All of a sudden I heard behind me the sound of the master standing straight up, making a terrible screeching sound, as the pew he was sharing with the Principal was driven back a few inches into the knees of Tom Connolly’s mother, who leaped straight up and hit him an unmerciful clatter with her bag across the back of the head, by way of pure instinct at having her ankles nearly cut from her. She was a feisty woman was Ms Connolly and a fine looking one at that. I was sure there was more than just my class in the church that night who thought it was about time someone hit a belt to that auld master after all the beatings he had dished out to us and the generations of our brothers before us. I was hoping the whole gallery would erupt into a round of applause but instead the big lump started to shake and tears flowed down his cheeks in torrents. His tears didn’t empty the room in my head that I had locked away until the day I could get my own revenge on the pitiful excuse for a man. He made a run for the back of the church with Ms Connolly and the rest of the adults looking at him and me eyeing in a most peculiar fashion Ms Connolly who had a lovely way about her altogether, I was sat there in a bewilderment within myself about whether I had another sin to confess.
I lie and watch the night
Behind the screen
Where the ghosts scream
A fearful sigh I can never
Hear beyond the whisper
Of a passing breath
They must see the times
I pass beyond the chains
But can they feel the thoughts
That drive my sins to pass
Into a world walked alone
Of reality lightly stroked
There I was scratching and itching with the fleas eating me from the lack of washing
and the line stretching and rolling half way around the town. Every man, woman and
dog of us waiting for the weekly hand out, beside hairy bikers who had one Honda 50
between them and alcoholics with the smell of cheap wine emanating from their blood
and all manner and shape of pirate with no boat and less hope. The smell of sweat in the room
was stifling and intoxicating, you could get drunk on it upon a Tuesday but still the
craic was mighty and if you got a wink from one of the girls sure wasn’t it as good as any
money. I was there lost, without a whole lot to be doing and even less to be saying with
greasy hair and horny eyes and no hope leaving school without a clue or a lover.
The auld one got sick of seeing me at home, alone and empty handed so the call was made
and it was decided one fine summers day that I would serve my time not as a corner boy
like I had expected but as an apprentice to a carpenter driving nails into walls, hanging
planks and sawing wood as straight as a crooked river bank. The wages were brutal,
the gaffer had a tongue made of Spanish leather but I was on a high.
I ended up driving a Ford Fiesta I inherited from an uncle who was still breathing but
only just. The provisional licence and the tax were late and the insurance out of date
I drove it like some cut of a lunatic along the main boulevard with the windows down
and the elbow stuck out for all to see and the Black Moroccan smelling like nettles from
some lads garden and polluting the town while Marley sang about how I felt.
Saturday night always came and I squeezed into the 501’s, sprayed the Lynx and hitched
my tent with the others boyo’s who were somewhere between half gobshites and full ones.
Drinking and talking bull at the local disco with the music blaring and the lights down low
to hide the truth. My eyes went crooked, the words began to slur and the knees got shaky and
a bewildered generation of lonely lusty misfits cradled pints instead of breasts. Girls of all
shapes and sizes meandered past in tight jeans and woolly jumpers which offered a hint of what
lay beneath, as they avoided our drunken stares. They were desiring something we didn’t have
and never would. Deep inside, behind the façade, the pain of loneliness was burning my soul as
we talked of rides and slappers and the clap while I dreamt of holding hands and walks on sandy
beaches and looking into her eyes and she loving me for what lay inside.
Then while I wasn’t looking the madness descended and grabbed a hold of me in its terrible grasp
Them with the fancy suits decided it would be a shocking grand idea, of a day, to go off and build
buckets of houses in every ass end part of a desolate country, in boggy fields and up mountains
where only a sheep would be mad enough to reside and they all located half way between the middle
of nowhere and the start of the end of the road.
