Archive for March, 2016

For You I Died, My Lover

Posted: March 29, 2016 in Uncategorized

For you I died, my lover

For you
I tore sons from their fathers, daughters from the womb

For you I fought
The only thing worth fighting for

Here I am
The fire in your veins
The spark on your ignition
When you are in discomfort, inconvenienced,
Under duress

There I stood
In rank with my comrades
Awaiting the day
You could live for the sacrifice we made

For you I failed
Building glass cages
For you I died in office blocks
As you pondered
How we lived before the internet
How is this progress, my lover?
How can we ever move forward from this?

Shrapnel-bruised and bloody
We staggered back in line
Choking on the dreadful pall of defeat
The sight
Of a tattered white rag
Nailed to a rotted stick
Greyed from nameless failed revolts
Stung my eyes

For you I faced the firing squad
And they dropped their gaze, afraid to meet my eye
As the pistol gears ground
And the bullet shot on its trajectory
To my heart
Metal tore flesh
And the fissure zig-zagged outward
Til all I could taste was blood
But it was not the end…

For you I slept a hundred years
In silence
To join
Your water-cooler revolution
And in a century I awoke
In a shanty town in the wilderness
Starving
on a diet of broken promises
And Irish Water
How I fought and strained
To tap the wifi to my veins
And reconnect my brain
But…

At last I died, my lover
On a bed of election posters
An effigy of the 21st century
An anthem of the modern age
They fed off your weakness, my lover
And consumed into blackness
The green, white and gold.

Advertisements

Easter Monday, 2016. The Generator, Smithfield, Dublin. 11:59 am.

The stage was set for the joining of forces of three rogue Dublin performance groups- The Circle Sessions, A-musing and B-mused.  What pursued was the creative revolution of the century- thirty poets, musicians, writers and improv actors in twenty-seven performances over three solid hours.

The rebellion was overseen by generals Dave Hynes and Marian Shanley-West, and lasted into the early hours of the evening.

Here are some shots of my performance and a couple of group photos, courtesy of Caroline Crudden. I’ll shortly put up the poem I wrote for the occasion.

Red Rover

Posted: March 27, 2016 in Uncategorized

I stumbled across this interview from almost two years ago, July 4th 2014, from the launch of Barbed-Wire Cage in Blessings, Cavan. The interview is by Yasmin Maassarani from Irish TV and starts at 7 mins 50 seconds. This originally aired on Sky channel 191.

Thanks to Yasmin and Irish TV for the interview.

http://www.irishtv.ie/cavan-matters-11

My début poetry EP, Barbed-Wire Cage, is free to download from Bandcamp until the end of April at the following link. Check it out, and I hope you enjoy the poems.

 

Shadowlands

Posted: March 18, 2016 in Uncategorized

Here’s a reboot of a short story I wrote about four years ago,  based on the orphanage fire in Cavan in the 1940s and my grandmother’s memories of being there on the night. My granny told me stories of that dreadful night, and from those tales I wove my own characters and creation.

***

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, Honor?” 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. “Honor 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, Honor!” 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 Honor 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 Brookfield.”

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 Honor”, 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.

EQUALIST vs FEMINIST

Posted: March 6, 2016 in Uncategorized

Although the fight for equal rights should, by now, be long redundant, it’s clear to see we need our feet planted firmly to the ground on this issue more than ever.  There are two defined sides in this ongoing battle, neither of which I wish to belong to- chauvinism (which these days includes more females than males) and femi-Nazism (an extreme concentration of the well-meaning feminism).  I am in the camp caught in the crossfire of a perpetual game of Red Rover.  I am an equalist.

Equalism is not a well-known concept- in fact, it’s something I came up with at the age of sixteen when accused of being a feminist.  Even then, I knew there was something I didn’t like about the word ‘feminist’. It felt like, to me, it pushed the agenda of females over males, further defining and dividing the gender roles our for-bearers fought to rid us of. Ten years later, I see equalism as an ideal that places my fellow young women and men on a level playing field, and the end of the so-called battle of the sexes.  I am a proud and active equalist, and as such I released my first single from the punk-poetry EP Detonation Day to celebrate this.  This is my equalist declaration of independence, Red Rover.