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 The provisional licence and the tax were late and the insurance out of date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