Tag Archives: Ireland

Poem: Tar Macadam (following the sound)

 

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Tar Macadam (following the sound)

tar macadam
John Macadam
Hussein Saddam
Gomorrah Sodom
Hillary Rodham
Jason Bonham
Glocca Morra
Rooney Mara
how are things?
Connemara
hound of the sea.

I got the idea for this little sound poem while reading Eilene Lyon’s excellent post “The National Road” where I discovered that tar macadam was invented by a Scot, John Macadam. Like all of Eilene’s posts, it is very well written and researched and packed with interesting information. Unfortunately, she is taking a break from blogging for a while, so head over to her blog and enjoy it while you can.
Other Notes:

According to Wikipedia: “’How Are Things in Glocca Morra?’ is a popular song about a fictional village in Ireland, with themes of nostalgia and homesickness. It was introduced by Ella Logan in the original Broadway production of Finian’s Rainbow”.
My mom used to sing it. I always thought it was based on the Gaelic phrase “glaoch na mara” meaning “call of the sea” but it’s probably just a made up Irish sounding name. The Gaelic translation of Connemara is “hound of the sea”.

….also participating in Open Link night over at dVerse.

 

The Chester Beatty Library (Poem)

A slightly different version of this poem was published a while back in The Galway Review .  I am posting this edited version as part of dVerse’s open link Thursday.

The Chester Beatty Library                                   

In the Chester Beatty Library
Four elderly ladies
Permed, perfumed and powdered
Stroll past the ancient texts
The papyrus and the parchment
Seemingly unimpressed
By the evidence before them
That ever since we could stand upright
We have tried to leave foot prints
In the wet cement of time.
What intrigues the ladies,
Is how these fragile treasures
These artefacts and amulets
Were safely transported
From their exotic homelands
To the airless glass cases
In which they now reside.
They explore this theme together
In intertwining solos
Like a modern jazz quartet
Like mythical creatures
Compelled to talk forever
Because they believe
That to stop
Would be to die.

 

If you are ever in Dublin, the Chester Beatty Library is well worth a visit. The photo below is not the Chester Beatty Library, but it was taken in Dublin in September. I am including it here to show that the sun shines in Dublin but the clouds are always on the move.

 

Radisson

Home (from Oscar Wilde to Bono, haiku’s)

Oscar (3)

Conversation (hibernoku)

a low Dublin sky
a sentence hangs suspended
cut off in its prime

interrupt or die.

‘Hibernia’ is the classical Latin name for Ireland. A hibernoku is a haiku (seventeen syllables, 5-7-5) with an additional 5 or 7 syllable line, because for the Irish, seventeen syllables is a cruel limitation. The poem must contain an Irish reference and must allude to the weather in some way. In most parts of Ireland, ‘hibernoku’ is pronounced ‘hi-bern-o-koo’, except in West Cork where it is pronounced ‘hiber-nok-oo’.

Photo: Statue of the eternally quotable Oscar Wilde in Merrion Square, Dublin.

 

Sandy Cove

 

Weather (abandoned haiku)

an easterly wind
clouds move in convoy ‘cross the blue dome of the sky.

This started off as a haiku, but I felt like letting the second line run.

Photo: A sunny mid September day in Sandy Cove, Dublin.

 

Vico

Family (haiku)

yep, had a few drinks
with my brother, my sisters
sibling ribaldry.

Photo: View looking south along the coast, from Vico Road. Dalkey, Co. Dublin. Bono owns a house nearby ……where all the streets have names….I checked.

 

Poem (Stiltwalker) in Cyphers Magazine

Issue 85

 

Cyphers magazine has published one of my poems – “Stiltwalker” – in their Summer 2018 issue (issue#85).  I am really pleased as always to be published in Cyphers.

Cyphers is a Dublin based print only magazine which has been in existence since 1975. They publish poets from all over the world, both new and established. The current issue includes an appreciation of the Irish poet and novelist, Philip Casey. In the piece, there is a quote from the poet,  Michael Hartnett, which I think is not a bad guideline for writing poetry: “things that please me in poetry are precision, compassion and images that surpass the common run of language: also that the poet must have an ear for language as the musician has an ear for music….”

Cyphers can be found at http://www.cyphers.ie

If you want to subscribe to Cyphers magazine, you can do so by writing to the following address:

Cyphers Magazine, 3 Selskar Terrace, Ranelagh, Dublin 6, Ireland.

