Archive for January, 2014

Voodoo Dolls

 

Build us a palace

And shatter the walls

Tile by tile.

 

Here we make history

Along the line-up

of shots in the dark

In sugar effervescence.

 

Revolutionaries

Reshuffling shards

of bathroom-mirror portraits

Unfinished symphonies

Of excess and greed

Aquaplaning alcopops

Drawn into our magnum opus

A night

Where anything can happen.

 

This is a brand new one, inspired by the fine art of creating the perfect night out, and dedicated to my girls (they know who they are 😉 )

 

 

 
 
 
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Part Two of Barbed-Wire Cage is beginning to find its form, but boy is it demanding!
That said, it’s incredible fun creating a soundtrack to my most important poems and choosing inspiration from all the right places! Stay tuned- Barbed-Wire Cage the album will soon be ready to record! 🙂

On Peut Rêver

Posted: January 11, 2014 in Poems, Uncategorized
Tags: , ,

I am tiptoeing

round the cracks

Dodging the facts

At every turn.

Never blind to your worth

Merely oblivious

But in time

Your cornflower eyes

Gold curls and taut biceps

Would enthral me

In a way I swore obsolete

Yet here I am.

Impartial to self-indulgence

I would not believe in your infatuation

Now I would beg for it.

The playful digs

And once, you hugged me

And I didn’t know how to react

Burst banks of Facebook pop-ups

Scarcely do I dare

believe these were more

Than cruel imagination

Feigning memory

Mais

on peut rêver.

The Woodcutter

Posted: January 11, 2014 in Poems, Uncategorized

Here is a new-ish short poem, written on Christmas Day. 

 

The Woodcutter 

Softly tread

Your soundless exit

Rouse me not

But leave candles burning

That when I wake

I might see the light.

Over the next couple of weeks I’ll be recording an eight-track EP to accompany the Barbed-Wire Cage eBook, featuring poems on a backdrop of punk-influenced music compositions.                      Barbed-Wire Cage EP will be streaming on barbedwirecage.com for two weeks in late January/ early February before its release.  Stay tuned for more details!

Today is the fifth anniversary of my granny’s death.  I’ll always remember her for the stories she shared with me of her experiences at the time of the orphanage fire in Cavan, which killed thirty-five orphan girls and an elderly lady, and her life as a governess in Belfast afterwards.  I was spellbound by these tales, and so, I’ve written my own inspired by her adventures. This story is FICTIONAL.  This photo is courtesy of my aunt (Crudden family archives).

Shadowlands is dedicated to the memory of my grandmother, Bridget Reilly Crudden.Image

 

 

Shadowlands

 

Footfall rang out upon the ceramic floor, echoing through the great hallway.

The chatter of a hundred or so passengers whirled about my ears as I made my way through the station, a first-class ticket to Belfast in my gloved hand.

Imagine, me, travelling first-class, all the way to Belfast!  I could afford it today, however.  I had just received my final paycheque and I was on my way to my new life as a governess in a manor house outside of Belfast.  My sister had made me a crisp new suit, pearl grey, for the occasion, and all my worldly goods had been fobbed off on the needy.  Here I was in the train station, clutching two leather suitcases full of new clothes and a ticket to my new start in life.  My old life, my heart, and particularly the events of the past week, I would leave in Cavan.

I closed my eyes.  Memories rushed before them, playing out in scenes in my mind.  John- or Mr Swanson, the local solicitor, as he was known as by the local gentry- sitting at his desk, scribbling by the lamp’s eminence, I at mine, my fingers flying over the typewriter keys.

With a pronounced clearing of his throat, John spoke.  “Can you stay on another little while, Bridget?” he wanted to know.  “Of course, John”, I replied without skipping a beat, although the clock hands were racing toward midnight.

My eyes flicked upwards to meet his, and energy surged through me.  With a bold undertone of purpose I ventured, “Where is Mrs Swanson tonight, then?”  He stiffened in his chair and whipped off his glasses.  “She’s in Dublin. Staying with her sister, I believe”, he replied shortly.  His next words forced through in a rush.  “As I understand, she’s not coming back.”

The blood dissolved from my face.  “You mean she’s left you?” I demanded weakly.  John met my eyes with an unconcerned gaze.  “I believe so”, he affirmed, his voice measured and emotionless.  “She’s taken all her clothes. When I awoke this morning, she was gone, and that was the end of it.”  “So…”  I choked on my words. 

“What does that mean…for us?”  John rose to his feet, all disdain abandoned.

