As the bus crawls
From our suburban dreams
Into urban reality,
A man jumps on;
Comes up to the top deck
Lost in a full-blown sermon
To the unconverted in his mind.
His drink-stained jersey of
Some ice-hockey team makes you wonder
If he’s been abroad or, like so many,
Had once aspired to go,
Not to be left behind.
His short hair and wrinkled scalp –
through injury or fault –
Has absorbed something
Other than sense.
The bard of the mad
is lost in his own tale
of chances lost and love forgotten
and preaches a mile a minute;
“There’s an offer to rob a bank
twenty million off a bank in Coolock
And God knows it’d be easy,
Sure you know the way out.”
So fast, he confesses
To the air and the passengers
That he tried to be good,
And tried to be loyal –
The can in his hand, his self-pity.
“I wouldn’t touch your sister
or anythin’ like tha’!”
He convinces himself (and maybe us too)
That something once right, was wronged.
After minutes of an endless flow of speech, like a
filibuster of the mind
his words cower down
into a low, vulnerable, threatened growl;
the syllables now only known to himself
as his fellow journeymen look straight ahead in
of the madman prophet
in dirty gangsta clothes.
Soon, we reach his destination
And with can and comfort in hand
He passes us again
As some sigh with privileged relief,
That we return to our form of sanity.
But one man, a true blue Dub,
Turns to me and says:
“Jaysus, I thought he was one of them rapper fellas.”
It had been a while since I
Had found such pure tranquility,
Far from the wearying sounds
Of pipe bands and protests
(Although one by the ice-cream men
is a day I won’t forget!)
But there, under the trees,
Peace fell within the sunshine
Onto a path made by faery folk,
Untouched by weeds or council’s hands.
Alone at last, I released a sigh,
Taking off the shackles
Of my Laganside master.
Here I could not hear his voice
But instead, familiar sounds
Of the birds and the wind;
Where the Naniken gently
Caressed old Guinness land
And stored in its soil
Roots I never knew I put down
But there, under the trees,
The birdsong was familiar;
An Ulster tune to soothe the hiraeth
And keep me walking back into the light.
If anything is gonna encourage me to make that final push in work, it’s the prospect of enjoying this. EILE Magazine Issue 04 is out tomorrow, September 4 via http://eile.ie (at Clontarf)
The clothes you have made for him
Fit him much better
Than the ones I once made.
You can see that he moves with ease
Up and down the street,
Proud in what he wears.
I gave up long ago,
Realising what I made
Was neither his size nor his taste.
I let him find a tailor
Who would better suit his needs;
Indeed, that was you.
But make no doubt –
I am quite confident
In the skills I have acquired
But the difference is in
Our tools, our methods, our style.
For him to choose you
Is no slight against me
And with that, know
You have no rival in me.
So if I smile, fear not;
It is not in reminiscence
Of the days he’d enter my store
But instead it’s in serene content
That he is now fond of the fit.
[August 30, 2013. ©SDB]