Subscription rate is €21.00 for three issues including postage

In Britain £20.00 for three issues including postage

US $36.00 for three issues including postage

Of Statues and Limitations

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Of Statues and Limitations

As we round Lee’s Circle in New Orleans
talk turns to statues
and the topless monument;
the shuttle bus driver tells us
that Robert E. Lee’s statue was removed
under the cover of darkness
by a crew dressed like ninjas,
to avoid recognition.
People woke up the next day
to find the statue had disappeared.
A photograph on Wikipedia
shows the statue being removed
in broad daylight by a crane;
reality is nearly always more prosaic.
She also tells us that she grew up in the neighbourhood;
as kids, they just called the monument,
“The Statue”, they did not know or care
who Robert E. Lee was.

In 1966, the IRA blew the statue of Horatio Nelson
off its pedestal on top of Nelson’s Pillar
in the middle of O’Connell Street, Dublin.
To my parents’ generation
Nelson’s Pillar was known simply as “The Pillar”.
(Dubliners are very fond of the definite article:
“How’s the head?”
“Are you still playing the soccer?”)
To them, The Pillar was a landmark
a place to meet your date
en route to one of the cinemas
on O’Connell Street to catch a film (2 syllables)
and perhaps a humid snog
in the back seat when the lights went out.
To the IRA it was a symbol of British Imperialism
of British oppression,
an insult to our patriot dead;
blah, blah, blah, boom!
The IRA was a particularly unsubtle organization.

Is all this just facile juxtaposition,
chopped up prose
masquerading as a poem,
or is there a point?
Yes, yes and yes:
see what I think is
there are people who look up at statues
there are people who believe
statues are looking down on them
and there are people
who look straight ahead
and keep moving forward
into the future,
leaving the past
to its state of disrepair.

 

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Top photo taken at the Takashi Murakami exhibition (The octopus eats its own leg) at the Vancouver Art Gallery.

Bottom Photo taken in Medellin, Colombia, statues by Fernando Botero.

Why did Yeats need Nine Bean Rows? (update with photos)

Nine bean rows will I have there, a hive for the honey bee

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Why did Yeats need Nine Bean Rows? (a slimverse)

he could have

had five to

rhyme with hive

contrived? Wha?

 

What brought this on?

A friend of mine told me recently that he had no recollection of studying Yeats at school. When he said this, the above lines from The Lake Isle of Inisfree, sprang in to my head along with “clay and wattles made” and “bee-loud glade” and of course  the opening line “I will arise and go now, and go to Inisfree” which I have heard  so often that it has now taken on an orotund, stage Irish plumminess.

Our  English teacher, Mr Courtney, loved that “bee-loud glade”.

(of course, nine, bean, honey is more musical)

Between Chris Rock and a Green Place

 

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Back at the start of the summer. I spent the weekend in Gibson’s landing on the Sunshine Coast of British Columbia; a knick knack tidy little town where one is never far from an art exhibition or a market selling jalapeno red pepper dip or a shop selling jokey hand towels; the kind of town where people go to follow their bliss and frequently catch up with it and even if they fail, a freshly baked muffin or a gluten free pie is always available as compensation.

Add to that, some magnificent views of the coastal mountains, Mount Big Thing and Mount Next Big Thing, and some good weather and you have a perfect place to relax, read and enjoy the sun, which I did, bringing with me a Rolling Stone, a New Yorker, the previous weekend’s Sunday New York Times (it takes me a week to read it) and Bruce Springsteen’s excellent autobiography (the Boss can write).

Both Rolling Stone and The New Yorker had articles on Steve Bannon.  Matt Taibi’s piece in Rolling Stone was funny, caustic and concise; the New Yorker piece by Connie Bruck rambled on forever, generally adding to the picture I already had of Steve Bannon as a dangerous amoral individual. One quote got my attention, from an anonymous friend: “he never fit in the world of investment banking, – he was this gauche Irish kid”. Over in the New York Times, there’s a piece on Jimmy Fallon, turns out he’s Irish too: “I’m Irish, I need all the luck I can get”; apparently his stage mark is in the shape of a four leaf clover. I would like to point out  that the shamrock which is used as a symbol of Ireland is actually a three leaf clover (it was used by early Christians to explain the concept of three gods in one, the Holy Trinity, those 5th century Irish peasants must have been a clever bunch, if they could grasp that one). Never mind, Jimmy Fallon is talented and likeable, so he can be Irish anytime he wants.

Back to the New Yorker where Calvin Trillin writes an article titled “The Irish Constellation” in which he explains that for a long time he thought the Orion Constellation was actually called “The O’Ryan Constellation”. He stretches this extremely lame joke way beyond the point where it is even remotely amusing. At the end of the article he describes being at a talk about The Orion Constellation in which an Irish man who, he says, has an accent like Barry Fitzgerald,  gets up and makes a comment that reveals that he too is under the same misapprehension regarding The Orion Constellation. Laugh? I nearly cried. By the way, for those of you under the age of a hundred, who don’t know who Barry Fitzgerald was, he was an Irish character actor who won an Academy Award, for playing an Irish priest (no surprises there). He died in 1961, my mother thought Barry Fitzgerald was old.