The sweat still poured off my back but the laughter was lost. Banks stuffed money in my pocket
while I wasn’t looking, just in case I had an inclination to buy a couple of houses or a BMW too big
for my ways. Girls with blonde hair and blue eyes, who wore half nothing of a day and less of a night
stopped avoiding my drunken stares and started desiring the one thing I didn’t have before. I stood
like a bull in a field listening to all manner of lies and I not caring. Next thing I knew I was standing
at an altar with a monkey suit on, watching her walk up the aisle with a huge bill in my pocket and
bewilderment in my mind. She vowed to love me as long as she could spend what money I could earn.
Then everything came to a halt the recession descended and the banks wanted the cash
And she wanted the cash and I wanted to know how I got here.
Now the fiesta feels great and so does my old bed in my Ma’s house.
The blonde haired one is gone to hell or to Connaught or somewhere in between
and I sleep better than ever before with an empty wallet
but peace in my soul that the journey to madness is over and gone at last and I can be
who I was meant to be once more.
Frank McGivney 18.02.15
This is a kind of poem/story i wrote that i don’t really think would ever be accepted by the mainstream but which i really like.
Poem, poetry, writing, recession Ireland, ireland, recession
Paddy went a fishing
His wallet as his rod
They smiled at him
As the moon shone
Chapter Running With the Girl
It was the dreams that made me run away. They came every night with the wet sheets. I woke up cold and shivering, not knowing where I was or how I would get back to where I came from. My mother had turned into a robot in them. She still looked the same and moved the same but the heat of her love had turned into the cold of isolation.
Each morning my real world mother came in and took the wet sheets away, I could smell something different from her breath, that hadn’t been there before. It was the same smell that my Nan had after drinking a naggan of whiskey.
It was a Friday when I put a pair of jeans, three t-shirts and a towel into a bag and sneaked it out of the house. Cora knew something was wrong as we walked along.
“I’m running away” I told her.
“No you’re not” she replied smiling, that smile could feed any hunger I would ever have inside of me.
“I am, serious. I am going to get a bus up to Dublin.”
“Your only twelve, you can’t run away.” She had stopped and was holding both my hands.
“Why not? I can get a job or something.”
“Francie you can’t, honest to God, why are you going? You won’t be able to get a job, you don’t know how to do anything.” the softness in her voice was breaking me down, I didn’t know now if I really wanted to go. I didn’t want to go anywhere she wouldn’t be.
“I don’t know Cora. I just have to.”
“I’ll come with you.” she replied, her voice filling back up with its usual enthusiasm.
“You can’t run away.”
“Why not? Are you saying girls can’t do what men can do? You better not be saying that, Francie Kelly or I will never talk to you again.” she was looking straight into my eyes. She kissed my lips gently, when I didn’t reply. I didn’t know what words to say, even if I could manage to talk, as my face went crimson from the wonderful heat spreading all over me from the quick feel of her lips on mine.
“Wait there, don’t move an inch” she ordered and then she was gone back the way we had come.
It felt right having her sitting on the seat beside me on the bus. The driver had barely acknowledged us when we got on and paid. I had the communion money, I had saved in the wallet that my daddy had given me. It had been a present from his brother in Australia. It held the two hundred pounds easily. Even if I didn’t get a job surely that would keep us going for ages.
She leaned her head against my shoulder after she placed the bag she had taken from home under the seat.
“Put your arm around me Francie, make me feel warm” she whispered and I did. I looked at the blonde hair and the top of her face, while she looked outside at the trees and nature. Every time the bus drove through a town she sat up and leaned her head against the window turning from side to side so she didn’t miss anything. I saw glimpses of the things she pointed out to me, but mainly I just saw her. My side felt cold while she was at the window. Each time the towns retreated behind the bus, she leaned back into me and we shared the heat of each other once more. I kissed the top of her head and she looked up at me and smiled. I smiled back as the rest of the world faded away and I felt something inside of me that I never felt before.
“Listen to this Francie.” She took out her Walkman and put one plug in my ear and the other in hers. Her fingers on the buttons were as soft and gentle as the rest of her and they fascinated me as much as the words of her mind. There was a whirling sound and a guitar riff was followed by Bruce Springsteen singing about never retreating and never surrendering.
