Thursday, December 30, 2010

412. The Flowing Tide

Whaa yez ffff (cough) loo-lookin aa?
Tink oi’m fff-tin st
range, like? B—b-bowsy. Yer m-m-mother
dropped her draw- (cough) fff’n drawers
in Henry Street, a ho-(gasp) holy show
she was affter maykin
of hurrshelf.

Dartry grasps the situation
immediately, strides up to the autistic
albino leper, takes him by the shoulder
companiably, and shoots him in the head.
The bar staff lift him out, resignedly,
and give him a heave into the yard,
(now designated the Smokers Corner)
among the other restful corpses.

I understand you’ve been misbehaving
says D, raising a quiet two fingers
and we have to wait for the usual 5-6 minutes
while the muddy brown shite does its thing
and comes out a black and glistening Arthur G.
Such tales are exaggerated. Don’t mind me
but did you really have to go and shoot that eejit?
Overall, yes, I went to school with his brother.
Oh, right. Why would you not think

about politics? You have the makings,
guns that work and a pile of queer money,
the history of our beloved ancient country,
and you’ve only to shoot the poor gobshites
that get in the way, two minutes before
they haul off and shoot you instead.

A cute little precis of the Tan War, says D,
and what were you about in Norn Iron?
Nowt, says I, only business as feckin usual
and since when have you had the ghra mo chroi
for Presbyterians? There’s not much of a laugh
in them, says D, musingly, dour motherfuckers
like they’d had pickles for breakfast, ready
to throw their dying Granny off the bed
to get at that last hidden penny.

Our fellow countrymen. We pause and think.
Thank Christ we don’t live in England, anyway.
Do you know what they call James the Second,
says I, apropos of nothing, James the Wha, says D?
Second, never been a Third. Came over here
and got his arse kicked royally on the Boyne
up by Duleek where they have the new bridge.
Oh, I know that bridge, says D, it’s nice, so it is,
and I’m not such a goner on modern architecture
but that is a fuckin nice bridge. It’s got a nice
airy character to it, says I, floating over the river
where all that historical shite went down.
What historical shite, asks D, a typical modern
Irishman. Well, to cut things short they called him
Seamus the Shit. Who? Never mind. He died in France.

I wouldn’t mind going to France, and I don’t mean
just the Duty-frees in Dunkirk and Boulogne
but the real heart of the country, like, la France Profonde,
where nobody speaks English. Lookit, nobody
speaks English in France, period. They won’t issue
you a passport if you even give a hint of speaking English
and if you pretend to understand that bastard tongue
they’ll cut your garlic ration for the next ten years.
That bad? Believe it. How do they get on in the world?
They don’t. They’ve been fading out for centuries.
Au revoir! Une last goodbye. A finally finally last good byeee!
The fuckers can never get off the stage. A bit like us, so?
No. We are a teensy-weensy bit aware of our own shortcomings.

Do you not like our Gallic cousins, ancestral Celts and the like?
I love them to bits. They have style and panache and joei de vivre
that allows the rest of us to get on with life while they prance about
like idiots. Well, then, what about the Germans? Do NOT get me
started!! Whaa yez ffff (cough) loo-lookin aa? Tink oi’m fff-tin st
range, like? B—b-bowsy. Yer m-m … says a rough but familiar voice
and we are rejoined by a large looming figure from Smokers Paradise.
Jayz, you were a long time having a puff, Jim.

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

411. Haka

Train train a sky of blue,
a winter morning crisp and tight
like ice, like trouser creases.

My heart lifts, it rises,
as I head off in the wrong direction
looking at the hard-etched houses
lined against an azure sky,
viewing the sharpcut yellow stubble
of a tiny rice meadow
that can feed five families
angled between two rather squat
office buildings with a flourish
of Chinese characters.

The return train,
it seems I am running late
and I couldn’t care

less. The fellows are still
waiting for the stadium bus,
knocking back tinnies at the stop,
and then there is Aya, a sad Filipina
with purple contacts and a helluva
bad story. I have heard so many of them
that I feel like a hidden priest, perhaps
I should parade in rough Christian robes
to hide the ice within.

I could learn to like Aya,
trouble is Aya's been "liked" before,
repeatedly, been badly done over

and so I’m only half listening,
as you do, politely. Then the match
begins, and it goes on for a bit,
with oohs and aahs from the crowd.
I used to love this stuff, this rugby,
in my young youth I played on the green
lumpy fields of three continents,
one of the gay silly things I did
before old age took over.

Rugby, savants say, is a metaphor
for war, for the playing fields of Eton:
untrue, but it can be physical chess

when the many healthy resplendent lads
stop fussing around a badly bouncing ball,
with their girls all bright and smiling, pretending
an interest they could never conceivably possess
in the furthest tiniest re-cess of their capacious
rapacious female brains. Aya is looking over
now, and I'm sorry, but I'm not looking back. I am
on the track of an over-priced fizzy beer; if a man
won’t drink, he could be labelled an Irish queer

for trailing the ladies instead of the booze.
No, no, for all of my life I've been looking, searching,
waiting to choose, hope sadly slipping away.

I reckon in the end we all may lose,
even in the hardass canyons of the USA
where rugby, I presume, is a pussy game.
We had a joke going, one of them weak no-brainers,
as the pink-cheeked girls, annoyed, yanked off their boots,
figure that one out; but then Shem tapped me
upside the head. Fuckin hurt, too. Didn’t even
know the gentleman, a situation soon
and forever about to change.