My wife interrupts my reading to tell me that Sean Spicer is Irish American and likes to wear green shamrock covered pants on St. Patrick’s Day. This is more than irritating, the only consolation is the sun is out and I’m getting a bit of a tan. Yes, that’s right a tan, I mention that in case by now you are picturing me as some  helium-voiced shillelagh swinging, freckled-faced mick. Maybe I’m being a bit sensitive.

I turn to Bruce, one of my heroes.  As I said above, Bruce can write and when the subject is New Jersey, Asbury Park or his early life, he writes really well. It turns out Bruce is half Italian, half Irish: his mother is of Italian descent; his father is of Irish descent. His mother is hard working, positive and supportive; his father is miserable, disappointed, drinks too much and is prone to unpredictable rage. Later in life, his father becomes mentally ill. Bruce suggests that this mental illness and perhaps his own depression came over with his Irish ancestors who came to America to flee the famine. C’mon Bruce, throw us a bone, if you have to indulge in facile causation, perhaps you might concede that your gift for language and story-telling, your talent for writing laments (The River, Downbound Train) comes from your Irish heritage. This is all getting too much, I look up and down the beach and wonder if the other people hanging around enjoying the sun know that I’m Irish.

Then rescue comes from an unlikely source, an article in Rolling Stone about Chris Rock. Apparently Chris is a U2 fan. On the day of his father’s wake, he found time to run to the record store and buy a copy of “Rattle and Hum” which had been released that day. “I love Bono”, Rock is quoted as saying. Flash back to North Florida, early eighties and I’m driving along a coast road close to Amelia Island, sand from the adjacent dunes drifts across the road, the sea is doing that blue sparkling thing, I’m listening to “Sunday, Bloody, Sunday” on the radio, hearing it for the first time, and the hair at the back of my neck is standing on end. “How long must we sing this song”, the old politics is being rejected by an Irish band and they are playing my music – rock and roll – not some maudlin shite dispensed by  some bearded guy with a banjo and a beer belly. You see back then if you asked anyone two things they associated with Ireland, they would say drinking and terrorism (terrorism that was partially funded, ironically, by Irish Americans). But Bono broke the Irish stereotype and for a while, at least, Ireland was cool. Ireland was where U2 and Bono lived.  I have been a fan of Bono ever since.

So, all you republican ersatz Irishmen out there with your shillelaghs and your shamrocks and your antediluvian politics, look for a personality somewhere else,  co-opt someone else’s imaginary identity; dress up as Mounties, wear lederhosen, I don’t care, just leave us alone. By the way, the current Prime Minister of Ireland, Leo Varadker, is gay, fiscally conservative and the son of an Indian father and an Irish mother. In other words, he is a complex human being not a cartoon.

 

 

 

Poem (A Turn of Events) in Cyphers Magazine

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Cyphers magazine has published one of my poems – “A Turn Of Events” – in their Spring 2017 issue. I am really pleased about this, it’s a short poem but it’s one of the few that I have written that I don’t think needs to be fixed in some way. Cyphers is a Dublin based print only magazine which has been in existence since 1975. I have been subscribing to it since that time and I cannot recommend it enough. The current issue contains a number of tributes to Leland Bardwell, one of the founders of the magazine, who died in 2016. She was by all accounts a fascinating character and an original and playful poet. Here are a few lines from her poem “The Party Ended Yesterday”:

The sea in party frock

punched the air, slapped in the new.

The mountain moved across the light.

This and two more of her poems are included in the Spring  issue.

Cyphers can be found at http://www.cyphers.ie

If you want to subscribe to Cyphers magazine, you can do so by writing to the following address:

Cyphers Magazine, 3 Selskar Terrace, Ranelagh, Dublin 6, Ireland.

Subscription rate is €21.00 for three issues including postage

In Britain £20.00 for three issues including postage

US $36.00 for three issues including postage

Patrick’s Irish Pub, Medellin, Colombia

bangers and mash

I have to admit that when I first moved to Canada from Ireland I used to dread St. Patrick’s day – the fake Irish accents, the green beer, the where’s-me-lucky-charms awfulness of it all. I have since learnt to embrace it.

I never felt quite like that about Irish pubs, I have always regarded them as oases of something approaching familiarity when I found myself in a foreign country. I once got quite sick from food poisoning in Nicaragua and when I was well enough to eat again, I had a longing for Irish stew which I found in an Irish pub run by an ex farmer from Limerick, but that’s another story.