“It means”, he declared, “we can finally be together. After tonight, the truth can come out.”  My brain glazed over in my head as the impact of his words hit me.  There would be no more lying to Mother and my sisters, no more sneaking out of the boarding house, and no more deceit. 

He was watching me intently now, his eyes locked on mine.  “Bridget Morgan”, he began hoarsely, “I offer you my whole heart, all I have, and all I am. Will you be my wife?”  Possibilities whirred painfully in my head.  All my deepest desires could come to life by uttering one word.

“Yes, John”, I spluttered.  “Of course I’ll be your wife!”  John froze as his countenance unrolled into hysteria.  “Oh, Bridget!” he howled, flinging his arms around me.  My reeling headache began to soothe in his tender embrace as the clock pealed midnight.  Life as I knew it was over.  It was a new day, the first of a brand new life, with the man I loved. 

BANG!  All went black.  Outside, screams rang out, and the crash of breaking glass.  I sprang from John, blinking in the sudden darkness.  “What-what’s going on?” I stammered, panic rising in my gut.  “John, what’s happening?”

“I don’t know, I don’t know”, he chanted under his breath as he fumbled in the dark.  With a crack and a burst of orange fire, the room illuminated.  A new sound accompanied the screams and smashing glass- a roaring, like that of tremendous wind, and a sinister crackling.  By John’s candle, my eyes deduced the air had grown denser. Grey clouds puffed through the room, filling our lungs.  “We’ve got to get out of here!” he roared above the din.  Grabbing my shoulder, he steered me toward the door, ducking the blanket of smoke, and burst forward through the street door. 

I fell upon my knees, my bones rattling with every dry cough.

I raised a shaking hand to brush my hair from my face.  John pulled me to my feet.  The street was alight with a spectral glow of orange, and crowds scattered about the footpaths, their eyes upon the orphanage next door.  “What’s happening?” I demanded of no one in particular.  “It’s the orphanage, miss”, replied an elderly man nearby.  “The place went up in flames. The Sisters aren’t letting the girls out.”  “Why not?” I choked.  The man shrugged.  “The Sisters can’t have the girls out in their nightdresses.”  An upstairs window shattered, spraying glittering glass over the street.  John dragged me back, shielding his eyes.  “Isn’t there something we can do?” he demanded desperately of the old man.  “We can’t just leave them to die!”  The roaring intensified to deafening point and a wave of shrill screams pervaded my ears, chilling my blood in my veins.  “Perhaps”, the old man began thoughtfully, “someone could get past the nuns and get the girls out.”  “Well, then there’s not a moment to lose”, declared John, pushing through to the convent gates.  My stomach dissolved.  “John”, I called out.  He turned, his silhouette jet on searing orange.  There was so much my heart wanted to spill, but the words weren’t emerging.  “Be careful”, was all I could manage to croak.  He turned his back and vanished into the smoke.

“Don’t worry, miss”, blustered the old man, laying a heavy hand on my shoulder.  “He’ll be fine.”

I couldn’t reply.  I could only watch, and pray.  Vivid oranges and reds were dancing against the black skeleton of the convent, grinning grotesquely back at their horrified audience.

Shadows appeared from the smoke; tiny silhouettes were fleeing for the street.  My mind could process but one thought.  Where was John?  “John!” I screamed into the night.  “John!”  A deafening blast erupted; an explosion of cracking wood and smashing glass and unearthly, piercing screams.  My heart began to rip itself from my lungs and from my throat burst forward a hysterical “JOHN!”

I dropped to my knees on the crumbled glass as brick by brick, the convent collapsed to earth, taking with it thirty five little girls, an elderly lady, and my John.

                                                                        A piercing whistle jarred through my reminiscence, and the nightmare dissolved as a guard stuck out a hand.  “Your ticket, please, miss”, he requested pleasantly.  Distractedly, I extended the ticket.  “Cavan to Belfast, first class, one way”, he recited, and with a crunch of paper, stamped it.  “Have a nice day”, he waved me along.  I followed the platform, throwing one last glance at the life I would leave behind.

The train trundled through thick countryside, through village after village, field after field.  My mind, however, was not in the here and now but firmly in last week.  The memory of a young orphan girl perched on the convent wall, singing a sweetly melancholic tune, was rewinding in my head.  Day after day I listened, and every day, there she’d be.  After the fire, I watched for her, but to no avail.  She never sang again. 

I had returned to the boarding house on Farnham Street.  The girls I lodged with had rallied around, offering tea and sympathy, but no one understood.  How could they?  How could they understand how it felt to shake hands with John’s wife at his funeral, to watch his oaken-casketed body descend into the ground, to turn away from the wooden cross bearing his name? 