Stick out your tongue. Wha’?
More, more, more, is that the best you can do?
Was I talking too much? Glaarh --; glaa...aaarh!!

Roll your eyes: flex your knees and elbows,
Jesus Christ, man, are you bleedin paraplegic?
and what happened that tongue, that tongue,
it should be licking the end of your pimply nose!
The fuckwit silly losers they send me down
these times would wear the balls off the Virgin Mary
had she had any, beggin yer pardon, Ma'rm. Sir? What?
Can I stop licking my nose and go back to the crap
daily rhythms of ordinaryl life? Ho, Irish are we?

Limber up, Paddy, for I’m going to teach you once,
once and once only, for the first and for the last time,
how a man should feel, how he should live ... and dance!


The Haka is a Maori war dance. The New Zealand rugby team performs it before every international match to intimidate their opponents. It works.

Monday, December 27, 2010

410. Julia, Liverpool, 1924

I cannot live in this life
in the shadow of me ma and me da,
if it’s only for the shame of it;
I’ve no wish in the world to get married
to some clappety eejit from the bank
or some chap in a solid company
stroking his silly moustache.

I’d rather run off to Arabia
or race away to India and get caught up
with one of them dusky princes.
I spend a lot of time at the films, I do,
my job is to play at the piano, to fit
the music to what the actors be doing,
and I’m awfully good at it.

I love England, actually I don’t,
this country gives me a headache.
I wish I was away somewhere, far away
on a romantic wonderful weekend with some
marvellous, marvellous man
and me ma says that will never happen.

Watch out for sweet-talking men, she says,
they be only out for the wan thing.
Jesus Christ, ma, so am I!

Sunday, December 19, 2010

409. The Hidden Meaning of World War Two

Poor grandmama, she passed away
at the age of ninety-something,
leaving behind a house full of memories
upon which the family shortly descended
like circling crows, squabbling over
the paintings, her gewgaws, the furniture.

There was a darkly glowing Vermeer,
two Rembrandts, some Hepplewhite consoles,
and two whorls of canvas that were not altogether
but almost Turner. Also a Constable.
I came down in a taxi from the station.

Sad that the old lady’s gone, said the driver,
She were a good ‘un, I well remember her
from the First Do: Faith and Freedom.
And were you in that War yourself, I innocently asked,
and he growled and spat, said he'd been thrown
into capitalist wars throughout his fuckin life.

A touch aggrieved, I held back on a large tip,
thinking of my two dead uncles from the first show,
but when I stepped out of that car I had no idea, let me tell you,
of all that stood before me, hunched over in my tailored uniform,
owlishly peering: I was no soldier, no real bayonet-thrusting

Godblastyou crazy person. The Regular Army, in my view,
were gentlemen, not warriors, encompassing a collection
of grumbling commuters plucked from cosy civilian jobs, resigned
to typing the shit out of the enemy, in triplicate. Would you
kindly wait until you are called? Silence, please, and some decorum.

The tanks rolled over the charred steppes of Asia,
the bodies burned in Treblinka and Maidenek,
and all the while motorcycle messengers farted
and backfired into Bletchley Park, where we typed
and typed and, in a British way, quietly won the war.

Saturday, December 11, 2010

408. Murakami

Knew this guy was around, had heard about him,
but never got around to reading him until now.
All has changed thanks to audiobooks dot com
and long boring drives to companies in this area
where I fight against the banks by teaching English.

No, no, it’s cool. Send no money, relax.

Thinking. Even trying not to think
takes time. Time comes down, comes
tick-tick-ticking, bong-bonging on the hour
and seems placidly set to go on forever, maybe
even beyond: tick-tick. Bong.


Stars will still shine when you are dead
having sent out their incontinent pulses of light
when your great-great grandaddy, equipped
with the coarse peculiar clothing of the time was doing
something shameful behind that hedge.

It’s all right. The stars see nothing.
They are supremely self-absorbed,
they are galactical Hindus.

There is us and then there is everyone else
ran the cosy accepted Japanese view
before Murakami drove a truck through it.
He should be arrested like Julian Assange
for this blatant display of sad soiled linen

(in which ordinary people come out looking pretty good.)

The thing about Japan you need to know is that
everything works, but you don’t know how it works,
and you’re not encouraged to ask: the buses and trains
run perfectly, so do all the shops and services,
as the government strains to produce consumer heaven
pointing at all the pink and yellow balloons in the sky
while sitting on the lid of a seething stink-ridden cesspit
of foul forbidden secrets. Ho, ho, says Murakami.

I love the casual way he goes about it.
He plays a subtle game with Japanese society,
setting up a number of running parallel stories
about everyday life in very flat and easy, almost bland language.
But then the stories becomes stranger, more menacing,
and the themes coalesce. The manically suppressed
secrets of a wound-up anal-retentive nation spill out,
blinking in the light, crouching, eyes darting for the exits,
but by now all the doors are closed. Nobody else in Japan
dares to, or can even think about doing this.

Wednesday, December 01, 2010

407. Salami, Salamis, Salaam

Pannerola pergolum,
dammenola ergo sum;
penda quenda senda mi,
pende quende send to me

amore, more amore.

Oremus, Tio Rabbita,
non che la habita:
negroni vobiscum.
Bebemus, bebe.

Carolina del sul
io non sempre ein fool
wie du so da denkst

Non, non, pas encore,
nein, nicht any more,
malum nahii, níl is agam:
ye to bahot acchaa.

DNA veni, out to play.

Ma... ma... manaqua alam nunc,
tra la la ... faquin é slam dunc!