I was recently in Medellin, Colombia, staying in the El Poblado district and I dropped in to Patrick’s Irish Pub to sample Ireland through a Colombian filter. The pub had the usual collection of Celtic bric-a -brac, Gaelic geegaws, Paddy paraphernalia, Shamrock gimcrackery. As is often the case in Colombian bars, one wall was half covered with television screens showing mostly football/futbol/soccer; though there was one screen devoted to UFC and another showing old MTV videos – Rob Zombie, Deborah Harry, Metallica , Eric Clapton singing “Cocaine”; oddly appropriate, Pablo Escobar once lived in this neighbourhood, his house is now a civil engineering office. Yes, this was the soundtrack of Patrick’s Irish Pub. Occasionally, the screen would go blank and they would play “The Rocky Road to Dublin” as a reminder.

The waitresses were young and wore short kilts, I found myself wondering what they thought of this strange universe they found themselves in every evening – a heavy metal Ireland full of tattooed bruisers. I ordered bangers and mash, which is technically more of an English dish, and it was spectacularly bad – two chorizo sausages on a soft bog of mash potatoes. Still, the beer was good -craft roja from BBC (The Bogota Beer Company).

Outside it was a beautiful warm evening and locals and tourists were pouring into the area to sample the restaurants and salsa bars – a mass of colour and pounding drum beats, the feeling that the party was getting started and would not stop until the early hours of the morning. Back in Ireland, the pub is a warm convivial place that people go to,  to get out of the weather ; here in Medellin , Colombia,  Patrick’s Irish Pub felt more than a little redundant.

 

Rust/ The Irish Dilemma/ Radiohead

Rust

 

The Irish Dilemma (a slimverse)

we can not

decide if

we are blessed

or damaged.

 

Radiohead (a triku)

The night howls, fog curls

a thin cloud bisects the moon

at the graveyards’ edge

 

an abandoned well

from the bottom of that well

Thom Yorke cries for help.

 

The dead wake slowly

grey fists punch through mounds of earth

Thom Yorke cries for help.

 

I,ve Got Your Back (2)

This photo was taken in the late evening, walking south on Sandymount Strand, Dublin. We had just come from Mulligan’s Pub where we watched Ireland tie with Sweden in the first round of Euro 2016. The plastic shopping bag is from Tesco’s and contains comfort food – bags of Tayto Chips (Ireland’s national potato chip) and Cadbury’s chocolate bars.

The chocolate bars in question are Cadbury’s Boost (formerly known as Moro) and Cadbury’s Flake. A Cadbury’s Flake is not really a bar, in that the word ‘bar’ implies solidity, rigidity, the flake is a fragile thing and starts to disintegrate as soon as the package is opened. When Phil Lynnot of Thin Lizzy complained of getting “chocolate stains on his pants” (Dancing in the Moonlight), he was probably eating a Cadbury’s Flake.

There is a feeling of opportunity lost captured in the resigned slope of the shoulders of the people in the photo, Ireland should have won the game against Sweden and at that point faced an uphill battle to reach the next stage of the tournament. In the next game we were thumped 3-0 by Belgium and then needed a win against Italy to make it through. It was looking like the game would end in another tie, when about five minutes from the end, Wes Hoolahan gets the ball inside the Italian half, Robbie Brady, in one of those moments of telepathy that happens between players that have played together for awhile, runs towards the narrow gap between the two Italian center backs which is exactly where Wes puts the ball. Robbie’s head meets the ball and in a flash it’s in the back of the Italian net. The whole Irish nation, scattered across continents like green confetti, jumps from its seat with a collective roar; grown men with beer bellies and heads like bowling balls blub like small children; the Irish players pile on top of Robbie Brady in a tangle of beards, tattoos and expensive haircuts; the Irish manager and assistant manager – two men who would have previously considered a handshake to be excessive intimacy – grapple tearfully like emotional Olympic wrestlers and why not, why not! We are a small country, we have never felt that winning is our birth right, so when we do win, well, catharsis doesn’t begin to describe it.

Take it away, Phil.

 

 

I’ve Got Your Back (1)

Photo taken above Lough Tay, Co. Wicklow, Ireland. Down below is where the television series “The Vikings” is filmed. Most tourists bypass Wicklow and head down to the Ring of Kerry, Cliffs of Moher, Galway, Clifden, all great places, but 45 minutes max. from Dublin you have this and much more.

My parents’ ashes are scattered near this spot, they were great walkers (they would not have used the term “hikers” or “hill walkers”).

Just don’t get lost in the mist.