“That’s me and you Francie Kelly. No retreat and no surrender.” She said suddenly turning around and kissing me on the lips for the second time that day, before quickly sinking back into my arm and holding my hand where it touched her shoulder.
“What will we do when we get there Francie?”
“I don’t know but we will find out together, it will be the start of our adventure.”
“Will we travel to different countries?”
“Of course but the ones we will go to will be those with the wildest of adventures, where the most beautiful of nature’s animals live and where the plants have the strangest and sweetest of smells and trees with leaves of all the colours of the rainbow stretch up in to the sky.”
“Will we meet many people?”
“We will meet hundreds and each one of them will let us life with them for a while. They will tell us all about their lives and show us where and how they live?”
“What about the ocean Francie?”
“We will sail down the Amazon and life in the trees and at the end of the river we will reach the ocean and swim in it among dolphins and schools of fish. A whale will come along and pick us up on its back and we will go out into the deepest part, to see the sunsets that only the creatures of the sea have ever seen.”
“Will you stay with me for ever Francie?”
“If I ever leave you Cora then the seas will dry up and the sun will burn out and the world will come to an end.”
“Wow we better stick together then.”
We sat in silence until the bus stopped at the depot. We stepped out and we were swallowed up into a different world. Everywhere we looked people walked faster than they did at home. There was so many of them. The noise level was the scariest. It was deafening yet we could hear no one particular sound. The car horns, the people talking, the birds squawking, the rustle of newspapers, the engines of the cars all of it just combined into one operatic rush of sound that surrounded us, as we stood motionless looking out at the city streets. The smell from the river mixed with the filth on the pavement created a thickness in the air, making it harder to breath than at home where fresh fields were everywhere to be seen. A woman in rags who looked like the victim of a famine country in Africa, except with pale skin turned black with dirt, stood beyond the glass door that separated the relative safety of the depot from the noise and our potential future. In her hands she had a bundle of The Big Issue magazine for sale.
it was that time of the year
the hunger was sated
and the lust was building
i came down from the mountain side
looking for some loving
i took my time and cleaned up well
i washed the dirt of life’s lonely hell
the water stank and killed some fish
a bear watched and laughed
he went looking for some loving too
The tavern’s lights were down low
hiding the pain beyond the glow
women of all shapes and size lined up
waiting for picking or kicking
the men stood scratching
all of us looking for loving
The beauty of youth interested my loins
the beauty of age drove my desire
I was looking for a woman with
scars on her face and thoughts in her mind
i was looking for #loving with words
to be continued
Frank McGivney 12.02.15
Down the lonely road he strolled, the woman, he once loved, with him in mind alone. The thrush made a noise that a poet would call a song and a bull roared his passion across a barbed wire fence, where the cows huddled with their arses pointing the other way and their mouths chewing, for ever chewing.
the sun only reached the bottom of his feet, under the branches of the tree where he had once made love to her. In the shade his tears wouldn’t flow. The noise rippled through the undergrowth blackening the sky with fluttering wings. The bull stopped for a moment to look and then his lust returned. The bark stained to black with his blood as the gun smoke faded in a northern wind. His hand held hers once more as they drifted into the light. His body slumped into the gravel forgotten.
Take my hand and lead me to the place where daffodils grow in November among snowdrops, where women love you for who you are inside, where men touch a woman’s heart with their words, where no body knows the gods made by men. That place is where heavenly bliss meets damnations desires to mix love with lusts wonder
Inside Her Thoughts
the hinge squeaked to your voice
my gait erect i step beyond the pale
venturing to touch the falling petals
from the stem of your mind’s words.
What lay before in a mirrors dream
was what lay inside myself.
I desired to reach beyond the wood
where uncertainly smiles
They flutter on the wings
of crazed butterflies seeking
a home, upon which to grow.
I saw in you all I hear in me.
(C) Frank McGivney 06.02.15