It was curious fate that an advert appeared in the evening newspaper from a manor in Belfast requesting a governess on the day of the funeral.  Hesitation was not a luxury I could afford, and so I boarded the morning train for an interview.  Two days later I donated my few possessions to the poor, paid the last of my rent, and here I was. 

“Las’ stop, Belfast!”  A booming voice rumbled through the carriage as a heavyset ticket collector strode about.  I snapped back to reality as the whistling train began chugging into the station.

As I passed through the platform gates, a delicate-statured, shabby middle-aged man donning motheaten formal dress tipped his chauffeur’s cap.

“You Bridget Morgan?” he squalled in a high-pitched Cockney drone, his frail frame trembling under every word.  I nodded as I approached.  “That’s me.”  “I’m Gera’d Groves, the ‘ollands’ chauffeur”, he announced.  “I’m meanta take you to the big ‘ouse, up to Brookefield.”

He hobbled through the station doors, I at his heels, and came to a halt by a gleaming Rolls Royce.  Like a gentlemen, he relieved me of my luggage and popped the passenger door open.  He cracked up the engine. 

As the car rattled along the narrow country lane, Groves spoke up, shattering the prevailing quiet.  “So you’ve come for Sarah Jane’s job”, he stated blankly.  I blinked.  “Who?”  His eyes flicked toward me in the rear-view mirror. 

“The last governess we ‘ad, miss”, he informed me.  “She’s gone a week now.”

“You mean she left?” I quizzed him.  His reflection regarded me sharply.

“Not exactly.”

Groves continued to observe me.  “There’ve been strange things ‘appening round the ‘ouse since Sarah Jane left- strange things.”  A chill raced my spine, though it was a mild February afternoon.  “What things?” I heard myself choke.  But Groves pursed his lips and refused to offer another word. 

The car swept smoothly along the mile-long driveway and through the rose gardens.  My stomach dropped as an impressive Georgian demesne loomed above us.  “Is this is?” I wearily demanded, awestruck.  Groves nodded gravely.  “This is it, miss.”

                                                                        I was led through the great entrance hall by a solemn-faced servant and announced to Lady Holland.  An impression of unease reared inside me, a feeling which could not be accounted for.  I had no reason for fear.  Did I?

Lady Holland was a woman with remnants of intimidating beauty, but wan and drawn, as though life had gotten the better of her.  She drew a brittle smile as I came forward.  “You must be Bridget”, she greeted me, with more than a scintilla of ennui. I inclined my head.  “It’s a pleasure to meet you ma’am”, I meekly uttered.  Lady Holland continued with, “I can’t tell you how pleased we are to get you on such short notice. We’ve found ourselves without a governess rather abruptly.”  “I know”, I replied.  “Mr Groves mentioned she’d left.”

Astonishment unrolled on Lady Holland’s visage.  “Left?” she repeated incredulously.  “Didn’t you know, dear?  She died in that dreadful fire in Cavan, just last week.” 

My extremities numbed as though they had been immersed in ice.  My horror evidently projected upon my face, as Lady Holland went on.  “You must have heard of it in the news. Poor Sarah Jane. She left for the day to take her sister from the orphanage. She was two years younger than you, just eighteen.  Dreadful business.”

Clearing my throat, I apprehensively endeavoured to move the subject along.  “How many children will I be responsible for?”

“Three”, Lady Holland replied.  “The twins Suzanna and William are three, and the eldest, Jonathon, is four. Lord Holland and I are in London for most of the week, so your duty will be to care for the children and attend to a little light education- nothing too taxing, of course.”  I nodded my assent, and as I did, Groves’ odd parting words rang in my ears.

“Mr Groves mentioned strange things happening since Sarah Jane died, ma’am”, I ventured, “but he wouldn’t elaborate.”  Lady Holland tutted dismissively.  “Nothing of the kind”, she scoffed.  “Honestly, that man Groves has a head full of sawdust. No dear, there’s nothing to fear here. Come along, let’s get you settled in. Tomorrow will be a busy day.”

Here I took my leave, and as I was ushered from the room by the sullen servant, a faceless shadow passed through a remote chamber to my right, caught on my eye’s horizon.  I turned my head, and the vision vanished.  I walked on, but I couldn’t shake the suspicion of a presence watching me, lurking just out of sight.  As I followed the servant through the great house, a sneaking sensation was climbing my spine- a sensation that my nightmare was far from over.