youth whose life barely fills a page,for those, alas, who will never age,most gave their life on foreign soil,where the cedar bleeds or in Katangian dust.